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House of Lords

Thursday, 12 June 2014.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Norwich.

Death of a Member: Lord Templeman

Announcement

11.06 am

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, I regret to inform the House of the death of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Templeman, on 4 June. On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble and learned Lord’s family and friends.

Council Tax: Support Schemes

Question

11.07 am

Asked by Lord McKenzie of Luton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they propose to assess the impact of council tax support schemes on vulnerable groups and on work incentives.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, the best councils are using local council tax support schemes to help get people back into work. They are increasing work incentives while protecting the vulnerable. An independent review of the schemes will be carried out, as required by the Local Government Finance Act 2012.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is evidence not emerging already from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Citizens Advice, and through FoI requests, about the misery that these arrangements are causing, by deliberate acts of government such as the transfer of responsibilities—underfunded from day one—and continuing cuts to the ongoing budgets of councils? Is it not the case that, in the current year, some 2.3 million people in low-income families will pay an average of £149 more a year in council tax than they would have under the council tax benefit system? This year, a further 70,000 families will have their support cut for the first time and nearly 400,000 disabled people will see their council tax increase. All this is fuelling a debt crisis and is a job creation programme for bailiffs. How is this contributing to the creation of a fairer society?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I notice that the noble Lord did not inform your Lordships that council tax bills more than doubled under his Government, as did spending on council tax benefit, rising to more than £4 billion, which equated to £180 for every household. Action was therefore essential. We

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have cut council tax bills and changed the benefit system for council tax so that people are supported properly in their local areas by their local authorities, which are responsible for setting and collecting council tax. Those authorities now have a vested interest in supporting local people back into work. The latest unemployment figures show how our overall approach to the economy is working.

Baroness Eaton (Con): My Lords, as welfare spending spiralled out of control under the previous Labour Government, could the Minister inform the House how much money this Government have saved?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: This particular programme saved £414 million last year.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): As the Government try to minimise the gap that is being created between the wealthy and those at the other end, how can they justify people having a council tax freeze—people such as myself and others in this Chamber who could quite easily pay the appropriate amount without a freeze?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: As the noble Lord knows, council tax is set by local authorities, and local authorities should be trying to reduce the burden of council tax on all local taxpayers and increase the quality of their services. That is what many are doing and that is a good thing.

Lord Tope (LD): My Lords, what evaluation has been done on the scope for renationalising council tax support as part of universal credit, including the costs and benefits of incentives to work?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, we think the approach that we are taking on the local council tax scheme is the right one because we are allowing local authorities to have a vested interest in supporting local people back into work. In Manchester, for example, they are doing some innovative work and ensuring that by helping people back into work they benefit from the collection of extra taxes.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister recognise that there are some areas of the country, such as the one I come from, where there is no increase in employment—or at least no decrease in unemployment—and where councils know that the greatest cuts are yet to come? Next year and the year after the election will see every local authority having to find much greater cuts. In areas such as mine, there are still vulnerable people, who, whatever the local authority or charities are doing, are finding it difficult to access work. What is going to happen to them?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I understand that certain parts of the country have faced greater challenges than others. Individual local authorities have much greater capacity to raise revenue through

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their tax-collecting regimes. Certainly, local authorities are starting to build up reserves at a rate that is quite staggering. They are now collectively sitting on £19 billion. I would therefore urge local authorities to look to what measures they can take before requiring further money from central government.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, is the Minister aware that the same families who are being hit by the new council tax scheme and are having to contribute 20% or even 40% to their council tax, where in the past, because they were disabled, they did not, are very often the same families who are also being hit by the bedroom tax? They are being hit twice over. Is the Minister aware that the Resolution Foundation has now told us that more than 870,000 families are spending more than 50% of their disposable income in debt repayments, and a further 3 million are paying more than a quarter of their disposable income in debt repayments? How is she addressing that problem of inequality and the quagmire of debt?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: In the context of this scheme, it is important for me to make clear to the House that when we went from a national scheme to the one that is operated now by local authorities, all councils applied the same approach to how they would support those who are vulnerable. A good proportion of them, about 43%, have actually offered additional protection to vulnerable groups. The most important thing I would say to the noble Baroness is that we have to have a strong economy that creates jobs, and that is what we are doing and that is the priority that we are focusing on.


Housing: Affordable Housing

Question

11.14 am

Asked by Lord Dubs

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to increase the supply of affordable housing.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston): My Lords, we have made much progress to increase the supply of affordable housing, as the new figures released today show, but we want everyone to have the security and stability of a decent affordable home and so continue to make reforms and explore new opportunities to increase the level of housebuilding.

Lord Dubs (Lab): Will the Minister confirm that under Labour, in the four years from 2008 onwards, the Government invested £8.4 billion in housing, which was cut for the following four years by the Conservative Government to £4.5 billion, and that affordable housing was cut by 60%? On a more cheerful note, will she join

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me in welcoming the statement made by the leader of the newly elected and victorious Hammersmith council to urgently review three major housing schemes because they do not have enough affordable housing?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I can certainly confirm that under the previous Administration the number of affordable rented homes fell by 420,000 between 1997 and 2010. By contrast, I am pleased to inform the House that we have announced this morning that more than 41,000 affordable homes were started last year; that is 15% higher than the year before, and that means almost 200,000 affordable homes have been delivered in England since 2010. We clearly have further to go but in addition to the range of measures in the Written Statement I tabled on Wednesday, I expect my right honourable friend the Chancellor to announce further steps this evening.

Lord Geddes (Con): Will my noble friend encourage her department to make it mandatory for all new housebuilding to include energy-saving devices, most particularly photovoltaics?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am not at liberty to commit from the Dispatch Box to a new building regulation if one does not already exist but I will certainly explore the point that my noble friend raises and come back to him.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab): My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that in many parts of the country the term “affordable housing” is a very slippery concept? Will she also confirm that since most housebuilding in this country at the moment is dependent on the private sector for its delivery, there is a straightforward conflict between the need of private developers to make profit and the requirements of the populations around which they are building houses? Does she believe that the National Planning Policy Framework—have I got those two Ps the right way round?—is actually allowing councils to make the right judgments about what sort of houses to build or is it too much weighted in favour of developers?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The noble Baroness makes an important distinction between affordable housing, which is a formal definition, and affordability, which is a separate matter. My simple answer to her question is that planning permission was granted for 216,000 new homes in England last year, so the planning reforms are working.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, eight years ago the Affordable Rural Housing Commission estimated that we needed at least 11,000 affordable new homes every year in rural areas. We have scarcely ever managed more than a third of that number, and the proportion is falling. That means that those who need such homes in rural areas move to urban areas, adding to the numbers of the urban homeless and further obscuring the rural problem. What remedy does the Minister have for this state of affairs?

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Baroness Stowell of Beeston: In terms of the delivery of affordable homes, we feel—certainly from the statistics that I have seen this morning—that they are being built in the areas where they are most needed. I will come back to the right reverend Prelate about rural housing because I do not have any specific data on that for him at the moment. But the fact remains that affordable housebuilding is increasing.

Lord Martin of Springburn (CB): My Lords, may I call on the Minister to give every encouragement to the community-based housing associations that operate up and down the country? When I served as an MP, I had six community-based housing associations in my area. They provided lovely homes, they rehabilitated old tenements, they build community halls, they built sheltered housing—

A noble Lord: Too long.

Lord Martin of Springburn: I am not usually too long, my Lords. They also gave dignity to families.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I can assure the noble Lord that we support all communities that are building new homes. I have met a range of different people leading development in their areas. I certainly agree with everything the noble Lord said.

Lord Grocott (Lab): Will the Minister join me in celebrating the achievement of Harold Macmillan, who, in the 1950s, promised and delivered the building of 300,000 houses per year? Can she explain why the achievement of that Conservative Government was so much better than that of this Conservative-led coalition?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I can certainly tell the noble Lord that this Conservative-led coalition has built more council housing in the last year alone in London than was built in the 13 years combined of the last Labour Government.

Lord Marlesford (Con): My Lords, what is the Government’s definition of affordable housing?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Affordable housing is housing that attracts some financial support from both public and private sectors so that it is available at a rent below the market rate.

Lord Glentoran (Con): My Lords, I declare an interest as working in the construction industry. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to improve the quality of new homes?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I would like to think that we are doing quite a bit. As I said to my noble friend who asked the first supplementary question, I have very little information with me today on building regulations but certainly the new homes that I have seen being built are of a good standard.

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Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, according to the noble Baroness, affordable housing has a rent set below the market rate. What is the connection between that and affordability in many parts of this country?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: As the noble Lord heard me say in response to his noble friend, affordability is a different issue. “Affordable homes” is a formal distinction when we talk about the specific building of different properties. With affordability, we clearly need to make sure that homes generally are available at an affordable rate. That is important to everybody who seeks to buy their own home.


Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Question

11.23 am

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, this Government are taking a number of important steps to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Bill will strengthen protection of victims and bring perpetrators to justice. In addition, a comprehensive programme of activity is under way to improve the operational response, including better identification of and support for victims. The Home Secretary also launched the Santa Marta group, which brings together senior international law enforcement chiefs to tackle perpetrators.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, I warmly welcome the introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill earlier this week in the other place. I wish the Government well with its progress. However, it seems essential that the position of victims is at the centre of our discussions on this. In Scotland, there are more victims in jail than there are perpetrators. I mention that for two reasons. First, it seems that the independent legal advocacy required for victims is an essential part of the Government’s trial of advocates later this year. I would welcome a commitment from the Minister on that. Secondly, coherence across the United Kingdom on this between legislation here and that in the Scottish Parliament is also vital. If the Minister would commit to working on that coherence, it would be very welcome indeed.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am very happy to reassure the noble Lord on that point; the Government have worked and are working very closely with the Scottish Government on tackling modern slavery. The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice is a member of the interdepartmental ministerial group on human trafficking. We continue to work with all the devolved Administrations to assess whether the provisions of the Bill are applicable

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and can be extended during its passage to include devolved authorities. The noble Lord will know that providing a defence for victims is part and parcel of the Modern Slavery Bill.

Lord McColl of Dulwich (Con): Will the Minister join me in congratulating the Home Secretary on securing this Bill, which will do so much to eliminate this appalling, evil trade?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am delighted to do so. I also congratulate my noble friend on seeing some seven years’ campaigning in this House brought to success in such a Bill. It is definitely a matter in which the Home Secretary herself is very much involved. I am sure that all noble Lords will welcome the Bill when it arrives here later in the year.

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the Government on the Bill, but will they reconsider their omission of the supply chain from its contents?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I do not want this to be a self-congratulatory Question, but the noble and learned Baroness has been instrumental through her leadership of the pre-legislative scrutiny in presenting the Government with opportunities to consider aspects of the Bill, many of which have of course been incorporated. Yesterday, the Home Secretary met representatives of the British retail industry. It was a very successful meeting. As the noble Baroness will know, we believe that the best way of tackling supply-chain abuse is through a code that all retailers will sign up to.

Baroness Doocey (LD): My Lords, how can the Government justify their stated belief that new offences such as child trafficking and child exploitation should not be included in the Modern Slavery Bill on the basis that they will be less familiar to the judiciary than existing legislation?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I know that the noble Baroness, who was also a member of the pre-legislative scrutiny committee on the Bill, has a particular point of view on this matter. It is the Government’s view that modern slavery is about not just children but also adults, and that the law on modern slavery needs to be clearly applied to everybody who is a victim of this dreadful scourge.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, as has been said, we welcome the Bill, but clearly we will give it very proper scrutiny in this House when it arrives, because there may well be things that we wish to add. Having said that, I am delighted that it focuses on victims and perpetrators, but looking at the situation at Iraq at the moment—we look with horror at what is happening in Mosul—what can be done on the ground to ensure that people are not exploited as they flee from these terrible conditions?

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Yes, I think that the whole House is concerned about developments in Mosul and Iraq in general. They are creating huge problems, which I know my noble friend Lady Warsi will be concerned about seeking to alleviate—to the extent of our ability to do so. Of course, the Bill concentrates on a problem that is clearly within our control and up to us to deal with here, within the United Kingdom. That is the right place to start. I would not deny that modern slavery is an international problem that needs tackling on an international scale.

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, the effect that the new Bill will have is at present quite uncertain. However, can the noble Lord give the House any figures for prosecutions of people either for trafficking or keeping others in sexual or domestic slavery?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The latest figures that I have show that the number involved is not large. There were 34 people charged with human trafficking offences in 2012, while 148 cases were recorded by the Crown Prosecution Service as being linked to human trafficking although another offence was charged. The whole point of the Bill is that we recognise that the piecemeal legislation by which we have tried to deal with this business is not adequate. That is why the Bill is focused on this particular problem. I hope that it will strengthen the ability of prosecution authorities to make successful prosecutions.

Schools: British Values

Question

11.30 am

Asked by Lord Cormack

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to draw up a list of British values to which all schools will be asked to subscribe.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, independent schools, academies and free schools are required to encourage pupils to respect fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. That provision was brought in by this Government. We plan to strengthen this requirement so that those schools will have to promote British values. Ofsted will also be asked to change the inspection framework to reflect that expectation so that maintained schools are also held to account on the same basis.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that encouraging and positive reply, for which I am sure we are all very grateful, but as we approach the 800th anniversary in 2015 of Magna Carta, which was the foundation of the rule of law in our country, should we not be considering drawing up a new British charter of responsibilities and rights which every school in the land should be asked to subscribe to? While we are thinking about these things, would it not also be a good idea to follow the example of our friends across the Atlantic and encourage schools to fly the flag?

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Lord Nash: I think we will all reflect deeply on the events in Birmingham. I am also sure that all noble Lords will study Peter Clarke’s report when it comes out. We will then decide what other actions should be taken. As for flying the flag, I think it is a matter of individual choice and for individual schools to decide.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): The Minister referred in the first part of his Answer to the word “encourage”. Then he said that the new position will be “will have to promote”. What does he mean by “will have to promote”?

Lord Nash: It does not seem to us to be satisfactory to ask a school merely to teach about British values if it does not also teach the importance and primacy of them and promote them. It is not satisfactory to teach about British values and then have a separate lesson that teaches that other values are more important. This will be inspected by Ofsted, within some clear frameworks, by Ofsted inspectors trained to do so. The governors’ handbook will reflect this, as will our guidance on the equality Act.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB): My Lords, in considering such values, will the Minister take into account a list of British values drawn up by faith leaders at the turn of the millennium, to which all faiths agreed to subscribe?

Lord Nash: The noble Lord makes a very good point, and I will take that away.

Baroness Walmsley (LD): My Lords, does my noble friend agree with me that it might be very illuminating to ask immigrants to this country which British values incentivised them to come to live here? I suspect that free speech will be one of them, but there may be some very interesting ones that we could add to the list.

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness makes a very good point, but I think we all know what British values are.

Lord Morris of Handsworth (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister take this opportunity to confirm that in establishing and promoting British values, we are not undermining the multiracial and multicultural society?

Lord Nash: The noble Lord makes a very good point, and it is essential that we do exactly what he says.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, does my noble friend acknowledge that there are certain dangers in Governments dictating what should be taught and done in our schools?

Lord Nash: I acknowledge that, but I think we all share the expectation that we prepare our pupils adequately for life in modern Britain and make sure that their curriculum is broad enough for them to be able to be so prepared.

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Baroness Howe of Idlicote (CB): My Lords, whilst I would have thought that we should all agree with and welcome the fact that there is to be added emphasis on respecting British values, will the Minister also undertake to ensure that the opposite side to values—bullying—is something which all schools should aim to abolish?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the noble Baroness. All schools have to have an anti-bullying policy. Ofsted inspects on that. We have reduced the guidance on bullying behaviour from nearly 500 pages to a much more focused list.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister agree that if we are going to have a statement of values, it will be meaningful only if it is properly embedded in the curriculum, rather than just a statement standing alone? How does that square with the Government’s decision to give academies and free schools the freedom to determine their own curriculum? Will the Government now be prescribing what British values should be taught in subjects such as history, English, citizenship—you can see that this could flow through the whole curriculum—and what consultation will there be if those curriculum subjects are going to be changed to reflect these new issues?

Lord Nash: I must say that I struggle to keep up with the Labour Party’s flip-flopping on this point. Its last report said that it would allow all schools not to teach the curriculum. The fact is that all schools have to teach a broad and balanced curriculum and have to take account of spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues, and we will make sure that all schools have to teach British values.

Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab): My Lords, following on from the question from my noble friend Lord Morris of Handsworth, would the Government not find it wise to bear in mind the words of another very distinguished former general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, Mr Ernest Bevin, who stated about a matter of this kind: if you open up that Pandora’s box, you will find it full of Trojan horses?

Lord Nash: Having spent the past few months dealing with this issue, I find it difficult to find it amusing, but I note the noble Lord’s point.

Voting Age (Comprehensive Reduction) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.37 am

A Bill to extend the franchise for parliamentary and other elections and for referendums to all citizens over the age of 16 years.

The Bill was introduced by Baroness Suttie on behalf of Lord Tyler, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

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Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (Repeal) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.37 am

A Bill to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Grocott, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Licensing Act 2003 (Amendment) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.38 am

A Bill to make provision for the addition of a public health objective to the Licensing Act 2003.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Abortion Act 1967 (Amendment) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.38 am

A Bill to amend the Abortion Act 1967 to make provision for the termination of pregnancy following certification by one registered medical practitioner.

The Bill was introduced by Baroness Tonge, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

BBC (Trustee Election and Licence Fee) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.38 am

A Bill to make provision for the election of the trustees of the BBC by licence fee payers and in relation to civil enforcement of non-payment of TV licence fees.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Passport Office

Statement

11.39 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House I would like to repeat an Answer given earlier today in the House of Commons to an Urgent Question tabled there on passports, the Answer being given by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows.

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“Mr Speaker, Her Majesty’s Passport Office is receiving 350,000 more applications for passports and renewals than is normal at this time of year. This is the highest demand for 12 years. Since January, HMPO has been putting in place extra resources to try to make sure that people receive their new passports in good time, but as the House will know, there are still delays in the system. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, the number of passport applications being dealt with outside the normal three-week waiting time is 30,000.

Her Majesty’s Passport Office has 250 additional staff who have been transferred from back-office roles to front-line operations and 650 additional staff to work on its customer helpline. HMPO is operating seven days a week and couriers are delivering passports within 24 hours of being produced. From next week, HMPO is opening new office space in Liverpool to help the new staff to work on processing passport applications.

Despite these additional resources, it is clear that HMPO is still not able to process every application it receives within the three-week waiting time for straightforward cases. At the moment, the overwhelming majority of cases are dealt with within that time limit. That is of course no consolation to applicants who are suffering delays and are worried about whether they will be able to go on their summer holidays. I understand their anxiety and the Government will do everything they can, while maintaining the security of the passport, to make sure people get their passports on time. There is no big-bang, single solution so we will take a series of measures to address the pinch points and resourcing problems that HMPO faces.

First, on resources, I have agreed with the Foreign Secretary that people applying to renew passports overseas for travel to the UK will be given a 12-month extension to their existing passport. Since we are talking about extending existing passports—documents in which we can have a high degree of confidence—this relieves HMPO of having to deal with some of the most complex cases without compromising security.

Similarly, we will put in place a process so that people who are applying for passports overseas on behalf of their children can be issued with emergency travel documents for travel to the UK. Parents will still have to provide comprehensive proof that they are the parents before we will issue these documents, because we are not prepared to compromise on child protection, but again this should relieve an administrative burden on HMPO.

These changes will allow us to free up a significant number of trained HMPO officials to concentrate on other applications. In addition to these changes, HMPO will increase the number of examiners and call handlers by a further 200 staff.

Secondly, HMPO is addressing a series of process points to make sure that its systems are operating efficiently. Thirdly, where people have an urgent need to travel HMPO has agreed to upgrade them—that is, their application will be considered in full and expedited in terms of its processing, printing and delivery—free of charge.

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All these measures are designed to address the problem that is immediately at hand. In the medium to long term, the answer is not just to throw more staff at the problem but to make sure that HMPO is running as efficiently as possible and is as accountable as possible. I have therefore asked the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary, Mark Sedwill, to conduct two reviews: first, to make sure that HMPO works as efficiently as possible with better processes, better customer service and better outcomes; and, secondly, to consider whether HMPO’s agency status should be removed so that it can be brought into the Home Office, reporting directly to Ministers, in line with other parts of the immigration system since the abolition of the UK Border Agency”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

11.45 am

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement. However, those of us who have in the past renewed our passports, and were very impressed at the speed and efficiency of the passport service, are really shocked and appalled that it is now in chaos. Do the Government understand the impact that this shambles has had on those whose passports have been seriously delayed? The Statement mentions holidays, but it is not only holidays and honeymoons that have been wrecked—people have also missed crucial business appointments and family engagements. The Government’s excuses and denials have changed daily but the problems remain. I just wonder how on earth we got to this point after having such an efficient and effective service.

Why did the Home Secretary say that it was not true that staff had been cut when official government figures from her own department show a cut of 600? Why did Ministers not know that security checks had been dropped, and why did the Government insist on transferring overseas citizens’ passport renewals to the Home Office from our embassies in the face of evidence showing that it was not working? Will the Minister please also apologise to those who have suffered?

11.46 am

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government are clearly aware of the impact of passport delays on customers; that is why my right honourable friend gave the Answer she did, which recognised that situation and has dealt with it. I think that the noble Baroness will know that my right honourable friend means business in this respect. The noble Baroness is wrong to say that there have been cuts in staff: 3,104 people were working in the Passport Office in 2012; 3,260 in 2013; and 3,444 full-time equivalent staff on 31 March this year. It is not true that there have been cuts in staff, but it is true that there has been an unprecedented surge in demand. Between 1 January and the end of May this year, HMPO has received 3.3 million applications. That is 350,000 more applications than in the same period last year. It is the highest volume of applications received in this period in the past 12 years. Indeed, in both March and May, HMPO recorded the

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highest level of applications received for any month over the past 12 years. These are extraordinary circumstances but the Government are taking real steps to make sure that people are not inconvenienced by them.

11.48 am

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, the government website still shows the waiting time as being generally three weeks. Are the Government considering putting updated news on that website so that the public are aware of the position? The Post Office is another route to obtaining travel documents. Is it experiencing extra demand? Has there been an impact on Post Office services and on its level of work?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I cannot answer with specific information on the latter point, but I can say that, even at this point, 97% of passports have been issued within three weeks and 99.24% have been issued within a four-week period. None the less, because of the large number of applications, small percentages can mean large numbers of people whose lives have been inconvenienced. That is why the Passport Office is working seven days a week and efforts are being made to ensure that people are not inconvenienced. The Home Secretary’s Statement made that quite clear.

Lord Skelmersdale (Con): My Lords, this is an enormous increase in the number of applications. Have the Government made any discoveries as to why it has happened and what can be done to avoid it in future? Is it, for example, a factor of the improving economy, or is it something entirely different?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It could be to do with the economy; we all know that it is improving. It could well be that people want to take holidays abroad. It is also true that a lot of travel is now for business, as the noble Baroness mentioned. There are all sorts of reasons why this phenomenon may have occurred. I do not think that it helps particularly to try to investigate that at this moment, although it might be useful for the future. The key thing is to ensure that the problem is dealt with, and that is the objective of the Home Office now.

Lord Rooker (Lab): I have a suggestion for the Minister. One of my experiences in government over the years was the loss of corporate memory. Twice he has referred to 12 years; we all know what happened in 1999. By the time that I had responsibility for the Passport Service in 2001 when I entered this House, it was running smoothly. My suggestion is that the Permanent Secretary who has been asked to conduct this review goes and finds the managers who sorted out the previous issue. The problem now is that the service has run so smoothly for a decade that when you get a catastrophic change like this that is unexpected and unplanned-for, the corporate memory has disappeared and those civil servants have moved on, retired or been

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promoted. However, they are still around, and I suggest that they be asked for some advice about how they solved it so speedily between 1999 and 2001.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, is always good to listen to, and his words are very wise. I will make sure that the Permanent Secretary is aware of his advice in that regard, and I am happy that he chose to make his suggestion in the way that he did.

The Countess of Mar (CB): My Lords, what proportion of the increase would have been dealt with by our overseas embassies before the arrangements were changed?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Although I have a few papers here, I cannot say off the top of my head how many of those were the result of overseas applications coming in. Noble Lords will be aware of the security reasons why those applications were moved back into this country. Doing so avoids all the difficulties that we had encountered in having passport applications overseas—for example, the lack of security sometimes in sending blank passports overseas. However, I do not believe that that is a factor in this particular case.

I have been updated on the question that my noble friend Lady Hamwee asked about the website. The website is very much up to date; all the information about passports is at the top of the list of the website.

Earl Attlee (Con): My Lords, is it not the case that if extra capacity were put in place “just in case”, that would have to be reflected in the cost of the passports being issued?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: As noble Lords will know, we have in fact been seeking to reduce the cost of passports. The Passport Office works on the basis of trying to offer value for money to customers—for example, the adult overseas passport has been reduced by £45 this April as a result of the measures that we have taken.

Lord Richard (Lab): My Lords, I am sorry to come back to the question of the website, but I think it is very important as far as ordinary people are concerned. Is it proposed to leave the period of three weeks as it is, as expressed on the website, or is the website now going to be amended to say that we hope that the period will be three weeks but it may be four and in fact we are not absolutely certain? It is very important that this aspect is clarified.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I will take the noble Lord’s advice. I am not an expert on how to handle a website, but I see that it is very important that the public are properly informed about the time taken. As I say, that three-week deadline is accurate for the vast majority of long and complex cases. However, I understand what the noble Lord is saying, and it would be wise to say to people, “Get your application in in good time”. That would avoid a great deal of anxiety on all parts.

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Lord Dholakia (LD): My Lords, what advantages does my noble friend see in removing the Passport Office’s agency status? Will he ensure that at some stage there are discussions in your Lordships’ House on this matter?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I assure my noble friend that if such a move were undertaken, I am sure that we would have an opportunity to debate its implications here. It is a matter that the Home Secretary has quite rightly asked the Permanent Secretary to investigate, and no doubt he will be reporting back shortly. If I have information, I will ensure that the House is made aware of it.


Code of Conduct

Motion to Resolve

11.55 am

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

To resolve that the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords be amended as follows:

In paragraph 3(a), after first “duties;” insert “save for paragraphs 15A and 15B,”

In paragraph 9, at the end of the second sentence insert: “and should act as a guide to Members in considering the requirement to act always on their personal honour.”

In paragraph 9, leave out sub-paragraphs (a) to (g) and insert:

“(a) Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

(b) Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

(c) Objectivity: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

(d) Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

(e) Openness: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

(f) Honesty: Holders of public office should be truthful.

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(g) Leadership: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.”

After paragraph 15, insert the following new paragraphs:

“15A. A Member sentenced to imprisonment in the United Kingdom for a term of up to and including one year, or given a suspended sentence of imprisonment in the United Kingdom of any length, shall be deemed to have breached the Code; such a case shall be referred to the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct for it to recommend a sanction.

15B. A Member sentenced to imprisonment outside the United Kingdom, whether the sentence is suspended or not, shall be presumed to have breached the Code; such a case shall be referred to the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct for it to consider whether the presumption should apply in that case and, if it should, for the Sub-Committee to recommend a sanction.”

In paragraph 17, leave out “reports his findings” and insert “makes a report of his findings. If the Member is found not to have breached the Code, or if the Member and the Commissioner have agreed remedial action, the report goes to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. If the Member is found to have breached the Code (and remedial action is inappropriate or has not been agreed), the Commissioner’s report goes”.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): My Lords, this Motion proposes amendments to the Code of Conduct for Members. In essence, the Motion is purely formal in that it gives effect to the decisions already made by the House in the 13th and 15th reports of the Committee for Privileges and Conduct that were agreed by the House on 6 March and 13 May this year, and in the first report of the Committee for Privileges and Conduct from the 2012-13 Session. On Monday we will publish one document containing the revised Code of Conduct, the revised guide to the code and the new code for Members’ staff. The Registrar of Lords’ Interests will write to all Members drawing attention to the most significant changes and asking Members to ensure that all their staff in possession of a parliamentary photo pass are aware of the new rules. I beg to move.

Lord Bew (CB): My Lords, I welcome the announcement made today by the Chairman of Committees. The important part of the announcement covers the inclusion within the Code of Conduct of the seven Nolan principles of public life. As the current chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, I recall that Lord Nolan elaborated these principles 20 years ago. They have proven their value in those 20 years and it is in a way rather good to see them come home.

Motion agreed, and the revised Code of Conduct and Guide to the Code of Conduct were ordered to be printed. (HL Paper 5)

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Deputy Chairmen of Committees

Administration and Works Committee

Communications Committee

Consolidation etc. Bills Committee

Constitution Committee

Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

Economic Affairs Committee

European Union Committee

House Committee

Human Rights Committee

Hybrid Instruments Committee

Information Committee

Liaison Committee

National Security Strategy Committee

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)

Privileges and Conduct Committee

Procedure Committee

Refreshment Committee

Science and Technology Committee

Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee

Statutory Instruments Committee

Works of Art Committee

Affordable Childcare Committee

Arctic Committee

Digital Skills Committee

Extradition Committee

Membership Motions

11.57 am

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

Deputy Chairmen of Committees

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed as the panel of members to act as Deputy Chairmen of Committees for this session:

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B Andrews, B Anelay of St Johns, L Bassam of Brighton, L Bichard, L Brougham and Vaux, L Colwyn, L Faulkner of Worcester, B Fookes, L Geddes, B Gibson of Market Rasen, B Harris of Richmond, L Haskel, B Hooper, B McIntosh of Hudnall, C Mar, B Morris of Bolton, B Pitkeathley, V Simon, L Skelmersdale, B Stedman-Scott, V Ullswater.

Administration and Works Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider administrative services, accommodation and works, including works relating to security, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Anelay of St Johns, L Armstrong of Ilminster, Bp Chester, L Faulkner of Worcester, L Laming, L Leigh of Hurley, L Luke, L McAvoy, B McIntosh of Hudnall, L Moser, L Newby, L Roper;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Communications Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the media and the creative industries and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Bakewell, L Best (Chairman), L Clement-Jones, B Deech, L Dubs, B Fookes, B Hanham, B Healy of Primrose Hill, L Horam, Bp Norwich, L Razzall, B Scotland of Asthal, L Sherbourne of Didsbury;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Consolidation etc. Bills Committee

In accordance with Standing Order 51, that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to join with a Committee of the Commons as the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills:

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L Carswell (Chairman), L Christopher, E Dundee, L Eames, V Hanworth, L Janner of Braunstone, B Mallalieu, L Methuen, L Razzall, B Seccombe, L Swinfen, L Tombs;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

Constitution Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to examine the constitutional implications of all public bills coming before the House; and to keep under review the operation of the constitution;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Brennan, L Crickhowell, L Cullen of Whitekirk, B Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B Falkner of Margravine, L Goldsmith, L Lang of Monkton (Chairman), L Lester of Herne Hill, L Lexden, L Powell of Bayswater, B Taylor of Bolton, B Wheatcroft;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed:

(i) To report whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of legislative power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny;

(ii) To report on documents and draft orders laid before Parliament under or by virtue of:

(a) sections 14 and 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006,

(b) section 7(2) or section 19 of the Localism Act 2011, or

(c) section 5E(2) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004;

and to perform, in respect of such draft orders, and in respect of subordinate provisions orders made or proposed to be made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, the functions performed in respect of other instruments and draft instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments; and

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(iii) To report on documents and draft orders laid before Parliament under or by virtue of:

(a) section 85 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998,

(b) section 17 of the Local Government Act 1999,

(c) section 9 of the Local Government Act 2000,

(d) section 98 of the Local Government Act 2003, or

(e) section 102 of the Local Transport Act 2008.

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Andrews, L Bourne of Aberystwyth, B Drake, B Farrington of Ribbleton, B Fookes, C Mar, L Marks of Henley-on-Thames, B O’Loan, B Thomas of Winchester (Chairman), V Ullswater;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Economic Affairs Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider economic affairs and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Blackstone, L Carrington of Fulham, L Griffiths of Fforestfach, L Hollick (Chairman), L Lawson of Blaby, L McFall of Alcluith, L May of Oxford, L Monks, B Noakes, L Rowe-Beddoe, L Shipley, L Skidelsky, L Smith of Clifton;

That the Committee have power to appoint a sub-committee and to refer to it any of the matters within the Committee’s terms of reference; that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairman of the sub-committee;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on the sub-committee;

That the Committee and its sub-committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee and its sub-committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee and its sub-committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

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That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

European Union Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed:

(1) To consider European Union documents deposited in the House by a Minister, and other matters relating to the European Union;

The expression “European Union document” includes in particular:

(a) a document submitted by an institution of the European Union to another institution and put by either into the public domain;

(b) a draft legislative act or a proposal for amendment of such an act; and

(c) a draft decision relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union under Title V of the Treaty on European Union;

The Committee may waive the requirement to deposit a document, or class of documents, by agreement with the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons;

(2) To assist the House in relation to the procedure for the submission of Reasoned Opinions under Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union and the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

(3) To represent the House as appropriate in interparliamentary cooperation within the European Union;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Boswell of Aynho (Chairman), E Caithness, L Cameron of Dillington, B Corston, B Eccles of Moulton, L Foulkes of Cumnock, L Harrison, B Hooper, L Kerr of Kinlochard, L Maclennan of Rogart, B O’Cathain, B Parminter, B Prashar, B Quin, E Sandwich, B Scott of Needham Market, L Tomlinson, L Tugendhat, L Wilson of Tillyorn;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and to refer to them any matters within its terms of reference; that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees, but that the sub-committees have power to appoint their own Chairmen for the purpose of particular inquiries; that the quorum of each sub-committee be two;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on a sub-committee;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

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That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee or its sub-committees;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

House Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to set the policy framework for the administration of the House and to provide non-executive guidance to the Management Board; to approve the House’s strategic, business and financial plans; to agree the annual Estimates and Supplementary Estimates; to supervise the arrangements relating to financial support for Members; and to approve the House of Lords Annual Report;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Campbell-Savours, L Cope of Berkeley, B D’Souza (Chairman), L Hill of Oareford, L Laming, B McDonagh, B Royall of Blaisdon, L Stirrup, L True, L Wallace of Tankerness, B Walmsley;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Human Rights Committee

That a Select Committee of six members be appointed to join with a Committee appointed by the Commons as the Joint Committee on Human Rights:

To consider:

(a) matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom (but excluding consideration of individual cases);

(b) proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders made under section 10 of and laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998; and

(c) in respect of draft remedial orders and remedial orders, whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to them on any of the grounds specified in Standing Order 73 (Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments);

To report to the House:

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(a) in relation to any document containing proposals laid before the House under paragraph 3 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether a draft order in the same terms as the proposals should be laid before the House; or

(b) in relation to any draft order laid under paragraph 2 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether the draft Order should be approved;

and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said proposals or draft orders; and

To report to the House in respect of any original order laid under paragraph 4 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether:

(a) the order should be approved in the form in which it was originally laid before Parliament; or

(b) the order should be replaced by a new order modifying the provisions of the original order; or

(c) the order should not be approved;

and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said order or any replacement order;

That the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Berridge, B Buscombe, B Kennedy of The Shaws, L Lester of Herne Hill, B Lister of Burtersett, B O’Loan;

That the Committee have power to agree with the Committee appointed by the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman;

That the quorum of the Committee shall be two;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Hybrid Instruments Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider hybrid instruments and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Addington, L Grantchester, L Harrison, L Luke, B Perry of Southwark, L Quirk, L Swinfen;

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That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee; and

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Information Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider information and communications services, including the Library and the Parliamentary Archives, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Aberdare, L Black of Brentwood, B Donaghy (Chairman), L Lipsey, E Lytton, B Massey of Darwen, L Mawson, L Maxton, L Norton of Louth, B Seccombe, L Sharkey, B Stedman-Scott, L Strasburger;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Liaison Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to advise the House on the resources required for select committee work and to allocate resources between select committees; to review the select committee work of the House; to consider requests for ad hoc committees and report to the House with recommendations; to ensure effective co-ordination between the two Houses; and to consider the availability of members to serve on committees;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Browning, L Campbell-Savours, L Craig of Radley, L Hill of Oareford, L Laming, B Royall of Blaisdon, L Touhig, V Ullswater, L Wallace of Tankerness, B Walmsley;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

National Security Strategy Committee

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to join with a Committee of the Commons as the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, to consider the National Security Strategy:

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L Boateng, L Clark of Windermere, B Falkner of Margravine, L Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L Levene of Portsoken, L MacGregor of Pulham Market, L Mitchell, B Neville-Jones, L Ramsbotham, L West of Spithead;

That the Committee have power to agree with the Committee appointed by the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place in the United Kingdom;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to the Board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST):

L Haskel, L Oxburgh, E Selborne, L Winston.

Privileges and Conduct Committee

That a Committee for Privileges and Conduct be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Anelay of St Johns, L Bassam of Brighton, L Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L Eames, L Hill of Oareford, L Hope of Craighead, L Irvine of Lairg, L Laming, L Mackay of Clashfern, L Newby, B Royall of Blaisdon, B Scotland of Asthal, V Ullswater, L Wallace of Tankerness;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on a sub-committee;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That in any claim of peerage, the Committee shall sit with three holders of high judicial office, who shall have the same speaking and voting rights as members of the Committee;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

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That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee or its sub-committees; and

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Procedure Committee

That a Select Committee on Procedure of the House be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Anelay of St Johns, L Bassam of Brighton, L Blencathra, L Butler of Brockwell, L Campbell-Savours, B D’Souza, L Greaves, L Hill of Oareford, B Hollis of Heigham, L Laming, B McIntosh of Hudnall, L Newby, L Patel, L Roper, B Royall of Blaisdon, L Skelmersdale, L Wakeham, L Wallace of Tankerness;

That the following members be appointed as alternate members:

B Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, V Craigavon, L Faulkner of Worcester, V Montgomery of Alamein, L True;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Refreshment Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to advise on the refreshment services provided for the House, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Colwyn, L Curry of Kirkharle, B Doocey, L Fink, B Gould of Potternewton, B Jenkin of Kennington, L Kennedy of Southwark, L Mawson, L Newby, L Palmer of Childs Hill, L Pendry, B Wall of New Barnet;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Science and Technology Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider science and technology and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

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L Dixon-Smith, L Hennessy of Nympsfield, B Hilton of Eggardon, B Manningham-Buller, L O’Neill of Clackmannan, L Patel, L Peston, L Rees of Ludlow, V Ridley, E Selborne (Chairman), B Sharp of Guildford, L Wade of Chorlton, L Willis of Knaresborough, L Winston;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on the Committee or a sub-committee;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee or its sub-committees;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to scrutinise secondary legislation.

(1) The Committee shall, with the exception of those instruments in paragraphs (3) and (4), scrutinise-

(a) every instrument (whether or not a statutory instrument), or draft of an instrument, which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be, or might have been, taken in either House of Parliament under an Act of Parliament;

(b) every proposal which is in the form of a draft of such an instrument and is laid before each House of Parliament under an Act of Parliament,

with a view to determining whether or not the special attention of the House should be drawn to it on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (2).

(2) The grounds on which an instrument, draft or proposal may be drawn to the special attention of the House are-

(a) that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House;

(b) that it may be inappropriate in view of changed circumstances since the enactment of the parent Act;

(c) that it may inappropriately implement European Union legislation;

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(d) that it may imperfectly achieve its policy objectives;

(e) that the explanatory material laid in support provides insufficient information to gain a clear understanding about the instrument’s policy objective and intended implementation;

(f) that there appear to be inadequacies in the consultation process which relates to the instrument.

(3) The exceptions are-

(a) remedial orders, and draft remedial orders, under section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998;

(b) draft orders under sections 14 and 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, and subordinate provisions orders made or proposed to be made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001;

(c) Measures under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 and instruments made, and drafts of instruments to be made, under them.

(4) The Committee shall report on draft orders and documents laid before Parliament under section 11(1) of the Public Bodies Act 2011 in accordance with the procedures set out in sections 11(5) and (6). The Committee may also consider and report on any material changes in a draft order laid under section 11(8) of the Act.

(5) The Committee shall also consider such other general matters relating to the effective scrutiny of secondary legislation and arising from the performance of its functions under paragraphs (1) to (4) as the Committee considers appropriate, except matters within the orders of reference of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Andrews, L Bichard, L Borwick, L Bowness, L Eames, L Goodlad (Chairman), B Hamwee, B Humphreys, L Plant of Highfield, B Stern, L Woolmer of Leeds;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee

That a Select Committee on the Standing Orders relating to private bills be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Geddes, B Gould of Potternewton, L Luke, L Naseby, L Palmer, L Rodgers of Quarry Bank, V Simon;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

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That the reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Statutory Instruments Committee

In accordance with Standing Order 73 and the resolution of the House of 16 December 1997, that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to join with a Committee of the Commons as the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments:

B Humphreys, L Kennedy of Southwark, L Lyell, B Mallalieu, L Selkirk of Douglas, B Stern, L Walpole;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

Works of Art Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to administer the House of Lords Works of Art Collection Fund; and to consider matters relating to works of art and the artistic heritage in the House of Lords, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Cormack, L Crathorne, V Falkland, L Finkelstein, B Gale, L Harries of Pentregarth, L Luce, B Maddock (Chairman), B Rawlings, B Rendell of Babergh, L Roberts of Llandudno, L Turnberg;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Affordable Childcare Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider issues relating to affordable childcare, and to make recommendations, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Gould of Potternewton, B Kennedy of Cradley, B Massey of Darwen, B Neville-Rolfe, B Noakes, B Morris of Bolton, L Patel, L Sawyer, B Shephard of Northwold, L Sutherland of Houndwood (Chairman), B Tyler of Enfield, B Walmsley;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 5 March 2015;

That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

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Arctic Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider recent and expected changes in the Arctic and their implications for the UK and its international relations, and to make recommendations, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Addington, L Ashton of Hyde, B Browning, L Hannay of Chiswick, V Hanworth, L Hunt of Chesterton, L Moynihan, L Oxburgh, L Soley, B Symons of Vernham Dean, L Teverson (Chairman), L Tugendhat;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 5 March 2015;

That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Digital Skills Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider information and communications technology, competitiveness and skills in the United Kingdom, and to make recommendations, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Aberdare, E Courtown, L Giddens, L Haskel, L Holmes of Richmond, B Garden of Frognal, L Janvrin, L Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L Lucas, L Macdonald of Tradeston, B Morgan of Huyton (Chairman), B O’Cathain;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 5 March 2015;

That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Extradition Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report on the law and practice relating to extradition, in particular the Extradition Act 2003, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:;

L Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L Empey, L Hart of Chilton, B Hamwee, L Henley, L Hussain, L Inglewood (Chairman), B Jay of Paddington, L Jones, L Mackay of Drumadoon, L Rowlands, B Wilcox;

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That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time, and no later than 5 March 2015;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.


The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): My Lords, I beg to move the 27 Motions standing in my name on the Order Paper—fortunately, en bloc.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP): My Lords, I fear that it is that time of year again, as the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees put it when we last approved our EU Committee on 16 May 2013. Everything I said then remains valid for this proposed committee. Its composition is heavily Europhile with, so far as I can see, only two mildly Eurosceptic Peers out of its 19 proposed members, of whom at least eight are among the most ardent Europhiles in your Lordships’ House. I accept that the noble Lord’s task is not easy and that your Lordships’ House is a very Europhile place, perhaps because it contains so many former EU Commissioners and employees in receipt of forfeitable EU pensions, and so many former Foreign Secretaries and Ministers of the Crown who have played their part in this great country paying billions a year to Brussels to take our sovereignty from us. Indeed, I estimate that there are perhaps only eight out of roughly 750 active Peers in your Lordships’ House who are prepared to say publicly that we should leave the EU forthwith, without the charade of renegotiating the terms of our membership.

That is why I have been asking the Prime Minister to fulfil his commitment to make the composition of this House better reflect the votes cast at the previous general election. It is not because I agree with that policy, which is clearly very misguided. I imagine we all agree that one of the great strengths of your Lordships’ House is precisely that it does not reflect the composition of the House of Commons. However, I have been using the Prime Minister’s promise in an attempt to get some improvement on the present imbalance, to which I have referred. I should now correct last Saturday’s BBC News coverage in this respect because I never asked for the 23 new UKIP Peers which our vote at the previous general election would indicate. I have suggested four, or perhaps six, but without success.

I ask yet again whether we need six EU sub-committees, whose resources could be redistributed over many other subject areas where your Lordships’ House does such valuable work for the nation. In other areas, apart from the EU, I submit that your Lordships are often more in touch with British public opinion and

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interest than is the House of Commons, which is why your Lordships’ reports on those subjects are so respected by the nation.

By contrast, our EU reports are routinely ignored here and in Brussels where it is hard to find a recommendation that has been accepted. Between January 2010 and June 2013, the latest period for which figures are available, the scrutiny reserve of our committees was overridden 298 times in either or both Houses— 235 times in your Lordships’ House alone. Not that Brussels appears to take much notice of our Government’s views either. Our Government have been outvoted in the Council of Ministers on every one of the 55 objections they have raised against new EU legislation since 1996.

I suggest we reject this Motion today and respectfully request the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees to return with a more balanced composition for the committee and without our agreement for any sub-committees at all.

I conclude by suggesting that the first task of our new committee should be to report to the British people how EU law-making, which makes so much of our national law, actually works, of which they are at present largely ignorant. I suggest it would be helpful, as we approach renegotiation of the treaty of Rome, if our people understood how the unelected EU Commission has the sole right to propose all EU legislation, which it does in secret; how those proposals are then negotiated, still in secret, in COREPER—the Committee of Permanent Representatives, bureaucrats appointed by the member states—and how the proposals then go to the Council of Ministers for further clandestine discussion; and to the EU Parliament, with its powers of codecision. Such a report would also explain why the appointment of the next President of the Commission is so important, which at the moment the people do not understand at all. They are beginning to cotton on that the whole project is wildly anti-democratic, but they do not know why. I think they should be told. The BBC refuses to do it, so I suggest that the first report of our new committee should fill this vital gap in our people’s understanding of our arrangements with the European Union. I look forward to the noble Lord’s reply.

Lord Tebbit (Con): I do not want to delay matters, but I want to mention briefly these facts. On becoming a commissioner, a man or woman is required to swear an oath of loyalty to the European Union, which, to my mind, is incompatible with, for example, the oath which one swears as a privy counsellor, and when one retires from the Commission and draws a pension, that pension is dependent on the continuing loyalty of the former commissioner, who is enjoined not to do or say anything which would be to the detriment of the European Union. That seems to present a man or woman with the problem of two masters. I think it unwise that we should exacerbate that conflict by placing such people on the European Union Committee.

Lord Bowness (Con): My Lords, I will not enter into an argument with the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, on the general points, but on the specific, as a former

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member of the European Union Committee, I think he has to be challenged on questioning whether there is a need for the number of sub-committees. Your Lordships ought to be reminded that one of the objectives of scrutiny is to hold our own Government to account. Rightly or wrongly, the amount of work involved covering the number of topics involved is such that to reduce the number of sub-committees, which have already been reduced from seven to six, would have a very adverse effect on that vital work of holding our own Government to account, never mind making our contribution and input into the policy of the European Union.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, as we have entered into a general debate on the Motion of the Chairman of Committees, I shall raise one other point. No one is more in awe than I am of the enormous workload of the Chairman of Committees, but as a comparatively new Member of your Lordships’ House—I think I have not yet achieved my 16th year —I remain in a state of some befuddlement about which of the various committees that the Chairman of Committees has put before us today is in charge of what, what their lines of accountability are, what decision-making powers they have and to whom they report. Would it be possible for the Chairman of Committees, not today, but on a future occasion, to lay before this House a statement which makes all that abundantly clear?

The Chairman of Committees: The sting was in the tail, was it not? I shall deal with the questions not necessarily in the order they were asked.

The question about pensions raises a number of issues. I am grateful that both noble Lords who made the point about former EU commissioners did not personalise it and did not in any way attempt to say that there was any dishonourable behaviour attached to the activities of those Members. I think the whole House would recognise that. For the sake of clarification, the important point is that if a Member thinks there is the possibility of a conflict here, his route is to seek the advice of the registrar. I know that the registrar has been consulted on those issues in a general way previously and the registrar has taken the view—I think properly—that no conflict arises. I do not think any criticism can be placed on the activities of those Members who are in that position. I hope we have now heard the last of that. It is repeated from time to time, from year to year. There is now a clear, authoritative resolution of that point, and I hope we can move on.

On the representation of the UKIP voice, the Committee of Selection acts on the basis of names that come forward from the parties and from the Convenor on behalf of the Cross Benches. Clearly, under our system, three UKIP Members do not constitute a political group. However, if anybody thought that they had a claim or that their voice should rightly and properly be heard on a committee, they have direct access to the committee through writing to me. I would ensure that any letter advancing a name was placed before the Committee of Selection when the composition of a committee was being considered.

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I do not, alas, follow the logic of the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. I take it he accepts the proposition of his leader that 75% of our laws are made, or are in effect made, by Brussels. I do not necessarily accept that figure, but if it is anywhere near that figure, I would have thought he would have been asking for more and greater scrutiny rather for a reduction in the number of scrutiny committees.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, the point I was trying to make to the noble Lord and your Lordships is that it does not matter what the Committee or the Government think. They are routinely outvoted in Brussels. The scrutiny reserve is routinely overridden: 235 times in the past two years. I do not wish to prolong the debate. I am grateful to the noble Lord for his courteous—but, I am afraid, inadequate—reply.

Motions agreed.


G7

Statement

12.10 pm

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House I will now repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place. The Statement is as follows.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a Statement on last week’s G7 summit in Brussels.

This was a G7 rather than a G8 because of Russia’s unacceptable actions in Ukraine. Right from the outset, the G7 nations have been united in support for Ukraine and its right to choose its own future, and we have sent a firm message that Russia’s actions have been totally at odds with the values of our group of democracies.

At the summit, we kept up the pressure on Russia. We agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and the continuing destabilisation of eastern Ukraine must stop. We insisted that Russia must recognise the legitimate election of President Poroshenko, it must stop arms crossing the border into Ukraine and it must cease support for separatist groups. And we agreed that wide-ranging economic sanctions should remain on the table if Russia did not follow this path of de-escalation, or if it launched a punitive trade war with Ukraine in response to Kiev proceeding with the trade aspects of its association agreement with the European Union.

I made those points directly to President Putin when I met him in Paris on the eve of the D-day commemorations. The inauguration of President Poroshenko has created a new opportunity for diplomacy to help to establish a proper relationship between Ukraine and Russia. I urged President Putin to ensure that this happens. It is welcome, I believe, that he met President Poroshenko in Normandy and that Moscow and Kiev are now engaging each other again. It is important that we continue to do what we can to

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sustain the positive momentum. We also agreed to help Ukraine to achieve greater energy security by diversifying its supplies.

The G7 also continued the work we began last year at Lough Erne to deal with the cancer of corruption, with further agreements on what I call the “three Ts” of greater transparency, fairer taxes and freer trade. We made good progress in working towards common global standards of transparency in extractive industries. We agreed to push forward with establishing new international rules to stop companies artificially shifting their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and we agreed to make a concerted push on finalising bilateral trade deals as soon as possible. This included the EU-Canada and EU-Japan deals, but of course also the EU-US deal, which we launched at Lough Erne last summer. I believe this is one of the greatest opportunities to turbo-charge the global economy and could be worth up to £10 billion for Britain alone.

With these agreements, the Lough Erne agenda on transparency, tax and trade has been hard-wired into these international summits, I believe, for many years to come. There was also a good discussion on climate change, where the recent announcements by the US make a potential agreement next year more achievable, and we should do what we can to make that happen.

In my bilateral meeting with President Obama, we discussed what I believe is the greatest threat to our security: how we counter extremism and the terrorist threat to our people at home and abroad. We agreed to intensify our efforts to address the threat of foreign fighters travelling to and from Syria, which is now the top destination in the world for jihadists. And here in Britain, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will be introducing a new measure to enable prosecution of those who plan and train for terrorism abroad. In Libya, we are fulfilling our commitment to train the Libyan security forces, with the first tranche of recruits arriving in the United Kingdom yesterday. And on Nigeria, we reaffirmed our commitment to support President Jonathan’s Government and the wider region in confronting the evil of Boko Haram. We continue to help address the tragedy of the abducted schoolgirls.

Finally, in all my recent meetings with European leaders, and again at the summit in Sweden yesterday, there was discussion about the top jobs in Europe. The European elections, I believe, sent a clear message right across the continent: the European Union needs to change. It is vital that politicians across Europe respond to the concerns of their people, and that means having institutions in Europe which understand the need for reform. And it means having people at the head of these institutions who understand that if things go on as they have done, the European Union is not going to work properly for its citizens.

Quite apart from the entirely valid concerns about the proposed people in question, there is a fundamental point of principle on which we must not budge. As laid down in EU law, it is for the European Council to make its own nomination for President. This is the body that is made up of the elected leaders of the European nations, and it is not for the European Parliament to try to impose its will on the democratically elected leaders of 28 member states.

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Prime Minister Reinfeldt, Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands, Chancellor Merkel and I also agreed on the work programme for the new Commission: completing the single market, energising trade deals and making further progress on deregulation—a clear focus on jobs and growth. We also agreed that the Commission must work together to address the abuse of free movement so that people move across Europe for work but not for welfare. These were important agreements from like-minded European leaders who share my determination to deliver a reformed European Union.

Finally, amid the various meetings of the past week, I was able to attend the very special commemorations for the 70th anniversary of D-day in Normandy. Attending the vigil at Pegasus Bridge—marking the moment the first glider touched down on French soil—was a fitting moment to reflect on the importance of our collective defence, something that will be at the heart of the NATO summit in Wales this September. Above all, it was a moment to remember the sheer bravery and sacrifice of all those who gave their lives for our future.

The veterans who made it to Normandy are quite simply some of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege and pleasure of meeting. I will never forget the conversations that I had that night and, indeed, the next day. Our gratitude for their service and sacrifice must never wane, and neither should our resolve to protect the peace that they fought for.

I commend this Statement to the House”.

12.18 pm

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Leader for repeating the Statement, and the noble Baroness the Chief Whip for agreeing to take this short exchange today rather than yesterday. I am sure that the whole House will be grateful for this flexibility.

Just one week after the anniversary of D-day, I take this opportunity to pay tribute on behalf of my Benches to all those involved in the commemorations, especially the veterans, who are truly extraordinary. Their stories were deeply moving, their fortitude a lesson to us all, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to them, and to the thousands who lost their lives, for their courage in fighting against fascism to safeguard the freedoms which we enjoy but too often take for granted. They were remarkable people who risked, and too often gave, their lives for our country. It is now our duty to ensure that we continue to honour them and their memories so that our children, our children’s children and future generations know about the service and sacrifice of those who went before us.

Before turning to the G7, let me echo the comments made by the Leader’s right honourable friend the Prime Minister about the European Commission President. The message from the European elections was clear: we need reform in Europe, and we need people in top jobs in Europe willing and able to pursue that agenda. The appointments of a new Commission and President now provide a vital opportunity to pursue this much needed European reform, which

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must be seized and not squandered. The Prime Minister is right to acknowledge that, but he might have had more influence if the discussions had been less personalised and more diplomatic. The negotiations might also have been easier if his colleagues in the European Parliament had not joined forces with parties that hold dubious views, including some which sat with UKIP in the previous Parliament. I still hope that the Prime Minister will make the necessary progress in the appointment of that key post.

The central issues of the G7 communiqué were the global economy, international development, climate change and Ukraine, and I will briefly address each. On the global economy, trade is a key engine for achieving that priority. It is important to work to reduce trade barriers while respecting states’ rights to regulate, which is why we support the EU-US trade agreement. What discussions has the Prime Minister had with EU leaders and President Obama on whether the TTIP negotiations are on track and when they are likely to be completed? Can the Minister reassure the House that there will be no impact on our public services, and in particular on the NHS? Can the noble Lord say what specific discussions have been held to ensure that the NHS will be excluded from any future agreement?

On tax and transparency, I trust that the Government are doing everything possible to ensure that the bold promises of the Lough Erne declaration are not watered down in practice. Last year we welcomed the OECD’s work to tackle tax avoidance and it was promised that developing countries would be part of that process. Can the Leader assure the House that will be the case going forward?

We support the conclusions on international development, and recognise and welcome the actions that have been taken by the Government. However, we still look forward to the Government bringing forward a Bill to enshrine the 0.7% aid target and would give that measure our strongest support.

Climate change is an enormous threat to our planet and is inextricably linked to many of the problems faced by the world, including poverty and migration. The agreement of a new international framework for tackling climate change is hugely important, and the G7 statement on that is very welcome. Britain and the EU can play a leading role in achieving a deal. One of the keys to success in Paris in 2015 will be to make good on the promise of climate finance made in Copenhagen. Can the noble Lord inform the House of when the UK will make money available for that and assure us that the Government are working to secure timely contributions from the other G7 members?

Finally, on Ukraine, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, it was right for G7 countries to boycott this year’s G8 summit, which would have taken place in Sochi. This crisis has been the West’s most serious confrontation with Russia since the end of the Cold War, and there had to be consequences for Russia’s actions.

Secondly, we welcome the swearing-in of President Poroshenko and his first act of offering political concessions to the Russian-speaking east. I also join the Leader in welcoming the initial engagement between

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President Putin and President Poroshenko. Following the Ukrainian President’s commitment to sign an association agreement with the EU, has the Prime Minister received any assurances from President Putin in his bilateral meeting that there would be no further Russian aggression in response to that action?

Thirdly, we see the continuing volatile situation in eastern Ukraine and the rising violence in south-eastern Ukraine with growing concern. During the Prime Minister’s conversations with President Putin, did he seek assurances that Russia will accelerate its withdrawal of troops from the border with Ukraine and stop the flow of weapons and pro-Russian insurgents into the country? This G7 meeting was a demonstration of the unity of international action. It was right for the G7 to call for a de-escalation of the situation, the need to work towards a diplomatic solution and continuing to maintain the pressure on Russia. In taking that action the Government have our full support.

12.23 pm

Lord Hill of Oareford: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her response. I very much agree with her opening remarks about D-day and the importance of continuing to honour the memory of those brave men and women. Perhaps there was a time a few years ago when people were worried about young people being unaware of the contribution people made in the past in the Great War and the Second World War, and that they might forget it. However, from the response there has been in the run-up to the commemoration of the Great War, and in particular from the response to seeing those veterans going to D-day, it is very clear that there is very little danger of that, which is extremely good news.

I welcome the support that the Leader of the Opposition gave to the principled stand that the Prime Minister is taking on the question of who should appoint the President of the Commission. I am grateful that the Labour Party made it clear that they support Britain’s position on that, as are my noble friends in the Liberal Democrat party. All three party groups are united in thinking that the proper procedure should be observed, and that that appointment should be made by the members of the Council and not by the European Parliament.

As regards whether progress on TTIP is on track, there have been a number of meetings between my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, his colleagues in the EU and the United States to take that forward. A specific deadline for making further progress was not agreed at the G7, but it was certainly very clear that the pressure is being kept up on that, and that will continue.

The Leader of the Opposition asked whether there will be any danger to the NHS if we conclude that trade deal—which would have a huge beneficial effect on our economy. The way that healthcare is delivered would continue to be decided by national Governments; TTIP would not weaken regulation or lead to the privatisation of the NHS, or itself increase the rights of access to the NHS for private providers of clinical services. I know that there are concerns about that,

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and I am sure that the party opposite and others will want to keep a close eye on that. However, pursuing the trade deal and its conclusion should not carry the risk about which the noble Baroness is concerned.

On tax and transparency, I can report quite good progress. The UK’s position is that we want to make sure that countries sign up to the tax tool that was created so that we can see where profits are being earned. That is going quite well. Led by Britain, 44 countries have signed up to that already. There are also other measures, such as the small business Bill in the Queen’s Speech, which will include measures to establish a public register of company beneficial ownership information, which will be welcome. The Government have also just completed a consultation on increasing transparency in the extractive sector. So we can report solid progress on that.

On international aid, our position is that the target of 0.7% is being met and Britain is leading the rest of the world in its contribution to international aid. I know that the whole House supports that.

Climate change is an extremely important issue, as the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, reminded us. Britain and the EU can play a leading role in helping to achieve a deal, and President Obama has given some encouraging signs in that direction. I agree with the noble Baroness that we need to make sure that the EU has the political will to ensure that collectively we are in the right position on that. There is a push to make further progress on that by September.

I think we are in broad agreement on the position that the United Kingdom has adopted on Ukraine. I welcome the noble Baroness’s support for the decision to exclude Russia from the G8 and to have a meeting of the G7. There is hope with the election of President Poroshenko; this is a moment where one might try to make some progress. I understand that the Prime Minister, in his discussions with President Putin, emphasised some of the points that the noble Baroness raised about the importance of continuing to withdraw Russian troops. However, he also raised particular points about the supply of weaponry. Reports suggested that the kind of weaponry available to the separatists is quite heavy-duty military weaponry, and it is fairly obvious where that comes from; he certainly emphasised that point as well.

Overall, I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I hope that I have answered the points she raised in all these areas and that we can continue to work in the same direction.

12.29 pm

Lord Wright of Richmond (CB): My Lords, I echo the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, in welcoming the decision to exclude the Russians from the G7 and G8 meeting, if only as a strong message, which I hope was firmly received, that we strongly disapprove of Russia’s behaviour in the Ukrainian situation. Nevertheless, I ask the Minister for an assurance that we and our EU colleagues will maintain a dialogue with the Russian Government, not least on the extremely dangerous situations in Syria and Iraq. Both the Russians and ourselves share a strong interest in warding off the infection that we are likely to suffer from that situation.

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In that context, can the Minister tell us anything about any movement to resume diplomatic relations with the Syrian Government in Damascus?

Lord Hill of Oareford: On the last point, I do not have any information to give the noble Lord. The Government’s position on the Assad regime has not changed. I take his points about the broader dangers across the region; we have all watched with great concern the developing situation in Iraq, which adds to those concerns. I take the force of the point that he makes.

As for discussions with President Putin, the noble Lord strikes the right note. We needed to exclude him from that meeting to send a very strong message, and to impose the range of sanctions that we did. With regard to the effect that they have contributed to the impact on the Russian economy, recent figures suggest that their economy has shrunk in the first quarter of this year. Capital flight has been considerable and projections of growth for the rest of the year are being reduced downwards significantly. So they are having an impact. But I also take his point that, at the same time as sending that strong message, to take an opportunity by having direct contact—partly to reinforce it but also to have a channel open on some of those broader issues—is the right way forward.

Lord Dholakia (LD): My Lords, I welcome the Statement and add our tributes to the D-Day events in Normandy.

I have two questions for the Minister. The first relates to the Statement in relation to Boko Haram and President Jonathan in Nigeria. What is the involvement of other G7 countries in this matter? Since we have not received any further resolution on the abducted girls, what further action can we take to help Nigeria in that matter?

My second point relates to our involvement in the training of the Libyan security forces, which are in this country now. What assurances have we received from the Libyan Government about their co-operation in identifying those responsible for the fatal shooting of Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy some years ago?

Lord Hill of Oareford: My Lords, my noble friend is right to raise the importance of the point about Libya and the training of security forces. The first group of Libyans to come to the UK for training arrived earlier this week; we will train 2,000 Libyans and help them to prepare for their role. On the point about Yvonne Fletcher and the nature of those discussions, I need to see whether I can provide him with any further information.

As for Boko Haram, Britain has been playing a leading role, along with others. I know that it was discussed in the margins of the meetings that have been going on this week, led by the Foreign Secretary, to deal with the whole question of violence in war and conflict. If I have any further specific information, I shall come back to the noble Lord. The general position

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is that we are continuing to do all that we can, but at the moment there is no further specific information on the latest developments.

Lord Soley (Lab): I welcome the growing clarity on the G7’s reaction to Russia in relation to east Europe. Where I am much more troubled is on the lack of a clear foreign policy response by the G7 to developments in the Middle East, which are not new. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been occupying parts of Iraq since the beginning of this year, and it is almost inevitably moving towards a wider regional war within the Middle East. Therefore, I am concerned that the G7 is not paying the sort of attention to this that it needs to pay. A number of western countries, including our own, need a clear foreign policy on this, which will take quite a bit of working out. It will not be easy, but we really need it, as it is a very serious situation.

Lord Hill of Oareford: I very much agree with the noble Lord on the importance of doing that. In the short term, I know that the Minister in the Foreign Office is meeting the Iraqi Foreign Minister today. Clearly, we need to do what we can to provide what assistance we can. In the first instance, this is very much the responsibility of the Iraqis to take the lead on; they have a properly elected Government and they have their own security forces. But on the noble Lord’s broad point about the need to focus on this within the G7 or EU or whatever, and to work up a concerted approach and devote energy to doing that, I agree with him entirely.

Lord Higgins (Con): My Lords, clearly, the action by the Russian Government in relation to Crimea and Ukraine has totally changed the position on the G7’s relationship with Russia. That being so, it is obviously important to look at our defence position. While I hope that we have a clear position with regard to NATO and military matters, we appear to be absurdly vulnerable on economic matters, where President Putin is said to have shown a considerable interest in the ability of countries to use economic pressure to achieve their aims. That being so, was our response to the Russian actions not really very inadequate? Indeed, the only real sanctions were largely imposed by the markets, rather than by Governments. The vulnerability of Germany in particular, and other European countries, to the control by the Russians of gas to those countries, means that we have not been able to respond as would have been appropriate.

The Statement refers to diversification of supply of gas. I hope that my noble friend can spell it out a little more that we really are taking positive action to make sure that we are not dependent on Russian gas within the G7 countries generally, as we are at present.

Lord Hill of Oareford: I very much take the point about the importance of ensuring that there is diversification around energy supply, and a number of measures are in hand in the EU and through the G7 to try to take that forward. On sanctions more generally, I would argue that the steps taken so far have made a

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contribution. I understand my noble friend’s point about the importance of the power of markets to drive that, as well, but the combination of sanctions and markets is having the effect that I alluded to on the Russian economy. It is also the case, with regard to the adequacy of that response, that work is going on through the European Union. If Russia either destabilises the situation further or causes more difficulties with Ukraine over its signing of the accession agreement, urgent work has been going on to work up a range of sector-wide sanctions to hit various areas, whether it is defence, finance or energy. Therefore, I agree with my noble friend that we need to do that work and make it clear to Russia that, if we have to take further steps, we will do so.

Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, does the Leader of the House recognise the tactical problems and dangers to the national interest of this country in our taking such a strong personal lead against M Juncker? He is, after all, the favourite candidate, Chancellor Merkel still appears to be supporting him and he will offer us no favours if eventually he is elected. On Ukraine and relations with Russia, I echo what the noble Lord, Lord Wright, said. Yes, Russia annexed Crimea and is already paying a price economically in terms of market confidence and the rating agencies, and diplomatically in terms of its isolation. However, there are many areas where we need to engage with Russia, such as on arms control, Syria and Iran. During this difficult period, in what ways will we seek to engage with Russia on areas of mutual interest?

Lord Hill of Oareford: I will not reiterate the points I made to the noble Lord, Lord Wright, on striking the right balance between ensuring that there are consequences of taking action of which the entire international community disapproves and accepting the need to make sure that channels are kept open. Therefore, I agree with the noble Lord’s basic point. On the point about the top job, I think it is fair to say that from the beginning the Prime Minister adopted a position of principle both on who should make the relevant decision and on the attributes that one should look for in selecting someone to do the job. His argument was that the recent elections clearly show that there is widespread appetite for a different approach. However, for there to be a different approach you have to have someone leading the Commission who is open to that. That is the argument that the Prime Minister has made. It is an argument based on principle, not personalities. I accept that the media have reported the issue as one of personalities, but it seems to me that it is quite right for a Prime Minister to argue for something that he believes is right. One needs to make those arguments in a number of ways and sometimes you need to lead from the front.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB): I agree with what the noble Lord has just said and I agree with the Statement that he was good enough to repeat. In particular I agree that the power of nomination rests with the Heads of Government meeting in the European Council. They get the first word. Everything that was said in the

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Statement is true and I support it. However, it is important to bear in mind also that the Parliament gets the last word. Whoever is nominated by the European Council does not take office unless they are approved by an absolute majority in the Parliament. It therefore follows that the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, is important. The company the British Conservatives choose to keep in Strasbourg may affect the chances of a nominee known to have British support securing the necessary absolute majority in the Parliament. My second point is that for the very first time the nominations of the European Council will be made by qualified majority, so tactics that were appropriate in the past when the decision was made by unanimity, and every Head of Government therefore had a veto, are not necessarily appropriate to the world of qualified majority.

Lord Hill of Oareford: My Lords, I know from my dim and distant memory of the Maastricht process, when fortunately I was sitting quietly in a little back room while the noble Lord did all the heavy lifting, what a wily tactician he is.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Hill of Oareford: That was meant as a compliment, my Lords. Obviously the way the noble Lord explained the recent change in the process was correct. However, I come back to the point that the Prime Minister felt that he needed to argue from a position of principle in relation to the approval process and the kind of person one should look for. I am sure that the noble Lord’s successors and others made the same arguments about how to go about doing it. The Prime Minister thought that the right way forward was to set out his case and argue for it.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP): My Lords, on Ukraine, what assessment did the Government make of President Putin’s offer in 2010 to set up a free trade area from Lisbon to Vladivostok? Would that not have been the way forward? Do the Government think that the EU was wise to reply by instead offering Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Ukraine free trade and association agreements, with their defence implications for the road to NATO, when Russia had been saying for years that it could not tolerate Crimea coming under the sphere of influence of Brussels or NATO? So, was it not the EU’s specific later offer to Ukraine that sparked the unfortunate situation in that country? If, as I suspect, the noble Lord replies that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was illegal under international law, would he care to comment on the legality of our disastrous invasion of Iraq, when at least China and France were against it in the Security Council?

Lord Hill of Oareford: I simply do not accept the underlying point that I suspect the noble Lord makes—namely, that the current travails in Ukraine and Crimea were caused by the EU. If one is looking to attribute blame—if that is the right word—for recent behaviour, it is far more straightforward to consider the illegal and unrecognised referendum in Crimea, the other

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action that was taken and the support given to people to destabilise it than to lay the blame on the EU. I note the wish expressed by the people of Ukraine to have a closer relationship with countries in the West, which was restated in the recent election.

Lord Elystan-Morgan (CB): My Lords, the chances of Russia surrendering Crimea, short of by war, must be nil. However, it seems to me of the utmost importance to make it very clear to Mr Putin that there must be no more Sudetenland initiatives in relation to any part of the former Russian empire. I very much bear in mind what Mr Putin said some years ago concerning the G8—namely, that Russia’s accession to the G8 was the defining achievement of his public career. He may very well have been totally sincere in that. Therefore, there should be not only negative sanctions, if needs be, but positive allurements as well, which may result in him accepting that it is not too late to come to the stool of penitence and to show that he has respect for international law and international obligations.

Lord Hill of Oareford: I very much agree with that; it is what everyone would want. Whether it is the stool of penitence or somewhere else, I hope that we can get to a point where we normalise relations and Russia rejoins the G8. However, certain things need to happen before that can come about.

English Parish Churches

Motion to Take Note

12.49 pm

Moved by Lord Cormack

That this House takes note of the importance of the English parish church.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, what a wonderful illustration this is of the value of your Lordships’ House. We pass from a Statement on the G7, with all its international implications and ramifications, to come to talk about the English parish church. I am exceptionally grateful to have this opportunity. Almost exactly two years ago I had a similar opportunity to talk about the importance of English cathedrals; so this is mark 2.

It is impossible to drive anywhere in my native county of Lincolnshire without being conscious of the centrality of the parish church in all the many communities of that large county. I could spend my 15 minutes—if I chose to, but I shall not—talking just about Lincolnshire’s parish churches, which are some of the greatest in the land. One thinks of: the magisterial spire of Louth, second only in height and equal in glory to that of Salisbury; the incredible Saxon-Norman minster church at Stow, in the tiniest of hamlets; or the most magisterial tower of any parish church in England at Boston—a landmark to seafarers for centuries. Then there are the tiny churches: Langton by Spilsby, a Georgian gem where Dr Johnson was a regular visitor to his friend

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Bennet Langton; Snarford, with its Westminster Abbey-quality memorials to the St Paul family; and many more.

My passion for churches began in my native county at the little church of Clee, once a tiny village between Grimsby and Cleethorpes that has now been swallowed up. The church, with its Saxon tower and its Norman nave, contains a tablet on one of the pillars in the nave recording the dedication by St Hugh of Lincoln in the reign of Richard I. That is where it all began for me, but when I came to another place almost exactly 44 years ago, the first campaign that I sought to lead was to get state aid for our parish churches. The first Private Member’s Bill that I introduced had the same objective. In my first book, Heritage in Danger, which I wrote way back in 1976, the future of the parish church loomed large. This issue has engaged me for a long time. I suppose that I ought to declare—although I have no pecuniary interest—that for more than 40 years I have been successively trustee and vice-president of what is now called the National Churches Trust. For 15 years, I was president of the Staffordshire Churches Trust; and for 30 years, I have been trustee or vice-president of the Lincolnshire Churches Trust.

Why? It is because I believe that it is in the parish churches of our land that we come closest to the soul and history of each community that the individual church serves. You can trace the ups and downs of the community economically by the extensions and reductions in size to churches. You can follow the history of the worthies of that community by studying their monuments and memorials. Even in this secular age, everyone who lives in England is a parishioner, lives in a parish, is entitled to the ministrations of the Church of England—whatever his or her race, creed or colour—and can enter the only public buildings that are always open and welcoming to people. Every single one of our fellow citizens has this inalienable right. They are buildings that speak of their communities, to their communities, for their communities. In almost every case, they remain the most prominent public buildings. They are not just places of worship, although that is their prime purpose and concern. They are places where the community can come together. They are places where concerts can be held. They are the focal point. In almost every village and small town in England, the parish church is the most prominent building.

Some people might say, “Why just concentrate on the parish churches? Are there not many more important religious buildings?”. Of course there are. Some who will take part in this debate have a particular interest in those. All the trusts with which I am involved give grants to all religious buildings, be they Roman Catholic churches, Quaker meeting houses or Methodist chapels. The real problem facing those who care about these things, however, rests with the Anglican churches because the Church of England has some 16,000 for which it is responsible—12,500 of which are listed buildings; 45% of grade 1 listed buildings in this country are church buildings, most of which are parish churches.

All this comes at a cost that is not primarily borne by the state, even though that campaign to which I referred was successful. It was a marvellous illustration of the fact that this issue crosses party boundaries that

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it was a Conservative Government who made the decision that state aid should be available but a Labour Government in 1974-75 who implemented it. We are also grateful to successive Governments, particularly to Gordon Brown when, as Chancellor the Exchequer, he gave a special grant to offset the fact that repairs to listed buildings, wrongly in my view, are eligible for VAT. Nevertheless, as long ago as 2004, English Heritage estimated that maintaining our parish churches cost £175 million a year, of which the churches themselves produced £115 million. I would hate to move towards the French system, whereby the fabric of all religious buildings is vested in the state. If you go to France you do not find that local patriotism and passionate concern, shared by believers and non-believers alike, for their parish church. When, however, that is considered in the context of wind farms or what we are planning with HS2, the amount of money that we are talking about to safeguard our parish churches is a very tiny sum indeed. We have to bear in mind that our churches and cathedrals are the most visited buildings in our country and are worth £350 million a year to the tourism economy—something to which your Lordships will be turning attention in the next debate.

There are always problems with buildings that are old, fragile and vulnerable. One has to guard against lead theft, vandalism and all things. I want, however, to talk briefly about a particular menace to many old churches, the menace of the bat. I became acutely conscious of this when I visited the wonderful collegiate church of Tattershall in Lincolnshire last summer, which has some of the most remarkable 15th-century brasses in the country. They are all being corroded by bat droppings. In many churches in our land the bat is a terrible problem. I shall quote from a letter that I received only this morning from the Church of England Parliamentary Unit:

“Where there are large colonies it can become intolerable. Churches were built for the worship of God by people. They were not built as nature reserves. The smell, the mess which has to be cleared up puts an intolerable burden on parishes, and in some cases is making the buildings unusable. We have heard of one instance where the vicar has to shake bat faeces out of her hair while celebrating communion at the altar … The impression is that the bats matter much more than the worshipping community—and this is exacerbated by the fact that Natural England have abrogated responsibility … to the Bat Conservation Trust, who are quite legitimately a pressure group”.

I also quote from an article in Ecclesiology Today by Dr Sally Badham, who says:

“Of course it is important that our native species should be protected, but I firmly believe that a much more realistic balance needs to be struck between bats’ needs and the protection of our national heritage and the health of people visiting and attending churches … We must wake up to the fact that we just cannot afford for our historic churches to be turned into bat barns”.

This is a subject that is not sufficiently aired, but it really is a very true danger. If this debate achieved only one thing—a better balance between the demands of English nature and the needs of the English heritage—I would be well content.

I hope other things will come from the debate too. I hope the Government—the Minister will respond to this—will recognise that targeted grants to anticipate problems, aimed at clearing gutters and repairing roofs,

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would be greatly helpful. I would like to see a special national heritage memorial fund to devote resources to church memorials and monuments. What more appropriate time to do that than when we are commemorating the centenary of the first Great War and approaching the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War? I would also like to see more young people encouraged not just to go to church services—that is the job of the church—but to recognise their intrinsic architectural and historical importance. These buildings are part of the warp and weft of our civilisation.

As a result of the debate I had two years ago, a campaign was mounted. In that debate I called for £50 million for cathedrals. It did not succeed, but this year in the Budget we got £20 million from the Chancellor. Of course he cannot open a purse at the Dispatch Box, but I hope when the Minister comes to reply he will promise to talk to ministerial colleagues about how a little really does go a long way in this context.