9 Feb 2015 : Column 1013

House of Lords

Monday, 9 February 2015.

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Worcester.

Introduction: The Lord Bishop of Salisbury

2.37 pm

Nicholas Roderick, Lord Bishop of Salisbury, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Bishop of Worcester and the Bishop of Portsmouth, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Death of a Member: Lord Gavron


2.41 pm

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, I regret to inform the House of the death of the noble Lord, Lord Gavron, on 7 February. On behalf of the House, I extend our deepest condolences to the noble Lord’s family and friends.

Disabled People: Sports Stadia


2.41 pm

Asked by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that sports stadia in the United Kingdom are made fully accessible for spectators with a disability.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, the Government are working to ensure that all spectators have equal access to sporting venues and services, and that the owners of stadia are aware of their responsibilities towards disabled spectators. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that the rights of disabled spectators are properly recognised.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, according to the charity Level Playing Field, only 15% of Premier League clubs are providing sufficient wheelchair space for disabled people, and access for people with other kinds of impairment is said to be “woefully inadequate”. The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for football clubs to treat disabled people less favourably than other customers, so is it not time to ensure that all football stadia are fully accessible so that disabled fans are supported? Should this not apply to every level of this beautiful game?

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord that more progress needs to be made. That is why the two departments’ joint survey of disabled sports fans is important, but there is also the issue of sports clubs. That is why the £1.9 million bid from the Equality and Human Rights Commission is designed precisely for a programme that includes support and guidance for improving the physical and cultural accessibility of sporting venues. Indeed, the EHRC is working actively with the Premier League, the England and Wales Cricket Board and rugby. It is very important that the momentum of the further work that needs to be done is continued very strongly.

Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con): My Lords, I must inform the House of a major structural defect in the main stand at Chelsea: it was built facing the pitch. I apologise to all Chelsea fans. This is a serious issue. Derby County has gone the extra mile, and Cardiff and Swansea have done great stuff on access. Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium is best in class. What does my noble friend believe should be done to clubs which choose actively to flout the law and not make their stadia accessible? If it is good enough for the Gooners, it should be good enough for any club. What should be done?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, again, I entirely agree with my noble friend. It is one of the reasons why the joint departmental project is both seeking good practice and wanting examples of bad. It is not just about seating; it is about transport, ticketing, sightlines and the whole operation, so that we ensure that people with a disability have a much greater chance to enjoy their sport.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister agree that the one alibi which cannot work for the Premier League clubs is shortage of money? Is he aware that Manchester United, which received, according to the Daily Telegraph, £89.1 million in 2013-14, largely from television deals, and is expected to receive even more when the outcome of the present bidding is concluded, still provides only 43% of the spaces required under the accessible stadium guidelines? Is not the answer that the Government must legislate to make those guidelines mandatory?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I have considerable sympathy with the noble Lord’s point—the noble Lord brings immense experience to this issue—that those large clubs with the resources really must do better. My honourable friend the Minister for Sport and Tourism is speaking to all the sporting bodies, particularly the Football League, to ensure that this point is made on every meeting agenda. I hope that what we are doing now will be part of a cocktail of activity that ensures that legislation is not necessary, but if clubs of Manchester United’s wealth are not prepared to do better, then everyone will have to think about that.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, in an earlier answer, my noble friend the Minister referred to the survey and said that this issue was about much more

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than the physical space for wheelchairs and other disabled spectators. Does the survey also assess the training of ground stewards and the percentage of ground stewards who have accessibility training?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, my noble friend makes a very good point. I will check precisely and let her know. Clearly, all that side of things is important. It is one reason why the survey is not just of disabled fans but of clubs, so that we can understand some of the challenges and what more needs to be done to help the clubs.

Lord Allen of Kensington (Lab): My Lords, sport makes a significant contribution to the health and well-being of those who take part, and access should be available for everyone who wishes to participate and to spectate. Volunteers play an essential role in making this happen. Research recently published by the Join In Trust, which I chair, shows the benefits to both physical and mental health for those who take part in sport. It also found that a huge contribution is made to the economy, of some £53 billion per annum, from sports volunteering alone. What plans do the Government have to invest in and expand this valuable resource to our economy?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the track record is immense. We have only to look at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Commonwealth Games to see how vibrant volunteering is. We want to develop that across a broad piece, but I shall certainly take back what the noble Lord said.

Lord Mawhinney (Con): My Lords, my noble friend in his earlier Answer gave a comprehensive and impressive list of things that people were undertaking and that the Government were doing. The slight danger in his Answer might conceivably be the implication that we were short of knowledge about what the problem was. When does my noble friend think that this will become an issue of political will rather than more and more about persuasion and trying to find out information that is readily available at the moment?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, one reason why we wanted to have the survey was that there was a lot of anecdotal evidence. We want firm evidence from both the clubs and disabled fans across a range so that we can properly address this matter. The survey concludes on 28 February. I hope that many more sporting clubs will contribute to that process. Then we can start to plan and remedy what has been unsatisfactory for too long.

Baroness Billingham (Lab): I want to extend the Question to places other than sporting facilities. Will the Minister look at the need for handrails in areas such as theatres and cinemas as well as in sports stadia, because they are very important now? We are an ageing population, but we still love our sport.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I very much hope that all places the public wish to enjoy, whether the theatre, the cinema, sports stadia or wherever, are very mindful of safety. Certainly, within football, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and, indeed, the Level Playing Field of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, are all about ensuring better facilities.

Banking System


2.50 pm

Asked by Lord Soley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to rebuild confidence in the banking system.

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, a successful and respected banking sector is of great importance to our economy. That is why the Government have taken wide-ranging action to ensure the integrity and stability of financial services in the UK. For example, the Government now require banks to ring-fence their riskier operations. They have also criminalised the manipulation of LIBOR and a further seven benchmarks and legislated to introduce a senior managers certification regime.

Lord Soley (Lab): Does the Minister accept that the latest Bank of England financial stability report indicates that this is not just about financial resilience but also about governance? As reports today in the Guardian and elsewhere demonstrate, it is governance that is such a failure at the moment. Will he say, very specifically, whether he agrees with the British Chambers of Commerce that we need a British business bank which would enable growth to take place in the UK economy? It is a very important proposal and one that ought to get urgent support.

Lord Newby: My Lords, we do have a business bank. This Government have created one and it is growing very rapidly. As for standards, I completely agree that the standards that are adopted by bankers need to improve. Of course, the industry has itself recognised this by establishing the Banking Standards Review Council.

Lord Razzall (LD): My Lords, I am sure the Minister is aware that the recently publicised excesses of HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary occurred under the regime of the previous Government. Does he believe that the system of banking regulation introduced by this Government would have made the excesses of HSBC less likely?

Lord Newby: My Lords, I think that all those involved in banking before the crash adopted laxer standards than they now accept are necessary. I know from discussions that I have had with senior representatives of HSBC before today that the new regulatory regime

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is far more intrusive and has been forcing them to address the way they do business in a manner which I am sure all noble Lords will welcome.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, should not those who ran HSBC when it was selling tax evasion packages be held to account? By whom should they be held to account?

Lord Newby: My Lords, there are several elements of holding people to account. I think the shareholders need to hold them to account. If there has been any criminal wrongdoing it is obviously for the police and prosecuting authorities in the relevant jurisdictions to pursue those matters.

Lord Eatwell (Non-Afl): My Lords, I am sure the Minister will confirm that the agreement with Switzerland to reveal tax information was made in 2011, after the coalition Government took office. Does he believe that confidence in the banking system is enhanced by the fact that concrete evidence of a major bank aiding and abetting tax evasion was comprehensively ignored by the coalition Government?

Lord Newby: No, I do not. As for the first part of the noble Lord’s question, the agreement with Switzerland, which he seems to deride, has generated £1.2 billion for the Exchequer. That is £1.2 billion more than was being generated under the previous Administration.

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): My Lords, this information was available to the Government when they took office. How is it, then, that the former chairman and chief executive of HSBC during this period was made a government Minister?

Lord Newby: My Lords, the process by which people become Members of your Lordships’ House and are made Ministers involves them being vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission and the appropriate bodies within government. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that the noble Lord, Lord Green, was involved in any of this sort of activity.

Lord Soley: The Minister cannot be allowed to get away with this. He is being incredibly complacent. The governance problem with banks has been there for years under all parties and it is fair to say that none of them has done enough about it. He is still not saying what he will do to ensure that the governance of banks, not just their financial resilience, is dramatically improved.

Lord Newby: My Lords, I have spent much of the past five years in this Chamber legislating to improve the governance of the banks. We have passed several major pieces of legislation to make long overdue improvements in the ways in which the financial services sector is managed. For example, we have introduced too-big-to-fail processes of various sorts, the ring

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fence and the bail-in, as well as new standards for senior managers in banks. All of these things will improve the way in which banks are managed and a number of them were actively opposed, when they were in government, by the previous Administration.

Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl): My Lords, on another aspect of banking and confidence, is the Minister aware that a number of well respected charities, particularly those working in developing countries, have had their bank accounts closed without any explanation or notice? Is he aware of that and, if so, has he had any representations from these groups? If not, will he accept a delegation of some of the groups affected disproportionately by this measure?

Lord Newby: My Lords, I have not had any representations, and of course I would be very happy to meet a delegation.

Lord Richard (Lab): I wonder whether the Minister feels encouraged by the strong and vocal level of support that he has had from the Benches behind him. One thing that has been very notable is that not a Conservative has got to his feet, and I wonder why. Would the noble Lord agree that for banks to become respected they have to earn that respect? Would he also agree that they have a very long way yet to go?

Lord Newby: Yes, my Lords, I would.

Council Tax: Low-income Taxpayers


2.57 pm

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on low-income taxpayers of the changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme and reduction in funding for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, these are local schemes and it is for local authorities to ensure that the effect on specific groups of council tax payers is both proportionate and fair. We made a £100 million transition grant available in 2013-14 to help councils to develop well designed schemes and maintain incentives to work.

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, in Newcastle alone, as a result of government cuts to council tax support, 18,000 working-age households, 4,500 of which are in work, have lost out, while 11,000 that were previously exempt have to pay 20% of the council tax and 7,000 that were formerly partially exempt now have to pay 20%. Arrears stand at £2.8 million. How do the Government justify this imposition on some of the most hard-pressed families and individuals in the country?

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, we have given councils wide powers to design council tax support schemes for exactly the kind of people mentioned by the noble Lord, and the vast majority of local authorities are applying the same system of premiums and allowances as applied under council tax benefit. Many are also offering additional protection to vulnerable groups.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister explain why a Government who talk so much about tax cuts are happy to countenance this tax increase on some of the poorest members of our society, many of whom are also struggling with cuts in benefits and tax credits and are too poor to benefit from increases in personal tax allowances? It is this Government who transferred responsibility to local authorities, with less money to fulfil those responsibilities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The noble Baroness makes a point that I cannot agree with. Just recently we announced an additional £74 million for welfare support at local authority level. As we said we would, we have stressed localism and local empowerment, and we have delivered on that. Council tax bills have come down by 11% in real terms since 2010. That is worth up to £1,075 for the average household over this Parliament.

Lord Tope (LD): My Lords, can the Minister confirm that it is for each local authority to decide which council tax support scheme they will have? Can he tell us what assessment has been made of the extent to which councils have been able to mitigate the reduction in funding for council tax support by using their new powers to levy additional council tax on empty or second homes?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My noble friend is quite right that this is about ensuring that local authorities are empowered. We have also taken steps to ensure that we have released a greater number of empty homes. There are additional measures that councils can take. For example, I have responsibility for countering fraud, where a bigger effort is being made. Councils currently lose £2.1 billion from fraud and error. There are council reserves of £21.4 billion. It is really for local authorities to decide their priority and to initiate schemes appropriately.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister recognise that there are some areas of the country where incomes are now so low that even the market is abandoning some services in smaller towns? In those areas, the public sector has a particular responsibility. Indeed, the social mobility task force, which was set up by his Government, is saying that it is people in work with the lowest incomes who will be the biggest crisis for this country in the next five years. Will the Minister recognise that the level of cuts on local authorities is making it difficult for those local authorities to help to protect these people who the market has already abandoned?

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Local authorities of course have a primary role in ensuring the welfare of all their residents. The noble Baroness talks about particular areas, but I believe that it is also important that local authorities work with the voluntary and private sectors to ensure the provision of services. This Government have sought to prioritise actual budgets so that local authorities can prioritise in their own local areas.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, we know that initially some local authorities were treating disability payments—DLA and PIP—as though they were income replacement benefits in their local schemes, rather than support for extra costs: that is, they were treating them as income, which obviously reduced the council tax support. What have the Government done to address this concern, or do they see it as none of their business?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Government have addressed all concerns. I think the noble Lord is being disingenuous about what the Government are seeking to do. We have ensured empowerment to local authorities to prioritise local spending. The impact and effectiveness of this policy, as I am sure the noble Lord is aware, will be reviewed by assessing three years of full data. It is also important to mention that the Government have sought to bring council tax spending under control. Sixty per cent of councils in England have frozen or reduced their council tax this year as well, and the Government have made these freezes possible for five successive years. I think it is about time that we acknowledged that.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, the Government have introduced universal credit, which we support, which seeks to bring together and simplify means-tested benefits for people of working age in a single benefit. Why, then, are the Government sabotaging that by extracting council tax benefit from the system and turning it into a postcode lottery, where the amount of help you get depends not on your need but on the accident of where you live?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I am sorry, but I do not recognise the noble Baroness’s description. I have already alluded to the fact that the Government will review this policy after three years. At that time, this element will be considered for possible inclusion in universal credit.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, would the Minister just say yes or no: have the Government transferred responsibility at the same time as reducing the budget? Local government is tired of having freedom to dispense even less money than this measly Government allowed before.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: This Government’s priority is efficient local spending. That is exactly what we have sought to do with our transfer.

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Gambling: Fixed-odds Betting Terminals


3.04 pm

Asked by Lord Strasburger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate the misuse of fixed-odds betting terminals in betting shops.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, new regulations come into force on 6 April this year that will end unsupervised high-stake gambling on fixed-odds betting terminals. All players using FOBTs are now presented with a choice to set time and money upfront. We are keeping this issue under review and remain focused on identifying gambling-related harm, wherever it is found, and devising effective measures to bear down on it hard.

Lord Strasburger (LD): My Lords, one man recently laundered nearly £1 million in drug money through these machines in Coral betting shops in the north-east. Can my noble friend the Minister explain why the Government’s rather feeble plan to set the maximum stake to £50 or £100 will make any difference at all to money laundering or to the extensive gambling addiction that these machines cause, given that four out of five of those staking just a quarter of the proposed new maximum limit show signs of problem gambling?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, as regards money laundering, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 places a duty on gambling operators to be alert to money laundering attempts and to report such attempts to the National Crime Agency. The Government expect all gambling operators to ensure that their anti-money laundering procedures are consistently and effectively applied to minimise risk and maintain good controls. On the point of the size of the stakes, the new measures will require those accessing stakes over £50 to use account-based play or to load cash over the counter. The Responsible Gambling Trust has said that in its view it is,

“overtly naïve and massively premature”,

to suggest that reducing the maximum stake size would help to reduce problem gambling.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, in a casino you will have at least a croupier, an overseer and a manager, all monitoring the behaviour of a gambler, yet on most high streets you can have a small shop with two of these machines and one person behind a screen. Does the Minister seriously believe that the assurances given by the bookmakers can be met as regards monitoring problem gambling?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, clearly, we will see how those measures work. We very much hope that they will work, and we are looking to the gambling industry to ensure that it co-operates on this. Of course, as I said before, the measures require all players of FOBTs to be presented with a choice to set time and money, which we think is an important stage in ensuring a redress of this problem.

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Lord Clement-Jones (LD): My Lords, the Government have been a strong supporter of localism, so will they listen to the views of some 93 local councils, who have asked the Government to be able to cut the FOBT stake to £2 because they are worried about anti-social behaviour, crime and problem gambling in their areas?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I know that DCLG is looking at that submission, and I very much hope that it will report on that shortly. However, of course we are also giving further powers to local communities by requiring planning applications to be submitted to local authorities for new betting shops.

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister confirm that, despite the new measures, it will still be possible for a gambler to spend £100 every 20 seconds? What further inducement could one give to people who have social difficulties and who are problem gamblers than to make it so easy to lose so much money?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the new measures will require those accessing stakes of over £50 to use account-based play or to load cash. However, interestingly, the Gambling Commission reported on Friday on its wish to raise the bar on social responsibility and working with operators to ensure that there is much more adherence to assisting people who gamble.

Lord Berkeley (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister see any connection between the gambling law and the problems of money laundering that have just been discussed, and what happened with HSBC five years ago, when the noble Lord, Lord Green, apparently was running the shop and 5 million Swiss francs in cash were handed over in a plastic bag?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I am a fairly even-minded person, but we are dealing with a question where, in 2000, there were no FOBTs and, by 2010, there were 30,000 FOBTs. That is the situation that this Government now seek to address. The deputy leader of the noble Lord’s party has admitted that what happened was a mistake, and we are now dealing with that.

Care and Support (Business Failure) Regulations 2014

Care and Support (Children’s Carers) Regulations 2014

Care and Support (Eligibility Criteria) Regulations 2014

Care and Support (Market Oversight Criteria) Regulations 2014

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1023

Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015

Motions to Approve

3.10 pm

Moved by Earl Howe

That the draft regulations laid before the House on 3 December and 17 December 2014 be approved.

Relevant documents: 17th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instrument, 19th and 21st Reports from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. Considered in Grand Committee on3 February.

Motions agreed.

Armed Forces Pension (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2015

Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (England) (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2015

Police Pensions (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2015

Public Service (Civil Servants and Others) Pensions (Consequential and Amendment) Regulations 2015

National Health Service Pension Scheme (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2015

Teachers’ Pension Scheme (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2015

Motions to Approve

3.10 pm

Moved by Lord Newby

That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17 December 2014 be approved.

Relevant document: 17th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 3 February.

Motions agreed.

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1024

Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

Third Reading

3.11 pm

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, has consented to place her prerogative, so far as it is affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Clause 1: Seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism

Amendment 1

Moved by Lord Bates

1: Clause 1, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

“( ) In Schedule 2 to the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/435 (N.I. 10)) (civil legal services: excluded services), in paragraph 2(d) (proceedings in court of summary jurisdiction in relation to which funding for representation may be provided), after paragraph (xx) insert—

“(xxi) under paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015;”.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, Amendment 1 relates to the availability of civil legal services in Northern Ireland for hearings of applications to extend the 14-day time period in which an individual’s travel documents may be retained under the power in Part 1, Chapter 1, of the Bill.

Your Lordships will recall that, in Committee on 20 January, the House agreed to an amendment that extended the availability of legal aid to those subject to the temporary passport seizure power in England and Wales, subject to individuals meeting the statutory means and merits tests. At that time, I advised the House that we were discussing the matter with the devolved Administrations and that further amendments may be required.

Accordingly, this amendment is necessary to ensure that, subject to means and merits tests, civil legal aid may be available in relation to applications to extend a temporary passport seizure to a district judge in the magistrates’ courts in Northern Ireland, as set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Bill. The Scottish Government have confirmed that civil legal aid is already available in Scotland under the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986. The secondary legislation which sits under that Act may require some amendment and that will, of course, be taken forward through the Scottish Parliament.

Amendment 1 will amend paragraph 2(d) of Schedule 2 to the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 to bring the proceedings in Schedule 1 to the Bill within the scope of civil legal services in Northern Ireland. The amendment also ensures that advocacy before the district judge in the magistrates’ courts may be included in the civil legal aid that may be available for those proceedings. The amendment does not alter

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the statutory means and merits tests, nor does it make available civil legal aid for any other civil legal services in Northern Ireland. Legal aid is already available for judicial review proceedings in Northern Ireland, subject to individuals meeting the statutory means and merits test.

The Government consider that an amendment to the scope of the civil legal aid scheme in Northern Ireland is appropriate in these circumstances due to the important nature of the proceedings set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, the limitations on an individual’s ability to present their own case in these circumstances, and the absence of an alternative route to resolution.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights and a number of noble Lords have expressed an interest in this issue and I trust that this further amendment will also be welcomed by your Lordships’ House. I beg to move.

Amendment 1 agreed.

3.15 pm

Clause 26: General duty on specified authorities

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord Bates

2: Clause 26, page 17, line 39, after “to” insert “the exercise of particular functions or to”

Lord Bates: My Lords, in moving Amendment 2, I will, with the leave of the House, speak also to Amendments 3, 7 and 8. These all relatively minor and technical amendments in relation to the Prevent duty in Part 5, Chapter 1, of the Bill.

Schedule 6 specifies those authorities subject to the duty. Amendments 2, 3 and 7 increase the flexibility here to allow for the duty to apply only in relation to the performance of certain of a specified authority’s functions that we chose to refer to in the schedule. We do not have any intention of altering the current descriptions in Schedule 6 at the present time, but these amendments will allow for the possibility of such nuances to be included in the future.

Amendment 7 seeks to provide a clarification that functions caught by this duty do not include functions exercised outside Great Britain. This matches the territorial extent of this part of the Bill.

Amendment 8 follows on from the government amendment tabled on Report, which required that the Prevent guidance be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. This amendment allows for the power to issue such guidance to commence upon Royal Assent. This will ensure that the guidance can be issued and considered by Parliament at the earliest opportunity, prior to the duty itself being commenced, so that specified authorities have as much time as possible to make preparations in the light of the guidance before it takes effect. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, I welcome these government amendments, as I do all their amendments at this stage. I particularly welcome the proposal that only particular functions of authorities which are

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specified in the future may be caught. I wish I had thought of using the term “nuance” when I tabled a similar amendment at a previous stage about the current list of authorities.

I have a question for my noble friend on Amendment 7 and functions exercised outside Great Britain. I imagine that his notes include one or two examples of what that might comprise. I asked my noble friends sitting next to me whether they had any ideas. My noble friend Lady Ludford suggested that the measure might apply to the activities of UK Visas and Immigration. I do not know whether the Home Office would come down with a heavy fist on a Home Office body, but I am sure that it is a good principle. It seems that my noble friend may not have any examples, in which case I will let him off the hook as he has been so helpful on other matters.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for her question on these amendments. We are happy to supply further examples but one which springs to mind is that of a university which has another campus outside the United Kingdom. However, if there are other examples which would be helpful to your Lordships, I am happy to write at a later date.

Amendment 2 agreed.

Amendment 3

Moved by Lord Bates

3: Clause 26, page 17, line 41, after “to” insert “those functions or”

Amendment 3 agreed.

Clause 31: Freedom of expression in universities etc

Amendment 4

Moved by Lord Bates

4: Clause 31, page 20, line 12, leave out from “of” to end of line 13 and insert “a description mentioned in Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988 (higher education courses).”

Lord Bates: This is the third and final group of amendments. In coming to the end of Third Reading, it is appropriate that I conclude my remarks on the subject of academic freedom.

On Report, your Lordships’ House agreed a government amendment to require further and higher education institutions, when carrying out the Prevent duty, to have particular regard to the duty to secure freedom of speech contained in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. This will require higher and further education institutions, when considering all the factors they need to consider when complying with the Prevent duty, to place particular emphasis on the duty to secure freedom of speech.

A number of noble Lords, in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Lister of Burtersett, argued that we should add to that provision so that particular regard must also be given to the principle of academic freedom.

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As I set out at the time, the Government do not believe that such a reference is strictly necessary: the description of academic freedom in Section 202 of the Education Reform Act 1988 is essentially a subset of freedom of speech as set out in Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986.

However, your Lordships made the case that the principle of academic freedom itself should be explicitly referenced in the Bill. I committed to give this matter further consideration in order to provide reassurance. Therefore, I have tabled Amendments 5 and 6 to include “academic freedom” in Clause 31. This should provide unequivocal reassurance that the Prevent duty is not designed to undermine the principle of academic freedom. The Government have also tabled Amendment 4 to provide greater clarity as to which institutions the clause applies to. The new reference to Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988 makes it clear which higher education institutions are required to pay particular regard to freedom of speech and academic freedom when carrying out the Prevent duty. I trust that this provides greater clarity for your Lordships.

As this may be, without tempting fate, the last point I make formally on this matter—I am aware that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, may wish to respond—I would like to place on record my deep thanks to your Lordships’ House for the consideration that they have given this very important Bill. We have spent seven days in Committee and we have had thirty-eight and a half hours of scrutiny. The Bill has been scrutinised not only by the excellent contribution of the current members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, but by former council leaders, senior lawyers, former Law Lords, former judges, IT gurus, a former chief prosecutor, former diplomats, Cabinet Ministers, former Home Office Ministers, university vice-chancellors, academics, college heads, three former Cabinet Secretaries, two former directors of the security services and two former chiefs of the Metropolitan Police. That level of scrutiny has been reflected in some 237 amendments, which have been considered by your Lordships. People can therefore have some confidence that this important piece of legislation will leave your Lordships’ House in better shape than when it arrived.

I thank in particular Her Majesty’s Opposition—the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser—and also my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for their contributions, their scrutiny and their liaison which has been ongoing throughout the course of our proceedings on the Bill.

It is appropriate that we conclude our discussions on this key issue, which is all to do with freedom of speech and academic freedom. It reminds us that while the purport of this piece of legislation is very much to keep us safe, we are ever mindful that we need to protect the very freedoms which the people who would seek to attack us want to take away. We cannot do their work for them and therefore we have refined and sharpened the Bill to make sure that it is suitable for that purpose.

As well as thanking all the Members who have taken part in your Lordships’ House, on a personal note I pay particular thanks to my noble friend

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Lord Ashton of Hyde for his assistance during the process, and also to the Bill team. I am sure that everyone—my noble friend Lord Ashton of Hyde, the Bill team, and all your Lordships—would want particular thanks to go to those members of the security services, the police force, and the Border Force, who give of their time and safety every day to keep us safe from these particular crimes. All they ask in return is our support and the tools to do the job. I beg to move.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I very much welcome Amendments 5 and 6, which write into the Bill the duty to,

“have particular regard to the importance of academic freedom”,

as defined in the 1988 Act, alongside the duty on freedom of speech, which was conceded on Report. I am really very grateful to the Minister. As a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I thank him for listening and taking action so late in the day. I am sure he groaned inwardly when I burst into his office last week. No doubt he thought that everything had been sewn up. I am therefore particularly grateful that he was prepared to take action and go the last mile so late in the day.

I also thank the Bill team and the lawyers for executing the decision so neatly. I am sure that they also groaned—perhaps not quite so inwardly. I also welcome the Minister’s latest letter to noble Lords, in which he made clear that:

“‘Particular regard’ is stronger than ‘due regard’ because it elevates the consideration to the top of the list of factors to be weighed up i.e. freedom of speech is the most important other duty, rather than simply another one to be considered, such as health and safety”.

It might be helpful if he could confirm that, so that it is on the record.

I have one final question: what is the timetable is for finalising the guidelines and bringing regulations before both Houses?

Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LD): For the sake of absolute clarity— because there has been a great deal of confusion about these aspects of the Bill—can my noble friend say whether it is correct that his Amendments 4, 5 and 6 make no difference whatever to the purport of the Bill, are merely clarifying and have no substance?

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): I join in thanking the Minister for what he has done in reaching the right conclusion, particularly with regard to academic freedom. Balancing security with liberty and freedom is a very difficult business, and he has brought to this issue sensitivity, intellectual rigour and great listening skills. He has performed his function as a Minister in the most exemplary way, and I hope that others will follow suit. I wanted to thank him formally.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford (LD): My Lords, as another of those who argued in favour of the amendments on academic freedom that were put before the House, I thank the Minister very much for his co-operation. Like others, I am pleased with the overall result, even though some of us would have liked implementation

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1029

of the Prevent duty to be postponed for some time for a review of it to take place. However, we are very grateful to him for what he has achieved.

One of the issues that I raised with the Minister was whether the duty under the 1986 and 1988 Acts, which extend to further education colleges, included sixth-form colleges. I have had confirmation from the Bill team that the provision indeed includes those colleges. That results in a slightly anomalous situation in which sixth-formers in schools are not included within the general duty to promote freedom of speech in the same way. It is possible that there will be some follow-through from the Association of School and College Leaders, for example, to obtain further clarification from him.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, I, too, add my thanks to the Minister and the Bill team for the amendments. As I said at earlier stages of the Bill, as someone who has had to deal with different codes of practice and work out which takes predominance over the other, the critical thing that came fairly early on in your Lordships’ House was the clear importance of the responsibility to hold on to the duty of freedom of speech. It was during that debate that academic freedom came up and I am very grateful that these amendments have been laid. Contrary to the question that my noble friend asked about whether this changed anything, I think that for people working in the academic world it is an important clarification. I received a number of questions from people in the academic community wondering exactly where these academic freedoms stood. Therefore, I am very grateful to the Minister.

3.30 pm

Lord Elystan-Morgan (CB): My Lords, as one who pecked away as rather a nuisance in relation to Section 202 of the Education Reform Act 1988, I give special thanks to the Minister for his courtesy and understanding in this matter. There might well have been a technical argument that the wording of Section 43 of the 1986 Act already covered the point, because it refers to employees in the context of freedom of speech, but it would have been churlish to do so. I am very grateful to the Minister for his chivalry, courtesy, sensitivity and, indeed, his bounty and generosity in this matter.

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD):My Lords, I, too, wish to echo the thanks to the Minister for his persistence and patience. I am also grateful to him for letting me know that he and his officials are discussing consultation with universities and students with regard to the guidance offered by the Minister. As it happens, I spent Friday with a group of young sixth-formers from, I suppose, every kind of ethnic and religious background, a substantial proportion of whom were Islamic. They all strongly took the view that it was very important to enable discussion and debate to take place at their age level. They suggested, very sensibly, that the Government could help by, for example, encouraging political parties and Cross-Benchers to suggest the names of people who might be willing to speak to sixth forms of that kind and to respond if a school asks for a speaker without itself having one in mind. That was a very good suggestion by these young

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1030

men and women. I hope very much that the Minister will persist with his discussions with the officials. It is crucial that young people feel themselves involved and part of the whole effort to try to deal with terrorism in this country.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB): My Lords, I add my thanks to the Minister for the latest amendments that he has tabled, which met very clearly points made by me and others in the debate on Report. I hope that he will not feel the need to answer too clearly the question put to him. In the professional field in which I practised for many years, clarifications were what you called changes of substance that you did not wish the Opposition to be able to say was a change of substance.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick (Con): My Lords, the Minister has been absolutely showered with garlands and bouquets. I am sure they are extremely well deserved and I am very reluctant to strike a discordant note—and I will not. However, I wish to follow the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, on the guidance notes. Everyone is talking about academic freedom but in the Bill it is not just about academic freedom; it is also about freedom of speech on campuses and meetings held in universities. I am concerned about this because recently a degree of intolerance has sometimes been shown, with people trying to ban meetings in universities. Therefore, I have been a little worried about some of the things in the guidance notes.

The Minister will recall that I was puzzled, as was the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, by his concept of non-violent extremism. I was not altogether convinced by the Minister’s reply as to what that meant. However, what really alarmed me was the substance of the guidance notes. I come to this very fresh, compared to people who have been looking at this for a long time. I drew attention to this business of having to give advance notice of what your speech was going to be about, and rating speakers from seven to 10—or one to 10—on how much risk there was of them causing a disturbance on campus. How do we rate David Irving or Marine Le Pen? These are very difficult judgments to make.

I went through a number of the provisions. In reply, the Minister just said, “Some people made a lot of fun of the guidance notes”. He did not answer any of the points. As the noble Lord, Lord Butler, said, a lot of this is pretty unworkable. It reminds me, as I think it reminded the noble Lord, a little of some regulation put forward by the FSA and the FCA. There is a lot of box-ticking in this.

I am sure that the concessions the Minister has made on academic freedom are very important. I am sure that they have satisfied a lot of people. That is thoroughly to be welcomed, but I very much hope that the points made about the guidance notes will be taken into account in any reconsideration of them.

Baroness Buscombe (Con): My Lords, I also congratulate my noble friend the Minister on putting the Bill into far better shape than it was in when it left the Commons, as is so often the case in your Lordships’ House. It shows your Lordships working brilliantly together, as we do.

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1031

I agree with everything that my colleagues on the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the noble Baronesses, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws and Lady Lister, said about the clauses we are looking at now. I also say to my noble friend Lord Lamont that if he had been with us at Second Reading and in Committee, he would have been rather more assured that some of the aspects that concerned him about the guidance have already been debated at great length. I am sure that my noble friend the Minister will have taken those issues on board.

On substance, I also say to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, that this is about clarification, which will make all the difference to perception. Perception is hugely important; I think of the 500 signatories who attached their names to a letter in the Guardian only last week. The Minister has responded with clarity, which is exactly what we all asked for. I thank him for that.

Finally, and with respect to my noble friend, I remind all noble Lords of the need to put pressure on whoever is in government after the forthcoming election to bring back to the House debate and legislation regarding data retention. This is an aspect that remains in the forefront of many noble Lords’ minds. It needs to be addressed further and as quickly as possible.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, an acknowledgement of the Minister’s hard work, openness, patience and availability in numerous meetings applies not just to these clauses but to the whole of the Bill. He has been so helpful, as other noble Lords have said.

Having said that, I think it is right to say—noise from behind me suggests that I might be about to criticise the Minister; I am not—that there is a lot of work for the Government and local government, at all levels and in all sectors, to do. I will not be the only Member of your Lordships’ House who has had a number of emails this morning saying that the writer is very concerned about the Bill, or making points about the need for tackling radicalisation to be done from the bottom up. Such emails also mention issues around discrimination and all the things that many of us have voiced at some length during proceedings on the Bill. At this point, while giving ourselves a pat on the back for having got to here, it is only right to remember that the work done outside the legislation is probably more difficult than the legislation itself.

I gave very brief notice to the Bill team of one question. If the Minister is not able to answer it, since it arises from his most recent letter, which is not on the record in Hansard, I will of course understand if he would prefer to answer it by letter. The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, asked about due regard, particular regard and so on. The letter says, in terms, that the particular freedom of speech awareness and the principle of academic freedom are not elevated above the Prevent duty. On the last day of Report, I think, we heard a very helpful explanation of what “due regard” meant. Having said that, the letter goes on a couple of pages later to say that particular regard is stronger than due regard. I found it a little difficult to reconcile the two parts of the letter. The Bill team started to explain it to

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1032

me, but I needed to get into the Chamber for the start of these proceedings. If that is better dealt with by letter, to have the same status as the letter that gives rise to the questions, perhaps that would be the way to do it.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, the Minister’s characteristically generous comments when he introduced these amendments illustrate his attitude to the whole Bill. I hope that the well-deserved praise that he has received so far does not damage his promotion prospects in the future, given where it is coming from. He said that the debate had lasted thirty-eight and a half hours. There were times when it flew by and there were times it did not, but it is a testament to your Lordships’ House—and I think noble Lords across the House, other than the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, have recognised this—that we have a substantially improved Bill from the one that we received, and with no votes, which is an interesting comment on the way we have proceeded in our discussions and debates both inside the Chamber and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, referred to, outside the Chamber as well.

I thank the Minister for the number of occasions on which he has been willing to engage. We have all engaged with Ministers across parties in the past where we have engaged but have felt that they perhaps have not engaged in the same way. He has not been guilty of that on any occasion. He did engage properly. Even last Wednesday, I caught him at around midnight as he was leaving the Chamber, and he was willing to discuss the issue of academic freedom further. I think that says a lot about how we got to this substantially improved Bill.

My only question is to ask whether the Minister can place on the record the points that he made in his extremely helpful letter in that regard, as outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. I think that would be very important. I thank him and his Bill team, who have been available at all times for discussions and debate. I think that is what has led to the improvements.

Can I make one plea? I have also received emails and letters about this. There is some misunderstanding of the purpose of the Bill and how these measures will work. That is going to be very important. Legislation is one thing, but hearts and minds and understanding to make it work in practice in the way that it is supposed to—doing no less and no more than is intended—will be extremely important.

As well as the clarity that the Minister has given to the Bill as a whole, particularly on freedom of speech and academic freedom in Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill, the issues will now receive judicial review. That is extremely important. We pushed it to a vote in the Commons. We did not succeed, but we have succeeded in agreement across your Lordships’ House on that point during our debates.

On the issues of guidance, the fact that we have now increased parliamentary scrutiny by affirmative order is extremely important. I also recognise that during Committee, as the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, said, several changes were made to that guidance. She recognised that it would have to be changed before it was presented to your Lordships’ House through an SI.

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We support these amendments. We are grateful to the Minister for putting them forward. We also welcome the spirit in which this Bill has been debated and discussed and the changes that have been made. It is a significant testament to your Lordships’ House that, as I said at the beginning, we have a much improved Bill in comparison to the one we received, and with no votes, by negotiation and discussion.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I am very grateful for the comments that have been made from around the House. There is no need for the noble Baroness to worry about damaging my career prospects. As I am reliably informed, I do not have many, having already exceeded my mother’s expectations for my career some years ago.

The noble Baroness made a very important point about the fact that we have considered 237 amendments and there has been no Division, but that is not to say that there has been no difference, change or argument, or really passionate debate. I think of some of the debates that we have had, particularly on academic freedom and communications data, to which my noble friend Lady Buscombe referred. We have had passionate debate all the way through, and as a result of that 40 amendments have been made to the Bill, which will now go on its journey to another place.

3.45 pm

I guess that is probably part of the reassurance that I would offer to my noble friend. Certainly I would never wish to deal in platitudes. We had made progress in recognising that the guidance put out for consultation was going to be unworkable in that form, to be quite frank, so we conceded that there would need to be changes. An added layer of commitment to that was the decision that this would not just be issued by the Secretary of State in guidance next month but be subject to the affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament. That is an added guarantee and something that will be welcomed.

I am conscious that I was asked by the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Smith, and my noble friend Lady Hamwee to put on the record the comments made in paragraph 1 of page 4 of my letter, which states:

“If the further Government amendment is agreed”—

it just has been—

“it will also require academic institutions to have ‘particular regard’ to the academic freedoms referred to in section 202(2)(a) of the Education Reform Act 1988. ‘Particular regard’ is stronger than ‘due regard’ because it elevates the consideration to the top of the list of factors to be weighed up”.

My explanation means that it elevates it to the top, not that there are no other factors that should be considered and that it trumps all; it should be given the very highest consideration.

I am also grateful to my noble friend Lady Williams for her persistence on the issue of engaging students. That has been a very positive contribution in thinking through the shape of the guidance. We need to make sure that people see this not as a threat to freedom in any way but as a way of keeping our campuses and institutions safe, and keeping strong the values that we hold dear in our society.

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In that regard, the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, asked why the sixth form was being treated differently. The position reflects all other legislation that applies to the further education sector. It maintains the position of treating schools differently from further education, which has been the approach of successive Governments. The issue raised, therefore, goes far wider than the immediate provision in the Bill and may be something that a future Government will want to address.

I was asked about that guidance by my noble friend Lady Buscombe and the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. We hope to introduce the guidance in Parliament before the end of the current Session. That should be done so that people can start preparing and there can be greater clarity.

I think that my noble friend Lady Brinton responded to my noble friend Lord Phillips. I am seeking not to provoke him to rise to his feet at this point but to say that these are changes, and the more clarity that can be put on the record, either from the Dispatch Box or in guidance and codes of practice, the less likely it is that people will argue about this in the courts. They are more likely to see it as clear and how we ought to set about it and what the Government’s aim is. That will be for the benefit of all. With those responses, I commend the amendment.

Amendment 4 agreed.

Amendments 5 and 6

Moved by Lord Bates

5: Clause 31, page 20, line 15, leave out from “applies” to end of line 17 and insert “—

(a) must have particular regard to the duty to ensure freedom of speech, if it is subject to that duty;

(b) must have particular regard to the importance of academic freedom, if it is the proprietor or governing body of a qualifying institution.”

6: Clause 31, page 20, line 18, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

“(3) When issuing guidance under section 29 to specified authorities to which this section applies, the Secretary of State—

(a) must have particular regard to the duty to ensure freedom of speech, in the case of authorities that are subject to that duty;

“(b) must have particular regard to the importance of academic freedom, in the case of authorities that are proprietors or governing bodies of qualifying institutions.

(4) When considering whether to give directions under section 30 to a specified authority to which this section applies, the Secretary of State—

(a) must have particular regard to the duty to ensure freedom of speech, in the case of an authority that is subject to that duty;

“(b) must have particular regard to the importance of academic freedom, in the case of an authority that is the proprietor or governing body of a qualifying institution.

(5) In this section—

“the duty to ensure freedom of speech” means the duty imposed by section 43(1) of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986;

“academic freedom” means the freedom referred to in section 202(2)(a) of the Education Reform Act 1988;

“qualifying institution” has the meaning given by section 202(3) of that Act.”

Amendments 5 and 6 agreed.

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Clause 35: Chapter 1: interpretation

Amendment 7

Moved by Lord Bates

7: Clause 35, page 22, line 2, at end insert—

“( ) “Function” does not include a function so far as it is exercised outside Great Britain.”

Amendment 7 agreed.

Clause 52: Commencement

Amendment 8

Moved by Lord Bates

8: Clause 52, page 32, line 40, leave out “29” and insert “30, section 31(2) and (4) and sections 32”

Amendment 8 agreed.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Taxation: Avoidance


3.50 pm

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given by my honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to an Urgent Question in another place on tax avoidance by HSBC. The Statement is as follows:

“HMRC has a long-standing approach to tax evasion, which is based on collecting the tax and interest due, changing taxpayer behaviour to discourage them from evading in future, and enforcing the most appropriate and effective penalties. Overwhelmingly, this means providing disclosure facilities to encourage tax evaders to sort out their tax affairs, backed by civil penalties to fine them for the offence.

This Government have supported HMRC’s approach by increasing investment in HMRC’s enforcement capacity and by strengthening HMRC’s powers, including increasing the maximum civil fines for hiding money in tax havens to 200% of the tax evaded. There was no evidence for the possibility of prosecution of HSBC from the data provided to HMRC. However, if further evidence comes to light through the evidence published today, HMRC will of course respond appropriately.

This approach has been very successful in tackling tax evasion—whether from plumbers, barristers and medics in the UK or from the wealthy hiding money in offshore accounts. HMRC has collected more than £1.6 billion from 57,000 disclosures as a result of a wide range of UK and international initiatives. Internationally, since 2010, HMRC has brought in around £2 billion in previously unpaid tax as a result of the UK’s agreement with Switzerland on a withholding tax on Swiss bank accounts and the international Liechtenstein disclosure facility.

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In a small number of cases, HMRC will institute criminal investigations into serial tax evaders and those who deliberately conceal information from us. But in most cases, disclosure and civil fines are the most appropriate and effective intervention, and that is how HMRC has approached the receipt of data from leaks and whistleblowers, including the Swiss HSBC data that were shared with the department in May 2010.

Using the civil disclosure approach, HMRC has systematically worked through all the HSBC data that it has received, and has brought in more than £135 million in tax, interest and penalties from tax evaders who hid their assets in Swiss HSBC accounts. HMRC received data about 6,800 entities, which, after removing duplication, resulted in information on 3,600 businesses and individuals. Of these, more than 1,000 were challenged and the cases were settled. HMRC believes the remainder are compliant but continues to monitor their activities. HMRC is examining whether we have all the same data that the ICIJ has, and will be asking the ICIJ for any data that we have not already been given.

HMRC received the HSBC data under very strict conditions, which limited the department’s use of the data to pursuing offshore tax evasion and prevented HMRC from sharing the data with other law enforcement authorities. Under these restrictions, HMRC has not been able to seek prosecution for other potential offences, such as money laundering. The French authorities have today confirmed that they will provide all assistance necessary to allow HMRC to exploit the data to the fullest.

HMRC’s powers to crack down on international evasion are being further strengthened by the new international common reporting standards, which more than 90 countries have agreed to as an extra tool for closing down the options for tax cheats to pursue this increasingly high-risk practice”.

3.53 pm

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): My Lords, I fear the House and the country are going to regard that as a fairly lame Statement in the light of the disclosures today. The Minister has not made any attempt at all to answer the questions that are being asked about past actions. We and the country want to know: why did the Prime Minister, first, appoint Stephen Green to this House when the information was already in the Government’s hands and, secondly, make him Trade Minister? Did they not address the issue of due diligence at all with regard to Mr Green’s past actions and responsibilities at HSBC, as chairman and before that as chief executive? When the information was received by the Government, why was it not acted on?

Why is it that we are now hearing from the Government that we have had one successful prosecution, but the French are talking about the very many successful prosecutions that they have carried out? Why are the Government now boasting about the fact that they have been able to persuade the French to release their information and be helpful to the British Government? That looks as if the French have set about the issue with the due seriousness and urgency that were required, and our Government have not.

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Finally, despite what the Minister says about the actions being carried out, the amount of uncollected tax has risen year on year on this Government’s watch, from £31 billion in 2009-10 to £34 billion in 2012-13. When will this Government take real, meaningful action to tackle this tax gap?

Lord Newby: My Lords, as I explained at Questions earlier, before the noble Lord, Lord Green, was appointed to your Lordships’ House, he went through the normal rigorous vetting procedure that is undertaken by the House of Lords Appointment Commission, and the Cabinet Office went through its normal procedure. As for prosecutions, my colleague’s Statement in another place explained that HMRC received the HSBC data under very strict conditions which limited our use of them to pursuing offshore tax evasion, and prevented us from sharing the data with other law enforcement authorities. Under these restrictions, we have not been able to seek a prosecution for other potential offences such as money laundering. However, by pursuing the civil route, we have been able to recover some £135 million from people who were involved in this activity. The noble Lord is right in saying that, in monetary terms, the tax gap has increased very slightly but I think he will find that in real terms the tax gap has fallen.

3.57 pm

Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LD): My Lords, in the course of his Statement my noble friend said twice, I think, that it is more appropriate to deal with these issues by way of civil proceedings. He mentioned that the amount recovered was a sum short of £200 million. My own experience—I must plead guilty to being a practising lawyer of 57 years’ standing—is very clear that one conviction of one major figure in one major bank for tax fraud, such as that which HSBC has been carrying out for many years, reverberates around the City and the world of business and the professions with infinitely more force and effectiveness than any amount of civil penalties, which none of those who are responsible for the malefactions actually pay from their own pocket.

Lord Newby: My Lords, the noble Lord asked about civil as opposed to criminal penalties, and whether an exemplary hanging might not be a good idea. I explained the difficulties about prosecutions in this case, but we have successfully prosecuted people for LIBOR manipulation and we have extended the scope of the criminal law in respect of people in senior positions in banks. The noble Lord will probably have seen that the very threat of criminal action against directors of banks, even though pretty remote, has made a number of non-executive directors of banks extremely nervous.

Lord Howarth of Newport (Lab): My Lords, anybody who knows the noble Lord, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, as many of us in this House do, knows that he is a person of the utmost integrity and great ability. Do not these revelations about HSBC, profoundly shocking as they are, demonstrate two things, among others? The first is that enormous

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1038

international conglomerates such as HSBC are impossible to manage as they need to be managed. Secondly, does not this revelation demonstrate the cultural change wrought by the neo-liberal orthodoxy which has been dominant during recent decades and under which personal material self-seeking has been elevated far too far above other values?

Lord Newby: My Lords, if noble Lords have read the statement by HSBC in today’s Guardian—it may be in other newspapers, but that is where I read it—they will have seen that it is clear that, in 2005, HSBC was run as a very loose confederation and that the centre sought not to exercise very great control. That has changed very dramatically, and the new regulatory authorities are much more intrusive in ensuring that management at the centre has effective control throughout the organisation. It is clear that there was a wholly unacceptable culture in many of the banks. Both regulatory and legal change and activities by the banks in setting up their own body to monitor standards—as well as statements by senior management at the top of banks—are trying to reverse that culture towards the kind of culture that I suspect most people would expect their bankers to follow.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): My Lords, I have listened to several attempts by the Opposition to tie the name of my noble friend Lord Green to whatever was going on in HSBC Switzerland, which I know in intention he would not dream of defending. Does the Minister nevertheless accept that my noble friend Lord Green is a man of the utmost probity who has done an enormously valuable job as a Trade Minister for this Government? I have the privilege of working with him. His activities bring great benefit to this nation. Would it not be a little wiser, if we want to maintain the quality and integrity of our political discussion in this House, to avoid premature innuendo of the kind that we have heard frequently from the opposition Benches?

Lord Newby: I completely agree, my Lords.

Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury (Con): My Lords, can I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, said? I know my noble friend Lord Green, who I agree is a man of great integrity. I agree also that the acquisition by HSBC at the time of a great many companies, producing a loose federation, caused management stretch in terms of organising it—I think that it has learnt the lessons of that. It is important that people outside this Chamber understand the measures that this Government have taken to strengthen controls on banking behaviour.

Lord Newby: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. It is important to stress that, as a result of initiatives led by this Government, there will be in place automatic information exchange agreements with more than 90 countries within a couple of years, including Switzerland, which means that the kind of egregious behaviour which today’s revelations have brought to light simply will not be possible in future.

9 Feb 2015 : Column 1039

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, is this not a strange comparison—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, I could not help noticing that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, was not here at all for the Statement that my noble friend Lord Newby repeated at the beginning of this Urgent Question. It is our convention that it is appropriate for a noble Lord to be present in the Chamber if he wishes to ask a question about a Statement. As I have taken time in order to make this point, it is of course the turn of a Labour Peer to ask a question of my noble friend should they wish, but I think that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, would not be in line with the Companion if he was to ask that question himself.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I heard the full Statement. Can I ask the noble Lord: is it not strange that in the United States—

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, our convention suggests, as stated in the Companion, that noble Lords must be here in this Chamber to hear the Statement being repeated if they wish to ask a question of the Minister repeating that Statement. The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, was not in the Chamber to hear my noble friend repeat the Statement.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Green, as everyone has said, is a man of great integrity. Can the Minister tell us whether the noble Lord was aware of the wrongdoing of the bank of which he was chairman? If he was aware, was the Prime Minister aware of that when he appointed him as a Trade Minister? If he was not aware, what judgment did the Prime Minister make about how effective he was as chairman of HSBC?

Lord Newby: My Lords, I have no idea what was in the head of the noble Lord, Lord Green, but I am aware that when he was appointed he was held in extremely high esteem by everybody who had ever had any dealings with him.

Infrastructure Bill [HL]

Commons Amendments

4.05 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Infrastructure Bill, has consented to place her interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Motion on Amendments 1 to 5

Moved by Baroness Kramer

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 1 to 5.

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1: After Clause 3, insert the following new Clause—

“Route strategies

(1) The Secretary of State must from time to time direct a strategic highways company to prepare proposals for the management and development of particular highways in respect of which the company is appointed (“a route strategy”).

(2) A route strategy must relate to such period as the Secretary of State may direct.

(3) The strategic highways company must—

(a) comply with a direction given to it under subsection (1), and

(b) publish the route strategy in such manner as the company considers appropriate.

(4) A direction under subsection (1) must be published by the Secretary of State in such manner as he or she considers appropriate.”

2: Clause 9, page 6, line 28, at end insert “, and

(c) the effect of directions and guidance given by the Secretary of State to a strategic highways company under this Part.”

3:Clause 9, page 6, line 42, at end insert—

“(8) The Secretary of State must lay a report published by the Office under this section before Parliament.”

4: Clause 9, page 6, line 42, at end insert—

“(9) In Part 2 (Office of Rail Regulation) of the Railways and Transport Safety

Act 2003, after section 15 insert—

“15A Change of name

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for the body established by section 15 to be known by a different name.

(2) Regulations under this section may amend this Act or any other enactment, whenever passed or made.

(3) Regulations under this section are to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) A statutory instrument which contains regulations under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.””

5: After Clause 12, insert the following new Clause—

“Periodic reports by the Secretary of State

(1) The Secretary of State must from time to time prepare and publish reports on the manner in which a strategic highways company exercises its functions.

(2) The Secretary of State must lay a report prepared under subsection (1) before Parliament.”

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, in discussing Commons Amendments 1 to 5, I shall also speak to Commons Amendments 24 and 42 to 45. I am very pleased to put forward this group of amendments, which I believe demonstrate the progress made since the Bill was first introduced and that the Government have listened to the views made known in this House and in the other place.

It is clear that we intend the route strategies to be a key building block for the second road investment strategy, which covers the period after 2020-21. The individual route strategies will help ensure that Highways England and the Government of the day are able properly to consider local roads, local transport, our cities and other modes of transport as the RIS is developed. As Highways England carries out the work on the route strategies it will have to work closely with local highway authorities, local economic partnerships, Network Rail and other local and national bodies. Through the statutory direction and guidance set out in the licence, the updated version of which was published

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on 29 January and attached to my letter of 2 February, which has been placed in the Library—I am sure noble Lords have studied it in depth—we have made it clear how we expect the route strategies to be developed and what they should cover, ensuring that integration and working with others will be a key feature of the process.

To provide even more reassurance, my right honourable friend the Minister in the other place moved Amendment 1, which puts route strategies on the face of the Bill. To quote my right honourable friend:

“The Secretary of State will require a strategic highways company to prepare and publish one or more strategies on the management and development of the highways to which it has been appointed, which will be known as route strategies. The strategies must be published, as must the Secretary of State’s directions to the company, so we have provided that the process will be transparent”.—[Official Report, Commons, 26/1/15; col. 667.]

The arrangements that we have put in place give certainty that the route strategies will be prepared, and recognise the important part that they play in managing and planning for the future of the strategic road network.

Government Amendments 2, 3 and 5 deal with reporting to Parliament. I know that noble Lords have been keen to ensure that there is a transparent process for parliamentary accountability for the company, so I think it is best that I present Amendments 2, 3 and 5 together, as they reflect the full picture of the Government’s intention.

Amendment 5 places a responsibility on Government to report periodically to Parliament on the performance of Highways England. I have described before the combination of governance arrangements that provides choice in how it is applied while retaining levers for Ministers to intervene if the company fails to perform. If necessary, Ministers can intervene through the use of statutory direction and guidance, which must be published, to shape how the company must act or deliver requirements.

In addition, through Amendments 2 and 3 to the monitor provisions, we make it clear that the monitor may report on the effect of direction and guidance given to the company by the Secretary of State, and we insert a specific requirement on the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament any report published by the monitor. These further requirements on the Government to report to Parliament, and to furnish Parliament with the independent assessment of the Highways Monitor on the company’s performance, will make the process even more transparent and provides a very strong way of ensuring that the company delivers.

I turn to Amendment 4. On Report, we briefly discussed the issue of a change in the name of the Office of Rail Regulation name, when the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, who I see is in his place today, proposed to rename it. On that occasion, I said that we had concerns about the prospect of renaming the ORR in the Bill. However, the principle of ensuring that the ORR has an accurate name remains a sound one. We accept that there is a risk of confusion if its name does not correspond to its functions, though, as I emphasised in previous debates, the ORR is at liberty to use different brand names for these different activities, and always planned to do so.

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We have therefore decided to take steps to remedy such a situation. Amendment 4 gives the Government the power to rename the ORR once an appropriate name is agreed. The ORR is in the process of discussing options with stakeholders and staff. As I say, this amendment does not rename the ORR directly because of the complications involved in doing so. Instead, it inserts a new power in the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, allowing the Secretary of State to rename it and make the necessary consequential amendments through secondary legislation.

Government Amendments 44 and 45 deal with transferred staff. Noble Lords will recall that on Report I made clear that the transfer of staff from the Highways Agency to Highways England would follow guidance under the Cabinet Office statement of practice, COSOP, and that this follows TUPE principles. I confirm again that the employment terms and conditions of existing Highways Agency staff will not change when they transfer but, in recognition of the assurance that many want on this point, Amendment 44 reaffirms this and, I hope, makes the Government’s intentions clear. I highlight that the Bill already provides protection that a transferring employee can terminate their contract if there is a substantial detrimental change to it after they transfer. This would amount to a constructive dismissal and the employee could bring a claim for unfair dismissal. This reflects regulation 4(9) of the TUPE regulations.

Amendment 45 is brought forward to reflect fully the intention of the TUPE regulations on this point. The amendment means that, where an employee resigns in such circumstances and seeks compensation, the employer is not liable to pay any damages in respect of any unpaid wages that relate to a notice period that the employee has not worked. It does not in any way prevent employees from claiming damages for constructive dismissal in other circumstances. The amendment provides a limited protection for the employer, and reflects regulation 4(10) of the TUPE regulations themselves.

I shall also cover government Amendments 24, 42 and 43, a group of minor and technical amendments which I shall briefly describe. Amendment 24 deals with transitional provisions. I brought forward an amendment in Committee in recognition of concerns raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that the power to modify primary legislation generally should be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Amendment 24 addresses a risk we have identified that might cause unremarkable transitional provisions and savings made under Clause 17 in Part 1 of the Bill to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure on the basis that they modify the effects of primary legislation. This was not our intention. The power would be used to ensure that processes or procedures started by the Highways Agency which are incomplete at the time of transition can be taken forward by Highways England. Transitional provisions are routinely required where functions pass from one body to another and to require a debate under the affirmative procedure for such regulations would be disproportionate.

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4.15 pm

Accordingly, Amendment 24 has been laid to ensure that transitional and transitory provisions and savings made under Clause 17(1)(b) attract the negative resolution procedure even if they may be said to modify the effects of primary legislation. Consequential regulations and other regulations under Clause 17(1)(a) will continue to attract the affirmative resolution procedure where they revoke, amend or modify primary legislation.

Amendment 43 deals with public records. The amendment adds strategic highways companies as a class to the list of those bodies whose administrative records are public records for the purposes of the Public Records Act 1958. This will ensure that any records that are produced by the new company will be properly considered for transfer to the National Archives or destruction at a suitable point.

Amendment 42 deals with the Bill as a whole and is the standard-form provision added on Third Reading in this House to avoid issues of privilege. Privilege issues would otherwise arise because the Bill authorises expenditure and the charges, which are set out in the Ways and Means resolution. In accordance with standard procedure, the privilege amendment was removed at Commons Committee stage. I beg to move.

Lord Berkeley (Lab): My Lords, I welcome many of these amendments. There is a sense of déjà vu about today because we spent many hours debating this. I recall amendments put down by several of my noble friends and noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches proposing many of the changes now coming back from the Government. It is great that they have taken so much of our advice. I welcome it. Let us hope that this is a precedent for many future changes.

I am pleased that Amendment 1 starts to provide a link between Parliament, Government and the SHCs because that is very important. We talked about that. It may not be what we wanted but it is a start to getting there. I am also pleased that we have an amendment that says that the ORR can give advice to the Secretary of State on the effect of its guidance. That is good. I hope that the ORR will feel able to give advice on many more things than that. I am also pleased that the Secretary of State must lay a report before Parliament on this—it is all obvious but it needs to be said—and it is important that this happens and happens regularly.

Would it not have been much easier to have changed the name of the ORR during the passage of the Bill rather than with all these amendments? However, I do not really mind and it does not really matter. That is fine. It is a shame that we have not been able to persuade the Government that the ORR, in addition to its work monitoring the SHC, should have powers to take action and require efficiencies as it is able to do for Network Rail. I hope that that will come one day as the ORR will have the capability to do that and it is a logical thing to do. It would be much better for an independent regulator to do it than to try to have the Secretary of State do it. We saw some problems with that with regard to the railways last summer. I also hope that in future we may be able to persuade whoever wins and becomes the Government after May that it

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will be useful to have the ORR responsible for road safety on the highways network as well. We did not quite get that far, but we are getting there.

Finally, I did not understand what the noble Baroness said about Amendment 45. It rather seems that if the staff of the Highways Agency do not feel that they will be properly reimbursed in whatever changes come they will be told, “That’s tough. You’re not going to get any compensation”.

However, this is a good step forward. We enjoyed the debates in Committee, on Report and at Third Reading and it was obviously a good use of parliamentary time. It is very nice to think that the Government have accepted many of the principles of what we proposed.

Lord Whitty (Lab): My Lords, I echo quite a lot of what my noble friend said. We have moved in the direction of a report to Parliament and the role of the Secretary of State vis-à-vis the strategic highways company. I accept, I think, although like my noble friend I find the wording a bit peculiar, that that reinforces the application of the equivalent TUPE in relation to the staff of the Highways Agency.

The one point I am disappointed by, which my noble friend also mentioned, was that neither the Commons nor the Government have seen fit to strengthen the reference to road safety in the terms of the duties of the new company. It is a very weak form of obligation. It is slightly stronger than it was originally. The road investment strategy says that the Secretary of State must “have regard in particular” to the effect of the strategy on the safety of users. Later on it says that the company should “have regard”—no longer “in particular” —to the effect of the exercise of those functions on the safety of users. The phrase “have regard to” is the weakest form of legislative obligation. I had hoped that during the passage of the Bill we would strengthen that wording so that it would be an objective of the company and of the investment strategy to improve the performance on road safety. We have not got that and we are now at quite a late stage during the passage of the Bill but I hope that the Government will keep that under review as we go forward and the company is created. I do need to point out that I am a chair of the Road Safety Foundation. The anxiety that safety should be part of the DNA of the new body is broader than just among those who have any vested interests and certainly I would have thought that the Government could have moved further. However, on the rest of it, I thank the Minister for having moved a bit in our direction.

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): I do not need to add much because my noble friends have emphasised certain weaknesses in the Bill as we are considering it today. That is not for want of trying. Both my noble friends—and I, from the Front Bench—were concerned about the issues that they have just emphasised. My noble friend Lord Whitty was concerned that road safety will not get the prominence in the Bill it surely deserves while my noble friend Lord Berkeley emphasised the significance of the Office of Rail Regulation. We all welcome the fact that there will be the possibility of a change of name as we could not see how the Office of Rail

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Regulation could intelligently deal with the road sector and operate under its present name. It is going to do so for a while, but at least the Minister has now ensured that there is provision for change at a later stage.

We support the thrust of Amendments 1 to 5, which we were pressing on the Government not so very long ago. We are still concerned that the Bill does not improve significantly the overall British performance with regard to roads, which clearly are a very important part of the national infrastructure. We know that other countries are more successful in establishing infrastructure. Those of us who from time to time are privileged to drive on the continent often appreciate the difference that obtains there. Even the French have begun at last to approximate to British standards of road safety. There was certainly a deficiency in the past. We support the five-year roads investment strategy that is underpinned by the Bill. It sets a long-term transport planning strategy to give the road sector the same certainty that the railways have. However, we have no evidence that justifies the main thrust of the Bill, which is unamended by these amendments, and the Bill is still overwhelmingly concerned to move the roads authority to an arm’s-length position. We were not persuaded of that argument through all the days of Committee and Report and I am not sure that those in the other place were persuaded about that fundamental part.

We are broadly in favour of Amendments 1 to 5. The Minister took a very serious and empathetic approach to explaining how TUPE was to be fulfilled with regard to the Bill. I understand Amendment 44 and could not endorse it more whole-heartedly. However, I am not quite sure what Amendment 45 is doing there and I therefore ask the Minister to spell that out in greater detail.

We are pleased at the progress that has been made. We think it was a long time coming, because we were debating this Bill several months ago and there is not much in these amendments that we had not articulated or advanced in argument at that time without winning too much support. We are pleased with the amendments that are before us and will be supporting them.

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, to clarify, both Amendments 44 and 45 mirror TUPE arrangements. I confess that I am no specialist on TUPE, but I understand from those who are that for the purposes of the transfer of staff from the Highways Agency to Highways England, these amendments simply make it clear that staff will in effect enjoy the same level of protection that is available in the circumstances where TUPE arrangements would normally be in place. This is a reassurance that was asked for and one which has been very gladly given.

In terms of safety, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will be aware that there are very few duties on the new strategic highways company, Highways England. One of those duties is to have regard to the safety of users of the highways. That is a strong statement in the Bill. He will be conscious that there is great emphasis on safety in the directions and guidance, and that the road investment strategy has a great focus on safety. Highways England has been set a target of reducing

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the number of people killed or seriously injured on the network by 40% by 2020. Many of the RIS schemes are specifically focused on safety improvements—for example, improvements to Junction 10 of the M25 to create a freer flowing interchange with the A3 because that junction currently has the highest casualty rates on the network.

4.30 pm

We have also set aside ring-fenced funding of £105 million to undertake further safety improvements on the network, which will be spent on improvements to the existing network and taking forward new safety-focused innovations and technologies. So Highways England is only one part of this safety picture. We emphasise that it is important that all the various players engaged in this process have to focus on safety, and it seems to me that the various collective actions coming together achieve that.

In terms of the name, I think that we have come to a satisfactory conclusion—we have clarified that the name can be changed, and made it easy for that to happen. However, the Government chose not to impose that name on the ORR but to let it go through the process of talking with its stakeholders and its staff and deciding what name it thinks would be most appropriate. The Secretary of State can then make that name change through secondary legislation.

I thank all who have participated in discussion on all these issues. We have made real progress in both Houses and have collectively created a very strong foundation for Highways England. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Davies, that one of the primary purposes for creating an arm’s-length body was to provide the certainty of long-term funding which the railways have enjoyed. That, along with all the other measures we have taken, means that we have the prospect of a stronger transport network in the future underpinning our economy and future prosperity.

Motion agreed.

Motion on Amendment 6

Moved by Baroness Kramer

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 6.

6: After Clause 18, insert the following new Clause—

“Cycling and Walking Investment Strategies

(1) The Secretary of State may at any time—

(a) set a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England, or

(b) vary a Strategy which has already been set.

(2) A Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is to relate to such period as the Secretary of State considers appropriate; but a Strategy for a period of more than five years must be reviewed at least once every five years.

(3) A Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy must specify—

(a) objectives to be achieved during the period to which it relates, and

(b) the financial resources to be made available by the Secretary of State for the purpose of achieving those objectives.

(4) The objectives to be achieved may include—

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(a) activities to be performed;

(b) results to be achieved;

(c) standards to be met.

(5) Before setting or varying a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy the Secretary of State must consult such persons as he or she considers appropriate.

(6) In considering whether to vary a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy the Secretary of State must have regard to the desirability of maintaining certainty and stability in respect of Cycling and Walking Investment Strategies.

(7) A Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy must be published in such manner as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(8) Where a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy has been published the Secretary of State must from time to time lay before Parliament a report on progress towards meeting its objectives.

(9) If a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is not currently in place, the Secretary of State must—

(a) lay before Parliament a report explaining why a Strategy has not been set, and

(b) set a Strategy as soon as may be reasonably practicable.”

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, in moving Amendment 6, I will speak also to Amendments 26 and 35. The Government are committed to cycling and walking, and making these the natural choice for shorter journeys. Government spending on cycling overall since 2010 has more than doubled compared with the last four years of the previous Administration: £374 million has been committed between 2011 and 2015. Spend on cycling is currently around £6 per person each year across England, and more than £10 per person in London and our eight cycling ambition cities. Furthermore, in November, the Deputy Prime Minister announced a further £114 million for the cycling ambition cities and, through the roads investment strategy, a further £100 million between 2015 and 2021 for additional cycle provision on the strategic road network.

As I am sure the House is aware, in October we published our draft CyclingDelivery Plan. This is a 10-year strategy on how we plan to increase cycling and walking across England. This plan illustrates this Government’s long-term commitment to cycling and walking and it is in that spirit that the Government have laid this amendment which provides a duty on the Secretary of State to have a cycling and walking investment strategy for England.

Each such strategy will be set for a given period, and must specify objectives to be achieved and the financial resources which will be made available for that purpose. Furthermore, the Secretary of State will be required to report to Parliament on progress on achieving those objectives, and—where a strategy applies for a period longer than five years—ensure that it is reviewed at least once every five years.

We have also provided that the Secretary of State must consult when setting or varying a strategy, and must bear in mind the desirability for certainty and stability when considering whether to make a variation to a strategy which has been set. This amendment provides a legislative framework for an investment strategy. We also intend shortly to respond to the consultation on the draft Cycling Delivery Plan, published by this Government last year.

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Lord Berkeley: My Lords, my comments on these three amendments reflect my comments on the first group. I welcome them. Again, we spent a lot of time debating them, and it is really good that the Commons listened to the very strong pressure from the various cycling organisations and persuaded the Government that the new clause under Amendment 6 should go in. It covers everything that one could have asked for. It follows on, as the Minister said, from the delivery plan. A duty to deliver a strategy was needed, and what is in these amendments is very good. Subsection (9) even says what happens if the Secretary of State does not produce a strategy, which is very welcome. It would be nice if the Minister could give an indication as to when the first one might appear. Is it this year, next year or sometime never? I know it is always difficult for Ministers to commit themselves.

One thing occurred to me on reading this amendment. I read it as applying to all roads, not just trunk roads, but maybe the Minister will confirm that. I know that there are not many cyclists on trunk roads, as most find it much too dangerous, but trunk roads are useful highways, connecting towns, villages and cities that are a little further apart with a bit more capacity and higher speed. In the Netherlands, they are making high-speed cycle lanes where people are expected to go a bit faster.

However, it is a really good start. I congratulate the Government on listening to all the pressure that has come from the cycling organisations. I look forward to participating and taking this forward.

Lord Teverson (LD): My Lords, from these Benches, I, too, very much welcome these amendments. As we discussed in Committee and on Report, as the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, said, we felt that this was an important bit that was missing from transport strategy. The Infrastructure Bill is an excellent opportunity to put that right. The early clauses sounded very woolly to me, but as the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, pointed out, new subsection (9) makes it rather clear that this is expected to happen rather than being something that is optional. That is a major step forward. I assume and hope that this will go forward and that we will approve it as soon as possible.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I join the two noble Lords who have just spoken in very much welcoming these amendments. Throughout the passage of this Bill there has been very consistent pressure from the cycling organisations. They have established their case against a background, which we are all too aware of, where cycling is still too dangerous a pursuit in certain parts of the country, particularly in our great cities.

I always think of Lord Dormand, who was in this House for a number of years. When he was in the Commons, he used to cycle from Westminster to the National Executive Committee meetings at Walworth Road. That meant a journey around Parliament Square, the roundabout at the far end of Westminster Bridge, and Elephant and Castle. I thought that it was the most dangerous journey in the world as a cyclist,

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which is why, every week he threatened to do the journey, I sought to dissuade him. He always made the journey and always lived to tell the tale.

However, subsequently there has been an increasing number of cycling accidents, if not on trunk roads, often on large roundabouts, which are difficult to negotiate with a very slow vehicle such as a bicycle as you go past a number of exits from which other vehicles will make definitive and often rapid moves. We have a lot to do to make cycling safer, but I am pleased that the Government have been persuaded of the case that the cycling organisations, the general public and we on these Benches have pushed as hard as we could. We are delighted with the outcome that the Minister has described.

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, I join others in this House in saying that I am personally delighted with these amendments. As your Lordships’ House will be aware, when the Bill started here, there was slight frustration because the Cycling Delivery Plan was out to public consultation and we were somewhat limited in what we could do in those circumstances. That consultation has been completed, the Government will shortly give their response to it and the strategy itself will follow in due course. The plan is for all of England, not just the trunk roads, and it is anticipated that there will be a great deal of work with local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and all the other stakeholders as this progresses. This is another good example of co-operative working, across Benches and across both Houses.

Motion agreed.

Motion on Amendments 7 to 11

Moved by Baroness Kramer

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 7 to 11.

7: Clause 20, page 13, line 8, at end insert “or

(c) a person who for the time being exercises powers of management or control over the land.”

8: Clause 20, page 14, line 23, at end insert—

“Notice of compliance

8A Where an environmental authority considers that an owner of premises has complied with all the requirements in a species control agreement to carry out species control operations, the authority must give the owner notice to that effect.”

9: Clause 21, page 23, line 4, at end insert—

“NOTE. The common name or names given in the first column of this Schedule are included by way of guidance only; in the event of any dispute or proceedings, the common name or names shall not be taken into account.”

10: Clause 21, page 23, line 8, at end insert—

“Beaver, Eurasian (but not in relation to Wales)

Castor fiber”

11: Clause 21, page 23, line 9, at end insert—

“NOTE. The common name or names given in the first column of this Schedule are included by way of guidance only; in the event of any dispute or proceedings, the common name or names shall not be taken into account.”

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, I shall begin with Amendment 7. As originally drafted, the definition of an “owner” of land in the Bill referred to a person who

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is entitled to dispose of the fee simple of the land or a person in possession under a lease. However, it was brought to our attention that this definition does not include owners of “inalienable land”, which is land that cannot be disposed of due to legal restrictions. This would mean that owners of certain land, which may include trustees, would be unable to enter into species control agreements or be made subject to species control orders, even though they may be the only or most appropriate persons with an interest in the land concerned. Amendment 7 resolves this anomaly by extending the definition of an “owner” beyond freeholders and leaseholders to persons who may exercise powers of management or control over the land.

Amendment 8 ensures that the environmental authority provides a clear statement to an owner that it considers that they have complied with all the requirements of a species control agreement. This “Notice of compliance” will provide certainty to an owner that an agreement is no longer in effect. We made a similar amendment on Report in respect of species control orders. On reflection, we now consider that this requirement should also extend to agreements.

Amendments 9 and 11 clarify that should doubt ever arise in a dispute or legal proceedings, the scientific name of a species listed in Parts 1A or 1B of Schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is determinative rather than its common name. The wording introduced by these amendments is consistent with that which already appears in the existing Schedule 9 and other schedules to the 1981 Act.

4.45 pm

Amendment 10 adds the Eurasian beaver to the new Part 1B of Schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in relation to England. Currently, it is an offence to release the beaver into the wild without a licence as it is a species that is not considered to be “ordinarily resident” in Great Britain. Defra ran a consultation exercise in 2013 on whether to add the beaver to Part 1B of Schedule 9 to the 1981 Act to ensure that licences for their release would continue to be required, should the completion of the trial reintroduction currently under way in Scotland result in the animals remaining in the wild. At that point, they would become “ordinarily resident” and thus would not require a licence to be released.

The majority of respondents supported listing the beaver on Schedule 9 to ensure that the current licensing requirements remained in place. Listing the beaver on that schedule will ensure that licences for their release will continue to be required, while their trial reintroduction is considered. However, listing it in Part 1B of Schedule 9 will ensure that species control provisions cannot be applied to any beaver in the wild where its release has been licensed by Natural England. This, of course, includes the family of beavers on the River Otter in Devon, which are now subject to an approved reintroduction trial.

I know your Lordships are interested in the family of beavers on the River Otter so I will take this opportunity to provide the House with a brief update. Natural England has now issued a licence to the Devon Wildlife Trust permitting the managed release

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into the wild of beavers currently resident in the River Otter, on a five-year trial basis. This trial will provide valuable evidence on potential impacts to inform any decisions to allow further releases in the future. This decision is subject to the beavers being confirmed as European beavers, and tested and found to be free of EM. Now that the application is approved, it will be important for Natural England and the Devon Wildlife Trust to ensure that the trial is implemented properly and monitored effectively. Our priority is to ensure humane treatment for the beavers while safeguarding human health.

I turn back to these provisions. Changes that we made in this House on Report will also ensure that where an environmental authority is minded to use these provisions in relation to a beaver in the wild that has not been licensed by Natural England, it must satisfy itself that there is no appropriate alternative way of addressing any adverse impact from that animal before proceeding.

Lord Deben (Con): Before my noble friend leaves that point, I ask what arrangements are going to be made in relation to Wales and why it is done in this way.

Baroness Kramer: I will address my noble friend’s point in a moment if I may. We intend to commence Clauses 21 and 22 shortly after Royal Assent to provide legal certainty that licences are still required for the release of beavers into the wild. Now, these matters are devolved and I understand that Welsh Ministers are currently considering whether to make a similar amendment in relation to beavers in Wales.

The Earl of Caithness (Con): Could my noble friend confirm that “a person” in new paragraph 5, which she is amending, is also a trust and a limited company?

Lord Deben: I am sorry to put this point but it is a worry and it comes from my own period as Minister of Agriculture. I remember a case in which the rules about poisoning squirrels in Scotland were different from those in England. One has to make the delicate point that neither beavers nor squirrels know when they cross the border. I therefore hope that we have adequate methods of dealing with this issue, simply because it makes a nonsense of this if we do not have a common view where we have a common land border. I know in many people’s minds this is a trivial comment, but it is an issue for all these devolved concerns. I wonder whether we are totally satisfied with the careful relationships between the nations and the English Government—otherwise, people will find themselves technically liable for having broken the law, simply because of the fact that animals move where they wish to and do not obey anybody’s law.

Lord Teverson: My Lords, perhaps I can also tackle beavers? The bigger problem, diplomatically, would be if they crossed the Tamar, rather than the Bristol Channel to Wales. I will leave that aside for the moment.

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Whether these are Eurasian or American beavers has been a question for some time. I find it strange that it is so difficult to determine this. It is presumably a question of DNA, rather than their accents. Can we hear from the Minister when this might be resolved? Presumably if they are not Eurasian, a much darker alternative has to be faced.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I apologise to the House because I am going to make a very technical and limited statement. We very much approve of this group of amendments but we have one concern, which has been articulated by those who know a great deal more about beavers than I know about anything. Consequently, we listened to their advice with the greatest care. It has come from a number of well intentioned sources—by “well intentioned” I mean those who want to ensure that our environment and natural life flourish. We are concerned about the welfare of species.

Our concern is that the European beaver—a native species that has established populations in the UK—has been excluded from the species control order. The classification of the beaver under Part 1B of Schedule 9,

“Animals no longer normally present”,

is regarded as bizarre. It lists them alongside the wild boar, hence our anxiety. It seems strange that, despite European beavers being recognised as a native species to the UK and a natural component of British river systems, they will need a licence from Natural England to continue to exist in the wild.

The Minister will know that we proposed an amendment in Committee, which was supported by a number of NGOs including Friends of the Earth, that the Government’s definition of invasive, non-native species should correspond to the European Union habitats directive, which was adopted in 1992. That will clarify exactly the status of the European beaver. I hope that the Minister can reassure me that that representation is a worthy one and is taken account of by these amendments.

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, I have a number of clarifications, which I hope will satisfy your Lordships. Yes, the definition of owners includes trusts and limited companies. We found that places including, I think, Epping Forest and some National Trust properties would not have been covered. It was important to make that amendment and give that clarification.

On Wales, Welsh Ministers are considering this issue and will make their decision shortly, but your Lordships will know that it will be necessary in that process for the Welsh Government to debate an amended legislative consent Motion, which we await. In the mean time, it is still an offence under Section 14 of the 1981 Act to release a beaver into the wild in Wales, so I do not think there should be concerns about release as a result of the changes that we have made here.

It is important to recognise that where we have species that are formally resident—I know people do not like the phrase, but it describes the situation quite well—it is important that we consider releasing them only under licence. The beaver is perhaps a very good example. First, we do not know for certain that they are Eurasian beavers, although vets will be able to

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answer that question. More importantly, in continental Europe the species is afflicted with a really very terrible disease—a parasite known as EM. I do not wish to trouble your Lordships, but essentially the beaver is a carrier, and many mammals, including human beings, can be devastated by this parasite, which effectively eats your organs from the inside out. It really is important that this country remains EM free and that the parasite does not get out into the general population of foxes and other creatures, because the consequences would be very undesirable.

There is therefore very widespread agreement that the licensing process is the right approach, and where we reintroduce animals we want them brought in in the right way and to the right place with all the consequences considered. The reason for the delay in testing the beavers is fairly straightforward: they have had young kits which have been nursing, and now that the kits are weaned it is much safer to find the animals and bring them in for testing. We expect that to happen shortly.

I hope with that range of reassurances, your Lordships will be very comfortable supporting the Motion.

Motion agreed.

Motion on Amendment 12

Moved by Baroness Kramer

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 12.

12: After Clause 26, insert the following new Clause—

“Mayoral development orders

(1) Schedule (Mayoral development orders) (Mayoral development orders) has effect.

(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make consequential provision in connection with any provision made by that Schedule.

(3) Regulations under this section may amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify the application of any enactment (but, in the case of an Act, only if the Act was passed before the end of the Session in which this Act is passed).

(4) In this section “enactment” includes an enactment comprised in subordinate legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978.”

Baroness Kramer: In speaking to Amendment 12, I will also speak to Amendments 25, 27, 37, 41 and 46. This group of amendments follows Clause 26.

I begin by noting that this group is the first of three new uncontroversial groups of amendments that were introduced by the Government during the Commons stages. The details of these amendments were not available during the time this House considered the Bill last year. I hope, however, that your Lordships will understand that it was important for the Government to seize the opportunity to include them in the Bill as soon as they were ready.

In relation to this group, there is an urgent need to ensure that the planning system continues to support development, including for housing. As a further contribution to this, the Government have introduced these amendments to recognise the opportunity to plan proactively for housing and growth in London. The clause will give the Mayor of London the power

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to make mayoral development orders that grant planning permission for development on specific sites in Greater London.

The process of making a mayoral development order would be initiated by the relevant local planning authorities: that is, any London boroughs or mayoral development corporation in whose area any part of a site is located. The relevant authority would apply to the mayor asking him to make a mayoral development order. Thereafter, those authorities would have to agree before the draft order is published for consultation and again agree the final order before it is brought into force.

The Government have worked with the Greater London Authority and London Councils, the body that promotes the interests of London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London, and listened to their suggestions. As a result of this collaboration, the proposed power provides a positive tool to support the delivery of development in London. Your Lordships will be acutely aware that there is very significant unmet housing need in London. Census data projects that London’s population will increase by 2 million between 2011 and 2036. The mayor has identified a need for between 49,000 and 62,000 new homes per annum between 2015 and 2026. Further alterations to the London plan have identified a capacity of 42,000 new homes per annum.

5 pm

This represents very significant challenges for the mayor in helping to deliver the housing needed in London. Mayoral development orders have the potential to help accelerate the delivery of housing and other development, including the infrastructure that is needed to support new housing. The fact that mayoral development orders can be tailored through planning conditions will allow the mayor and the relevant local planning authorities to impose specific requirements on any development so that it meets local needs.

In terms of other aspects of their design and scope, mayoral development orders have been closely modelled on local development orders that allow local planning authorities to grant planning permission for development. Local development orders have been successful in the Government’s enterprise zone programme by simplifying and speeding up the planning process and increasing developer confidence. A new power to make mayoral development orders will build on the success of local development orders by enabling the mayor to support London boroughs that want to plan proactively for development but do not have the capacity to do so. The power will be particularly helpful in relation to complex sites that cross local authority boundaries.

In conclusion, mayoral development orders are a positive planning tool that will allow London local planning authorities and the mayor to collaborate effectively on planning to deliver housing and growth. I therefore ask your Lordships to agree to this new clause, which provides powers that will help to deliver the jobs and homes that London badly needs. I beg to move.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, we can support the creation of a regime for mayoral development orders, which we see as being uncontroversial. We are

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certainly supportive of proposals that can improve the delivery of new housing in London, and we note that London Councils and the GLA have expressed support for MDOs.

From discussion in Committee in the Commons, it has been confirmed today that such orders have to be initiated by the London boroughs themselves, and a particular benefit will be supporting the development of complex cross-boundary situations. Can the Minister say a little more about the extent to which they might be used within a particular boundary and not on a cross-border basis? It is presumed that we will not get the underpinning regulations by the end of this Parliament, unless the Minister can tell us otherwise. We note that the negative procedure is to be adopted. Perhaps the Minister might say when they are expected to be ready.

On housing numbers for London, what the Minister said in the other place has been confirmed today: there is an annual shortfall in capacity of between 7,000 and 20,000 homes. It was less than clear from the exchanges at the other end the contribution that MDOs might make in addressing that shortfall. I think the proposition was that they might speed things up, but whether they will have broader impact will be interesting to hear.

A further point, for which there was no satisfactory answer, was how MDOs can contribute to more affordable housing. Can the Minister confirm that Section 106 agreements will not operate for MDOs? If that is not the case, how will MDOs impact on the obligation to provide affordable housing? If this is the case, how will it be assured that the provision of affordable housing will be forthcoming, and what is the mechanism? It would be helpful to have clarity on that point. Nothwithstanding that, as I have said, we do not oppose the new clauses and will support them.

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, there is indeed a broad consensus across this range of issues. The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, asked whether these orders could be used within a local authority rather than just across boundaries. Indeed they can, and of course local development orders are already available to local authorities, but they may wish to tap into the additional capacity and capability that is available in the mayor’s office for particularly complex projects. There may be occasions when that happens, and our expectation is that it will be primarily for the kind of sites that are complex enough to cross boundaries. Obviously, that happens quite often in London. Secondary legislation will appear in due course—a phrase with which I am afraid the House is probably very familiar—but at this point I think we can say with some confidence that that will be in the next Parliament.

I share the noble Lord’s understanding of Section 106, and he will be aware that the voice of local authorities is very powerful on this issue in shaping the kinds of development that they see as appropriate for their communities. It is not the mayor imposing a vision on local authorities, but rather local authorities looking to use the capacity that is on offer from the mayor in order to move developments forward proactively. Its primary purpose in all the discussions with London

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Councils and others has been to emphasise the importance of accelerating new housing development across the city.

Motion agreed.

Motion on Amendments 13 and 14

Moved by Baroness Kramer

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 13 and 14.

13: Clause 28, page 33, line 21, leave out “which is” and insert “the freehold interest in which was”

14: After Clause 28, insert the following new Clause—

“Expenditure of Greater London Authority on housing or regeneration

(1) In section 31 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (limits of the general power) after subsection (5A) insert—

“(5B) Nothing in subsection (1)(a) above shall be taken to prevent the Authority incurring expenditure in doing anything for the purposes of, or relating to, housing or regeneration.”

(2) The amendment made by subsection (1) applies in relation to expenditure incurred before as well as after the coming into force of this section.”

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, in discussing these amendments I shall include Amendments 28 and 36. These amendments deal with the Government’s public sector land programme, which has successfully released land for almost 98,000 new homes to date. We fully expect to meet our 100,000 homes target by March this year. Looking ahead to the next Parliament, we have an even more ambitious target, which aims to deliver land for a further 150,000 homes. This programme will be led by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority, and will mean transferring a significant amount of government land into their ownership.

Clause 28 will ensure that future purchasers of land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, the Greater London Authority and the mayoral development corporations will be able to develop and use land without being affected by easements and other rights and restrictions. Clause 28 will bring the position of purchasers of land from the HCA, the GLA and the MDCs into line with those presently enjoyed by purchasers from local authorities and other public bodies involved in regeneration and development. This in turn will enable us to increase the attractiveness of surplus public sector land to developers, thus ensuring that we can facilitate the development of much needed new homes and support economic growth by removing obstacles to development while achieving best value for the taxpayer.

I want to be clear, however, that where the HCA or the GLA currently retains the freehold in the land and leases that land to developers, the powers to override third-party rights and restrictions are already exercisable on that land under existing legislation. There has to date been a degree of uncertainty on this point, which I understand has resulted in delays to certain developments in London. Amendment 13 seeks to provide an assurance that where the HCA or the GLA retains the freehold of land, the powers to override third-party rights and restrictions in land already apply under existing legislation, and we are happy to provide that clarity.

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I turn now to Amendments 14, 28 and 36. Perhaps I may move on to the related matter of the Greater London Authority’s powers to incur expenditure on the transport elements of housing and regeneration projects. This important issue was raised in the other place during Committee and the Government promised to look urgently at the legislative options available to address it. We concluded that it was necessary to make a minor change to the GLA Act 1999 and have therefore made the proposed amendment.

Amendment 14 removes a prohibition in Section 31 of the GLA Act 1999 that prevents the GLA incurring expenditure on anything that may be done by its functional body, Transport for London. We are making this change to the GLA Act because the GLA has said that TfL’s powers are wide-ranging and therefore preclude the GLA from incurring expenditure on anything transport-related when undertaking housing or regeneration projects.

The prohibition excludes the GLA from incurring expenditure on projects that the GLA has been responsible for since 1 April 2012 when it took on the roles, land and contracts of the former London Development Agency and the Homes and Communities Agency in London. Without this amendment, around 50 projects worth over £200 million would have to stop. This includes work which the GLA has been funding with the London borough councils to revitalise high streets, including in Deptford, Bromley and Cricklewood. It also affects new initiatives to deliver new homes such as housing zones and at Barking Riverside.

Amendment 36 allows for the clause to come into effect on the day the Bill receives Royal Assent and that it will apply in relation to expenditure incurred by the GLA before as well as after the coming into force of the new clause. This is because it was clearly the intention of Parliament that the GLA should have equivalent powers to the former London Development Agency and the Homes and Communities Agency, following the Localism Act 2011. Amendment 28 limits the geographical extent to England and Wales.

Making these changes to the GLA Act 1999 is therefore essential to ensure that the GLA can deliver new homes and jobs for London. I beg to move that this House accepts these Commons amendments.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, we consider these amendments uncontroversial and are happy to support them. We particularly see the thrust of Amendment 14 and the need to change what is clearly an unintended provision in the 1999 Act. It is indeed perverse if because of the existing powers the GLA is precluded from incurring expenditure on anything transport-related, such as transport-related projects to deliver housing, jobs and growth in London. That cannot be right, which is why we support the amendments.

Motion agreed.

Motion on Amendments 15 to 19

Moved by Lord Popat

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 15 to 19.

15: Clause 38, page 45, line 23, leave out subsection (5)

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16: Clause 39, page 46, line 12, leave out “or delict”

17: Clause 42, page 47, line 39, leave out “the Scottish Ministers or”

18: Clause 43, page 48, line 34, leave out from “area”” to end of line 36 and insert “means those parts of the landward area (within the meaning of the Petroleum Licensing (Exploration and Production) (Landward Areas) Regulations 2014) that are in England and Wales or are beneath waters (other than waters adjacent to Scotland);”

19: Clause 43, page 48, line 46, leave out from beginning to end of line 47

Lord Popat (Con): My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lady Verma, I beg to move that this House agrees with the Commons in their Amendments 15 to 19. I will also speak to Amendments 29, 31, 33 and 33A.