20 Jan 2016 : Column 755

House of Lords

Wednesday, 20 January 2016.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Derby.

Death of a Member: Lord Weidenfeld


3.06 pm

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

NHS: Preventive Medicine


3.07 pm

Asked by Baroness Rawlings

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend further to incorporate preventive medicine into the National Health Service.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Prior of Brampton) (Con): My Lords, the NHS five-year forward view set out a shared vision for the future of the NHS. It includes the long-standing aspiration for the NHS to focus as much on prevention and promoting wellness as managing poor health, working in partnership with local public health services through health and well-being boards.

Baroness Rawlings (Con): My Lords, I thank the Minister for his positive reply. I never thought that I would quote in your Lordships’ House the leader of the Opposition in the other place. He asked the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s Questions recently whether he had,

“forgotten the simple maxim that prevention is cheaper and better than cure”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 16/12/15; col. 1545.]

I commend the National Health Service for shifting its policy from sickness and cure to wellness and prevention. Would the Minister, through the National Health Service, encourage private health insurance organisations to do likewise, thus evading certain serious sicknesses and not adding to the National Health Service’s overstretched budget?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, there is clearly a direct legal contractual relationship between a private insurance company and an individual. The NHS cannot interfere directly with that contract. There is no similar legal relationship between the NHS and the citizen, although there is clearly a social and moral contract between the two. As part of that contract the state agrees to provide free, high-quality healthcare. It is

20 Jan 2016 : Column 756

only right that the individual should accept personal responsibility for their health and well-being, and that of their family.

Lord Rooker (Lab): Can I make a suggestion to the Minister? If the Government want to take preventive medicine seriously, they should invite Sir Nicholas Wald, Professor of preventive medicine at the Wolfson Institute, to come and talk about his lifetime’s work on things such as the polypill, and, indeed, his leadership in1990 of the Medical Research Council’s work on preventing spina bifida and neural tube defects in babies by the use of folic acid in flour.

Lord Prior of Brampton: I thank the noble Lord for raising this issue today. We discussed it yesterday and the Government will give him a full response to the issue of fortifying bread with folic acid in the very near future.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): Does the Minister recognise in his answer that people should be responsible for their own health and the health of their families that there is a responsibility on the NHS to ensure that there is adequate support before, during and after bereavement of children? The preventive effect on mental health problems later in life is very clearly shown. Those who are unsupported do less well in the whole life course in mental health, and in social and educational outcomes.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, clearly, the state has a huge role to play in prevention; I was certainly not questioning that for one moment. I was just saying that I believe that individuals and families have responsibilities as well.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD): My Lords, given that £1 in every £5 of healthcare costs is associated with conditions that could be prevented, what assessment have the Government made of the likely cost savings on NHS spending of using more preventive medicine?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, if the noble Baroness reads the Five Year Forward View, she will see that prevention is a very critical part of that. But, of course, prevention goes much wider than healthcare in the NHS; it goes to employment, housing, education and a whole range of other things. Having a strong and vibrant economy with high levels of employment is vital.

Lord Howarth of Newport (Lab): My Lords, in their preventive strategy what will the Government do to attend to the social determinants of ill health, including inequality, deprivation in early childhood and deteriorating public services?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, it is a very serious issue that over 40 years, and probably for longer, the difference between the life expectancy of the rich and the poor has always remained at about 10 years: and for healthy living it is more like 25 years. I think it is

20 Jan 2016 : Column 757

fully understood from Sir Michael Marmot’s report and thereafter that the social determinants are more important in closing that gap than anything we can do in healthcare directly, so what the noble Lord says is absolutely true.

Baroness Greengross (CB): In the 2015 report Opportunity Knocks: Designing Solutions for an Ageing Society, the University of Cambridge Engineering Design Centre, the ILC-UK and the IET highlighted the vital role of good design and technology in supporting preventive medicine, particularly, but not exclusively, for older people. The OBR warned us last year that without technological innovation over the next decade, health spending in 2063 might be 5% of GDP higher than currently projected. Do Her Majesty’s Government agree that we must invest in technology to save money by facilitating the preferred solution of sustaining independent living, particularly among older people and those subject to the revolving door syndrome? Will the Government support this and invest in it?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, good design is very much part of any long-term strategy towards improving the lives of our citizens, so it is a hugely important part of our longer-term strategy.

Baroness Wheeler (Lab): My Lords, we know that smoking is by far the biggest cause of death in the UK and research shows that two-thirds of smokers want to quit, yet the recent ASH survey has shown that the cuts in public health funding and in council budgets have led to 40% of local authorities having to cut stop smoking services. Last year these were used by more than 450,000 people. They are three times more likely to quit if they get the vital support of these services. How can it make sense to cut services when for every £1 spent on cessation services, £10 is saved in future NHS and health gains?

Lord Prior of Brampton: Successive Governments have had a huge impact on reducing smoking levels, which are now down to 18%—the lowest they have ever been.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, would this not be a suitable subject to be considered by a royal commission on the health service, which my noble friend Lord Fowler has advocated and for which he has considerable support in all parts of the House?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, the issue to which my noble friend refers was fairly fully discussed in a debate in this House initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, only some two months ago. If Members of this House wish to discuss it further, they are, of course, very welcome to do so. However, I am not sure that a royal commission is necessarily the right way to proceed.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 758

Housing: Underoccupancy Charge


3.14 pm

Asked by Baroness Quin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the effect of the underoccupancy charge on the health and well-being of those subject to it.

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Our reforms are designed to ensure that work always pays and the removal of the spare room subsidy has incentivised more people to enter work and increase their earnings. Evidence shows that work can keep people healthy as well as help promote recovery if someone falls ill. Those who require additional support can access discretionary housing payments and we are making more than £800 million available over the next five years.

Baroness Quin (Lab): My Lords, the Government—and indeed the Minister in previous replies—have failed absolutely to concede that there has been an adverse effect on the health and well-being of those who are subjected to the bedroom tax. The Minister talks about evidence, but has he read the reports commissioned by his own department, the academic studies that have been done by a number of universities, the information from local authorities, the information from citizens advice bureaux, or the personal testimonies on blogs such as the “My Spare Room” blog? They tell a very different story. In the light of this overwhelming evidence, what changes will he bring in to this policy?

Lord Freud: This is now a long-standing policy of this Government, to make sure that we tie in the availability of social housing to those who need it. People tend to forget the numbers who are on waiting lists or are in overcrowded accommodation and that this policy of matching available stock to people’s requirements improves their outcomes.

Baroness Eaton (Con): Can my noble friend the Minister tell us what is happening in health and well-being in this country?

Lord Freud: We have run a well-being survey since 2012, published by the ONS. I am pleased to report that, on all four key measures of well-being, there has been an improvement every year since the survey started almost four years ago; that is, in life satisfaction, finding activity worthwhile, happiness, and reduction of anxiety.

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords, I understand what the Government are attempting to achieve through the underoccupancy charge, but does the Minister have an estimate of the number of people who are subject to that charge for whom there is no appropriately sized accommodation available? Does he have any

20 Jan 2016 : Column 759

plans to relieve those particular households from the charge, when it is no fault of their own that they cannot move out?

Lord Freud: We saw in the report that came out just before Christmas—which we were able to discuss in this Chamber—that nearly 100,000 people have move and are no longer affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy. More than half of them have been able to downsize—mainly within the social sector, but some in the private sector. More want to do so and the process is continuing.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords—

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, I am sorry to get up, but the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, has been trying to get in for a little while. Then we should go to the Labour Benches.

Baroness Manzoor: My Lords, it is really welcome that the Government have initiated the discretionary housing benefit allowance to offset the negative impacts that the spare room tax has on people’s health and well-being. Despite this extra subsidy, many people are affected. They are going to food banks and are in significant rent arrears. This will be compounded by the ESA WRAG component, under which many people with mental health problems and with a disability may be further affected and may lose their homes. Can the Minister say how this effect will be mitigated?

Lord Freud: I just want to point out to the House that some of the concerns that the House rightly had about the impact of this policy on what would be happening to arrears and so forth have actually not come to pass. We are looking now at rent collection levels in the social sector at 99%, and 92% of social housing associations are saying that they are within plan and that customers are managing their rent accounts well.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, once again the Minister has talked about the policy incentivising people, but the report to which he just referred—which, as he said, we discussed just before Christmas—found that only 5% of those affected actually found work, and about half of those were still subject to the bedroom tax. In what way does this constitute a successful outcome for either the Government or the tenants, many of whom are clearly suffering hardship as a result?

Lord Freud: Some 20% of the total number affected have looked to improve their employment outcomes; among those who are unemployed, that is up to 63%. In the overall figures you can see real changes in behaviour, with the number of workless families in social housing down to an all-time low of 39%. This in a context of dramatic changes in employment levels, with employment at its highest level since records began;

20 Jan 2016 : Column 760

record lows in inactivity; record female employment; record youth employment; the lowest number of workless households since 1996; and out-of-work benefits at their lowest level since 1982. We are seeing a transformation and this is part of it.

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, in Newcastle alone, 4,720 households are affected by the charge—1,200 with children and 1,000 of them working households. The average loss per household is £748 a year, and arrears from 2,000 households amount to £639,000. How does the charge contribute to the well-being of these families and will the Government be applying equivalent financial sanctions for underoccupation to those to whom they intend to offer benefits under their starter homes policy?

Lord Freud: I understand that the noble Lord is referring to a study conducted by Newcastle University. I have to point out that that study was a qualitative survey, based on interviews with 38 people, which was a self-selecting sample.

Syria: Refugees


3.22 pm

Asked by Lord Balfe

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessments they have made of the range of potential flows of refugees from Syria, under different scenarios for the future of that country; and of the potential numbers who might be offered asylum in the United Kingdom.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Verma) (Con): We use UNHCR assessments of refugee flows and fund the International Organization for Migration to improve data collection and analysis. The overwhelming majority of refugees remain in the region and this is where our support is targeted. We have been at the forefront of the response and have pledged more than £1.1 billion to the crisis. The vulnerable persons relocation scheme will prioritise the most vulnerable and resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees during this Parliament.

Lord Balfe (Con): I thank the Minister for her reply and point out that sometimes, in pursuing foreign policy, one has to sacrifice ideals to a sense of national pragmatism. If the current Government fell, the flow of refugees from Syria would increase substantially, particularly if the Alawite and Christian communities were turned into refugees. This could mean 2 million further refugees looking for asylum. Do the Government have any plans to deal with this possible influx?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, the Government have been consistent in trying to support people within the region, where we think they are best placed to be looked after, and to encourage them not to become

20 Jan 2016 : Column 761

victims of smugglers and people traffickers by trying to get across to Europe. We are also encouraging our donor partners to contribute so that we can work better within the region. We have a conference coming up in February. Ultimately, what we need is a long-term political solution.

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, I am sure that the Minister has noted how vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children are. For example, of those seen in an Italian clinic, half were suffering from sexually transmitted diseases. Will the Government urgently address the request from Save the Children that we should take in 3,000 of these children?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, the Prime Minister has committed to looking again at this issue but we have been consistently clear that the relocation of asylum seekers between member states is the wrong thing to do. It will act as a pull factor and does not address the cause of the problem but simply moves it around the EU, so making an exception for children makes little sense. However, as I have said, the Prime Minister is committed to looking at the issue again.

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I suggest that there are things more important than quotas, or the possibly uneven decisions made by UN officials. Does the Minister agree that we should have approved channels for family reunion in this country, whereby those families already here and those overseas can apply directly for family reunion here?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, through our vulnerable persons relocation scheme, we have made it clear that the 20,000 refugees we will be taking in will be able to access all the services that the country offers. They will be able to reach out to engage in getting their families here, too. We are being very targeted because we want to make sure that we reach the most vulnerable—those who have no means of supporting themselves in Syria—but also the families whom the partners we are working with on the ground say need our help the most.

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister not accept that unaccompanied children who may be in parts of Europe must be among the most vulnerable asylum seekers needing help? We have an amendment to the Immigration Bill coming up. Can she please be more positive and say something encouraging? These children need our help and it would be our humanitarian duty to give that help.

Baroness Verma: My Lords, I do not think the UK needs lessons in being right at the front in giving support. What is right and proper is that, rather than moving people around Europe, we look at the source of the problem. That source is in Syria and its region. As I said in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, the Prime Minister is committed to looking at this issue again but we do not want it to be an encouraging pull factor, so that others risk their children by crossing dangerous waters to get to Europe.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 762

Lord Elton (Con): My Lords, this House has been frequently reminded that the established camps in the area are not regarded as safe places for Christians. Consequently, the Government’s efficient help, financial support and so on for the established camps is leaving the Christian community from several countries uncatered for. What steps are the Government taking to address this problem through the voluntary sector? What support are they giving there and what quotas are they providing for the admission of these most unfortunate fellow sufferers?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, my noble friend raises a very important and concerning issue. However, we work with local partners and faith communities on the ground and we provide support to people regardless of their religious background or ethnicity. We just need to focus on the most vulnerable; that is where we must target our support. However, this issue has come to me on a number of occasions and I have asked noble Lords to engage with us to see how we can better reach those vulnerable communities.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, last November the summit in Valletta focused on gaining more co-operation from key origin and transit countries. While there, the Prime Minister announced a £200 million package of development and humanitarian support for Africa. What steps is DfID taking to monitor this spend in meeting the objectives and goals set at Malta, specifically on enhancing the protection of refugees while in transit countries?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, the Government keep a continuous watch on these situations and monitor them, but we need to find longer-term solutions and to ensure that the countries in the region where there is the greatest number of refugees are well supported. The Prime Minister has been very much focused on leading the way in getting other donor partners to contribute fully, so that we support those who are in the region—there are more than 4 million—and those who have come and transited across, so that we can make sure that those people are safe and have the support they need. Ultimately, however, what we need to do is provide long-term solutions.

Cumbria: Floods


3.30 pm

Asked by Lord Liddle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what funding they intend to make available to Cumbria and other areas in the north of England to restore infrastructure damaged during the recent floods.

Lord Liddle (Lab): My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and declare my interest as a member of Cumbria County Council.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 763

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, the Government have announced funding of £40 million for Cumbria and Lancashire following Storm Desmond and Storm Eva, and we will help fund the assessment of damage to local highway infrastructure in both areas. Additionally, we have announced £3.3 million to provide a temporary footbridge and for the repair of Tadcaster Bridge in North Yorkshire, and a further £5.5 million to rebuild Elland Bridge in Calderdale.

Lord Liddle: I thank the noble Baroness for her reply and thank the Government for the immediacy of their response to this tragedy. However, the question remains whether the Government are, in principle, prepared to find the full costs of recovery. In terms of transport infrastructure, these are estimated to be £257 million in Cumbria alone—£465 million when you count everything—and £40 million is not much by comparison with that. This is at a time when we are having to make cuts of £80 million over this Parliament, on a £375 million budget, and reduce our staff from 7,000 to 5,200. Given that we are stretched beyond capacity, will the Government commit to fully funding the costs of recovery?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, over this Parliament, the Government will commit £2.3 billion for flood defences and the flood maintenance budget will be protected. In 2015-16, £171 million will be invested. There are pockets of funding in addition to that: there is £40 million for Storm Desmond and Storm Eva, as I said, and £4 million has been committed in match funding in respect of the charitable donations that have so kindly come in.

Lord Framlingham (Con): My Lords, along with their many other excellent qualities, trees have a massive part to play in this battle against flooding. I urge the Minister and the Government to do all they can to encourage the widest tree planting possible in the areas liable to flooding, as a matter of urgency, so that we can make the maximum use of this invaluable resource.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My noble friend is absolutely right that trees are a very effective mechanism in terms of mitigating floods and slowing flood waters down. However, the storms we had over Christmas, Eva and Desmond, were too severe for this alone to have been an entire solution. We have to look at all the various solutions in the round, including managing the flow of water, to help to prevent such problems in future.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, my noble friend asked for an assurance on the expenditure which now faces the county of Cumbria. Having looked at the figures, Cumbria County Council has produced a report which shows an overall funding gap of £374 million for repairing all the damage done in the county. Is that bill going to be paid? Talking about £2 million here and £4 million there is irrelevant in the context of the

20 Jan 2016 : Column 764

huge expenditure now faced by the county. Who is going to pay this bill? Someone has to pay for all the damage that has been done.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. I have given the figure for the funding committed for the transport infrastructure, but over this Parliament £2.3 billion will be provided for a range of flood defence schemes, which should help to mitigate the risk. It compares with £1.7 billion in the previous Parliament and £1.5 billion in 2005-10. At this point, that is what the Government are committing.

Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords, the points raised about the infrastructure are quite right—it is vital—but does the Minister agree that also vital are small, ongoing maintenance schemes month by month and year by year, particularly clearing leaves from gullies, plastic bags from culverts and trees that have fallen into the becks? Councils are having increasing difficulty doing that because of the funding cuts; I declare my interest as a councillor.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The noble Lord is absolutely right that ongoing maintenance is vital. In the recent floods, we have had two things: volumes of water, and therefore surface water increasing dramatically, and an extreme weather pattern increasing during some of these disasters. That is why the Government are reviewing the flood defences that we are putting place because, no matter what we have done before, the next event is all the more extreme.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con): My Lords, will the Minister explain how long the money will be available for, given that North Yorkshire County Council has not had time to examine damage to other bridges?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I recognise the issue that my noble friend is raising: that it may not be immediately obvious what are the problems and what repairs are needed. The Government are giving local authorities the time that they need to assess the damage and apply for the funding needed.

Trade Union Bill


3.37 pm

Moved by Baroness Smith of Basildon

That it is desirable that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the impact of Clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill in relation to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report, Political Party Finance: Ending the Big Donor Culture, and the necessity of urgent new legislation to balance those provisions with the other recommendations made in the committee’s report; and that the committee do report by 29 February.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, as a House, our scrutiny role appears to have excited some interest in recent months, with our powers and limitations becoming more widely known and understood—and,

20 Jan 2016 : Column 765

indeed, facing scrutiny. So I want to be crystal clear about what my Motion is intended to do, but also what it does not do.

Noble Lords will be aware that Clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill are deeply controversial. These two clauses basically deal with how trade unions raise and spend their members’ money for political purposes. The Government contend that this has no direct bearing on political party funding—specifically, Labour Party funding—but both we on this side of the House and the trade unions contend that it does.

I am not seeking today to make the case one way or the other, but I am seeking a way through that will allow us to consider the Bill in the normal way and, at the same time, provide for a Select Committee to examine this specific point. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, made a similar proposal about a Select Committee in his excellent speech at Second Reading.

The merit of our approach is that it will take the political argument on the clauses away from the debates on the Bill during the normal Committee stage. It will ensure that the issues other than those in those two clauses, Clauses 10 and 11, receive proper and full consideration, without being clouded by what is a very specific party-political point. Select Committees of your Lordships’ House are highly regarded. Such a committee could take evidence, including from those who have independent expertise to assess any potential impact of the Government’s proposals on party-political funding. It would examine the Government’s proposals in the light of the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life in relation to party-political funding, a committee now chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Bew. Our approach would not prevent any of our other committees from reporting on this Bill, and a Select Committee could make recommendations and offer advice as to whether legislation could be improved.

What the Motion does not do is in any way to seek to hinder, delay or impede the passage of the Bill. I have suggested 29 February as a time limit for the Select Committee to report back, as that would allow time for consideration and for any findings to be taken into account on Report. I appreciate that the Minister and the Government do not share our concerns, but the BIS Minister, Nick Boles, responded to a Written Question by saying:

“The proposals in the Bill are not about party funding … Therefore no assessment has been made in relation to the impact on the finances of any political party”.

In answer to a similar Question, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, the Minister in this House, responded:

“There has been no assessment. However, the proposals in the Bill are not about party funding”.

Many noble Lords will have seen her letter circulated yesterday, which reiterated the same points at some length. I wish that I could accept those assurances, but we believe that the Government are wrong or, at the very least, in denial about the consequences of Clauses 10 and 11.

Let us be precise: our genuinely held concern is that this aspect of the Bill will have a significant impact on the resources of one major political party—my party, the Labour Party. In doing so, that will both disrupt

20 Jan 2016 : Column 766

the political balance in the UK and have a damaging effect on the electoral process and on our democracy. Any examination of this issue by your Lordships’ House should be evidence based rather than reliant on opinion—even if they are the opinions of the Minister or myself. We should examine the facts and the detail. The problem is that, even when we eventually receive the long-promised impact assessment—and I find it extraordinary that the Bill has gone this far before we even get one—there will be no consideration of any impact on party-political funding. It will not even look at it as a potential unintended consequence.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life, then chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly, sought to reach a political consensus on this vexed issue in its 2011 report, Political Party Finance—Ending the Big Donor Culture. That committee made four recommendations, only one of which has found its way into any legislative proposals from the Government—this one, the one on trade union funding. The noble Lord, Lord Bew, who now chairs the committee, wrote this week that:

“The committee made a similar recommendation but as part of an overall package of measures”.

He quoted from that report, saying:

“Failure to resist the temptation to implement some parts, while rejecting others, would upset the balance we have sought to achieve”.

Lord Robathan (Con): The noble Baroness is talking about party-political funding, but I thought that we were discussing the Trade Union Bill. Is she not being perhaps a bit sensitive to the idea that trade unionists wish to subscribe only to the Labour Party? Actually, the political funds might easily go to any other party that they wish.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: I would entirely agree with the noble Lord’s final point. As I said, the clause looks at how trade unions collect and spend the money from their members on party-political issues. But it might be helpful to him if he took care to listen to the point that I am making—he says that he is all ears, so let us see if he proves it—which is that the Committee on Standards in Public Life made four recommendations on party-political funding, and only one of those is proposed by the Government in this Bill. The others are being ignored. When we look at such issues, they are sensitive. The noble Lord is quite right—I am sensitive about my party funding, and I am sure that he is equally sensitive about his. But we have to look at this in the round, and consensus is always sought on this issue. That point was made very well by the committee, which was very clear, saying:

“Both as a matter of principle and to support its sustainability, the regulatory regime must be fair to all political parties, and widely believed to be so”.

3.45 pm

By rejecting out of hand, as the Government have, that there is any such impact on political funding and despite it being so similar to the committee recommendation, the Government are seeking to avoid proper examination and consideration of any such potential impact. I have to say to the Minister that just saying, “It isn’t so”, is not enough. Across this House

20 Jan 2016 : Column 767

noble Lords will hold different views about how political parties receive their funding, whether from trade unions, businesses or donors, but whatever our views, I hope we agree that it would be totally wrong for any Government of any colour to use their power to attack the funding of other political parties, especially the Official Opposition.

There is a precedent for such a Select Committee, although I should inform noble Lords that the precedent goes much further than what I am proposing. In 2004, the now retired Lord Lloyd of Berwick successfully moved a Motion for a Select Committee to examine proposals on the entire Constitutional Reform Bill, over which I am sure noble Lords who were here at the time will remember there was some controversy. The Select Committee delayed the progress of the Bill Committee. This Motion proposes something significantly narrower: a very focused, timed-limited Select Committee on the impact of just two clauses. It will not delay the consideration of the Bill. By being so focused, it can be undertaken in a reasonable timescale. I think the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, has proved how prompt we can be when we set our minds to it without losing out on quality.

There is clearly a fundamental difference of opinion between the Government and us. We are never going to deal with that by seeing who can shout the loudest, and we should not try to. Surely it makes sense to take a step back and ensure a separate, careful, civilised, evidence-based consideration of just those two clauses by a Select Committee of your Lordships’ House. I hope that my explanation has clarified the purpose, objective, wisdom and reasonableness of our Motion. I beg to move.

Lord Tyler (LD): My Lords, I shall try to be reasonably brief because, as the noble Baroness said, I referred to a number of these issues at Second Reading last week.

Since then, I have been struck by the number of Members on the Cross Benches and the Conservative Benches who have agreed that this is the right time to look at the wider issue of party funding. Indeed, it is probably the only opportunity that we will get in this Parliament. I therefore very much welcome the initiative by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, to bring the idea back before the House this afternoon in prime time, and I hope that we will be successful today.

The Trade Union Bill before the House is deliberately very tightly drawn. The Minister told us repeatedly at Second Reading that it is not about party funding and, as the noble Baroness said, we have all received a letter from her which makes that point yet again. However, I refer the House to the Conservative Party manifesto which contained a two-part promise not only to make this change in this Bill but to reinitiate cross-party discussions about party funding, so this is part of the general package to which the manifesto referred. By making a tight Long Title to the Bill, without even the usual provision of “connected purposes”, the Government are able to advance changes to the way in which individuals contribute to the Labour Party through union political funds and to ward off any amendments to the Bill about the way in which such provisions might apply to other parties and other action on the issue.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 768

Most of the big money goes to the Conservative Party. It took 59% of all party-political donations by individuals in the 12 months leading up to the previous election. Even once trade union donations are taken into account, the Conservatives attracted £2 in every £5 donated to all political parties put together. We now know that the cash was spent—in avalanches—in target seats, in marginal constituencies, in the 2015 general election. Jim Messina, the Conservatives’ own election adviser from the US, told the Spectator just a few days ago that he thinks the party spent £30 million in the run-up to the poll last year. I suspect that the Conservative treasurer may have recalculated that in the final returns to the Electoral Commission, since the legal limit is £19 million.

As it happens, quite coincidentally, the figures are out today from the Electoral Commission, and they repay very careful analysis. Michael Crick of BBC2, who I think is acknowledged to be an expert in these matters, comments:

“those are the OFFICIAL national party spending figures. I don’t believe them”.

Nor do I. They do not include Conservative candidates’ own expenditure. He then highlights “unsolicited material to voters” costing £4 million. As a recipient in a target marginal seat, I can confirm that, yes, we were all receiving unsolicited mail of that nature. And then it is identified in the Electoral Commission figures published today that £2.4 million was paid to Mr—as he was then—Lynton Crosby, and £369,000 was paid to that very same Jim Messina. Presumably, his opinion on the amount that has been spent by the party is worth paying for.

Having deployed those funds to win a narrow majority in the other place, the Government are now plainly set on redefining the rules of the political game to entrench their own power, perhaps permanently. The Bill must be set against the overall picture of changes secured by Conservatives in the past few months and years. There were arguments over boundary changes. We then saw in the House at the end of last year Ministers nipping through provisions to wipe nearly 2 million people off the electoral register just in time for the boundary-change calculations. We saw last week how the Government are now challenging, with as yet no parliamentary process, even the power of your Lordships’ House. Now with this measure, presented as a technical change to make union members’ donations to political funds more transparent, we have an extraordinary attempt to fully stymie an already hobbled Opposition.

It is extraordinary that we need this Motion, but it is absolutely right to refer us back to the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which examined in detail a whole suite of issues on party funding five years ago. Its work built on that of Sir Hayden Phillips in the review that was commissioned by the then Labour Government. Sadly, no progress was made following the Phillips report because no consensus could be reached on the twin matters of altering principally Conservative funding by way of individual donations on the one hand and altering principally Labour funding by way of restrictions on the way in which trade union political funds work on the other.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 769

We have now an opportunity to look again at a comprehensive package, balanced to affect the major parties in roughly equal measure. The CSPL arrived at such a package in 2011, and that should have been implemented by the coalition Government. It is one of my biggest regrets that no progress was made and the nettle was not grasped then in a fair and equitable way. We cannot turn the clock back, but what we can and should make progress on now, in the first year of this Parliament, is a fundamental package of party- funding reform. It was promised in the Conservative manifesto as well as in those of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

As the noble Baroness has made clear, a Select Committee of your Lordships’ House seems to be an ideal catalyst for implementing those commitments, and of course it could make very good use of the evidence that the CSPL amassed. Last week the noble Lord, Lord Bew, who chairs the CSPL, made it clear that there is still some work to do in updating the calculations and judgments that his committee made in 2011, and surely a Select Committee is the most effective way to do that. His contribution to the debate last week and that of the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, are essential reading, particularly perhaps for their colleagues on the Cross Benches, because they were particularly significant.

The Select Committee could look carefully at the partisan effects of the Trade Union Bill and could make recommendations for progress on balancing the provision of a donation cap. It could also review fully, in the light of Electoral Commission evidence, the operation of the current law on constituency spending. As my noble friend Lord Rennard pointed out last week, the spirit of the law on constituency spending limits is being abused—no doubt by all parties—even if its letter is still observed.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): Does the noble Lord not think that his credibility in arguing for fairness and balance and non-partisan behaviour in respect of constituencies would be greatly enhanced if the Liberals had not voted to prevent the boundary changes going through in time for the general election?

Lord Tyler: It is quite irrelevant. What is absolutely clear—and I think I will have the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, with me on this—is that all parties now do not respect the constituency limits that he and I had to observe years ago when we stood as candidates. We were told, were we not, by our lawyers and our agents, that were we to spend one penny more over the limit for a constituency, we would be in trouble. Indeed, last year all parties swamped marginal, targeted constituencies with money from outside which, as long as it did not mention the name of the candidate, was completely outwith the constituency limits. I think the noble Lord and I would agree that what was set in motion by the 1883 Act, which limited how you could buy a constituency, is now not worth the paper it is written on. We need to look at that again, and it is important that it should be effectively considered by a good cross-party Select Committee of your Lordships’ House.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 770

Spending on material of that nature hugely exceeds the constituency limits, and it is clear from the figures published today that the Conservative Party, and no doubt the other parties, made huge use of that just last year. Voters do not get to vote nationally in our system. Every voter in a constituency votes for their own constituency MP, and therefore material distributed in those constituencies by parties contesting the election is just constituency campaigning. The law needs to reflect that point.

The Motion today sets out an ambitious timetable for the committee, seeking a report by 29 February. I support that, because foot-dragging is the enemy of progress in this issue, perhaps more than any other. No sooner are proposals produced than people start saying, “It’s too close to the next election to do anything”, so it is urgent that this issue is looked at now. The committee might choose to make a first report by 29 February, which could then of course be seen in the light of progress with the Trade Union Bill through your Lordships’ House. This timetable, however, must enable it to work constructively and fully with the Committee on Standards in Public Life to bring forward renewed proposals for comprehensive reform.

If anyone still doubts that the clauses in the Trade Union Bill will entrench the invidious iniquity in the UK’s party funding arrangements or that there is a dangerous arms race in spending, they need only consult the figures the Electoral Commission has published today, which speak eloquently to both. Ministerial claims in the debates hitherto and in the letter sent to us that the Bill may not adversely affect Labour’s income are either charmingly naive or stark-staring mendacious. Perhaps they think we are naive. Either way, balancing provisions for the rest of party funding are urgently needed, so my noble friends and I will strongly support this Motion in the Lobbies this afternoon.

4 pm

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, has a good way with words. In fact, however, he demolished the argument in favour of the Motion before us today. I speak as one who has very real sympathy with the noble Baroness and her colleagues in regarding the Bill as being significantly deficient. If ever a Bill needed the constructive attention and detailed scrutiny of your Lordships’ House, it is this Bill. But the problem with the ostensibly very sensible proposal of the noble Baroness is time. That was hinted at in the concluding words of the noble Lord, Lord Tyler.

I say to the noble Baroness that there is a better way forward. I believe there should be not a committee of this House, but a Joint Committee of both Houses to look at political party funding. It could not conceivably report within five or six weeks; there are a whole lot of issues to be examined. Of course, it need not sit indefinitely, and a reasonable timeframe would be to say that it had to report by the end of May or June. The work done by the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Bew, is not absolutely complete, although I agree with the general thrust of his committee’s arguments. It is wrong to single out one political party if we are looking at the funding of parties in this country. Frankly, to suggest that the Bill is not singling out a political party is disingenuous.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 771

I joined the Conservative Party and have been a proud member of it for some 60 years, because I always thought it was a party of fairness. I am a one-nation Conservative, and I do not believe that this Bill marches well with what I understand as one-nation conservatism. I believe, very strongly, that we need reform on the trade union front. I have no objection to looking carefully at ballot arrangements; although, as colleagues mentioned last week, when we are doing that we have to bear in mind the enormous popularity of police commissioner elections—and our failure to invalidate those because they did not cross a threshold. But that is not the subject of this afternoon’s debate. Here, we are looking at funding, and I believe that the best way forward, frankly, is to proceed with this Bill and to seek to amend it where appropriate. It would not be entirely inappropriate to have an amendment that delayed the implementation of this part of it until there is a more comprehensive agreement on political party funding. That would be a measured, sensible and very fair approach to this issue, in the tradition of one-nation conservatism.

The Bill cries out for your Lordships’ attention, however, and I hope that that attention will not, in any part of your Lordships’ House, be overtly partisan. The trade unions have a very important part to play in our economy. There were times when they exceeded their powers and authority, and there are those in the trade union movement today who would do that again. But that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about trying to have a fair construct which deals with the position of the trade unions in this first part of the 21st century. It is not unreasonable to say that people should make a conscious decision before they make a contribution to a political party. But I think it quite wrong to single out one particular party and its main source of funding, particularly at a time when we have also decided, in our wisdom—or lack of it—that Short money needs looking at.

We have to examine this matter in the round, so I say to the noble Baroness, who made a very good and persuasive speech, that I cannot support her this afternoon because, bearing in mind the complexity of the subject, I do not think that the timetable that she has put before your Lordships’ House is reasonable or practical. I think we should get on with this Bill; in the best tradition of your Lordships’ House, seek to amend it; perhaps consider whether there is merit in implementing certain sections of it at different times; and try to persuade the powers that be that there should indeed be a Joint Committee of both Houses—as your Lordships know, I believe passionately in the supremacy of the elected House—to look at the whole issue of party funding and to try to come to a fair and equitable solution which applies, as what I would call the Bew recommendations apply, to all parties and, so far as possible, in all circumstances.

This afternoon’s Motion is not the way forward but there are great issues to debate as the Bill proceeds through your Lordships’ House.

Lord Bew (CB): My Lords, the debate this afternoon—not on the Bill as a whole but on the Motion—revolves around two opposing truths. The Opposition, I think quite correctly, claim that the 2011 report of the

20 Jan 2016 : Column 772

Committee on Standards in Public Life,

Political Party Finance: Ending the Big Donor Culture

, which has already been referred to many times, has to be taken in the round and that the idea that you can extract one element from it is an entire misreading of the logic and structure of the report. That I have no doubt about—it has to be taken in the round. The committee makes it clear numerous times in the report that that is its view. To take one element, whether it be the role of trade unions or of business in party funding, and to deal with it separately is not in the spirit of that report. That has to be conceded. I have been sitting late at night reading the report from many different angles over the last few days, as noble Lords may imagine, and I can see no other possible reading of it.

On the other hand, the Government say that they have never claimed to be implementing the report. It is worth remembering that it was published with two dissenting minutes raising substantial matters—one from Dame Margaret Beckett from the Labour Party and the other from Oliver Heald, the Conservative Party representative on the committee. I say in passing that the Conservative dissenting minute, which raised a number of substantial and serious points, does not challenge the idea that the issue should be dealt with in the round. It absolutely accepts that point. None the less, the Government do not claim to be implementing the report. Indeed, if we are talking about the element that we are dealing with today—the role of trade unions—I accept that the Government’s proposals are quite distinct from the proposal in the report from both trade unions. So the Government are not even cherry picking; they have a different agenda, which they are pursuing. It is being debated and the issues are to be put before the people in the country. So there are two competing truths here, neither of which it is possible to dispute, and it is very difficult to see an easy way through.

On the terms of the Motion—the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, has already hinted at this, and certainly the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has done so—I feel that there really is a question over what can be done in five weeks. Since the publication of the report, there has been a very scratchy history of progress or non-progress. Indeed, if we go back to Sir Hayden Phillips’s report of 2007, we see, again, that there has been no real progress. So why do we suddenly believe that an issue that characteristically we have been stuck on in this country will be resolved in five weeks? I find it hard to believe that that can possibly be the case. There is a serious issue there. It does not mean that the concerns that have been raised are not serious, but there is a really serious issue about the terms of this resolution and its practicality.

I also feel a certain frustration with the idea that suddenly progress can be made. After the general election, I wrote to all the parties about their manifesto statements in this area. Only one party, the Conservative Party replied. It was not a particularly encouraging reply and I can recall no other replies. But that fact alone makes me think that we will not make great progress on this in five weeks. I would regard it as a huge achievement if even one of the issues could be resolved. For example, in Dame Margaret Beckett’s dissenting minute she argues that the Co-operative

20 Jan 2016 : Column 773

Party and its arrangements are implicitly treated unfairly in our report. I would regard the sorting out of that, which is one tiny element of a massive structure of problems, as a huge achievement within five weeks, so I am sceptical about the timing implied by this resolution.

I have a comment and a word of warning to all the parties in our system. One thing that is happening is that, almost unconsciously, the conception of Parliament as involving the representation and management of interests is changing. That conception was widely held for a long period in our history, whether those interests be trade union, labour or business interests. We are now moving towards a conception of Parliament as being about the fostering of individual human rights. Those who support the Bill will actually say that certain provisions are designed to enhance the human rights and freedom of choice of trade union members. I understand that that is a possible argument. But matters will not stop here. We are a different place in the way that these matters are now discussed and it is impossible that wider questions about big donor culture and the role of business will go away. Many senior Conservatives have implicitly and explicitly accepted that, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has done in his speech. They have expressed their concern about that matter. That is so important because it goes to the heart of perceptions of trust in modern British politics and the inherent difficulty that my committee has with respect to these perceptions of trust.

The noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill, has rightly reminded us several times that we should not be too obsessed with public opinion polls about the level of trust in Members of Parliament and that what really matters is the actual level of trustworthiness. She is absolutely right to say that many of these polls should be taken with a pinch of salt. We have no reason to believe anything other than what my predecessor Lord Nolan said 20 years ago—that standards are not actually in decline in our Parliament or our public service. I would go further today. There is every reason to believe that standards are actually higher, as a result of the recommendations made by Lord Nolan, the much greater transparency that there now is in our public life, the role of IPSA in dealing with issues around MPs’ expenses and the fact that we have in this country the most transparent system for party donations in the OECD. Now that I have said that, some Member of Parliament will be in the papers having done something rather foolish in the next three or four days. None the less, there is no real reason to believe anything other than that Lord Nolan was right and that the many reforms that have been made in terms of transparency have improved the situation.

However, we are in a position where 80% of members of the public believe that people give money to political parties because they expect a tangible reward, such as being made a Peer, and 80% of the public believe that they will not accept party funding. Today’s poll from the Electoral Reform Society has only 77% of the public believing that people give money to political parties expecting a peerage. We can be reassured by that 3% drop in cynicism, but I am not particularly reassured.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 774

There is a huge difficulty in making progress on this because 80% of the public also say that it is a very important part of the proposal made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life that there should be some system of state funding for political parties, but the £25 million envisaged at the moment is something the public will not accept. That is absolutely the case. It is why I am doubtful about taking five weeks to make progress. We are stuck with these issues because they are really difficult, but we cannot evade them—this is the point I am trying to argue with as much vigour as I can. A recent book entitled Ethics and Integrity in British Politics by Nicholas Allen and Sarah Birch, published by the Cambridge University Press, points out that 87% of the public believe that standards are lower than they once were. As I have said, I do not really think that there is strong evidence for that. The use of Lord Acton’s famous quotation that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely has now become a credible cliché although it has been completely stripped of the precise meaning he gave it in 1887 to deal with the cruel abuses of power that he was talking about. It has now become a kind of journalistic mantra which creates a problem, and indeed research by the Edelman Trust supports that. It backs up our own report on comparative perceptions of the political class in Europe, which showed that 3% of the Dutch and 3% of the British have actually had experience of corruption, but only 49% of Dutch people believe that it is widespread in their society while 69% of British people believe it to be so. We have a malaise in public opinion that goes well beyond anyone’s empirical experience.

4.15 pm

But precisely because these things exist, it means that the issues focused on by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, party funding being one of them, have to be faced up to; they cannot be allowed to drift. The Edelman Trust argues that countries with better figures than ours on these matters have a better attitude towards economic innovation and progress. That may or may not be so, but it is still the case that the pride of this country requires that we face up to these issues, acknowledging that many reforms have been made which have not provoked a positive echo in the form of real changes in public opinion.

It is quite correct to say that the details of the committee’s report should not be fetishised, but it is a serious, intellectual and morally formed document. It makes an attempt to achieve something which in its broader terms might lead to a cross-party consensus. I absolutely believe that the points made in the dissenting minutes by both Dame Margaret Beckett and Sir Oliver Heald, thus by both the Labour and the Conservative parties, will have to be debated in any restructured document that emerges. We support the need for reform and we very much hope that both the Government and the Opposition will not forget about these matters when the story of this Bill is over.

Lord Kerslake (CB): My Lords, I spoke at length on this Bill at Second Reading so I will keep my remarks today short. Many noble Lords were kind enough to give me feedback about my speech, and I have to say

20 Jan 2016 : Column 775

that it is easy to make a good speech when you feel passionately about the issues involved. For me, this is absolutely an issue of the utmost constitutional seriousness that should be of concern to those who are in any political party, or indeed, like myself, are not in a political party at all. What we are debating today is of crucial importance to anyone who believes in an open, plural democracy.

My sense is that, like the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, who argued the point very well, I would prefer us not to act on this part of the legislation until the full conversation has happened. That is a compelling argument which I support. Where I think the proposal adds value is that it can and should look at the impact of what is being proposed here, and that is made clear in the Motion before us today. It is both possible and credible to do that in the time available. That is why I support the amendment.

We have what is often called cognitive dissonance here between two different and competing positions. We may be keen to smoke while also being aware of the health impacts of smoking. We have a proposition that these clauses have no impact, and that they are related to the trade unions and have nothing to do with political parties. Yet we know that the practical effect on one political party would be devastating. We have to reconcile and resolve those issues and have them debated in a committee where they can be balanced against the wider issues. The noble Lord, Lord Bew, spoke very powerfully and I absolutely concur with his wider thesis. But there is a useful job to be done here, which is to have a proper conversation and debate about impact in this wider debate of party funding. I will support the Motion.

Baroness Burt of Solihull (LD): My Lords, I am conscious of the House’s time this afternoon, so I will be brief. The purpose of this Motion is to convene a separate committee to consider Clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill, because its practical outcome is all about political party funding. The Government can say that the Bill is not about political funding but it patently is. It has the practical effect of further unbalancing the playing field in favour of the Conservative Party by practically reducing the access to funds for the Labour Party.

If we look at the report on the Committee of Standards in Public Life, the opt-in was the quid pro quo for Labour to be considered alongside the reduction in maximum donation of £10,000, which would, it thought, roughly equate to a similar reduction in Conservative funding. But after the analysis that the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, treated us to, that perhaps is a little optimistic.

To my mind, two points follow. First, the Conservatives seem to misunderstand the role of trade unions in this country. They are as much a part of our functioning democracy as the courts, political parties and the dual-chamber system, which is also under attack, as are the freedom of information changes which the Government are also currently trying to push through. The Labour Party can be accused of many things, including exceeding powers, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has mentioned, but someone, as well as the

20 Jan 2016 : Column 776

Liberal Democrats, must constitute an opposition in a functioning democracy, and Labour, frankly, is in a weak enough state already.

Secondly, if the Government have already taken away Labour’s bargaining chip in any future negotiations on party funding, what incentive is there for the Conservatives to ever return to the negotiating table? It is a win-lose situation and happy days for them. The winning advantage that they will get will enable them to stay in power for the foreseeable future.

At Second Reading, I said that one of the roles of this House is to ensure fair play and a level playing field. This section of the Bill risks that, so a Select Committee is the right approach. I urge noble Lords from all sides of the House to support it.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, I was not planning to speak on this matter but I have been provoked. I do not know what I think about this because I am in two minds. First, this is a manifesto commitment. This House is not expected to oppose Conservative Party manifesto commitments. However, the manifesto commitment is in two parts—it is about a review of funding, and this is only one part. I had to deal with this when I was a Minister of State in the Department of Employment in 1992.

In 1982, my noble friend Lord Tebbit dealt with the matter very well. The issue then on opting out or opting in was that people were not able to choose whether they wished to subscribe to the political fund and many were not aware that there was a political fund. In 1982—I hope that my memory is correct— my noble friend Lord Tebbit and Lady Thatcher’s Government decided that the fairest way to deal with this was to have a regular ballot every 10 years to establish whether there should be a political fund and that people should be able to opt out if they wished, thus preserving individual freedom.

In 1992, 10 years on, we looked at this again and we had some employment legislation which was a little controversial. It included abolishing wages councils and one or two other things like that. The debate in the Conservative Party and the Government at the time was that we should change the law and make a requirement to opt in. I decided that we should not do that and the Government took that view. I decided that we should do so not for any reasons about party political funding, but because I thought that it would be unfair to the Labour Party, reduce its funding and inevitably start a debate about state funding of political parties, to which I am totally opposed. The day we put our hands in the pocket of the taxpayers to pay for our party political campaigning is the day when a bigger gap will open up between us and the electorate.

It would be a great mistake if we moved away from the system that we have—I take the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, about the importance of controlling expenditure in constituencies—and the need for political parties to raise their funds by getting members on the ground and in the constituencies. A culture that enables one or two very rich people to bankroll one party, or three or four trade unions to bankroll another, encourages the loss of that grass- roots support that is so desperately needed at present.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 777

As I say, I am in two minds. I hope that my noble friend will be able to answer this in responding to the debate on the Motion: what is the problem that we are trying to solve? What has gone wrong with the trade union political funds and the system established in 1992? I have seen the letter that my noble friend wrote to all of us. Is it that we think that people are being lent on not to opt out of the political levy? Is it, as she said in her letter, that we think that people are not aware that they have the right to opt out of the political fund? If that is the case, is it not possible for the trade unions to come forward with proposals on a voluntary basis that would establish that whatever these deficiencies are would be put right? I know that they have done so.

We are provoking a confrontation that will do none of us any good and certainly will not do the political system any good. I say to the noble Baroness, who I have enormous respect for, on the idea that we can sort this out in five weeks: this will be a bean-feast for the media to have a go at all political parties and their funding.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: If I might briefly assist the House in looking at this issue, I am not for one moment suggesting that, in the five weeks or so to the end of February, the Select Committee would be able to look at all issues of party funding. That is not the purpose of my Motion. It is on one specific point: that, on the issues that the Committee would be deciding and voting on, there should be a parallel process to inform its deliberations. No one would dream that it could do it in five weeks—if we cannot do it five or 10 years, we will not do it in five weeks. It is specific on the point of what the committee will be debating.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: The noble Baroness is very smart and clever and that is exactly the right answer to give to my point, but I am trying to make bricks here. She may be correct in saying that the terms of reference for the committee and its functions could be limited to that period of time, but that will not affect what goes on in the outside world. We will have a great old row about party funding and we will not be in a position to get agreement between the political parties. We all know that it was about setting a limit. The trade unions think that the limit should not apply to them, the Labour Party is so dependent on the trade unions that they will not want to do that, and the same on our side. We know where the differences are. I hope that these might be resolved in the future, but I do not think that the noble Baroness’s Motion is the right way to do that. I agree with my noble friend Lord Cormack that the proper way to do this is in consideration of the Bill.

I hope that my friends on the Front Bench will recognise that this will take away funding from the Labour Party at a time when the Labour Party is perhaps not at its strongest. I have no brief to build up the Labour Party, but our parliamentary system depends on having a strong and effective Opposition. The Short money is supposed to enable the Opposition to operate in Parliament; it is nothing to do with party politics as such and is being cut, so that makes it

20 Jan 2016 : Column 778

harder for them to operate. At the same time, to attack the funding is, I think, misguided because I know what will happen. The people will say, “Well, let’s have a look at the Tory Party. How can we inflict this there?”, and we will get into a war of mutual destruction. I do not think that would help enhance the reputation of Parliament or of the political parties. Therefore, the best possible outcome would be not to pass the noble Baroness’s Motion and for the Government to think again about whether there is a way to meet our manifesto commitment and, at the same time, reach a deal with the trade unions which enables whatever the problem is that the Government perceive makes it necessary to do this to be resolved.

4.30 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): My Lords, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for introducing her Motion and I have listened very carefully to the arguments for appointing a Select Committee to consider Clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill. However, I ask the House to bear with me as I set out the Government’s position that these clauses relate to trade union reform and not to party funding reform.

The Trade Union Bill is just that: it is about trade unions, and it introduces a number of reforms based on the 2015 Conservative election manifesto, as my noble friend Lord Forsyth explained so eloquently. I believe that most uncommitted observers would regard these reforms as unexceptional. They represent proportionate reform based on a clear manifesto commitment, which includes a transparent opt-in process for union subscriptions.

However, I must deal first with the confusion which has surfaced—namely, the difference between contributions to trade unions’ political funds and trade unions’ funding of political parties. The Bill requires members of trade unions explicitly to opt in to a political fund. That is not the same as requiring opt-in to union donations made to a political party. Political funds are used for all sorts of campaigns, some of which are not at all party political.

Let me explain the problem that Clause 10 seeks to address. Under current trade union legislation, union members have the choice to opt out of contributing to a union’s political fund. However, that choice is on too many occasions difficult to exercise, and not made clear to individuals. So, to reply to my noble friend Lord Forsyth, we want to end that unfairness and provide full transparency by allowing union members an active opt-in to the political fund. I look forward to discussing that in Committee.

This Motion has been brought to consider Clauses 10 and 11 in the light of the 2011 report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, also sought to bring forward a Motion on party funding at Second Reading based on the same report. However, Recommendation 4 of the report specifically addressed a cap on affiliation fees to a political party, not how the contributions are made to political funds of trade unions. The latter did not, in fact, form part of the recommendations of the

20 Jan 2016 : Column 779

CSPL report, as the report related to party funding, and party funding is not a matter for this Bill. It is a separate matter that has been the subject of a large number of reports over many years. The recommendations in the 2011 report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life were not accepted by the two major political parties, as we heard, including the party of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith. It would be peculiar for a Select Committee on political party funding to be set up based on a report that does not command cross-party consensus. As the noble Lord, Lord Bew, suggested, a lack of party consensus is at the heart of the problem. Therefore, it would be difficult to make any progress in five weeks, as he said.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Can my noble friend give us some examples of where people have been prevented from opting out of the political fund and explain the extent of the problem? Can she also explain why this cannot be achieved by some kind of agreement of a code of conduct with the trade unions?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, this is a Motion on procedure and I was not planning to go into the detail, but I will certainly write to my noble friend and other noble Lords and we can discuss in Committee the sort of examples that he is talking about.

As we made clear in our manifesto, we will seek to secure an agreement on party funding reform. Indeed, it is open to the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Bew, to take this work forward in the light of updated data but, I repeat, such work is entirely separate to the passage of the clauses in this Bill, which relate to trade unions and not to party funding discussions. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, and other noble Lords have made a number of interesting points today, which I will not seek to reply to, as this Bill is not about party funding. I recognise, of course, that some noble Lords feel strongly about the Bill, but all institutions need modernisation and that is what the Bill is about.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, has suggested that the House is underinformed about the Bill. I find this difficult to believe, given the marathon debate that we had at Second Reading. The measures in the Bill are rooted in the manifesto, for which we won a majority of support in the election. They are supported by members of the public, whose interests as parents, patients and commuters the Government were elected to defend. The measures secured clear majorities at all stages of the Bill in the elected Chamber. They had the benefit of extensive scrutiny in the other place, including in oral evidence from key stakeholders in Committee.

Furthermore, I am looking forward to a comprehensive debate shortly in a Committee of the whole House. Even my noble friend Lord Cormack, with whom I do not always see eye to eye, seemed to think that the Bill should be considered in Committee, in the best traditions of this House. That is because a primary purpose of this House is to scrutinise and improve legislation. Today’s Motion will not improve the effectiveness of that scrutiny; indeed, it would shift the focus of scrutiny to party funding and away from the central purpose of the Bill, which is trade union reform.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 780

To address the specific concern raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, I am pleased to confirm that we will publish impact assessments on the Bill tomorrow. I will personally ensure that copies reach the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Mendelsohn, once they are published.

Lord Rooker (Lab): Would the Minister please address the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, as I said, I have listened to the debate and we will all reflect further—as we do when we have important debates of this type—but I would like to conclude on this Motion.

Lord Rennard (LD): Can the Minister tell us why these impact assessments could not have been published yesterday so that we could have considered them when considering this Motion?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, I promised in a meeting that they would be published before Committee stage and I have delivered on that promise. I have arranged for them to be published tomorrow, which will give plenty of time before Committee starts on 8 February. I look forward to discussing them with noble Lords across the House.

In conclusion, this Bill seeks to modernise the relationship between trade unions and their members and to redress the balance between the rights of trade unions and the rights of the general public, whose lives, as I have said before, are often disrupted by strikes. Clauses 10 and 11 embrace the good democratic values of choice, transparency and responsibility. I look forward to full scrutiny of the Bill in this House.

This Bill is a package of measures and it is disappointing that the party opposite has chosen to misinterpret our intentions. As I have demonstrated, Clauses 10 and 11 are quite distinct from the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life mentioned in the Motion and relating to party-political funding. We would merely be adding confusion if we established a Select Committee.

Our reforms in the Bill look at how trade union members choose to contribute to trade union political funds. We are not looking at how trade unions fund political parties. Opt-ins and opt-outs for trade union political funds have always been a matter for trade union legislation. Party funding and its regulation have always been a matter for party funding legislation. Party funding is rightly outside the scope of the Bill and I call on the House to reject the Motion.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I thought the Minister was making quite a good fist of it until she said that we had misinterpreted the intention of the Bill. I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to today’s debate. That has been very helpful.

It may assist the House if I very briefly make it absolutely clear what my Motion seeks to do. The noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, hit the nail on the head when he said it was about the impact of the legislation, not the intention. The Minister says that the impact

20 Jan 2016 : Column 781

assessment will be published tomorrow. That is great but it would not have informed this debate at all, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, because there is nothing in there about any impact that the Bill may have on party-political funding.

We strayed a long way from the specifics of my Motion. My Motion is quite clear. It is not about party funding as a whole; it is not about the Trade Union Bill as a whole. It is very specifically about the two clauses in the Bill over which there is a clear difference, as noble Lords have heard, between the Minister and this side of the House—between the Government and I was going to say the Opposition but I think it is much more widespread than that—about whether those clauses will have an impact on political funding.

The Minister reminded us of the Conservative manifesto. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, was quite right to challenge on this—I apologise for citing him again. The Conservative Party manifesto says, on page 49:

“In the next Parliament, we will legislate to ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for subscriptions to political parties”,

but now she tells us it is nothing at all to do with political parties. Is the manifesto right or is she? The manifesto goes on:

“We will continue to seek agreement on a comprehensive package of party funding reform”.

I entirely agree but that is not what is in the Bill. The Bill looks at what the Committee on Standards in Public Life says and picks one area. The noble Lord, Lord Bew, was quite clear that one of the recommendations is reflected—I am not saying it is exactly the same—in these proposals.

I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, for his contribution—wise words, as usual. I remind him how narrow and specific our Motion is. He says that he would much rather not have the clauses implemented. That could be debated by the Committee on the Bill when we get to those clauses. What I am proposing today is the opportunity to inform the debate on those clauses on one specific point; otherwise, the debate on those clauses will be clouded by the debate on whether or not there is an impact on party-political funding, although I entirely accept the point about what was in the manifesto about the opt-in or opt-out. I am seeking to remove that party-political element from the debate and debate the specifics of that in a Select Committee in order to then inform the Committee.

Lord Cormack: Does the noble Baroness not appreciate the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Bew, as well as by me, that the timescale is wholly unrealistic? A committee has to be set up. It then has to meet. It has to decide precisely on its remit. It has an order to report back by Monday 29 February. That is just unrealistic.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: I understand the point the noble Lord is making but I respectfully say to him that he is wrong. The timescale of this is dictated by the timescale that the Government have set to debate the Bill. These issues have to be debated in that timescale because that is the timescale the Government have set

20 Jan 2016 : Column 782

for conclusion of the Bill. With due respect to both noble Lords—I think the noble Lord, Lord Bew, made this point—this committee does not address the far wider issues of party funding. Both noble Lords are absolutely right: it could not do so in that timescale. But what it can do is inform the Committee that will be discussing the Bill as a whole in the timescale set down by the Government. It is purely to inform. If we do not have the committee that I am suggesting, those issues will be discussed in the same timeframe but without the external information provided by the Select Committee.

The key thing here is not what the Minister or I think. It is about an assessment of what the impact will be—a forensic assessment of whether it will have that impact. The Minister says no, and I say yes. Who is right? I do not think that we can reach a conclusion on that here, but a Select Committee could look into that impact and it can inform our deliberations on the Bill.

I apologise for citing the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, again but he gave reasons for not voting for my Motion. I say to him that there were reasons for not bringing forward the Bill in the first place because those clauses are so deeply flawed. For the Government to produce an impact assessment which does not even address one of the major issues of controversy that is causing concern across your Lordships’ House is an absolute disgrace. I have heard the Minister but I do not think that she made her points very well and I beg to test the opinion of the House.

4.45 pm

Division on Baroness Smith of Basildon’s Motion

Contents 327; Not-Contents 234.

Baroness Smith of Basildon’s Motion agreed.

Division No.  1


Adams of Craigielea, B.

Addington, L.

Afshar, B.

Ahmed, L.

Alton of Liverpool, L.

Anderson of Swansea, L.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Hill Top, B.

Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.

Bach, L.

Bakewell, B.

Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.

Barker, B.

Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]

Beecham, L.

Beith, L.

Benjamin, B.

Berkeley, L.

Berkeley of Knighton, L.

Bhatia, L.

Bhattacharyya, L.

Bichard, L.

Billingham, B.

Blackstone, B.

Blair of Boughton, L.

Blood, B.

Boateng, L.

Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.

Boothroyd, B.

Borrie, L.

Bowles of Berkhamsted, B.

Bradley, L.

Bradshaw, L.

Bragg, L.

Brennan, L.

Brinton, B.

Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.

Brookman, L.

Browne of Belmont, L.

Bruce of Bennachie, L.

Burnett, L.

Burt of Solihull, B.

Campbell of Pittenweem, L.

Campbell-Savours, L.

Carlile of Berriew, L.

Carter of Coles, L.

Cashman, L.

Christopher, L.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 783

Clancarty, E.

Clark of Windermere, L.

Clarke of Hampstead, L.

Clement-Jones, L.

Clinton-Davis, L.

Collins of Highbury, L.

Colville of Culross, V.

Condon, L.

Corston, B.

Cotter, L.

Coussins, B.

Crawley, B.

Cunningham of Felling, L.

Darling of Roulanish, L.

Davidson of Glen Clova, L.

Davies of Coity, L.

Davies of Oldham, L.

Davies of Stamford, L.

Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.

Dear, L.

Desai, L.

Dholakia, L.

Donaghy, B.

Donoughue, L.

Doocey, B.

Drake, B.

Drayson, L.

Dubs, L.

Dykes, L.

Eames, L.

Eatwell, L.

Elder, L.

Elis-Thomas, L.

Evans of Temple Guiting, L.

Falconer of Thoroton, L.

Falkland, V.

Falkner of Margravine, B.

Farrington of Ribbleton, B.

Faulkner of Worcester, L.

Featherstone, B.

Foster of Bath, L.

Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.

Foulkes of Cumnock, L.

Fox, L.

Freyberg, L.

Gale, B.

Garden of Frognal, B.

German, L.

Gibson of Market Rasen, B.

Giddens, L.

Glasgow, E.

Glasman, L.

Goddard of Stockport, L.

Golding, B.

Goldsmith, L.

Gordon of Strathblane, L.

Goudie, B.

Gould of Potternewton, B.

Grantchester, L.

Greaves, L.

Grender, B.

Griffiths of Burry Port, L.

Grocott, L.

Hain, L.

Hamwee, B.

Hannay of Chiswick, L.

Hanworth, V.

Harries of Pentregarth, L.

Harris of Haringey, L.

Harrison, L.

Hart of Chilton, L.

Haughey, L.

Haworth, L.

Hay of Ballyore, L.

Hayman, B.

Hayter of Kentish Town, B.

Healy of Primrose Hill, B.

Henig, B.

Hennessy of Nympsfield, L.

Hilton of Eggardon, B.

Hollick, L.

Hollins, B.

Hollis of Heigham, B.

Howarth of Breckland, B.

Howarth of Newport, L.

Howe of Idlicote, B.

Howells of St Davids, B.

Howie of Troon, L.

Hoyle, L.

Hughes of Woodside, L.

Humphreys, B.

Hunt of Kings Heath, L.

Hussain, L.

Hussein-Ece, B.

Hutton of Furness, L.

Irvine of Lairg, L.

Janke, B.

Jay of Paddington, B.

Jolly, B.

Jones, L.

Jones of Cheltenham, L.

Jones of Moulsecoomb, B.

Jones of Whitchurch, B.

Jordan, L.

Jowell, B.

Judd, L.

Judge, L.

Kennedy of Cradley, B.

Kennedy of Southwark, L.

Kerr of Kinlochard, L.

Kerslake, L.

Kidron, B.

Kilclooney, L.

King of Bow, B.

Kingsmill, B.

Kinnock, L.

Kinnock of Holyhead, B.

Knight of Weymouth, L.

Kramer, B.

Lawrence of Clarendon, B.

Layard, L.

Lea of Crondall, L.

Lee of Trafford, L.

Leitch, L.

Lennie, L.

Lester of Herne Hill, L.

Liddell of Coatdyke, B.

Liddle, L.

Linklater of Butterstone, B.

Lipsey, L.

Lister of Burtersett, B.

Listowel, E.

Livermore, L.

Low of Dalston, L.

Ludford, B.

Lytton, E.

McAvoy, L.

McCluskey, L.

McDonagh, B.

Macdonald of Tradeston, L.

McFall of Alcluith, L.

McIntosh of Hudnall, B.

MacKenzie of Culkein, L.

Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.

McKenzie of Luton, L.

Maclennan of Rogart, L.

McNally, L.

Maddock, B.

Mallalieu, B.

Manzoor, B.

Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L.

Massey of Darwen, B.

Maxton, L.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 784

Meacher, B.

Mendelsohn, L.

Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.

Mitchell, L.

Monks, L.

Moonie, L.

Morgan, L.

Morgan of Drefelin, B.

Morgan of Ely, B.

Morgan of Huyton, B.

Morris of Aberavon, L.

Morris of Handsworth, L.

Morris of Yardley, B.

Murphy of Torfaen, L.

Newby, L.

Northover, B.

Nye, B.

Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.

Oates, L.

O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.

Ouseley, L.

Owen, L.

Oxburgh, L.

Paddick, L.

Palmer, L.

Palmer of Childs Hill, L.

Parekh, L.

Parminter, B.

Patel of Bradford, L.

Pendry, L.

Peston, L.

Plant of Highfield, L.

Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.

Primarolo, B.

Prosser, B.

Puttnam, L.

Quin, B.

Radice, L.

Ramsay of Cartvale, B.

Randerson, B.

Razzall, L.

Rea, L.

Rebuck, B.

Redesdale, L.

Reid of Cardowan, L.

Rennard, L.

Roberts of Llandudno, L.

Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.

Rooker, L.

Rosser, L.

Rowe-Beddoe, L.

Rowlands, L.

Royall of Blaisdon, B.

Sandwich, E.

Sawyer, L.

Scott of Foscote, L.

Scott of Needham Market, B.

Sharkey, L.

Sharp of Guildford, B.

Sheehan, B.

Sherlock, B.

Shipley, L.

Shutt of Greetland, L.

Singh of Wimbledon, L.

Smith of Basildon, B.

Smith of Clifton, L.

Smith of Gilmorehill, B.

Smith of Newnham, B.

Snape, L.

Soley, L.

Somerset, D.

Stephen, L.

Stern, B.

Stevenson of Balmacara, L.

Stoddart of Swindon, L.

Stone of Blackheath, L.

Stoneham of Droxford, L.

Storey, L.

Strasburger, L.

Suttie, B.

Symons of Vernham Dean, B.

Taverne, L.

Taylor of Blackburn, L.

Taylor of Bolton, B.

Temple-Morris, L.

Teverson, L.

Thomas of Gresford, L.

Thomas of Winchester, B.

Thornhill, B.

Tomlinson, L.

Tonge, B.

Tope, L.

Touhig, L.

Triesman, L.

Truscott, L.

Tunnicliffe, L. [Teller]

Turnberg, L.

Tyler, L.

Tyler of Enfield, B.

Uddin, B.

Verjee, L.

Wall of New Barnet, B.

Wallace of Saltaire, L.

Wallace of Tankerness, L.

Walmsley, B.

Warner, L.

Warwick of Undercliffe, B.

Watkins of Tavistock, B.

Watson of Invergowrie, L.

Watts, L.

Wheeler, B.

Whitaker, B.

Whitty, L.

Wigley, L.

Williams of Baglan, L.

Williams of Crosby, B.

Williams of Elvel, L.

Willis of Knaresborough, L.

Wills, L.

Wolf of Dulwich, B.

Wood of Anfield, L.

Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Worthington, B.

Wrigglesworth, L.

Young of Norwood Green, L.

Young of Old Scone, B.


Altmann, B.

Anelay of St Johns, B.

Arbuthnot of Edrom, L.

Armstrong of Ilminster, L.

Arran, E.

Ashton of Hyde, L.

Astor of Hever, L.

Attlee, E.

Baker of Dorking, L.

Bates, L.

Bell, L.

Berridge, B.

Black of Brentwood, L.

Blencathra, L.

Borwick, L.

Bottomley of Nettlestone, B.

Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.

Bowness, L.

Brabazon of Tara, L.

Bridgeman, V.

Bridges of Headley, L.

Brougham and Vaux, L.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 785

Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L.

Browning, B.

Burns, L.

Butler of Brockwell, L.

Butler-Sloss, B.

Byford, B.

Caithness, E.

Callanan, L.

Cameron of Dillington, L.

Carrington of Fulham, L.

Cathcart, E.

Chadlington, L.

Chalker of Wallasey, B.

Colwyn, L.

Cooper of Windrush, L.

Cope of Berkeley, L.

Cormack, L.

Courtown, E.

Craigavon, V.

Crathorne, L.

Crickhowell, L.

Cumberlege, B.

Dannatt, L.

De Mauley, L.

Deben, L.

Deech, B.

Deighton, L.

Denham, L.

Dixon-Smith, L.

Dundee, E.

Dunlop, L.

Eaton, B.

Eccles, V.

Eccles of Moulton, B.

Elton, L.

Empey, L.

Evans of Bowes Park, B.

Farmer, L.

Faulks, L.

Feldman of Elstree, L.

Fellowes, L.

Fink, L.

Finn, B.

Flight, L.

Fookes, B.

Forsyth of Drumlean, L.

Fowler, L.

Framlingham, L.

Freeman, L.

Freud, L.

Gardiner of Kimble, L. [Teller]

Gardner of Parkes, B.

Gilbert of Panteg, L.

Glenarthur, L.

Gold, L.

Goodlad, L.

Goschen, V.

Grade of Yarmouth, L.

Green of Deddington, L.

Green of Hurstpierpoint, L.

Greenway, L.

Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.

Hailsham, V.

Hamilton of Epsom, L.

Hayward, L.

Helic, B.

Henley, L.

Higgins, L.

Hodgson of Abinger, B.

Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.

Hogg, B.

Holmes of Richmond, L.

Home, E.

Hooper, B.

Hope of Craighead, L.

Horam, L.

Howard of Lympne, L.

Howard of Rising, L.

Howe, E.

Howell of Guildford, L.

Hunt of Wirral, L.

Hylton, L.

Inglewood, L.

James of Blackheath, L.

Jay of Ewelme, L.

Jenkin of Kennington, B.

Kakkar, L.

Keen of Elie, L.

King of Bridgwater, L.

Kinnoull, E.

Knight of Collingtree, B.

Lang of Monkton, L.

Lansley, L.

Lawson of Blaby, L.

Leach of Fairford, L.

Leigh of Hurley, L.

Lexden, L.

Lindsay, E.

Lingfield, L.

Liverpool, E.

Lothian, M.

Luce, L.

Lupton, L.

Lyell, L.

MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.

McIntosh of Pickering, B.

Mackay of Clashfern, L.

Mackay of Drumadoon, L.

Magan of Castletown, L.

Mancroft, L.

Marland, L.

Marlesford, L.

Masham of Ilton, B.

Maude of Horsham, L.

Mawhinney, L.

Mawson, L.

Mobarik, B.

Moore of Lower Marsh, L.

Morris of Bolton, B.

Moynihan, L.

Naseby, L.

Nash, L.

Neville-Jones, B.

Neville-Rolfe, B.

Newlove, B.

Noakes, B.

Northbourne, L.

Northbrook, L.

Norton of Louth, L.

O'Cathain, B.

O'Neill of Bengarve, B.

O'Neill of Gatley, L.

Oppenheim-Barnes, B.

O'Shaughnessy, L.

Palumbo, L.

Pannick, L.

Patten, L.

Patten of Barnes, L.

Perry of Southwark, B.

Pidding, B.

Plumb, L.

Polak, L.

Popat, L.

Porter of Spalding, L.

Powell of Bayswater, L.

Prior of Brampton, L.

Quirk, L.

Ramsbotham, L.

Rawlings, B.

Redfern, B.

Renton of Mount Harry, L.

Renwick of Clifton, L.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 786

Ribeiro, L.

Risby, L.

Robathan, L.

Rock, B.

Rogan, L.

Rotherwick, L.

Sassoon, L.

Scott of Bybrook, B.

Seccombe, B.

Selborne, E.

Selkirk of Douglas, L.

Selsdon, L.

Shackleton of Belgravia, B.

Sharples, B.

Sheikh, L.

Shephard of Northwold, B.

Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.

Shields, B.

Shinkwin, L.

Shrewsbury, E.

Skelmersdale, L.

Slim, V.

Smith of Hindhead, L.

Spicer, L.

Stedman-Scott, B.

Sterling of Plaistow, L.

Stirrup, L.

Stowell of Beeston, B.

Strathclyde, L.

Stroud, B.

Suri, L.

Sutherland of Houndwood, L.

Swinfen, L.

Taylor of Goss Moor, L.

Taylor of Holbeach, L. [Teller]

Tebbit, L.

Thurlow, L.

Trees, L.

Trefgarne, L.

Trimble, L.

True, L.

Tugendhat, L.

Ullswater, V.

Verma, B.

Wakeham, L.

Waldegrave of North Hill, L.

Walpole, L.

Walton of Detchant, L.

Warsi, B.

Wasserman, L.

Wei, L.

Wheatcroft, B.

Whitby, L.

Wilcox, B.

Williams of Trafford, B.

Wilson of Tillyorn, L.

Wolfson of Aspley Guise, L.

Woolf, L.

Young of Cookham, L.

Younger of Leckie, V.

Immigration Bill

Immigration Bill

Committee (2nd Day)

5.01 pm

Relevant documents: 7th Report from the Constitution Committee, 17th and 18th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee

Amendment 73

Moved by Lord Bates

73: Before Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—

“ScheduleFunctions in relation to labour marketEmployment Agencies Act 1973 (c. 35)

1 The Employment Agencies Act 1973 is amended as follows.

2 Before section 9 insert—

“8A Appointment of officers

(1) The Secretary of State may—

(a) appoint officers to act for the purposes of this Act, and

(b) instead of or in addition to appointing any officers under this section, arrange with any relevant authority for officers of that authority to act for those purposes.

(2) The following are relevant authorities—

(a) any Minister of the Crown or government department;

(b) any body performing functions on behalf of the Crown;

(c) the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.”

3 (1) Section 9 (inspection) is amended as follows.

(2) Before subsection (1) insert—

“(A1) This section does not apply to an officer acting for the purposes of this Act in relation to England and Wales if the officer is a labour abuse prevention officer within the meaning of section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

(3) In subsection (1), for “duly authorised in that behalf by the Secretary of State” substitute “acting for the purposes of this Act”.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 787

(4) In subsection (4)(a), in each of subparagraphs (ii) and (iii), for “or servant appointed by, or person exercising functions on behalf of, the Secretary of State” substitute “acting for the purposes of this Act,”.

National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (c. 39)

4 The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 is amended as follows.

5 In section 13 (appointment of officers for enforcement)—

(a) in subsection (1)(b), for the words from “Minister of the Crown” to “body shall” substitute “relevant authority for officers of that authority to”;

(b) after subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) The following are relevant authorities—

(a) any Minister of the Crown or government department;

(b) any body performing functions on behalf of the Crown;

(c) the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.”

6 In section 14 (powers of officers) before subsection (1) insert—

“(A1) This section does not apply to an officer acting for the purposes of this Act in relation to England and Wales if the officer is a labour abuse prevention officer within the meaning of section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

Modern Slavery Act 2015 (c. 30)

7 The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is amended as follows.

8 Before section 12 (but after the italic heading before it) insert—

“11A Enforcement by Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority

(1) The Secretary of State may make arrangements with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority for officers of the Authority to act for the purposes of this Part in taking action in circumstances in which it appears that an offence under this Part which is a labour market offence (within the meaning of section 3 of the Immigration Act 2016) has been, is being or may be committed.

(2) For provision about the powers of such an officer who is acting for the purposes of this Part, see section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

9 (1) Section 15 (slavery and trafficking prevention orders on application) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) omit the “or” after paragraph (b);

(b) after paragraph (c) insert “, or

(d) the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.”

(3) In subsection (7)—

(a) for “or the Director General”, in the first place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the Director General”, in the second place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Authority”.

(4) In subsection (8)(b)—

(a) for “or the Director General”, in the first place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the Director General”, in the second place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Authority”.

10 In section 19(7) (requirement to provide name and address)—

(a) for “or an immigration officer” substitute “, an immigration officer or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the officer” substitute “, the officer or the Authority”.

11 (1) Section 20 (variation, renewal and discharge) is amended as follows.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 788

(2) In subsection (2), after paragraph (f) insert—

“(g) where the order was made on an application under section 15 by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Authority.”

(3) In subsection (9)—

(a) for “or the Director General”, in the first place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the Director General”, in the second and third places it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Authority”.

12 (1) Section 23 (slavery and trafficking risk orders) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) omit the “or” after paragraph (b);

(b) after paragraph (c) insert “, or

(d) the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.”

(3) In subsection (6)—

(a) for “or the Director General”, in the first place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the Director General”, in the second place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Authority”.

(4) In subsection (7)(b)—

(a) for “or the Director General” substitute “, the Director General or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or Director General” substitute “, the Director General or the Authority”.

13 In section 26(7) (requirement to provide name and address)—

(a) for “or an immigration officer” substitute “, an immigration officer or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the officer” substitute “, the officer or the Authority”.

14 (1) Section 27 (variation, renewal and discharge) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2), after paragraph (f) insert—

“(g) where the order was made on an application by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Authority.”

(3) In subsection (7)—

(a) for “or the Director General” in the first place it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for “or the Director General” in the second and third places it occurs, substitute “, the Director General or the Authority”.

15 After section 30 (offences) insert—

“30A Enforcement by Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority

(1) The Secretary of State may make arrangements with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority for officers of the Authority to act for the purposes of this Part in taking action in circumstances in which it appears that an offence under this Part which is a labour market offence (within the meaning of section 3 of the Immigration Act 2016) has been, is being or may be committed.

(2) For provision about the powers of such an officer who is acting for the purposes of this Part, see section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

16 In section 33 (guidance), in subsection (1) for “and the Director General of the National Crime Agency” substitute “, the Director General of the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.”

Amendments 73A to 76A (to Amendment 73) not moved.

Amendment 73 agreed.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 789

Amendment 77

Moved by Lord Bates

77: Before Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—

“ScheduleConsequential and related amendmentsPublic Records Act 1958 (c. 51)

1 In the Public Records Act 1958, in Schedule 1 (definition of public records), in Part 2 of the Table at the end of paragraph 3 (other establishments and organisations), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 (c. 13)

2 In the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, in Schedule 2 (departments etc subject to investigation)—

(a) at the appropriate place insert “Director of Labour Market Enforcement”;

(b) for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Superannuation Act 1972 (c. 11)

3 In the Superannuation Act 1972, in Schedule 1 (kinds of employment to which that Act applies), under the heading “Other bodies”, for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (c. 24)

4 In the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, in Schedule 1 (offices disqualifying for membership)—

(a) in Part 2 (bodies of which all members are disqualified), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) in Part 3 (other disqualifying offices), at the appropriate place insert “Director of Labour Market Enforcement”.

Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975 (c. 25)

5 In the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975, in Schedule 1 (offices disqualifying for membership)—

(a) in Part 2 (bodies of which all members are disqualified), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) in Part 3 (other disqualifying offices), at the appropriate place insert “Director of Labour Market Enforcement”.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (c. 23)

6 In the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, in Schedule 1 (relevant public authorities), in Part 1 (relevant authorities for purposes of sections 28 and 29 of that Act) in paragraph 20E for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c. 36)

7 In the Freedom of Information Act 2000, in Schedule 1 (public authorities), in Part 6 (other public bodies and offices: general)—

(a) at the appropriate place insert “Director of Labour Market Enforcement”;

(b) for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Police Reform Act 2002 (c. 30)

8 The Police Reform Act 2002 is amended as follows.

9 In section 10 (general functions of the Independent Police Complaints Commission)—

(a) in subsection (1), after paragraph (g) insert—

“(ga) to carry out such corresponding functions in relation to officers of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority in their capacity as labour abuse prevention officers (see section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers)).”;

(b) in subsection (3), after paragraph (bc) insert—

20 Jan 2016 : Column 790

“(bd) any regulations under section 26D of this Act (labour abuse prevention officers);”.

10 After section 26C insert—

“26D Labour abuse prevention officers

(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations conferring functions on the Commission in relation to the exercise of functions by officers of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (the “Authority”) in their capacity as labour abuse prevention officers (see section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers)).

(2) Regulations under this section may, in particular—

(a) apply (with or without modifications), or make provision similar to, any provision of or made under this Part;

(b) make provision for payment by the Authority to, or in respect of, the Commission.

(3) The Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration may jointly investigate a matter in relation to which—

(a) the Commission has functions by virtue of this section, and

(b) the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration has functions by virtue of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.

(4) An officer of the Authority may disclose information to the Commission, or to a person acting on the Commission’s behalf, for the purposes of the exercise by the Commission, or by any person acting on the Commission’s behalf, of an Authority complaints function.

(5) The Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration may disclose information to each other for the purposes of the exercise of a function—

(a) by virtue of this section, or

(b) under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.

(6) Regulations under this section may, in particular, make—

(a) further provision about the disclosure of information under subsection (4) or (5);

(b) provision about the further disclosure of information that has been so disclosed.

(7) In this section “Authority complaints function” means a function in relation to the exercise of functions by officers of the Authority.”

Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 (c. 11)

11 The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 is amended as follows.

12 In the italic heading before section 1, for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

13 In section 1 (Gangmasters Licensing Authority)—

(a) in the heading, for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”;

(b) for subsection (1) substitute—

“(1) The body known as the Gangmasters Licensing Authority is to continue to exist and is to be known as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (in this Act referred to as “the Authority”).”;

(c) after subsection (3) insert—

“(3A) When carrying out functions during a year to which a labour market enforcement strategy approved under section 2 of the Immigration Act 2016 relates, the Authority and its officers must carry out those functions in accordance with the strategy.”

14 In section 2 (directions etc by the Secretary of State), in subsection (2) after “the Authority” insert “and the Director of Labour Market Enforcement”.

15 In section 3 (work to which Act applies)—

(a) in subsection (5)(b), for the words from “the following nature” to the end substitute “a prescribed description as being work to which this Act applies”;

(b) after subsection (5) insert—

20 Jan 2016 : Column 791

“(6) The Secretary of State must consult the Authority and the Director of Labour Market Enforcement before making regulations under subsection (5).”

16 In section 8 (general power of Authority to make rules)—

(a) in subsection (1), after “may” insert “with the approval of the Secretary of State”;

(b) omit subsection (3);

(c) after subsection (4) insert—

“(5) The Authority may from time to time with the approval of the Secretary of State revise the rules.

(6) The Authority must publish any rules made or revised under this section.”

17 In section 14 (offences: supplementary provisions) after subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to an enforcement officer who is acting for the purposes of this Act in relation to England and Wales if the officer is a labour abuse prevention officer within the meaning of section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

18 In section 15 (enforcement and compliance officers) after subsection (6) insert—

“(6A) Subsections (5) and (6) do not apply to an enforcement officer who is acting for the purposes of this Act in relation to England and Wales if the officer is a labour abuse prevention officer within the meaning of section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

19 In section 16 (powers of officers) before subsection (1) insert—

“(A1) This section does not apply to an enforcement officer who is acting for the purposes of this Act in relation to England and Wales if the officer is a labour abuse prevention officer within the meaning of section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

20 In section 17 (entry by warrant) before subsection (1) insert—

“(A1) This section does not apply to an enforcement officer who is acting for the purposes of this Act in relation to England and Wales if the officer is a labour abuse prevention officer within the meaning of section 114B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE powers for labour abuse prevention officers).”

21 In section 25 (regulations, rules and orders)—

(a) omit subsection (4);

(b) in subsection (6), omit paragraph (b) (and the “or” before it).

22 (1) Schedule 2 (application of Act to Northern Ireland) is amended as follows.

(2) In the italic heading before paragraph 3, for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

(3) In paragraph 6—

(a) after “work in Northern Ireland,” insert “—

(a) ”;

(b) at the end insert “, and

(b) the requirement under subsection (2) of that section to consult the Director of Labour Market Enforcement is to be ignored.”

(4) In paragraph 7, for paragraph (b) substitute—

“(b) paragraph (b) is to be read as if for “work of a prescribed description as being work to which this Act applies” there were substituted “work of the following nature as being work to which this Act applies—

(i) the gathering (by any manner) of wild creatures, or wild plants, of a prescribed description and the processing and packaging of anything so gathered, and

20 Jan 2016 : Column 792

(ii) the harvesting of fish from a fish farm (within the meaning of the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966 (c. 17 (NI)).”

(5) For paragraph 10 substitute—

“10 (1) Rules under section 8 (general power of Authority to make rules) which make provision for Northern Ireland licences (“Northern Ireland rules”) are to be made by statutory instrument.

(2) Section 8 as it applies in relation to Northern Ireland licences is to be read as if—

(a) in subsection (1) the words “with the approval of the Secretary of State” were omitted, and

(b) subsections (5) and (6) were omitted.

(3) The Authority must consult the relevant Northern Ireland department before making any Northern Ireland rules about fees.

(4) A statutory instrument containing Northern Ireland rules is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.”

Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (c. 16)

23 In the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, in Schedule 7 (designated bodies), in paragraph 13, for “Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (c. 13)

24 In the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, in Schedule 5 (designated regulators), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Modern Slavery Act 2015 (c. 30)

25 The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is amended as follows.

26 In section 52 (duty to notify Secretary of State about suspected victims of slavery or human trafficking), in subsection (5)(k), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

27 In Schedule 3 (public authorities under duty to co-operate with the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 (c. 2) (N.I.)

28 In the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015, in Schedule 3 (slavery and trafficking prevention orders), in Part 3 (supplementary) in paragraph 18(7)(e), for “Gangmasters Licensing Authority” substitute “Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority”.”

Amendments 77A to 77C (to Amendment 77) not moved.

Amendment 77 agreed.

Schedule 1: Licensing Act 2003: amendments relating to illegal working

Amendment 78

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

78: Schedule 1, page 55, leave out lines 4 to 28

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Paddick and I have Amendments 78 to 91 in this group, in which there are also two government amendments. I am sorry that they are not the sort of all-singing, all-dancing amendments with which one like might to start the day’s proceedings, but they are important.

Schedule 1 provides for changes to licensing related to illegal working and covers licensed premises and personal licences. The Licensing Act 2003 sets out

20 Jan 2016 : Column 793

licensing objectives. They are the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm. It seems to us that they cover the ground pretty well and they have been found to do so, particularly when taken with the local administration of licensing which sets it in the local context. I dare say that the Minister will say that illegal working—the subject of the schedule—is a crime, but we have already explained our view that the schedule is futile at best, dangerous at worst and has unlooked-for consequences. I will not repeat those arguments now. If a crime is committed, then whether that specific crime needs a schedule is one of the overarching questions.

Amendments 78 and 79 would retain the Secretary of State’s right to be notified of an application for a licence and to object to that application along with the occupants of 25 Acacia Avenue, those next door to the Bull public house and so on, but it would delete the immigration officer’s right to enter to see—those are the words of the Bill—whether an immigration offence is being committed. In our view, the licensing objective should be about particular individuals and premises and whether they are appropriate for a licence to be granted. Apart from the substantive objections, this schedule produces a lot of bureaucracy. Is it not enough that the Secretary of State has a right to object to the grant of the licence? If the licensee has been employing one or two people without the right to work, it is possible that there may have been confusion, difficulties of checking and so on, so there is a great possibility for mistakes. That is very different from an operation being dependent on an almost entirely unentitled or illegal workforce.

I have mentioned public houses, but I know that there is also concern in, for instance, the curry house trade that these provisions will cause considerable disruption to their operation. What consultation has there been with various relevant organisations, including within the licensed trade? A lot of small businesses stand to be affected by this. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has analysed Home Office lists of penalties imposed for illegal working and says that many of them relate to small businesses. It asks a pertinent question about whether that is because they employ illegal workers more often or because they are targeted more often. Also, for immigration officers to be able to enter premises on something of a fishing expedition without the need for suspicion is a wide power.

Amendments 80 and 83 may look as if I am seeking to extend the powers of the Secretary of State; I am not. This is to probe how the powers will operate and, again, to ask what consultation there has been. The police can already object to the transfer of a licence because it would undermine the crime prevention objective in the exceptional circumstances of a case, so presumably the Home Office has experience of this and should be able to help me with that question. I also ask whether this right for the police is not enough in itself without extending a similar right to the Secretary of State.

Amendments 81, 82, 84, 85, 87, 88 and 90 would change “appropriate” to “necessary”, which is the term used in the 2003 Act. For instance, it would be

20 Jan 2016 : Column 794

“necessary” to reject an application under that Act for the crime prevention objective. To change that term to being “appropriate” to reject it for these objectives seems to give a discretion to the Secretary of State that is wider than we are accustomed to in current licensing law, and which I am unconvinced about.

Amendments 86 and 89 are also about the scope for the Secretary of State’s discretion. They mean that the Secretary of State must be satisfied—I will give that much on the basis of reasonableness—that refusing a licence or the continuation of one is necessary to prevent illegal working, not just that the grant of a licence would prejudice the prevention of illegal working, as the schedule says.

Lastly, and rather differently, there is Amendment 91. The schedule provides that on appeal the magistrates cannot consider whether, after the original decision that is the subject of the appeal, an individual has actually been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK. Why is this necessary? What happens if the individual is granted leave to enter or leave to remain but his initial application for a licence has been turned down? Does he in those circumstances have to make a fresh application for a licence, which will carry with it costs as well as difficulties in running a business, and indeed for employees of that applicant? I will hear what the Minister has to say about his amendments, but I beg to move.

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): My Lords, I support what might be seen as the rather technical points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I am looking particularly at Amendments 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89 and 90. Where it is the practice in earlier legislation to use the word “necessary”, it seems inappropriate to use the word “appropriate”. One should keep to similar phraseology in legislation unless there is some very strong view to change it. “Appropriate”, as the noble Baroness says, gives a very wide degree of discretion—far greater than necessary—and I cannot at the moment see why it is necessary to have it wider than that. The other points—refusing continuation of a licence and so on—are similar. They are perhaps technical but, when they are worked on the ground, they have considerable force, and I am rather concerned to be broadening out what it does not seem necessary so to broaden.

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): My Lords, I support Amendments 78 and 79, which would remove the Secretary of State’s power. It is a snooping power—a very wide power to search any licensed premises, with no need for suspicion, as the noble Baroness said. I will ask her question again in different words: what is the evidence for the growth in illegal working in licensed premises which justifies these new rules?

5.15 pm

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, the amendments in this group are in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, with the exception of the final two, which are in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bates. They are all concerned with Schedule 1 to the Bill and are generally technical in nature.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 795

Amendments 78 and 79 aim to remove from the schedule amendments to the Licensing Act 2003, which would bring that Act into line with the proposals in the Bill. These amendments highlight the very unsatisfactory nature of the Bill that has been brought before us today, and for that reason, if nothing else, they are useful.

The next part of this group seeks to delete and insert certain words to make changes in emphasis and to clarify at what point action is sought to be taken. To remove the word “appropriate” and insert the word “necessary” in its place would raise the requirement from what is deemed “suitable” or “fitting” to achieve the objective or outcome to something where those exercising the power would have to be satisfied that it is “essential” or “indispensable” to achieve the desired outcome. I agree with the points made in this respect by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss.

I will not spend any more time on this as there will be more substantial debates later today, but I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Bates, will be able to answer the important points that have been raised in this initial debate. The final two amendments, which are in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bates, seek to clarify further what is proposed in the provisions in the schedule, and I am satisfied with them.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for speaking to her amendments. Before coming to the questions that have been asked, I will briefly speak to Amendments 92 and 93 in my name. Schedule 1 to the Bill concerns the powers to prevent illegal working in premises licensed to sell alcohol or provide late-night refreshment in England and Wales. These are two technical amendments to Schedule 1 which aim to ensure that those who have applied for a premises licence or a personal licence for the sale of alcohol or the provision of late-night refreshment, and who have not had a decision on that licence application before these provisions have commenced, will have their application determined on the basis of the licensing law in force at the time they made their licensing application.

Amendments 78 to 91 are proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. Schedule 1 integrates protection against illegal working into the existing licensing regime, including by adding the Home Secretary to the list of responsible authorities for the purpose of the Licensing Act, by making the prevention of illegal working an objective of the licensing regime and by requiring licence applicants to have the requisite right to work. The amendments proposed by the noble Baroness would adjust the threshold at which the Secretary of State may object to a licensing application. They would permit a court to consider whether the appellant has been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK after the date of the decision being appealed against, in effect duplicating the proper role of the tribunal—the Immigration and Asylum Chamber. The amendments would also make changes to the proposed “entitlement to work” definition from the Licensing Act 2003 to prevent immigration status and, in particular, the lack of it being relevant to alcohol or late-night refreshment licensing decisions.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 796

We do not believe that these amendments would achieve the objective of preventing illegal working in this high-risk sector. They would not provide the necessary clarity for licensing authorities or the Home Office in respect of the proposed power to withhold personal and premises licences based on the absence of the applicant’s right to work in this sector or concerns about the risk of illegal working in the premises concerned. They would also result in inconsistency with the standards employed in the wider licensing framework. Changes made by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 have given licensing authorities greater power to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder, and it is appropriate that the same level of evidence and discretion is also afforded in respect of the prevention of illegal working.

The Home Office decision to object to the issue of a premises licence to prevent illegal working will not be taken lightly. Schedule 1 makes it clear that the Secretary of State may object only where she is satisfied that the exceptional circumstances of the case are such that issuing a licence would be prejudicial to preventing illegal working. Schedule 1 also provides the necessary clarity on the circumstances in which a person’s immigration status should render them ineligible to hold a licence to sell alcohol. The proposed amendments would permit an individual to apply for a licence even though they are not permitted to work in the UK, or where their immigration status prevents their doing work related to licensable activity. This cannot be right. An applicant who has been refused a licence but is subsequently granted leave would simply need to make a fresh application and include the required information that provides evidence of immigration status.

Let me turn to some of the particular points that were made. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, asked what evidence exists that this is a particular problem. Of the civil penalties served for illegal working in the year to June 2015, 82% were served on the retail industry or hotel, restaurant and leisure industry sectors. A large proportion of these sectors hold premises or personal alcohol licences. Enforcement activity is decided as a consequence of intelligence and does not affect only companies that employ a small number of employees.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked what consultation had taken place. The changes proposed to the Licensing Act in the Bill have been subject to consultation with interested partners, including licensing authorities, the police, and representatives of the licensed trade. The consultation was undertaken last summer via a number of workshops, which were attended by the Local Government Association, the Institute of Licensing, licensing officers from seven licensing authorities, representatives of the national policing lead on alcohol, and the police and crime commissioner lead on alcohol. The second workshop included industry partners such as the British Beer & Pub Association, the Association of Convenience Stores, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. These partners provided a significant contribution to shaping our proposals.

Let me turn to perhaps the most interesting point, raised by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, which is the subject of most of the amendments in this group: the use of the term “appropriate”.

20 Jan 2016 : Column 797

This was introduced across the licensing regime in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. We want the test in standards to be consistent across the two pieces of legislation. If we ended up with a differently worded test in the Bill before us, that might require consequential changes to the 2011 Act to bring them into line. I have listened carefully to the arguments that have been made and the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, on behalf of the Opposition, and I am very happy to look at this issue ahead of Report to see whether any change is needed. However, that is the rationale for the choice of language.

With that assurance, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendments, and in doing so I commend my amendments to the Committee.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken in support of my amendments. I have to say that my trigger finger on my iPad is not fast enough to have got into the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act. The Minister will understand that I will want to check whether it is on all fours in this regard. If it absolutely is, I might have to say, “You have got me there”.

The amendments have been described as technical. I do not think that they are; they are about people’s livelihoods, and that is why I am quite persistent with them. That was an impressive list of consultees who, we are told, helped to shape the proposal. I could not deduct whether they were shaping a proposal that they did not like and just making it a little better or whether they were going along with the proposal as it was put to them.

I will finish by saying that what I really do not want to see is a confusing of licensing and immigration—a point that crops up at a number of points in the Bill. They are separate issues and that is why I was so concerned. I am grateful to your Lordships for allowing me to indulge myself with this tranche of amendments, and I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 78.

Amendment 78 withdrawn.

Amendments 79 to 91 not moved.

Amendments 92 and 93

Moved by Lord Bates

92: Schedule 1, page 67, line 10, at end insert “pursuant to an application made”

93: Schedule 1, page 67, line 14, after “granted” insert “pursuant to an application made”

Amendments 92 and 93 agreed.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed.

Clause 11: Private hire vehicles etc

Amendment 94

Moved by Lord Bates

94: Clause 11, page 8, line 6, leave out subsections (2) to (5)

Lord Bates: My Lords, I shall speak also to government Amendments 95 to 99, 102 to 104, 107 to 116, 118 and 119, 123, and 127 to 132. I shall await the formal

20 Jan 2016 : Column 798

moving of the other amendments in this group and will cover them in my response.

The Government are seeking to prevent illegal working in the taxi and private hire sector, which, like the licensing sector, represents a high risk of illegal working. Many, but not all, licensing authorities undertake immigration checks. We are therefore taking action in Clause 11 and Schedule 2 to mandate immigration checks by all licensing authorities and to embed immigration safeguards in the existing licensing regimes.

I shall be moving a number of amendments today. While they appear significant in number, their purpose is simple, and that is to extend the existing provisions in Schedule 2 to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Plymouth. The main thrust of the government amendments is therefore to ensure that this measure applies across the whole of the UK. The Bill currently amends primary legislation in England and Wales with the sole exception of Plymouth, as I am sure the Deputy Chairman will be interested to know. We have needed extra time to work out and consult on the technical detail to fill these jurisdictional gaps. Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing in Plymouth is covered by the Plymouth City Council Act 1975 and not by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. Accordingly, we are seeking to amend the 1975 Act to extend to Plymouth taxi and private hire vehicle licensing provisions equivalent to those in the rest of England and Wales.

Further government amendments remove the enabling power in Clause 11 to extend provision to Scotland and Northern Ireland and, in its place, introduce substantive provision. In the case of Scotland, the provisions amend the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and, in the case of Northern Ireland, the Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008. The Government have worked with the Governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland in bringing forward these amendments.

The remaining government amendments are also technical. We wish to ensure that there is consistency across all relevant licensing legislation where possible in relation to the offence of non-compliance with the mandatory return to the relevant licensing authority of expired licences and licences which have been revoked or suspended on immigration grounds. We also wish to specify the circumstances in which immigration offences and penalties will not be taken into account in any decision to revoke or suspend a licence. These are spent convictions and civil penalties which were served more than three years previously and which have been paid in full. I beg to move.

5.30 pm

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I have a number of amendments in this group; most of them are amendments to the government amendments and most of them come in pairs.

Amendment 99A is the first amendment of these pairs and deals with the licensing authority having to set an expiry date for a licence for someone who has been granted limited leave to enter or remain in the UK. The Government are proposing that the licence period,

“must end at or before the end of the leave period”,

20 Jan 2016 : Column 799

which could mean a significantly shorter time before the end of the leave period. My amendments would mean that the licence would end at the end of the leave period. It would be fairly obvious that I would want to ask why the Government think it necessary to make provision for it to end some time before the end of the leave period. Presumably, the licensing authority can grant a licence for a shorter period in any event. I can see the need that it should not go on beyond the end of the leave period, but why does it have to be less?

Amendment 99B is the first of the other pairs of amendments. If leave is extended, the licensing authority can set the duration of the licence, which must not be more than six months. Again, I would ask why. I am proposing that the licence should coincide with the leave period. I make the point that I made in the previous group of amendments that we are dealing with people’s livelihoods.

Amendment 117 is pretty much the same as the amendment in the previous group about whether an appeal, having been successful, can be entertained when a licence has been refused and is appealed on. I lost a grip of what the Minister said on that and will have to read Hansard, but he will probably have the same answer.

On Amendments 120 to 124, Schedule 2 provides for guidance from the Secretary of State to the licensing authorities in determining whether an applicant for a licence is disqualified because of his immigration status. My amendments amount to a requirement to consult with representatives of the licensing authorities, including Transport for London.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark: My Lords, this group comprises a large group of government amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bates, and a number of amendments in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. It is clear that the government amendments are included to make matters clear and consistent across all relevant lines of legislation. That in itself is a good thing. But for me that further illustrates the point that this legislation has been rushed and ill-thought out and these revisions should have been in the Bill from the start.

Also, the Secretary of State is given powers in these government amendments to amend fine amounts by secondary legislation. That may be perfectly acceptable in this case. But the Government like their secondary legislation, hiding behind the limited ability of Parliament to hold them to account in such circumstances, but that I think is a wider issue for the House.

I have looked at the amendments put down by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and with respect to Amendment 117, they have a good point to make. It is not unreasonable for the courts to take into account that, after the date of a decision being appealed against, the person has been granted leave to remain in or enter the UK.

I take it that the other amendments are probing in nature in order to assist the Committee in further understanding the intention of the Government and satisfying noble Lords that what is being proposed is achievable, and of course they can be retabled later in

20 Jan 2016 : Column 800

the course of the Bill if we think it necessary. I very much accept the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that these are important issues that concern people’s livelihoods.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I understand the nature of the amendments and I understand them better now that the noble Baroness has spoken to them. At the same time, I should like to provide some reassurances on the points she has made, in respect of taxi and private hire licence holders who have limited leave to be in the UK, that any licence granted must be for the full duration of the leave period. This fails to recognise that taxi and private hire licences cannot be granted for more than three years, while operating licences cannot be granted for more than five years. As the licence holder’s immigration leave may expire after the relevant maximum licence duration, the Bill must enable licences to be granted for a shorter period.

Amendments 99B, 99D, 101, 106, 118B, 122, 126 and 131B relate to leave being extended by virtue of Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 when a person makes an application in time for an extension of leave, an administrative review or an appeal. While I appreciate the reasons behind these amendments, the Government believe that it is reasonable to limit the duration of a licence issued during a period of Section 3C leave to six months. The provisions would not work in practice without a stated duration, since licensing authorities cannot grant licences of unspecified duration. The six-month duration mirrors the period of an excuse provided to an employer who performs a right to work check on a migrant during a period in which they may have Section 3C leave to remain. If at the end of the six-month period the licence holder has been granted further leave, he or she will be able to demonstrate this leave and obtain a new licence.

Amendment 117 has already been considered by noble Lords in the context of alcohol and late night refreshment licences. The purpose of an appeal is to ascertain whether the original decision was correctly made. It would therefore not be appropriate for the court to consider a subsequent immigration decision. An appellant who has subsequently been granted leave would need to make a fresh application and include the required information which provides evidence of immigration status.

Amendments 120 to 124 would require the Secretary of State to consult licensing authorities and Transport for London before issuing relevant guidance on whether an applicant is disqualified from holding a licence because of their immigration status. This will be done anyway. In formulating these provisions, the Home Office, with the assistance of the Department for Transport, consulted the Local Government Association, licensing authorities, the Institute of Licensing and Transport for London.

In the light of this explanation, which I hope has addressed the key points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, I hope that she feels reassured enough not to press her amendment.

Amendment 94 agreed.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed.