I wind up by saying that those who threaten this country’s security put us all at risk. This Government will take all necessary steps to protect the public. This proposal will strengthen the Home Secretary’s powers to ensure that very dangerous individuals can be excluded from the privileges attached to citizenship if it is in the public interest to do so. The Government’s revised proposal—it is very much a revised proposal, based on listening to noble Lords’ contributions in this House—will enable the Home Secretary to deprive in a very limited number of cases. It will apply only to those who are naturalised, not those who are British by birth or those who register acquired citizenships under the provisions of the 1981 Act, as those provide for children who acquire British citizenship. It will apply only in very serious cases of people whose conduct—the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, mentioned this—is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom, and only when the Home Secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that under the laws

12 May 2014 : Column 1689

of a country or territory an individual is able to become a national of that country or territory. This is not about arbitrarily depriving people of their citizenship. It is a targeted policy to be used sparingly against very dangerous individuals who have brought the action upon themselves by terrorist-related acts. This amendment aligns us more closely with those international commitments as set out in the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness 1961 and the declaration that the UK made in ratifying that convention in 1966. I hope that noble Lords will approve the Commons amendments.

Lord Pannick: If I understand him correctly, the Minister is saying that the application of this clause will depend upon the particular facts of the particular case. Can I ask him whether, among the relevant facts that the Secretary of State will take into account in deciding whether to apply this clause, and how it should apply, she will consider whether the individual has any link with the country concerned other than the ability to apply for nationality, and whether the relevant facts will also include whether the individual has a good reason for not wanting to apply for nationality in that country—for example, because of persecution?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I certainly can confirm to the noble Lord that one of the factors that has to be borne in mind by a Home Secretary considering these matters is the question of possible persecution. I assure the noble Lord on that in relation to the specific case that he mentioned and on the relevance of all factors that may impinge on a decision, which would include the ability of the person to acquire nationality in another country. They will be considered fully by the Home Secretary in all respects. The noble Lord asked about whether the person had an association and so on would be considered. I am sure that these are the sorts of things that the Home Secretary will have to consider in considering whether to exercise the powers in this clause. I am grateful to the noble Lord. He has been a great encouragement in the initial meetings that we had when we discussed these issues. Incidentally, the House should know that we are very much at the position that was suggested by a number of noble Lords right at the beginning; I am pleased that I have been able to satisfy some of the learned opinion that has been available to us here in the House.

5.30 pm

Lord Avebury: Would the Secretary of State have the power to consider the case whereby a person has an entitlement to nationality of a state such as Saudi Arabia where his residence could be more harmful to the United Kingdom than if he were in the UK itself—as one knows from the fact that the vast majority of people who committed the 9/11 atrocity were nationals of Saudi Arabia? If we send people back to Saudi Arabia and they become involved in these offences, it would be immensely harmful to the interests of the United Kingdom.

12 May 2014 : Column 1690

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am sure that the Home Secretary will not exercise powers, which are clearly very important powers, carelessly or in any way that would damage the interests of the United Kingdom. I can assure the noble Lord that all such factors will be considered by the Home Secretary when she considers the question of deprivation.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the time he has taken and the effort he has made to address the points that have been raised in the debate. I concur entirely with his remarks about internal and international security. Obviously, the first duty of any Government is to keep their citizens safe and secure at all times. There has to be consideration of those issues when they are brought before your Lordships’ House. I can assure him that our consideration of these issues has at its heart the security of this nation and our international obligations to tackle terrorism. As the noble Lord said, I am grateful to all those who have spoken in this debate. We have benefited from substantial legal expertise. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Lister for confessing that, like the Minister and me, she is not a lawyer. It is significant that even with the legal expertise in your Lordships’ House there is no complete agreement among lawyers, either. We made that point earlier.

I welcome the fact that the Government have moved away from the position that they took previously when the issue was debated in Committee and on Report. I welcome the answers given by the Minister. A lot of the debate hinges on one particular issue. I am grateful for the advice given to me by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, in the conversations we have had. One of his questions summed up clearly the issue of the power to take away British citizenship if it relies on a discretionary power of another state. The noble Lord was very honest in his response to that. We have no power to know what another state will do. Other states have discretionary powers on whether to make people citizens.

The Government’s Motion rests on whether somebody is able to obtain citizenship. It hangs on the interpretation of that. We have concerns in that we want to avoid at all costs somebody becoming stateless—the evil of statelessness via the Supreme Court—and the dangers that that would bring to citizens of this country and abroad. I mentioned that James Brokenshire, the Minister in the other place, gave three different interpretations of what being able to obtain other citizenship could mean. If somebody is unable to obtain another citizenship and they remain stateless, at what point would the Home Secretary have to say, “We have a problem; this person does not have citizenship of any country”? There is a danger in leaving somebody abroad who we think is a danger to this country and involved in terrorism, who is stateless in another country or who remains in this country and cannot travel.

The noble Lord, Lord Lester, said that the intention was that those who are dangerous should leave—but they cannot do so if they have not got citizenship of any other country. The noble Lord also made the point that our position has changed. I can assure him that our position has not changed. These are the very

12 May 2014 : Column 1691

same issues we raised in Committee and on Report, and we wanted to consider them in the light of the changes that the Government have made.

We have to consider the practical and diplomatic implications here. I know the Minister says that there is no need to discuss this issue with other countries, but he was not even able to confirm to your Lordships’ House that, if we remove citizenship from an individual who we suspect of being involved in terrorist activity while they are in another country, we would notify the Government of that country that we were doing so. That seems to be a rather irresponsible attitude and I worry that we will be passing the problems of terrorism on to other countries when international co-operation is so essential.

I do not wish to detain the House. We have had an interesting and worthy debate on this issue. What the Government have not been able to do, however, is rule out the possibility that we will make people who could be highly dangerous stateless. All it requires is that the Home Secretary must have reasonable grounds for believing that an individual can obtain other citizenship—but if those grounds are wrong and the individual cannot do so, we do not know what will happen to that individual.

The point was made when we debated this previously that we are not saying to the Government, “No, this must not happen”, but that there are still a number of questions which remain unanswered even at this late stage. They include the issue of what happens to someone when they have been rendered stateless and what the implications are for our relationships with other countries. The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, gave examples, and I am not sure that the Minister’s answer was that someone could not be made stateless.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: I am most grateful to the noble Baroness. To be clear, what I said about the Opposition was not that they have not changed, but that they have not changed in the light of the changed circumstances of this concession.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: The Minister cheers the noble Lord on, but no one else is doing so. I said in response to the Government’s changes to their Motion that they do not remove the danger of statelessness. The noble Lord referred to the Pepper v Hart ruling, and he is absolutely right. What the Minister here and the Minister in the other place say is very important, but we have now had many interpretations from Ministers of what the amendment actually means.

Again, this has been a useful and interesting debate which I value, but we are seeking certainty on a number of issues, and that has not been forthcoming today. I believe that this matter would benefit from further consideration. It does not have to delay business. We are at the end of this Session, but it could be brought back quickly at the start of the next Session. It is important that we understand the implications for the security of this country and for individuals living in it. Accordingly, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

12 May 2014 : Column 1692

5.37 pm

Division on Motion B1

Contents 193; Not-Contents 286.

Motion B1 disagreed.

Division No.  1

CONTENTS

Adams of Craigielea, B.

Adebowale, L.

Adonis, L.

Ahmed, L.

Anderson of Swansea, L.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Hill Top, B.

Bach, L.

Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]

Beecham, L.

Berkeley, L.

Bhattacharyya, L.

Billingham, B.

Blackstone, B.

Blood, B.

Boateng, L.

Boothroyd, B.

Borrie, L.

Bradley, L.

Bragg, L.

Brennan, L.

Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.

Brookman, L.

Campbell-Savours, L.

Carter of Coles, L.

Chandos, V.

Christopher, L.

Clancarty, E.

Clark of Windermere, L.

Clarke of Hampstead, L.

Clinton-Davis, L.

Cohen of Pimlico, B.

Collins of Highbury, L.

Corston, B.

Coussins, B.

Crawley, B.

Cunningham of Felling, L.

Davies of Oldham, L.

Davies of Stamford, L.

Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.

Donaghy, B.

Donoughue, L.

Drake, B.

Dubs, L.

Elder, L.

Elystan-Morgan, L.

Falkland, V.

Farrington of Ribbleton, B.

Filkin, L.

Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.

Foulkes of Cumnock, L.

Gale, B.

Gavron, L.

Gibson of Market Rasen, B.

Giddens, L.

Glasman, L.

Golding, B.

Gordon of Strathblane, L.

Goudie, B.

Gould of Potternewton, B.

Grantchester, L.

Grey-Thompson, B.

Grocott, L.

Hanworth, V.

Harries of Pentregarth, L.

Harris of Haringey, L.

Harrison, L.

Hart of Chilton, L.

Haskel, L.

Hattersley, L.

Haworth, L.

Hayman, B.

Hayter of Kentish Town, B.

Healy of Primrose Hill, B.

Henig, B.

Hilton of Eggardon, B.

Hollick, L.

Hollis of Heigham, B.

Howarth of Newport, L.

Howie of Troon, L.

Hoyle, L.

Hughes of Stretford, B.

Hughes of Woodside, L.

Hunt of Chesterton, L.

Hunt of Kings Heath, L.

Hylton, L.

Irvine of Lairg, L.

Jay of Paddington, B.

Jones, L.

Jones of Moulsecoomb, B.

Jones of Whitchurch, B.

Jordan, L.

Judd, L.

Kennedy of Cradley, B.

Kennedy of Southwark, L.

Kennedy of The Shaws, B.

Kerr of Kinlochard, L.

Kestenbaum, L.

King of Bow, B.

Kinnock, L.

Kinnock of Holyhead, B.

Kirkhill, L.

Knight of Weymouth, L.

Lawrence of Clarendon, B.

Layard, L.

Lea of Crondall, L.

Liddell of Coatdyke, B.

Liddle, L.

Lister of Burtersett, B.

McAvoy, L.

Macdonald of River Glaven, L.

Macdonald of Tradeston, L.

McFall of Alcluith, L.

McIntosh of Hudnall, B.

MacKenzie of Culkein, L.

McKenzie of Luton, L.

Massey of Darwen, B.

Maxton, L.

Meacher, B.

Mitchell, L.

Moonie, L.

Morgan, L.

Morgan of Drefelin, B.

Morgan of Huyton, B.

Morris of Aberavon, L.

Morris of Handsworth, L.

Morris of Yardley, B.

12 May 2014 : Column 1693

Noon, L.

Nye, B.

O'Loan, B.

O'Neill of Bengarve, B.

O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.

Oxford, Bp.

Patel of Blackburn, L.

Pendry, L.

Pitkeathley, B.

Plant of Highfield, L.

Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.

Prashar, B.

Radice, L.

Ramsay of Cartvale, B.

Ramsbotham, L.

Rea, L.

Rees of Ludlow, L.

Rendell of Babergh, B.

Richard, L.

Rooker, L.

Rosser, L.

Rowlands, L.

Royall of Blaisdon, B.

Sawyer, L.

Scott of Foscote, L.

Sherlock, B.

Simon, V.

Skidelsky, L.

Smith of Basildon, B.

Smith of Finsbury, L.

Smith of Gilmorehill, B.

Snape, L.

Soley, L.

Stern, B.

Stevenson of Balmacara, L.

Stoddart of Swindon, L.

Stone of Blackheath, L.

Taylor of Blackburn, L.

Taylor of Bolton, B.

Taylor of Warwick, L.

Temple-Morris, L.

Thornton, B.

Tomlinson, L.

Triesman, L.

Truscott, L.

Tunnicliffe, L. [Teller]

Turnberg, L.

Turner of Camden, B.

Uddin, B.

Wall of New Barnet, B.

Walpole, L.

Warnock, B.

Warwick of Undercliffe, B.

Watson of Invergowrie, L.

Wheeler, B.

Whitaker, B.

Whitty, L.

Wigley, L.

Wilkins, B.

Williams of Elvel, L.

Wills, L.

Winston, L.

Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Worthington, B.

Young of Hornsey, B.

Young of Norwood Green, L.

NOT CONTENTS

Aberdare, L.

Addington, L.

Ahmad of Wimbledon, L.

Anelay of St Johns, B. [Teller]

Arran, E.

Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.

Ashton of Hyde, L.

Astor, V.

Astor of Hever, L.

Attlee, E.

Baker of Dorking, L.

Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.

Balfe, L.

Barker, B.

Bates, L.

Bell, L.

Benjamin, B.

Best, L.

Bilimoria, L.

Black of Brentwood, L.

Blencathra, L.

Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.

Borwick, L.

Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.

Brabazon of Tara, L.

Bradshaw, L.

Brinton, B.

Broers, L.

Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.

Brookeborough, V.

Brougham and Vaux, L.

Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L.

Browne of Belmont, L.

Browning, B.

Burnett, L.

Buscombe, B.

Butler-Sloss, B.

Byford, B.

Caithness, E.

Campbell of Surbiton, B.

Carlile of Berriew, L.

Carrington, L.

Carrington of Fulham, L.

Chadlington, L.

Chalker of Wallasey, B.

Chidgey, L.

Clement-Jones, L.

Colwyn, L.

Condon, L.

Cope of Berkeley, L.

Cormack, L.

Cotter, L.

Courtown, E.

Craig of Radley, L.

Craigavon, V.

Crickhowell, L.

Cumberlege, B.

Dannatt, L.

De Mauley, L.

Dear, L.

Deben, L.

Deighton, L.

Denham, L.

Dixon-Smith, L.

Dobbs, L.

Doocey, B.

Dykes, L.

Eames, L.

Eaton, B.

Eccles, V.

Eccles of Moulton, B.

Edmiston, L.

Elton, L.

Empey, L.

Falkner of Margravine, B.

Faulks, L.

Fearn, L.

Feldman of Elstree, L.

Fellowes, L.

12 May 2014 : Column 1694

Fink, L.

Finkelstein, L.

Finlay of Llandaff, B.

Flight, L.

Fookes, B.

Forsyth of Drumlean, L.

Fowler, L.

Framlingham, L.

Freeman, L.

Freud, L.

Garden of Frognal, B.

Gardiner of Kimble, L.

Gardner of Parkes, B.

Garel-Jones, L.

Geddes, L.

German, L.

Glasgow, E.

Glenarthur, L.

Glendonbrook, L.

Gold, L.

Goodlad, L.

Goschen, V.

Grade of Yarmouth, L.

Greengross, B.

Greenway, L.

Grender, B.

Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.

Hamilton of Epsom, L.

Hanham, B.

Hannay of Chiswick, L.

Harris of Richmond, B.

Henley, L.

Heyhoe Flint, B.

Higgins, L.

Hill of Oareford, L.

Hodgson of Abinger, B.

Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.

Hollins, B.

Holmes of Richmond, L.

Hooper, B.

Hope of Craighead, L.

Horam, L.

Howard of Lympne, L.

Howarth of Breckland, B.

Howe, E.

Howe of Aberavon, L.

Howe of Idlicote, B.

Howell of Guildford, L.

Humphreys, B.

Hunt of Wirral, L.

Hurd of Westwell, L.

Hussain, L.

Hussein-Ece, B.

Inglewood, L.

James of Blackheath, L.

Jay of Ewelme, L.

Jenkin of Kennington, B.

Jenkin of Roding, L.

Jolly, B.

Jones of Cheltenham, L.

Jopling, L.

Kakkar, L.

King of Bridgwater, L.

Kirkham, L.

Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.

Knight of Collingtree, B.

Kramer, B.

Laming, L.

Lamont of Lerwick, L.

Lang of Monkton, L.

Lawson of Blaby, L.

Lee of Trafford, L.

Leigh of Hurley, L.

Lester of Herne Hill, L.

Lexden, L.

Lingfield, L.

Linklater of Butterstone, B.

Liverpool, E.

Livingston of Parkhead, L.

Loomba, L.

Lothian, M.

Luce, L.

Luke, L.

McColl of Dulwich, L.

MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.

Mackay of Clashfern, L.

MacLaurin of Knebworth, L.

McNally, L.

Maddock, B.

Maginnis of Drumglass, L.

Manzoor, B.

Mar, C.

Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L.

Marlesford, L.

Martin of Springburn, L.

Mawhinney, L.

Mawson, L.

Mayhew of Twysden, L.

Montagu of Beaulieu, L.

Morris of Bolton, B.

Nash, L.

Neville-Jones, B.

Neville-Rolfe, B.

Newby, L. [Teller]

Newlove, B.

Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.

Noakes, B.

Northbrook, L.

Northover, B.

Norton of Louth, L.

O'Cathain, B.

Oppenheim-Barnes, B.

Paddick, L.

Palmer of Childs Hill, L.

Palumbo of Southwark, L.

Parminter, B.

Patel, L.

Patten, L.

Perry of Southwark, B.

Phillips of Sudbury, L.

Popat, L.

Powell of Bayswater, L.

Purvis of Tweed, L.

Quirk, L.

Randerson, B.

Rawlings, B.

Razzall, L.

Redesdale, L.

Rennard, L.

Ribeiro, L.

Ridley, V.

Risby, L.

Roberts of Llandudno, L.

Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.

Rogan, L.

Roper, L.

Rowe-Beddoe, L.

Ryder of Wensum, L.

St John of Bletso, L.

Sanderson of Bowden, L.

Sassoon, L.

Scott of Needham Market, B.

Seccombe, B.

Selborne, E.

Selkirk of Douglas, L.

Shackleton of Belgravia, B.

Sharkey, L.

Sharp of Guildford, B.

Sharples, B.

Sheikh, L.

Shephard of Northwold, B.

Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.

12 May 2014 : Column 1695

Shipley, L.

Shrewsbury, E.

Shutt of Greetland, L.

Skelmersdale, L.

Smith of Clifton, L.

Spicer, L.

Stedman-Scott, B.

Steel of Aikwood, L.

Stephen, L.

Sterling of Plaistow, L.

Stevens of Ludgate, L.

Stewartby, L.

Stirrup, L.

Stoneham of Droxford, L.

Storey, L.

Stowell of Beeston, B.

Strathclyde, L.

Suttie, B.

Taverne, L.

Taylor of Goss Moor, L.

Taylor of Holbeach, L.

Tenby, V.

Teverson, L.

Thomas of Gresford, L.

Thomas of Winchester, B.

Tope, L.

Trefgarne, L.

Trenchard, V.

Trimble, L.

True, L.

Tugendhat, L.

Tyler, L.

Tyler of Enfield, B.

Ullswater, V.

Vallance of Tummel, L.

Verjee, L.

Verma, B.

Wakeham, L.

Wallace of Saltaire, L.

Wallace of Tankerness, L.

Walmsley, B.

Warsi, B.

Wasserman, L.

Watson of Richmond, L.

Wei, L.

Wheatcroft, B.

Whitby, L.

Wilcox, B.

Williams of Crosby, B.

Williams of Trafford, B.

Willis of Knaresborough, L.

Wilson of Tillyorn, L.

Woolf, L.

Wrigglesworth, L.

Younger of Leckie, V.

Motion agreed.

Arrangement of Business

Announcement

5.52 pm

Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Con): My Lords, there is a question that I have been asked on many occasions over the past week and I am now able to answer it. Now that the progress of business is certain, it may be for the convenience of the House if I indicate that I expect Royal Commissioners to attend this House at the end of business on Wednesday this week to signify Royal Assent to several Bills and to prorogue Parliament until 4 June. The exact time of the ceremony will be settled on Wednesday itself, once the flow of business in both Houses is clear.

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her statement advising the House of the date of Prorogation. I make one simple point. We on these Benches have long predicted this particular day in view of the flow of government business. However, the House is being underused. It is clear from the figures that we are losing about 10% of active days of consideration in your Lordships’ House. I am sure my colleagues share my view that this is highly unsatisfactory. We do a very good job and we do it well, but it is not right for the Government to play fast and loose with this House when it comes to the proper consideration of business.

I welcome what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has said, and I am glad that the statement has been made. It gives some certainty to Members of your Lordships’ House. However, the other matters bear further consideration.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, in the past the Leader of the Opposition has made points about sitting patterns, and certain figures have been shown

12 May 2014 : Column 1696

to her. Therefore, I am more than a little surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, continues to allege that this House is somehow sitting for some 10% less than its normal pattern. I just happen to have the figures with me.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, raises a serious point. This House is very adept at holding the Government to account and I know that it will continue to do so. The Opposition Front Bench is charged with that task and always carries it out to a high level of ability. I do not underestimate that at all.

It might be helpful if I refer to the working days available to this House. Without wishing to be too tedious, over the three most recent Sessions, if one looks at working days lost—in other words, working days on which we did not sit—at Christmas 2011 it was 10, at Christmas 2012 it was 10 and at Christmas 2013 it was 10. At Easter 2012 it was 15, at Easter 2013 it was 15 and at Easter 2014 it was 15. At Whitsun it was six days in 2012, including the extra bank holiday for the Diamond Jubilee, last year it was six and this year it will be six. With regard to Prorogation, in the Sessions 2010-12 and 2012-13 it was four days. For Prorogation last year it went up to seven. It has come down to five this year. There has been a perception—it is only a perception—that we have had longer, because of the way in which public holidays fall for Easter, Whit and Prorogation. On this occasion, Prorogation and Whit happen to be consecutive, but they would have happened anyway. I have plenty more figures, but that shows that we have a pattern and that we have kept to it.

Comments have been made about the Summer Recess. It is true that we went down to nine weeks last year, but it was 10 the year before and it is 10 this year. I have every confidence that this House will do the job that it does superbly, which is to hold any Government to account at all the proper times.

Lord Elton (Con): Will my noble friend kindly tell us at what time the House will sit on Wednesday?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the announcement I made was in the normal format but I know that the normal format is rather opaque, so I understand why my noble friend asked that question. I cannot give the exact time of Prorogation until Wednesday, because another place will still be dealing with divisible government business. As to the starting time, on Wednesday we will start at the published time of 3 pm. That is because it is appropriate for those who have their Questions that day to ask them at the time they expect. As I explained last week to the Opposition Chief Whip, it is appropriate that we and another place should try to get to the point of Prorogation at about the same time. In that way, there is only a small hiatus while the House adjourns during pleasure before we have the ceremony of the commissioners. We shall begin at 3 pm on Wednesday, by which time I hope to be able to give a better indication of exactly when on Wednesday Prorogation might be.

Lord Martin of Springburn (CB): I put it to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, as gently as I can that, while I understand all the difficulties that can be

12 May 2014 : Column 1697

brought about by Prorogation, it should be borne in mind that many of us travel a considerable distance to come here. In doing so, we usually make arrangements a fortnight in advance for Monday to Thursday. The change to a Wednesday therefore causes considerable difficulties in arrangements for those Members who are travelling several hundred miles. I have accommodation in London, but I know that other colleagues who have to stay overnight have to make not only travel arrangements but overnight bookings. Perhaps this can be considered in future.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I have a simple question. Will the noble Baroness agree to publish, in a letter placed in the Library, the stats on a per annum basis for the number of sitting days that the House has had since 2010?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I can certainly look at that and see what helpful figures—helpful to the noble Lord—we can give. With regard to advance notice, I sympathise with those noble Lords who travel a great distance here and try to have some regular pattern of attendance. The problem normally arises only with Prorogation, as it is simply impossible to predict when it might take place. I follow the pattern, which has always been the case, that one can make the announcement only once this House has completed its legislative business. That, of course, does not include statutory instruments but only the substantive primary Bills themselves. I could have waited another 24 hours, because normally one gives only 24 hours’ notice. However, I am always keen to give as much advance information as possible because I recognise, with sympathy, that Prorogation can cause a particular difficulty.


Education: Free School Funding

Statement

6.01 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer to an Urgent Question given in another place this afternoon by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education. The Statement is as follows.

“I am delighted to be able to update the House on progress in providing new school places. Just last week, the Public Accounts Committee congratulated the department on the clear progress that has been made in delivering new school places through the free school programme, with costs significantly lower than under the previous Government’s school building programme.

Free schools cost around half what schools built under Building Schools for the Future cost. Thanks to the savings we have made, and thanks to the success of our long-term economic plan, we have been able to invest far more than the previous Government in creating new school places, especially in areas of need. We are investing £5 billion over the life of this Parliament in giving money to local authorities for new school

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places. That is more than twice what the previous Government spent over the equivalent preceding period, despite repeated warnings that the population was increasing. We plan to invest even more in the next Parliament, with £7 billion allocated for new school places.

As a result, we have delivered 212,000 new primary school places between 2012 and 2013 and we are on course to deliver another 357,000. Thanks to the efforts of many great local authorities, we now have fewer pupils in overcrowded primary schools than we had in 2010. As well as the expansion of existing local authority provision, we have also created, on top, 83,000 places in new free schools. The budget for these schools has been just under 10% of the department’s total capital spend.

Free schools are, so far, outperforming other schools inspected under our new and more rigorous Ofsted framework. Schools such as Dixons Trinity in Bradford and the Canary Wharf free school in Tower Hamlets have been ranked outstanding months after opening. Free schools are now oversubscribed, with three applications for every place and, indeed, the longer free schools are in place, the more popular they are. Schools such as the West London Free School and the London Academy of Excellence are becoming the most oversubscribed schools in their area.

It is important to remember that we have met the demand identified by local authorities for new school places and have also set up seven out of 10 free schools in areas of significant population growth. Indeed, as the National Audit Office has pointed out, £700 million of the £950 million spent on the free schools so far opened has actually augmented the money given to local authorities for new school places. Other free schools have been set up to provide quality provision where existing standards are too low or school improvements have been too slow.

We should never be complacent about educational standards but we should today take time to thank local authorities and all our school leaders and teachers, because no child in this country is without a school place, fewer are in overcrowded schools and Ofsted reports that more children are being taught good and outstanding lessons by more highly qualified teachers than ever before.

In short, thanks to the rigour with which we have borne down on costs, the innovation unleashed by the academy and free schools programmes, and the success of the Government’s economic strategy, we have been able both to provide all necessary school places and drive up quality across the board”.

6.05 pm

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for the Statement. However, the fact is that the free school project is becoming more and more a source of embarrassment for this Government. In short, the Secretary of State seems to be running out of friends. Last week, the Public Accounts Committee reported that at least £240 million had been spent on building 42 free schools where there is no shortage of school places, diverting money away from the areas of greatest need. Meanwhile, it seems that the Treasury

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has raised concerns about the runaway costs of free schools, at both official and ministerial level. Even the DfE’s own civil servants are scrabbling around to effect some political damage limitation from the fall-out of the failing free schools. Now their coalition partners, the Lib Dems, are alleging that the basic needs budget—intended for extra school places in the most overcrowded areas—has been raided to expand the free school programme.

I listened carefully to the Secretary of State’s response to this accusation in the other place. He seemed to deny that the basic needs budget had been—or would be—raided to fund free schools and, indeed, he claimed that the free schools budget would be reduced if necessary to fund the basic needs programme. Can the noble Lord clarify who is right on this matter—David Laws or Michael Gove? Will he also acknowledge that the shortage of primary school places continues to be an issue and that, at the next election, more infants will be taught in classrooms with more than 30 pupils than was the case in 2010? When will the Government finally introduce some proper controls on this runaway expenditure, as demanded by the Treasury and the Public Accounts Committee? Does he accept the latest Ofsted evidence that free schools have a failure rate of 11% compared to just 3% for maintained schools, so they are not the great success story that Michael Gove likes to claim? Finally, does he have some sympathy with the Conservative Association in Crawley—home of the disastrous Discovery New School—which, when asked if it would like a ministerial visit, replied, “Please send anyone but Michael Gove”?

6.07 pm

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness is of course only doing her job in pointing out the few failings in the free schools programme. However, overall, the programme is a massive success, as witnessed by the number of MPs across the other place this afternoon who praised the free schools in their constituencies and by the massive demand from parents, witnessed by their being three times oversubscribed.

Overall, free schools are far more likely to be rated outstanding within only a few months of opening than other schools. Any failings in our school buildings programme is but nothing compared to the massive failure of the previous Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which ran at least £10 billion over cost. That failure was coupled with their complete failure, apparently, to anticipate the looming crisis— despite repeated warnings and their immigration policy—in school places which we are now fixing.

I thought that the Public Accounts Committee report was very balanced and very fair. In particular, it was quite muted compared to the committee’s 2009 report into the Building Schools for the Future programme, which contained phrases such as,

“poor planning and persistent over-optimism”,

and said the department had,

“wasted public money by relying on consultants”,

and was “complacent”.

Rather than the free schools building programme taking money away from basic needs, it is in fact enhancing it: £1.1 billion has been allocated for 174 free

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schools, 70% of which are in areas of basic need; in the free school round announced in January this year, all our new maintained schools are in areas facing a shortage of places; and it looks likely that the latter will pretty much be the case as well for the new round to be announced shortly. We have been able to meet the demand for school places which we were left with by the previous Government, who in fact reduced the number of primary places by 200,000 despite the warnings. The noble Baroness referred to the Discovery New School. We have closed half of another school. We have in fact closed schools with 200 places in them which compares with the 150,000 new places that we have created under the free schools programme.

6.09 pm

Baroness Perry of Southwark (Con): Will my noble friend confirm that one of the most heartening aspects of the free schools programme is that every free school is opened only after extensive consultation with the local community? By the time the free school is open, it has huge community support, and the parents who have been involved in the setting up of the school have overwhelming enthusiasm and are greatly involved in the life of the school in a way that, in my experience, has been seen in very few local authority schools.

Lord Nash: I can confirm what my noble friend says. I encourage noble Lords from across the House to visit schools such as Dixons Trinity Bradford, Reach Academy Feltham, Canary Wharf College or ARK Conway Primary Academy, all of which have been rated outstanding within months of opening.

Lord Storey (LD): The Minister is right to point to the fact that there are problems of overcrowding in maintained schools. In fact, a survey by the Local Government Association found that in 2012 one-fifth of primary schools were full, with the obvious problem of increased class sizes. Will the Minister confirm that every parent who wishes to send their child to a maintained primary school will be able to do so? Will he confirm or deny that no money has been diverted or augmented from the basic needs budget to the free schools programme? Will he confirm that it is still government policy that no free school should be run as a business? This has somehow been caught up in the issue of the meals programme for key stage 1 children. Will he confirm that the Government are fully committed to that programme?

Lord Nash: Local admissions arrangements are for the local authority in the area, although it is true that virtually all academies and free schools use the local authority admissions process. I have already answered the second point about money being directed from basic needs to free schools. We have a very strict policy: no free school or academy can be run as a business. Indeed, no one with any close relationship with a free school or academy can provide any services to that school except at cost. The Government are fully committed across party to the universal free school meals programme.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, the Minister said that no money has been diverted into the free schools programme. Will the Minister confirm

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that the Treasury set a limit? If, for example, the per capita payment per pupil—not the building cost, but the per capita cost per pupil—is higher for free schools, then both the local authority maintained schools and the voluntary sector schools are deprived of resources. I, for one, take offence when it is said that free schools have more highly qualified teachers when actually they are allowed to employ unqualified teachers. I consider that to be a slur. I admit that I am biased, but does the Minister accept that in Lancashire parents join in their local schools, be they church schools—of which Lancashire has the largest number—or other schools? When the Minister says that seven out of every nine free schools are justified, two out of every nine are not justified. County schools, local authority schools and the voluntary aided sector cannot use that money if it is being spent to support a whim of the Secretary of State.

Lord Nash: All academies and free schools are funded on an equal basis to maintained schools. They may get some start-up grants, but their annual revenue going forward is equal. As regards the slur to which the noble Baroness referred, the Statement says quite clearly that Ofsted has reported that all schools, not just free schools, have more highly qualified teachers than ever before.

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD): My Lords, I understand that the very first duty of any education department is to ensure that every single parent will have the opportunity to place his or her child in a maintained school if that is what he or she wishes. I am concerned by what appears to be a fog of misunderstanding. My understanding is that there are at least 12 local authorities—I give as examples Teeside, Ruislip, Croydon and Bristol—where it is said to be impossible for a parent to find a place in a maintained primary school. That should be the first duty of Government. It would be very helpful if the Minister could say specifically that he does not know of local authorities that cannot find a primary school place for their children. If someone wants to send their child to a free school that is perfectly fair, but it should not be forced on them.

Lord Nash: I have said quite clearly that we have satisfied all the demand for free school places and we have funded local authorities to be able to satisfy that demand. Of course, we now have a system in which 60% of secondary schools and 12% of primary schools are academies. It may well be that in some areas the nearest school which the allocation process in the local authority directs parents to will be a free school rather than a local authority maintained school.


Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014

Motion to Approve

6.16 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That the draft order laid before the House on 31 October 2013 be approved.

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Relevant document: 13th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 31 March.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, the Government seek to control khat as a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, to protect the public from the potential harms associated with this drug and the threat posed from its international trafficking.

Through the second draft order laid by the Ministry of Justice, the Government are seeking to extend the use of penalty notices for disorder—PNDs—to the offence of simple possession of khat, when it is the second time that the offence has been committed. By a negative instrument, the financial penalty for the khat PND will be set at £60. On the first occasion that an offence has been committed, a person is likely to be issued with a non-statutory “khat warning”. Anyone caught possessing khat for the third time or more will face arrest. This reflects the policing strategy for khat possession cases agreed with the national policing lead for drugs. Both draft orders were considered in Grand Committee on 31 March. The House will be aware that both draft orders have been approved in the House of Commons. I commend the two orders to the House.

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by Baroness Smith of Basildon

At end to insert “but that this House regrets that Her Majesty’s Government’s plans for the introduction of the Order do not include provisions for a 12-month review of the impact of the reclassification of khat in view of the highly unusual community focus of its use, for putting a detailed policing strategy in place before a ban takes effect, or for a health strategy to prevent a transfer of addiction to other substances; and do not commit the Department for International Development to do more work with the government of Kenya to alleviate the effect of the reclassification on the Kenyan economy.”

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. I shall explain why we have brought this amendment before the House today.

It is around six weeks since we discussed this issue in Grand Committee. I thank the noble Lord for asking to meet me prior to this debate and for the discussion we had on the issue during the Recess. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, responded for the Government. He agreed that this was a finely balanced decision. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the ACMD, does not advise that the drug should be banned, due to a lack of robust evidence. In fact, it considers it to be,

“a much less potent stimulant than other commonly used drugs”.

As I identified in Grand Committee, successive Governments have considered whether khat should be banned, but the evidence has not been clear or strong enough previously to support such a ban. It is clear

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from the evidence base in the Explanatory Memorandum and the Government’s assessment of the options that the decision remains a finely balanced one. One of the new considerations is the impact of the ban by other European countries.

Having considered the evidence, we accept that the benefits of a ban could outweigh the risks. However, as I stated previously, there are a number of assurances needed from the Government before that is clear. When we debated this in Committee and sought assurances from the Government, we did not do so unexpectedly. My colleague in the other place, the shadow Home Office Minister, Diana Johnson, had discussions with the Minister who had responsibility for this order. Curiously, this was not the Drugs Minister, Norman Baker, but another Minister, Karen Bradley. She spoke to her regarding our concerns and the conditions we consider to be essential if a ban is to be put in place. These were raised in the debate in Committee in the other place on 31 March and indeed in our own debate on the same day. I had also notified the Minister’s office of our concerns. Both Diana Johnson and I were disappointed with the responses from the Government, so this amendment is another attempt to seek reassurances from the Government on the implementation of such a ban. There are no surprises and no reasons of which I am aware that a full answer to the points we have raised should not be forthcoming.

I do not think I need to repeat the detail of the Committee debate on the harms of the drug or the risks associated with a ban. They are well documented in those debates, the Explanatory Memorandum, the impact assessment and, indeed, the letter from the Home Secretary. We are aware of the social and possible health harms associated with khat and which communities—largely the Somali and Yemeni communities—in the UK are most likely to use the drug. Overall, just 0.2% of the population have used khat but some 50% of Somali males are thought to be users, and up to 10% daily users. We are also aware that it is very difficult to separate the social harms of khat from the wider social issues faced by the Somali community and, to a lesser extent, the Yemeni and Ethiopian communities. We are also aware of significant and strong support from within the Somali community for a ban.

However, it must also be recognised that neither the ACMD nor the Home Office review has been able to isolate khat as the cause of problems or as exacerbating existing social problems. Khat has been linked to health harms including liver toxicity and tooth loss, as well as issues relating to the manner in which it is consumed, and mental health problems in the Somali community. But again, the evidence in relation to physical health is not considered by the ACMD—the committee that advises the Government on the misuse of drugs—as being robust enough to justify a ban.

We must also examine the risks of banning khat. We recognise that in assessing the risks we have to consider the risk of the UK becoming a hub for illegal exports to the US and other EU countries which have already implemented bans. I understand that is a key issue behind the Government’s intention to ban the drug.

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In Committee, I asked the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, whether there was any evidence that khat imports into the UK were increasing and that the UK was being used as a base for illegal imports. He was able to advise that there had been a change although I am not 100% clear from the figures how significant that change is. Of course, that is a very reasonable issue for the Government to take into account and clarification of the scale of the problem would be helpful. When looking at the risks, it is relevant for the Government to consider the impact on the criminal justice system and to recognise that the enforcement costs may be high initially.

The Government recognise that there is a significant risk that a ban could damage community relations because khat use is both common and widely accepted within the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities. That would mean that banning khat would criminalise an established and accepted social practice.

The amendment would not prevent the ban but, because the impact must be fully understood and handled very carefully, we have identified four areas that are essential to ensure that any ban does not damage community relations and does not lead to khat’s displacement by other drugs, leading to more serious social and health impacts. As the noble Lord is aware, we wish to raise four issues that we think are essential before any ban should proceed.

The first is the review. Particularly because this is a very finely balanced decision, we think that there must be a review after 12 months that looks at the impact of reclassification, including on organised crime as well as community relations. That should include a monitoring framework, as outlined by the Home Affairs Select Committee; it was the second recommendation in its report. I know that the Government already collect some data in relation to drugs but, because khat is unique among drugs in that it is focused in particular communities, specific data need to be collected on community relations. Rather than that just being published as part of the overall publication of statistics and figures on crime, community relations and drug use, there should be a separate review published on khat.

One issue that the Minister very helpfully discussed with me when we met was policing. Because khat is highly prevalent in the Somali and Yemeni communities, the introduction of a ban would allow any Somali or Yemeni male to be subject to stop and search. I know that the Minister recognises that this could have a seriously detrimental effect on community relations, and the Government are bringing in changes to stop and search. Although we discussed this, it would be helpful if the Minister could put on the record how the Government will ensure that this does not undermine the Prevent agenda, which is now being focused on the Somali and Yemeni communities.

One risk that we can particularly identify, because khat is a social drug, is that it is linked to numerous businesses, including cafés and community centres, so policing has to be very sensitive to those risks. To ensure that this happens, we want a specific policing strategy, agreed by the ACPO lead for drugs and the Prevent team. That should be in place before a ban is in force.

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I mentioned my meeting with the Minister and his officials. He was able to outline some of the issues regarding policing. I am aware that the Government are giving serious consideration to them. He agreed at that meeting to provide me with details and a copy of the draft guidance currently being considered but I have not yet had it. I know that he would want me to have a copy of that. It would have been helpful for the debate today but, if we could have a copy of that, it would be very helpful.

When we met I also reiterated the need for a programme of engagement and support for the Somali community. There needs to be some kind of education about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. As the advisory committee recognises, the evidence on the harms is not robust enough for a ban and the last thing that I think anybody wants to see is khat being replaced with illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol. That would be a very serious matter and could cause greater health harms. When we discussed this, the Minister was not able to provide me with any further information other than that he was sure that this was ongoing. These programmes will be essential, and if he is able to provide more information today that would be extremely helpful to our considerations.

My final point is on international development, an issue recognised by the Select Committee in the other place. The Department for International Development has to commit to work with the Kenyan Government to alleviate the effect of the khat ban on the Kenyan economy. When we discussed this, the Minister was confident that Kenyan farming was robust enough to diversify. He is more of an expert on farming than I am—I hope that will be the case. The Select Committee identified this as a very serious issue. My understanding is that the department is working with the Kenyan authorities. We need more information on this, as part of the review that should be undertaken and reported on in a year’s time, so that we can understand the work that is ongoing.

These are very real and genuine concerns. As I said, we are not opposing the ban but we really consider that before any ban is implemented these kinds of issues have to be considered and dealt with first. I hope that we will have a positive response from the Minister today. I beg to move.

6.30 pm

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, I have difficulties with both the substance of the order and the amendment. It seems that we may be in a world of policy-based evidence and an amendment that is being brought to the House because the Opposition are looking for something to object to without objecting to the ban itself. The matters identified in the amendment seem to be good reasons to oppose the ban, but the Opposition support it.

The ACMD not only recommended no change in the status of khat—that it not be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act—but set out a number of other recommendations dealing with local needs assessments; education and prevention initiatives; culturally specific and tailored treatment and recovery services; partnership

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working; addressing the problems through engagement and dialogue with the local community and interagency working; working through community safety partnerships; and regular monitoring and returns. It also made a specific recommendation about data to form the basis of future research. Those would themselves have formed a very good amendment, but that is not what is before us.

The ACMD was quite clear on the merits of the ban. The Secretary of State, on the other hand, seems to be saying—if I can summarise it—that since it is banned in the rest of the EU, it must be banned here. The ban was announced last July. Will the Minister tell the House what evidence there has been of the drug’s use since that announcement? Some time has now gone by. Indeed, it has been banned in the rest of the EU since January of last year, so if there are concerns, some of those might have come to light.

One of the reasons that we are given for the proposed ban is the risk of this country becoming a regional hub or a haven for criminals. I was interested to read some of the characteristics of khat, one of which is that it has a very short life. The active ingredient declines a couple of days after being picked; it needs to be fresh for it to have an effect. I have no doubt that the users of it, as consumers, are as demanding as consumers of most products, so is it a genuine concern that we would become a regional hub, if what might be distributed through the hub has, in fact, lost its efficacy by the time it is traded on?

The risks identified from a ban include the users moving towards more addictive, harmful and expensive substances; a black market; and organised crime stepping in to supply the drug and criminalising—inevitably—the users. I appreciate the proposals about applying an escalator to how offences are dealt with, but we would be criminalising users and suppliers, and we know that one crime leads to another.

Of course, I am aware that the Minister in the Commons and the Home Secretary, in her response to the Home Affairs Select Committee, have presented the matter as finely balanced, and that the communities where use is widespread are divided. Looking at the reports, I have been wondering how broadly women in those communities want a ban and men do not. I wonder whether that is rather simplistic reporting. I find it difficult to believe that a ban would instantly lead to such a considerable behavioural change and make model husbands of former users. I have my doubts about that. There is one view that clearly comes from the Somali community, and that is that they would prefer their children to use khat rather than alcohol or tobacco. The ACMD has reported that the use of khat has been decreasing over recent years.

In the Commons, there was very little discussion—nothing from the Minister, I believe—about the broader issues of drugs policy or the wider context, to which reference has just now been made, of the economy of Kenya and the potential instability and risks associated with that. I would be very wary of banning something of cultural significance, with the risk of driving a wedge between the police and the already quite marginalised communities. The references in the reports

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to the use of khat at weddings made me think of sugared almonds at weddings in some other traditions and how one might respond to any suggestion that that tradition be changed. In summary, I am not persuaded by the orders, but I am not persuaded by the amendment: I would leave the balance as it is.

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords, I support the amendment to the decision of Home Secretary to ban khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, although I identify with the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in relation to the amendment. There are very good reasons to oppose this ban. I make clear at the outset that if khat presented a serious health risk to users, I would support a ban on the importation and sale of the substance. On the other hand, we now have sufficient evidence to show that banning the possession and use of psychoactive substances—even dangerous ones—is counterproductive. Of course, the excessive use of khat by small groups of Somalis needs to be tackled; the question is how. We know that bans on possession and use delay treatment. They divert resources away from public health and education initiatives and into the criminal justice system. We also know that a criminal record is extremely damaging to anyone’s employment prospects. The criminalisation of these people will therefore tend to lead them to continue with their drug habit or—if they ever get away from it—to return to it. There are very severe and negative consequences of banning, particularly on the consumer side.

That is the evidence framework within which I have thought about the Home Secretary’s decision to ignore the advice of the ACMD and ban not only the supply but the possession and use of khat. This is a most serious decision for the communities involved, people principally from Somalia, Yemen and Ethiopia. The small but vociferous group of campaigners from Somalia believe that a ban on khat will get rid of the problems as they perceive them—social problems within families and so on. In reality, those using khat will continue using the substance at a vastly increased price. The Home Affairs Select Committee’s ninth report suggested that a hundredfold increase in price could be expected from a ban on khat. The khat user who continued to use khat would also risk, as I said, a criminal record. The alternative, to which other noble Lords have alluded, is that khat would be replaced by alcohol in particular. We know that alcohol is far more dangerous and would have all sorts all sorts of consequences that khat does not have. Either alternative, therefore, would be much worse than the status quo. I am not suggesting that the status quo is wonderful, but it is nothing like as serious as the possible consequences of a ban. The idea that the household would have more cash to spend on food is, sadly, a delusion. Some women might see their husbands spending £25 on khat and think, “I could do with that to buy some shoes for the kids”, but it is a little more complex than that.

The ACMD had clear, scientific reasons for advising the Home Secretary that,

“the evidence of harms associated with the use of khat is insufficient to justify control and it would be inappropriate and disproportionate to classify khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971”.

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These are very strong words from the ACMD and, particularly, a council led by Professor Leslie Iversen, whom I know quite well and who is a highly regarded scientist known for his incredible moderation, gentleness and so on. He is not a wild man; if he allows such words to go forward to the Government, we really need to take note.

The two central findings concern the medical and social harms, as others have indicated. The ACMD concludes that khat has no direct causal link to adverse medical effects, other than a small number of reports of an association between khat use and significant liver toxicity—a small number and an association. In scientific lingo, as we know, “association” simply means that the two things tend to happen alongside each other. There is no indication of a causal link between the use of khat and medical consequences. On the question of anecdotal evidence of social harms, the ACMD concludes that its research into these has found no robust evidence that demonstrates a causal link between khat consumption and any of the harms indicated.

Professor Iversen emphasised in his letter to the Home Secretary that the council’s recommendations were based on a rigorous and systematic process of evidence-gathering and subsequent analysis of what was submitted and presented to it. In other words, as I understand it, the recommendations should not be set aside other than for matters of serious national security or national interest. Now my understanding is that the main reasons for the Home Secretary’s decision have nothing to do with medical and social risks, and are twofold. First, as others mentioned, Sweden and the Netherlands in particular have banned khat and would find it helpful if the UK took the same step in order to avoid this “hub”. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, dealt very effectively with that point, bearing in mind the very short life of the substances within khat that people are interested in.

The other issue raised, which I find utterly peculiar, is that there is some relationship between khat use and terrorism. That is quite remarkable. I will deal with the terrorism issue very quickly. A very small trade in a perfectly legal, low-cost substance in a few BME communities is just not a serious candidate for a terrorist threat or interest. Indeed, the ACMD was not provided with any evidence of al-Shabaab or any other terrorist group’s involvement in the export or sale of khat, despite consultation with the relevant national and international official bodies. I understand that the Home Secretary has claimed that the ACMD would not have been aware of these things. However, it was aware of the people who are aware of them—and consulted them. The fact that the ACMD picked up nothing in this area should be taken seriously. On the other hand, banning a substance such as khat and increasing its value a hundredfold or more really might interest terrorists. Even on that count, this ban could be—and could be expected to be—counterproductive.

The first question one must ask on the hub possibility is whether the bans in these other countries are working. There is apparently no evidence that they are, or that they are even helpful. I would not expect them to be helpful. The idea that we follow other people simply because they want us to seems a little wrong.

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I want to put a proposal with respect to khat. The Government introduced temporary-class drug orders for the purpose of controlling new psychoactive substances. I will not go on for very long on this but I want to put it forward. I applaud the Government for their policy. Its great strength is that these TCDOs do not criminalise the possession and use of these drugs while the TCDO remains in place. However, it provides for the ban of production and sale of substances that may prove dangerous. These orders were designed to enable the ACMD to analyse new drugs and determine whether a full ban under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 could be justified. The only possible justification given by the Government and Home Secretary—I emphasise that—for a ban of khat concerns the supply of khat to other European countries or supply involving terrorists, not that that point needs to be taken seriously. An order along the lines of a TCDO, which avoided criminalising users of khat, would fulfil the Government’s objectives while avoiding unnecessary and severe consequences for the BME communities affected.

The 12-month review proposed in the amendment would then evaluate a narrower issue: the supply ban and, for example, the price increase and illegal activity that will inevitably result. The ACMD could do that work, its findings could be put to the Home Secretary and, if the supply ban was seen not to be in the national interest, it could be dropped. If the ACMD recommended education and preventive initiatives, tailored treatments and other social interventions could then be funded instead of that money going into the criminal justice system. There is an awful lot to be said for that approach. The ACMD thought about this very carefully and that is what it came up with.

The above proposition is relevant even at this stage, if I may say so. We know that some 40% of legislation is never implemented. It is surely possible for the Government to implement only the supply side of their ban and defer—I hope indefinitely—the implementation of the ban on possession and use of khat. Such a plan would enable a more focused 12-month review, as I have already mentioned. I hope the Minister will be willing to take this idea away, even at this late stage: a supply ban only could be introduced and then evaluated to see whether it should continue.

6.45 pm

Lord Rea (Lab): My Lords, of course, in focusing on a topic such as this, almost everything that could be said has been. My noble friend already included four reasons in her amendment for not going ahead with the reclassification of khat. All four reasons were covered fairly fully by other speakers. There are a number of other cogent reasons why the Government should not go ahead with this proposal. Of course, a lot of them have been spoken to by other speakers as well.

Some of those reasons were stated very clearly in the report of the ACMD—which the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, described fully. That was sent to the Home Secretary in January last year and, after that, the Home Affairs Committee reported on this in November. I am not aware that the effects of khat have changed much since those reports were published.

12 May 2014 : Column 1710

The ACMD says that khat has no causal link to adverse medical effects other than a small number of reports of an association between khat use and significant liver toxicity, which were not of sufficient importance to recommend controlling the substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, mentioned that it was an association, not a proven causal link. However, the report from the ACMD also had—as the noble Baroness said—a number of very useful recommendations to health and social care boards regarding khat that central and local government would do well to study and implement.

The main argument put forward by the Home Office for banning khat is that otherwise the UK might become a hub for its distribution—as mentioned by both the preceding speakers. However, if that were likely to happen it would already be occurring, whereas in fact the use of khat in this country—and I assume the importation of khat to this country, too—is falling. I repeat the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee: can the Minister give us any figures about the use and importation of khat in this country? Is there any evidence of the smuggling of khat out of this country to Europe? As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, that is very difficult because it must be done within two or three days or khat is more or less unsalable.

The most important reason for not going ahead with this order is—as the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, said—the unintended consequences that will follow. Just to start with, the use of khat will probably not come down any faster than it already is. Banning substances that are widely used has little effect on the level of use. This is a fact that Governments—not only this one—are rather reluctant to accept. Another serious consequence would be—as the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, said—to criminalise a section of an already poor and marginalised community: the Somalis in Britain and, to a lesser extent, some Kenyan immigrants and Yemenis. Perhaps the most important consequence might be the substitution of khat by more powerful alternatives, as already mentioned, including alcohol and other stimulants such as crack cocaine and forms of speed—amphetamines—or mephedrone. I join with other noble Lords and Baronesses in pleading with the Minister to reconsider the proposal to go ahead with this order for the very good reasons that the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, put so cogently.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I welcome this further opportunity to set out the Government’s approach, which allows me to focus, in particular, on the activities to support the successful implementation of the ban on khat. That has lain at the heart of concerns raised by noble Lords, which I take seriously. I am reassured that the points raised in today’s debate are nearly all matters that were taken into account in the early stages of our decision-making when we considered our response to the issues associated with this drug.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, asked what new figures we had on this drug. The new evidence, including reports from law enforcement agencies, emerged after the ACMD published its report and the Dutch banned khat in January 2013. It pointed to an increase in the volume

12 May 2014 : Column 1711

of khat in transit via the UK to European countries where it is banned. The latest update for the first three months of this year shows that 17 seizures of khat—with a combined net weight of over 11.5 tonnes—originating in the UK were made in France en route to other countries where it is banned, including Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. This is evidence that this country is becoming a substantial hub for this material.

Before I address the particular concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith—

Baroness Smith of Basildon: The Minister has given helpful figures, but can he give comparative figures on how the situation has changed over time? The premise is that if seizures of illegal imports are up, they must be up against another figure. I made this point in Committee; we had figures but not comparative ones.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I do not have those figures to hand. I think the noble Baroness will understand that, if this material is arriving here to be distributed to other countries, as I have illustrated, it confirms the view that this country is serving as a distribution hub in a way that would not have happened before those countries banned its use. That is the point which the Government have had to consider. The noble Baroness came to see us and we had a good and useful meeting, talking about issues that concern her. I will address these but I would like to consider the points made by other speakers first.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee wanted to know what the Somali network’s report had to say. An important aspect of this is that, according to testimony given by community leaders and mothers, several areas of a person’s life can be affected by khat use. Disagreements and frustration over drug use can cause family arguments and affect personal relationships; legal and health problems associated with khat use add to the strain on personal, financial and work relationships; and chewers of khat tend to be more inward looking rather than reaching out to others, fuelling further segregation. In other words, it can be anti-social in its impact.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, rang me this morning to advise me that she wanted some assurances on this issue. I cannot give her the assurances that she is seeking but I can, at least, explain the Government’s thinking. She asked what the ACMD thought of our decision to control khat. The ACMD acknowledged the lack of robust evidence on whether khat caused medical or social harm. It understood that the scope of issues that the Government will take into account to make a decision on drug control would go beyond the remit of the committee itself. Before the decision was publicly announced, the Government discussed it with the chairman of ACMD, who accepted that we came to a different view on this occasion, based on consideration of the wider issues beyond those that were the immediate responsibility of ACMD.

The noble Baroness asked about temporary bans. They form part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 but they are very different. Temporary class drug orders were introduced as a

12 May 2014 : Column 1712

swift legislative tool to tackle the fast-paced emergence in the UK of psychoactive substances or so-called “legal highs”. I have debated these with the noble Baroness on other occasions. In essence, they are used where there is an urgent or significant threat to public safety or health. There is often very little evidence of the harm these drugs do, for the simple reason that they have been available only for a matter of months, if not weeks. Under a temporary class drug order, the advisory council has just 20 working days to advise and only looks at medical harms. Temporary bans are the exception, not the rule, and only last for 12 months. Khat is not a new drug where such swift, temporary action is demanded.

The role of advisors is to advise—

Baroness Meacher: Does the Minister accept that the whole point about khat is that the ACMD did look at the potential medical and social harms and concluded that they did not justify a ban? The supply-side issues, which Professor Iverson accepts may be slightly beyond the council’s remit, are separate. My point is that if you accept the ACMD’s conclusions that the medical and social harms are low and would not justify a ban—and it was very clear about that—the case for criminalising possession and use really is not there. Hence there is a value in something akin to a temporary class drug order: I was not suggesting that you literally translate it completely. Does the Minister accept that focusing simply on supply makes sense, in terms of the Home Secretary’s comments and the evidence available?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I cannot accept that. When I spoke to the noble Baroness earlier, I said that I did not think I would be able to give her much comfort. We did not reject the ACMD’s report. As I explained, the ACMD is there to advise on particular aspects but, in the end, Ministers have to make decisions and be prepared to stand by them.

I turn to the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon. She has considerable concerns that we have not made proper efforts to prepare affected communities for this ban. I want to reassure her that we have done exactly that. We acknowledge that this is a finely balanced decision that needs careful and extensive preparation at national and local level. Our plans, which have been worked up over a couple of months, are in place and are ready to be rolled out once the draft order completes its parliamentary passage. We are waiting on a decision of the House to approve the order today.

I ask the House to note that, although we took a different view from the ACMD, we took on board its recommendations for locally led health and community-based interventions to meet local khat needs and for monitoring the situation in communities. I know that the noble Baroness would like to have a review after a year. We see it as a matter of continuous review and are specifying that a close eye will be kept on the impact of the ban. In this, we are going beyond the usual approach to the monitoring of newly controlled drugs, to ensure that locally and nationally collected data provide an evolving picture after the ban.

12 May 2014 : Column 1713

7 pm

Our policing response must be fair, consistent, proportionate and sensitive to local issues and community relations. We are grateful to the national policing lead on drugs, Chief Constable Andy Bliss, for taking a personal interest in the development of the law enforcement approach to khat and consulting policing leads on counterterrorism, stop and search and out-of-court disposals, which are all aspects that policing has to consider.

Working with the police, we have bespoke national policing guidance with a graduated system for dealing with khat possession cases. I apologise to the noble Baroness if I have not made a copy of that available to her. It is not a Home Office document but a police document. I will seek to secure it for her. In addition, we have a national community impact assessment, informed by 13 high-priority police forces, highlighting the specific issues that require a tailored community policing response. We expect it to be updated following the ban, and this will feed in to our monitoring activity.

The noble Baroness was very mindful of the need to support Somali communities. The Government have introduced reforms that empower local authorities to serve their communities’ needs. Khat is a local issue in many places and is best addressed through commissioning appropriate services tailored to the local community. This approach is in keeping with the advisory council’s findings, which made specific recommendations in this regard.

Public health directors and commissioners of health services will be central in delivering and reviewing our health and prevention response. Khat is now part of Public Health England’s joint strategic needs assessment guidance which analyses the health needs of a local population and informs how health, well-being and social care services are commissioned within local authority areas.

The Government’s drug information service FRANK will support wider prevention work, including online materials, such as the khat fact sheets translated into Arabic, Amharic, Somali and Swahili for use by local organisations.

We know that community leaders and relevant local authorities are ready to act. We have seen case studies of local partnership preparations which set out actions for community engagement and co-ordinated approaches across health, prevention, integration and law enforcement. We will also publish them so that learning can be shared and promoted.

The noble Baroness is right to raise the concern that khat users might replace it with other drugs or alcohol. We have considered this complex question with the Department of Health. The department’s approach will focus on preventive activities, including public health messaging, to alert khat users, specifically dependent and vulnerable users, to the dangers of other drugs and signpost them to support services.

The noble Baroness mentioned the conversation we had about support for Kenya. It is right that our decision to control khat is concerned primarily with the protection of the UK public and with the UK’s ability to reduce the threat posed by the international

12 May 2014 : Column 1714

khat-trafficking trade. Nevertheless we are committed to giving as much notice as possible to our international partners, including Kenya. The UK has a long-standing and constructive relationship with Kenya, a friendly nation. Our engagement includes a programme of aid to development that supports the delivery of independent projects, such as the market access programme, which is working to lift low-income Kenyan households out of poverty through access to high-value markets.

This co-ordinated response is in keeping with our overarching aims: to protect the public and communities from drug harms and to support dependent and vulnerable users into recovery. I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, that our response has been devised with those communities that use khat very particularly in mind, and we will continue to work with our partners, including those communities, to support the successful implementation of the ban.

This is the Government’s response to the amendment. I am sorry that the noble Baroness felt she had to table it. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have illuminated this debate. I respectfully ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her Motion, and I commend the two orders to the House.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, as on many other occasions, I am grateful to the Minister for the time and care he takes in responding to issues raised in debate. I hope he understands that the only contributions made in your Lordships’ House today have expressed concerns about the Government’s actions regarding the ban on this drug. Our concern is that, with a decision as finely balanced as the Minister said, how it is implemented is very important.

I was somewhat surprised at the uncharacteristically ungenerous comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. She said we were looking for something to do. I find that a curious expression when we are looking at a very serious issue on a busy day in your Lordships’ House. These issues strike at the heart of how such a policy would be implemented. The noble Baroness said that she was unhappy with the amendment before us, but it is open to any Member of your Lordships’ House to table a regret Motion or any other kind of Motion.

We debated this issue in Grand Committee and today. Noble Lords will understand that there are grave concerns about the Government’s action. I am grateful to the Minister for giving us more information on policing. My greatest disappointment is on the issue of health. In a previous debate on drugs, to which I think the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, responded, I said that the FRANK website is not really an answer in cases such as this because somebody has to be interested in order to access it in the first place. As the Government are seeking to ban this drug, they have to be very proactive.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am sure the noble Baroness will admit that this is not the sole intervention that the Government are making but is part and parcel of a package of health and community activities that the Government have commissioned. Public Health England is and will be very active in pursing this ban.

12 May 2014 : Column 1715

Baroness Smith of Basildon: That is helpful, and I look forward to receiving more information. The point is that the measures must be in place and understood prior to the implementation of any ban. My greatest disappointment is that the Minister has failed to commit to a review. For us, that is crucial. At the 12-month point, there should be a full understanding and published figures and information. Given that it is such a finely balanced decision, to say that there will be continuous review seems to be an opportunity not to have the serious review that we are seeking. I am grateful to the Minister for his response, but I am disappointed that he has not been able to address all the points that we raised. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

7.08 pm

Division on Baroness Smith of Basildon’s amendment to the Motion.

Contents 125; Not-Contents 216.

Baroness Smith of Basildon’s amendment to the Motion disagreed.

Division No.  2

CONTENTS

Adams of Craigielea, B.

Adonis, L.

Alli, L.

Anderson of Swansea, L.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Hill Top, B.

Bach, L.

Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]

Beecham, L.

Berkeley, L.

Blood, B.

Boateng, L.

Borrie, L.

Bradley, L.

Brennan, L.

Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.

Brookman, L.

Carter of Coles, L.

Clark of Windermere, L.

Collins of Highbury, L.

Crawley, B.

Davies of Oldham, L.

Davies of Stamford, L.

Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.

Donaghy, B.

Drake, B.

Dubs, L.

Eames, L.

Elder, L.

Elystan-Morgan, L.

Farrington of Ribbleton, B.

Finlay of Llandaff, B.

Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.

Foulkes of Cumnock, L.

Freyberg, L.

Gale, B.

Gibson of Market Rasen, B.

Giddens, L.

Glasman, L.

Goldsmith, L.

Gould of Potternewton, B.

Grantchester, L.

Grocott, L.

Hameed, L.

Harris of Haringey, L.

Harrison, L.

Hart of Chilton, L.

Haworth, L.

Hayter of Kentish Town, B.

Healy of Primrose Hill, B.

Howe of Idlicote, B.

Howie of Troon, L.

Hoyle, L.

Hughes of Stretford, B.

Hunt of Chesterton, L.

Jones, L.

Jones of Whitchurch, B.

Jordan, L.

Judd, L.

Kennedy of Cradley, B.

Kennedy of Southwark, L.

Kinnock, L.

Kinnock of Holyhead, B.

Kirkhill, L.

Knight of Weymouth, L.

Layard, L.

Lea of Crondall, L.

Liddell of Coatdyke, B.

Lister of Burtersett, B.

Low of Dalston, L.

McAvoy, L.

McFall of Alcluith, L.

McIntosh of Hudnall, B.

MacKenzie of Culkein, L.

McKenzie of Luton, L.

Massey of Darwen, B.

Maxton, L.

Meacher, B.

Mitchell, L.

Moonie, L.

Morgan, L.

Morgan of Drefelin, B.

Morris of Handsworth, L.

Noon, L.

Nye, B.

O'Loan, B.

12 May 2014 : Column 1716

O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.

Pendry, L.

Pitkeathley, B.

Plant of Highfield, L.

Ramsay of Cartvale, B.

Rea, L.

Reid of Cardowan, L.

Rendell of Babergh, B.

Richard, L.

Rosser, L.

Rowlands, L.

Royall of Blaisdon, B.

Sherlock, B.

Simon, V.

Smith of Basildon, B.

Smith of Finsbury, L.

Soley, L.

Stern, B.

Stevenson of Balmacara, L.

Stone of Blackheath, L.

Taylor of Bolton, B.

Temple-Morris, L.

Thornton, B.

Tonge, B.

Tunnicliffe, L. [Teller]

Turner of Camden, B.

Wall of New Barnet, B.

Warnock, B.

Warwick of Undercliffe, B.

Watson of Invergowrie, L.

Wheeler, B.

Whitaker, B.

Whitty, L.

Wigley, L.

Wilkins, B.

Wills, L.

Worthington, B.

Young of Hornsey, B.

Young of Norwood Green, L.

NOT CONTENTS

Aberdare, L.

Addington, L.

Ahmad of Wimbledon, L.

Anelay of St Johns, B. [Teller]

Arran, E.

Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.

Astor of Hever, L.

Attlee, E.

Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.

Barker, B.

Bates, L.

Benjamin, B.

Berridge, B.

Bilimoria, L.

Blencathra, L.

Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.

Borwick, L.

Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.

Brabazon of Tara, L.

Brinton, B.

Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.

Brookeborough, V.

Brougham and Vaux, L.

Browne of Belmont, L.

Browning, B.

Burnett, L.

Byford, B.

Caithness, E.

Carlile of Berriew, L.

Carrington of Fulham, L.

Chadlington, L.

Chalker of Wallasey, B.

Chidgey, L.

Clement-Jones, L.

Colwyn, L.

Cope of Berkeley, L.

Cormack, L.

Courtown, E.

Craigavon, V.

Crickhowell, L.

Cumberlege, B.

Curry of Kirkharle, L.

De Mauley, L.

Dear, L.

Deben, L.

Denham, L.

Dobbs, L.

Donoughue, L.

Doocey, B.

Eaton, B.

Eccles, V.

Eccles of Moulton, B.

Edmiston, L.

Elton, L.

Empey, L.

Faulks, L.

Fearn, L.

Fink, L.

Finkelstein, L.

Flight, L.

Fookes, B.

Forsyth of Drumlean, L.

Fowler, L.

Framlingham, L.

Freud, L.

Garden of Frognal, B.

Gardiner of Kimble, L.

Gardner of Parkes, B.

German, L.

Glasgow, E.

Glenarthur, L.

Glendonbrook, L.

Gold, L.

Goodlad, L.

Grade of Yarmouth, L.

Greenway, L.

Grender, B.

Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.

Hamilton of Epsom, L.

Hanham, B.

Henley, L.

Heyhoe Flint, B.

Higgins, L.

Hill of Oareford, L.

Hodgson of Abinger, B.

Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.

Holmes of Richmond, L.

Hooper, B.

Horam, L.

Howe, E.

Howell of Guildford, L.

Humphreys, B.

Hunt of Wirral, L.

Hussain, L.

Hussein-Ece, B.

Inglewood, L.

James of Blackheath, L.

Jenkin of Kennington, B.

Jenkin of Roding, L.

Jolly, B.

Jones of Moulsecoomb, B.

Jopling, L.

King of Bridgwater, L.

Kirkham, L.

Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.

12 May 2014 : Column 1717

Knight of Collingtree, B.

Lamont of Lerwick, L.

Lang of Monkton, L.

Lawson of Blaby, L.

Lee of Trafford, L.

Lexden, L.

Lingfield, L.

Linklater of Butterstone, B.

Liverpool, E.

Livingston of Parkhead, L.

Loomba, L.

Luke, L.

Lyell, L.

McColl of Dulwich, L.

MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.

Mackay of Clashfern, L.

Maclennan of Rogart, L.

Maddock, B.

Maginnis of Drumglass, L.

Mancroft, L.

Manzoor, B.

Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L.

Marlesford, L.

Martin of Springburn, L.

Masham of Ilton, B.

Mawson, L.

Mayhew of Twysden, L.

Morris of Bolton, B.

Neville-Rolfe, B.

Newby, L. [Teller]

Newlove, B.

Noakes, B.

Northbrook, L.

Northover, B.

Norton of Louth, L.

Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.

O'Cathain, B.

Oppenheim-Barnes, B.

Paddick, L.

Palmer of Childs Hill, L.

Parminter, B.

Patel, L.

Perry of Southwark, B.

Popat, L.

Purvis of Tweed, L.

Randerson, B.

Rawlings, B.

Razzall, L.

Redesdale, L.

Rennard, L.

Ribeiro, L.

Ridley, V.

Risby, L.

Roberts of Llandudno, L.

Rogan, L.

Roper, L.

Rowe-Beddoe, L.

Ryder of Wensum, L.

St John of Bletso, L.

Sanderson of Bowden, L.

Scott of Needham Market, B.

Seccombe, B.

Selkirk of Douglas, L.

Shackleton of Belgravia, B.

Sharp of Guildford, B.

Sharples, B.

Sheikh, L.

Shephard of Northwold, B.

Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.

Shipley, L.

Shrewsbury, E.

Shutt of Greetland, L.

Spicer, L.

Stedman-Scott, B.

Steel of Aikwood, L.

Stephen, L.

Stoneham of Droxford, L.

Storey, L.

Stowell of Beeston, B.

Strathclyde, L.

Suttie, B.

Taverne, L.

Taylor of Goss Moor, L.

Taylor of Holbeach, L.

Thomas of Gresford, L.

Tope, L.

Trefgarne, L.

Trimble, L.

True, L.

Tugendhat, L.

Tyler, L.

Tyler of Enfield, B.

Ullswater, V.

Verjee, L.

Verma, B.

Wakeham, L.

Wallace of Saltaire, L.

Wallace of Tankerness, L.

Walmsley, B.

Walpole, L.

Warsi, B.

Wasserman, L.

Watson of Richmond, L.

Wei, L.

Wheatcroft, B.

Whitby, L.

Wilcox, B.

Williams of Trafford, B.

Willis of Knaresborough, L.

Wrigglesworth, L.

Younger of Leckie, V.

Motion agreed.

Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (Amendment) Order 2014

Motion to Approve

7.20 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That the draft Order laid before the House on 4 November 2013 be approved.

Relevant document: 13th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 31 March

Motion agreed.

12 May 2014 : Column 1718

Licensing Act 2003 (FIFA World Cup Licensing Hours) Order 2014

Licensing Act 2003 (FIFA World Cup Licensing Hours) Order 2014 26th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Approve

7.21 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

To move that the draft Order laid before the House on 1 April be approved.

Relevant document: 26th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, this order makes provision for the relaxation of licensing hours in England during World Cup matches in which England is playing. The 2014 World Cup will be hosted by Brazil, and the difference between the respective time zones means that several matches will kick off late in the evening and finish after the traditional closing time of 11 pm. The purpose of the licensing hours order is to allow people to enjoy the matches while minimising the administrative burden on licensing authorities and licensed premises, which would otherwise need to provide notice that they intended to extend their hours.

Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003 allows the Secretary of State to make an order relaxing opening hours for licensed premises to mark occasions of,

“exceptional international, national or local significance”.

The coalition Government consider that England playing in the World Cup is an event of exceptional national significance, which many people will want to celebrate together.

We consulted in March on whether to relax licensing hours nationally. We received nearly 1,500 responses to our online consultation: 500 of those were from members of the public and 75% of all responses were in favour of the national relaxation. In addition, we consulted key strategic partners who represent a range of views, including the police, licensing authorities, the licensed trade, residents’ associations and health bodies. Some of these stakeholders raised concerns about late-night drinking leading to crime, disorder and public nuisance. We have sought to strike a balance by limiting the periods when licensing hours will be relaxed.

We believe that the vast majority of people will enjoy watching matches responsibly. The British Beer and Pub Association, in partnership with the Local Government Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers, has published guidance for licensed premises which intend to show the World Cup matches. The guidance aims to encourage the licensed trade to work together with the police and licensing authorities to ensure the safety of the public.

The order would apply to all licensed premises in England. It will cover the sale of alcohol and late-night refreshment for consumption on the premises during those matches in which England is playing. It will apply for a maximum of four hours for matches with a scheduled kick-off time of 8 pm or later, to a latest time of 1 am.

12 May 2014 : Column 1719

The order will apply to England only. We consulted on whether the order should have effect in England and Wales, or England only. We received only 25 responses from people who live or work in Wales, just over 2% of the total received. While Welsh respondents wanted licensing hours to be relaxed during the World Cup, the majority favoured it being done using the existing system of temporary event notices, rather than a blanket relaxation. This is consistent with what the Government have done: a national blanket relaxation in England, with licensed premises able to use the temporary event notices in Wales.

The Government have sought the views of those who would be affected by a relaxation in licensing hours. We have carefully considered their responses, including concerns about increased crime, disorder and public nuisance, and balanced this with reducing the burden on businesses which would otherwise need to use a temporary event notice to extend their opening hours. We have limited the relaxation to a maximum of four hours after the scheduled kick-off time, to a latest time of 1 am. This is a modest relaxation in licensing hours to allow those who wish to celebrate the occasion to do so.

I hope that noble Lords will agree with the Government that the licensing hours order is an appropriate use of the powers conferred on the Home Secretary by the Licensing Act. With that, I commend the order to the House.

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, briefly, this order that we extend licensing hours is an appropriate response to the celebration of a major national occasion. However, I would like to ask the Government a couple of other questions. The unfortunate fact is that things such as domestic abuse tend to go up when alcohol is consumed around sporting events. I was recently made aware of the White Ribbon Campaign, which tries to deal with other sporting groups, making sure that they are aware that this goes on and is unacceptable.

Will the Government be doing something to make sure that people such as, for instance, the football authorities—those who profit from this—accept that this type of behaviour is as unacceptable after the event as anything that would go on at the event, effectively making people aware that if you have had a few drinks and a great night out, you should not take out any frustrations on the person at home when you get back? It would be a good idea if that responsibility was passed on to all those who profit from this. Most people do not indulge in this; it is not a compulsory element, so a ban is not appropriate. Those who profit from this should be making sure that those who might use this as cover for anti-social behaviour, particularly in the privacy of a home, are aware that it is not acceptable.

I hope that the Government have a reasonably positive attitude towards this, if only as something that will develop out of this in the future. We must be aware that celebrations can mask anti-social activity.

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining the purpose and intent of the order, which we shall not be opposing as we accept that there should be arrangements for extending licensing hours

12 May 2014 : Column 1720

during the World Cup. However, the order raises as many questions as it answers, although in one area it is very explicit. In paragraph 37 of the impact assessment, it says:

“While England are certain to be playing in the matches in the first period, there is a high probability that they will not be playing in the later matches”.

It is good to know what the Government think of England’s prospects.

As the Minister has said, Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003 confers on the Secretary of State the power to make a national licensing hours order if she considers that a period—I gather it is known as the “celebration period”—marks an occasion of exceptional international, national or local significance. The specified period, which is part or all of the celebration period, cannot exceed four days but means that premises’ licences and club premises’ certifications have effect as if times specified in the order were included in the opening hours authorised by the licence or certificate. The alternative option available would be to use the existing system of temporary event notices, which means that decisions would be made locally and specific conditions could be attached to the granting of any notices to reflect the local situation, or an extension could be refused for specific premises about which there were concerns.

The Government have come to the conclusion that England’s participation in the World Cup this summer, however brief they think it might be, is an occasion of exceptional national significance which justifies the extension of licensing hours to enable fans to watch the matches at pubs and other licensed premises across the country. The other occasions on which the Section 172 power was used were the royal wedding in 2011 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The football World Cup is now on a par with those two occasions, as the power has never before been used for a sports tournament. It would be interesting to know whether the Government will also consider the likely participation of the England women’s football team in the World Cup—which I think will be held in Canada next year—as a similar occasion of exceptional national significance.

7.30 pm

The order extends licensing hours with regard to England’s group matches with Italy and Uruguay, since these games will not kick off until the late evening our time due to the time difference between ourselves and Brazil. It will also extend the licensing hours with regard to any matches in the later stages of the World Cup in which England participate—although that will of course be dependent on England still being in the tournament. The Government’s proposal is that for all England matches in the World Cup with a scheduled kick-off time of 8 pm or later, licensing hours should be extended until four hours after kick-off but no later than one in the morning.

Can the Minister confirm that even though we live in a multinational society, this order will not extend to any matches in which England are not participating, and thus would not cover the World Cup final if, for example, Spain played Brazil or another European

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country in that final? Can he confirm that any licensed premises that wish to extend their licensing hours for the final in this situation would have to do so through a temporary event notice? If so, what is the Government’s estimate of the likely number of such applications bearing in mind that the impact assessment seems to indicate that the degree of interest in the final would be on a par with any England match, which the Government deem it necessary to deal with by this Section 172 order? Can the Minister say how many licensed premises covered by this order have ever previously applied for a temporary event notice? In other words, will establishments which have never been through the process of meeting the requirements of a temporary event notice be granted an automatic extension to licensing hours under this order?

The government consultation on this issue ran from 13 to 26 March. As the Minister said, the Explanatory Memorandum says that there were just under 1,500 responses to the online consultation. The department also wrote to nine key stakeholders asking for a more detailed response. The Explanatory Memorandum says that those representing licensing authorities and enforcement bodies were not in favour of a national relaxation, while those who represent the licensed trade or football supporters were in favour.

The Explanatory Memorandum is a little thin on the downside of the Government’s proposals. It tells us that the financial benefit to on-trade premises could be £1.35 million, and we also learn from the impact assessment that the preferred option presents the “maximum benefits to business” and that the policy objective is to enable businesses to fully reap the benefits of increased licensable activities during the World Cup. No other considerations seem to get much of a look-in. As far as additional policing costs are concerned, the document tells us that,

“the operational response will vary from force to force and within force, depending on the perception of likely crime and disorder associated with late night opening…We do not know how many more officers police forces would have to roster or for how long, so we are unable to monetise these costs”.

It seems rather odd that it is not possible to provide any figures. Are the police saying that they cannot provide an estimate? Perhaps the Minister can say whether that is the case and whether the Government have asked the police. One would have thought, for example, that a police and crime commissioner might have been interested in additional costs that are likely to be incurred as the result of a government decision, bearing in mind that the additional costs are most likely to be incurred in respect of licensed premises that might have had their applications for extensions declined or conditions attached to them under the existing locally based temporary event notice procedure, but will apparently get the extension automatically under this government order. Who will be responsible for finding the money for any additional policing costs incurred? Will it be the taxpayer, whether national or local?

The Government have decided not to use the existing locally based system of temporary event notices. Does that mean that they do not feel that local licensing hours for England matches at the World Cup is an

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issue on which it is appropriate to have local decision-making that takes into account the differing circumstances and views there may be in different areas? The enforcement and licensing authorities may well have very good reasons for feeling that it would not be appropriate for this extension in licensing hours to apply to specific establishments. There may be particular locations where there would be strong objections from local residents. What happens in those circumstances? Does that mean that the licensing hours are extended in respect of specific establishments irrespective of objections, however well founded or legitimate, by the enforcement or licensing authorities or by local residents? If that is the case, how does that decision relate to the Government’s localism agenda?

The Local Government Association said in its response to the Government:

“A blanket extension to opening hours, determined nationally, runs counter to the objectives set out in the Licensing Act 2003 and would remove the ability of councils to take local issues into account when reaching licensing decisions. Further, a one size fits all approach would mean that councils are not able to agree conditions that help to mitigate any potential problems … A blanket extension would make it difficult for the local council and the police to have a definitive picture of which premises intend to remain open for longer, making effective planning much harder”.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said in its response:

“I have no doubt whatsoever that a blanket relaxation of licensing legislation during the period of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil would lead to a rise in public order related incidents and, by extension, increased demand upon the police service. The task of monitoring, predicting and reacting to football related incidents will be made significantly more difficult should the government decide not to require licensed premises to apply for Temporary Event Notices during the World Cup. Without the ability to focus on specific premises, forces would potentially have to over-predict the likelihood of public disorder which, in turn, would result in greater cost to the public purse. The advantage of Temporary Event Notices is that they allow police forces to adapt their public order plans to more accurately reflect the probable demand based upon targeted intelligence”.

We can also look at what the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime had to say in its response to the government consultation:

“MOPAC believes that a local approach to licensing hours during this period would therefore be most appropriate. Leaving licensing decisions to local determination means that any applications for extended opening hours (using the Temporary Event Notice system) can be balanced against local circumstances and any potential adverse impacts on the surrounding community. Local Councils and partners such as the Police understand the nature and operation of establishments in their areas and are best placed to grant or refuse these requests”.

The Government also asked for the views of the National Organisation of Residents Associations, which in its response said that the temporary event notices regime,

“a simple and economic facility for those licensees wishing to extend their licensing hours, gives some influence to the police and environmental health officers to limit and prevent serious problems where they know they might occur. To remove this facility that protects the community and other football supporters is surely unwise. Granting this proposal to relax the licensing hours regulations for the 2014 World Cup matches involving England is highly likely to lead to avoidable serious adverse events affecting residents, who after all comprise the general public”.

I hope that the Minister will respond to the points and questions that I have raised and that he will explain in a bit more detail why the Government

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decided not to give greater weight to the views of the police, residents, local authorities and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. The argument of the organisations and bodies to which I have just referred is not that no extension of hours should be agreed for England matches but that the decision should be made, as now, locally, rather than by a blanket national order, which does not allow local knowledge, circumstances or objections to be taken into account when making decisions, thus enabling where justified some applications to be rejected and others to have conditions attached to them.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I welcome the debate on this order. I am not entirely sure where the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, stands on the issue before us—

Lord Rosser: I thought that I made that clear when I started. I said that we were not opposing it as we accepted that there was a need to provide arrangements for extended hours during the World Cup. What I am raising with the Government is how views were sought from a number of stakeholders, to which I have referred. They covered the police and the Mayor’s office, as well as local government and residents, who were not saying that there should not be an extension but asked why we could not stick with the current procedure of temporary event notices, which allow local circumstances to be taken into account, rather than doing it on a blanket basis, which, unless the Minister is going to tell me to the contrary, does not allow local circumstances to be taken into account.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It was that point of which I was uncertain—as to whether the Opposition were in favour of doing it through this measure. I am still unsure. I understand exactly what he has said—

Lord Rosser: I am asking the Minister to explain in rather more detail why, in the face of those points made by the organisations to which I referred, the Government are saying that the best approach is the national blanket decision rather than a continuation of temporary event orders. We are not opposing this order as we recognise that there has to be a facility for extension of licensing hours. But we are curious as to why the Government are so keen to go down the road of the national blanket order, which does not allow local circumstances to be taken into account, bearing in mind the nature of the comments that came back from the police and the Mayor’s office, residents’ organisations and the Local Government Association.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Of course, the overwhelming number of comments were in favour of using this measure. I accept what the noble Lord says. He is quite right to challenge the Government on why they have made this decision. I think that England’s participation in the World Cup is an occasion that many people will want to enjoy in an atmosphere of clubs or bars where they will be enjoying themselves with other people. We consider it appropriate that the World Cup is seen as an event of exceptional national significance for the purposes of Section 172 of the Licensing Act.

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Before I go on to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, I would like to respond to my noble friend Lord Addington, who mentioned the very serious consideration of domestic violence. It is interesting that we have a domestic violence debate tomorrow, which I am also involved in. In truth, there is very little recent evidence that shows that incidents of domestic violence increase during sporting events, although in the past there have been occasions when such phenomena have been reported. Women’s Aid will run a campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence during the period of the World Cup, and that campaign is supported by the Home Office.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked whether we are going to extend the blanket provision to matches when England is not playing, such as the World Cup final. It is acknowledged that an awful lot of people will probably watch those games, but the power under which this order is being made allows for the relaxation for events of exceptional national significance and we consider that this would not meet the criteria if England was not playing in the final.

On that basis, the noble Lord has clearly read with interest the impact assessment. I am pleased that he is impressed by the intellectual rigour with which the Government draw up those assessments. He is quite right. It says that England are certain to play in the matches of the first period of the tournament—I think that we can all agree on that—but that there is a high probability that England will not play in later matches. That is a matter of opinion, and I am sure that other noble Lords will have different views on that issue. But the use of Betfair and its interactive website was the basis for that assessment.

7.45 pm

Lord Rosser: As I understand it, the Minister has said that a blanket order could not apply to the final if England was not participating in it. Am I not right in saying that Section 172 can be applied to mark occasions of exceptional international significance as well as national significance?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The noble Lord is absolutely right, but the Government have not taken the view that that particular definition applies in this instance. We are limiting it to those games in which England is playing.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about additional policing costs, crime and disorder and the cost to the taxpayer. We are mindful that late-night drinking can lead to crime and disorder as well as public nuisance but, because these matches will be identified and the situations known, the order is restricted to the sale of alcohol and late-night refreshment in pubs, clubs and anywhere else where alcohol is consumed on the premises. It is not an off-the-premises order.

The noble Lord asked about giving the police extra funding for this. No, this is not an event for which extra funding would be provided. He also asked whether there would be other occasions on which football events would be covered, and mentioned the women’s World Cup. Each occasion is assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on whether they could be considered of

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significance, alongside other circumstances, such as time, location, and the impact on public safety. Those things are carefully considered before orders such as this one are brought before the House.

The noble Lord asked how it would be possible to plan policing. The police will use their relationship with premises to determine which premises would be extending their licensing hours and will manage risks accordingly. He asked how we squared this proposal with our localism approach. The Government have decided that England’s participation in the World Cup is an exceptional national event. Due to the late kick-off times, which we cannot help, since Brazil is west of here, it is appropriate to relax licensing hours for a modest length of time in relation to these matters. This order provides a temporary change only in licensing hours during World Cup 2014.

Licensing hours have been relaxed before, as I have said. The order provides a temporary change, specifically for England’s matches. Future events and occasions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. This licensing hours order will reduce the burden on businesses, which is why we have chosen this path, when otherwise they would need to use temporary event notices to extend their opening hours. It will reduce the burden on licensing authorities, which would have to process the notices.

Lord Rosser: I am still not clear on the question of additional policing costs. Can the Minister say that the additional policing costs will be less than what the Government described as the benefit to on-trade premises of £1.35 million?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I cannot say categorically what the actual increase in costs will be and I certainly cannot state categorically the degree to which the order will increase police costs. I think that a far more difficult situation would arise if England were playing, clubs, pubs and bars were not open and there was informal activity on private premises. At least the order allows policing to be planned as it enables the police to know which licensed premises will be open during these events.

Lord Addington: Before my noble friend sits down, I hope that I can ask him one more question. I asked whether those who will profit from the World Cup will be given a little more encouragement to make sure that domestic abuse issues are brought to the public’s attention. As the audience we are talking about is predominantly male and the problem to which I referred is predominantly a male problem, this might be a good time to raise awareness of it and establish an ongoing duty in this regard. That was what I was trying to get at. I did not get a chance to speak to my noble friend about this issue before the debate as he has been so busy but I wonder whether he could give his thoughts on that issue.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I certainly understand exactly what my noble friend is saying. As I said, the Home Office is supporting an awareness campaign on this issue. I cannot give him a specific promise that

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there will be a continuing commitment in this regard. However, we will discuss this issue tomorrow afternoon and I hope that the noble Lord will participate in that debate. I am prepared to write to him about a continuing commitment if that would be helpful in the event that he is not able to attend tomorrow’s debate.

Lord Rosser: I wish to ask the Minister a question following what he said a moment ago—that premises which decide to stay open later under the blanket order will have to advise the police in advance of their decision to do so. I thought the Minister was arguing that the blanket order made it easier for the police to keep control of the situation. However, the letter from the Association of Chief Police Officers says that the advantage of temporary event notices is that they allow police forces,

“to adapt their public order plans to more accurately reflect the probable demand based upon targeted intelligence”.

Does it mean, therefore, that under this blanket order premises which are intending to stay open later within the terms of the order will have to advise the police in advance?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: No, that is not the case. However, the police will be able to ask whether such places intend to remain open. That is entirely up to them.

Lord Rosser: Can we be clear, therefore, that under the blanket order the police have to ask premises whether they are staying open whereas under the temporary event notice, where people would have to apply, the police would know in advance who would be staying open?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: If the police consider it is important for them to know that information, they will ask the question. If they do not think it is important to know that, they do not have to ask the question; it is entirely up to them. It is a policing matter, not a question of the licensing arrangements. We are making it clear that the whole point of this measure is to liberalise the licensing hours available to licensed bars and pubs to enable them to have extra licensing hours, if that is what they seek, to enable their customers to watch matches and have a drink at the same time. I think it is quite clear what the arrangements will be. I would have thought that the noble Lord would accept that it is a perfectly sensible and practical arrangement. As I said in my opening speech—

Lord Rosser: The Minister says he hoped that I would accept that this is a perfectly practical arrangement. I have made it clear that there is no argument about the need for a procedure for extended hours. However, the points I am raising are ones the police have raised.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I think I have given the answer, have I not? My job is to present the reasons why we have chosen to go ahead with the order. We have done so because we consider that this is an event of national significance. As it is an event of national significance, we have decided that the Licensing Act approach is the right one to take to provide the opportunity for licensed premises to stay open during

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the matches. We have made it quite clear why we have done that. The job of the police is to maintain order. They are entitled to say that they do not particularly like our approach; that is entirely up to them. However, the Government have made this decision because they think it is in the interests of the public as a whole that they have an opportunity to view the matches while attending licensed premises. I think that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The order is conditional on England playing in any particular match. The coalition Government believe that the decision to relax licensing hours for England matches during the World Cup strikes the right balance between recognising the benefits of alcohol when it is enjoyed responsibly and maintaining proper safeguards for the public. On that basis, I hope that these orders are agreed.

Motion agreed.


Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Conditions) Order 2014

Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Conditions) Order 2014 40th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee26th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Approve

7.56 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That the draft order laid before the House on 9 April be approved.

Relevant documents: 40th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, 26th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My Lords, the order makes provision for the introduction of a mandatory licensing condition banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT. Some noble Lords will notice that the substance of this order has been debated previously, as the Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2014. After some debate, the order did receive the approval of the House. Unfortunately, the process necessary for formal approval of the order did not take place, so we must give the order our consideration again.

The Policing and Crime Act 2009 amended the Licensing Act 2003 to confer a power on the Secretary of State to specify further mandatory licensing conditions relating to the sale and supply of alcohol. New Sections 19A and 73B of the Licensing Act allow for such conditions where the Home Secretary considers it appropriate for the promotion of licensing objectives. The order will apply to all licensed premises in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are subject to different legislation.

The Government are committed to reducing alcohol-related harms. We have taken a decision to ban the sale of alcohol below the permitted price—that is, the cost of duty and VAT. This fulfils a commitment in the coalition agreement. It will ensure that the worst cases of cheap alcohol are banned from sale. The ban will prevent anyone selling alcohol at heavily discounted prices. A can—that is, 440 millilitres—of average-strength lager will now cost no less than 40p, and a standard bottle of 70 centilitres of vodka no less than £8.89.

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The ban aims to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and its associated impact on alcohol-related crime and health harms.

It is estimated that overall alcohol consumption will fall by 10.5 million units in the first year alone, resulting in 900 fewer crimes and 100 fewer hospital admissions. After 10 years, there will be 500 fewer hospital admissions and 14 lives will be saved each year. It is vital that we reduce alcohol-related harm, which is estimated to cost society £21 billion per year, with £11 billion of this being alcohol-related crime. In nearly half of all violent incidents the victim believed the perpetrator to be under the influence of alcohol. The most common type of anti-social behaviour experienced or witnessed—by one in 10 people—was drink-related. This measure will ensure that we take a step towards a much needed reduction in the £21 billion bill that this country faces as a result of alcohol.

In the previous debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, raised concerns regarding the evidence upon which we based the policy. I reiterate that the benefits of this policy have been assessed using the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research model. This is accepted as the best model available for estimating the benefits of this policy. I hope that the noble Baroness found helpful my correspondence following the debate setting out the modelling in more detail. More detailed information on the modelling used by the University of Sheffield can be found at annexe 3 of the impact assessment, which was published alongside the order.

My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones, who is not in his place this evening, raised during the previous debate a question on minimum unit pricing and its effects in Canada. As I noted then, the context of sale in Canada is quite different from that in England and Wales. I hope that my noble friend found my subsequent response outlining the studies helpful.

The modelling from the University of Sheffield estimates that this policy is worth £3.6 million a year in crime reduction benefits in England alone. This figure was laid before Parliament in the impact assessment and the Explanatory Memorandum. The health benefits have also been considered and again laid before Parliament. The Explanatory Memorandum notes an estimated benefit to the public sector in England alone of £1.15 million per year on average over the first 10 years. The impact assessment estimates the wider health benefits to society, as well as the public sector, to be £5.3 million per year.

While the reduction in average consumption is modest, this policy will impact the most on hazardous and harmful drinkers. We know that there is a direct link between the price of alcohol and the quantity consumed by the heaviest drinkers, who tend to favour the cheapest alcohol. We also know that hazardous and harmful drinkers generate the biggest costs for alcohol-related crime. What this policy seeks to achieve is 900 fewer crimes in the first year alone, with a reduction in hospital admissions from 100 in year 1 to 500 in year 10. Two consultations have been held on the Licensing Act and alcohol strategy, in 2010 and 2012-13. Following the results of the consultations, banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty

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plus VAT was considered to be the most pragmatic way with which to tackle the worst examples of cheap alcohol.

I hope that noble Lords will agree with the Government that the introduction of the ban is an appropriate use of the powers conferred on the Home Secretary by the Licensing Act 2003. Accordingly, I commend the order to the House.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful again to the Minister for his explanation, and I admire his ability to keep going today, as this is the fifth debate in which he has taken part. I do not intend to repeat the comments I made previously when this matter was debated. He will recall—he alluded to this—that I challenged the Government on the robustness of the evidence he provided for the policy and its impact. Indeed, I used the 32nd and 35th reports of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. I concurred with its conclusion that the effect of this policy, as outlined in the order, “appears to be negligible”. As I recall from the debate, he said that the level of reduction in alcohol consumption would be 10.5 million units in the first year. When the matter was considered further by the committee, it said that that was equivalent to one large glass of wine a year per individual. That does not have quite the same impact as saying 10.5 million units. There was no robust evidence to show that those who most needed to reduce their alcohol intake would do so under this policy.

The Minister alluded to the letter that he wrote to me following the debate. I admit that I had not expected this order to come before us again. Had it done so with no changes, my comments would be very brief, but there are significant changes and new evidence to which he did not refer today. It might be helpful if I did so. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in its 40th report drew attention to those changes. I share the committee’s disappointment that neither the Explanatory Memorandum nor the impact assessment was revised on being re-presented to your Lordships’ House in light of the strong and justified criticisms highlighted in the previous debate. It would have been helpful if those had been taken into account before re-presenting the Explanatory Memorandum and impact assessment to your Lordships’ House.

I will raise two issues on which I seek the Minister’s comments. In terms of new evidence, consideration of the Budget is important in assessing the impact of this policy. As was evident from the previous debate, there would be a marginal impact, which has failed to convince the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee that the costs to industry, which would be significant in implementing the permitted pricing policy, could be justified. The impacts would be low and marginal—one large glass of wine a year. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association claimed that the Budget would save the industry £175 million in additional duty payments. That, in turn, would bring down the permitted price at which alcohol would be sold. If the Minister is relying on a higher permitted price to reduce alcohol consumption, he perhaps ought to talk to the Chancellor, who has ensured that the permitted price will be reduced by the reduction and freezing of duty on alcohol.

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Other evidence from the Cardiff University study was presented in the committee’s report. I do not know if the noble Lord has had an opportunity to read it, but it makes interesting reading around the reasons for a significant fall in violent crime. The study was unconvinced that alcohol pricing is the most significant factor. There was a 12% reduction in injuries from violent incidents in 2003 and, for the fifth consecutive year, the NHS has recorded a decrease in injuries from violence. This issue has to be looked at again, given the large implementation costs and the impact on the industry. What added value will this policy change brought forward by the order produce for the NHS and policing if you also take into account the economic and social factors, and the policing initiatives that have led to the fall in violent crime? What additional change will this order bring about?

Finally, the impact assessment suggests that doubling the level of alcohol excise duty will reduce alcohol-related mortality by an average of 35%, traffic-crash deaths by 11%, sexually transmitted diseases by 6%, violence by 2% and crime by 1.4%. Although the impact assessment does not specify the timeframe, it says that that would be the impact. That would be pretty impressive but it is not what this policy seeks to do. It is based only on maintaining the current level of excise duty, but the Chancellor reduced it in the Budget. Can we take it that we should now seek an increase following the reduction in excise duty?

We all want the harms from excess alcohol, to which the noble Lord referred in his comments on domestic violence, reduced. However, I have serious concerns.

Lord Tyler (LD): The noble Baroness seems to be coming to the end of her speech. Can she be optimistic for once? We have so much pessimism from the Opposition. Will she make a firm commitment? Does the Labour Party understand that the principle of minimum alcohol pricing is important? Are we not all in favour? This order may not go far enough for her; I understand that, but could she for once be optimistic and say that this may be a step in the right direction?

Baroness Smith of Basildon: There is a coalition Government and it is pretty hard to be optimistic. It is not about minimum alcohol pricing; that would be a completely different debate. The Government have ruled it in, then ruled it out—it will happen, it will not happen. This is about a different issue altogether. I am questioning whether the measures taken and the wonderful responses and results they are supposed to give really measure up. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee does not think so, and neither do I.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I tend to agree with my noble friend Lord Tyler. We have had situations today where the measures are agreed in principle but then the Government’s reasoning is challenged. This is another case in which the Opposition are not quite sure where to be on this issue.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: The Minister is right. It is the Opposition’s job to challenge the Government not just on policy but on implementation. In accusing

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the Opposition of being negative I remind him that this policy was looked at by a cross-party group of esteemed Members of your Lordships’ House on a Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. If I am negative and pessimistic, so are they.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The noble Baroness is quite within her constitutional rights to be critical of the Government. If the Opposition welcome a change, which I am sure they do, it would be rather nice if they said so. After all, this policy will deal with a particular class of drinker that I think the noble Baroness and I agree is a problem. We are talking about hazardous and dangerous drinkers, the very people who are attracted by the offer of cheap alcohol, as existed in the past. This measure is designed particularly with them in mind. We know that savings to the National Health Service alone are £5.3 million and the costs related to crime are £3.6 million. We welcome the general trend of a drop in violence, and alcohol is only one factor in a number of measures being taken to deal with violence—just as price is only one factor to deal with alcohol abuse. It does not invalidate its use.

The noble Baroness asked about the Budget and whether we should have changed the figures in the light of the Budget. I emphasise that it is a targeted measure, as alcohol harms. It will stop the worst instances of deep discounting which result in alcohol being sold cheaply and harmfully. The whole point of the order is to ban the worst cases of cheap alcohol sales, but other actions that help local areas to identify and tackle alcohol-related issues are all part and parcel of the coalition’s commitment to dealing with alcohol abuse. I hope that the noble Baroness will recognise the purpose of bringing forward this order and welcome it. With that in mind I ask that the order be approved.

Motion agreed.


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

Motion to Approve

8.14 pm

Moved by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

That the draft Regulations laid before the House on 24 March be approved.

Relevant document: 25th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): In many ways I deeply regret that we are coming to this very late in an empty House. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and I agree that this is a very important transition. It is in the interests of all parties that we get this transition to individual registration right. Perhaps—I raise this as a question for the new Session—it might be appropriate before the summer to have, if the Opposition care to suggest it, another debate on where we are and how confident we are that the transition is going ahead.

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The Electoral Commission reported in its readiness report published at the end of March that significant progress had been made in preparing for the transition, and that there was no reason to delay the implementation of IER. Since the commission made its assessment, further progress has been made, particularly in the testing of the IT arrangements that will support the new system. Thus, all is going well. From my perspective all is going much better than I thought when I was originally briefed some 18 months ago. IER is set to start in June in England and Wales and in September in Scotland.

The draft instrument for England and Wales before the House today will enable a significant change to help the electoral registration officers—EROs—in two-tier local government areas to make their registers as accurate and complete as possible. The two instruments also make further refinements designed to get IER off to the best possible start. The significant change is that the draft regulations for England and Wales will provide for local data matching in two-tier areas. They will authorise EROs in two-tier local government areas, which are appointed by district councils, to inspect records kept by the county council and to make copies of information contained in them. This will remove the current anomaly that allows EROs in unitary authorities to inspect a wider range of locally held data such as—this is highly relevant to the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy—lists of school students who are approaching voting age, than their counterparts in two-tier areas.

In addition, the regulations will authorise but not require the authority by which the ERO was appointed, and in two-tier areas the relevant county council, to disclose to the ERO information contained in records held by that authority. This can happen only if an agreement is in place between the authority and the ERO as to the processing of the information. This will put all EROs on an equal footing as regards the right to inspect information. It will also permit, subject to conditions, the disclosure of data by local authorities to EROs in a form suitable for electronic matching against the electoral register. The Cabinet Office ran pilot data-matching schemes in 2013 which indicated that as many as 100,000 eligible voters might be identified through two-tier data matching. I hope that your Lordships will agree that this measure will be very helpful to EROs in getting as many of these additional eligible people as possible on to the electoral register.

I know that there has been some disappointment that this instrument does not do more. I am familiar with the initiative in Northern Ireland to raise registration levels among attainers—that is, 16 and 17 year-olds—in schools. Bite the Ballot has been active in promoting a similar scheme in Great Britain, and I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate its members most sincerely on their efforts. The Northern Ireland initiative has worked well in the Northern Ireland context. That is why we have learnt from the work of Northern Ireland colleagues when considering what to do in Great Britain—but life moves on, and what works well in one place may well not necessarily work so well in another.

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There are good reasons why we cannot simply replicate exactly the same approach for Great Britain. For example, the delivery structure in Great Britain is different. There is one single registration service in Northern Ireland as against 363 in Great Britain. Regulations in Northern Ireland enable the chief electoral officer to request post-primary schools to provide him with lists of the names, addresses and dates of birth of pupils. This would be almost impossible to replicate in a place such as London, where pupils at an individual school might come from any or all of London’s 32 boroughs, each with its own ERO, or indeed from local authorities outside the London area. Further, some students may not be British or Commonwealth citizens.

Crucially, we are introducing online registration for the first time. This was not available at the time of the introduction of IER in Northern Ireland, which was therefore required to be based on paper forms that EROs took into schools. We expect online registration to be by far the easiest way for young people to register, and the paper-based approach practised in Northern Ireland would therefore be a step backwards.

I understand, too, that EROs across Great Britain already take proactive measures to encourage young people to register to vote and to promote democratic participation generally. Local authority staff have made visits to schools and colleges to give talks on voter registration and to get young people to fill in registration forms. EROs have facilitated organisations such as the UK Youth Parliament by providing advice and equipment for running youth elections and have organised events such as “political speed dating” and young mayor competitions to encourage interest in democracy and put young people in contact with their elected representatives. Much is being done already on the mainland to encourage young people on to the register.

None the less, the Northern Ireland schools initiative has played an important part in providing the evidence and the business case for developing the Rock Enrol! exercise. Rock Enrol! is a learning resource that is freely available from the Cabinet Office. It gives young people the opportunity to register to vote and allows them to discuss the importance of doing so. The Government have announced that all local authorities in Great Britain, alongside five national organisations, will share £4.2 million in funding to maximise registration. EROs have been encouraged to use this funding to support the delivery of Rock Enrol! in their area in order to ensure that we target attainers effectively as part of our maximising registration work.

Your Lordships will have observed that these regulations do not include any provision for local data sharing in Scotland. This is because the different local government structure in Scotland renders unnecessary a provision for two-tier areas data sharing as drafted for England and Wales. However, the Cabinet Office is consulting EROs and local government bodies in Scotland to establish whether there is any need to make provision for disclosure of information to an ERO by the council which appointed him or her. If there is such a need, it will be included in a suitable future instrument.

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I turn now to the provisions for the further refinements that we are making to the IER arrangements. Both sets of regulations will disapply the usual requirements for follow-up actions by the ERO where the ERO has invited a person to register to vote who he or she has reason to believe would, if registered, be registered as a special category elector such as an overseas elector, a person with a service declaration or an elector with an anonymous entry. These are small but important categories. The effect of the current regulations is that EROs are required to take specified steps to encourage applications to register in certain cases. They must send an invitation to register and, where necessary, two reminder letters and a canvasser to the elector’s residence.

There is, of course, some enthusiasm among EROs to be sent to canvass overseas electors in places such as the United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand and Florida, but noble Lords will understand the issue of the costs involved. They will appreciate that these steps can be impractical and/or expensive, and the need for greater sensitivity in the case of anonymously registered voters will often make letters or visits undesirable. I can assure your Lordships that the legislation will not prevent EROs sending invitations to register to special category electors. It will merely change the subsequent actions from a mandatory process to one that will be at the discretion of the ERO.

The Government are working with the Electoral Commission to provide guidance to be issued to EROs in the summer of this year specifically encouraging them to be proactive in carrying out their duty of inviting those whose registration has expired to register. It will reinforce the need to send follow-up reminders to special category electors where the ERO believes that this will be effective.

The Government will introduce further secondary legislation that will require EROs to encourage special category electors to reregister before their registration expires. Under existing regulations, EROs are required to send a reminder to reregister to special category electors, excluding anonymous electors, between two and three months before their registration expires. The Government will amend these regulations to compel EROs to send an additional reminder. This has two advantages over the reminders sent following an invitation to register. First, it will reduce the burden on electors by preventing the need for a completely new application. Secondly, it will reduce both the cost and time burden on EROs by allowing electronic communication of the reminder notice.

The second instrument—the draft regulations for Scotland—also confirms that the date for the introduction of IER in Scotland will be 19 September 2014. The House will have observed that in this respect the regulations amend legislation that was passed quite recently. I ought to explain why that is. We are aware that the combined effect of previous instruments could result in a lack of clarity as to whether the start date for IER in Scotland is 10 June 2014 or 19 September 2014. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Commencement No. 5 and Transitory Provisions) Order 2014 clearly sets out that the start date in Scotland is 19 September 2014. The draft

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regulations for Scotland are intended to minimise any potential for confusion on this important point.

I reassure the House again that we are continuing to work to maximise electoral registration. We are considering running further data-matching pilot schemes, building on the work done in previous years to match electoral registers against data held by public authorities. This will help us see what additional data sets might be able to add to the processes for verifying electors’ details and helping find potentially eligible electors who are not yet registered.

The draft Representation of the People (Supply of Information) Regulations 2014 were laid on 6 May 2014. Should Parliament approve them, the regulations will allow political parties the information they will need to promote IER among electors who are not yet individually registered. This is in response to a request from the political parties that at the end of the 2014 canvass they should be given a specific new list of those electors on the register who have been carried forward but not confirmed or registered under IER. The parties have recently told the Cabinet Office that they remain in favour of such a list and are expecting it to be made available to them. I trust that the House will have the opportunity to consider that instrument in the near future.

I return to the two statutory instruments before your Lordships. Each will, in its own way, play a part in the successful implementation of individual electoral registration in Great Britain. I commend them to the House.

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

At end to insert “but that this House regrets that the Regulations do not go far enough to address the problem of young people not registering to vote and, in particular, that this statutory instrument is not more closely modelled on the proven and successful Northern Ireland Schools Initiative.”

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, in moving this amendment to the Motion, I first note that as far as it goes, this regulation has my support and that of noble Lords on these Benches. That is why my amendment is carefully worded in regretting the fact that it does not go further. The regulations are a useful addition to the tools that electoral registration officers have at their disposal to improve the accuracy of the electoral register. It is ridiculous that until this point, EROs in two-tier local government areas had no right to inspect records held by county councils that might have helped them to maintain improved accuracy of the register.

We have had many debates, discussions and questions about the electoral register, the registration process and connected matters in this Chamber and in the Moses Room. We have much more work to do in updating and improving the processes that we employ to ensure that they make a difference in getting the millions of our fellow citizens on to the register who, as I have repeatedly raised in this House, are eligible to be on the register but are not currently registered.

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Like many noble Lords I have been out and about on the streets for the local and European elections. What I find particularly depressing is when you go down a street or on a council estate and you see gaps in the register—no one at the address is on the register to vote, but clearly somebody is living there. There are now too many of these gaps for it always to be because those people are not eligible to take part in elections. It is very depressing for anyone who believes in democracy and citizenship that people are not registered to vote. We could do much more to find new ways of identifying those people and getting them registered to vote. I have always thought that there must be more scope for looking at the way citizens engage with the state and making that engagement play its part in a process of checking if the person is registered to vote. There must be a presumption that the state has a duty to get its citizens registered to vote.

8.30 pm

Individual electoral registration is not a tool to increase the number of people on the register. If we are lucky, it may improve accuracy, but it will not help completeness and, if implemented badly, it could have a negative effect and make the situation much worse. I am pleased with the assurance the noble Lord has given the House that things are going well on IER and I certainly agree with him that there needs to be a debate before the Summer Recess. However, there are of course particular groups that are more likely not to be registered, including ethnic minorities, people living in rented accommodation, students and young people in general. I would be interested to hear from the noble Lord what the Government are doing with each of those particular groups to get more people registered. The Government record on this is not good and they must do much more. I do not accept the argument that it is all going well and that a voluntary process is best, as has been stated many times previously. There are millions of our fellow citizens who are not registered, and IER will do nothing to address this. The fact that it is not being addressed is a matter of much regret.

I cannot understand why the Government did not follow on from the successful schools initiative in Northern Ireland and introduce the same measure in the rest of the United Kingdom. They had the opportunity to do so in the regulations today. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, said that there may be some disappointment in this—that is something of an understatement. Can the noble Lord tell the House, clearly and in much more detail, what the reasons are for not doing that? The schools initiative is very simple and has proved very effective, because all secondary schools and further education colleges are obliged by law to give the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland the information necessary to enable him to register their pupils or students, with their consent. Every local school in a local authority area would know who their ERO is and could give that information to them quite easily. Having these 300 or 400 extra people is not a reason why it would not work. There is a legal obligation on schools to provide for the necessary underpinning to make the scheme effective.

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