You cannot always quantify the value and work of the charity sector in money terms alone, and in some cases it may be impossible to do so. That was illustrated for me a couple of years ago, when I attended a reception in your Lordships’ House that was hosted by my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon for the then WRVS—now the RVS—where we heard from some of its volunteers. One man told us that he had a great volunteering job. He took his elderly friend shopping twice a week, and they always stopped off in the pub for a pint on the way home. It is hard to quantify what he was doing in pure monetary terms, but he was helping his elderly friend to live independently in the community he had lived in for many years, to maintain his contact with the outside world, to go to his local pub and meet his friends. That volunteer was able to check that his elderly friend was looking after himself, and if necessary he could alert the relevant authorities if he thought there were issues that needed attention.

Many other organisations and people provide a similar function in keeping people connected with their local community. I have seen for myself excellent examples of this from faith groups such as the Overend Methodist Mission in Cradley and the wonderful Ackroyd Community Centre in Crofton Park, with its Elder People’s Support Project. That is a linchpin of the local community there and does just the sort of things that my noble friend Lady Pitkeathley highlighted in her contribution. The devastation caused by loneliness and isolation is difficult at any age but is particularly difficult when you are elderly, as my noble friend Lady Turner of Camden highlighted. Although I said that it is hard to quantify in monetary terms some of the work the charity sector does, you could come up with an estimate of the additional cost to the state if the voluntary and charity sector did not undertake those vital tasks that I have just outlined.

I have also seen at first hand the detailed policy work that is undertaken and how that informs government thinking. There are the grants some charities make to enable cutting-edge medical and other research to take place, and the work the sector can do to bring about changes to government policy by mounting effective campaigns and producing evidence-based research. Diabetes UK, along with other charities, did that very effectively with the campaign it ran to ensure that children with long-term conditions can expect to get

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an agreed minimum level of support at school. That enables children to remain at school and learn with their friends, and not find themselves excluded through no fault of their own. The noble Lord, Lord Storey, on the Lib Dem Benches, along with many other noble Lords, will recall the debates we had on that during the passage of the Education Act in the previous Session.

When charities and the wider voluntary sector run campaigns they can be very effective, and sometimes irritating to other interest groups, politicians and Governments. However, all noble Lords will be aware that charity campaigning has changed lives for the better. For example, a coalition of 200 UK charities and faith communities came together and formed the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which secured commitments from the G8 leaders to provide funding for global initiatives to tackle child malnutrition and clamp down on tax avoidance.

However, I caution the Government to be very careful; just because they do not like something that an organisation is saying, it does not follow that it is running a political campaign. They should not get themselves into that position. If there are problems with recently passed laws, I hope that charities will write to the noble Lord, Lord Finkelstein, and take up his invitation. Local government in general has a very strong commitment to the voluntary and charity sector. In Lewisham we have found it important to maintain a strong independent sector that can act as a critical friend to challenge public sector policy and delivery. We recognise the key role the sector plays in building civic participation, providing a voice for seldom heard residents and providing community intelligence to the authority, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby highlighted in his contribution. There is also a recognition of the great diversity of the sector and the need always to ensure that you are engaging with small and emerging groups as well as large and established ones. In addition, there is a recognition of the sector’s potential to take risks and innovate and of the fact that the voluntary and charitable sectors have been key delivery partners for a wide range of targeted initiatives.

As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby highlighted, in these times of austerity and cut-backs the voluntary and charitable sector has seen increased demands for its services and has had to deliver more with less, absorbing costs and meeting the challenges it has been presented with. The social sector tracker published by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations highlights the perfect storm that the sector faces. It also identified that 61% of charities argued that central government policy had a damaging impact on their work, as opposed to the 15% who cited a positive impact.

In responding to this debate, can the noble Lord tell the House what has happened to the big society? It was a big theme in the Conservative manifesto and is in the coalition’s programme for government. The Prime Minister told us in February 2011 that it was “his absolute passion”, but today it has vanished, swept under the carpet, never to be mentioned again—except by opposition spokespersons who ask, “What

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happened to that once-key initiative?”. Can the noble Lord confirm that the Government are willing to listen to suggestions about how we can further support the sector?

Yesterday, when I saw the reports of Wonga’s disgusting behaviour and how it treated some of its customers, I wondered whether there was a way that any fines imposed on it or other financial institutions that broke the law or regulations could be ring-fenced and invested in supporting the credit union movement or charity sector work on debt relief. I hope that the noble Lord will take that away and respond to it as well. In conclusion, I again pay tribute to the work of the voluntary and charity sectors in the UK and thank the noble Baroness, Lady Scott of Needham Market, for enabling this debate to take place today.

2.06 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, as I expected, this has been an excellent debate. As I came here I thought that it would be very difficult to respond to comments from noble Lords, many of whom know a huge amount more about this sector than I do. I have learnt a huge amount from the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, in particular. I remembering him taking me through the evolution of regulation and charities law from 1601 onwards. I hope that he noted the recent remark made by an eminent lawyer, that charities law had been asinine since 1601. As we all know, charities law has evolved to cope with charities changing their view of what they should do, which remains a contested issue. I speak on behalf of the Government when I say how grateful we are for the work that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, has done, both in his statutory review of the Charities Act 2006 and in his contribution to the Civil Society Red Tape Taskforce. The Government hope that he will continue to play an extremely valuable role in that area.

When I went to east London to look at the work which a local Baptist minister, Mr Mawson—the noble Lord, Lord Mawson—had done, I also learnt a huge amount about local initiatives and local activity. When I first learnt about community foundations I went to Calderdale with the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, and was enormously enthused by the work which the community foundation there is doing and the way in which it is able to galvanise local philanthropy. I repeat what I said the previous time we debated this issue. Oversight of the voluntary sector is the sort of role which the House of Lords in its current composition plays very well. We ought to have regular debates on aspects of that area, because it is one on which the Commons does not focus very well. As the voluntary sector begins to deal with different challenges, we should look at how well it copes.

I start with some very broad issues about the importance of this area. We are now reaching a point where there is a degree of consensus across all the political parties in this country about the importance of striking the right balance between an open society, a free but regulated market, and a strong but limited state. We can all argue—and that is the place for democratic politics—about exactly how that balance should be struck: how large the state should be, how

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large a proportion of the economy it should control, and how large a proportion of national income it should take. Those are all difficult issues that we must grasp, but we all now understand that the state cannot do everything, that the welfare state cannot provide everything, and that a state that is too strong impoverishes its citizens. In an open society, we need active citizens who are not too dependent on the state.

I have done most of my politics in Huddersfield, Manchester and Bradford. I remember particularly, when I was a candidate for a central Manchester constituency, arguing with local authority officials who were quite sure that they knew what was good for the people of Hulme better than the people of Hulme did. The people of Hulme sat around and had things done to them, and played very little part in managing their own affairs. Many of us have spent time in those big inner-city estates, and know the problems that that has led to. Part of what the Government have been doing with community organisers and the National Citizen Service has been getting back into those communities the idea that people are better off if they do some things for themselves. We all now know from all sorts of psychological studies that people who feel they have some control over their own lives, and play some active part in their local community, are happier and more fulfilled in their lives.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby talks about the end of the welfare state, but I simply do not recognise that concept. Indeed, in some ways the welfare state is expanding. Health reform in the United States is becoming embedded, and I suspect that that will not be reformed. The biggest democracy that has resisted that element of the welfare state is now embedding it. However, we recognise that the welfare state, if simply left, would expand to crowd out all other elements of public expenditure, and would then crowd out the private aspect of the economy as well.

To be maintained in its current state, the National Health Service needs an income that grows larger and larger each year. I am particularly conscious of that at the moment, having just had a new hip, and having discovered how many other people in my generation have also had a new hip. That makes me realise to what extent that sort of thing, as we all get older, is leading to the strains on the welfare state as publicly funded. I hope to make 97 at least, and the strain on the state from my state pension, my travel pass and various other things will also contribute to the problems of the welfare state.

Yes, we are all committed to the continuation of the welfare state, but we recognise that it has limits, that it is bad for us to be too dependent on the state, and that the voluntary sector alongside it has a great deal to contribute—including, of course, to the National Health Service. Just think about how much money is raised for medical research and other dimensions from the voluntary sector, and the excellent initiatives such as those that the Government have been supporting—the growth of dementia volunteers and King’s College Hospital volunteers to relieve the pressures on local hospitals. That is all part of what we must do to ensure that the welfare state continues to maintain its functions.

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I follow the debates of such bodies as Policy Network and Policy Exchange, and I recognise that they are all discussing these questions. We cannot depend entirely on the state. Twenty years ago, when I was working for the University of Oxford, I was helping to raise funds for a range of international initiatives. Someone from a Dutch university said to me, “It’s actually very difficult to raise money for universities from the private sector in the Netherlands, because when you approach a possible donor he thinks, ‘If this were a good idea, the state would already have paid for it,’ so the fact that you are asking for a private donation makes people think that it’s not a very good idea.” But when we went to the Swiss, they understood. With a more limited attitude towards their state, they understood that it was a good idea to have both voluntary funding and state funding for higher education. One of the reasons why British universities are better than those in a number of other European countries is that they have both state and private funding.

We have heard a lot of comments on central state funding and local activity. I think that there is a consensus that we have become too centralised, in the UK as a whole but above all in England, and that decentralisation—both from Whitehall to local authorities and, as far as possible, from a relationship between large national charities and the state to one in which local authorities and other local bodies relate to local charities—is healthier. The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, talked about the relationship between big charities and central government. Having stronger local authorities dealing with local voluntary organisations is a desirable state of affairs. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, who talked about the role of Near Neighbours within a number of local communities. There are many examples like that. Local giving, as the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, said, is easier to make a case for—local actions and local campaigns. In Saltaire we are just embarking on local horticulture, imitating Todmorden and others. That means growing local food in spare ground and making it available to people who do not have their own gardens. There are all sorts of local activities that we should be helping to support.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, asked what had happened to the big society. My answer to him is that a great deal is happening. I regret that the Prime Minister uses it less than he did, but I am extremely happy that the Labour Party is now accepting many of the Government’s initiatives into its own campaigns. I was a sceptic about the National Citizen Service myself when it started. It was a Conservative scheme that I was not entirely convinced about—but I became a convert as soon as I visited my first National Citizen Service scheme. I am happy to see that the Labour Party now proposes that that service should be extended. That means that all parties now accept that it is a highly desirable development.

I was equally sceptical about the Conservative proposals for community organisers when they were first made. But now that I have seen community organisers working in Bradford and Leeds, I am persuaded that that is a way of helping to energise shared local action within local communities that all of us, from all parties and perspectives, should be happy to support. That is what

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is happening on the ground, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, is as impressed with it as I have been.

We have talked about the problems of youth engagement, but there is quite a lot of encouraging evidence that young people are becoming more engaged in local volunteering. The National Citizen Service has certainly helped, and it appears that young people are keen to get engaged where they are given the opportunity to do so. I recognise that, as one or two noble Lords have said, community work placements can muddy the water, but part of the philosophy behind such placements is to give people some experience of working with others and for others, which in itself is a self-motivating experience.

There has also been much talk about elderly volunteers. We are all aware of that aspect. I have promised my wife that when I retire, in a few years’ time, I will go into voluntary service. I am very proud that when my mother finally stepped down from her last voluntary role, as chair of an old people’s home, she was herself older than a substantial number of the people living in the home. This is not an entirely new idea. The elderly fit are now very much part of those who hold voluntary action of different sorts together.

We have talked a lot about fundraising and funding, state contracting, and provision of public services. Of course, there is a problem with state funding of the voluntary sector, because public funds have to be publicly accountable. That carries with it a level of bureaucracy that does not exist in the same way with private donations. There must be accountability for public funding. The Government are, however, carrying through a number of useful experiments. There are social investment targets to fulfil, and so on, as well as social action proposals and Community First funding, which help to encourage the sector to innovate.

As I have come to terms with different elements in this sector, I worry about the parts of the voluntary sector that are over-dependent on public funding. If a voluntary organisation is dependent on the state for most of its funding, it ceases in some ways to be an entirely voluntary organisation. That seems to me a large issue for the future.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I am extremely grateful to my noble friend and shall be very brief. He said some very nice things about me and I am very grateful to him for that. I do not want to bite the hand that feeds me, but before he leaves the issue of social investment, will he give a commitment to look at the wording of “necessary and incidental” and “necessary and proportionate”? Without that change there is a real danger that this important movement may be stifled.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am happy to give that assurance and I will be in touch with the noble Lord later in terms of what precisely the answer is. We have asked the Law Commission to look at the content of social investment by charities within the confines of charities law, and I will come back to the noble Lord on that.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, asked about the JustGiving report, to which I trust the Government will respond in good time. Payroll giving has developed a good deal. I am well aware from one or two members of my family who work in the City that payroll giving has spread across the City. It is a useful contribution from those who can afford to pay. We all also need to focus on philanthropy in our unequal society. That is the sort of thing that I hope archbishops and bishops will be saying loud and clear. When I think of those within the community I particularly recall the contribution that the Sainsbury family has made in all sorts of ways to medical research, the University of East Anglia, the National Portrait Gallery, et cetera, with the money it inherited. I regret that we have not seen from the City and the financial sector as much in the way of philanthropy from those who have been lucky and successful enough to give back to society what they have gained economically. I hope that we will hear from others on that theme.

A large number of other issues were raised. In terms of campaigning and advocacy, there should be a natural tension between society, the voluntary sector and the state. That is unavoidable. The last thing we would like is a voluntary sector that always said the state was good. I grew up in the Church of England, and it seemed to me that it was far too close to the powers that be. As a boy I would sing:

“The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate”—

not something that I assume the Church of England sets as a hymn very often these days. Thankfully, Churches now see themselves as unavoidably criticising the status quo. Voluntary organisations, of course, should be doing advocacy and campaigning. I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Patten, that I am not sure that I do see a clear difference between campaigning and advocacy.

When I was doing the consultation on the Transparency of Lobbying Bill, I met the Alzheimer’s Society, which told me about its dementia campaign—an absolute classic of a campaign—to raise public awareness on an issue to which society, the state and the media had not been paying sufficient attention. The noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, talked about the carers campaign that had very much the same effect. That is precisely one of the many roles that the voluntary sector should have.

However, we all understand also that there is a point at which campaigning and advocacy becomes political in a partisan way, and therefore approaches a boundary over which campaigners should not step. I know Charity Commission paper CC9 almost off by heart now. CC9 is relatively clear and therefore the challenge made by the noble Lord, Lord Finkelstein, is one that is unlikely to be offered.

Lord Patten: I am extremely grateful to my noble friend. Is he satisfied that the Charity Commission has all the necessary and relevant powers to deal with the issues of political campaigning to which he is referring?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I am satisfied that it has all the powers that it needs. The Charity Commission is now very stretched. Its budget and therefore its staff

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were cut. Digitisation would help a great deal to make it easier for the Charity Commission to do its job, but the role of the Charity Commission is an issue that I know the new chairman and the new chief executive wish very much to take up with Members of both Houses of Parliament, and I encourage others to take that further.

On the question of regulation, I have been the trustee of two musical charities which dealt extensively with children, particularly primary school children. I am conscious that a certain degree of regulation is useful and necessary for charities. That is another argument that we will continue to have in this respect. On the international role of charities, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, touched on the problem of Greenpeace in India. It is not only a problem for India or for Greenpeace. Those of us who follow what happens in Russia, Sudan, Nigeria or Saudi Arabia know that the foreignness of some non-governmental organisations is something that those concerned with sovereignty have great concerns about. We do our utmost to support both those working for voluntary organisations and those working for civil society organisations in more authoritarian countries. I am not suggesting that India in any way is authoritarian but there are many other countries in which this becomes more difficult. That is one of the issues with which the Government are concerned and with which Foreign Office embassies are much concerned.

I am conscious that it would be impossible to cover everything in this debate. I merely want to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, for introducing it, and all those who have contributed. I say yet again that this is the sort of debate that this Chamber does well. The future development of the voluntary sector is an extraordinarily important part of maintaining an open society and an open democracy. It is an issue to which this House should return regularly.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark: I made some remarks about the disgusting activities of Wonga and suggested that maybe the fines levied on it and other companies could be used for charitable activity in the credit union movement or the financial sector. Will he confirm that he will write to me on those matters?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I would be happy to write to the noble Lord. I should, of course, have said that the whole credit union movement, with which I know the noble Lord is much concerned, and the role of the churches in supporting the credit union movement are classic examples of how valuable our voluntary sector can be.

2.27 pm

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: My Lords, I thank each one of the 20 contributors to the debate whose contributions have been thoughtful, wise and, above all, rooted in experience. What has come out is that, despite all the challenges there is still an essential optimism for the future of the sector and its importance.

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We have given the Government much to think about and I hope that they will reflect seriously on the points that have been made.

They say that charity begins at home. I wonder whether collectively, as an institution and organisation, we are doing enough here. Parliament is one of the largest employers in London and I have tried for two years to set up a volunteer system for our own employees, and have had no traction with that. Perhaps other noble Lords might like to help me. I am not sure that we do payroll giving. I do not know whether we are collectively setting the example that we should, despite all the good work that I know we all do individually.

Motion agreed.

Education: British Values

Question for Short Debate

2.28 pm

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to promote British values in all educational establishments in the United Kingdom in the next year.

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, I remind those speaking in the next debate that it is time limited. When the clock reaches three minutes, noble Lords should finish their speech as they have spoken for their allotted time. If a noble Lord is happy to take an intervention, I am afraid that the time taken up has to come out of their allocation.

Lord Storey (LD): My Lords, first I thank all noble Lords who are taking part in this debate. Following the so-called Trojan horse scandal in Birmingham and the subsequent Ofsted inspection and reports, our Education Secretary of State commanded that every primary and secondary school should promote British values. The Prime Minister went on to say that we should be “more muscular” and less “bashful” about asserting our national identity. The Prime Minister said that every child in Britain should be taught about Magna Carta, the foundation of all our laws and liberties. I hope the teaching of Magna Carta will be better than that which the Prime Minister himself received. Noble Lords will recall that he had a bit of difficulty recalling Magna Carta on American television. I am sure an understanding of baronial rights and regulation of fish weirs and moneylenders can be made as relevant today as it was then.

As a direct result of the Ofsted reports into Birmingham, new clauses have been added to the model funding agreement for academies. It now stipulates that governors should demonstrate “fundamental British values” and gives the Secretary of State powers to close schools if they do not comply. These British values include respect for the law, for democracy and for equality, and tolerance of different beliefs. Of course, we have to be a little bit careful and not think we are the best in the world in our values. We have only

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to look through our own history to see recently how discrimination ripped through our country, how it affected gay people, how there was slavery and even the burning of people for their religious belief. Values are not set in concrete or stone; they change.

Both the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability, sex, race and religion, and today in Great Britain these liberal principles have never been in doubt. British individuals may identify themselves in different ways, but the notion of British identity is multifaceted and inclusive. British values reflect the pride we feel as a nation when we see a multicultural and ethnically diverse population working together to protect our democratic ideals and ensure that every child has access to the best possible education, regardless of their background. We cannot deny that the elements of Britishness stated by the Secretary of State are complex and open to interpretation. However, these intentions should not be written off as a pipe dream. We must not assume that such values lie out of our reach.

My previous experience as a teacher in a large inner-city primary school has highlighted to me the importance of citizenship education and its role in helping to shape future generations of young people and young adults. Citizenship education and improved political and social awareness are crucial to help youngsters understand one another. Education should be about not prescribing values or abiding by arbitrary morals and customs but being part of a respectful community of discourse on topics that affect us all. It is my firm belief that citizenship education is no different.

The Prime Minister expressed his desire for the Government to start inculcating British values in the curriculum. Having considered that, I find myself slightly bemused to see that academies and free schools—roughly half our secondary schools—can choose not to teach the subject at all and that routine Ofsted inspections do not review it. As a consequence, its omission goes overlooked in a majority of our schools. That needs to be reconsidered urgently. Our schools need clarity that citizenship must be delivered effectively under the national curriculum and will be inspected routinely—perhaps even with no notice, if that proves an effective tool to ensuring accountability—as part of the broad and balanced curriculum that every child deserves.

What happened among a few Birmingham schools does indeed raise a number of educational issues, which we have debated on many occasions in your Lordships’ House. Does it really make sense for some schools to be given the power to choose what they teach? Is not the curriculum too important to be solely in the hands of individual schools? Our inspection regimes must be universal and up to the mark. The Office for Standards in Education has to be the guarantor of quality; Ofsted’s reports must be the key to understanding how schools have performed. The suggestion that grade 1 schools might be exempt from inspection is dangerous. No school, however good, comes with a guarantee of permanent success. Standards can and do slip. Some 31% of schools graded “outstanding” in an inspection do not maintain that

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standard in the next inspection. Indeed, as we know, one of the Birmingham schools received an “outstanding” Ofsted inspection.

I was interested to read in an article written by the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Yardley, in the Guardian:

“In truth, both the old model of local authority control and the new model of autonomy are flawed – and events in Birmingham should make us face up to it. Three organisations had the responsibility to spot and prevent failure in the Trojan horse schools – the Department for Education, the local authority and Ofsted. They all failed”.

I do not feel that being British or respecting British values is something that can be prescribed. The best way to unite Britons is to gain a mutual understanding and respect for each other.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab): On that point of the people of Britain’s mutual understanding and respect, can the noble Lord explain why the wording of the Motion calls on Her Majesty’s Government to promote British values in all education institutions—presumably including colleges and universities—throughout the country, when Her Majesty’s Government have no control over education in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, as a result of devolution?

Lord Storey: I am glad the noble Lord raised that point, because it is something I have said on a number of occasions. In actuality, when we debate education issues in this House, we talk only of the education service in England; we do not talk about Wales or Scotland. It would be nice to have a debate where we learn from some of the examples of the Scottish and Welsh education systems. For example, Wales, which is often derided in this House for some of its failings in education, is up to the mark on careers education and counselling. I am sure there are such issues in Scotland. I very much support and agree with what the noble Lord has said.

As I was saying, children should at a young age achieve an understanding of each other through citizenship lessons. The idea of citizenship is based on mutual respect, which the Government have vehemently championed in recent weeks. These sentiments are based on tolerant, helpful and liberal values. In your Lordships’ House we engage in respectful and meaningful discussions. That is why we must encourage our young scholars, whether in England, Scotland or Wales, to do exactly the same.

2.37 pm

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Storey on obtaining this debate and thank him for what he has said. Last week I suggested to my noble friend the Minister that it would be a good idea, in the year of Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, to have a charter of British values to which all schools should be invited to subscribe. What are those values? They are of course based on the rule of law, of which Magna Carta is itself the foundation: freedom of thought; freedom of belief; freedom of speech; mutual respect and tolerance. One could add to that. Above all, they should teach all young people that everyone has responsibilities as well as rights.

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I am very glad that my noble friend Lord Storey talked about citizenship education. As my noble friend the Minister knows only too well, I have spoken about this for quite a long time and I have seen him about it on a number of occasions. I would like all our young people to go through a citizenship ceremony when they leave school, having performed some community service in their area, whether it be dealing with the old or the young, or working for the National Trust—the list is endless. I would like all our young people to leave school with a sense of being part of a community and having a sense of community obligation and belonging. I would like that to be signified in a ceremony they all go through. If the Minister says, as he has hinted to me in the past, that it is difficult to do that right across the country, at the very least we should encourage it and consider having pilot projects. I believe the inculcation of a sense of real belonging is something so many of our young people lack.

It has often been said that the real poor of the present century are those without hope. What we must seek to do is give them hope, and one of the best ways of giving hope is by providing a sense of having roots, of knowing where they belong and what they can do.

In the final seconds I have left in which to speak, let me also suggest something I raised last week but which my noble friend slightly dismissed. While one could not make it obligatory, I would encourage all schools to fly the flag. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland they should fly two flags, and in some of our counties—my own county of Lincolnshire has a flag—they should also fly that flag. The flag or flags should be outside the school as a symbol of pride and belonging, of being part of a thing greater than oneself; that is, part of the community of which one is a part.

2.40 pm

Lord Wills (Lab):My Lords,

“There is something rather unBritish about seeking to define Britishness”.

Not my words, but those of the Secretary of State for Education when he was merely Michael Gove MP in 2007. But that was then. Now academies have to demonstrate fundamental values which the Department for Education has helpfully defined for them. I welcome that change of heart.

I was part of the previous Government, who sought to encourage a vibrant sense of national identity through promoting British values in exactly the sort of way that I was delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, just espouse. The profound changes we are living through—great global migrations of people and capital; social, cultural and economic flux—inevitably create pressures on identity, our sense of ourselves and our sense of belonging. We thought it was important to encourage a dialogue about our national identity primarily because it is so important to many people. If there was no national process to discuss it in ways that included everyone on these islands, it would leave a vacuum, and into that vacuum could well flood sectarian and even poisonous views. We believed it was important to do everything we could to encourage cohesion and assert what binds us together rather than what divides us, and we believed that a cohesive and inclusive national identity is rooted in the values we hold dear.

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But values on their own are abstract. Every modern democracy will espouse the values articulated by the Department for Education’s recent ruling: democracy, respect for the rule of law, equality and tolerance. What roots our identity in these values is the way they are mediated through our institutions and history, and their expression in this way can be contested. Different people will interpret that history and what it says about our values differently. Our institutions evolve and how they evolve reflects the way those values inform a changing society. So we believed that the articulation of British values had to be driven by the British people themselves. We started a deliberative process involving representative groups of people across Britain to discuss the issues of values, identity and belonging. This process was paused in 2010 and I regret that it has not been recommenced by the coalition Government.

They have now discovered the merits of fostering British values, but they have adopted what I think is a mistaken way of doing so. Instead of an evolving, inclusive discussion that is driven by the British people, the Government have suddenly produced the sort of top-down formulation that the Prime Minister used to oppose when he was in opposition. In 2009 he said:

“Britishness ... grows and evolves from the bottom up. It can never be defined by one motto or one politician”.

I agreed then and I agree now, but instead of such a bottom-up formulation of Britishness, there has been a panicky fiat from the top which has been rushed out apparently to deflect attention from an emotionally incontinent spat between the Department for Education and the Home Office.

What consultation has there been about these values? Are these fundamental British values as set out in the model funding agreement meant to be exclusive of others or can others such as justice, fair play and freedom of expression be added in? The Whip is looking anxious, so I will come to an end very shortly. What is going to be the test for whether the stipulated British values are being promoted effectively? What are the Government going to do to ensure that this initiative is an inclusive one and does not alienate and exclude sections of our society? I hope that the Minister can reassure your Lordships’ House that his department can answer these basic questions.

This has been a sadly inadequate way to approach an issue of such importance in our national life. I hope that this debate, on which the noble Lord, Lord Storey, is to be congratulated, might prompt the Government to do better in the months ahead to promote a constructive and inclusive debate about the values that bind our country together.

2.44 pm

Lord Taverne (LD): My Lords, unlike the previous speaker, I am deeply sceptical about teaching “British values”. Some that have been suggested are the rule of law, human rights and parliamentary government. But these are no longer special British values. We largely drafted the European Convention on Human Rights, but the Conservatives are now trying to get rid of it. We championed parliamentary democracy, but now it is the referendum which is trumpeted as the ultimate

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expression of democracy. That, of course, is the doctrine of Rousseau, the hero of dictators and autocrats. I prefer the British tradition of Locke and Burke.

We were once praised for our courtesy and readiness to listen to others, but in many respects Rule Britannia has been replaced by Rude Britannia, such as at Prime Minister’s Question Time, for example. The organised shouting and jeering makes Millwall fans look by comparison like a convention of bishops in Lambeth Palace. Nothing could do more to destroy respect for Parliament.

The invocation of national values is part of our current obsession with national identity. That is a very elusive concept. Tony Judt, the last of the social democratic philosophers, asked what it meant to be a Jew if you were not religious and detested the policies of the Israeli Government. He decided that he was a non-Jewish Jew. Jonathan Miller famously observed that he was not a Jew; he was just Jew-ish. As for being English, and the same could be said for being British, this was summed up long ago by Daniel Defoe as quoted in that splendid book by Robert Winder entitled BloodyForeigners:

“Thus from a mixture of all kinds beganThat heterogeneous thing, an Englishman …A true-born Englishman’s a contradiction In speech an irony, in fact a fiction”.

A nation at ease with itself does not have to search for an identity or assert it. Let us teach “civilised values” instead.

2.46 pm

Lord Sheikh (Con): My Lords, I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Storey for securing this timely debate. Education is extremely important to me. My personal coat of arms reflects this. It contains the motto “iqra”, which means “read”. It also shows a peacock holding two quill pens with a row of books. I should add that I have a business as well as an academic background, and for many years I was a visiting lecturer. I chair the Conservative Muslim Forum and we look at issues that relate to Muslim communities in this country. I have held meetings with Muslim leaders and associations on the subject of education and I have spoken at events. I have also written on this subject.

We are taking positive steps to deal with the education of Muslim children. The Muslim faith and British values are not two separate things; in fact, for most British Muslims, they are the same. I believe it is vital that these values are at the heart of our education system and indeed of the way of life of all those living in this country. The importance of education for the betterment of society is something that is also highlighted by both the Holy Koran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who asserted that for Muslims to fulfil their role of serving humanity, they must acquire knowledge for the common good.

Education is a tool that should be used to assist with integration and social cohesion. Going to school gives children the opportunity to create and develop bonds of friendship across different racial and religious groups that will help them to flourish in the future and thus become valuable members of British society. We should be grateful for the religious freedom that we all

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have as British citizens. The Muslim community cannot operate in a bubble, away from the rest of society. That spreads ill feeling and stops Muslims from flourishing here. This great country is a land of opportunity and one that I am proud to be a part of, but it is only through integration that we can make the most of the opportunities of this land.

As well as high grades and good qualifications, our children should come out of school as good citizens and well-rounded human beings who are a benefit to society as a whole. We must prepare teachers, imams and parents so that there is a clear understanding of how to promote both Muslim and British values. With this in mind I am totally supporting the establishment of courses at the University of East London for the training of Muslim teachers and imams. Our educational practices should follow moderate lines. We must not allow extremists to hijack our beliefs and pass them off as something that they are not. We must prepare our children for successful careers that will benefit them, their communities and the country at large.

2.50 pm

Lord Stone of Blackheath (Lab): My Lords, in peacemaking projects, interfaith dialogues and multinational businesses with which I have been involved, when people adopt universal values rather than exclusive ones, and respect others, better outcomes are achieved for all.

For me, mindfulness practice is helpful in working across varying and sometimes conflicting cultures with different values. This practice connects me with something greater than my habitual self, puts me into a place where compassion and empathy come to the fore, values come before self, and I am better able to see and understand other peoples’ points of view. I am not saying that I am always successful in this. Mindfulness is complex to define. It is essentially an experience. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts simply puts it that:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.

The successful Mindfulness in Schools Project is a collaboration between psychologists at Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and Bangor universities. They have developed a curriculum and a classroom-based introduction to mindfulness for teenagers that adapts mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive therapy into PHSE lessons. This is called dot-be, which stands for “stop, breathe and be”. It is an eight-week course written by teachers for teachers. This curriculum has been translated into eight languages and is now being taught in 38 countries—and not only in traditional school settings, but also in pupil-referral units, young offenders’ institutions and even to gang members. Nearly 1,000 teachers internationally have been trained, 800 of them in this country. Evidence shows that even short periods of mindfulness practice reshape the neural pathways and increase the areas associated with kindness, compassion and rationality, and decrease those involved with anxiety, worry and impulsiveness.

Similarly, the Inspire-Aspire values programme has worked with 75,000 10 to 15-year olds around the London Olympics to enable them to reflect on and

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apply the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, and the Paralympic values of courage, determination, equality and inspiration. They believe that whatever we define as British values, these values should be more universal and shared among different cultures. Inspire-Aspire is now working with global citizenship, focusing on the Commonwealth Games, and has engaged 52,000 young people this year in over 30 Commonwealth countries.

Both these programmes are greatly loved by pupils, teachers and parents. A systematic review found that when these types of programme are completed with sufficient intensity, using properly evaluated material and to a high enough standard, they increase children’s emotional well-being, behaviour and academic achievement, all by more than 10%. The programmes also have a huge database on youth and values with thousands of young people across the UK. Can the Minister ensure that Her Majesty’s Government support these important independent education programmes that champion universal values?

Noble Lords may also wish to know that we now have an active and vibrant All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness. Every Tuesday on the Estate, Chris Cullen, the cofounder of the Mindfulness in Schools project, runs mindfulness classes. Peers, MPs and Staff—96 of them already—have taken part, and enjoyed and benefited from them. There are a few places left for our course that is starting in October.

2.53 pm

Baroness Flather (CB): My Lords, time is short and I will run through the thoughts that I have.

From the beginning to the middle of the 1980s, an inquiry into the education of children from ethnic minorities was set up. It was called the Swann Committee. Its report had some quite startling conclusions, although I am sorry to say that it has not been much used. First, there was the question of faith schools. At the time we had only Catholic, Anglican and Jewish schools. The Swann Committee suggested that even these should be phased out. The reason for Anglican schools was that they were the only ones that provided education for poor children. The reason for Jewish and Catholic schools was that many schools did not take Jews or Catholics. All that had changed and there was no longer a particular need for faith schools, so they should be phased out.

Learning from the example of Northern Ireland, everybody felt that it was not a good idea to separate children. But what are we doing now? We are separating them ad infinitum: between this faith and that faith. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, says that children should be taught faith values. They can be taught faith values, but at home. They should be taught faith values in their churches, temples and synagogues. This is not the schools’ job to teach faith. It is the schools’ job to teach non-faith values: values that are universal. That has been mentioned and it is the way forward.

For me, some of the things that the faiths have done are completely unacceptable. People might say that this is not written in the Koran or that something else

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is not written in the Bible, but you are doing it, either because you do not know it or because you do not care about it. Discrimination against women is rife in Muslim culture. This is not written in the Koran, but everyone is doing it. If that is going to happen in a faith school, girls and boys are going to be taught separately, which is already a negation of British values.

As for gays, are we going to “string them up”? That is also a total negation of British values. Many Muslim countries have brought in the death penalty against gays. We have to be extremely careful about faith-based teaching, and whether it is or can be acceptable. I am sorry to say that for me it is not.

Catholics do not believe in contraception. What kind of world are we living in? This is the 21st century, and girls cannot have contraception? In Africa, the Bishop of Kampala has told everybody that there cannot be contraception, that it is a sin and if you use it you will go to hell. All right, they are going to hell—but what about those children who are being born and have nothing to eat?

I am sorry. My time is up. I have a lot more to tell your Lordships, but I cannot.

2.56 pm

Baroness Berridge (Con):My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of the think tank, British Future.

I could not agree more with the commitment by the Secretary of State for Education,

“to ensure that all schools—faith and non-faith—make sure that children are integrated into modern Britain”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 9/6/2014; col. 269.]

I am grateful that my noble friend Lord Storey’s debate explicitly states that this should be for all educational establishments, universities as well as schools, private as well as state-funded. But I regret that this discussion is against the backdrop of the issues in Birmingham and so soon after the often acrimonious debate around whether Britain is a Christian country.

British values have been left for too long in the “too difficult” box and we stir only when there are headlines about gender segregation in universities and have a feeling that that is not quite right. The increase over the past 15 years in the messages and ideas from all over the world that we can receive via our smartphones means that this debate is long overdue. Of course, it is difficult to pin down British values, but failing to agree on everything does not mean that we will not agree on some things. Whether others share our values does not dilute their Britishness.

I have two quick examples. Women are equal citizens in our country, exhibited by equal pay; voting rights; being on the board of a FTSE company—for the first time in our history there are no all-male FTSE company boards; staying at home with your children, or working, or doing both; and having equal access to our courts. Some girls grow up within rural or religious communities where women’s roles are assumed. The role of British values in education, practically, is to show girls that there are other options for them—then, they choose. I am not naive about the community or cultural barriers that there are to exercising such a choice, but unless

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these girls are shown those other roles, we know that the choice that they make to stay in assumed roles is no choice at all.

Secondly, there is the issue of choice in religious identity. As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom I have accidentally picked up evidence that the freedom to change your religious beliefs is not as widely embedded in our society as I had assumed. A report from a lady within a black Pentecostal Church community, who wants to become a humanist but is not at liberty to convert, broke all my stereotypical thinking on that issue. The United Kingdom promotes freedom to convert in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and broadcasts such values via the BBC World Service. So why do we not do the same in our education system? We must stop assuming that values are somehow picked up by osmosis. They need to be taught, promoted and defended. Two world wars won us the freedom to have this very debate on British values and it is time that we used it.

3 pm

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: My Lords, I fear that the attempts to define and perhaps codify British values will be as difficult, and ultimately as successful, as trying to nail jelly to a wall. If we are looking for a definition of values, it is important that it is inclusive and cohesive. I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Storey, did not seem to quite get the point that I was making earlier about the very title of this debate, which suggests that due consideration has not been given to the various constituent parts of what is currently the United Kingdom, and which I fervently hope will remain the United Kingdom on 19 September this year. I refer to the casual approach, which almost says that England is Britain and Britain is England, that antagonises a lot of people in other parts of the UK.

I will give an example that will perhaps seem rather trite to noble Lords: the World Cup. I am a Scot domiciled in England, married to an Englishwoman, with a son who is therefore half-English. I bear the English football team absolutely no ill will and indeed I hoped that they would do well in the World Cup. But then I sit down and watch the game. Just before the game, the players line up and what happens? I hear “God Save the Queen”. I am sorry, but “God Save the Queen” is not the national anthem of England. It is the national anthem of the UK—play it at a ceremony at the Olympic Games. But at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month, English athletes, who will probably win more medals than anybody else, will have their medals put round their necks after “Land of Hope and Glory” has been played, not “God Save the Queen”. There is an English national anthem. Whatever the English people want as a national anthem is up to them but I am sorry, it is not “God Save the Queen”, and that shows that greater thought has to be given, in this example and indeed others, to the inclusivity of the United Kingdom if we are really going to put together British values.

Baroness Flather: I am very interested in the national anthem. I am not sure that it relates exactly to the values in schools. If Scotland wants its own national

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anthem to be played on Scottish occasions, it is for Scotland to work for that, but it is not about values. Values in schools concern all of us, not just this country or that country.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: I always listen to the noble Baroness very carefully and I enjoyed her recent contribution but I am not talking particularly about schools. We are talking about British values; it does not relate just to what is or is not said in schools. The point I am making is that, if we are going to have British values, it has to be much wider than that.

In closing, I will comment about Magna Carta apparently being mentioned as the centrepiece of any attempt to put together British values. I think that is strange, not least because, to come back to my original point, Magna Carta was a very English—not British—document. I will simply quote from the commentator Owen Jones, who wrote very recently about Magna Carta, highlighting the fact that the values of many people in Britain are diverse, quite apart from whichever part of the country they originate from. Mr Jones said:

“Here was a charter imposed by powerful barons—hardly nascent democrats—on the weak King John to prevent him trampling on their rights: it didn't satisfy them, and they rose in revolt anyway. It meant diddly squat to average English subjects, most of whom were serfs”.

Yet this is on what we are proposing to base a discussion around fundamental British values. I end where I began: I think it will prove to be a fool’s errand.

3.03 pm

Baroness Afshar (CB): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for putting this debate on the agenda and for his excellent introduction.

As a lifelong educator, I am at a loss to know what British values are. I would very much like to teach them but I have not found them yet and I have lived in this country for 40 years. No doubt I will come across them at some point. It seems to me that the values that have emerged from today’s discussions are actually very much to do with toleration. Perhaps we should move on from toleration. It is the fact that we are being tolerated that undermines many of us who are otherised by this label of toleration.

I was educated in Iran by Catholic nuns at a Catholic school—although, like my noble friend, I do not approve of religious schools. What actually happened was that in our school we had Jews, Christians, Muslims and Baha’is—girls of all religions and none—and none of our religions ever defined who we were. We were all Iranians together. To this day, in spite of the Islamic Government, Iranians celebrate the new year, which is pre-Islamic, going back to the Zoroastrian days. Our calendar is not Islamic because it is solar and not lunar. In my childhood we also celebrated Christmas. We celebrated every religious occasion we could find. Christmas was held at my uncle’s house, with my German aunt and her Russian mother presiding over the events.

It seems to me that the way forward is not by insisting on defining what British values are or are not. However Britishness is defined, it may well otherise

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people, and that includes those young men who were very good, who got all the A-levels, who were doing good studies, but who felt excluded. I suggest that this House should vote for us to celebrate differences. There are so many wonderful ways of doing things and we could all be part of it. So let us please abandon Britishness and accept that differences are wonderful and it is nice to have curries as well as roast beef.

3.06 pm

Lord Lexden (Con): My Lords, I support the view that modern British values should be promoted in educational institutions. In our times, one traditional British value—namely, tolerance—has perhaps been given particular prominence, tending to cast others into the shadow. As a result, different lifestyles, beliefs and cultures have developed and expanded in our country to an extent that would have astonished previous generations.

Enriching though diversity can be, it has flourished at the expense of social unity and cohesion. This is especially risky at a time of historically unprecedented levels of immigration. It is late in the day to seek to redress the balance but not, I hope, too late. The rebuilding of social unity and cohesion—what old-fashioned Tories like me call one nation—can proceed satisfactorily only if a firmer understanding of the other British values that complement tolerance is resolutely fostered. That requires action in our schools along the lines that the Government are wisely, if belatedly, proposing.

I declare an interest as president of the Independent Schools Association, which represents some 320 smaller, less well known but extremely successful schools. Like the 900 or so other schools that belong to associations that form the Independent Schools Council, of which I am a former general secretary, they are now subject to regulations which require them to encourage pupils to respect the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law and individual liberty, and show mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

The government requirements place tolerance exactly where it should be: within a set of values that are demonstrably British and give due emphasis to other vital aspects of our historic traditions. They are useful to ISC associations, whose member schools in England account for a higher proportion of minority ethnic pupils than state schools: 28.7% compared with 26.6%—a telling statistic and an indication of the significant contribution that those schools are making to social mobility. The enforcement of the regulations in question at ISC schools is the responsibility of the Independent Schools Inspectorate, which is wholly independent of the schools it inspects and has hitherto enjoyed the full support of Ofsted, by which it is monitored. Again, I declare an interest, having helped establish the inspectorate under the previous Government. I am informed by the inspectorate that every school that has been inspected since the new regulations came into force in January last year has been found to be in compliance with them. The inspectorate is in possession of useful evidence as a result of its pioneering work in this area, which could prove helpful to the maintained sector.

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I hope that the spirit of partnership will prevail. As a result of his chairmanship of the Independent/State School Partnership Forum, my noble friend the Minister knows all too well how seriously so many ISC schools take it. I hope, too, that the Independent Schools Inspectorate will be able to continue its work in a spirit of partnership and not have change forced upon it, which some say is now the Government’s intention. The inspectorate as presently constituted can be relied upon to play a major part in helping to encourage and promote British values.

3.10 pm

Baroness King of Bow (Lab): It gives me great pleasure to rise to the Dispatch Box for the first time to discuss an issue as important as this. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Storey, on securing this debate, and I completely concur with his views on citizenship education.

Everyone in this House agrees that British values around the rule of law, individual liberty and tolerance have helped create one of the oldest and most successful democracies in the world. I think what we are a bit less agreed on is the tacit implication that if we had a better understanding of British history and, say, Magna Carta, we would sort out poor school governance in Birmingham. That is a little bit of a caricature, but not much, because shared British values should be instilled by example, not diktat. In sending out that diktat, it seems distinctly un-British, even Orwellian, to tar an entire community—in this case, the Muslim community—with language taken from counterterrorism strategies. This is what happened recently.

Underlying this debate is an extraordinary turn of events. I find it truly extraordinary that a self-confessed neoconservative like our Education Secretary, Mr Gove—who rails against the tyranny of centrally planned economies—is the man who has devised the most centralised schools bureaucracy this country has ever seen. The absolute nonsense of the Secretary of State thinking he can run thousands and thousands of British schools from his desk in Whitehall has been a shambolic failure. The people it has failed most have been children, parents and also the teachers in this small minority of schools which have none the less displayed appalling governance, overt gender discrimination and financial irregularities, and were unduly influenced by a conservative religious minority.

What is the answer? It is a combination of the following four areas. The first is to end centralisation and introduce local oversight. Does the Minister agree with Labour’s proposals for the introduction of school standards commissioners? I am going to scrub that question—obviously the Minister is not going to say that he agrees. However, does he agree that the Conservative proposal to bring in eight regional commissioners will not actually provide that local oversight and therefore does not remedy the problem?

Secondly, where discrimination is found towards girls, gay people or religious groups, let us turn to that trusty British value: the rule of law. Don’t start talking about terrorism prevention, just enforce the Equality Act 2010.

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Thirdly, we need schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. Does the Minister support Ofsted’s proposal on this? Fourthly, should we not reflect on the wisdom of removing the responsibility for schools to promote community cohesion?

So, yes, let us learn from our past, but the relevant history is not Magna Carta. It is fantastic that our baronial forefathers slapped King John about a bit and put him in his place, which became less divine and more democratic. Well done, House of Lords. But today the relevant history is not from 1215; it is from 2001 and the publication of the Cantle report.

What happened recently in Birmingham was that state schools became de facto faith schools; and faith schools, while often delivering excellent academic results, have sometimes unintentionally become places that increase de facto religious and racial segregation. This is all far too sensitive, and well above my pay grade, especially given that it is the first time I am rising to the Dispatch Box—but we need to deal with this problem. I hope the Government will do their homework, get it right, become less ideologically driven, reintroduce local oversight and put the needs of children first.

3.13 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, I would like to thank my noble friend Lord Storey for securing this important debate. I would also like to thank other noble Lords for their valuable contributions.

On 15 June, to mark the anniversary of Magna Carta, the Prime Minister wrote about these values. He described their roots in our most vital institutions: our parliamentary democracy, our free press, our justice system and our many church and faith groups. The Prime Minister highlighted the important role these institutions play in helping to enforce British values.

Another great British institution is our school system. We have a long and proud commitment to provide access to schooling, regardless of one’s background. Our schools have always recognised that promoting and embedding good values is essential to delivering high-quality education. We should celebrate the excellent work done by many of our schools. We must also recognise and respond to the public’s demand for greater assurance and higher standards in every school, whether independent or academy, free school or maintained. The Government are determined to put the promotion of British values at the core of what every school has to deliver for its pupils. I welcome the opportunity to close this debate and to set out how we intend to achieve this.

I will also describe the requirements and accountability measures already in place. It is important to recognise that these are not measures invented anew but are relevant to the work started in 2011, when the Prevent programme introduced our description of British values. Independent schools and academies and free schools must adhere to the independent school standards. Critically, the standards refer to the expected values and ethos of the school as assessed according to its offer of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

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On Monday, 23 June, we launched a consultation on the wording of the independent school standards that will actively require schools to promote principles that encourage fundamental British values. I hope that all noble Lords who are interested, including the noble Lord, Lord Wills, will respond to this consultation. We are also proposing a new requirement that teaching and curriculum practice must not undermine these values, and we will be consulting on this.

Lord Wills: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, but I think the question of consultation is fundamental, and I wonder whether he could tell your Lordships’ House what consideration the Government have given to deliberative processes involving the British people themselves in this consultation rather than waiting for the usual sources to send in the usual things to a government consultation.

Lord Nash: The whole principle of consultation is that it is deliberative and that people will respond. I hope they do. As I said, it is not being rushed out, as the noble Lord implied. British values have been part of the policy framework since 2011, when they were introduced as part of the Prevent strategy. Since 2013 standards have required schools to encourage pupils to respect the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. The words are “mutual respect and tolerance”, not just “tolerance”. The noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, made this point and I will certainly take it back. It is important that our advice to schools is clear. To promote ideas or systems of thought at odds with these values would be failing to meet the standard.

These requirements provide a sufficient lever for action in cases where an attempt is made to undermine British values. The new title wording suggested in the consultation will do more to challenge rigorously those schools paying lip service to these duties. We will expect these changes to come into effect from September this year. They will apply to all independent schools, academies and free schools. We must secure the same standards in maintained schools. As with the independent sector, we are building on responsibilities schools already have to fulfil. Maintained schools must promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of their pupils so that they are able to participate positively in society. They cannot promote partisan political activities and must present balanced views to pupils. Importantly, they must promote community cohesion.

Under the citizenship curriculum, maintained schools are also required to teach pupils about a range of subjects, including democracy, human rights, diversity, and the need for mutual respect and understanding. I heard what my noble friend Lord Storey said about the vital importance of citizenship. As important, if not more important, for getting a real grasp of British values is to study history, in order to understand what Daniel Defoe was on about in the quote that was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, and to understand, for instance, that we are an island made up of a number of countries with a long history stretching back over several millennia of immigration.

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While academies and free schools are not, as my noble friend Lord Storey said, subject to the same curriculum requirements as maintained schools, the trust running the school must deliver a broad and balanced curriculum and will be bound by the legal requirement to actively promote fundamental British values. As I trust noble Lords will acknowledge from the published coverage of the Birmingham academies placed into special measures, the Secretary of State will not hesitate to use his powers to consider terminating a funding agreement with an academy trust that cannot secure the required improvements.

Inspection is the primary means by which individual schools are held to account. Noble Lords will note that academies and free schools are inspected under the same section 5 framework as maintained schools. I know that noble Lords will be pleased to hear that 24% of free schools inspected have been adjudged to be outstanding—which, contrary to what reports suggested, represents a remarkable success, particularly as those schools were inspected after only four or five terms.

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is already part of section 5, but it allows inspectors to challenge only the most serious failures. Inspectors are already advised to look for evidence of pupils having the skills to participate in modern Britain, to understand and appreciate a range of different cultures, and to respect diversity. We will look to improve the consistency with which this is applied.

Now is the time to raise the bar so that all maintained schools, academies and free schools share the same goal of promoting British values. That is why, as the Secretary of State confirmed on 9 June, the department will review its own guidance to schools so that they are clear about our expectations. We are already talking to Ofsted to ensure that those same expectations are reflected in section 5 arrangements.

On what my noble friend Lord Storey said about grade 1 schools being exempt from inspection, they are not exempt and will be inspected if there are areas of concern; for example, if their results suffer or if there are particular complaints.

My noble friend Lord Cormack talked about a citizenship ceremony. I am sure that the events of Birmingham will enable us all to reflect on what more we can do to produce a more coherent and integrated society. On flying flags on schools, I am always pleased to see the flag so prominent when I visit America. It is sad that, if I were to put a union jack outside my own house, people would think that I was a member of the British National Party, and that the only time one sees flags is when a football match is on. It is also sad that very few students in our primary schools could describe the make-up of the union jack beyond the cross of St George.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Sheikh that education should be a tool of integration. We will not be able to call ourselves a truly successful society until we have a much more integrated society—and, sadly, we are some way short of that.

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The noble Lord, Lord Stone, talked about mindfulness. I thank him for his insightful and interesting comments, and for his commercial for the mindfulness classes. The values that we are asking all schools to actively promote are not exclusive. As I understand it, mindfulness chimes a very loud chord with me. I believe that children and young people should be taught about concepts such as mindfulness. Such concepts can be very powerful, particularly for children from scattered home lives. We use a similar approach with a number of our more challenged pupils at my own secondary academy.

The noble Baroness, Lady Flather, made some powerful points. Of course, it is for all schools to ensure that the sort of beliefs to which she referred have no place in our society.

My noble friend Lord Lexden made some supportive comments, for which I am grateful. He knows how highly I value co-operation between the independent and state sectors.

I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady King, to the Dispatch Box for the first time. I agree with her on the importance of sharing by example, but she should not underestimate the seriousness of the events in Birmingham, about which I obviously know a great deal more than other noble Lords, and their wider implications. She should also be aware that both the free schools programme and the academies programme are proving great successes. Academies are performing much more strongly than other maintained schools.

The noble Baroness referred to Labour’s proposals for 50 regional bureaucracies. We believe that breaking the country into eight regional schools commissioner areas is appropriate. I note that there seems now to be a consensus that we should not go back to local authority control—even Ed Miliband said that in the other place only a few days ago—but creating 50 bureaucracies, each with its own staff, would effectively take us back to a local authority-controlled system.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): Will the Minister care to confirm that there has no been local education authority control of schools since the 1980s? They have had responsibilities and all sorts of things to do, but the use of the term “local authority control” negates the work done by predecessors of the Minister such as the noble Lord, Lord Baker, and Lord Joseph. Local authority control is non-existent and has been for decades.

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness is quite right. I shall seek to ameliorate my language in future on that point.

The noble Baroness, Lady King, also made a point about the rule of law. The rule of law is already among the British values that all schools have to enforce, and all schools must teach a broad and balanced curriculum. None of the 21 schools inspected in Birmingham was a faith school.

I hope that all noble Lords will see the sense of what we are proposing. The changes that I have described will for the first time create a consistent expectation that all schools will promote British values. It will no

26 Jun 2014 : Column 1417

longer be possible to avoid challenge if a school is only paying lip service to the requirements. The planned inspection arrangements will ensure that those who fail to meet their responsibilities will be held to account and, as we have shown in Birmingham, we will take swift and decisive action where necessary.

I hope that noble Lords will agree that our proposed measures are vital. As my noble friend Lady Berridge said—I am grateful for her support—just because we may not agree on everything does not mean that we cannot agree about a basic set of British values for which all schools should be held to account. Without an understanding and respect for our shared values, we cannot expect any young person to play a full part in British society.

Children and Vulnerable Adults: Abuse

Motion to Take Note

3.25 pm

Moved by Baroness Walmsley

To move that this House takes note of the measures being taken by Her Majesty’s Government to prevent and address the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, I remind those speaking in the next debate that it is time limited. When the clock reaches seven minutes, noble Lords should finish their speech, as they will have spoken for their allotted time. If a noble Lord is happy to take an intervention, I am afraid that the time taken up will have to come out of their allocation.

Baroness Walmsley (LD): My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this very topical debate today and look forward to hearing what all noble Lords have to say about this important matter.

I believe that this is basically a humane country, and public tolerance of any kind of abuse of vulnerable people has diminished enormously over the past few decades. But I am afraid that we have a problem and it could be growing. Today, we have heard evidence in the Lampard report of the failings of the system to protect children and vulnerable people within the NHS from the foul predations of Jimmy Savile. I trust that, when we have had time to digest the report and the other reports that are under way, we will be able to give due time in this House to discuss the lessons learnt. In the mean time, we know we have a problem with sexual and physical abuse of children, older people and disabled people. We hear of new cases every week. Of course, the law forbids this sort of behaviour, but, sadly, it does not prevent it happening, and the effects on victims last a lifetime.

The figures are disturbing. The UK’s latest report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child admitted:

“The number of children in England who were subject to a child protection plan increased by 47% between 2008 and 2012”.

This is the same percentage increase as that recently reported by the NSPCC in cases of emotional abuse being reported to the police. I welcome the Government’s plans to clarify the law on that in the Serious Crime Bill.

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Last year, the Children’s Rights Director consulted children in England receiving care services and found that 10% felt that they were not enjoying their right to be kept safe from all sorts of harm. Last May, the National Crime Agency reported that a new threat has emerged on the internet. While the number of static images of child abuse remains stable, there is a sharp rise in live streaming of videoed child abuse and paedophiles’ use of the “hidden” or “dark” web. These sites do not emerge when one is using normal search engines and are therefore not easily detected. These people are unscrupulous and clever and we need more resources to catch them. I was pleased to note that, following government initiatives, the Internet Watch Foundation is now able proactively to seek out criminal content and, thanks to funding from a number of UK ISPs, has tripled the number of staff engaged in finding and destroying such imagery.

Recent high-profile cases, as well as that of Jimmy Savile, have shown that there are others who have got away for years with abusing children or vulnerable adults. In some cases, nobody knew about it apart from the victims. They did not have confidence that they would be believed or that anything would be done, and therefore did not report it. In some cases of elder abuse, the family has resorted to placing hidden cameras in the room, in order to prove the unacceptable treatment of their elderly relative by those charged with caring for them.

However, in most of these cases there were suspicions. Indeed, in some cases professionals looked into the issue and wrote reports, which were then ignored. This tells me that we need a massive culture change. Many serious case reviews indicate failures to protect, failures to report abuse or act upon reports, and failures of professionals to communicate with each other and with the authorities. I suppose that it is inevitable that we focus on failures, but while we lament those we must remember and applaud all those who care for children and vulnerable adults in a professional and compassionate way. I do believe that attitudes are changing, and it is hard to believe that the reports from Rochdale, which at the time were not acted upon, would be ignored today. The culture has changed, but my question today is whether it has changed enough. I do not believe that it has.

So I now pose three questions. Are we doing enough to prevent abuse happening? Do we know enough about how and why it happens, and what works in other places? Are we doing enough to deal with the perpetrators, and bring justice and support to the victims?

Perhaps I could deal first with prevention. Prevention involves providing training and qualifications, screening staff and volunteers—in the way that Jimmy Savile was not screened—and ensuring that children and vulnerable people know their rights, and know where to go for help if they are attacked. Prevention also involves decent child protection services, and proper therapeutic treatment for perpetrators, so that they do not do it again.

I have always felt that a child is his or her own best protector. We can do what we can to protect a child, but we cannot sit on her shoulder all the time. This is

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why it is so important that children are taught in every school, through a balanced PSHE course, how to protect their own personal integrity and how to keep safe, including in their use of the internet. They also need to be taught what a healthy, non-abusive relationship looks and feels like, and who to turn to in case of fear or of actual abuse. I believe that this is every child’s right.

Schools need proper oversight from Ofsted of their safeguarding policies and practice. Indeed, Ofsted is the only statutory body given specific responsibility for ensuring that schools keep children safe. Unfortunately, the methods and infrequency of Ofsted inspections make that difficult to do—my noble friend Lady Sharp will speak in more detail about the shortcomings of the inspection system. Then we need to provide decent children’s services. I have every sympathy for cash-strapped local authorities and social workers with large caseloads, and I support the policy of giving freedoms to local authorities to spend the money locally in the best possible way for them. However, I am very relieved that, after careful consideration, the Government have announced that they will not allow authorities to delegate children’s safeguarding services to profit-making organisations. It is vital that there is no chance of the profit motive being put before the welfare of a child.

We must then minimise the opportunity for perpetrators to reach vulnerable children. Here, the DBS checks, formerly called CRB checks, and training for organisations in safe recruitment practices are vitally important. Many organisations have found to their cost that DBS checks alone are not enough, as they only identify those who have offended before, and are no use against first-time offenders or those who are clever enough to avoid detection. There has recently been some streamlining of the system, and the numbers being barred have fallen. I would like to ask my noble friend the Minister how that new system is working. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, will have more to say about this.

Many serious case reviews have highlighted failures of professionals to communicate. I believe that there is a very strong case for some common training elements for those working with children, so that the professionals understand each other’s perspectives, and are more likely to communicate with each other during their career. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation has an excellent programme called Stop it Now! to raise awareness about the dangers of child abuse, and to help those who are concerned about their own sexual proclivities to avoid offending. Such preventive work is to be applauded, and we need more of it.

In the case of care of older people, it is training, qualifications and proper oversight that is needed. Families need to know what quality of care is being offered to their elderly relatives. I was therefore delighted to read in a Parliamentary Answer last week that regulations will soon be introduced to allow the CQC to take robust action against providers that do not offer an acceptable quality of care, and will produce ratings of care quality to provide users with a fuller picture than they now get. Will my noble friend the Minister comment on these plans? I would also like to ask why a Law Commission recommendation to streamline disciplinary codes covering more than 30 health

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and care professions has been shelved by the Government. It seems to me that such arrangements could act both as a deterrent and as an effective measure for dealing with wrong-doing.

I turn now to knowledge of abuse. Knowledge means doing research about causes and about what works, bringing information together and disseminating knowledge of best practice. Knowledge also means ensuring that those who know what is going on report the facts to the authorities. I have been informed by lawyers who acted for dozens of Jimmy Savile’s victims that the most shocking revelation of all was the number of victims who had reported what had happened at the time to someone in their institution, only to be ignored and their claims covered up. One girl in Stoke Mandeville told a nurse what Jimmy Savile had done, only to be told, “You’re making a mountain, you silly girl. Do you know what he does for our hospital?”. That is why I believe that we need mandatory reporting, which would make it a new offence for those in a position of caring to fail to report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of abuse in a regulated activity. By “regulated activity” I mean schools, hospitals and so on, as defined in Schedule 4 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, although the definitions would need amending to exclude such confidential helplines as ChildLine and Stop It Now!. This has been done successfully in Australia, so I do not believe that it would be a problem here.

We would also need to deal with patient confidentiality, such as when a child discloses information to a doctor. The fact is that many of Savile’s offences took place in schools, hospitals and prison institutions, where vulnerable people and children should have been able to rely on being safe. Fortunately, we now believe children better than we used to. However, in many cases, in order to secure a conviction we need the corroboration of adults who know what has happened. Keir Starmer, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, knows this well, which is why he supports this change in the law. Victims universally support such a change, and tell us that it would not prevent them from reporting the abuse themselves. Indeed, they would be encouraged to do so if they knew that the person to whom they confided was obliged by law to do something to make it stop.

Often ChildLine advisers will encourage children to report the abuse to a trusted adult. In that situation, the child must be able to have confidence that, if they do so, their disclosure will be properly dealt with, and no concern about reputational damage would get in the way of that adult doing the right thing by that child. The only way they can have that confidence is to make failure to report abuse an offence. The intention is not to put people in prison but to change the culture, and I believe that it would help workers to report abuse if they saw it as a public duty and not as telling tales. There is also considerable public support for this. In a recent independent poll of the public, 96% of people supported it.

We also need more research about how mandatory reporting is working in Australia, and I call on the Government to support a current application to the Nuffield Foundation to fund such a research project.

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Its aim is to identify barriers to identification and reporting by teachers of suspected child sexual and physical abuse and serious neglect, and to identify effective practice. This would fill a declared gap in the DfE’s research portfolio.

Of course, mandatory reporting would apply not just to teachers. I also support the call from 88 MPs, led by Tim Loughton MP, to ask the Home Secretary to set up a Hillsborough-style inquiry into organised sexual exploitation of children. We need to restore trust in the system by learning the lessons of all the cases that have come to light, rather than just having the present drip-feed of information.

Finally, I come to my third question. Justice involves encouraging victims and witnesses to come forward and ensuring that they are treated properly, so that they can give their evidence clearly and consistently. Justice for potential victims also means that perpetrators are given programmes to tackle their perversion and ensure that they do not commit more crimes. Without those programmes, those imprisoned may well go on to reoffend after release. We are not protecting children if we allow that to happen.

I was recently privileged to sit on a commission of inquiry into child sexual abuse, facilitated by Barnardo’s. It became clear from the evidence that we heard that there was a lot of good practice, but a great deal more needs to be done. I support all the recommendations in our report, which would help the police and the justice system to support young witnesses and enable them to help to bring their torturers to justice. My noble kinsman Lord Thomas of Gresford and my noble friend Lord Paddick will deal with those issues in more detail.

Finally, as an honorary fellow of UNICEF, I must support its calls for improvements to the Modern Slavery Bill in relation to trafficked children, child pornography and child prostitution—although I abhor the use of the latter term and would like it removed from the legislation. There is no such thing as a child prostitute.

On this day of shocking revelations of how we have let victims down in the past, I look forward to hearing from my noble friend about how the Government plan to improve their protection of vulnerable people, young and old.

3.41 pm

Lord Eden of Winton (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Walmsley for securing and introducing this debate. I congratulate her on her constructive and knowledgeable speech, which has once again shown how much she knows about this subject, how much she has studied it and the leadership that she has given in trying to cure some of the evils she has highlighted.

She talked a lot about the abuse of children. I want to focus today on vulnerable adults, the other party to this compendium debate. Noble Lords will be aware that on 14 May, earlier this year, my noble friend Lady Cumberlege introduced an important short debate entitled, “Elderly People: Abuse”. All the speeches in that debate should be read again, and they are wholly relevant to the context of our debate this afternoon. I want to highlight some of the points made in a number of those speeches.

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I start with the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, in which he highlighted the importance of avoiding turning a safeguarding policy into a mechanistic exercise. Each person who is vulnerable or the subject of care should be treated as a unique individual, and the carer should be alert and have developed powers of observation. Although the pressure on the person concerned is undoubtedly great, they should appear to be unrushed. Above all, those who look after elderly, vulnerable people should not be on autopilot. I also agree with what the noble Lord said: that the human qualities of care and sharing should never be forgotten or lost from view.

In that same debate, the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, warned against institutions with what he called a tick-box culture, which can be very inhumane and impersonal. In this context, I ask the Minister whether she can indicate any progress with care certification of the individual carers. I would also like some system for evaluating the quality of individual care homes. We do that regularly with restaurants, and we all know the star system. Why cannot we have something similar with care homes, so that we know the degree of quality of each home?

In that same debate, the speeches that really resonated with me were those made by the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford. As the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, said, caring for vulnerable adults is not a simple easy matter. As we all know, the old can be very obstinate and difficult. I especially think of people such as me, who cannot hear very easily. Hearing loss often leads to frustration, and that frustration can so readily become aggression. I hope that people will learn that if the person who is slightly deaf cannot hear something, they should not start shouting, because that really makes it worse. The noble Lord, Lord Turnberg was right when he said how,

“difficult and taxing, both physically and mentally, the job of caring for elderly people really is”.—[

Official Report

, 14/5/14; col. 1910.]

What we hope to see, I think all would agree, is that, whenever possible, people should be able to stay in their own home. That requires regular visits when help is needed. An emergency call button is a useful form of assistance. Support needs to be given to family members, who often give dedicated and—I emphasise—voluntary work. I am aware of a 102 year-old lady who lives on her own and is looked after by regular visits throughout the week by two of her nieces, one of whom is over 80 and the other over 90. Both have to travel quite a distance to get to her and they do it selflessly, week in and week out.

Lastly, and most important of all in ending what is really unthinking abuse of vulnerable people, is education, particularly of the younger generation. Other cultures are more fortunate, in many ways, than our own. We have lost the cohesion of completeness of family circle. This was highlighted in the speech by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford. I am lucky: I have 12 grandchildren; they are all young, all loving, all patient and all tolerant. They all communicate and are all great fun and they are all over the world. However, for many people, for those older than my grandchildren, grandparents can be tiresome, irritating and irrelevant.

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They are often regarded as oddball curiosities who do not understand texting, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and the like. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford had a message for us: he said that we should become more conscious of our common humanity. He drew on his experience of Africa to refer to the word “ubuntu”. We must learn afresh the quality of belonging together and do so with understanding and patience.

3.49 pm

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, it gives me very great pleasure to thank my noble friend Lady Walmsley for initiating this very topical debate. I declare an interest as a primary school governor responsible for special educational needs. Until last year—I confess that this is a role that I have now “rolled off”—I was also a governor of my local college, where I had responsibility for child protection functions.

I was interested to read in the Guardian this Tuesday about the experiences of a number of secondary school heads who claimed that, although Ofsted is nominally responsible for checking on school protection procedures, in practice this amounted to little more than checking that people had had their Criminal Records Bureau or Disclosure and Barring Service checks appropriately undertaken, and that the school or college had up-to-date child protection policy and procedures, rather than checking on the impact of the policy on the actions of the school. The Guardian spoke to 11 secondary school head teachers who, between them, had had a total of 47 inspections but,

“only twice did the inspectors ask if any safeguarding referrals had been made to the local authority”.

I was interested in this because my experience as a governor with responsibility on the governing board for child protection issues was that when we had an inspection, I was questioned at some length about my knowledge of the policies and procedures that were pursued and how I kept track of what was going on in the college. This led me to think more widely about the role of Ofsted, which is quite topical, given the issues in Birmingham over the Trojan horse issue. It also goes back to one of the central questions in child protection; namely, the role of different agencies and the co-ordination between those agencies. In the Daniel Pelka case in Coventry, for example, his school was concerned about the child’s physical state and his obvious hunger, but did not see fit to follow this up either with social services or with the police. Similarly, it is amazing that in Rochdale, the care homes with which many of these young women were attached asked no questions about the activities of the young people.

Ofsted describes itself as follows:

“The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection”.

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As one senior inspector remarked in recent evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee:

“Ofsted is not primarily a child protection agency, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that safeguarding is our core business”.

Ofsted, of course, is not just about schools. As the list I just read out indicates, it is pretty unique in cutting across all the other agencies involved in children and being the one thread that links them all together.

This brings me to the nub of what I want to say. Successive issues in child protection have hinged upon early intervention and the need for the various agencies with responsibilities in this area to work together to recognise the early signs of all forms of neglect and abuse and take appropriate action. Within the college, our biggest problem was the difficulty, first, in persuading local social services to inform the college about the young adults and other vulnerable persons who attended the college but who needed help and support, such as 16 year-olds who were or had been on child protection registers; and, secondly, with those same social services departments taking an interest when the college felt that young people might need more help and support.

It is for this reason that I welcome very much the announcement earlier this week that Ofsted had taken the lead in suggesting that various inspections of these agencies that are responsible for children’s services should come together for an integrated programme of inspections. I gather that this will bring together the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Inspectorate of Probation and, where appropriate, the Inspectorate of Prisons. Their focus will be on the effectiveness of local authorities’ health, police, probation and other services in helping to protect and care for children and young people. These are real moves towards bringing the services together and encouraging them to work co-operatively.

Yet we are left with the fact that such moves encourage them to work together but do not make them do so, when we know that to be effective they have to co-operate and work together really closely. In the Children and Families Act that we passed in the previous Session we wished upon these services a duty to co-operate, yet we also know that this comes at a time when those same services are under great pressure to cut costs and suffer considerably from the churn in their personnel. Last year, for example, one in three local authorities saw a change in their children’s services director. We also know that many social workers are carrying a case load of well over 30 cases, whereas the optimum is between 10 and 12.

With the establishment of the academies and free schools, many local authorities now have only minimal education departments and are looking to schools to provide the lead in safeguarding cases. In the local primary school where I am the governor, we have used our pupil premium money to recruit a family liaison worker, but we are in no position to take the lead role in co-ordinating supportive activities for children in need of such support.

To sum up, in issuing new statutory guidance last year in the form of Working Together to Safeguard Children, we are clear that early intervention and

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integrated services are what we need. We all will these ends, but I am not yet confident that we have willed the means to achieve them.

3.56 pm

Baroness Hollins (CB): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, on initiating this very important debate. I will focus on some of the measures needed to prevent and address the abuse of children and adults with learning disabilities. I do this as a family carer of a vulnerable adult and from my perspective as a psychiatrist working in learning disabilities for more than 30 years. The House will also wish to know that I am a member of the recently established papal commission for the protection of minors.

Why is it important to focus on people with learning disabilities, or “intellectual disabilities” as they are known around the world? There are 1.5 million of them in the United Kingdom. They are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society yet they are also one of the most marginalised, underserved and least able to protect themselves. The appalling abuse at Winterbourne View that was uncovered in 2011 focused policymakers’ attention on the abuse of adults with learning disabilities, adults who are more at risk of all forms of abuse. Similarly, compared with their non-disabled peers, children with learning disabilities are three times more likely to experience neglect, bullying and abuse. There are long-term consequences of abuse for well-being, psychological well-being and mental health, with a strong link to depression and harm. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood provides support for adult survivors of childhood abuse and it reports that the demand for its services, including a telephone support line, is currently at an all-time high.

The Serious Crime Bill makes it explicit that under the Children and Young Persons Act emotional cruelty likely to cause psychological harm to a child is an offence. I suggest that that should also include witnessing domestic abuse. Given the increased risk of abuse and neglect, it is vital that we consider whether these measures taken by the Government will adequately protect children and adults with learning disabilities. The Care Act, which received Royal Assent in May, provides a clear legal framework for how the health and care system should work together with the safeguarding adult boards. The Act requires local authorities to make inquiries when they think that an adult with care and support needs may be at risk, and to take action if needed. To tackle problems quickly and prevent them happening again, it is vital that organisations share information with the SABs. The Act makes it clear that if an SAB requests relevant information from an organisation or an individual, they must provide it. Clearly, for local authorities to perform their duties, they need to identify that someone is at risk.

Since 2010, there has been a mandatory requirement to submit abuse of vulnerable adults returns to the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre. In February, the centre’s report on safeguarding adults referrals revealed that of the nearly 42,000 men who received safeguarding referrals in 2012-13 nearly

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11,000 had a learning disability, as did nearly 10,000 of the 65,000 women who were reported. Worryingly, these figures may be the tip of the iceberg as we know that the abuse of both adults and children with learning disabilities is under reported. We know that the families of those at Winterbourne View who raised concerns were not listened to and that a member of staff who acted as a whistleblower went unheard. It is shocking that it took a TV documentary for that abuse to come to light. What steps are the Government taking to ensure early identification and prompt reporting?

Those working with adults and children with learning disabilities must receive training on signs of abuse and neglect. When people with learning disabilities speak up, we need to ensure that those listening, whether professionals in health, education, social care or the police, have the skills to communicate in a way that that person understands. We know that these people are often unable to speak out for themselves so we need to ensure that families and carers are listened to when they have concerns.

I am encouraged that the Department of Health has commissioned a whistleblowing helpline, to be provided by Mencap, for staff and organisations working within health and social care and I commend the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for her amendment to the Serious Crime Bill that will make it a duty for people who work in regulated activities with children or vulnerable adults and who suspect abuse to report it to the local authority. I too support mandatory reporting.

Reporting a suspicion that turns out to be inaccurate must not become a disciplinary matter for health and social care professionals—the needs of the child or vulnerable adult are paramount, however distressing false suspicion may be for others involved. Where suspicions are found to be correct, taking immediate action to protect the victim and others from further abuse and neglect is imperative but we must also ensure that appropriate treatment is available for the perpetrators of abuse.

What about prevention? People with learning disabilities have the same human rights as everyone else—the same rights to freedom from abuse and neglect, the same rights to be treated with dignity and respect. However, they also need to be empowered with education. They need to know their rights, what abuse and neglect are and what to do if this is happening to them. This is difficult. Some people may find it easier to understand pictures rather than words. Books Beyond Words uses pictures to tell stories about difficult topics, including abuse, to engage and empower people with learning disabilities and to facilitate their discussion with those who are supporting them. I declare an interest as chair of the charitable organisation that develops these pictures and this method of communicating.

The Government must take measures to prevent abuse or neglect of children and adults with learning disabilities happening in the first place. We need interventions to be offered before there is a need to resort to criminal prosecution. Parents and carers sometimes feel isolated, overwhelmed and unable to cope with their responsibilities and they need specialist support to be available when they need it.

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As the scandal at Winterbourne View highlighted so starkly, we need to ensure as well that those meant to be providing care to children and adults with learning disabilities as paid care workers are fit to do so. Many of these care workers are underqualified and poorly paid. We need to ensure that care workers receive a better wage for the important work they do. Can the Government ensure that the use of zero-hours contracts among employers of care workers comes to an end? Let us consider those children and adults living with the effects of abuse. They may carry the pain and trauma with them for the rest of their lives. Their GPs need to know where to refer them. For disabled people the availability of trauma-based therapies is even more limited than for other people. This is discriminatory. I end by asking that the abuse of vulnerable children and adults should be at the forefront of our minds—it is everyone’s business.

4.04 pm

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, very warmly for raising this matter. In my role as co-chair of the Church of England and Methodist Church Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group and the lead bishop for safeguarding, I daily have issues regarding the abuse of children and adults at risk brought to my attention. Clergy and other church leaders across the nation lead churches in which those who have been abused seek comfort, strength and healing. The staff of church schools daily hear from the children whom they serve stories of abuse of all kinds. In my maiden speech during the debate on the gracious Speech, I welcomed the Government’s courageous decision to strengthen the law on psychological and emotional abuse in the Serious Crime Bill. This adds to other areas where the law has been improved over recent years. The Care Act 2014 has moved us from “vulnerable adults” to “adults at risk”, helping to recognise that while some adults are permanently vulnerable—because of, for instance, age, illness or disability—others become at risk for a period of time. This recognition is undoubtedly helpful. So, too, will be the statutory duty to have local safeguarding adult boards.

Improvements have therefore already been made. The Private Member’s Bill of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, on online safety offers a further opportunity to help tackle the extremely serious issue of online abuse. I hope that the Government will support that Bill. Indeed, the extension of the offence of extreme pornography to include possession of pornographic images of rape and assault by penetration in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill will continue to send a message to the public that such abuse is unacceptable. The situation becomes ever more concerning with the use of the dark net, too. CEOP must be supported adequately to stay ahead of the game, so that it can discover innovative ways to unmask the users of paedophile sites and not be allowed continually to fall further behind.

I will focus particularly on the voice of survivors. This has been the deepest lesson for me, and for the church as a whole, over recent years. We have previously failed to listen adequately to the survivor’s voice. We

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must do so if we are to continue to improve the prevention of abuse of both children and adults at risk. Survivors have been calling for some years for the introduction of mandatory reporting by professionals. Far too many cases of abuse could have been prevented if professional people who had serious suspicions of abuse were required to report it to a relevant authority. There remains too much fear of whistleblowing or of being thought of as interfering. Mandatory reporting for professional staff would alleviate any doubts and prevent people from asking themselves, “Should I or shouldn’t I?”. Suspicions should not be brushed aside or left unheeded. The time for mandatory reporting has arrived.

Survivors also note the need for really good safe spaces, where those who have been abused can go to report their case and find the kind of support that they need. The Church of England and the Methodist Church are currently exploring how we might create such safe spaces. We are working with projects such as the Lantern Project on the Wirral and small, locally based survivor groups in Sussex, which have developed outstanding work. Work like this for survivors of abuse needs to be encouraged and supported more openly.

A further matter survivors have been calling for is the extension of the definition of “positions of trust” in the Sexual Offences Act 2003; the current definition is too limited in scope. Continued work is also required within the operation of the criminal justice system so that survivors and victims are enabled to share their stories in a supportive environment. There have been many good advances, but vigilance and continued improvement is required.

Finally, in listening to the voice of survivors one very strong message keeps being shared: “You can do all you like to improve your legislation, your procedures and practices to ensure the present and the future are better at prevention and in dealing with both survivors and abusers than in the past; but unless and until you face up to the reality of what has previously happened, you will never really change the culture of abuse within which we live”. In short, if we do not face up to past failures, we will never really improve the future. This is a lesson we in the church are slowly learning and seeking to tackle. We have a very long way to go.

The lessons of cases like Savile and Rochdale have highlighted that, in our nation, we have a long history of abuse within institutions. Schools, residential care homes, hospitals, the police force, churches and local and national political institutions have all been used by abusers to hide their wicked activities. Powerful people have engaged in serious abuse and have worked with each other to create opportunities and share their vices and victims. As a nation we have to face up to the seriousness of institutionally based abuse against the most vulnerable in our society, both children and adults, which has gone on in the past and, sadly, continues today.

The survivors are right when they say that if we want the future to be truly different and better we have to confront the past. I believe, as do many of my colleagues, that we need a fully independent inquiry that will fully examine the reality of institutionally

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based abuse in our nation over the past possibly as much as 50 years. This is needed so that we can understand why this happens, where responsibilities lie and what cultural, societal and institutional discourses and dynamics lie at the heart of these ongoing failings.

I know it will take time and will be costly to undertake, and I know that for both those reasons it will be argued against. However, I firmly believe that the true cost of child abuse and the abuse of adults at risk is far higher than any of us have ever been prepared to acknowledge in terms of the mental, emotional, social and physical health and well-being of very large numbers of our population. Justice, fairness and the very health of our society demands that we no longer hide away from this dark part of our story. We need an independent public inquiry and we need it very soon.

4.11 pm

Lord Paddick (LD): My Lords, I also want to thank my noble friend Lady Walmsley for this debate. I particularly welcome the comments we have just heard from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, in relation to survivors, which is a theme that I hope to continue.

I speak as a police officer of over 30 years’ experience and someone who for a time was the national lead for the police on mental health issues. I also conducted a review of rape investigation for the Metropolitan Police in 2005. For me, there is a serious issue of concern about the police and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to this area. Understandably for the CPS but, arguably, less so for the police, there is a focus on criminal prosecution. This can be problematic in relation to victims of abuse, particularly children and vulnerable adults. The problem becomes more acute when the alleged offence is conducted in private, where only the perpetrator and the victim are present, and there is no forensic or other evidence to substantiate the allegation. The problems become even more acute in cases of vulnerable adults in rape cases where consent is an issue.

Clearly, everything should be done to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice for abuse of the vulnerable, but the conclusion we came to in the Metropolitan Police rape investigation review was that the needs of the victim should be primary and the need for a prosecution should be secondary. Even if, because of the vulnerability of the victim, a jury might be unlikely to believe the victim or the victim might be unable to accurately recall the event, if at all, the importance of those reporting abuse being believed by the police cannot be overstated.

As my noble friend Baroness Walmsley has said, we saw in the recent case of Jimmy Savile how vulnerable victims were either not believed or did not feel able to report the abuse until after the perpetrator was dead. Clearly, as a prosecuting authority, the CPS has a legal obligation to apply a test of how likely it is that the case will be proved; but the police have other and, I believe, overriding obligations to the victim and to society as a whole to ensure that vulnerable people and children are safeguarded.

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In the past, police performance indicators, particularly in relation to clear-up rates, the proportion of crimes solved compared with the total number of offences recorded, has encouraged the police to concentrate on the most solvable cases and even to look for reasons not to record offences at all. It is much easier to influence the clear-up rate by not recording an offence than it is to try to solve very difficult and serious cases. Indeed, in the first draft of my review into rape investigations, we identified wide differences across London in the total number of offences recorded, the proportion that was classified as “no crime” or “not a crime”, and the proportion of successful prosecutions. We not only identified differences in leadership, the amount of resources and the expertise that was applied to those cases, but we also identified differences in how the vulnerability of the victim impacted on how seriously the police appeared to take the alleged offences.

In some areas of London prostitution was an issue, while in others there was a problem with those addicted to drugs, or a higher proportion of those who suffered from mental illness, and in those areas there appeared to be a higher incidence of crimes being written off as never having happened. While one can see the dilemma for the police in some of these cases, when the prospect of securing sufficient evidence to mount a successful prosecution may have been small and they were in effect presented with an unsolvable crime, that was no excuse for writing off such offences as simply never having happened.

The most important starting point in any police investigation—and one that appears not to have been followed, certainly in the era of Jimmy Savile—is that the child or vulnerable adult who complains of abuse must be believed unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. Even if a prosecution does not prove possible, it is essential that at the very least the matter is recorded as a crime for police intelligence purposes and that steps are taken to ensure that the child or vulnerable adult is supported and protected from future harm.

There is also a need to act with fairness and balance towards the accused in these cases. We have seen other cases where serious allegations have been made against well known individuals, and in some of those cases the press appear to have assumed their guilt, even when those individuals have subsequently been acquitted or no further action has been taken against them by the police. I am not in favour of anonymity for those accused of sexual offences, but there needs to be a sea change in people’s attitudes towards police investigations in such cases.

The police may arrest someone if they have “reasonable cause to suspect” that a person has committed an offence, not because they have evidence that they can put before a court. The CPS may charge someone on the basis that it believes there to be a more than 51% chance of conviction before a jury, not because it is certain that the person is guilty. It seems that in the minds of the public in this country at the moment, rather than a presumption of innocence there is a presumption of “no smoke without fire”, which is very often planted by the media. In particular, there

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needs to be a balance between the need for a thorough police investigation and the innocent accused being bailed, rebailed, and bailed again.

The police appear to have to perform a very difficult balancing act, but I will try to simplify things. Children and vulnerable adults who have suffered abuse must be believed, cared for and protected at all costs. Whenever possible, perpetrators must be brought to justice—but not at any cost. Above, all inability to prosecute must never be an excuse for failing victims of abuse.

4.18 pm

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, the awful history of Savile is truly terrible, and we all need to extend concern and care to the victims, particularly today, when their memories are again being revived. However, we should not let celebrity cases focus our thinking on issues of abuse in one direction. Let us remind ourselves that most abuse takes place—is taking place at this moment—in the home, by the neighbour, in the sports centre, and in the local church congregation, and is usually perpetrated by a known and trusted adult. What we need from government—this is about what the Government are doing in this area—is a joined-up strategy that looks at all the areas. Perhaps it can look separately at adults and children, but certainly those two areas need joined-up strategies. I will talk in particular about child sexual abuse in relation to that.

Before I begin to talk about that, I pay tribute to the people who work in this field, because normally we hear only about the failings. I was at a conference this morning where we were told about the case loads of social workers; the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has already mentioned this. Those case loads are twice what they should be, and solicitors are undertaking work free, because the fees are now so low that they could not otherwise spend more than about three hours in consultation with families. Because those workers are usually condemned, I think that we should recognise the thousands of cases that, day in and day out, are carried through successfully by all the statutory services—the police, health workers, and particularly social workers.

I cannot agree with the call for a national inquiry. I know how expensive that would be. There are two reasons why I do not support an inquiry. The first is that if there is any money going in these years of austerity, when the answer is usually, “Deficit, deficit, deficit,” please let us plough it into the front line. Let us get the money to the preventive work, where we can really do good. The second reason is that we already have a plethora of reports. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, will tell us his thoughts about how we follow through on the reports, and the analysis of those reports, that we already have. That is crucial to take us forward. Producing yet another report would, I fear, just take us to the same place. The work is already done.

I shall now talk about child sexual abuse and the other connected issues that I want to raise. I am vice-chair, and a trustee, of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley—whom I congratulate on securing this debate—has already

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generously mentioned. Dealing with child sexual abuse tends to reflect two strands of activity, child protection and offender management. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation takes a slightly different view, which might be called a public health view. It says that all adults, everywhere, are responsible for all abuse, particularly child sexual abuse. So we have to increase the understanding of parents, and of local groups such as schools and churches. I commend the work that the right reverend Prelate is doing at the moment; I confess to being on his committee. I think that the church is now trying to undertake some of the education work through its parishes.

Because child sexual abuse is such an emotive subject, providing the proper treatment and preventive strategies for abusers has brought particular challenges. It is easy to talk about the victims and get help for them; it is extraordinarily difficult to get a focus on abusers.

As many people will know, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation has developed a helpline. I thank the Government for their support for the helpline, especially recently, to ensure that all the men—it is mostly men—who might be abusing can get through, as well as families, often wives, and young people, who are sometimes referred from ChildLine with their problems involving abuse. More than 31,000 calls were taken between 2002 and 2013, but many were missed, and for every call missed there may be a child who is being abused, or a family life lost because the husband was not able to get help fast enough. The Government are playing their part in working with that helpline.

In the time that I have left I want to talk about a couple of other areas. The first is the work of the courts. In the NSPCC’s presentation of its recent work on the courts, I was shocked to discover that many of the procedures that we thought had already been implemented in the courts are still not there. What distresses me most is to discover that children are still being aggressively cross-examined by barristers, and that most of those who could be heard outside court, on off-site premises, do not do so because the provision is not there. Only 1% of the children get that opportunity. I commend the work of the NSPCC in that area.

Finally, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation works with young people who are sexually offending. We had a contract with the Youth Justice Board, which was successful until 2012. It was then given up to the health service. NHS England decided that it would take it in-house, but it has not taken the staff, so there is no specialist support for these children. Will the Minister look at what is happening to young people who now need extremely specialist programmes in young offender institutions, now that the one group that knows about this has been removed?

I want to say a word about mandatory reporting before I finish. I do not think that I could do better than to quote Donald Findlater, one of the most experienced workers in this field, both here and internationally. Again, I am taking a different position from those who have spoken before. I agree with him when he says:

“In other parts of the world I see police and child protection agencies swamped by demand following mandatory reporting. It leaves little time to invest in prevention, especially as most cases

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are unsubstantiated. I want staff to intervene when they have concerns, not just when abuse has happened. And I don’t want the criminal law to be an obstacle to such decent, responsible behaviour”.

I hope that the Government agree.

4.26 pm

Baroness Browning (Con): My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Walmsley on bringing this important debate to the Floor of the House this afternoon, and I refer Members to my interests in the register, in addition to which I am patron of Action on Elder Abuse and the main carer of an adult with autism.

A report by Action on Elder Abuse states that abuse is often by more than one person—something that we sometimes overlook. There is often collusion in abuse between adults—23% of cases are by members of a family and 62% by paid staff. In respect of that, there are three things that I would like my noble friend on the Front Bench to take away from this debate. The first is training, which has already been raised. The Action on Elder Abuse helpline identified that the greatest number of problems it receives have at their heart poor training, so I hope that the Government will concentrate on training, particularly for care workers and those with professional qualifications.

The other is whistleblowing. I support the moves that the Government are about to take in forthcoming legislation to tighten up on whistleblowing. In that context it is also important to state that it is not just about whistleblowing on something that is evidently what we would all recognise as criminal abuse; it needs attention much further down the track than that. Before things get to the level of criminal abuse, people need to feel that they can report it, and do so safely, particularly regarding their own position.

The other thing that I have mentioned before, but which would be remiss of me not to press again, is that we need a proper register for care workers. They do not work just in organised homes; they work greatly in the community and do invaluable work. When we look at the people who are accused of and found guilty of a range of abuses, we still have that rather unquiet feeling that for many, if they have not received a custodial sentence, they can go back into the ether and re-emerge somewhere else to obtain a post caring for another vulnerable person.

My noble friend Lady Hollins raised the shocking case of Winterbourne View, and I take this opportunity to say that we have seen the government report Winterbourne View: 1 Year On, but I still have concerns about report-backs that I hear from the medical profession and others that far too many people with learning disabilities and who present as mental health patients are being detained for far too long and a long way away from their natural home and community. Much as I know that the Government have taken Winterbourne View very seriously, we cannot, as has rightly been said, just accept a tick-list on a well written report. This House needs to be reported to with evidence that change has happened and is happening for these vulnerable people.

Winterbourne View involved adults with learning disability and autistic spectrum disorders. I know the House would expect me to devote some of my

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contribution to people with autism. While I appreciate that the new Care Act does a lot to make improvements, there is one aspect of it that is going to cause a real problem for people on the autistic spectrum. It commits the Government to introduce a new national eligibility threshold for care and support, which will tell local authorities when they must provide adults with support. Until now, local authorities have had the power to set eligibility for support against one of the eligibility bandings—low, moderate, substantial and critical—which reflect different levels of care need. The new national eligibility criteria are intended to be comparable, but the banding is different. It should be a fairer system, but I suspect that many people on the autistic spectrum will fall through the net.

I would like to share with the House the case of Adrian, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 14. Social services assessed his need for support at the age of 18. His parents were concerned that he was putting himself at risk because of the people he was spending time with, and they thought he needed help with the transition to adulthood. The assessment found that Adrian had difficulty interpreting other people’s motives and actions—something that is very common with people on the autistic spectrum—and that he was easily led, which could place him at risk in the community. However, the local authority decided the risks were not sufficient for him to receive support.

Adrian was later bullied and intimidated. His parents continued to contact social services, as well as the police, asking for a reassessment and support for him. After Adrian reported being raped by one of the people who had befriended him, his parents again appealed to the police and social services. Eventually, a small package of evening support was approved. However, five days later, Adrian was murdered by the same person he had accused of rape. Under the Government’s new proposed criteria, Adrian would not have been eligible for support.

I draw my noble friend’s attention to the very first word of the debate we have before us today: “preventing”. With many people on the autistic spectrum, the right package of support—not necessarily a hugely costly package at that—can prevent abuse and neglect. I hope my noble friend will ensure that the Front Bench team from the Department of Health are aware of our concerns about the safety and security of people on the autistic spectrum, and about the change in the Care Act.

4.33 pm

Baroness Howe of Idlicote (CB): My Lords, I, too, would like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, on securing this important debate. In particular, I would like to congratulate her on her excellent speech.

I intend to confine my comments to the abuse of children. Evidence from a range of sources in recent years has underlined that children are being increasingly exposed to harmful and damaging content online. A parliamentary inquiry in 2012 found that one in three children aged 10 or under has seen sexual images online, and four out of five children aged 14 to 16 access online pornography at home. The inquiry went on to say, somewhat chillingly, that,

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“the whole history of human sexual perversion”,

is available on the internet and only two clicks away. It goes on to say that,

“unfortunately, our children, with their natural curiosity and superior technological skills, are finding and viewing these images”.

The inquiry also noted that the rise of internet pornography is leaving teenagers with an inability to develop normal relationships and is even increasing their susceptibility to grooming by sexual abusers.

Last year, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England suggested that the scale of access to adult pornography among children was now so widespread that it should trigger “moral panic” among parents, schools and the Government about what should be done. Her research also revealed that in one large local authority area, 100% of boys in year 9 classes—14 year-olds—accessed pornography. The damaging consequences of all this are plain. Children do not simply view these images and move on. They can produce real trauma for weeks, months and even years to come.

In a 2010 Home Office report into the sexualisation of children, leading psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos found that there is a striking link among young males between the consumption of sexualised images and a tendency to view women as objects, along with an acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm. According to research by Ybarra and Mitchell, children who are exposed to pornography are three and a half times more likely to be depressed and two and a half times more likely to be less bonded to their carers.

Given the effect on children, I am very clear that the provision of this kind of material online without robust age verification to protect children constitutes a form of abuse, about which something must be done. So, what have the Government done? They have persuaded 90% of the ISP market to provide what is in effect a form of default filtering, which I welcome, although the self-regulatory nature of the current arrangements—missing out 10% of the market and therein many homes with children—is deeply problematic for reasons I have explained on previous occasions.

However, I want to focus particularly on the ATVOD call on the Government to make the law clearer that R18 material should be put behind robust age verification mechanisms that it would be ATVOD’s responsibility to monitor. I am pleased to say that the Government have responded favourably to this request, although they have not yet produced any legislation. That is of concern, given the importance of the issue.

In the light of this, my Online Safety Bill, which had its First Reading in your Lordships’ House on 11 June, would save the Government time by providing them in Clause 7 with a provision that rises to the challenge. However, it goes further. If we as a society decide that children aged under 18 should not see 18 or R18 material, it would be wholly inappropriate for the Government to require the provision of age verification for R18-rated material but not 18-rated material. If we are serious about child protection, age verification must by definition apply to both 18 and R18-rated video on demand material. Since the Gambling

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Act 2005, we have required all online gambling sites to be set behind robust age-verification processes based on credit referencing, the electoral roll and so on. We must now do so in relation to 18 and R18 video on demand material.

ATVOD has also rightly drawn attention to the fact that the majority of R18 material that is accessed in the UK comes from beyond this country where the authority has no jurisdiction. Simply to make the Communications Act 2003 clearer on the point that all 18 and R18 material should be placed behind robust age-verification systems, while essential, is by no means the whole solution. I am not aware that the Government have done anything specifically to address the problem. It is for this reason that Clause 8 of my Bill would introduce a financial transaction blocking provision.

Clause 8 provides a mechanism for requiring financial transaction providers not to process transactions between internet users in the UK and websites based outside the UK that provide 18 or R18 content without a system of robust age verification. This is a vital measure. It will cut the flow of money to such websites, challenging them to act responsibly and introduce a system of age verification.

There is no doubt in my mind that given the damaging implications of all this material for adults, making it available to children constitutes a form of abuse. Moreover, if as legislators we have the capacity to require people who engage in the provision of this material to do so behind robust age verification, as with online gambling, but cannot be bothered, there is—I say this gently—a sense in which we are all complicit in that abuse.

I welcome the steps that the Government have taken in relation to filtering—subject of course to the problems associated with its self-regulatory basis—but there is so much more to be done. To this end I hope that they will carefully consider and adopt my Online Safety Bill, as suggested by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham.

4.41 pm

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): My Lords, I was a member of the panel under the chairmanship of Sarah Champion MP, sponsored by Barnardo’s, inquiring into the effectiveness of current legislation for tackling child sexual exploitation and trafficking. My particular concern was the way in which the judicial system dealt with complaints. We heard evidence from members of the Bar who were highly experienced in prosecuting and defending charges brought under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. They identified a number of issues.

One was training and specialisation of the judiciary. A judge plays a crucial role in setting out ground rules at the start of a trial. He determines what special measures should be employed for putting a complainant at his or her ease; for example, by the use of remote television. An experienced judge will decide whether a registered intermediary would be helpful. In particular, he may set a time limit for cross-examination. In the course of the trial he will intervene if he feels that cross-examination is too aggressive or strays too far. He should prevent different defence barristers asking the same questions over and over again. I noted what the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, said and I think that this is not a course that is followed in all cases.

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The powers of control are not generally exercised in most criminal trials before a jury because when a judge “steps down into the arena”, as we say, a jury may react badly and think that he is taking sides. The trial process may be distorted. It is also the case that in the past many judges may have had no courtroom experience of sex cases, or at least recent experience, since such cases have over the past 30 or 40 years in my experience tended to be left to junior barristers and to women, who are unhappily under-represented on the Bench. In my 35 years as a Queen’s Counsel, I can recall being involved in only three cases in which rape alone was alleged. These have usually involved the most unusual circumstances, such as the alleged rape of an 82 year-old lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. She had died before the hearing and the evidence was confined to a video of her interview.

In nearly 30 years sitting as a recorder, I tried only one case of rape and that was probably a mistake in the listing. Sensitive training of the judiciary is essential. There is such training on sexual offences cases for judges, although it has been reduced quite recently from a three-day course to a two-day one. It is now necessary for any judge who is ticketed to try these cases to undergo a refresher course every three years and there are supplemental courses on vulnerable witnesses. The Barnardo’s report concluded that,

“no judge should be assigned to try a complex child sexual exploitation case without having received such training”,

and that thought should be given to limiting those authorised to preside over sexual exploitation cases unless they had previous relevant experience of working on ordinary sexual offences cases.

With regard to the training and specialisation of advocates, Nazir Afzal QC of the CPS told us that there has been a change of mindset. The CPS has produced revised guidelines on prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse and has introduced specialist rape and serious sexual offences units embedded into the Crown Court team. Patricia Lynch QC, who both prosecutes and defends and is a tutor judge at the Judicial College, told us that her Chambers used to have a self-imposed rule that,

“you didn’t conduct a sex case until you were seven years call and 10 years for rape. Only Silks and very senior juniors did rape and serious sex cases and they were tried by High Court and Senior Circuit Judges. Now anyone can take on a sex case; Silks are deemed too expensive and there are not enough practitioners trained to do the specialist cases”.

There lies the problem. The fact is that no one wants to spend their whole career at the Bar doing this type of case. They are not well paid, are more than usually distressing and rarely of high profile. It is only in the high-profile celebrity cases that you will see Silks of standing stepping forward to do them. They generally have no experience of doing sexual offence cases generally. We called for specialist training for both prosecutors and defence counsel and recommended that,

“legally aided defendants should be restricted in their choice of representation to a panel of solicitors and counsel who have undergone specific training in CSE issues. The professional bodies should have the power on complaint to remove an individual from such a panel”,

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if it were appropriate by reason of the conduct of the advocate in court.

Finally, with regard to jurors’ perceptions, all those who appeared before our panel were concerned that a jury consists of,

“people who are unfamiliar with child abuse and how it manifests itself”.

Jurors tend not to understand,

“the levels of coercion and manipulation used to control and exploit young people”.

I hope that abuse is not so widespread that it does come within their life experience. Young people tend not to present themselves as victims and become defensive, aggressive or even laugh as they give their evidence. Eleanor Laws QC told us:

“Trafficked victims don’t behave the way a jury thinks they should behave. There is a danger that the jury sits in judgement”,

not on the abuser but on the victim.

Myths and stereotypes do exist. Judges may warn the jury against making assumptions about the possible effects of sexual offences on victims and increasingly do so at the outset of a case. I proposed that members of a jury panel, before the actual jury is selected out of it, should be shown a standard and agreed video about common myths and stereotypes, just as they now see a video explaining their role as jurors. The report recommended that the Ministry of Justice should explore,

“the development of materials, either written or filmed, to better inform jurors”,

about those continuing myths and stereotypes that undermine our judicial system.

The report contains much more guidance on special measures and the possibility of pre-recorded evidence closer to the time of the offence. There are pilots under way. But the essential thing is that justice is done, for victims certainly, but for the health of society as a whole as well.

4.49 pm

Lord Bichard (CB): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for securing the debate. I congratulate her, genuinely, on her wide-ranging opening speech. I will focus my comments primarily on children, although I think that some of the lessons to be learnt are common.

It is now 40 years since the death of Maria Colwell. Since then there have been seemingly countless similar tragedies. Each has resulted in an inquiry or a serious case review, and many of those inquiries and case reviews have produced similar findings. Very often communication is a real problem. More recently we have seen the sexual abuse in the Savile and Hall cases, which, frankly, beggars belief, not least because of the failure of the institutions involved to prevent it.

There is no simple answer to the question, “Why does this keep happening?”, but we have to continue the search for answers rather than accept these things as inevitable. By “we” I do not mean just professional social workers, who, as many have said today, are under the most intense pressure because of their case loads. Indeed, when I use the term “we” I refer to

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many of us here, because I think that those of us who are involved in leading or chairing major institutions of any kind have a particular responsibility to carry.

We should be asking ourselves some very difficult questions rather than passing those questions over to the HR department, which is what too often happens. We should be asking ourselves in our institution, whether it is a diocese or a school or whatever: “Do people realise that there is a climate of zero tolerance where child abuse is concerned? Do we have in place clear, detailed policies to minimise the risk of abuse? Do those systems enable—no, encourage—those with concerns to share those concerns? Do we have in place effective training for staff, even during a period of austerity? Do we ensure that the voice of young people, of children, is heard and treated with respect? Do we, wherever possible, share information with other agencies? When allegations are made against our institution, do we respond by seeking the facts, or do we respond by trying primarily to defend our institution?”. These are searching questions which I do not believe many leaders of institutions are yet asking themselves.

The Government, to their credit, have accepted their own responsibilities—their responsibilities to protect children, not least by having in place systems for prior checking of people who work with them. I have always taken the view that those arrangements need to be proportionate. However, I have to say that safeguarding will always require some bureaucracy. Protecting vulnerable people in our society always requires some bureaucracy. Attempts to reduce that bureaucracy should never be made at the expense of children’s safety.

I remain concerned that some of the recent changes contained in the Protection of Freedoms Act could have a negative impact. I remind noble Lords that the Act redefined regulated activities so that 4 million posts are no longer covered, many on the grounds that their work is supervised. As a result of not being covered, not being a regulated activity, access to the barred lists is denied to employers when considering appointments.

I said at the time, and I have not changed my view, that I do not believe it is possible to supervise employees in a way that avoids them developing a bond of trust with young people with whom they are having regular contact. That is a bond of trust that can then be exploited outside the workplace, not least through social media. Nor do I yet understand why we are denying employers access to the barred lists. I am not alone in thinking that the current arrangements are as confusing as ever. That worries me because I fear that some inappropriate people will slip through the net yet again.

In the context of all that, I have been somewhat shocked this week to read—the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, has referred to this—the statistics which show that the number of people stopped from working with children due to having committed sexual offences, which stood at some 12,500 in 2011, has now dropped to 2,800. I ask this genuinely, because I have been under some pressure this week to go on various programmes and comment on it. I have refused to do

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so because I do not understand what is behind this reduction in figures, but I know that I am worried about it. So far, the explanations from the department have not been reassuring or convincing. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some explanation of why the figures have changed so dramatically.

I conclude by making two suggestions. The first is that the Government should commission a proper review of mandatory reporting. There are people who I respect who have very different views on this. We should have a close look at the arguments for and against mandatory reporting, and look at international experience before we come to a decision.

My second suggestion is that we should establish a very small—I underline that—centre of excellence for child protection. My fear is that we do not do enough to learn the lessons of child abuse tragedies and to make sure that they lead to real change in the way in which we design and manage the various safeguarding systems, the way in which we manage and share information and the way in which professionals are trained. I apologise if this seems a simplistic comparison, but the way in which the aviation industry ensures that the lessons of accidents and near misses are learnt and lead to real changes in the system is exemplary. I do not think that the ways in which we deal with some of the tragedies to which I have referred are, by comparison, good. A centre for child protection excellence would be tasked with ensuring that the recommendations of reviews and inquiries are actioned where necessary to change the systems, the procedures and the training programmes. It would be a small investment—yes, it would be an investment—but one which was justified.