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House of Lords

Wednesday, 23 July 2014.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Coventry.

Uganda: LGBT People


3.07 pm

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they propose to take over the abuse of the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda as a result of the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act there.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): My Lords, we continue to press Uganda to defend human rights without discrimination on any grounds. The safety of LGBT individuals in Uganda is of great concern. We have sought assurances about their protection and, with our support, EU Heads of Mission in Kampala have initiated strengthened political dialogue. We are committed to engaging closely with civil society groups and are stepping up our support to organisations that protect minority rights.

Lord Lexden (Con): I know my noble friend understands the deep concern that exists on this matter, in both this House and the other place, and I thank her for it. What progress, if any, are the Government making in their efforts to persuade the Ugandan authorities to repeal this terrible law which infringes some of the most fundamental human rights? Will the Government reconsider urgently their decision not to impose carefully targeted sanctions on those responsible for this appalling law?

Lord Tomlinson (Lab): My Lords—

Baroness Warsi: My noble friend raised this issue when the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed in Uganda. We have deep concerns about that Act and the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, raised these in a Statement at the time. Noble Lords will be aware that the Act criminalises the promotion of homosexuality, the owning of property where homosexuality may take place and a range of other actions which raise huge concern about how the LGBT community can be protected. With regard to sanctions, we keep all matters under review. However, it is important that whatever action we take, including sanctions, actually has a real impact. At the moment, there is a difference of opinion, even among LGBT NGO groups, about whether sanctions would have the desired effect.

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Lord Tomlinson (Lab): My Lords, I apologise for my excess of enthusiasm. Does the noble Baroness agree that we diminish our international reputation on all matters concerned with human rights when we constantly denigrate the European Court of Human Rights, when we constantly criticise the European Convention on Human Rights and when we sack an Attorney-General because of his support for those two things?

Lord Luce (CB): My Lords—

Baroness Warsi: I get the distinct impression that maybe I am not needed any more. The noble Lord raises an important issue and it is one that I have raised at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As the Minister with responsibility for human rights I have said consistently that the way in which we conduct ourselves nationally impacts on our international reputation. What we do internationally will impact on who we are as a domestic nation. Therefore, the noble Lord does make an important point. I would stress to him that, certainly, the Government take the issue of human rights incredibly seriously. It is a huge part of my brief and he will see the commitment in the work that the Government do.

Lord Luce: My Lords—

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I apologise to the Minister for my enthusiasm. I have not asked a question in this House before so I wanted to get on with it. The Minister will be aware that the most reverend Primates the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York wrote to the President of Uganda in January to reiterate a statement made by all the Primates of the Anglican Communion, in which they said:

“The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us”.

In that spirit, do the Government intend to provide asylum to those who are fleeing the worrying consequences of this law which enshrines such diminishment?

Noble Lords: My Lords—

Baroness Warsi: We have an eager House today.

We take our responsibilities in relation to people who come to this country to apply for political asylum very seriously, which is something that we should be proud of. I think that the right reverend Prelate would accept that it would not be possible for us to offer asylum to anybody who has been suffering persecution on the basis of sexuality, gender, race or religion around the world. Therefore, the approach of successive Governments has always been to work with the country to ensure that the country itself protects those citizens. There is some hope. The Ugandan Government made a statement on 7 July reiterating their commitment to the rights of individuals and to ensuring that minority communities had access to healthcare, NGOs and civil society organisations. It is important that we ensure that the Ugandan Government stick to those commitments they have made.

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Lord Luce: My Lords, I must apologise to the Minister for trying to answer questions for her. Does she not agree that the Commonwealth is the right forum in which to discuss such issues, particularly as we have all signed the Commonwealth charter committing us to certain values and principles? Is that not what the Commonwealth is for?

Baroness Warsi: I am a supporter of the Commonwealth, as are noble Lords across this House. We are all realistic enough to acknowledge that despite the Commonwealth charter, which was supposed to be a watershed moment, there are numerous Commonwealth countries that do not live by that charter, including in their approach towards LGBT communities. It is, therefore, important that we use the Commonwealth as a vehicle but that we use all other vehicles available to us to ensure that these rights are protected.

Lord Chidgey (LD): Is my noble friend aware that President Barack Obama has described Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act as odious, and that in June the US Government announced sanctions against Ugandans involved in human rights abuses? There has also been a shift in funding from the Ugandan health ministry to alternative organisations. Will our Government reconsider and follow the lead of the Americans?

Baroness Warsi: I am aware that the United States reviewed its position after the passing of the Act in June this year. They brought forward a number of proposals, including ceasing support for certain programmes, redirecting healthcare funding and reallocating funding for a public health institute. That is the approach taken by the United States. I come back to this: LGBT campaigners say that different approaches work in different places. It is important that whatever we choose to do, we do it in a way that is in line with the campaigning that is going on, is effective and actually works on the ground.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, homosexuality has been criminalised in Uganda since British colonial rule and that position, regrettably, has been reflected in 42 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries. However, this new Act has unleashed a new wave of extreme and violent homophobia, including physical attacks, arbitrary arrests, blackmail and evictions. People’s lives are at risk now. I ask the Minister to reconsider her position in these unique circumstances. If the United States can act now so should we.

Baroness Warsi: We need to challenge the culture change that this Act has led to on the ground. Countries in the West have an additional responsibility because there is a real concern in Africa at the moment that much of the radicalisation and preaching that creates the culture that leads to this hatred and consequences for LGBT communities is coming from preachers who come from the West. There is a job we can do in our countries to make sure that we do not perpetuate this.

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Economy: Productivity


3.15 pm

Asked by Lord Haskel

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to raise the United Kingdom’s productivity.

Lord Popat (Con): My Lords, the Government’s long-term economic plan is working, with GDP increasing by 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014. Productivity is also growing, with output per worker increasing by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2014. Alongside deficit reduction and an active monetary policy, we are making longer-term structural changes to support long-term growth. The Government’s industrial strategy policies and four key growth ambitions are also attracting investment and creating jobs.

Lord Haskel (Lab): I welcome what the Minister says but is it actually working? Thanks to the Government’s policy of the job-rich, low-wage, low-skill, long-hours economy, as a nation we are producing fewer goods and services than we did six years ago. With such a policy, how do the Government intend us to pay our way in a competitive world, reduce our balance of payments deficit and raise living standards, if not through productivity?

Lord Popat: My Lords, the party opposite is quite often desperate to find worrying economic news. I will talk about productivity: our growth is up, exports are up, manufacturing is up, employment is up, SMEs are up and inward investment is up. Productivity is an area that has remained static. From experience, noble Lords will know that this is a long-term project; it takes time to filter through our economic cycle, to see more productivity.

Lord Taverne (LD): My Lords, one of the most important factors in the improvement of our productivity lies in our strong record in scientific research and development. Does the Minister agree, as most of the vice-chancellors of our universities have made clear, that the greatest threat to our research and development in science would lie in our exit from the European Union?

Lord Popat: My Lords, let me cover the European Union. We need the European Union for trade and the European Union needs us so exit is not an option. What is important is that we negotiate reforms within the European Union to make it more practical in terms of business and productivity. The noble Lord is quite right. One of the areas in which we invest heavily to increase productivity is research and development. It is important that we continue doing that.

Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister agree that productivity has something to do with the 30 million workers out there? If the Minister

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agrees with that, is he aware that many of the countries doing much better than us—10%, 15% or 20% better in northern Europe—have something called works councils where everybody is involved in looking at all the questions about world market share, technology, productivity and so on? There is a big gap in this country, under this Government, who are doing nothing about it.

Lord Popat (Con): My Lords, there are several reasons why our productivity has been a little weak. The good news is that it has gone up by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2014. Yes, we need more investment to increase our productivity. Compared to the G7 countries, a larger proportion of our productivity comes from our active involvement in the financial services industry. We need to encourage more manufacturing. We have the right tools and policies in place for that to happen. It is happening but it will take time to filter through the system.

Lord Vinson (Con): My Lords, one of the best ways of raising productivity is to increase demand. Unfortunately, the pound is rising so fast that it has now gone well above its purchasing power parity, making it much harder to export and much easier to import, the very converse of what needs to happen. Will the Government continue to look at every possible way of import substitution and, in particular, look at why a trading nation should not have some concern over its rate of exchange, the rate at which it trades? Could they suggest to the governor that he might begin to raise an eyebrow about the high pound and deleterious effect it is having on trade, productivity and, ultimately, employment?

Lord Popat: My Lords, import substitution is not the answer in this very competitive world. As to depreciation of the currency, experience tells us that our currency is worth 25% less than it was at its peak in 2007. Depreciation is not the answer. We should let our currency fluctuate freely in the open market. Experience tells us that a depreciating pound will not result in higher exports.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords—

Lord May of Oxford (CB): Building on the admission that one of the greatest drivers of productivity is research and development, does the Minister agree that we need to do something to promote a more risk-taking culture? In the United States, bankruptcy is almost a condition for going forward in Silicon Valley; in our case, it means that it is hard to get a credit card afterwards.

Lord Popat: I will cover the points raised by the noble Lord. First, on research and development, we are investing £30 million in the sector and we are giving incentives to companies to carry out research and development. As to low productivity compared to other countries, we have the right industrial and growth strategies in place to make sure that productivity goes

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up. With regard to asking companies to invest, we have given the right fiscal tools, including higher tax allowances, for companies to invest more.

China: United Kingdom Trade


3.22 pm

Asked by Lord Whitby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to increase trade with China.

Lord Popat (Con): My Lords, trade with China is at record levels. The Government are committed to helping even more British companies to do business in China. We have invested significant additional resources into UK Trade & Investment and the China-Britain Business Council that will substantially increase the support available for British companies. The Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills have all led large trade delegations to China.

Lord Whitby (Con): I welcome the Minister’s reply. My question relates to visa applications. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, visited China recently, he vowed to address the visa difficulties confronting Chinese tourists, business employers and students wanting to come to Britain. Will my noble friend kindly update the House on what progress has been made to ameliorate these difficulties? Also, having visited Birmingham International’s extended runway yesterday, where he witnessed the inauguration of a direct flight from Birmingham to Beijing, will my noble friend welcome that extra airport capacity, and will he use his office to ensure that Chinese airlines use it?

Lord Popat: The noble Lord raises an important question on the subject of visas and tourism. Tourism is our fourth-largest export earner. The number of UK visas issued to Chinese nationals continued to rise in 2013. We have issued 373,000 visas to Chinese tourists and have increased the number of students coming to the UK to the tune of 14%. We encourage Chinese students to come and study at our best universities in the UK. As regards airport capacity, which has been an issue for a long time in this House, yes, we do have a capacity issue with airlines, but I am pleased to say that I was able to receive the first chartered flight from Beijing to the regional airport in Birmingham yesterday morning.

Lord Cotter (LD): My Lords, the Government recently announced that 60 new Foreign Office staff have been placed across China. Can the Minister give me an update on that? Hopefully, the numbers are increasing, the staff will be more widespread throughout China and increased language training will be part of the approach. Do the people involved have experience in business, particularly to help small businesses to trade within China?

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Lord Popat: My Lords, small businesses are the engine of the economy. I am pleased to say that we have a large number of people from UKTI now based in our Chinese embassy. English is an international language, but it is important that they all learn Mandarin as well. Language plays an important part in bridging the gap between us and the Chinese when it comes to trade. I am pleased to say that UKTI is proactive. In fact, one of our embassies that I visited, which was a diplomatic centre, has become more of a business centre, too. Embassies play an important role in enhancing trade, both in China and in other emerging markets.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB): My Lords—

Lord Davidson of Glen Clova (Lab): My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, there is time for both noble Lords to be able to ask a question.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon: My Lords, according to a report on 17 June in the Times, the Business Minister, Michael Fallon, said that human rights must not stop trade with China. Does the Minister agree that that statement demeans the very concept of human rights?

Lord Popat: My Lords, human rights are a major concern for this House. In fact, there was a Question on human rights earlier today in relation to Uganda, which is the country of my origin. We take human rights very seriously, but to address them we must quite often cement our relationships with countries by having more trade. I am pleased to say that we raise this issue every time our Ministers meet their counterparts in China—my right honourable friend, Hugo Swire, did so during his trip to China in May, and the former Foreign Secretary did the same thing in February. Our concerns are publicly outlined in our annual human rights report, which was published on 10 April 2014.

Lord Davidson of Glen Clova: My Lords, there is concern that the new UKTI China initiative is marked by a number of features: a large amount of public relations; considerable new expenditure; an astonishing paucity of Mandarin speakers among the new recruits; and a focus on what is called internal reorganisation rather than business getting. Can the Minister identify, aside from the usual aspirational platitudes, what measurable targets are going to exist for UKTI and all the new expenditure in terms of the benefits to UK business?

Lord Popat: My Lords, extra resources given to UKTI by the Chancellor will help UK companies to enter the Chinese market to win business. Jaguar Land Rover is a classic example and is benefiting hugely from the demand from China. UKTI plays an important role in engaging Chinese business with UK businesses. At the same time, it is also promoting “Exporting is GREAT”, and that is working very well. Soon we will see the benefits; indeed, we already see the benefits, as bilateral trade between the UK and China is to the tune of £75 billion. The growth rate of the exports is much higher than that of our imports.

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Baroness Wilcox (Con): My Lords, I am sure the Minister will correct me, but am I right in saying that the Intellectual Property Office has sent out Mandarin-speaking ambassadors from this country to protect the intellectual property rights of people with small and medium-sized businesses who go to China? I understand that they are working extremely well and that the project has been an enormous success.

Lord Popat: The noble Baroness has made an important point. We are addressing the issue of intellectual property and we now have legislation in place. We are asking our Chinese counterparts to comply with our regulations on intellectual property.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Popat: My Lords, I am afraid that I did not hear the question.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: Can the noble Lord tell the House how many additional flights from Heathrow to China have been introduced since this Government came to power?

Lord Popat: My Lords, some 39 flights depart from Heathrow to China every week.

Pensions Advice


3.30 pm

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what safeguards will be in place to ensure that people receive sound advice when seeking to access their pension funds.

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, every individual with defined contributions pension savings will on retirement have a new right to free and impartial guidance to help them make informed decisions about how they use their pension savings in retirement. The Government will legislate to give the Financial Conduct Authority responsibility for setting standards for guidance and monitoring compliance with those standards. The FCA has published a consultation paper alongside the Government’s response on its proposed standards.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, what has been announced by the Government so far is wholly inadequate. We all remember the pensions mis-selling scandals of the 1980s when people were enticed out of SERPS and then fleeced. What qualifications will individuals need to have in order to be able to give this advice, and what guarantees will be put in place to ensure that people do not see their pension pots go in fees, charges and wholly inappropriate products?

Lord Newby: My Lords, the key innovation in the way we are planning to introduce this change is that of giving every individual coming up to retirement an entitlement to free guidance. To ensure that the guidance is impartial, we have decided that it will be provided by independent organisations which have no actual or potential conflicts of interest; it is not going to be the pension companies providing that guidance. A team has been established within the Treasury to lead on

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service design and implementation, bringing together expertise from across government, the Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service. The FCA will be the ultimate backstop in terms of the quality of the advice given and the monitoring of it. We will legislate to give the authority that explicit power in the Pension Schemes Bill later in this Session.

Lord Jopling (Con): My Lords, will the Minister endorse the wisdom of my father who, in giving me an instruction shortly before he died, said that after his death I was to ensure that my mother took no advice whatever from either the vicar or the bank manager?

Lord Newby: My Lords, being married to a vicar, I could not possibly say that vicars are not always good sources of advice. The key challenge raised by the Question is that for many people pensions are a subject of complete bemusement. This reform, which I believe is very welcome, will give people much more choice over how they spend their money in retirement. However, they will be able to spend it wisely only if they are given proper guidance, and that is what the Government are committed to ensuring.

Baroness Drake (Lab): My Lords, guidance to help people make choices about how to spend their pension funds is of course to be welcomed, but given that the Government expect the industry to respond to greater choice by providing new retirement income products, how will they ensure that these new products meet the interests of savers in terms of quality standards, transparency and level of charges, so avoiding new manifestations of consumer detriment occurring yet again in the pensions and investment industry?

Lord Newby: My Lords, this is why we have set up a new framework for regulation and why we established the Financial Conduct Authority. We have given the authority much greater powers than the FSA had to deal explicitly with these problems. We have to be sure that the new products which are coming forward meet the standards that the noble Baroness wishes to see. The FCA is tasked with that job and is absolutely determined to avoid the problems of mis-selling that we have seen in the past.

Baroness O'Cathain (Con): My Lords, is it at all possible that any information on pensions that goes to the ordinary man or woman in the street, like me, could be passed by the Plain English Campaign because there is nothing worse than page after page of small print in stupid words?

Lord Newby: My Lords, I completely agree. For many years I have been trying to persuade the financial sector to do as the medical sector does and establish a professional body of writers to try to ensure that the material that people get is comprehensible. As far as this particular process is concerned, the FCA is looking to provide a template that pensions providers will complete, which might be on as little as a single sheet of paper, that will provide the basis for the guidance that is subsequently given.

Lord Hughes of Woodside (Lab): Do the Government recollect that millions of people, even today, are bombarded on a daily basis by different companies,

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offering help to get payment protection policies returned and so on and so forth? How will they guarantee that this new policy will not mean that we will be bombarded daily by people telling us that we must try to draw down our pensions?

Lord Newby: My Lords, the key thing is that people get guidance from a trusted source. There will be a commonality of approach. The FCA is producing very detailed technical guidance, which everybody providing the personalised guidance will provide. I recommend that the noble Lord looks at the FCA consultation document that came out earlier in the week, which explains how it is going to do that. There is a danger that we are so concerned that things might not work that we never innovate.

Baroness Sherlock (Lab): My Lords, I remind the House of my interest in the Financial Ombudsman Service board. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced that everybody would get,

“free, impartial, face-to-face advice”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 19/3/14; col. 793.]

on their retirement options. Now we learn that it will be guidance, not advice, and that face-to-face could mean online or over the phone. Will the Minister please tell the House how many people in 2015-16 will actually get face-to-face guidance? Will he reassure the House that that commitment will not be watered down any more? People coming up to retirement need advice they can trust.

Lord Newby: My Lords, the difference between guidance and advice is simply that within the financial services sector advice is a regulated activity which, as the noble Baroness knows, requires those who offer it to have gone through a significant process. This is a different level of advice. As far as face-to-face advice is concerned, the Treasury has undertaken a considerable amount of consultation. Many people have said that they would much prefer, in the first instance at least, to get their advice online or to do it on the phone. We have said, however, that any individual who wishes to have face-to-face advice will have it, and they will. It is simply that not everybody wants it that way.

Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Excluded Activities and Prohibitions) Order 2014

Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Ring-fenced Bodies and Core Activities) Order 2014

Motions to Approve

3.38 pm

Moved by Lord Newby

That the draft orders laid before the House on 25 June be approved.

Relevant document: 4th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 July.

Motions agreed.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014

Motion to Approve

3.38 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That the draft order laid before the House on 30 June be approved.

Relevant documents: 5th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 6th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 July.

Motion agreed.

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

Committee (3rd Day)

3.39 pm

Relevant documents: 2nd Report from the Constitution Committee, 3rd Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 14th Report, Session 2013-14, from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Clause 29: Secure colleges and other places for detention of young offenders etc

Debate on whether Clause 29 should stand part of the Bill.

Lord Ramsbotham (CB): My Lords—

Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Con): My Lords, I wonder whether I might assist the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, as I appreciate that the microphone did not come on at the beginning. I also appreciate that he is speaking from a position where many noble Lords are leaving either side of him. Perhaps noble Lords could leave speedily and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, might just hesitate for a few seconds to allow them to speed past him.

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, on Monday I listened with great interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, said about the proposed secure college in moving his comprehensive Amendment 43C and to what the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, said about the site selected for it and the unanimous opposition of all involved NGOs to the proposal. Both explained vividly why the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, and I feel sufficiently strongly about it to oppose Clause 29 standing part.

Before explaining my case, I compliment the Minister on honouring his admonition to the House at Second Reading to keep an open mind and for not resorting to the rhetoric used by his Secretary of State about what he clearly regards as his pet project. At Third Reading in the other place, Mr Grayling said that it was beyond him how the Opposition could criticise his once-in-a-generation reforms, urging them to “think again” before they played party politics,

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“with the future of young people … and to turn away from siren voices that said that this was a brutal new regime”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 17/6/14; col.1071.]

At a public conference I attended, he said that opposition to the secure colleges that he and the Deputy Prime Minister were committed to delivering with haste was a “totem of the left”.

Independent Cross-Benchers do not play party politics. I entirely agree, along with, I suspect, the vast majority of this House, with the Secretary of State’s analysis of why reform is needed and that the educational content of child custody must be improved. My criticism is not about the imposition of an alleged brutal new regime but, rather, that we lack any information about what regime is to be imposed on an establishment whose formation flies in the face of all the evidence of what does or does not work to satisfy the needs of children in custody. The Minister made much of the importance of allowing potential contractors to be creative and innovative but, as many noble Lords have pointed out, there are practical limits to that, such as the perpetual movement of children in and out of places of detention, requiring many individual syllabi.

My criticism is based on what I saw, marked, learnt and inwardly digested of the practical realities when responsible for inspecting secure children’s homes, secure children’s centres and young offender institutions, and on what I have seen and heard subsequently. Both at Second Reading and on Monday, the Minister said—unarguably—that we need to do better at rehabilitating young offenders because youth custodial outcomes are presently not good enough. By recognising that some people would continue to require separate specialist accommodation, the purpose of Part 2 of the Bill remains to establish a statutory framework for a pathfinder secure college, which the Government suggest is a solution to the problem. Educationalists and others will be invited to deliver a broad and intensive curriculum to support and engage young people. The House has already debated a consultation on the rules to ensure that establishments operate safely and securely, which is to be launched before Report.

In that connection, can the Minister confirm or deny that the person in NOMS responsible for writing the rules and policies for secure colleges is the former governor of HMYOI Brinsford, who was moved after the Chief Inspector of Prisons gave it a dreadful report, describing it as the single worst jail he had ever visited, to HMP Hewell—which is about to receive a dreadful inspection report—and from there to this role in NOMS? If that is true, I must question the judgment of whoever made the appointment.

While admitting that transformation could not happen overnight, the Minister claimed that the Government’s vision was justified by the fact that small local facilities simply could not deliver the high-quality and broad-ranging facilities that meet the diverse needs of young people. If Parliament did not share that vision, the construction of the next generation of facilities would have to take place within the existing framework.

3.45 pm

I entirely accept that the proposed secure college is a possible solution to the problem but, unlike the Government, as expressed in the impact assessment,

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I contend that it is neither the right nor the only one. I question the Minister’s comparison with free schools because parents are not free to choose a place of custody; providers can make a profit; and I suspect that current minimum statutory requirements on the curriculum may be increased, judging by yesterday’s Statement about some free schools in Birmingham.

The Government have presented no evidence that they have tested or costed a means by which their anticipated improvements in education and training will be realised, giving them a benchmark against which to judge competitive bids. Nor do they have a basis to support their claim that the college will instil in young people, many with dreadful records of exclusion from, and poor attainment at, school, a commitment to, and desire for, continued engagement in learning. Experience shows that this results only from dedicated one-to-one support over time, and time is not on the side of staff who have an average of only 79 days to provide it.

Additionally, as anyone who has had anything to do with troubled young people knows only too well, there are no quick fixes in turning their present and future around. Therefore, the Minister will understand why so many hope that the Secretary of State’s haste is based on proof that he can do what he says in the stated time and not just that the Government have had planning permission to build a YOI on the Glen Parva site since 2008. The plans that I have seen appear to be of what can be crammed into a given area, rather than a careful design to accommodate the various and varying needs of 320 damaged children, including space to let off the steam of adolescence.

As many noble Lords have said during the debate, I submit that the secure college proposal is so undeveloped that it is both unreasonable and irresponsible of the Government to expect Parliament to rubber-stamp it until it knows more. Neither as a soldier nor as chairman of an NHS hospital trust would I have been happy to launch any initiative on such flimsy evidence. I say that not only because construction is not due to start until the next Government are in power but because of the proposal’s impact on countless young people. I will not repeat any of what was said on Monday; instead, entirely in line with my agreement with the Secretary of State’s analysis of the problem, I want to be constructive and outline two alternative solutions, both known to NOMS and the Youth Justice Board but apparently ignored by the Government.

In conclusion, I will suggest alternative ways forward. My first alternative is one that I have mentioned many times on the Floor of this House. I declare an interest as an original member of the advisory board of what was previously known as the Young Offenders Academy and is now the Secure Foundation. At its heart is the provision of each young offender with long-term contact with a responsible adult, achieved by conducting everything on one site, with a catchment area of one hour’s travel by public transport. By “everything”, I mean education, job training, healthcare, substance abuse treatment and activities, including those associated with youth clubs and cadets, that are accessible on a 24/7 basis.

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In addition, there will be a hostel for the homeless and a low-level custody centre for those serving community sentences, who go home at night. Originally a pilot project was planned for Greenwich and adjacent boroughs but, following the riots, the mayor asked that it should be somewhere more affected by them. It is now hoped that it will start next year in Haringey under the direction of a highly respected former member of the Youth Justice Board.

There is widespread support for the project, not just among local authorities but among organisations that contribute to the integration and settlement of young people. These are far more appropriate words than “rehabilitation” or “resettlement”, because too many young people have been neither integrated nor settled into the community before. Some of these organisations are chambers of commerce, which see the opportunity to identify and train potential employees, and those responsible for healthcare and substance misuse treatment, which see the benefit of continuity and availability.

Furthermore, the project, which has been proved to be far cheaper than a young offender institution, has attracted the attention of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, among others, not least because it combines manageable size with preserving the principles of maintaining closeness to home, development of good family contact and links to local authorities of children in care, all ignored in the Government’s vision.

My second suggested alternative is the solution run very successfully in Spain for more than 20 years by the not-for-profit organisation, Diagrama, which is currently competing to run an STC in this country. One of its 38 establishments, of varying size and each with a catchment radius of 30 to 50 miles, has just been awarded the title of best children’s custody centre in Europe. Diagrama’s child-centred ethos is to create living environments and services conducive to the main task of integrating young people and consistent with the needs of developing children; to provide children and young people with the skills they need to lead positive and fulfilling lives; and to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of children, formal and informal, in partnership with their parents, families, communities and existing support services.

This child-centred approach is also being replicated in the United States, where the growing trend is to turn away from large establishments in favour of what is called the Missouri model, in which no facility has more than 50 beds. Family therapy is practised and there is general recognition that trained specialist staff building relationships with children are better able to deliver a positive regime than less qualified custodial officers.

The key to Diagrama’s success is the quality of its staff, all those working with children being required to have university degrees. Education, which forms the basis of every working day, is broad—academic, vocational, physical and relationship with both staff and fellow offenders. Much work is provided by and done in local communities. As the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, will remember, during the inquiry he chaired into the use of restraint and seclusion on children in custody, we visited Orchard Lodge, a secure

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home then run by Southwark Council and tasked with holding children with mental health problems. We found that experienced staff, who had been there on average for 11 years, did not need to restrain as much as less experienced staff elsewhere. Negotiation rather than punishment is also the norm for the experienced Diagrama staff, who have been in post on average for 13 to 15 years, and there has never been a suicide in any establishment. I first heard of the organisation when completing my own thematic review of young prisoners in 1997, and the then director of secure units for children at the Home Office reported:

“The whole atmosphere was quite different from that in UK establishments. It was more relaxed, but it was also very purposeful”.

Only last week, two people who really know what they are talking about in this context contacted me separately to praise what they had just seen in Spain. When I asked Diagrama’s United Kingdom director to sum up its ethos in two words, he replied. “Love and boundaries. Children need to have both”. To satisfy the Secretary of State, the word “tough” can safely be added as a prefix to both.

It seems to me that the Government have two choices. Either they can charge ahead in haste, committing a vast amount of public money to an untried vision about whose delivery they will know nothing until they open the competitive bids for an unspecified contract, employing an unspecified number of staff with unspecified qualifications—which runs counter not only to experienced advice but to readily available evidence about what works and does not work with children in custody. No responsible chief executive would dare to make such a proposal, riddled as it is with such uncertainty either to their board or its shareholders. I contend that the Government should feel similarly about their duty to their board, Parliament, and to their shareholders, the public—their electorate—for whose protection they are responsible.

Or the Government can call a halt to the secure college proposal, which they would be perfectly justified in doing thanks to the success of the Youth Justice Board in reducing the number of children in custody to a relatively small number of the most damaged, dangerous and disruptive, all of whom need specialist treatment. This is not to suggest calling a halt to trying to find a solution to the problem of better educating young people in custody and better integrating them into the community, but rather that the Government should adopt a different approach by co-ordinating the contributions of all ministries involved: justice, education, health, communities and local government, and work and pensions, as well as voluntary sector organisations such as Childhood First, which look after the most troubled and difficult children on behalf of local authorities.

I fully accept that no single small local facility can meet the diverse needs of a large cohort of young people, but a number with different facilities can. That could be done by interconnecting all existing establishments used to detain different categories of child offender into a national network designed to meet all needs with similar provision in every region in England and Wales. The £85 million currently earmarked for the secure college could be better spent on refurbishing

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some of the existing accommodation. A national network along the lines of Diagrama’s operations in Spain could include some establishments being made secure foundation hubs, thus combining all that is best about localism with all that is known to work with and for young children in custody and in the community.

Children will be in custody whichever party is in power and, as I said, there are no quick fixes for improving how their needs are met. Therefore, I suggest not only examining this proposal on an all-party basis but acknowledging and exploiting its success in custody and the community. Rather than appoint another one-off inquiry, responsibility should be delegated to the chairman of the Youth Justice Board. I have not consulted him, but I can think of no one better than the noble Lord, Lord McNally, to carry out the task.

I do not expect the Minister to answer in haste; indeed, I hope that he will not attempt to do so. Necessarily, opposing that a clause should stand part seems destructive but, in trying to persuade the Government to think again before embarking in haste on a project I fear they will come to regret at length, I am thinking about the long-term future for young people in custody. If the Government agree to do so, I hope that those made responsible for the thinking will accept the importance of listening to those who know far more than they do about the practical realities of dealing with difficult and damaged young people. As I have said many times, people are not things, particularly when they are young. If I decide not to seek the opinion of the Committee at this stage, it is because I hope for a considered government response before Report. I beg to move.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I had not meant to speak but feel moved to do so because I was very persuaded by what the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, said. He spoke of the Brinsford young offender institution, which is in my former constituency. He and I became acquainted because of the assiduous attention that he devoted to that institution. His initial report—which was an exceptionally damning one, as I am sure he would agree—led to a turnaround in that institution of a very marked nature, and, indeed, he reported on it more favourably later on. It seems to me that we have had no more effective or dedicated Chief Inspector of Prisons than the noble Lord, and he devoted particular time and attention to young offenders. He speaks with an authority that very few people can begin to command. All I would say, very briefly, is that if the noble Lord—having looked in detail at a proposal which does have certain superficial attractions—has come to this conclusion, it behoves government and others to think again very carefully indeed.

I hope that my noble friend the Minister, for whom I have a very great regard, will give an undertaking to have further consultations with the noble Lord and others to try to come up with a solution that meets the requirement that we all surely have—the rehabilitation of young offenders, many of whom have backgrounds which do not condone their actions but explain what they have done. Young people need, above all, that tough love and care and concern of which the noble Lord spoke. I found his remarks exceptionally persuasive.

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If he believes that what we need in this country is to learn from what has been achieved in other countries, particularly Spain, we should seek to do that.

Clearly it would be wrong to divide the House today on this—the whole purpose of this House is to have exploratory Committee sessions and then to come back, perhaps to vote, on Report. I hope that a vote will not be necessary, because this is not a subject that ought to divide us on party lines. We should have a totally common concern about it. I urge my noble friend to have the sort of discussions that I have just mentioned so that we can put some flesh on the bones. It is a very vague proposal. We do not really know what we are voting on. It is a little reminiscent of that extraordinary episode a couple of days ago.

Let us take to heart what the noble Lord said in his extremely persuasive speech and try to find a solution that really will fit all. I suspect that would be a solution that relied on a number of disparate facilities rather than creating one institution which would be—I hate to think of this—a sort of national for-profit institution. The only profit that can truly be achieved from having any sort of change in the way we treat our young offenders is the profit that rehabilitation brings and the fact that they do not offend again.

4 pm

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): My Lords, I am a patron—probably the only patron—of a secure unit in Exeter, which, when the children are there for long enough, does an extremely good job. The education there is excellent. The unit receives children under the terms of the Children Act—Section 25, I think—and, certainly in the past and probably still now, children who have offended. It is a good institution. I very much support what the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, said. I am very concerned that this excellent small unit, which does a useful job in Exeter, will be completely got rid of in favour of a large secure college situated somewhere which is miles away for the children who are not from Devon and Cornwall.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, earlier today I spent some time with an academic who left a young offender institution at the age of 15 without any qualifications. He has some sympathy with what the Government are proposing. As my noble friend said, the impulse to put education at the heart of meeting the needs of these young people is absolutely right. My difficulty, I am afraid to say, is that there is so little detail in what the Minister is proposing that I can see many very poor outcomes arising from it. As parliamentarians, we need to know more about what is going to be delivered to these young people.

I visited the Orchard Lodge unit that my noble friend described and, like him, I was most impressed by the high quality of multidisciplinary services that these young people receive. There may be lessons to be learnt from the research into the educational outcomes of looked-after children. I think that Professor Sonia Jackson was the academic who first drew attention to the disparity in educational outcomes between looked-after children and the general population of children at the end of the 1990s. This is relevant because many among

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the population in the secure estate have come from local authority care. She wrote to me recently, updating her research and looking again at the continent. She found that the United Kingdom has the best statutory framework for looked-after children and care leavers that we know of. That is a great endorsement of what this Government and the previous Government have done in terms of the legislative framework around these vulnerable young people. However, she also found that we have poorer educational outcomes than many countries on the continent. She ascribed this to the fact that we have such low expectations in terms of the educational qualifications of those who work near these young people.

As I mentioned earlier, in Denmark 90% of staff in children’s homes have a degree-level qualification and in Germany 50%. However, only 30% do in this country. As an authority was telling me recently, less than half of the managers of children’s homes have a degree-level qualification. If we are looking carefully at the policy to improve educational outcomes for our troubling, and often very troubled, children, we must take on board what my noble friend has said and his example from Missouri, where units are staffed by people with degree-level qualifications. I am reminded of the very interesting fact that the principal indicator for a good educational outcome for any young person is the level of qualification of their parents. If a parent has a degree, it is likely that their child will get a degree. It seems to make sense to look at the level of qualifications of people who work near these young people and to ensure that, as far as possible, they are well educated, so that those young people are likely to do far better in their own education.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote (CB): My Lords, for the first time I have some hope that there may be an answer to the problem of that part of the Bill that has troubled everyone on all sides of the House, and which will never work in practice no matter how well intentioned it may be. We have now had from my noble friend a very clear outline of the sort of institution that would make sense.

As we all know, so many of the children who end up in this position not only have had appalling backgrounds but often have had no education at all. One of the first things needed is a basic test of the extent to which they are able to read or write. I hope that the Minister will take this issue away and be persuaded that his proposals are absolutely no good and will not have the support—let alone the extra cost that they would involve. They would provide a solution that would be totally unsatisfactory.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab): My Lords, I rise to support the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. In his introduction, he gave a very comprehensive analysis of the secure college proposals and came up with positive alternatives, which he has every reason to believe would be more favourable than the secure colleges model.

I want to concentrate on one particular aspect that, as far as I know, no other noble Lords have looked at, and that is the costs involved. As I understand it, an

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adult male prison place costs about £40,000 a year; a place in a male young offender institute costs about £80,000 a year; a secure training centre place costs about £140,000 a year; and a place in a secure children’s home costs about £210,000 a year. Not surprisingly, those costs are completely dominated by the staffing ratios, which are what control the costs of running prisons. When I put the issue to the former Minister, Jeremy Wright, regarding the proposed staffing levels for the secure colleges, his answer was that that would be a matter for the company that was bidding for the contracts. However, this is fundamental to the cost and the quality of the education provision for young people in custody.

Why are the Government so reticent in talking about what they hope to be the running costs of these institutions when they are up and running? Like all noble Lords, I have had many briefings on this matter, and there was reference to a cost of £60,000 a year per boy in a secure college. I have not found any further reference to that and I do not know whether the figure is right, but the House would be better informed if we knew exactly what the Government aspire to in reducing the per-year costs of having boys in these secure colleges. The Government should not be reticent; there is nothing wrong with trying to save costs, but the Committee would be much better informed if it knew what cost they aspire to.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I hesitate slightly to speak in this debate, not least because I am still rather new to your Lordships’ House and new in my role as bishop to prisons. However, I cannot help but note the wise advice of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, in encouraging some space for rethinking. Many of us would applaud the overall intention expressed by the former Prisons Minister to establish somewhere that is primarily an education facility but with detention aspects. The difficulty for some of us is that we cannot at the moment see the detail of how that might be provided. Some of the points that have just been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, about staffing levels and so on are key to this. We encourage the Government to have the courage to be a bit more prescriptive regarding who might be the eventual provider than is the case now.

If a mechanism could be found for us to move forward without the need for the Committee to divide on this—which would put some of us in a difficult position—I am sure that it would be appreciated. Like others, I look forward to the Minister’s response in the hope that some consultative way forward on this might be found. I am sure that many of us around the Committee would be more than happy to be part of such a process.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, having seen fashions come and go in a long career of working with young people, I am concerned that this proposal might be yet another fashion. What we know of the young people we are talking about is that we have reduced the number of those needing these sorts of facilities to those with the greatest level of disturbance, who come from the most complex backgrounds, and who are going to need extraordinary intervention.

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What we know most of them have in common—in my experience and, I am sure, that of my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham or any of us who have worked with these young people—is that they have had failed relationships. In fact, few have had any consistent relationship, many of them from when they were babies. This will have affected their total development. We know that the one thing that works for young people who have had a series of failed relationships in their families and thereafter, including in their education with their teachers, is one-to-one, close intervention, where they build a relationship—sometimes for the first time—and are able to learn from that that one does not have to have negative consequences.

I applaud the Government’s intention in building this college to pay attention to the education of these young people. Other people who have heard me speak on the Floor of this House about the previous Government’s phrase “Education, education, education” will have heard me say that, “Without welfare, welfare, welfare, children do not learn”. Relationship understanding helps children to learn; a deficit in it cannot be made up unless they have some sort of understanding of what makes people work and that they have value. They can then build their esteem.

I join other noble Lords, following the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, in asking the Government to think about this programme again. The intention is good, but they would regret the outcomes. I say very seriously to the Minister that, in my time, I have run these huge establishments as a director of social services and as an assistant director. I have closed them. I have run small establishments. I have seen what works. I have no doubt that this fashion will be regretted in the future if it goes forward. The Government have a wonderful opportunity to put something else together that will cost less, be of better quality and really make a difference to these children’s lives.

4.15 pm

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD): My Lords, I said everything I wished to say about secure colleges and the proposals when I spoke to the amendments in my name on Monday. However, I associate myself with the positive suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Cormack, backed up by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol and others, that, given the very serious difficulties that face the present proposals for the implementation of the clause, this might be an opportunity for the Government to consider withdrawing it and coming forward with something else.

I repeat that we all applaud the proposal to give young offenders in the prison estate more educational opportunity. We all share the view that young people in the prison estate are there often precisely because they have not had educational opportunities in the past. In a sense, it is not what is in the Bill—the provision that the Secretary of State may provide secure colleges—that we object to; secure colleges would be capable of having all the aims that were set out in our amendment, but would be provided in a very different way from that which is presently proposed. Our concern, which my noble friend now understands is shared across the House, is that the proposal for

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implementation by the single pathfinder college that is now envisaged runs counter to all the evidence on the future of our penal system for young offenders. For that reason, I suggest the Government may wish to reconsider the whole future of the secure college proposal.

Lord Woolf (CB): My Lords, I am not as expert in the matters raised as many who have already spoken in this important debate, but I have one advantage, which is that I am fully instructed by the Prison Reform Trust. The second is that, at one stage, I had to make a report—known as the Strangeways report—into deep problems in our prison system. Certain general lessons were set out in that report, which I think I am right in saying all those who are knowledgeable in this area still regard as being the right recipe for positive progress. We have had great advantage in hearing from the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, based in turn on what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. I urge the Minister to take the very wise course that is being pressed upon him. We do not want to make a mistake of the sort that has been indicated could happen.

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, as noble Lords have already demonstrated, there is no shortage within your Lordships’ House of people with not only an interest in but considerable expertise of—derived perhaps from professional or even judicial experience—the problems that we are discussing. However, I think we would all agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, that there is none with the particular degree of involvement and expertise of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. The House is indebted to him for his continuing interest in this problem and for the positive way in which he seeks to assist the Government and, through the Government, society in dealing with an intransigent and difficult problem affecting numbers of our young people.

I was particularly interested to hear from the noble Lord today about the local academy which is to start, I think he said, next year, and also about the Missouri experience. If indeed there is—and it is clear that there will be—an opportunity to see how the proposed academy, which I think he said would be built in Haringey, works, then surely it would be sensible to learn from that experience and, if it is successful or even if it is not, to build on that experience in order to craft a way of dealing with the Government’s proposal here. As I said at Second Reading, and again on Monday in Committee, we all agree with their proposal to the extent that we recognise the importance of providing education as part of the way of dealing with the problems of these young people. If, instead, the Government go ahead with their own proposal, next year there will be built an institution catering for 320 youngsters. There is a widespread view in this House and certainly outside it that that is simply too large a number of young people to afford a realistic possibility of attending adequately to their problems.

It so happens that I had tabled an amendment which proposed a much smaller college as a pilot. The number of places that I suggested was 50. I did not know about the Missouri experience in suggesting that figure but, on the basis of some of the discussions that

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have been held outside this Chamber, it seemed to be a reasonable size. I am reassured by the noble Lord’s confirmation that that appears to be a very successful project. Again, I commend that kind of approach to the Government in looking at how they might carry forward their very well intentioned objectives. I also refer them to the experience of Finland, which has a very good record in dealing with youngsters who have committed offences, and it has a successful record in ensuring that they emerge from care—let us call it that rather than “custody”—into society.

I do not know the extent to which the Government have looked beyond these shores, as the noble Lord suggested and as I am now suggesting, to see what the experience of other countries and jurisdictions might contribute. However, as matters stand, many of the criticisms that were voiced earlier remain unanswered. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, asked a perfectly valid question about her local institution. She asked where the secure unit in Exeter will go. The same question remains to be asked about a whole range of institutions that are currently operating at, as I acknowledge, different rates of cost.

In Committee on Monday, I referred to the fact that the number of places in secure children’s homes has been reduced to 138, so there has clearly been a reduction—of 28 places nationally—in that area. It remains to be seen what the future will be not only of those homes but of the other training facilities, because it is envisaged that some of those who are currently in other institutions will transfer to this new college and presumably any other new colleges that might come on stream. Therefore, there is a very real risk to the kind of institutions that the noble and learned Baroness referred to.

As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and my noble friend Lord Ponsonby said, there is so little detail in the proposal that it is difficult to be confident that, at the end of the day, we will emerge with a fully developed project that will do the job which the Government intend—we agree with that intent—to see carried out. I do not expect the Minister, just two days later, to answer the questions that I posed on Monday. However, some of them are worth repeating. As is his normal, courteous practice, he said he would identify questions asked by noble Lords, write to us and place the reply in the Library. I will touch on some of them as a gentle reminder of some of the issues that were raised. One was the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and, in particular, its concern that there was no equality impact assessment. That seems particularly important in relation to gender, as there is a real concern about the current proposal of having girls in the same large institutions as boys. A second concern was the requirement for special educational needs to be catered for.

There are also questions around the secure children’s homes, to which I have already made reference. The Minister implied that there were, perhaps, some shortcomings in these establishments. What improvements in service have been identified as requiring attention? We have heard from the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that a place in one of those homes costs around £200,000 a year. If that is regarded as too high, what

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do the Government consider an appropriate figure, both for the individual, on a per capita basis, and in terms of the aggregate cost? Reverting almost to the question posed by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, how many children now in secure homes do they envisage will transfer to the larger college? It is slightly disturbing that the duty to use best endeavours to ensure that the needs are met of children who have been assessed as needing EHC plans would be placed on the principal of a secure college. On Report in the other place, the Minister said that,

“a great deal of further thought will be given to how those needs can be met”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 12/5/14; col. 538.]

It is only two months since that observation was made, but can the Minister indicate—not necessarily today—that that has been followed up and with what result?

Many noble Lords are concerned, as I am, about staff to children ratio. Can we be assured that it will not simply be left to the contractor to opt for a figure just in terms of numbers, but that these will be numbers with the sort of qualifications that, as noble Lords have indicated today and in previous debates, would surely be required to attend to the complex needs, including the educational needs, which are the main object of the project?

4.30 pm

There are still, as I have indicated, a number of questions that will have to be addressed by the time we get to Report. I note that the Minister in replying referred to the issue that was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, of the relatively short period in which, on average, these young people will actually be present in the college. I believe that the average will be some 79 days. The Minister acknowledged that,

“a sufficient bank of time in a secure college would be intended, with an individually tailored plan”.—[

Official Report

, 21/7/14; col. 1035.]

What sort of time are we talking about and who determines what sort of time will be ultimately allocated? Will it be a matter for the college or for the department in entering into the contract?

However, there is still the overriding problem that at the moment we are talking about a 320-place institution to be built in Leicestershire. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, about a 50-place institution that operates within a fairly narrow geographical area and has a catchment radius of 30 to 50 miles. That will not happen unless one is built in London. We might then achieve that kind of proximity, but we will not achieve it if we seek to house one-third of the total number of youngsters nationally within one institution in Leicestershire. It simply will not happen. That means that they are a very long way from their homes and communities. Moreover, it means that the relationship with the local authorities from which they have come and to which they will return is bound to be more difficult. Yet, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, implied, it is very important that there should be that connection between the children’s services department of the relevant local authority and any institution which is dealing with

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these young offenders—and, for that matter, with the relevant arm of National Health Service England which commissions the medical services. It obviously makes it much easier on that side if the same body is commissioning the service for the youngster when he or she is at home and wherever they are resident if they are sent to an institution of this or, indeed, any other kind. It cannot be helpful if a case is passed to and from different arms of the health service any more than it can if there is a problem around regular contact with the relevant local authority.

I want to make a final point about distance and I cannot recall whether this was mentioned when we discussed these matters in Committee on Monday. There is no provision within the plan for this college for overnight accommodation for visiting families. I do not know whether that is an oversight or whether it is deliberate, but it is a significant omission. If we are talking about people having to travel a considerable distance, and on the face of it that will be the case, it is clearly necessary to facilitate overnight accommodation, at any rate for some people. However, absolutely no provision was made in the presentation that we received recently.

There are very many unanswered questions here. None of us wants to see the Government’s objectives of supplying education undermined in any way. We want to help the Government to achieve those objectives. However, we do not think that there is sufficient detail here or sufficient indication of how the Government will commission the provision of such an institution. We think that there is too much reliance on someone out there, one of the four selected potential contractors, to come up with a scheme of their own devising over which, as matters stand, Parliament would have no oversight whatever. It is too big a risk to take without having some element of parliamentary oversight. For those reasons, unless matters can progress—I hope they can—the Opposition would certainly support the noble Lord if he felt constrained to put these matters to the test by a vote of the House on Report.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, listening to the debate three further brief points occur to me. First, I discussed the matter of cost with an academic who currently works in the area of care leavers and has done through his career. He is a graduate who came through care and spent time in the secure estate. How much should we spend on young people while they are in care? He pointed out the immense cost of failing to intervene effectively. It could be many millions of pounds if one thinks of time in the adult secure estate, time spent in the health service, and time just not working. That is one aspect to keep in mind when thinking how much one needs to spend at this point to avoid poor outcomes later.

Another point is on gender equality. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, and I visited the first mother and baby unit to be opened in a secure training centre. A significant number of young girls, if they are included in this college, may be pregnant or may already be mothers, so we need to think about how to manage that particular issue. There is one more point on the question of cost. It may be cheaper

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to employ more qualified staff. Research on the continent shows that one can have lower ratios of staff if the staff are more qualified. Indeed, this question of cost is very interesting. It should not, perhaps, discourage us hiring very well qualified people to work with these young people if the ratio can be less because of their higher qualification.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, this has been a very useful and well informed debate. It continues the debates we had on Monday. I respectfully ask those in the Chamber at the moment to read the debate on Monday in which I gave a reply—I think for more than 20 minutes—in which I dealt with a considerable number of the points raised, although I did not purport to deal with all points. Indeed, I said on that occasion that I was proposing to write to sweep up any points that on examination of Hansard I had not dealt with adequately. I adhere to what I said then and will include any further points that have arisen out of the debate today.

What has emerged—as my noble friend Lord Cormack quite rightly said—is that we all have the same concern about providing the most helpful outcomes for troubled young people. It was also common ground that the focus on education is most welcome. What there is a lack of confidence in at the moment is whether the secure colleges can provide precisely what all of us in this House would wish to achieve for young offenders. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is quite right, of course, that many of those who find themselves in this situation come from troubled backgrounds. Many have been in care and present particular challenges for whatever establishment is going to have them when they are serving the sentence passed by the court.

The clause which is the subject of this stand part debate is the statutory framework for the creation of secure colleges so that the Government can trial a new approach to youth custody. Clause 29 provides the Secretary of State with the power to provide secure colleges, which is a new form of youth detention accommodation in England, and replaces the current Section 43 of the Prison Act 1952 with the new section. The current section gives the Secretary of State a power to provide young offender institutions, remand centres and secure training centres. As your Lordships will know, there are no remand centres in operation. The new Section 43 will additionally give the Secretary of State the power to provide secure colleges in England and Wales. Clause 29 introduces Schedule 5, which makes a number of amendments to other legislation to reflect the fact that secure colleges are being introduced.

I remind the Committee of the context for our proposed reform of the youth custodial estate. At present, we pay around £100,000 a year for a place in youth custody, and yet almost 70% of young people go on to reoffend within 12 months of release. In the case of secure children’s homes—the advantages of which were very much emphasised by those in debate on Monday—the cost rises beyond £200,000 a place, and yet the reoffending outcomes are no different.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames: Does my noble friend accept that the comparison of costs for secure children’s homes with other institutions is perhaps a

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little unfair? It is the nature of secure children’s homes that they take the most difficult and troubled children, so the costs per year of a place in such institutions is necessarily considerably higher.

Lord Faulks: It is true, and I am going to come on to deal with that. The different establishments are there, in the view of the Youth Justice Board, to deal with the different challenges that the individuals present. My point is that secure children’s homes are no panacea. The starting point is that the overall rate of reoffending is simply not acceptable. That is why we are introducing secure colleges.

I entirely accept the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that the Government should be aware of the long-term cost as well as the short-term cost. Indeed, the whole purpose of secure colleges is that, with the benefit of proper education, the Government consider that there should be a cost-saving in the long term because of the accrued benefit for young people who go to secure colleges.

Lord Beecham: I am sorry to intervene at this point, but it is sensible to do it now rather than later. Are we to infer from that that the Government’s ultimate intention is to dispense with the 138 places in secure children’s homes or is it their view that there will still be some place for secure children’s homes? If so, how will they approach determining how many?

Lord Faulks: I respectfully ask the noble Lord to be a little patient; I am going to deal with that point in the course of my remarks. I have not been speaking for long. I have been much criticised for not giving the House information. I should perhaps remind the Committee that there were meetings offered first to the party opposite, then to this side and to Cross-Bench Peers. There has been written information and there was a further meeting at which the details of secure colleges, including demonstrations on visual display units, were supplied. That, together with the answers I have given and the answers I propose to give further, should give the Committee at least as much information as it can reasonably expect.

I have heard in the course of the debate arguments that there are better ways to improve the youth custodial estate and particular emphasis was placed on the secure children’s homes. The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for whose expertise the Committee is indebted, mentioned a number, in particular Diagrama, a Spanish not-for-profit organisation that runs custodial facilities. The Ministry of Justice is aware of the work of Diagrama, and it is an example, as I understand it, of the type of innovation that we want to introduce and attract into secure colleges. We have, as I said previously, an open mind, and we are anxious to encourage innovation. However, as the noble Lord quite rightly said, he would not expect me to comment from the Dispatch Box on the advantages or disadvantages of the specific matters that he raised in his speech, valuable though his contribution is to the general approach to trying to find the right answer to these difficult problems.

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4.45 pm

The truth is that no current model of youth custody is delivering the outcome that we all want to see, nor is it providing sufficient value for the taxpayer. It is for that reason that we are introducing secure colleges, which we think will foster a culture of educational development and provide enhanced rehabilitative services, while also achieving savings. All young people deserve access to high-quality education, which will allow them to fulfil their potential. Secure colleges will have education at their heart, with all other services designed in support of raising educational attainment. That is all the more important for young people who set off on the wrong path, as many of those young people will have done.

In the government response to the Transforming Youth Custody consultation, we set out our plans to develop a pathfinder secure college in the east Midlands. It is proposed that the purpose-built establishment will accommodate up to 320 young people and will open in 2017. The proposed size of the pathfinder reflects both the regional demand for custody in the Midlands and the east of England and the Youth Justice Board’s considerable experience of commissioning youth custodial services. With careful and detailed planning we are confident that we can deliver a secure college that will not only provide a broad curriculum and a range of services to young people but ensure their welfare and safety.

At the meeting on 8 July, I was pleased to share with a number of noble Lords, many of whom are present in the Chamber, the design plans for the secure college. I have listened to the concerns expressed about the ability of a single establishment to meet the needs of a broad cohort of young people. These matters are at the forefront of our minds as we work with Wates to design the pathfinder secure college. I want to reassure noble Lords that the opening of the pathfinder secure college will be extremely carefully managed. As I said previously, we recognise that there can be many challenges in establishing the culture and regime in a new facility, and we expect the introduction of young people to the pathfinder to be carefully phased over a period of time.

Clause 30 introduces Schedule 6 to the Bill, which,

“makes provision about contracting out the provision and running of secure colleges”.

Under this framework the Secretary of State will be able either to contract out the operation of a secure college or directly manage it. These provisions are similar to the contracting out provisions for young offender institutions and secure training centres. They also set out the duties which will apply to secure college custody officers.

There was considerable debate in the other place and, indeed, when the Bill was debated here on Monday about the relationship between the Bill and the use of force to ensure good order and discipline in secure colleges. The Bill provides for the use of force by a custody officer in discharging his duties, but only in the circumstances authorised by secure college rules. Secure college rules were also the subject of debate, and I gave a fairly full answer about how those secure college rules should be arrived at.

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The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, asked a specific question about who was to be responsible for the draft. It will be for the Ministry of Justice to draft the secure college rules, drawing on the expertise of the Youth Justice Board, and taking into account the outcome of the consultation to which I referred on Monday. That will influence and decide our approach to the appropriate rules. Our position on force is that it may be used only as part of ensuring good order and discipline when there are clear risks to maintaining a safe and stable environment for young people. The use of force is a necessary and proportionate response to protect the safety and welfare of the individual or of others. The rules are the correct place to set out the boundaries on the use of force, and our proposed approach, as I said on Monday, will be the subject of public consultation.

The Youth Justice Board is responsible for commissioning the provision of secure accommodation for young people who are either on remand or have received a custodial sentence. It was established to provide leadership to the new youth justice system, the principal aim of which is to prevent offending by children and young persons. One of its functions is to commission places for children and young people who are remanded or sentenced in custody.

The Youth Justice Board currently has the power to secure accommodation for young people who are in custody for various reasons, as set out in Section 41(5)(i) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Clause 31 provides additional powers to the Youth Justice Board to enable it to commission secure accommodation for young people who have received certain sentences under the Criminal Justice Act which are not currently referred to in Section 41(5)(i). These are a sentence of detention for serious offences, an extended determinate sentence of detention and an extended sentence of detention for public protection. In addition, Clause 31 omits two provisions which have become unnecessary as no young person is serving these sentences.

I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, is concerned about cost. The average cost of a place in youth custody is about £100,000 per annum. We are confident that the operating cost of the pathfinder secure college will be substantially lower, but I hope the Committee will understand that the exact price will be determined through competition, and there is a degree of commercial sensitivity about that. Providing detailed cost estimates at this stage would risk prejudicing the outcome of the competition which will follow.

We believe that this proposal is one which, as a pathfinder, and gently introduced in the way that I described on Monday in terms of younger people and women, will provide an answer and will help the very real problem that has been identified by the Government and acknowledged by all noble Lords who participated in this debate. Of course I remain open to meetings with the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, or any other noble Lords who wish to draw my attention to particular features of the inadequacy, or indeed the adequacy, of the plans. These colleges, with their emphasis on education, are a genuine answer to what has been an intractable problem of reoffending.

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I say once again what I said about the block of education. These are not supposed to mimic precisely school terms. Very many of these young people have simply had no continuity of education at all, and a sufficient block with an individual learning plan, which I described at some length on Monday, will, we say, provide real benefits to these young people.

While respecting the profound reservations that have been expressed by the noble Lords, I ask that relevant clause stand part of the Bill.

Baroness Butler-Sloss: My Lords, I have a question. I apologise if the Minister dealt with it on Monday, when I was unable to stay for that part of the discussions. I referred, in my brief speech, to the family provisions for putting children into secure accommodation under, I think, Section 25 of the Children Act. Will any of those children go into secure colleges? If they will not, there is a real danger that there will not be any places for them if small secure units do not have both the children who offend under the criminal law together with the children who are beyond control under the Children Act.

Lord Faulks: I dealt with these points on Monday. We are proposing to keep these secure children’s homes open for the appropriate offender. The involvement of the Youth Justice Board will, we suggest, ensure that the right offenders find their way into secure colleges.

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I must admit that I am disappointed by the line that the Minister has taken, particularly in view of the very helpful contributions made by the noble Lords, Lord Cormack and Lord Marks, and the right reverend Prelate. I had hoped that, by outlining all these suggestions, we would not have merely one solution put forward to us—pathfinder or not, staged or not—but there appears to be no give on the general intent. Yes, the Youth Justice Board is responsible for commissioning, but what the Youth Justice Board has always been responsible for commissioning is a situation that it inherited. So far, I am not aware that there has been any attempt to look right across the whole system and perhaps design something using the existing situation to make better use of it to provide the aims that we all want. The Government have come up with the solution of the secure training centre, which has attracted opposition from all those who have had anything to do with young offenders. I hope they will be given more attention.

I am grateful for the contributions that have been made across the Committee. As I said at the start, I do not intend to seek the opinion of the Committee with a vote at this stage, because we all have to go away and read not only what happened on Monday, to which the Minister referred—indeed, some of it has come up again—but what has been raised here. I hope that the Government will have considered this, on calm reflection, when we come back to it on Report. The Government will know that many people long to take part in the deliberations and contribute what they have because they feel excluded from this. They feel that this is a solution that has been put to them without any explanation. Yes, there have been meetings and they

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have had the site explained, but we have not had all the details of the regime and answers to all the other questions that have come up, because the Government have admitted that they simply will not know the answers to those until they have opened the envelopes from the competitive bidders.

Personally, I would have been much happier if any development of a site by a contractor was in conjunction with the provider of the education to make certain the contractor is doing what the education provider needs. However, as we do not know who the education person is, what is the point of a designer going ahead with something that the person who is going to use it has not had any say in?

I very much hope there will be a great deal of consideration. As I say, I hope the Government will engage those who want to get involved to make sure the solution for our young children is the best possible, based on all the experience there is and all the good practice that is known.

Clause 29 agreed.

Schedule 5: Secure colleges etc: further amendments

Amendments 42M to 43 not moved.

Schedule 5 agreed.

Clause 30 agreed.

Amendments 43A to 43D not moved.

Schedule 6: Contracting out secure colleges

Amendment 44

Moved by Lord Beecham

44: Schedule 6, page 92, line 28, at end insert—

“(4) Where the Secretary of State enters into a contract with another person under paragraph 1(1), and that person is not a public authority for the purposes of section 3 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (public authorities), that person shall be designated by the Secretary of State as a public authority for the purposes of that section in relation to that contract.”

Lord Beecham: My Lords, the Committee will be pleased to hear I will not detain it long on this amendment, which follows similar amendments moved during earlier parts of the Bill. The amendment seeks to ensure that the Freedom of Information Act procedures will be available in respect of the operation of the secure colleges, if they are built, by designating them as a public authority. The amendment would require the Secretary of State, when entering into a contract to provide or run a secure college with another person that is not a public authority, to designate that person as a public authority for the purposes of that section of the Act.

The Minister just referred to two possibilities: one is that the Secretary of State enters into a contract with such an outside body to provide the facility; the other is that the Secretary of State, the department or some other public body—perhaps the Youth Justice

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Board, which is a recognised public body—would carry out that function. The intention, clearly, is that it should be a contracted-out service. I understand that four bidders to provide the service have been selected, and I believe them to be—I may be wrong and, if so, no doubt the Minister will correct me—effectively private sector bodies.

5 pm

Schedule 6 states:

“The Secretary of State may enter into a contract with another person … to … provide a secure college or part of such a college”,

which in effect the Secretary of State has done, and to,

“run a secure college or part of such a college”.

Interestingly, paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 6 also provides that:

“The contract may provide for the running of the secure college, or the part of the college, to be sub-contracted”.

So you could have more than one layer of contactor engaged in the provision of this service.

Similarly, Part 3 of Schedule 6 goes on to empower the Secretary of State to,

“enter into a contract with another person for functions to be carried out at a directly managed secure college”—

which is not currently envisaged—

“by secure college custody officers provided by that person”.

In that case—as I say, this is not envisaged for the initial college—the Secretary of State or a public body could effectively sub-contract the position of custody officers to an outside organisation.

Two aspects of this are of some concern. First, by definition, we are dealing with a troubled and potentially troublesome group of young people. We have debated discipline but other problems, not necessarily of that kind, could also arise. It is therefore important that there should be access to freedom of information where issues arise that need to be explored. As it stands, the Bill would not allow that in a contracted-out institution, whereas it would if the service was provided by a public authority. I cannot understand why a distinction should be made between the two.

The second point that I wish to raise relates to the monitoring of a contracted-out secure college. That is dealt with in paragraph 5 of Schedule 6, which provides that:

“Every contracted-out secure college must have a monitor. … The monitor must be a Crown servant appointed by the Secretary of State. … The monitor must … keep the running of the secure college by or on behalf of the principal under review, … investigate any allegations made against secure college custody officers … and … report to the Secretary of State on the matters described”,

in that part of the schedule. That is precisely the kind of area in which freedom of information requests might be thought relevant. That is one point.

My second point is a question to the Minister, and again I do not ask for an immediate reply. Given that a report is to be made to the Secretary of State, is it envisaged that such a report and the Secretary of State’s response to it will at some point be placed in the public domain, either by a report to Parliament or in some other way? It seems to me that that would be a necessary condition. I invite the Minister to give an indication of the Government’s thinking on these matters. I beg to move.

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Lord Faulks: My Lords, Amendment 44 seeks directly to extend the Freedom of Information Act to providers of secure colleges who have entered into a contract with the Secretary of State under Schedule 6 to the Bill. The amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, said, is similar to Amendment 11, which we debated in Committee on day one. It would provide for private providers not currently subject to the Freedom of Information Act to make information available both in response to FoI requests and proactively through publication schemes.

As the noble Lord said, the amendment differs in one respect from Amendment 11 in that it would lead to the formal extension of the FoI Act to providers of secure colleges, whereas the amendment debated previously sought to achieve the same ends in relation to providers of outsourced electronic monitoring services through the code of practice that the Secretary of State would issue under new Section 62B of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act, which is being introduced through Clause 6 of the Bill.

As we set out in the debate on Amendment 11, the Government recognise that there are concerns about the position of private providers of public services, under the Freedom of Information Act. The issue of outsourced public services was considered in some detail during the post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act carried out by the Justice Select Committee in 2012. The committee recommended the use of contractual provisions, rather than the formal extension of the Freedom of Information Act, to ensure that transparency and accountability are maintained. In particular, the committee said that it believed that,

“contracts provide a more practical basis for applying FOI to outsourced services than partial designation of commercial companies under section 5 of the Act”.

The committee also felt that,

“the use of contractual terms to protect the right to access information is currently working relatively well”.

The Government recognise not only that concerns exist in this area but the potential challenge that the increased delivery of public services by non-public sector providers poses to transparency. It is for that reason that the Government accepted the committee’s recommendation. Later this year, the Government will issue a revised code of practice under Section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act to promote transparency about outsourced public services in response to FoI requests. As we explained in the debate on Amendment 11, the guidance to be provided in the code will promote and encourage the use and enforcement of contractual or sub-contractual obligations to ensure that contractors provide information held on behalf of public authorities. It will go further than the current obligations under the Act. It will encourage contractors voluntarily to provide additional information beyond that held on behalf of the contracting public authority where, for example, doing so would help the contracting public authority to provide a more meaningful response to requests.

The Government and the Information Commissioner will monitor the effectiveness of the code. If it does not prove successful, the Government have said that

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they will consider what other steps may be necessary to ensure accountability, including the possible formal extension of the Freedom of Information Act to contractors. As I have indicated previously, we believe that our approach represents an appropriate balance between transparency and minimising burdens on business. As a result of the steps that we are taking, I suggest to the House that the measures proposed through these amendments are, with respect, unnecessary. I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Beecham: My Lords, I will withdraw the amendment and I am grateful to the noble Lord for reaffirming the Government’s general position. He did not—I do not criticise him for this—quite deal with the further point I made about having a monitor, particularly the issue of the Secretary of State reporting on the outcome of such issues. He may wish to consider that. I hope we can clear up that point because, if the Secretary of State is issuing or preparing a report, it should be in the public domain. That may very well be intended but perhaps we can deal with that matter before Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 44 withdrawn.

Amendments 44A to 48 not moved.

Schedule 6 agreed.

Clauses 31 and 32 agreed.

Amendment 48A

Moved by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

48A: After Clause 32, insert the following new Clause—

“Application of reporting restrictions to social media

Sections 39 and 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 shall apply in relation to public electronic communications networks as they apply in relation to newspapers, and sound and television broadcasts.”

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 48A and others in this group. Amendment 48A is largely self-explanatory. The Children and Young Persons Act was enacted in 1933, well before the advent of the internet or any sort of social media. The purpose of this amendment is simple: to make it beyond any doubt that any repeating of things that are sub judice to do with a child’s identity would be prohibited and that orders under Sections 39 and 49 apply to social media just as they do to print and broadcast media. That is the effect of Amendment 48A.

Amendment 48B, which is in my name and the names of other noble Lords, seeks to close a legal loophole whereby children can be named before they are charged and appear in court. This is an anomalous situation that makes a mockery of the anonymity protection. In the recent tragic case of the murdered Leeds schoolteacher Ann Maguire, the Sun newspaper printed the name of the boy accused of her murder before he was charged. Now that the matter is before the court, it is illegal to name him. This is an illustration of the loophole that this amendment seeks to close.

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Pre-charge naming undermines any anonymity later afforded by the court. I am pleased to see that noble Lords from other sides of the House have added their names to this amendment.

The purpose of Amendments 48C and 48D is that anonymity provided by Sections 39 and 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 should last for a lifetime. Lord Justice Leveson has ruled that Section 39 orders expire when the child reaches the age of 18. This judgment is being appealed and the appeal is due to be heard in autumn this year. Lord Justice Leveson has said:

“It is for Parliament to fashion a solution: the problem requires to be addressed as a matter of real urgency”.

He is referring to precisely this question of whether anonymity should continue beyond the age of 18. The purpose of Amendments 48C and 48D is that the default situation should be that anonymity should be granted for life unless a court orders that it be lifted.

Why is this a good principle? The principal aim of all youth justice is to prevent reoffending. I would argue that naming a child as an offender, particularly in this day and age, would work against that child’s interests. Their name is likely to get on to the internet and to stay on the internet. It will make it more difficult, once the child is identified and named as an offender, for that child to change their ways. More than that, it will punish innocent families. We know that children identify very strongly with their siblings, more strongly than adults do. I have been made aware of a number of cases where the names of children who have been charged with an offence have come to light and the families, particularly the siblings, of the children have suffered as a result. This only serves to worsen the situation and to set back the prospect for rehabilitation. That is the purpose of Amendments 48C and 48D. I beg to move.

5.15 pm

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment 48B, as have my noble friends Lady Linklater and Lord Carlile of Berriew. We have also tabled Amendment 48F. However, the purposes of our amendment are identical to those of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, so I will be brief.

There are three purposes to this group of amendments. The first is to ensure the extension to electronic media of those provisions dealing with restrictions on reporting of offending by children—restrictions that in a previous era applied to newspapers and standard television broadcasts. The public electronic media should all be treated in the same way. The second purpose, as the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, said, is to deal with pre-charge naming of children, which undermines the anonymity granted to them only later. Section 44 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 would deal with that but has not yet come into force. The purpose of the final subsection of the proposed new clause in Amendment 48B is to deal with that. The third point, as the noble Lord explained, is to amend Sections 39 and 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to establish that anonymity given to children should last beyond their 18th birthday unless there is a substantial reason why the position should

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be changed. That would be subject to an order of the court. In those circumstances, I invite the Minister to accept these amendments and ask the Committee to do so, too.

Lord Beecham: My Lords, it would appear that in this area, as in others, we are short of information about the number of cases in which young offenders are named. There does not appear to be a dataset indicating how many of these young people are being named and, apparently, has there been no research of any great depth on the impact of being named on such young offenders or their families—as my noble friend pointed out, particularly in relation to their siblings.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as long ago as 1989, stated that as well as the right to privacy, “best interests” of the child should always,

“be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them”.

It is striking that, although it is a matter for the courts whether the child should be identified, the applications tend to be made by the media on the grounds of public interest. The capacity of the media to identify their interests with the public interest is of course unlimited, but in this rather sensitive area it might be thought that the principles of the convention should be taken a great deal more seriously. Some of the ways in which the media have portrayed young offenders, complete with photographs—my noble friend mentioned a case where a child’s photograph was prominently displayed—and emotive language such as how “young thugs” should be dealt with, are not conducive to meeting the requirements of the convention, which we should all respect.

I understand that the Government are looking at the existing law on reporting restrictions and had indicated that they would be coming to a conclusion some time this year. They may not have done so, but I do not know whether the Minister is in a position to indicate when that review might be completed. It would be helpful to the House to know when that might occur. In fact, the Government—I should, in fairness, say successive Governments—have not responded to the UN committee’s report, which is dated as long ago as 2008. In addition to the general principle to which I referred, that report made the strong point that respecting privacy should extend especially to avoiding messages that expose the child to shame and are against their best interests.

This is potentially quite a serious issue. From my experience as a councillor and, indeed, as chairman of the social services committee in Newcastle in the 1970s, I recall very well the famous case of Mary Bell, who was a young child when she committed offences that became notorious. Rather like the subsequent Bulger case—or rather, those who were guilty of killing Jamie Bulger—she became exposed to a great deal of publicity. That made assimilation into adult life extremely difficult for her, as it has for other defendants, it would appear, including those in the Bulger case. This is a very sensitive area in which we need a clear position from the Government in terms of a response not only to the amendment but perhaps more importantly to the UN convention requirements of as long ago as 2008.

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Of course, there may be public interest in knowing what is happening, but a public interest in knowing does not necessarily amount to a matter of public interest. The two terms become confused. I hope that that is not the position that the Government ultimately end up with. There are clearly issues here that can have a long-term impact on young offenders. I entirely take the Minister’s point: the whole point of dealing with these young offenders is to ensure they do not offend again and can assume their place in society. We should not facilitate making that any more difficult by permitting disclosure when it is not necessary. I hope that the Government will look sympathetically at the amendment moved by my noble friend and respond to the long outstanding report and recommendations of the UN convention.

None of us would say that people—even young people—who commit serious crimes should not be punished or go through the processes that the law prescribes. They should not, however, be subjected to public obloquy in addition to that. It is rather disconcerting that, at the time of the riots in London a few years ago, the Home Secretary seemed keen to publicise the identity of some of those, particularly young people, who were involved in criminal and quite disgraceful behaviour. I think that many of us would feel that, in that sort of case and for that sort of young offender, publicity might be regarded as almost a badge of honour and is therefore not to be encouraged from any perspective. I hope that that situation will not recur. In the mean time, we have a number of offenders, some of whom are involved in very serious offences, whose anonymity has been done away with in a way that cannot be conducive to helping them to reform and to assume a normal place in society.

Lord Faulks: My Lords, I am grateful for the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, and those tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, and the noble Lords, Lord Carlile and Lord Dholakia. All have shown considerable commitment to the subject of how we respond to children and young people in the youth justice system. Some have direct experience of how children and young people are dealt with in court, as magistrates, lawyers or counsellors, in one or more of those capacities or in some other capacity. I welcome the opportunity to debate the issue of youth reporting restrictions. Noble Lords’ amendments bring into focus a range of issues, each of which I will deal with in turn.

First, as to online content, noble Lords are seeking to address a potential lacuna in the existing reporting restrictions framework which was remarked upon by the High Court in the case of MXB v East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust. The court commented that information that would normally be prohibited from publication in a newspaper could be published and made available to the public via Facebook or Twitter. The present position therefore appears to be not entirely clear, although it may conceivably become clearer in the light of further developments in case law. However, we know that the publication of information through online content is in many ways quite different from the more traditional forms of communication that Sections 39

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and 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 were intended to cover. For example, information can now be published, updated, viewed and replicated almost instantaneously in a way that could not have been envisaged by Parliament many decades ago.

However, the ability to view such information may be restricted by the author of the online content to a very limited set of individuals indeed. We must be mindful of the boundary between private correspondence via e-mail, which the current youth reporting restrictions framework, rightly, in no way seeks to curtail, and publication to the world at large. It is worth noting that, in its recent reports on the law of contempt, the Law Commission considered what statutory definition might capture online content and identified a drafting solution very different from that put forward by the noble Lord. I wish to reassure noble Lords that the Government are aware of the concern that has been raised and are giving further thought to this very technical and complex issue. In light of that assurance, I hope that, in due course, the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

As to criminal investigations, Amendment 48B, also in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, seeks to commence Section 44 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, which has been on the statute book for some time. Section 44 applies whenever a criminal investigation begins into an alleged offence and means that no information enabling the identification of a young person under 18 suspected of committing the offence may be reported by the media. Section 44 also gives the Secretary of State the power to extend the protection to children and young people who are alleged to have been the victims of, or witnesses to, a criminal offence but only by means of an affirmative order. Hansard indicates that on 29 June 1999, during Committee stage in the other place, the affirmative procedure in respect of victims and witnesses was introduced by the Opposition when in government. A number of objections were raised in respect of Section 44 and were considered in a process in which parliamentary scrutiny went hand in hand with discussions with the print and broadcast media. I have recently received letters from the Newspaper Society and the BBC outlining similar misgivings.

During what I referred to as hand-in-hand discussions, it was suggested that it may be time to look at whether the media’s own regulatory arrangements to protect vulnerable young people could be strengthened in a way that is specific to young people who might be harmed by publicity about crime. Given the significant restriction that Section 44 potentially imposes on the freedom of the press and the possibility that its aims might be achievable through other means, it was determined that Section 44 should be extended to victims and witnesses only after both Houses had been given the opportunity to debate the issue again. Since then, the section has never been commenced and guidance and regulations have been pursued instead.

5.30 pm

The noble Lord’s amendment seeks to nullify the affirmative resolution procedure and, instead, commence the whole of Section 44 on Royal Assent of the Bill. No case has been made that a previous decision by

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Parliament, to ensure that an extension of Section 44 is debated fully by both Houses before it can be implemented, should now be reversed, nor that this is the appropriate mechanism for commencing provisions in legislation. A decision will have to be taken by the Executive to commence this amendment should it become part of the Bill.

Of course, the noble Lord’s purpose in tabling this amendment may be to prompt a debate on the merits of Section 44—whether now is the time to commence the section and whether all alternatives have been exhausted. This is not the right time to consider commencing Section 44, in the light of the significant changes to press self-regulation recently introduced by the Government. As is well known, the royal charter was granted by the Privy Council on 30 October and has been sealed. Both the industry and the Government agree that independent self-regulation is the way forward. The Government believe that a royal charter is the best way to ensure that independent self-regulation operates successfully. We should therefore give this new approach a chance to succeed. I would, therefore, ask noble Lords to pause to consider whether Section 44, as enacted, might pose at least as many problems as it is designed to solve.

It appears that Section 44 would impose restrictions on the press that are so broad as to be potentially impractical. For example, in the case of the tragic murder of Ann Maguire in a Leeds school, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, referred, Section 44 would have stopped the identity of the alleged offender being released into the public domain. However, it could also have meant that little could have been reported about the crime other than that a teacher had been killed in a school somewhere in England and Wales. Therefore, in the light of the recent developments in press self-regulation and the breadth of the restrictions that Section 44 appears to impose, I ask the noble Lord not to press his amendment.

I am grateful to noble Lords for raising the issue of extending youth reporting restrictions beyond the age of majority. They have, no doubt, done so in response to a recent High Court judgment that considered the existing law in this area. In the case of JC and RT v the Central Criminal Court and Others, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir Brian Leveson, stated that a reporting restriction under Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 expires automatically once the child or young person reaches the age of 18. Noble Lords have carefully made sure that this amendment also applies to Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, thereby capturing proceedings in the youth court, where the majority of criminal cases involving children and young people are heard.

While there are some technical flaws with the amendment as tabled, the Government intend to address the lacuna in the current reporting restrictions framework. Further to the quotation referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division remarked:

“It is truly remarkable that Parliament was prepared to make provision for lifetime protection available to adult witnesses in appropriate circumstances … but not to extend the protection to those under 18 once they reached the age of majority”.

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He went on to identify victims and witnesses as requiring protection within the criminal justice system as a matter of urgency.

I would like to revisit this matter on Report. In the light of that request, which I hope noble Lords will accept is entirely sincere and an appropriate response to this debate, I hope that they will, in the mean time, not press their amendments.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that response, which I found constructive in a number of respects. On Amendment 48A, the noble Lord said that he would give further thought to this matter and pointed out the issue of the amendment being so broadly worded that it might include private correspondence by e-mail. I acknowledge the point: the matter needs to be looked at more carefully.

On Amendments 48B and 48C, the noble Lord referred to the previous Government introducing the affirmative procedure and the adoption of new self-regulation procedures within the media. These are probing amendments and we on these Benches will consider whether to bring them back on Report. I acknowledge the points that the noble Lord made in addressing them and I was pleased with his response to Amendment 48D, when he said clearly that he wants to revisit the issue on Report. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 48A.

Amendment 48A withdrawn.

Amendments 48B to 48D not moved.

Clauses 33 to 35 agreed.

Amendment 48E

Moved by The Earl of Listowel

48E: After Clause 35, insert the following new Clause—

“Duties of custody officer before charge

In section 37(15) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (duties of custody officer before charge), for “17” substitute “18”.”

The Earl of Listowel: My amendment would give 17 year-olds detained by the police the right to be held in local authority accommodation rather than a police station. I draw the Committee’s attention to the “Newsnight” programme broadcast on Monday 14 July, in which parents whose children had been affected by the current arrangements spoke very movingly about their experiences. I would be glad to furnish your Lordships with a link to that. Certainly, I will make it my job to ensure that those taking part in the debate have that link.

Children under the age of 17 already have the right to be placed in local authority accommodation, and for good reason. Police custody is an unsuitable environment for children. It is a highly intimidating environment and staff are not trained to support vulnerable children, unlike in local authority accommodation. Recent cases have demonstrated the terrible consequences that can

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result from detaining children in such an unsuitable environment at what is a deeply frightening time for them.

Kesia Leatherbarrow was a vulnerable 17 year-old. Her inquest has not yet taken place but we know that she was discovered dead in a garden in December 2013, after being arrested and held in a police cell for three days. Kesia was arrested for possession of cannabis and criminal damage. She was kept in custody at Ashton police station over the weekend before being sent to Tameside magistrates’ court on the Monday morning. She was bailed to return the following day, when the youth court would be sitting, but died shortly afterwards. Being held in the more supportive environment of local authority accommodation might have made all the difference. She could still be with us today.

Seventeen year-olds can appear very adult, but they are not: they are children. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear on this point—children are those below the age of 18, and all are entitled to the same protections. A 17 year-old should not be treated differently from any other child. However, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act is inconsistent on this point. The police station is the only remaining part of the criminal justice system where 17 year-olds are not uniformly recognised as children. The one other part where an anomaly exists—the Criminal Justice Act 1991 in relation to cautioning—will be amended by this Bill.

In police stations, 17 year-olds have some of the protections afforded to children but not all. This is an ongoing issue and one which the Home Secretary has said she will resolve. However, I am disappointed that she has not yet done so, despite a clear ruling from the High Court. In 2013, in the case of HC v Home Secretary, Lord Justice Moses ruled that it is unlawful for 17 year-olds in the police station to be treated as adults and denied the protection of having a parent or other adult with them, which is given to younger children. The court ruled that they must not be treated as if they were adults. In particular, they must be allowed to have a parent or appropriate adult with them. After the case, the Home Office accepted the court’s ruling and gave assurances that it would conduct a full review of all laws that treated arrested 17 year-olds as adults, not just the provision of an appropriate adult. For example, in a letter to Nick Lawton, whose son Joe killed himself after being treated as an adult in police custody, the Home Secretary wrote:

“We will ensure that in future that 17 year olds will receive the appropriate assistance and support while they are in police custody”.

Then in response to a Parliamentary Question in October 2013 the Minister for policing said:

“We will consider all legislation which appears to treat 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system and bring forward legislative proposals as necessary”.—[Official Report, Commons, 21/10/13; col. 65W.]

Despite these assurances, the Home Secretary has so far made only limited changes that were specified by the High Court, which means that 17 year-olds now have the right to have a parent with them, as I have mentioned.

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The point of most concern is the fact that young people have no right to be transferred to local authority accommodation even if the police are concerned about them and can see that they are very vulnerable. The police still do not have the right to make such a transfer. This is the matter that my amendment addresses. The parents of Kesia Leatherbarrow, along with the parents of Joe Lawton and Eddie Thornber, two other children who died after being treated as adults in police custody, are campaigning to get the Home Secretary to make the changes necessary to ensure that 17 year-olds are always treated as children in law. A recent letter to the Home Secretary said:

“I personally am very upset and feel wronged by both your letters because you have only changed one part of the code and failed to take the steps to get Parliament to amend any other relevant legislation. Had you looked into and changed all the legislation, as you intimated in your letter to me, there was a good chance that Kesia would be with us today. You could include in the current Bill before Parliament changes to Section 38(6) of PACE about the transfer to local authority care as opposed to being kept in a police cell overnight … We are distraught that another 17 year old has died unnecessarily when you as Home Secretary were fully aware of your duty to 17 year olds. While we cannot bring back our own children, we will not stop campaigning on this issue until every piece of legislation that treats 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system is amended to give the most vulnerable among us the help we are entitled to under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other laws”.

We owe it to these families and to 17 year-olds throughout the country to ensure that they have the protection to which they are entitled. The right to local authority accommodation is a fundamental protection that is available to all other children, and I hope that the Government will make good on their promises and accept my amendment. I recognise that they have been looking at this issue, I beg the Minister to bring something into this legislation, perhaps by the time we reach Report. We can then be confident that no more young lives will be lost in these circumstances. I beg to move.

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): My Lords, I support this amendment. I urge the Minister, before we reach Report, to take the opportunity to contact a really wonderful NGO, Just for Kids Law, which is run by a remarkable set of lawyers led by Shauneen Lambe. The lawyers have been supporting and sometimes acting as intervenors in cases involving young people of 17 who are being kept in custody or interrogated without an accompanying adult. Anyone who is the parent of a teenager or whose children were recently teenagers knows that at that age a person is on the cusp of adulthood. They are moving out of childhood and into adulthood. It is often a very difficult stage where young people appear to be very mature and yet at the same time they are childlike and vulnerable, as the noble Earl said. I know that the Home Secretary and the Home Office have been looking at this issue—I see that the Minister is nodding his head in confirmation. For some time there has been a problem around the ages defined in different pieces of legislation. I would urge the Government to look at this amendment closely. Even if a categorical answer cannot be given to us today, I hope that the opportunity is taken to speak to the people at Just for Kids Law because they really

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know their stuff in this area. They have all the details about the families who suffer so terribly at the loss of their children.

5.45 pm

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Listowel. Article 1, as he said, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as a person under the age of 18. In 2010 the Government made a commitment to have regard to children’s rights when developing law and policy affecting children. In the majority of the youth justice system, 17 year-olds are rightly treated as children and so are entitled to the same protection as all other children. The police station is the only part of the criminal justice system where 17 year-olds are not—uniformly, at any rate—recognised as children.

At present, one other anomaly remains: 17 year-olds are still not entitled to the protection afforded to other children when they are cautioned. However, I think we all welcome the fact that Clause 32 rectifies that. Of particular concern is the fact that if they are detained by the police, 17 year-olds are not entitled to a local authority bed—my noble friend made the point firmly that they must still be detained in police custody.

Police custody is an intimidating and frightening environment that is unsuitable for children, particularly the sort of children who are as damaged as those who are likely to be in that situation. We have heard about the tragic consequences that can result, and I offer my condolences to the family of Kesia Leatherbarrow, the 17 year-old who was found dead following detention in police custody. By contrast, local authority accommodation has trained staff. As my noble friend Lord Listowel has mentioned on many occasions, trained staff are important in such situations. They are more supportive and far more appropriate.

I cannot see the rationale for denying 17 year-olds access to local authority beds. It is clearly desirable and is in keeping with the UNCRC. The Government are still making progress in other areas to ensure that 17 year-olds are treated as children in the youth justice system—for instance, under Clause 32. I urge them to do the same with regard to the provision of local authority beds, and to accept the amendment.

Lord Beecham: My Lords, the Committee is indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and to other noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, for raising a matter of concern and for pointing out the inconsistency that now applies, particularly in regard to the welcome change that the Bill incorporates, and to which other noble Lords have referred, about having an appropriate adult present when a 17 year-old is being charged or interviewed.

Noble Lords have spoken in moving terms about the problems faced by vulnerable young people in the circumstances that the amendment addresses. Clearly, from their point of view, it would be highly desirable for a different sort of accommodation to be made available. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, who has not participated in the debate, might agree that it

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is better from the police’s point of view if they do not have responsibility in an area where, as the noble Baroness has just pointed out, they do not have the expertise to look after vulnerable young people who might be capable of inflicting harm upon themselves in a difficult and unusual situation.

Both sides of the equation, as it were, argue for a change and a degree of consistency across the legislative framework. It would, however, be desirable, if it has not yet been undertaken, to consult with the Local Government Association representing local authorities in England and Wales to ensure that the local authorities have an awareness that this will, necessarily, impinge to some degree upon their responsibilities, and for an adjustment to be made in the financing that would no doubt be required to provide a safe, temporary haven for these young people before they make their court appearance. If the Minister is unable to give an unequivocal response today, I join others in hoping that, between now and Report, matters might be progressed.

This may be seen primarily as a matter for the Home Office but it is clearly of interest for the Ministry of Justice and I hope that the two departments between them—possibly with, as I said, the involvement of the Department for Communities and Local Government and maybe even the Department for Education, which has a potential interest in respect of children’s services—might come to a fairly rapid conclusion about what is not an inherently complex matter in a way that would satisfy the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and, more particularly, those who have undergone a traumatic experience with their own children and do not wish to see that repeated in respect of other 17 year-olds and their families.

Lord Faulks: My Lords, I begin by acknowledging the contribution that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has made to our debates generally on the plight of young people, particularly those who are or have been in care, who, sadly, often find themselves in the position that this amendment particularly focuses on. I join others in expressing the Government’s deepest sympathy with the family of Kesia Leatherbarrow. It was, as all noble Lords have pointed out, a tragic case.

The main purpose of the amendment is to include, within the definition of “arrested juvenile” in Part 4 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, 17 year-olds in the context of police detention following charge. I acknowledge that although 17 year-olds may often appear confident and adult, that can conceal vulnerability, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, pointed out. In line with the current treatment of 10 to 16 year-olds the amendment would have the effect of requiring a 17 year-old who has been charged and denied bail to be transferred to local authority accommodation when it is both appropriate and practicable for the police to do so.

I understand that this proposed amendment, which has at its heart a laudable intention, is related to the Hughes Cousins-Chang High Court ruling of April last year. The Government did not appeal that ruling and accepted the findings of the court, which related solely to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act codes

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of practice C and H. Specifically, the ruling required that 17 year-olds, when arrested on suspicion of committing an offence, must be provided with an appropriate adult and have a parent or guardian informed of their detention. The Government made these changes in full as soon as possible, allowing for the statutory obligation to consult on all changes to the PACE codes, and these provisions were made mandatory in October.

Since the implementation of the High Court ruling, the Government made clear their commitment to review the primary legislation relating to the treatment of 17 year- olds as adults in the criminal justice system. This was to consider whether changes should be made for similar reasons. I can confirm, as noble Lords have already indicated, that an internal review has already been launched and that the work is continuing. Whereas this amendment concerns specifically the case of detention following charge, the review covers all the legislation where 17 year-olds are treated as adults in the criminal justice system. It includes, for example, Section 65 of PACE, which relates to the age at which a person can give their independent consent to the taking of fingerprints, impressions of footwear, and intimate and non-intimate samples at the police station.

The Home Office review also covers the consequential changes that would need to be made to other legislation should 17 year-olds be regarded as juveniles. For example, an amendment to Section 37(15) of PACE, which is the proposition here, would also require amendments to the Children (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 1991, the Bail Act 1976, the regulations of 1991, the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, and so on. These are just some examples, for which other departments have responsibility. Those examples demonstrate the breadth and complexity of the legislation, which needs to be properly thought through before change is made.

It is of the utmost importance that any change in the law is workable in practice and not merely symbolic. We need to be sure, for example, that local authority accommodation will be available to 17 year-olds were the law to be changed, that adequate transportation exists and that police officers are trained properly to understand the requirements of this change. The appropriate adult change, which has been referred to, is considerably less complicated operationally than that which is the subject of this amendment. Any amendment to primary legislation needs to be subject to proper consultation, appropriate consideration and full scrutiny by Parliament. This amendment, though laudable in its aims, represents, we respectfully say, a somewhat hurried approach to the issue of how we treat people at the age of 17 at the front end of the criminal justice system.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, referred to the police’s knowledge of young people in dealing with 17 year-olds. The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, tried to elicit a contribution from my noble friend Lord Paddick as to the unsuitability of the police to deal with 17 year-olds.

Lord Beecham: In fairness, I was not saying that the police were not suitable but that it is placing an undue burden upon them. That is a rather different point.

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Lord Faulks: I stand corrected by the noble Lord. I would remind the House nevertheless that the police are under a duty, under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004, to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The statutory guidance accompanying Section 11 makes clear that these arrangements include adequate training and dealing with children aged under 18.

While this is clearly an important issue and one that the Government take extremely seriously, for the reasons that I have given I am unable to commit myself to having an answer by Report. I hope that we will have, but I am afraid that I am unable to give that commitment. I can say that the review is a matter of importance and will be thoroughly undertaken. I hope that, with that reassurance, the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Listowel: I am grateful to the Minister for his careful and considered reply and his kind words to me. Perhaps he could write to me on whether or not he has a final date for the internal review. I am grateful to the Minister for his considered and sympathetic response to the amendment. I will take away what he says and consider it over the Recess. I thank all the noble Lords who spoke in the debate for their contribution and for their support for the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 48E withdrawn.

Amendment 48F not moved.

6 pm

Clause 36: Instituting proceedings by written charge

Amendment 49

Moved by Lord Faulks

49: Clause 36, page 35, line 5, leave out “court” and insert “designated officer specified in the notice”

Lord Faulks: My Lords, the Government have tabled a total of 14 minor and technical amendments to this clause, Clauses 38 and 39 and Schedule 7. As noble Lords will be aware, the intention is to introduce a new single justice procedure alongside the current written charge and requisition procedure. These changes are necessary in order to ensure that our new procedure fits together with some older provisions on the summary justice procedure in the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980.

Amendment 49 is essentially a drafting amendment, clarifying that the single justice procedure notice must be served on a designated court officer, rather than a court building.

Amendment 50 relates to an issue raised during the House of Commons Committee about the information sent with the notice about the defendant’s DVLA record in cases involving driving offences. We undertook to consider this further and ensure that the provisions allow a single justice to view a defendant’s driving record before sentencing, as is currently the case under the written charge and requisition procedure. We believe

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the current drafting is too restrictive, so this amendment introduces a new provision that will enable a single justice to try cases using documents that have been described to the defendant, as well as those served on the defendant. It makes clear that in order to rely on any previous convictions, the prosecution must give the accused notice of their intention to do so at the time of serving the single justice procedure notice.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, has tabled an amendment to Amendment 50. As I have said, Amendment 50 allows the prosecution to give notice to the defendant of their intention to rely on certain information. The noble Lord’s amendment would limit that information to information that is specified as relevant to the charge.

With great respect to him, I do not think that amendment is necessary. The existing and cardinal rule of evidence will of course apply: all evidence which is irrelevant or insufficiently relevant to the facts in issue should be excluded. It has never been our intention, in tabling Amendment 50, to depart from these rules. Prosecutors can be trusted, as they currently are under the written charge and requisition procedure, to abide by these rules and put before the court only information relevant to the case.

The weight attached to the evidence will remain a matter for the single justice, on the advice of his or her legal adviser. We have introduced further safeguards, which I will come to in a moment, to make clear that a single justice can, of course, consider the nature of the evidence when deciding whether to refer a case to a traditionally constituted magistrates’ court. Therefore, if the single justice has doubts or concerns about the evidence before him or her, he or she can refer the case to a Bench of two or even three magistrates. I therefore respectfully ask the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, not to move his amendment.

Amendment 53 relates to Amendment 50 and provides further clarification on admissibility. The principle behind Amendment 53 is that evidence is admissible as long as it has been served on the accused at the same time as the single justice procedure notice. This provision also introduces additional safeguards in Section 16F(2), which points a single justice to consider whether he or she should proceed with a case under the new procedure where the nature of the evidence suggests that it would be not be appropriate to do so.

Amendment 51 introduces a provision that makes explicit that, where the accused has indicated that he or she wishes to plead guilty in their response to the single justice procedure notice, the court can try the case as though the accused has indeed pleaded guilty.

Amendment 52 provides some clarification to new Sections 16B(1) and 16C(1), which are to be inserted in the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 by Clause 38. It makes clear that there are two distinct occasions when a single justice will consider the appropriateness of using the single justice procedure: prior to conviction and post conviction. This amendment aims to avoid the situation where a single justice may decide to refer a case to a traditional magistrates’ court simply because it would be inappropriate to sentence without first having convicted and issued a summons in the proper way.

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Amendment 54 adds to the range of sentencing powers available to a single justice in respect of driving offences resulting in penalty points on an offender’s licence.

The next set of amendments modifies current legislative provisions to ensure that they operate effectively in cases heard under the single justice procedure. Amendment 57 makes changes to Section 11 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, which provides that a court cannot impose a disqualification from driving in the absence of the defendant unless a hearing has resumed after an adjournment. Where a single justice is considering imposing a driving disqualification, and the defendant has indicated they wish to make representations on that, the single justice will already have adjourned the case and summonsed the defendant to a traditional magistrates’ court. This amendment ensures that the traditional magistrates’ court can decide the case without having to go through the process of adjourning it again.

Amendment 58 provides that in any case where the single justice considers that the accused is “likely” to have been misled by a variance between the written charge and the evidence presented by the prosecutor, the matter is no longer appropriate for consideration under the single justice procedure and should be referred to a traditional magistrates’ court. This will ensure that a less stringent test applies for cases dealt with under the new procedure.

Amendments 59 and 60 apply to cases involving prosecutions for traffic offences which may result in disqualification from driving. They concern the requirements in such cases for the defendant to present his or her driving licence to the court on the day of the trial. These arrangements are set out in Section 7 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. Amendment 59 modifies these arrangements for cases heard under the single justice procedure. Instead of having to present their driving licence on the date of the trial, defendants will be required to present their licence post conviction once they have been notified by the court of the intention to disqualify. Amendment 60 is a consequential amendment resulting from these modified arrangements. It provides that in cases where the defendant has been issued with a receipt after having surrendered their driving licence in relation to another offence, it would be appropriate for them to produce this receipt instead of their driving licence.

The final set of amendments is purely consequential amendments to other legislation. Amendment 56 enables a summons to be served in Scotland and Northern Ireland following a decision by a single justice that it is no longer appropriate to continue trying a case under the single justice procedure. Amendments 61 to 63 ensure that the single justice procedure applies to Section 68 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993, Section 55 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 and Section 164 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

As I have indicated, all these amendments are necessary to ensure that the single justice procedure works effectively, that it works well alongside other relevant provisions within our legislative framework and that it works in a way which continues to protect the rights of defendants. I beg to move.

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Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I welcome the Government’s move to single justice procedures. I have sat on many hundreds of these types of cases and it is absolutely not necessary for three justices to sit to make such determinations.