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House of Lords

Wednesday, 22 October 2014.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Coventry.

Introduction: Lord Fox

3.08 pm

Christopher Francis Fox, Esquire, having been created Baron Fox, of Leominster in the County of Herefordshire, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord McNally and Baroness Northover, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Qatar: Football World Cup


3.14 pm

Asked by Lord Monks

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of workers in Qatar during the construction of World Cup 2022 venues.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, we welcome the serious steps taken by the Qatari authorities towards improving regulations governing the treatment of migrant workers. We continue to encourage the Government of Qatar to set out a clear timescale for implementing these reforms, and we stand ready to support these efforts where we can.

Lord Monks (Lab): I thank the Minister for that reply. However, given that the death rate on Qatari World Cup sites is running at 40 a month—contrast that with no fatalities on the Olympic sites in the UK —and given, too, that the promised end to the medieval kafala bonded labour scheme has been further postponed, is it not time for the Government to step up their efforts to stop those sites being more killing fields than playing fields, and prepare to call on FIFA to show a red card to Qatar and move the World Cup to somewhere that deserves it?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, there were several important questions within that. To summarise, there is certainly going to be an end to the kafala system: the Government there have made it clear that they will make the changes to remove the bonded system and move towards a more appropriate one, where we would expect the health and safety of the workers to be more properly respected. As for the position of FIFA, and whether the World Cup should be moved, that is a matter for the sporting authority

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itself. Clearly, our view is that every major sporting authority should be responsible and transparent in its dealings.

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Monks, is quite right to raise this issue well in advance. Is the Minister aware that this system of tied labour prevails throughout the Gulf states, and that it entails heavy payments for visas and work permits, often for very poor people, who end up pretty well tied to one employer? If that employer goes bust, they have very little redress. Will the Government take the same approach throughout the whole of the Gulf?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, we discuss these matters with Governments around the Gulf; we have certainly done so recently both in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE. I note that in Saudi Arabia there has been a move towards maintaining more accurate labour records, and we hope that recent legal reforms should then improve the most basic rights of migrant employees.

Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con): My Lords, when we were planning the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, it was not just about a sensational summer of sport in 2012: we had safety hard-wired into everything we did. Can the Minister assure the House that the FCO and UKTI are doing everything to enable the great British companies that worked on our Games to get involved, to win contracts and to help Qatar 2022, and every international sporting event, to be safe, secure and successful?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, we do, and it is right that we do. Staff in the British embassy in Qatar meet Qatar 2022 officials on a regular basis. As part of the discussions, they highlight British-owned companies’ expertise in staging global sports events. Indeed, the embassy has engaged with the supreme committee for delivery and legacy on many events, such as Soccerex 2014 and the global sports mission in February 2014, both in Qatar and in the UK, to showcase British expertise. We look forward, I hope, to British companies winning substantial contracts. Let us wait and see.

Lord Bach (Lab): My Lords, the United Nations International Labour Organization is the body that perhaps could best help construction workers in Qatar. Why have the Government cut all UK support for the ILO? Was that not a very serious mistake? What are their plans to restore that funding?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, we support the work of the United Nations and all its supporting bodies through our payments to the United Nations. The noble Lord will know that we carry a very heavy burden and we bear it lightly, although of course we want to see that the money is used well. We use our expertise throughout our embassies to ensure that we negotiate with, support and encourage Governments to ensure that labour reforms are effective. In Qatar they have already shown their willingness to take forward those labour reforms.

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Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, does my noble friend not agree that it might be a good idea if the British Government made sure that all British bodies responsible for planning and helping at any future international sporting events ensured that a commitment up front to very good health and safety practices was an important part of that support, and that we would vote against any future bid where that was not the case?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, my noble friend makes a very good point. Indeed, the United Kingdom is one of 46 countries that adhere to the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. The guidelines provide detailed voluntary standards for responsible behaviour among companies bidding in such contracts, including standards relating to promoting development and encouraging suppliers and other business partners to act responsibly. That is the right way forward.

Scotland: Devolution Commission


3.20 pm

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made by the devolution commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin; and when they expect it to report.

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Kelvin, has already done his work and is today chairing the commission’s first plenary session. All of Scotland’s five main parties are taking part in this process. There is a clear timetable for the work and an opportunity for people across Scotland to participate. The Smith commission will produce a heads of agreement report by 30 November this year.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his Answer. However, does he agree with me that the Smith commission should not operate on the basis of party horse trading but on principles, particularly the principle that each power devolved should be appropriate to be exercised at that level, and that Holyrood should be given tax-raising powers sufficient to enable it to raise enough money to cover the expenditure for which it is responsible?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that this should not be a question of horse trading. Ahead of today’s meeting the noble Lord, Lord Smith, indicated that he believed that there would be a will among the parties to reach agreement. I do not think that it would be appropriate for the Government to dictate to the Smith commission what the principles should be, although I do think that the noble Lord makes an important point about principles. The one important, fundamental principle is that all five parties should work to strengthen the Scottish

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Parliament within the United Kingdom. On 18 September, the people of Scotland voted for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, and that is a principle we cannot lose sight of.

Lord Palmer (CB): My Lords, given that there is a rumour going around that Scottish MPs in the other place will not be able to vote on only English matters, might those of us in this House who live north of the border be affected by the same rule?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, as we heard the Reading Clerk read out a moment ago, and have heard numerous times, we are Peers of the United Kingdom. That puts us in a slightly different position from those who are elected to represent specifically Scottish constituencies.

Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, it is, indeed, a historic day when all five major parties in Scotland meet round the table to discuss the way forward for Scotland. This will require those parties that have published proposals not only to form an agreement on the basis of principles but to compromise and, indeed, for some—not exclusively the Labour Party—to go beyond the proposals that they have already published. If that is the case, which we all hope that it will be, will the Government commit to promote actively the result of this to make sure that all families and voters in Scotland are aware of these home rule proposals for the long term? Will the Government also commit to meeting their deadline for bringing forward draft clauses to bring forward the conclusions of the Smith commission for legislation?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, on my noble friend’s latter point, the Government have indicated that they will bring forward draft clauses and, indeed, will do so by Burns Night, 25 January 2015. My noble friend makes an important point about the importance of ensuring that people in Scotland know what these proposals will be. We have sometimes undersold the very significant additional powers that have been made available to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act 2012.

Lord Wigley (PC): My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord accept the words of the Prime Minister at Question Time today when he confirmed that full fiscal autonomy and full control of Scottish taxes were within the options of the Smith commission? If that is so, how can it be achieved within a unitary state, and does it not beg the question that, inevitably, we must move towards a federal or quasi-federal structure?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: The noble Lord knows what my party’s position on federalism has been for the last 100 years-plus. However, the important thing is that the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Kelvin, and his commission are allowed to get on with their work on the basis of the submissions made to them and do not feel in any way that they are being hidebound by the views of either the Scottish Government or the United Kingdom Government.

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, one of the more unfortunate developments in Scotland over the last two years has been the headlong rush to discuss more powers for the Scottish Parliament before discussing what to do with the additional powers in the 2012 Act. But given that situation, it is now vital that we have a sustainable settlement for the longer term. That will need all five parties to move from their current positions and the new commission to agree on the basis of principle. Have the Government set as an objective for the commission a sustainable, long-term settlement for tax powers in Scotland that will then allow the parties to get on and talk about what to do with the powers rather than about how many powers they have?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I thoroughly agree with the noble Lord with regard to the importance of the use of the powers. I like to think that the Administration of which he and I were part made very good use of our powers. That is important. It is also important that that is sustainable in the longer term to ensure not only that Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom is maintained but that it will be a balanced settlement, which we are ultimately striving for, that is fair to people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Lord Trimble (Con): My Lords, how within the commission will there be a provision to enable the British national interest to be reflected?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, as I indicated to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, any agreement must be sustainable for the longer term and fair to other parts of the United Kingdom. I do not want to be tempted down the road of second-guessing the Smith commission but I have made it very clear that the one principle that cannot be challenged is that the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. That principle must be upheld in any proposals that the commission comes forward with.

Lord McAvoy (Lab): My Lords, as the Minister said, we should not second-guess the Smith commission. The details will come. However, does he agree that all parties must enter the process in good faith and want a conclusion to the process that respects the result of the referendum, which was decisive, and is in the best interest of the people of Scotland?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, obviously everyone wants the outcome to be consistent with the referendum outcome and in the interests of the people of Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Smith, has already met the individual parties and said that he believes there is a will among them to reach agreement. I hope so and that it will be done in good faith.

Lord Grocott (Lab): Was the Minister actually saying, in answer to an earlier question, that while it would be fine to create two categories of MP by withdrawing voting rights on certain matters from MPs from Scotland, there would be no question whatever of having two categories of Peer—a matter in which he would have a

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direct interest? That sounds to me suspiciously like wanting to have your cake and eat it. Surely, the only way that one can sustain a position of equality across the United Kingdom is to say no to any suggestion that there should be two categories of voting rights, either for MPs in the House of Commons or Peers here. Starting to have two categories of Member would be to take a very dangerous route towards the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I think I was answering very directly the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer. I made the self-evident point that there was a difference between people elected to represent a territorial part of the country and Peers of the United Kingdom. However, the so-called West Lothian question is a live issue that has been around for far longer than even Mr Tam Dalyell. A number of proposals have been put forward, including comprehensive proposals from the McKay commission. I know that my right honourable friend Kenneth Clarke chaired a commission for the Conservative Party, and my right honourable friend David Laws has put forward ideas on behalf of my own party. It is important that these issues are addressed. The Prime Minister set up a committee under the chairmanship of William Hague to look at this issue, among other things, and I very much hope that it can proceed on a cross-party basis, if possible.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, is it not important that Mr Hague’s committee does not come to premature conclusions? What the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, said about categories of Members of Parliament and of this House is exactly right. What is at risk is the future unity of the United Kingdom, and any short-cut solution on the basis of the glib “English votes for English laws” will not necessarily safeguard the long-term interests of this country.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I think that I am on safe ground in otherwise difficult territory in saying that the one thing that everyone is united upon is the importance of the United Kingdom. Proposals on any part of constitutional reform must be looked at on the basis of whether they will sustain the United Kingdom. There would be no point, having gone through the trauma of a referendum and having established Scotland’s place and integrity within the United Kingdom, going about constitutional proposals that start unpicking the ties that bind us.

NHS: Health and Social Care Act 2012 Reforms


3.29 pm

Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact on National Health Service funds of the reforms introduced under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, this Government have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget by £12.7 billion between 2010-11 and 2014-15. During this period, the Government’s NHS reforms will enable total administration costs to reduce by one-third in real terms, to release funding to NHS front-line services. Already, savings arising from the reforms released £1.5 billion last year and £1 billion in 2012-13 to front-line services.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): My Lords, did the Minister read, as I did, the headline “NHS reforms our worst mistake, Tories admit” in the Times last week? This was part of a devastating series of articles analysing what had happened to the 2012 reforms, along with the costs which had accrued or the savings which had failed to be achieved but could have been if the Government had not been diverted by the reforms. Who will be held responsible for this devastating and monumental failure in policy? It has been very costly to the country, especially at a time of austerity.

Earl Howe: First, let me make it clear that the Government have no regrets whatever about the NHS reforms. These reforms enabled massive savings to be made, all of which have been ploughed into the front line. Without investment in the cost of the reforms—which I concede were considerable—we would not have been able to realise these savings, nor would the NHS have been able to plough those savings back into the front line. This has enabled us to employ more than 7,700 extra doctors, and the NHS is now performing more than 850,000 more operations every year. That is the benefit of the reforms.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, if there is so much investment being put into the NHS, as the Minister said, why are mental health services being cut across the country and especially in the north of England? In my own city of Bradford, our mental health care service has been cut by 23%. How do we expect mental health care to have parity of esteem when it is experiencing these kinds of cuts?

Earl Howe: The noble Lord raises a very important issue, which results from the fact that commissioning decisions are taken not by the Government but by clinical commissioners across the service. We are very concerned by the reports of lower resources being channelled into mental health services. A lot of work is going on, in my department and in NHS England, to make sure that those services—and, crucially, the outcomes from those services—are maintained.

Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB): My Lords, how much was paid out in redundancy to health service staff who lost their jobs and were then taken on again? Is the Minister aware that emergency medicine and accident and emergency departments are really overstretched?

Earl Howe: The noble Baroness asks two questions. We had to abide by the terms of the contracts of employment which were put in place by the previous

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Administration. In some cases, people were made redundant and were then re-employed by the health service at a later date. No one can take satisfaction from that, which is why we are completely revisiting the terms of those contracts. As regards accident and emergency departments, we know that the NHS is under pressure, but there are now more accident and emergency doctors than there were in 2010. The work being done by Sir Bruce Keogh to look at the system across the piece will, we trust, address a number of the pressures that the NHS is now experiencing.

Baroness Barker (LD): The Minister will know that health commentators usually assess the annual increase in health spending at 4%. In view of that, does he agree that the sustainability of the NHS rests largely on its integration with social care? Does the Minister also agree that this issue should be addressed in the forthcoming Autumn Statement?

Earl Howe: I agree with my noble friend that the integration of health and social care services has a major part to play in making the system more efficient across the piece and more effective for the patient. That is why we are introducing the better care fund, which, at a local level, will channel at least £3.8 billion into pooled budgets to deliver that integration.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, if the system is quite as wonderful as the noble Earl suggests, will he explain why so many people are waiting so much longer in accident and emergency departments and why so many young doctors completing their GP training decide to leave the country and practise overseas rather than participate in the grotesque mess that this Government have produced?

Earl Howe: I take issue with the phrase “grotesque mess”. If the noble Lord cares to look at the figures, he will see that waiting times are low and stable, MRSA and C. diff infections are at record lows, mixed-sex wards are down by 98% and the number of people waiting a long time for treatment is massively reduced. Yes, we know that many A&E departments are under pressure but many are coping. The work that we are doing, including channelling more money into the system for this winter, should, we hope, relieve the worst of the problems.

Lord Patel (CB): Now that general practitioners will have incentives to diagnose dementia, will it lead to a better and more accurate diagnosis? Will it increase the number of people diagnosed with dementia or will it increase the number of people falsely diagnosed with dementia? Let us remember that there is no cure or treatment for any of them.

Earl Howe: My Lords, the noble Lord, in his ingenious way, is deviating slightly from the Question on the Order Paper which refers to the costs of the reforms. We are in dialogue with the medical profession to ensure that none of those perverse consequences happens.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, let us come back to the Question, which is about funding. If the picture was so rosy, why is it that a record number of NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts are in deficit? If the picture was so rosy, what does the Minister have to say about the report a couple of weeks ago by the Nuffield Trust? It states:

“Prompt access to services has declined … In mental health services, demand”,


“outstripping capacity for urgent care and for younger people. The wellbeing of frontline staff in both health and social care is”,

deteriorating. When he says that the Government are not ashamed of what they did, who is he speaking for? Is he really speaking for the Prime Minister and the leadership of his party?

Earl Howe: I am indeed and the NHS is under pressure for the reason that the noble Lord has just quoted—demand has risen dramatically. However, productivity has also risen dramatically, which it failed to do under the previous Administration.



3.38 pm

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the international response to Ebola.

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, the UK has been at the forefront of responding to the Ebola outbreak. We are leading the international response in Sierra Leone with more than £125 million in assistance committed already. We are urging our international partners to scale up their support for the worst-affected nations and to contribute to the UN trust fund.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, in the light of disclosure that the Swedish furniture manufacturer, IKEA, has provided more funds than Spain, Luxembourg and Norway combined in responding to the Ebola crisis, will the Minister tell us what response the Prime Minister has had from the letter that he sent to 27 European leaders last week asking them to increase their contribution to match that of the generous response of the United Kingdom? Will the Government raise with the international community the possibility of providing hospital ships to relieve the acute shortage of beds in west Africa? Will the brave British personnel risking their lives routinely every day be flown home for treatment should they be unfortunate enough to contract the virus?

Baroness Northover: The Government are extremely active at the moment in seeking assistance internationally. The European Council is coming up and the Prime Minister will attend. He has sought €1 billion from European countries. All embassies across Europe are very active in seeking funds for this extremely important and pressing crisis. The key thing about hospital ships

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is to make sure that there is capacity in Sierra Leone rather than seeing capacity as being offshore. In terms of being flown home, as my noble friend Lord Howe said the other day, sometimes it is not in the best interests of a patient to be flown home. The important thing is to make sure that if we have medical staff working there they are supported there if that is judged to be clinically the most effective way to look after them.

Lord Chidgey (LD): My Lords, living and working in the remote forest regions along the border of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is difficult enough in itself—without electricity, without any form of healthcare and without clean water. Adding the problems of trying to deal with Ebola creates a really difficult situation for these people. As a lead aid nation, has the United Kingdom ensured that it is securing support from local workers from all the distinct linguistic groups, reaching into the remotest communities in these areas? How is the United Kingdom responding to the efforts and offers of President John Dramani Mahama to make Ghana the regional base in west Africa in the international campaign to defeat Ebola?

Baroness Northover: The UK is supporting the training of many local workers. That is key, not only in Sierra Leone but in the other countries. UNMEER, which is the United Nations organisation set up to co-ordinate efforts across all the countries, including ones which are not affected at the moment, will have to be extremely vigilant. It is acutely aware of the need to make sure that health workers are in place in those countries.

Lord Soley (Lab): My Lords, has the Minister seen the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Intergovernmental Organisations in 2008 and the Government’s response in Command Paper 7475 dealing with infectious diseases and the threat to the world? Two of its recommendations dealt with the inability of the WHO to have the proper structure necessary—mainly because of some of the supporting countries—and with the all important issue of developing health services within those countries. If she has not seen that report and the Command Paper issued by the Government, will she look at it because many of its recommendations are still relevant and not all of them have been carried out?

Baroness Northover: There was indeed a report and it had very sensible recommendations. When we finally get past this crisis, which I hope will be relatively soon—but who knows?—it is extremely likely that many lessons will be learnt as to how the international community and nations play their part in dealing with crises like this. We have many lessons to learn.

Lord Walton of Detchant (CB): My Lords, is the Minister aware of any research on the availability of serum derived from blood samples from individuals who have survived the Ebola infection and could such serum be used to confer temporary passive immunity on healthcare workers who have been accidentally exposed to the virus?

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Baroness Northover: The noble Lord is probably aware that William Pooley, who suffered Ebola and who was treated successfully, has contributed to the treatment of other patients. This is being studied along with pushing forward on vaccine research. There will be a meeting tomorrow of the WHO about that vaccine research. My right honourable friend Oliver Letwin and the Chief Medical Officer will be there.

Viscount Ridley (Con): My Lords, will the Minister ensure that the Government look into the question of why the WHO took eight months to wake up to this epidemic, during which time there appear to have been reassuring noises coming out of local WHO chapters about how this was not a huge problem? Will the Government ensure that serious lessons are learnt about this?

Baroness Northover: I am sure that there are serious lessons to be learnt. We are fortunate to have international organisations but we need to make sure that we strengthen and improve them in the future.

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Lab): My Lords, can the Minister give us some information about the thousands of children who have been orphaned by Ebola in the affected countries? Families and friends are now too frightened to take them in when they are in such need. Are those children being properly identified and what is being done to give them care, counselling and support in the misery that they are now suffering?

Baroness Northover: We are acutely aware of that, as is the international community. The noble Baroness will know that UNICEF and Save the Children are also flagging up this enormously challenging situation.

Foreign National Offenders


3.45 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given earlier today by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to an Urgent Question on foreign national offenders. The Statement is as follows:

“I am grateful to the National Audit Office for its report on managing and removing foreign national offenders. As the report makes clear, this is a problem which has beset successive Governments. Let me begin by being clear that foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crime in this country should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them from it. We removed more than 5,000 foreign criminals from the UK last year and we have removed 22,000 since 2010. I also want to make it plain that, as in so many other areas, it falls to this Government to tackle the problems of the past. Quite simply, the Home Office did not prioritise the removal of foreign national offenders before 2005.

It will take time to fix the problems we inherited. Chief among them, as the NAO report makes clear, are the legal barriers we face. The countless appeals and re-appeals which have been lodged by criminals

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attempting to cheat the system cost us all money and are an affront to British justice. That is why we passed the Immigration Act to clamp down on such abuse. New powers from that Act came into force this week to cut the number of grounds on which criminals can appeal their deportation from 17 to four and to end the appeals conveyor belt in the courts. From this week, criminals can no longer appeal against a decision that their deportation is conducive to the public good.

These reforms build on other measures we introduced in the summer which are already speeding up the deportation process. In July, we introduced new powers to stop criminals using family life arguments to delay their deportation. We have also changed the law so that, where there is no risk of serious irreversible harm, foreign criminals will be deported first and have their appeal heard later. For those that do have an appeal right, they will be able to appeal only once. These new powers are radically reforming the deportation process by rebalancing human rights law in favour of the British public rather than the criminal.

We are also pursuing joint working between the police and Immigration Enforcement. Operation Nexus has helped us remove more than 2,500 foreign nationals during its first two years, including 150 dangerous immigration offenders considered by the police to represent a particularly serious threat. Alongside tougher crime-fighting measures, improved protection at the border and greater collaboration between the police and immigration enforcement officers, the Immigration Act is helping us to deliver an immigration system that is fair to the people of this country and legitimate immigrants and tough on those who flout the rules. The Home Office will look at the NAO’s recommendations carefully and work with the other agencies involved to ensure that we continue to build on that system”.

3.47 pm

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Answer. The principle of deporting foreign criminals is one on which we all agree, but the Government need to take responsibility for the mistakes and failures of the system happening now. When the PM said that deporting foreign criminals was a major priority he did not add, “But only in five years’ time after new legislation”. Today we are deporting fewer foreign criminals than in 2010—and more criminals are absconding and the Government have no idea where they are.

The National Audit Office has identified that a third of the failures are due to basic bureaucratic mistakes in the Home Office. In 38% of cases, the forms were not even filled in correctly, and in a number of cases no one bothered to book the flights home. It is clear that we need less rhetoric, greater competence and better management. Given the necessity of European and international co-operation to deal with this problem, what impact does the Minister consider that the Government’s obsession with opting out of EU criminal justice measures has had on tackling it?

3.48 pm

Lord Bates: I accept the view of the noble Baroness that the Opposition share our desire to see progress in this area, and the systems have to be robust to deliver

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that. It was clear that the UK Border Agency, which was introduced by the previous Government, was not delivering the effectiveness we wanted, and that is the reason we now have an Immigration Enforcement command with search teams that go out looking for people who abscond. It is also why the Human Rights Act, which forms the basis of many of the appeals and re-appeals, has been built upon by the Immigration Act. It now narrows down the number of routes for appeal from 17 to four. Of course, these measures have all taken time to come into effect, but as the NAO reports in its opening summary, over the past two years—since these measures have come in—the number of deportations is once again increasing, so they are beginning to have an effect. That is not to suggest any complacency whatever. We need to make sure that we continue to build on the measures so as to keep the British public safe.

3.49 pm

Lord Paddick (LD): My Lords, the Liberal Democrats want a fair immigration policy; clearly, we believe that foreign criminals who should be deported should not remain in this country. Will the Minister say how many of these dangerous foreign criminals are at large as a result of multiple appeals against deportation, and how many are at large due to Home Office incompetence?

Lord Bates: My Lords, my noble friend, of course, has great expertise in this area and will know that the basis on which we collect data is not quite as finely siloed as that. We recognise that there is a major problem here: it is a cause for public concern and it needs to be addressed. The measures that we are putting forward—to reduce and replace the appeal/re-appeal conveyor belt, by which many of these prisoners are attempting to work the system; and to ensure that we have better information at the point of entry into this country by signing up to the Schengen information system and the European Criminal Records Information System—are the approach that we should emphasise.

Lord Ramsbotham (CB): My Lords, in 1999, as Chief Inspector of Prisons, I recommended that anyone who was ordered deportation as part of a sentence should have that deportation processed while they were in prison, starting on the day that they arrived there, so that on the day that they finished their sentence they went straight to the air field and out. That is what is practised in other places such as the UAE, as I saw. If they can do it, why can we not? When are we going to start acting properly? Furthermore, there is also a practice of sending people who are sentenced to deportation to immigration detention centres at the end of their sentence. That is precisely where they should not be, because they infect the people in the immigration centre with the wrong ideas, having been in prison.

Lord Bates: The noble Lord puts his finger on a very pertinent point. One of the problems is that, through the immigration appeals process, hearing a case in the immigration tribunals can actually be longer than the sentence. Therefore, the prisoners can sometimes be released; they are released on bail in

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certain circumstances. We have to be very careful of that. One of the provisions in the new Immigration Act is the ability to be able to say, “The appeal process does not take place in the UK. It should actually take place in the country from which they came”. That is a positive step forward, along the lines that he suggested.

Lord Dholakia (LD): My Lords, we have bilateral arrangements with a number of countries about prison transfers. Is it not possible to look again at these arrangements to make sure that foreign nationals serve their sentences in the country of their origin, thus relieving pressure on resources and staffing in the United Kingdom?

Lord Bates: My Lords, my noble friend makes an important point. We are now taking part in the European prisoner transfer agreement; it relies on the country being willing to take the offender back into the prison system. There is another element to consider, in relation to non-EU countries: we need to make sure that the prisoner will actually serve in that country the sentence handed down to them and that they will not be allowed out early, as has happened in some countries when prisoners have been returned.

Lord Richard (Lab): Will the Minister help me on one point? Could he emphasise a little more clearly than he has done that it is firmly the policy of the Government to re-enter—that they now wish to go back into—the 44 matters that they opted out of from the 144 on the original list for opting out? Things like the Schengen information exchange and the European arrest warrant are fundamental to the operation of any sensible system as far as deporting foreign criminals is concerned.

Lord Bates: I hear that. The Government will make their announcements in due course. Of course, just because we are not part of the Schengen agreement in terms of the movement of people does not mean that we cannot share information. That will be helpful not only to this country but to the countries in the Schengen area.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, my noble friend Lady Smith told us that on occasion people have not been deported because the airline tickets have not been booked. Will the Minister tell us how many cases of that have taken place, and whose responsibility should it be to book those tickets?

Lord Bates: I think that the figure was taken from a couple of case studies mentioned in the NAO report; they are not actually grouped. But we absolutely recognise that there needs to be better co-ordination across government and that is why we now have a cross-government team that comes under the National Security Council taking this issue seriously, taking it forward and introducing the measures that we have put forward.

Lord Martin of Springburn (CB): My Lords, when I served as a Member of Parliament, I had a large proportion of asylum seekers in my constituency of

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Glasgow Springburn. What would happen was that the asylum seeker would say, “I seek asylum” and therefore they were looked at. Can I get the assurance that when asylum seekers are seeking asylum, they are checked to see whether they have been serious offenders in their previous country?

Lord Bates: That is certainly the intention and the process. If I may, to make absolutely sure that I have given the noble Lord the accurate information, I will check on that and write to him. But that is certainly the case and nothing we are putting forward at present will mean that the genuine asylum seeker who is at risk of serious and irreversible harm will be deported while their case is being heard.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, if the Minister is unable to answer the question posed by my noble friend, will he please write and put a copy in the Library? We need to know accurately how many people were involved.

Lord Bates: We will certainly make investigations into that and get the information required, and do as the noble Baroness suggests.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister, who has been very helpful in his answers. But the point that I made in my original question, and was made by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, was about the Schengen information system that the Minister himself referred to as being important and the fact that the Government have not signed up to that; we have been having a debate about opt-in, opt-out again. I repeat the question: does the Minister consider that the Government’s obsession with opting out of EU criminal justice measures has had an impact on tackling this problem, particularly in relation to the Schengen information system that he referred to?

Lord Bates: I do not accept that that is the case. We are already, and have been for some time, part of the European criminal information system, which carries a lot of information; in fact, the UK is one of the heaviest users of that system. We now want to strengthen it further and it seems a very sensible step to be part of the Schengen information system as well.

Hereditary Peers By-Election


3.58 pm

The Clerk of the Parliaments announced the result of the by-election to elect a hereditary Peer in the place of Lord Methuen in accordance with Standing Order 10.

Two hundred and eighty-three Lords completed valid ballot papers. A paper setting out the complete results is available in the Printed Paper Office and the Library. That paper gives the number of votes cast for each candidate. The successful candidate was the Earl of Oxford and Asquith.

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Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill14th Report (Session 2013–14) from the Joint Committee on Human Rights 2nd Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Report (2nd Day)

3.58 pm

Clause 32: Secure colleges and other places for detention of young offenders etc

Amendment 107

Moved by Lord Beecham

107: Clause 32, page 30, line 42, at end insert—

“(d) secure children’s homes.”

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, this amendment is an appetiser for the main course that awaits us in the form of secure colleges, about which we will hear a good deal.

Secure children’s homes care for some of the most damaged children, necessitating intensive and, it has to be said, expensive care. The numbers have been reduced in recent years. There are now 138 places in secure children’s homes. In Committee, I suggested adding them to the facilities that might be provided by the Secretary of State alongside existing young offender institutions and secure training colleges and the secure colleges that the Bill seeks to establish.

In his reply, the Minister explained the failure to include secure children’s homes, on the list, on the basis that local authorities had the power to provide such homes, and the Secretary of State does not and never has had that power. He went on to say that it is for local authorities to provide sufficient places as are required in secure children’s homes, and we think it right that they retain responsibility for this.

However, the amendment does not require the Secretary of State to provide secure children’s homes; it gives him the power to do so. In any event, it is surely desirable that such provision is seen as part of a range of different facilities. Given the pressure on local authority budgets and the concerns that secure colleges, if they are to be included under this legislation, might reduce the demand for such places, it is surely reasonable for the Secretary of State to have some involvement—potential, if not immediately actual—with this part of what should be seen as essentially one service aimed at providing for these children of varying degrees of vulnerability and difficulty, albeit in different ways.

I hope the noble Lord will acknowledge that this is meant to be a constructive amendment, which does not impose a duty but opens up the possibility of having a whole-system approach to this group of young people. I beg to move.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, this has been a short debate about the place of secure children’s homes in the youth custodial estate. As the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, said, it is something of an appetiser for what I know is to come during the course of this afternoon and evening.

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I recognise on behalf of the Government that much good work is done in secure children’s homes, and that they often accommodate some of the most vulnerable young people in custody. The Government are clear that we will continue to provide separate specialist accommodation for those who need it. We have also made clear that, while we believe the secure college model could cater for the majority of young people in custody—that is, a secure college rather than a secure children’s home—it will not be suitable for 10 and 11 year-olds or for some young people with the most acute needs or vulnerability.

This year, we have demonstrated our commitment by continuing to provide places in secure children’s homes by entering new contracts with nine homes to provide 138 places. I know that many noble Lords will have observed the decline in the number of places in secure children’s homes that the Government contract, but that, as was acknowledged on Monday in your Lordships’ House, reflects a substantial and welcome reduction in the number of young people in custody overall in recent years.

The current arrangement is that the Secretary of State may provide places in young offender institutions and secure training centres; the Bill seeks to give him the power also to provide secure colleges. In addition, he has the ability to enter into contracts for the provision of youth detention accommodation in secure children’s homes. Amendment 107 would change this by giving the Secretary of State the power to provide secure children’s homes directly. The power to provide these homes rests with local authorities, not the Secretary of State, and we think it right that this should remain the position. Secure children’s homes are created by different legislation with the purpose of ensuring that there is provision for children whose welfare needs are so acute that a court decides they must be accommodated securely. Meeting the needs of this particular group of children is the important distinction between secure children’s homes and other forms of custodial provision.

The Secretary of State has a duty to ensure that there are sufficient places in youth detention accommodation for young people remanded in or sentenced to custody, and in discharging this duty he continues to contract places in secure children’s homes for those young people who require them. We think that that is the right arrangement, rather than the Secretary of State providing secure children’s homes, which are intended to serve a greater purpose than simply accommodating convicted or remanded young people.

I recognise the concern about the future of secure children’s homes and we will no doubt come back to that when we consider the substantial group of amendments that follows this debate. The Government are clear that there continues to be a place for them in the youth custodial estate, but we consider that the position is adequately catered for by the current arrangements. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Beecham: My Lords, as I hinted when moving the amendment, I shall not divide the House on this issue. However, the Minister overlooks a key element in the case that I put, which is that local authority budgets are extremely hard pressed and it will be

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increasingly difficult for them to sustain the level of investment needed in this provision. Having said that, I shall not press the amendment, but I invite the Government, or perhaps the Minister, to talk to the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government about the financial implications of continuing provision in, I think, only nine local authority areas now, for which funding is under great pressure. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 107 withdrawn.

Amendment 108

Moved by Lord Ramsbotham

108: Clause 32, page 31, line 2, at end insert—

“( ) No secure college may be established until comprehensive rules on the operation of secure colleges, including the use of force and the treatment of young persons with mental or physical health needs, have been made under section 52(2ZA).”

Lord Ramsbotham (CB): My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 111 and 121.

Last Thursday, the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, initiated a debate to take note of Her Majesty’s Government’s social justice strategy in which I quoted the words of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, who, in launching the strategy in 2012, said that social policy could not be conducted in discrete parts, with different parts of government working on discrete issues in isolation. A strategy had to have a fundamental vision and driving ethos, without which it would be narrow, reactive and unworkable. As a result, a Cabinet committee has apparently been set up to ensure that all government departments drive forward the aims of the strategy. I say “apparently”, because I can find no evidence that it has passed judgment on the proposal in respect of a secure college that is the subject of my amendments.

Mr Duncan Smith listed five principles of the strategy: a focus on prevention and early intervention; concentration on recovery and independence, not maintenance; promoting work as the most effective route out of poverty; most effective solutions being designed and delivered at local level; and intervention providing a fair deal for the taxpayer. He also listed a number of key indicators of success or failure, of which number 3 is a reduction in the number of young offenders who go on to reoffend.

On 11 March this year, I tabled a sunrise amendment similar to Amendment 108, asking that implementation of the Secretary of State for Justice’s proposals for probation reform, which appeared to be being rushed through before they had been properly thought through, be conditional on the proposals being laid before and approved by both Houses of Parliament. The Minister, as befitting an advocate of his distinction, bravely defended the Government’s position, convincing the House that contract management of transparent reforms, which were not being rushed, was secure. As the Minister knows, all is not currently well with the now delayed reforms for a variety of reasons, many of which were raised in this House and of which I could list a number but do not have time to do so.

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Yet again, Parliament is being asked by the Secretary of State for Justice to rubber-stamp a rushed and un-thought-through discrete proposal whose intent I and many others support but whose details remain shrouded in mystery. This time, he also appears to be in defiance of the Government’s social justice strategy. I hope that he noted the almost total opposition to his proposal by anyone who has any knowledge of the practicalities of dealing with young offenders and how they respond to youth custody, expressed in a letter to the Daily Telegraph signed by 29 such people last Monday. I understand that some of them were summoned to a meeting with Ministers last night, it being made abundantly clear to the five who were able to attend that the Government were not prepared to give one inch to their concerns.

On the one hand, we have a Secretary of State with no experience of the management of young offenders claiming that he can improve the dreadful track record of the current system, on which I reported adversely many times as Chief Inspector of Prisons, by providing young offenders with better opportunities, particularly in education, at less cost because of the economies of scale on a large site which is a young offender institution by another name. On the other hand, we have experienced experts saying that his proposals are bad for children, bad for justice, and bad for the taxpayer. Both cannot be right.

Noble Lords will no doubt remember that in “Henry IV, Part Two”, as Henry IV lies dying with the crown beside him on his pillow, Henry IV takes and tries it on in an adjoining room, being berated by his father with the words:

“Thy wish was father, Harry, to the thought”.

In this case, I feel that “wing and prayer” is more appropriate than “thought”, because, far from having a coherent and costed plan, which bidders are expected to deliver for a stated and realistic fee, the Secretary of State is hoping that inexperienced providers will come up with cost-saving innovations that experienced ones, both private and public, have tried and failed to find over many years. The winning bid, in a large institution, rejected as impractical by the rest of the world, will then be adopted as secure college policy. No business would dare to operate like that, or it would very soon be out of business.

We have already had deep discussion of this in Committee, which I do not intend to repeat. However, I shall repeat, and ask the House to reflect on, some statements that have been made by the Minister and others since then. There is an added urgency to my Amendments 111 and 118, which seek that further development of the secure college proposal should be put on hold until the draft of the secure college rules instrument have been laid before and approved by both Houses of Parliament. Only last Thursday, the Secretary of State, in launching a consultation on the rules for his pet secure college project, which closes on 27 November, announced that he intended the Bill to receive Royal Assent before the end of the year, two months before the Government are required by statute to publish the consultation response. In other words, he appears hell-bent on bulldozing through proposals, which will be binding on successive Governments for

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the next 10 years, without parliamentary approval and before the election. What is extraordinary is that, with presumed assent only a few weeks away, he says in the consultation document that no decisions have yet been made about who will be accommodated in the secure college.

For heaven’s sake, how can you possibly make or cost any realistic plans, if you do not know for whom you are making them? This smacks to me of contempt of Parliament, which will, quite rightly, be held to blame by the public, if something that it has approved fails to provide, or proves to cost more than forecast, which this proposal undoubtedly will. Bearing in mind that it will be held to blame, Parliament has not only a right but a duty on its own behalf and that of the taxpayer to ask the Secretary of State for proof of how he can deliver or justify the following claims and statements, before vast sums of money are committed, over 10 years, against all the evidence and advice that has been given to him. He has said that secure colleges are,

“a new form of youth detention accommodation with innovative education provision at its core which will equip young offenders with the skills, qualifications and self-discipline they need to turn away from crime”.

How do you do self-discipline? It has also been stated that,

“secure colleges must deliver a full and quality curriculum that motivates and challenges all young people”.—[

Official Report

, 21/7/14; col. 1034.]

There is no argument at all with the intent but there is a question mark over the practicality. It has been stated:

“The Government’s vision is that young people will receive a full day of education and training, rehabilitative intervention and enrichment activity, with sufficient flexibility to respond to the individual needs of young people”,

and that,

“secure colleges … will foster a culture of educational development and provide enhanced rehabilitation services while also achieving savings”.—[

Official Report

, 23/7/14; col. 1187.]

You do not deliver all those activities without people, and people cost money. Another statement claims:

“It is the Government’s view that setting out information about individual training courses and the standard to be reached in respect of such courses in secondary legislation is not appropriate.”—[Official Report, 21/7/14; col. 1036.]

Why on earth not?

“We are confident that the operating cost of the pathfinder will be lower than £100,000 per year, but the exact cost will be determined by competition”.

Surely the exact cost is determined by the provision and what you want.

“We believe that it is right to focus on the educational outcomes that the establishment achieves rather than the staff it employs”.

I have to say that I found that last statement really awful.

4.15 pm

At the other end of the educational ability spectrum, is there any indication that at last the Ministry of Justice will accept the offer of masterclasses for the few very bright inmates, provided by Tomorrow’s Achievers, about which there has been a deafening silence since they were first offered in 1999?

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Regarding the use of restraint, I note that the comprehensive list of conditions listed by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, in Amendment 120A, specifically, and thankfully, excludes any mention of “good order and discipline”, which anyway is banned by the ruling of the Supreme Court. My Amendment 121 is in accord with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which I recommend as being both simple and clear.

I know that the Secretary of State does not put the interests of staff as high on his list as educational outcomes, but I could not disagree with him more. As countless governors and staff of YOIs and other places of detention know only too well, their selection, training and support is the most crucial factor in any establishment. What is interesting to me is that all the most successful establishments, such as those run by Diagrama in Spain, which I described in Committee, and Orchard Lodge, the secure children’s home containing children with severe mental problems that when run by Southwark Council presented limited use of seclusion by staff whose average length of service was 11 years, staff must know, and be trained and regularly assessed in, any skills that they are allowed to use.

When I met the Minister for Prisons recently, I reminded him that the special hospitals and others, including the police, had rejected Prison Service restraint training because its techniques were not suitable for either patients or children. I hope that the National Health Service will be consulted over this and staff left in no doubt as to what is appropriate and when, as soldiers were in Northern Ireland with the yellow card for opening fire.

I could go on and on but I will not. I am asking the House whether it is satisfied that the persuasive generalisations offered by the Government are backed up by sufficient evidence to allow it to agree that the Secretary of State for Justice may proceed with his expensive, uncosted and unproven assertions, and that he can revolutionise one part of the youth justice system—namely, the custody of 320 of the most damaged, vulnerable and challenging young offenders—at less cost than that for which they are now confined, in defiance of all the known facts about dealing with and caring for these young people. Or does the House think, like me, that this proposal should not necessarily be cancelled but should be parked so that it can be examined in the context of improving the whole youth justice system against all other necessary improvements, including the question of diversion, work in the community and the all-important transferring back into the community? The Secretary of State appears to be unwilling to commission the research that would, for example, give him a set of criteria against which he could judge individual bids to deliver a special contract, but I thought that parliamentary scrutiny was what parliamentary democracy was all about. In that spirit, and in appealing to all the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts on the political Benches, I beg to move.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD): My Lords, my Amendments 120A and 120B in this group both concern the use of force in secure colleges. Amendment 120B would delete paragraph 10 of Schedule 6 which provides—I say iniquitously—that:

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“If authorised to do so by secure college rules, a secure college custody officer may use reasonable force … in carrying out functions”,

which include ensuring good order and discipline on the part of young offenders in custody and attending to their well-being. Amendment 120A would introduce restrictions on the use of force which accord with good practice, with the civilised treatment of young persons in custody and with the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, my amendment accords very closely with the principles set out in the Government’s consultation paper published last week on the proposed secure college rules.

The authorisation of the use of force for the purpose of ensuring good order and discipline—said in the consultation paper to be clarified or modified by the proposed secure college rules—has been the subject of a judgment against the Government in the Court of Appeal in the case of C v Secretary of State for Justice 2008 concerning secure training centres. The clear view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to the Bill is that provisions authorising the use of force for the purpose of ensuring good order and discipline should be deleted. Those words can go without affecting the implementation of proposals for the sensible and modified use of force, suggested in the consultation paper. What is proposed is not a clarification but a departure—and if it is a departure, good order and discipline should disappear from the legislation altogether.

It is not right for the Government to say that merely because the use of force is authorised by the statute, as circumscribed by the rules, it would be appropriate for the legislation to authorise force for the purpose of enforcing good order and discipline. I believe that the correct conditions for the use of force should be plain in the Bill. There is no reason for not limiting the authorisation in the Bill to accord with what is appropriate. There should be no chance of any misunderstanding or misconception of what is and is not authorised and no internal inconsistency, apparent or real, between the primary and secondary legislation. The Joint Committee on Human Rights considered the Government’s case that there was a distinction to be drawn between the requirements for the Bill and those for the rules—and it rejected it.

On a practical note, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, pointed out, the Government’s consultation paper on the secure college rules has only just been released. The Government’s response to the consultation cannot possibly come before Royal Assent for the Bill. That means that unless the Bill is clear about the restrictions that should be imposed on the use of force, the secondary legislation may not properly reflect the will of Parliament, even allowing for the affirmative resolution procedure being applicable to the rules—if it is.

My amendment would make the position clear. The first three purposes for the use of force are uncontroversial. They are to prevent injury to the young person concerned, to prevent injury to others and to prevent serious damage to property. The limitations on the use of force, as contained in the second to fifth conditions of my amendment, are also uncontroversial and in accordance with best practice. They are that force must be used as

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a last resort only, that the force authorised must be the minimum necessary to achieve its purpose, that it must be applied for the minimum duration necessary to achieve that purpose and that the techniques used should be in accordance with an approved system of restraint. Furthermore, it is important that all those authorised to use force should be properly trained in its application and in techniques of minimum restraint.

However, since Committee, and in the light of the publication of the consultation paper, I have been convinced by the two so-called “scenarios” set out in the consultation paper that there may be a need for force to be authorised also to maintain a safe and stable environment, subject to extra conditions. The first of the two scenarios is where an abusive young person in a secure college disrupts a visiting session for all those in the visiting room, including other detainees, their visitors and families, and simply will not move. The second is where an aggressive young person needs to be moved to protect another young person who is threatened by him, where that other young person is at unusual risk from that aggression. In both these cases I can see that some force may be required to move a detained young person. However, such force as may used in those circumstances—that is, to promote a secure and safe environment—should be limited to circumstances in which a young person poses a risk to the present safety or welfare of another person and should never involve pain-inducing techniques.

These restrictions represent the Government’s view, clearly expressed without reservation in the consultation paper. I simply cannot see why they should not be expressed in the primary legislation, particularly when the secondary legislation will come so late in the day.

The issue of the use of force in secure colleges is serious. We should not forget that in April 2004 at Rainsbrook secure training centre, 15 year-old Gareth Myatt was asphyxiated while being restrained in an approved hold; nor that in August 2004, 14 year-old Adam Rickwood committed suicide at Hassockfield secure training centre after being subject to the so-called “nose distraction technique”. Accordingly, I ask the Government to reconsider their position, to limit the use of force in the Bill in accordance with the principles set out in their consultation paper, and to accept either my amendments or those of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): My Lords, I have added my name to three amendments in this group, and will focus particularly on some of the health aspects. The question of how these colleges will be run becomes critical.

In his response to the previous amendment, the Minister said that there would be assessment of those with acute needs and vulnerabilities. I suggest that the health needs are far greater than has previously been estimated. I declare an interest as president of the BMA. Our report Young Lives Behind Bars is due to be published on 4 November. I have had extensive discussions with my successor, Al Aynsley-Green, who was previously the Children’s Commissioner and who looked at length into the management of offending children. He was particularly struck by the smaller

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units in Spain, and was clearly persuaded that moving children away from their original area of domicile, to which they would eventually return, was potentially quite harmful because of the disruption to the support for their health and well-being.

Children in the offending group generally have a much higher incidence of serious problems. About 12% are known to have been bereaved of a parent or sibling; that is far higher than the incidence among children in the general population. About 60% have significant speech, language and learning difficulties, 20% to 30% are learning disabled and up to 50% have learning difficulties. Put simply, about one in four has an IQ estimated to be below 70 and over a third have a diagnosed mental health disorder. Over a quarter view drugs and alcohol as “essential” to their well-being.

When the House of Commons Justice Committee examined reports on acquired brain injury, which affects around 10% of the general population, it found that it typically affects between 50% and 80% of the offender population. A relatively small 2012 study, covering 179 male offenders, found that 60% reported some form of brain injury and 40% reported a loss of consciousness, which indicates probably quite severe brain injury.

4.30 pm

Can the Minister tell us where is the evidence showing the effectiveness of a short education programme that takes young people with severe trauma, brain injury, learning difficulties and so on away from their own environment? Where is the evidence showing the benefit of moving them away from the area that they have come from and to which they will return, rather than investing in the type of accommodation that has already been found to have improved outcomes for some of these young offenders, where they are in much smaller groupings with very personalised detention, and with a view to trying to reintegrate them into a society which has failed them many times before they started offending?

Lord Carlile of Berriew (LD): My Lords, perhaps I may start with a moment of generosity to my much admired noble friend the Minister. He has addressed the concerns which noble Lords expressed in the past by tabling Amendment 122, which provides for a statutory instrument, subject to the affirmative procedure, to be laid and passed before the rules could be brought into effect. I am sure that we are all grateful for that. However, there are problems with that proposal.

The first problem is that even the affirmative procedure gives limited opportunities to those parliamentarians—and there are many in your Lordships’ House with great relevant experience—who would wish to amend what is contained in the rules, because of course even affirmative resolution procedure instruments are not amendable. It therefore makes the affirmative resolution process a blunt instrument in dealing with these important issues.

I am very concerned about the timetable which has been placed upon us. There is a consultation—to which the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, in his eloquent moving of his amendments, referred—which is to end near the end of November, and the Government’s response will follow two months thereafter. That is

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way outside the timetable placed on us for this Bill, including today’s debates. It is illogical and quite unnecessary to press a timetable that attempts to force us to reach important decisions today when those decisions might be informed by the consultation and the Government’s response to it. It is not unknown—indeed, it is common in your Lordships’ House—for the consultation process on any important issue to lead to amendment of the primary draft legislation placed before your Lordships. I respectfully entreat my noble friend to look at the consultation as a genuine process, not merely as a symbolic process to confirm what the Government would wish to have decided here today.

It is absolutely essential for us to see at least the shape and flavour of the rules that the Government wish to introduce. On restraint, the consultation document which was published only a few days ago contains one “indicative rule”, as it is described—a sort of suggestion of what might be a relevant rule. That is not a sufficient basis for the provision that we are debating now. Many well informed NGOs—and I declare the interest of having been at one time president of the Howard League, which is one of them—have, with other organisations, declared real misgivings, not so much about what is provided but about what they do not know is being provided. Therefore, in my view, this is all very premature.

We heard earlier from my noble friend Lord Marks the names of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood. Just before I became president of the Howard League I was asked by that organisation to produce a report on the use of restraint on children in custody. That arose following the death of Gareth Myatt. Organisations such as the Howard League, and people who have been fairly intimately involved, do not let a day go by, when we think about these issues, without reflecting on that death. It seems to me that to proceed in this unnecessarily hasty way on a matter of such importance, without reflecting on the rules provided and whether they take into account the events that led to the death of Gareth Myatt, is not the right thing for your Lordships to do.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, I support the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham about delaying proceedings on this matter to give us more time to consider the detail before anything is put in place. I wish, as always, that I could support the Government because of their tremendous achievement, which must be repeated again and again, in taking 2,000 children out of custody in the past four or five years. Because of their humane achievement in bringing the number down from the all-time high of 3,000 children in custody—a number that was deplored by Members on all sides of your Lordships’ House—to, potentially, only 1,000 by this Christmas, I wish in my heart to support the Government as far as possible. I would also like to support them because the idea of basing an approach on education is, of course, immensely appealing.

There are, however, in these provisions shortcomings that have already been described. My concern is particularly about the risks that young people may experience in such a setting. On a recent visit to a

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young offender institution—I shall try not to repeat what I said in Committee, but I will repeat this point—I was given the example of 15 young people attacking two. When I first visited a YOI 15 years ago, there might have been three or four people attacking one or two, but with the gang culture now, it is normal—and a great source of worry and consideration to the governor and the prison officers—to have members of different gangs in prison, and to have to think about how to stop large numbers of boys beating up small numbers of boys. That is one aspect of risk.

Because the Government have been so successful in reducing the number of juveniles in the secure estate, we now have only the most troubled and challenging young people there. That may help to explain why it is difficult to reduce the reoffending rate further. It also means that those people are putting each other at greater risk than was the case in the past. Moreover, I learnt in an early experience of speaking to a prison officer that, contrary to expectation, people tend to be more challenging the younger they are, rather than it being the older ones who are most challenging. The older ones seem to have developed some sense of what one does and what one does not do, but the young ones just do not have that sense, so they can be very difficult to manage.

May I take your Lordships back to 1998, and the setting up of the first secure training centre at Medway? Some of your Lordships may remember Lord Williams of Mostyn coming to this House shamefacedly following the riot there, when in the space of just two hours eight or nine 12 to 14 year-olds caused hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of damage and injured three of the staff. I think—perhaps the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—that the main issue was that the quality of staff was not appropriate to the needs of those young people. It had not been thought through beforehand what kind of staffing was necessary to meet their needs. So my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham has a very good point: we as parliamentarians should think extremely carefully about these vulnerable young people, who can be so damaged.

I am reminded of another example which, again, occurred under a previous Administration—namely, the setting up of Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre. It was established as a secure centre for children and their parents on the plan of a prison; indeed, it was identical to a prison. One could go into the reception area of Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre and have very much the same experience as going into a prison. A mother with an eight year-old child would have to walk through a barred gate. One has to ask oneself what the child thought of the experience of walking into a prison through a barred gate. Who gave any thought to what it would be like for children to be placed in that setting, run by a prison governor, if I remember correctly, and manned by prison officers? This caused outrage for 10 years.

The former Children’s Commissioner, Professor Aynsley-Green, repeatedly produced reports on this setting and very gradually the environment was ameliorated considerably over time. But how much better it would have been if consideration had been given well beforehand to what the needs of children and families kept in a secure setting would be—infants,

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eight year-olds, 16 year-olds with their mothers—and whether a prison would be suitable accommodation for them. This issue needs to be given the closest attention and most careful thought because we are talking about some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.

In conclusion, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, talked about the health and mental health needs of these young people. Many of them will have experienced the care system. In many cases, before they went into the care system, they experienced repeated trauma throughout their lives, had dysfunctional families and were betrayed by the people they most trusted. There was no help available from within their families and they were very damaged by the time they entered care. In those circumstances it is vital that the proposed setting has a very good team of mental health professionals to support young people and the staff who work with such vulnerable young people. I share others’ misgivings. I wish that I could be more generous towards the Government because I applaud them for what they have achieved elsewhere for these young people. I hope that the House will support my noble friend’s amendment to give us more thinking space.

Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, in my maiden speech I said that one of the things I wanted to concentrate on in this House was social justice. We are talking about what for me is one of the very central issues of social justice—that is, how you deal with those who are most troublesome to society. You can measure a society by how it deals with those who cause it most difficulty.

As a Member of Parliament, I found the visits to the young offender institution in my former constituency among the most troubling that I ever made because you met young men who had never had a chance of any kind whatever in their lives and you recognised that they could so easily have been your own sons. You also recognised how privileged your own children were, not in terms of money or any of the things which are foolishly trotted out by egalitarians, but just by the fact that they were loved.

That leads me to be very worried about any measures which are hurriedly introduced because I think this is a very difficult issue. It is very hard to get these things right. I come back to personal experience. If you bring up children in a loving and secure environment, it is still very hard to get these things right. It is very hard indeed and we all get it wrong. So often we say to ourselves, if we are honest, “If only I’d spent a bit more time thinking about that and taken a bit more advice about it, I might not have made such a blooming mess of it”.

4.45 pm

That is in the context of a continuing relationship in a loving background. We are not dealing with that but with something much more difficult, simply because none of the things that you normally rely on is there. That is why this House has an important role to play, which is to say to the Government, “Look, you’ve done remarkably well”. That is one of the reasons why I am proud to support them—because they have done

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remarkably well. They have also shown themselves to care about this section of the population whereas previous Governments of all persuasions have not shown much indication that they were very interested.

The Government have also stood out against the more raucous elements of the press, which of course find it easy to attack this particularly deprived and vulnerable section of the population because we are talking about people who have done dreadful things. Let us not kid ourselves; we are not talking about people who have been somehow misused by the justice system but about people who, for reasons that we can find upsetting, have done inexcusable things. This is a huge problem for a Government, and this Government have behaved enormously well.

I therefore want to say a simple thing to my noble friend. He has heard speeches from people who are not among the flag-waving antagonists he sometimes faces but from those who genuinely want him and the Government to get this right. The feeling is seemingly universal that we would like him to give time to get this right and enable this House to do its proper job. We would do that job better if we had all the knowledge and experience from the consultation that is about to take place. This might therefore be an opportunity for him to say, “Perhaps I can go away, think about this again and find it possible to give this matter time”, which is, after all, available. I do not quite understand why anyone does not want to give it. I hope that the Minister will take away the genuine feeling of this House, which will help him do something very important.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I hope that I am not a flag-waving antagonist but I support the pleas made by the last few noble Lords who have spoken, asking for some thoughtfulness, reflection and time to be taken over this. I am grateful for the consultation about the rules but we need time to take that consultation seriously and reflect upon it.

We have heard, not least from the noble Earl, about the profile of the likely pupils in the establishment that we are talking about. It is admirable that we want to put education first and foremost in establishing the shape of this provision. However, we know it is vital that this particular group of potential pupils has the best possible educational experience provided for them because they have lacked so much in their pasts. Noble Lords will have different views as to the model for the best possible educational experience. For some, it might be an establishment on the banks of the Thames near Windsor; for others, it may be some other kind of establishment. But whatever it is, there is a sense in which we as parliamentarians are cast in this matter in the role of prospective parents, for it is in our name that the young people who are to be the residents or inhabitants of this institution are going to find their way there. Like good parents, we will want to view the prospectus. I remember the year I spent some time ago trailing around secondary schools in Birmingham seeking the right one for my daughter, and poring for many hours over the prospectuses of various places.

The prospectus may tell us some things about the physical environment—we have seen some plans and intentions and there have been some discussions about

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that—but of much more importance is what will happen each day and what the experience will be. Of course, in this instance that will be for 24 hours each day and for 365 or 366 days in the year. What will be the precise detail of the educational provision? How many staff will there be? What will be the skillset of the staff, and the mix of those skills? As has been referred to, what will be the discipline policy within this institution? What games will be played, and what other extracurricular activities will there be? As parents, one might also be concerned about issues such as the quality of the food which will be provided, and suchlike.

Of course, the prospectus brings us into the realm not only of the rules which we are now discussing but also of the terms of the contract. As good parents, it is wise of us to want to see as much detail as possible in this instance before we sign up to send our children to this particular place of education. I join other noble Lords who have made a plea that we might take things gently, and that even at this stage we might be allowed to see as much detail as possible, both of the rules and of the potential contract which is the subject of another amendment, before final decisions are made. We may then be able to exercise our quasi-parental responsibilities in this matter with confidence and assurance.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, 20 years ago last week I made my maiden speech in a debate on the care and protection of people in custody. This was in the context of my work at the time, which involved visiting police cells as a member of the police authority. Following that, I spoke in a debate initiated by Lord Longford. It took place late at night and there were few in the Chamber; at the time I was a coward about speaking in front of a full House. Lord Longford asked me whether there was anything else to do with the penal system which I would like to debate. I have great respect for much of what was done by Lord Longford. However, when I said that I wanted to talk about protecting people who were in custody, particularly young people, from emotional, physical or sexual abuse, he said, “We do not debate the problems in American prisons in this Chamber.” I could have agreed with Lord Longford on many things, but not on that.

My experience as a councillor, and as a visitor to schools and to units with young people, taught me that protecting people who are in custody, particularly the young, is an incredibly difficult task. We have heard that many have suffered violence, abuse and sexual or psychological abuse, and those of us who work with these young people know that on many occasions their behaviour plays that out.

I plead with the Minister to take this provision back. Having been in his position, I know that there can be difficulties if members of the Government in the other place are not here and are not listening to us. There is a message that could go back. The Government could come forward with their own proposals rather than risk defeat here. That would have the good will of the House and of the organisations which have written in. Most of all, it would allow those of us who are concerned about it to be as sure as we possibly can be that the quality, experience, framework and situation of the young people in this circumstance will be as advantageous as possible.

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Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, I had not intended to speak in this debate, which is unusual bearing in mind the subject matter. I am on my feet for two reasons. I have sat in at consultations and I do not think that we will get a change from the Government: the Minister has already had it made it clear to him that this is the way in which the Government wish to move forward. I am on my feet because, despite the difficulties that I recognise he has, I should like him to do all in his power to take the messages back to the Government on behalf of the young people who will face this regime.

I understand the good intentions of the Ministers who have visited some pretty appalling institutions. We have heard from others about the kind of regimes where young people are incarcerated. That does not make this right. We could do even better with £89 million, particularly for this group of children. I find it difficult to disagree with the right reverend Prelate, for whom I have a particular affection. As I have said in many speeches, education cannot always be the centre of a unit for young people who are so highly disturbed. Those working in the field have made it absolutely clear in all that they have said that it would take those six months to settle someone with serious mental health difficulties who has never known consistent care, probably has a brain injury that has not been diagnosed and probably has a series of physical illnesses that will have to be addressed.

I do not doubt for a moment that we need to change the regime and that it is possible to do it. I simply do not think that the answer to the problem is a huge building of 300-plus children. At the moment it will include girls and young children but I deeply hope that when we get to that debate we can at least make some movement on that. The Minister will have access to all the research and advice about small units near facilities where parents, however difficult, can visit. I am not naive. I have run places like this in my time and I have been a director of social services. I have seen these young people and worked with their families. These young people make improvement if they are not anxious about what is going on at home. However much bravado difficult young men show, they are usually very anxious about what is happening at home and in their local community.

Therefore, I ask the Minister to think about giving time. Some of us are not totally against an alternative that might have a number of high-quality facilities in one place in which some of these youngsters might respond. It is simply that this is too fast, as many noble Lords have said. We need much more thought. People have visited really poor, barred institutions; the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, talked about going through bars. In the consultation, the Minister said that he wanted a centre to be light and airy, and a good place to be, with play facilities and health facilities. We all would applaud that. But this would be too big and the culture would be difficult. If the Government have not thought through the staffing and the leadership, the proposal is doomed to failure before it starts. This Government have talked time and again about leadership, about skills and about good, thought-through approaches. We have to have and understand those before this can go through.

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I am disappointed that there are so few noble Lords present. I do not doubt that, if there is a vote with a Whip, the amendment will be lost. It would be a travesty for children and young people were that to be so. All we need is time to get this right for the future. We will repent at leisure if we act in haste on this.

5 pm

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone (LD): My Lords, this amendment contains two aspects which cause concern. One is the use of force—a matter of grave concern when dealing with young offenders—and the other is secure colleges, a new idea from the Government that fills us with despair and gloom.

This is one of the most sensitive and difficult areas of all offender management. The secure college rules sanction the use of “reasonable force” in three circumstances, and proposes a fourth. These are: to prevent injury to the young person or others; to prevent escape from custody; to prevent damage to property; and, lastly and worryingly, to maintain good order and discipline—otherwise known as GOAD.

Noble Lords have listed their own versions of such circumstances, including the last resort of,

“maintaining a safe and stable environment”.—[

Official Report

, 21/07/14; col.1046]

A comprehensive list was given by my noble friend Lord Marks, with such conditions as minimum force, minimum duration, minimum necessary and no techniques involving pain. All are agreed that force must not be used as a punishment, although it will most likely feel and seem a punishment to any young person who has the misfortune to experience it. It is highly undesirable and unjustifiable in almost every imaginable case that young people should experience this.

The acid test of really good management of young people who are characterised as being among the most damaged, the most difficult and often the most disturbed in their age group is that situations should not be allowed to reach such a point where force becomes an issue at all. Adolescent units in psychiatric hospitals present parallel situations, just as they often do in secure prisons, and control depends on very skilled management by well trained professionals. I have seen such examples in both situations—in prisons and in hospitals—where professionals do not need to have recourse to restraint because violent situations are anticipated and pre-empted. Once the possibility of force is accepted, it will be used.

The GOAD sanction seems the most concerning, partly because of the type of language used, including what is described as MMPR—managing and minimising physical restraint according to approved restraint techniques. GOAD—good order and discipline—is much broader, open to subjective interpretation and likely to be most widely used for that very reason. It is extremely worrying.

We do know that the JCHR recommended that only the first three circumstances of the college rules should apply, and that good order and discipline should not be included. It said categorically that secure children’s homes do not use force to maintain a safe and secure

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environment, and they have the same clientele. However, the MoJ has announced that it intends to allow the use of “reasonable force” to,

“maintain good order and discipline”—

which begs the question, of course, of what is “reasonable” where a young person is perceived to be posing a risk to,

“maintaining a safe and stable environment”.

The criteria are going to be so important.

Also, the MoJ does not consider it “necessary or appropriate” to set out in the Bill the circumstances in which custody officers are authorised to use force in secure colleges, and states categorically that,

“the Bill is clear ... a custody officer must be permitted by the rules to use force”.

This must be clarified further if the Government are to have some idea of the sort of regime they are sanctioning and for there to be confidence and trust in how these difficult and vulnerable children are being managed.

The JCHR’s most recent report on the Bill concluded that:

“We are concerned by the vagueness of the Government’s references to ‘maintaining a stable environment’ and protecting the ‘welfare’ of the child and others as permissible justifications for the use of force. The law is clear that the use of force on children … can never be justified for the purposes of good order and discipline”.

So there is a clear and currently unresolved difference of view, with each side apparently absolutely clear on the rightness of its position. However, what is clear is that the children and young people being dealt with here are recognised as being particularly troubled and vulnerable. If force is used on them, it confirms to them that violence is acceptable because that is what is being used by the authorities. Different standards and criteria are being used when it is deemed fit. I sincerely hope that such double standards will be rejected out of hand by the Government.

Lord Beecham: My Lords, the Government’s plans for the largest children’s prison in Europe are,

“bad for children, bad for justice and bad for the taxpayer”.

Those are not my words but, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, pointed out, those of 29 signatories to a letter in the Daily Telegraph, which of course is affectionately known as the house journal of the Conservative Party. One would therefore expect the Government to pay particular attention to views expressed in it and by it. The signatories include the chief executives of leading children’s charities, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the chair of the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, among other experts in the field. Today, the Daily Telegraph contains an article by Mary Riddell supporting the position of those who wrote that letter.

No one would argue with the intention to improve the education and thereby the life chances of young offenders, but the Government’s proposals for a secure college housing one-third of young offenders in custody bear all the hallmarks of yet another rush to misjudgment. With a site in Leicestershire planned for a young offender institution going begging, the Lord Chancellor’s latest notion was to engage a building firm to design a college housing boys and girls aged 12 to 17 and then

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to start a tendering process which would lead to potential operators effectively writing their own job description, with precious little information as to costs or the precise way in which the institution would be managed. As we have heard, last week the Government published their consultation on the rules that will govern the establishment, containing such revolutionary and transformative suggestions that inmates should be entitled to at least one hot shower a day. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, has pointed out, the consultation will be concluded after the legislation is enacted, so Parliament will have no opportunity to consider the outcome or the Government’s response. That is a clear case of premature legislation for which no medical treatment can be prescribed.

Amendment 108 is designed to ensure proper scrutiny of this critically important part of the process. The amendment refers to the,

“mental or physical health needs”,

of young persons in secure colleges. As we have been informed by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, a report by the BMA on the detention of children is due to be published after the Bill has left this House. Given the seriousness of the issue, the novelty and controversial nature of the plans and the lack of detail as to how the college will operate in practice in terms of who will operate it and at what cost, why are the Government in such an unseemly hurry?

There are, as we have heard, serious problems about the proposals. Among the most worrying, is the notion of housing all 44 girls now in custody in England in one place, necessarily, potentially far from their homes, something which will also be true of many male inmates, and also remote from the local authority services with which they should be in contact. There will be no overnight residential visitor accommodation on the site.

The prospect of having 12 to 15 year-old boys in the same institution as 15 to 17 year-olds is also a matter of grave concern, even though they will apparently be housed in separate units on the site. The former vice-chairman of the Youth Justice Board expressed his misgivings about security with a high concentration of the latter age group. Today, the Chief Inspector of Prisons is reported as expressing concerns about a more concentrated mix of vulnerable, challenging and sometimes very violent boys, in the light of the fact that the number of children going into care is decreasing. It is becoming a more concentrated and a more problematic group. The older boys will potentially be in the same institution as these younger children.

Amendments 109 in my name and 117A in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Marks, in the next group, seek to deal with this matter. In Committee, the Minister indicated that no final decision had been taken on these sensitive issues, but, of course, that simply underlines the undesirability of giving the Secretary of State carte blanche to determine them without parliamentary scrutiny. It is also entirely unclear how the educational component, which is the ostensible justification for the scheme, will work, given that the population will be constantly changing. In Committee, the Minister said 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.]

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He failed to reply to my questions as to what sort of time we were talking about and who determined what sort of time would be ultimately allocated.

We are a country that criminalises children at a much younger age than most. We appear reluctant to inquire into, let alone learn from, the experience of other countries such as Finland, Spain—where, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, pointed out, Diagrama runs the best children’s custody centres in Europe—or even the US, where the Missouri model, with facilities containing no more than 50 beds, is becoming widely adopted. Has the Government even examined these or other models? Yet here the Minister described the measure in the Bill as providing a,

“framework for the creation of secure colleges so that the Government can trial a new approach to youth custody”.—[

Official Report

, 23/7/14; col. 1185.]

If they have not examined other people’s trials, then the notion of a trial here is somewhat limited. In any event, it is an odd sort of trial that encompasses a third of the total potential number of relevant young offenders and one that perhaps threatens the viability of existing facilities, including secure children’s homes, run, as we heard earlier, by local authorities.

The proposals contained in the Bill have attracted very little support. They embody the Government’s usual attachment to outsourcing. They are being pushed through with scant regard to the proper processes of parliamentary scrutiny. I entirely echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in strongly suggesting that the Government would be wise to extend the period and allow such scrutiny to take place.

Amendment 111 would require secure college rules to be approved, should the plans go ahead. Amendment 111A in my name would ensure that no second college could be provided without a proper assessment of the first, should that go ahead. I urge the House to support these amendments in order to ensure that proper consideration is given to these and other issues before launching what is, at present, an ill-defined and untested project. In addition, Amendments 120A, 120B, 121 and 122 deal with the use of force. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has expressed its views forcefully, as have a wide range of organisations. The amendment in my name and in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, embodies the committee’s formulation.

In Committee, I pointed out that Schedule 5 to the Bill contains a wide power under paragraph 10 for a custody officer to use “reasonable force” not only to,

“ensure good order and discipline”,

but to prevent escape and,

“to prevent, or detect and report on, the commission or attempted commission … of other unlawful acts”—


“to attend to their well-being”,

under paragraphs 8(c), 8(a), 8(b) and 8(d) respectively. In addition, paragraph 9 extends the possible application of force to the searching of detainees and anyone who is in the college or seeking entry. Those are very far-reaching powers, on which the Minister did not specifically comment. They will be entrusted to people whose training, qualifications and supervision we know nothing about.

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The position is utterly reprehensible and I hope that, having listened to Members on all sides of your Lordships’ House, the Government will take time to think again. I repeat: we are all entirely with the Government on wishing to make the best provision in educational and other terms for these damaged youngsters, but we are heading down a road with no clear indication of the destination or, indeed, how we will reach it. The Government should take the time, look at other people’s experience, engage with those most involved with the service and with these young people, and come back with some revised proposals.

5.15 pm

Lord Faulks: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate on these amendments and to all those in the Chamber and beyond who have engaged with and helped to shape our proposals for secure colleges. It has been said during the debate that our proposals are rushed and ill thought out, and that there has been a failure to engage.

We have made considerable efforts to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and experts right the way through, from the gestation of this idea to bringing legislation before Parliament and developing plans for a pathfinder secure college. In our Transforming Youth Custody consultation, published in February 2013, the Government engaged with a wide range of organisations in the education, custody and voluntary sectors. Uniquely, we asked them to submit outline proposals for how a secure college might tackle the problems of poor education and reoffending outcomes. What I think there is complete agreement on in your Lordships’ House is that there is far too high an instance of reoffending by young offenders and that education is insufficiently catered for within the secure youth estate.

Those responses directly informed the Government’s response to the consultation, published in January this year. After the Bill was introduced in this House, I hosted an open event in July to outline our proposals, to share our latest plans for the design of the pathfinder secure college—the clue is in the name: pathfinder—and to listen to the views of those with interests and expertise in this area. Peers were assisted by iPads that gave a design and indication of the precise configuration of the secure college and how the various parts would work together. It proved a fruitful exercise, I believe, and the discussion that day with Peers led to substantial changes to our design for the pathfinder secure college.

Following that meeting, we secured additional land for the site, increasing its size by two acres and extending the range of sporting facilities and outdoor space. We also reconfigured the layout of the site to ensure that groups of the more vulnerable young offenders, whom we had already planned to accommodate separately, could access education and health facilities via a different route from older children at the site and would have separate sporting facilities. I was pleased to share those revised plans at yet another open meeting with Peers last week.

Noble Lords will also be aware that, following my commitment in Committee, last week the Government published a public consultation on our plans for secure

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college rules. It is a substantial document with a considerable amount of detail. I hope that those noble Lords who have felt it appropriate to comment on the inadequacy of the consultation will at least take the trouble to read carefully this consultation and realise the amount of detail that has been provided in order to come to the right final conclusion as to the rules.

The secure college rules set out the proposed policies which will inform those rules, and in respect of the use of force—clearly a matter of considerable importance to the House—set out draft indicative rules to facilitate greater scrutiny of our proposals. Noble Lords will also be aware that the Government have brought forward an amendment to make rules authorising the use of force subject to the affirmative, rather than the negative, procedure.

Throughout the process, Ministers have written to and met with a wide range of stakeholders to keep them apprised of our plans. Only yesterday the Prisons Minister, Andrew Selous, met a range of children’s charities and groups with an interest in youth justice. We also have been working closely with NHS England, the Department for Education and experts in education and custodial provision to test our designs for the secure college pathfinder. Our revised plans are now publicly available and are being scrutinised by Blaby District Council as part of the planning application for the pathfinder.

I hope, therefore, that noble Lords will recognise that considerable efforts have been gone into and opportunities provided for the views of others to inform our thinking. I have to say I was very disappointed to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, whom the House of course greatly respects on this area, suggest in Committee that, notwithstanding our engagement, it was,

“both unreasonable and irresponsible of the Government to expect Parliament to rubber-stamp it until it knows more”.—[

Official Report

, 23/7/14; col. 1173]

The Ministry of Justice and my officials have worked extremely hard to provide information about secure colleges. There were also lengthy debates in the House of Commons. I hope noble Lords have had a chance to see them. I have read all of them. A great deal of detail was provided at that stage and then in your Lordships’ House in the lengthy Committee stage. The Government have attempted to give answers to all the various points that have been given to them. It is, therefore, with great disappointment, that we are accused of being in contempt of Parliament.

I will now turn to the amendments. They cover the use of force, secure college rules and the powers of the Secretary of State to contract out the running of secure colleges. I will start by addressing the amendment on the use of force, as this is relevant to the government amendment in respect of the secure college rules. Amendment 121 seeks to restrict the circumstances in which a custody officer may be authorised to use force in a secure college. I am aware that a similar amendment was recommended in the recent report on the Bill by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. While the Government share the view that force must only ever be used as a last resort, and that only the minimum force required should be used, we believe it is right that force be available in a wider range of circumstances than the amendment permits.

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In addition to preventing harm, we believe that force must also be available to prevent escape, to prevent damage to property and for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline. I recognise that it is the final category which has attracted most debate. During a constructive debate in Committee, I set out the Government’s view that custody officers in secure colleges should be able to use force for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline, but that this use would be subject to stringent controls.

In our consultation document on our plans for secure college rules, we have gone into a great deal of detail about our approach to the use of force. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Marks made reference to the instances given on page 23 of that document of particular examples which he, I think, accepted were instances where there would, in exceptional circumstances, have to be force used in circumstances where one would not normally want it to be used.

We have clarified that force, in these circumstances, may be used only where a young person poses a risk to maintaining a safe and stable environment and where there is also a risk to the safety or welfare of the young person against whom the restraint is used or that of another young person. We have set out examples in the document of the types of circumstances in which we believe the use of force for these purposes would be justified. We are clear that force can never be used as a punishment.

The consultation document makes clear our position that the use of force for good order and discipline would be authorised only to the extent that it was strictly necessary and proportionate; that only authorised restraint techniques could be applied; that the use of pain-inducing techniques for reasons of maintaining good order and discipline will be prohibited; that only the minimum restraint necessary for the shortest possible time must be used; that the young person’s dignity and physical integrity must be respected at all times; and that the best interests of the young person against whom the force is used must be a primary consideration. We have also set out safeguards and procedures to be followed before, during and after any use of restraint for maintaining a safe and stable environment.

The Government recognise the sensitivity and importance of provisions relating to the use of force with young people. That is why we are consulting publicly and in great detail, and we will consider the responses that we receive. However, for the reasons that I have set out, we do not agree with the restrictions that the amendment would place on the circumstances in which force could be used in secure colleges.

As a further commitment to ensuring scrutiny of our proposals on the use of force, we are bringing forward an amendment to the process for approving secure college rules. In its third report of the Session, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee recommended that if the Bill is to enable secure college rules to authorise the use of force for the purpose of ensuring good order and discipline, then such rules should, to the extent that they authorise, be subject to the affirmative procedure. We have accepted that recommendation and brought forward Amendment 122.

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This amendment will make the entire first set of secure college rules subject to the affirmative procedure, as they will contain provisions authorising the use of force. This will give Parliament additional oversight of the secure college rules, although I cannot agree to Amendment 111, which would require the rules always to be subject to the affirmative procedure—a requirement which does not apply to prison or young offender institution rules, for example.

Lord Beecham: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I ascribed the wrong number to the schedule to which I referred earlier. It is Schedule 6 which is about the use of force. The Minister has referred to a number of instances which are certainly in that schedule, but he did not refer to paragraph 8(b), which talks about the use of force being permissible,

“to prevent, or detect and report on, the commission or attempted commission by them”—

that is, prisoners—

“of other unlawful acts”.

That seems an extremely wide definition. Nor did the Minister refer to paragraph 9, which relates to use of force in connection with searches.

Lord Faulks: I could go through the entire section, which is very lengthy, and deal with all the various aspects seriatim, but I am not sure that that would be a particularly useful process at Report stage, given that I am sure that all those who have been listening to this debate will have had the chance to see the entire detail of the relevant section of the secure college rules. I think that I have summarised fairly the Government’s approach in the rules. I also referred to those two specific examples to which reference was made by the noble Lord, Lord Marks. There have been discussions at the various meetings that we have had. So I would rather not be tied down to specific examples of when force should be used. We believe that the structure is there. We are of course listening to the consultation carefully and we encourage all those who are concerned, of whom there are many in your Lordships’ House, to take part in that consultation to assist us further in arriving at a satisfactory position, which I am sure we will be able to do.

The publication of the Government’s consultation will also reassure the noble Lords and noble Baroness who tabled Amendment 108 that we will certainly make secure college rules before such an institution opens. These rules will be essential to ensuring that young people are detained safely and securely in these colleges, and that they are educated and rehabilitated effectively. However, I strongly believe that this does not need to be placed in the Bill.

It is in the context of creating secure college rules that I turn to Amendments 120A and 120B, which would set out in primary legislation the conditions governing the authorisation of the use of force. I welcome the noble Lord’s amendment, which adopts much of the approach taken in the consultation document. However, I believe that this is a case for the rules rather than for primary legislation. I have provided assurances on how they will come into effect.

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5.30 pm

I am grateful for the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, which relates to the evaluation of the secure college pathfinder. The amendment seeks to ensure that before a second secure college is established, an evaluation is first conducted and a report laid before each House. This is, in a sense, what lies at the heart of this debate: many noble Lords have said, “This is all being rushed, you should wait and ask the Government to go away and think again”.

At present we are committing only to establish one secure college in Leicestershire. This facility will be a pathfinder intended to demonstrate the success of this new approach to educating and rehabilitating young offenders. I entirely agree that the first secure college must be rigorously evaluated. I assure noble Lords that that is exactly what the Government intend. It is important to emphasise that the secure college pathfinder that will open in 2017 will be subject to a thorough evaluation to assess implementation, operation and delivery against key aims and objectives, including the educational attainment and reoffending outcomes of young people detained there. The findings of this evaluation will directly inform decisions about the future of secure colleges and the youth custodial estate more generally.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, addressed the House about concerns in relation to the mental health in particular of the proposed population of secure colleges. Of course, this will be a matter for NHS England, as I am sure she is aware, which has obligations to those in a secure college, in the same way that it has obligations to all members of the population. There is, as she may have seen in the design of the pathfinder college, a particular health unit placed strategically in the middle of the design. This will be the best way of delivering healthcare, uniquely tailored to those individuals.

I do not for a moment underestimate the challenges that these young people can present, and there may need to be a considerable amount of input in terms of medical help, advice and treatment. Although it is described as a very large establishment, a maximum of 320 is not large when compared with secondary schools, for example. There are some advantages in providing a larger number: there can be a better quality, and perhaps continuity, of medical attention. Of course, all this will be subject, as with the education provision, to inspections—inspections by Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, supporting the Care Quality Commission reports, which will all be published. The expert oversight will provide an additional view of the performance of this new establishment. So while I entirely agree that it must be properly evaluated to gauge its success, I do not consider that writing such a requirement is appropriate. I will therefore in due course ask the noble Lord not to press his amendment.

Finally, and less contentiously I apprehend, the Government are bringing forward minor amendments consequential to our earlier amendments to extend the secure college provisions to Wales. The purpose of Amendments 114 to 117 is to ensure that the text of the Welsh language version of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is consistent with the English language version as amended by Schedule 5.

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This is necessary because the two instruments are legally separate. I can assure the House that the effect of the amendments is unchanged.

I conclude by saying that the current system of looking after young people in custody is not satisfactory. Noble Lords have been generous enough to acknowledge that this coalition Government have achieved much by reducing the number of those who are in the secure youth estate. Those who remain clearly present challenges. Often they have not had any significant education in the past. They will have—I hope that the focus of the college will indicate this—a real opportunity for education in a significant block. They may not be there for a very long period, and it is important that the education provider—this is something that we are entirely focused upon—is sufficiently agile to give them sufficient benefit by way of education, in terms of often quite basic education provision, so that they can reap a long-term benefit. Noble Lords will be well aware that this particular cohort often has had very little continuity in its education in the past.

All this will be provided in a bright, barless environment. There will be at least one visit a week. As the secure college rules show, we are endeavouring to use increased technology to enable communication with families while the young people are at the secure college. They will have enough space to be moved around effectively but nevertheless have some independence.

This is a really good idea. Let us not be fearful of innovation. This provides an opportunity. Caution is understandable, but seeking to delay what may be to the real advantage of young people would be making a mistake.

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his careful, thoughtful and wide-ranging response. I know that I speak for everyone in the House in saying that we agree with him both that we need to reduce the dreadful record of reoffending in our young offender establishments and that what is presently provided is not satisfactory and has not been for a long time.

I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, is in his place; I would have expected the Minister to have paid tribute to the Youth Justice Board, which has been principally responsible for the reduction of the numbers, and in fact has been a remarkable example of good leadership and carefully researched innovation ever since it was formed.

Lord Faulks: I am very grateful to the noble Lord; he is quite right to reproach me for not giving credit to my noble friend Lord McNally, and I am very happy to do so.

Lord Ramsbotham: Having said that and witnessed the Minister’s customary graciousness, I agree with him that there has been an enormous amount of engagement and effort by officials and others to engage with people, but that engagement has been not about if the secure college will be established but when. We therefore still know nothing about what is to be done, who is to do it and how much it is to cost. I have quoted a number of times in this House the two definitions of the word “affordability”: first, can you

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afford it, and, secondly, can you afford to give up what you have to give up in order to afford it? Bearing in mind the current situation, financial and otherwise, I wonder whether it is worth spending the amount of money on this unproven and uncosted pilot when it could be diverted now to doing better by all the young people about whom we have been talking.

I accept that we are talking about a pathfinder and that the affirmative procedure for the rules is being proposed. However, the affirmative procedure will come only after the Bill has become law. Everyone knows that an affirmative procedure that comes after that has no clout anywhere—and certainly not with this.

I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate for the wide and thoughtful contributions that they made. The one that perhaps struck me most was from the noble Lord, Lord Deben, who reflected on the fact that we all know and love people of the same age group as those whom we are talking about, whose interests are currently not well served by the country. Therefore, the country must have a very clear say in what happens to them.

I understand that the secure college pilot is to be rigorously evaluated and will open in 2017. I will return to NHS England and healthcare provision in the next group because I do not think we have had full coverage of it. My feeling is that the Government appear hell-bent on pushing this through, but I do not think that it is the right approach. I am not proposing to divide the House on this amendment, but I give notice that I will do so on Amendment 111, which specifically mentions the approval by Parliament of the rules before they are adopted. I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment 108 withdrawn.

Amendment 109

Moved by Lord Beecham

109: Clause 32, page 31, line 2, at end insert—

“( ) No female, nor any male under the age of fifteen, may be placed in a secure college.”

Lord Beecham: My Lords, I have effectively spoken to this amendment in dealing with the issue of girls and boys being housed together. I will not therefore take the time of the House for very long but will just report that today the Women’s Resource Centre and Women’s Breakout have issued a statement concerning this matter. It says:

“Government plans to allay the … safeguarding concerns … by fencing-off girls and vulnerable children are inadequate. Girls will still be held alongside boys in the separated area, so safeguarding risks remain. The proposed fenced-off area will be a ‘prison within a prison’, likely to be reminiscent of the claustrophobic … units in Young Offenders Institutions, which have … been closed down … Girls in custody are an immensely vulnerable group. A Prison Inspectorate survey found that 61% of girls in young offender institutions had been in local authority care, compared to 33% of boys. A Youth Justice Board report found that one in three girls had experience of sexual abuse, and one in five had experienced violence in the home. There are so few girls in custody that they can easily be accommodated in the smaller, and far more appropriate, Secure Children’s Homes. There is no need to hold them in a secure college”.

I adopt that view and invite the House to do so. I beg to move.

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Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I will speak both to this amendment and Amendment 110. I know that I am up against a very strong three-line government Whip and, unlike the Minister, I am not a skilled advocate nor have I anything to do with party politics. If I were to be granted one wish before our deliberations, it would be that Part 2 should be removed completely from the party-political arena because it is not a matter of left or right politics—it concerns the future of some of the most damaged and vulnerable children in our society, which is a matter of national not electoral importance. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery I can do no better in relation to this group of amendments and the next than to slightly adapt the words of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew—of whose seminal review on the use of restraint and seclusion on detained children I was privileged to be a member—about an earlier amendment: that this is an issue on which all parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, sitting on the political Benches should be entitled to and should exercise their consciences, reflecting that they are deciding on the treatment of children of the same age as those that they know and love; that is a very important responsibility.

I make no apology for quoting, yet again, the words of the then 36 year-old Home Secretary Winston Churchill, and ask the House whether it could imagine him making the proposal that is now before us. He said:

“We must not forget that when every material improvement has been effected in prisons, when the temperature has been rightly adjusted, when the proper food to maintain health and strength has been given, when the doctors, chaplains, and prison visitors have come and gone, the convict stands deprived of everything that a free man calls life. We must not forget that all these improvements, which are sometimes salves to our consciences, do not change that position. The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country … and proof of the living virtue in it”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/7/1910; col. 1354].

In this case, for “convict” and “man”, read “child”. Stripped to its basics, the proposed secure college at Glen Parva is a cost-saving exercise based on presumed economies of scale on a site which had previous planning permission for a young offender institution. All the other assertions, beginning with education, healthcare and safety being at the heart of the design, are what Winston Churchill recognised as “salves to our consciences” dressed up as generalisations with which no one could possibly disagree. Of course no one could disagree with any intention to improve education, healthcare and safety from what I used all too often to find as Chief Inspector of Prisons, and which persists today largely because no one has been made responsible and accountable for making improvements.

5.45 pm

However, when you look below these generalisations you find nothing of substance—no evidence of the hard thinking-through of the details of what such children need, or of whether it is possible that inexperienced private contractors can do more with less than that which experienced people from both public and private sectors have been trying desperately to do over the years, or of conformity on the very

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cramped site with the square metre standards laid down by the Education Funding Agency. The despair of good people trying to do more with inadequate resources was evident in a long article about suicide in the


on Saturday, quoting the governor of Glen Parva, bursting into tears when apologising to the mother of a seriously mentally ill young offender who had taken his own life, with the words:

“I’m trying, I’m really trying”.

Then there are the words of the governor at the children’s YOI at Werrington when I and my inspectors arrived for an unannounced inspection: “Thank God you’ve come”.

That says to me that it is not one part of the youth justice system that is in urgent need of reform. It is the whole system, as I have said before, beginning with diversion to ensure that those with mental health problems do not end up in custody, then improving community alternatives, then custody, and then transition from custody back into the community—ensuring that all parts are able to work together and are not prevented from doing so.

I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for mentioning healthcare. I am grateful, too, that the British Medical Association has allowed the comprehensive report Young Lives Behind Bars to be used in this debate. Quite rightly, the BMA is very concerned indeed about the well of psychiatric morbidity that these children present, and absolutely right to insist that what is done is appropriate for their needs. It is not appropriate merely to pass the buck to NHS England. I am quite certain that the adolescent mental health authorities in Leicestershire will not thank the Government for parking 320 seriously disturbed young children on their site, in addition to all the other things that they have to do, particularly with Glen Parva YOI next door.

I simply do not understand the argument about why children need to go there. I salute the noble Lord, Lord Marks, for his comprehensive Amendment 117B, not least because it highlights so many aspects of good and proven practice and expert advice, not to say common sense, with which the secure college seems to be in wilful defiance. There are currently only 48 children under 15 in custody, and not many of those are from the proposed catchment area for the secure college. There are only 45 girls in custody, of whom only four live in the catchment area. Bearing in mind that the Government have said that they will not dispense with all the secure children’s homes, which being smaller are much more suitable for children under 15, why do any children need to go to the secure college anyway? Their presence will make life more complicated for both education and custody providers, and there are enough places for them in the secure system anyway. When I saw in the recently issued consultation document Plans for Secure College Rules that no decisions had yet been taken about who would be accommodated in the secure college pathfinder at Glen Parva, I hoped that I might be pushing at a door that had not yet been finally closed. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure both this House and those who are bidding for the contract that this unnecessary complication will be removed.

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I will conclude with a statement that I received from the head teacher of the Ian Mikardo High School, which received enormous praise both in the press and from Ofsted and which has received three outstanding reports. The fascinating thing about that school is that it has to deal with children 100% of whom have special educational and other needs. I contrast the record of the young offender institutions not just with the Ian Mikardo High School but with the Clayfields secure children’s home, which has a reconviction rate of 18% and a remarkable record of successful education and training.

The head teacher of the Ian Mikardo High School, Claire Lillis, who was formerly head of education and deputy governor at the Medway Secure Training Centre, wrote to me to express her extreme concern at the Justice Secretary’s plans to enable staff to forcibly restrain teenagers at the proposed children’s prison. However, she added that she was,

“equally appalled that the Department of Justice should regard locking up 320 vulnerable young people in a ‘secure college’ as a route to them having a positive and fulfilling future”.

All her 40 pupils, as I said, have statements of special educational need for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and she says that they,

“would be heading for prison at a young age were it not for this provision”.

In addition to their special educational and further complex needs, 97% were school non-attenders, 94% are known to child and adolescent mental health services, 12% are on the child protection register, and 31% are children in need. That is a worse record than is forecast for the secure college.

I will read three more quotes from her letter; first:

“Thanks to dealing with conflict through talking, developing healthy relationships and ensuring that staff do not use restraint, attendance of students, initially surprised by this approach, but now feeling safe and secure, is 90% plus, 96% going on to college, training or paid work”;


“There is something inherently wrong about using force for compliance. The Ministry of Justice is only reinforcing young people’s view that the world is a dangerous and scary place, in which they are regarded as unworthy and untrustworthy”;

and finally:

“In my experience children who are regarded as hardened criminals are invariably fragile and frightened, and I question whether it is appropriate to use adult prison companies for this highly specialised work. If children are so at risk that they need to be in a secure environment, then we need to support them using specialist staff working in a therapeutic, caring, nurturing way. Otherwise we will turn out children who have lost their dignity and their identity and who are more angry, more detached and more criminally intent”.

I think noble Lords might like to reflect on those words and some of the key facts about the Ian Mikardo High School. There are 10 teachers and 12 teaching assistants for the 40 boys, plus a parent engagement officer and two psychotherapists, one for the boys and one for the staff. Has the Secretary of State considered the strain on staff who would have to look after 320 difficult, challenged and vulnerable children in one confined space? Each place at the Ian Mikardo school costs about £38,000 a year; that is, of course, minus custody costs. I believe that the principal reason for its success is that the head teacher,

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armed with her experience of looking after similar children in the criminal justice system, planned, staffed and costed her reforms in great detail—including the banning of restraint, which she has pursued consistently—with the help of carefully selected and properly supported staff. I regret that I see no evidence that anything like that—which I think is absolutely essential—applies to the plans for the proposed secure college.

Lord Carlile of Berriew: Last Thursday, my noble friend Lord Faulks and his ministerial colleague from another place, Mr Selous, gave noble Lords the opportunity to hear from both Ministers and to look, not for the first time, at the physical plans for the secure college. Some changes had been made to the plans since the last time we had seen them. Those included carefully separated provision for girls and vulnerable boys in the younger age group.

When the plans were presented it became clear that what was being provided was the best one could manage on that site, in the view of the Government. What they have provided, in the plans that we saw depicted, is a way of transferring the girls and vulnerable young boys from their accommodation to health and education provision whereby part of the site is locked down from other students while the youngsters and the girls are being moved around. This is not a way in which any sane person or organisation would design a school or college. One only has to ask any teacher who has ever had to deal with the separation of boys and girls of the age that we are talking about—even, for example, when moving them to and from sports facilities—to know the kind of potential trouble that exists even in the best ordered institution. And we are not talking about an institution in which the students will in all cases be volunteering their co-operation for good order.

When we examine the situation further, we find the following. Unless my noble friend can point to something that we have not yet seen, no independent organisation assessing the merits of education provision has reported that this is a good design for such a college. Nobody has reported independently or empirically that this is a good way of dealing with girls and young vulnerable boys in such an institution. I repeat, as I did at the meeting, that I am grateful to the Government for finding another 2.5 acres on the site for some additional—though, I apprehend, still inadequate—sports provision. But the truth is that the Government are going to spend £80 million on this site for one reason alone—the fact that they already own it.

I wonder whether the local planning authority, which I believe is Blaby Council, will be as calm as the Government about the quality of the provision, its security and how satisfactory it is for this very young age group and for girls. I very much hope that it will not. It would not surprise me if the local planning authority raised some difficulties. As I said, the college is there simply because the Government own the site, and in order to fill that site they wish to shoehorn in girls and young vulnerable males as well. Those people should not be there at all, as the noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Beecham, and others have made absolutely clear.

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6 pm

I want to say something about Amendment 110, and particularly health needs. Your Lordships do not need my next remark to be repeated, although I will repeat it merely for the record—namely, that almost all the children in an institution like this will have at least one identifiable mental health condition and many of them will have multiple mental health conditions. Those mental health conditions will have been exacerbated by poor parental care, possible sexual abuse and violence at home. I regret that I have observed that the first time many young people have somewhere comfortable and secure to sit down is when they are in custody—in other words, they have multiple serious needs, many of which have to be met through child and adolescent mental health services. There will be self-harmers among them, particularly, I fear, among the girls. This is well documented in relation to teenage girls. Self-harm is extremely difficult to manage. Taking a girl through a secure tunnel or walkway to spend a little time in a health centre, however good it may be, and then walking her back under the same conditions to her accommodation just will not do. It is not the way in which child and adolescent mental health services work.

The Bethlem Hospital has provision for teenage mentally ill people. By the way, it has a school so it is interesting as a comparison. If my noble friend were to visit that hospital, he would find that the children in question are moved into a single room in which they are watched constantly. When they start to self-harm a little less, they are watched every five minutes and so on. It is a very complex process. I have heard no assurance that there is provision for girls, or any other children in this institution, to be managed under the medical model followed in the best child and adolescent mental health services. I repeat that this just will not do. It is inadequate in the absence of evidence of nearby residential mental health facilities with education provision to which these young people with these awful conditions can be moved. They are not lost causes. I can tell my noble friend that young people do recover from self-harming. I have seen plenty of examples of that, including one closely connected to myself. They recover from these conditions—they may recover permanently—and may lead completely useful, normal and, indeed, very profitable lives. However, they must be provided with the facilities to enable them to do so.

Frankly, those who have looked at the plans of the proposed site, with its shoehorning of people on to a property owned by the Government, as I mentioned, despair that any real thought has been given to the merits of these cases. Despite the effort that has been made—I am truly grateful to my noble friend and other Ministers for keeping us well informed—I cannot support a provision like this, which I confidently predict will be visited in an official capacity in a few years’ time by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, or somebody with his knowledge and experience, who will condemn this college as failing the most vulnerable in the age group concerned.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames: My Lords, I have two amendments in this group—Amendments 117A and 117B. I should have said at the outset today that the amendments in my name are all supported by

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my noble friends Lady Linklater, Lady Harris and Lord Carlile, who has just spoken. My noble friends would have added their names to the amendments had Monday not been such a busy day.

My first amendment is to the same effect as Amendment 109 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Beecham, and would prevent girls and younger boys—that is, those under 15—being held in secure colleges. The proposal for the first secure college at Glen Parva, just east of Leicester, is, as my noble friend made clear, a pathfinder proposal. It is intended to be experimental. I suggest that it cannot be right to experiment in this way with the lives of girls and young boys in custody. Widespread and deeply felt concerns are unanimously expressed in the many specialist briefings we have received, notably from the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, the Howard League for Penal Reform, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England and the British Medical Association, to whose impending report the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, referred earlier. All oppose holding girls and younger boys in the same institutions as older boys.

The numbers alone are extremely telling. As we all are now aware, there are only 1,100 offenders in custody in the secure estate. We have made it clear many times how far we regard this as a great achievement of this Government in the field of youth justice—a point which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, made earlier today. However, only about 45 of those young offenders are girls and, although the relevant numbers may vary, I think that fewer than 40 are under 15.

In the consultation paper on the proposed secure college rules, the Government have made it clear that they propose that there should be a rule to ensure separate accommodation for girls and boys. As my noble friend Lord Carlile just mentioned, the Government have also made it clear that the plans for Glen Parva disclose an intention that girls and younger boys should be housed in separate blocks, segregated from the main body of the secure college by a fence. However, they will share with the older boys the main education and health block at the site.