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Lord Freyberg: My Lords, although I have had little to do with the considerable detail of such an important Bill, I should still like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, for his forbearance, for his time and consideration and for the courtesy with which he listened to me. In particular, I should like to thank the Minister for the sensitive way he handled my amendments. I should also like to thank the two noble Baronesses, Lady Hollis and Lady Seear, for their generous support, for the amount of time they spared me and for the enormous help they gave me thus enabling me to carry through an amendment.
However, above all, I should like to thank the House for its patience and especially all those who have supported me during the past few weeks. I am extremely grateful to all of them. Finally, I should like to wish the Bill a speedy passage through another place.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I do not wish to detain the House. I thought for one horrible moment that I was being taken back to start all over again on another Second Reading speech. But I am grateful for the compliments that all three Members of your Lordships' House have paid me. For a moment, I could not quite recognise myself in some of those speeches. However, I should like to extend my thanks in that respect.
I should especially like to thank the two noble Baronesses, who, through me, have thanked the officials who have been so helpful to all of us on the Bill. I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. I believe that it is sensible, whenever possible, to have meetings to ensure that we all understand exactly what is going onand that applies especially in a Bill of this nature.
In particular, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, for his kind remarks. Occasionally, I believe that I was less than helpful to him; but the noble Lord probably realises that he sometimes shared that experience with the noble Baronesses, Lady Hollis and Lady Seear.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in introducing the draft order to the House, it is appropriate to recall the commitment that the House made to the future of coal industry social welfare during the passage of the Coal Industry Act 1994.
At the outset, I hope it will be helpful if I say a few words about the arrangements that the directors, who are also known sometimes as "the Council" of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO)a Companies Act companyand the trustees, who include all the directors of the company, have been making to ensure a secure and sound future for miners' social welfare services.
In short, instead of having a Companies Act company at the centre of those arrangements the aim is to have a charitable trustthe CISWO trust. I understand that the acronym CISWO is pronounced "KISWO" in Wales but "CISWO" in the North of England.
Towards that end, CISWO resolved on 10th March that the companythat is, itselfshould be wound up. The specific purpose of the draft order before the House tonight is to enable the transfer of CISWO's functions to that trust in accordance with Section 12(3) of the Miners' Welfare Act 1952. The assets will follow on the liquidation of CISWO.
Section 12(3) provides that if a resolution is passed or an order made for the winding up of CISWO, any functions of that organisation shall be transferred to such a body or person as may be prescribed by an order made by the Secretary of State. Such a resolution was passed on 10th March, and I ask noble Lords to support the decisions taken by the CISWO directors and trustees of the CISWO trust, by affirming the draft order before the House tonight.
There is a long tradition of social welfare in this country's mining communities. As a statutory arrangement it stretches back to the Mining Industry Act 1920, although its antecedents go back long before that date. It has been the concern of this House and of the Government that the core services provided should continue after the privatisation of the coal industry. Coal industry social welfare embraces a wide range of
It was clear from debates in this House last year that these services, and especially those services for the disabled, the old and the infirm, are greatly valued. The Government took careful note of the depth of support for existing services. Noble Lords may recall that our approach involves funding of £17 million; £5 million taking the form of an annual payment of £1 million for five years by the new coal companies, and £12 million taking the form of capital endowments from British Coal.
I am sure that some noble Lords would have liked CISWO's successor to receive more money, but we believed that the settlement provided a sound and sensible basis for meeting the central concerns for CISWO's support to the old, infirm and disabled. We are encouraged that CISWO, mindful of the opportunities open to it when it becomes a national charity, is laying plans with local and regional organisations and private companies for future programmes and sponsored activities.
It has been accepted that CISWO's place is in the voluntary sector. Noble Lords did not, I believe, dissent from this arrangement. But we should remind ourselves why. Essentially, charitable status is a more flexible arrangement. As a Companies Act company, CISWO presides over 400 miners' welfares, area trusts and convalescent homes, each of which is an independent charity. Yet CISWO itself does not enjoy the benefits of charitable status. The change of status increases the range of options for making the best use of what resources are now available.
CISWO will in the future be looking further to a wide range of sources of support and funding. As a charity CISWO will be best placed to do this. The directors of CISWO independently set up a trust in 1991, though that has lain dormant since. They, however, agreed at a meeting held on 15th February this year to a supplemental trust deed. Following the making of the order for which the approval of your Lordships' House is being sought tonightand which was approved in the other place on Tuesday, 14th Marchthe CISWO trust will now be able to perform all the functions up until now carried out by the company.
Continuity of strategic direction and service is essential. It is therefore reassuring that the eight existing trustees (and former directors of CISWO Ltd.) will remain as trustees: that is, four British Coal members and four trade union members. The supplemental deed
The first general trustees will be appointed by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and their successors by the trustees at the time. We are consulting the existing trustees on whom to appoint. We are seeking people with experience of voluntary sector management and organisation; financial management; delivery of regional and local health, welfare or social services; public relations and publicity. Noble Lords will be well aware that the role of trustee places substantial obligations and responsibilities on individuals. I am pleased to note that the former CISWO directors, who have guided and supported the activities of CISWO over the years, are prepared to continue their commitment, and give their time and energies to the future development of coal industry social welfare.
There was also some concern on a separate issue in your Lordships' House during the passage of the Coal Industry Bill last year and in another place earlier this month on the issue of recreational land. That issue, legally speaking, is entirely distinct from the question of the approval of the draft order before your Lordships' House. But nonetheless I think it is appropriate to mention it. That concern was that British Coal land used by miners' welfares, and by local communities, for sport and recreation should continue to be used for those purposes. I emphasise here that I am talking about British Coal land, not CISWO land. Ministers gave assurances that the Government's objective was that British Coal land currently in active use for sports and recreation would wherever possible be retained for those purposes. That remains our position. CISWO and the National Playing Fields Association are closely involved in our discussions with British Coal about this matter.
There is also concern about allotments in many of the pit communities, and that has been raised in another place quite recently. We are actively pursuing with British Coal the future for the allotments and, as of now, no decisions have been taken.
In conclusion, I would say, as I mentioned earlier, that the charitable trust is now in place. It is the essential complement to the winding up of CISWO and the transfer of its assets and its functions. I believe that CISWO can look forward to the future with confidence. It has a substantial secure income, committed trustees and staff, and widespread support in this House and in the coalfields. It should continue to flourish, providing its services as effectively in the future as it has for many years past. I commend the draft order to the House. I beg to move.
Lord Peston: My Lords, I shall be brief. First, I thank the noble Lord for introducing the order. Secondly, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the miners themselves. Long before the welfare state, the miners had introduced essentially their own mini welfare state in many areas. One should not forget what they achieved in health, in education, in providing libraries and in so many other areas. We are at the end of an era and I wish to place on record that some of us have not forgotten what the miners achieved in their great years.
There are three or four points of a substantive nature that I wish to raise. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, anticipated me by saying he knows that noble Lords feel that the funding package should have been more generous. He would not be pursuing his role correctly if he had not said that he thinks it is as generous as it can be, and I would not be acting out my part fully if I did not say that I think it could have been more generous. However, both our comments are on record. I feel that a little more money could have been found to provide more certainty about what is likely to take place.
He further added that that was rather complex and it could not all be sorted out at that time. Will the noble Lord confirm that the statements, which to me read like an absolute guaranteethere are no ifs or buts about what his honourable friend said about the landare still valid? Will he also confirm that between 14th March and today there has been no backsliding, and that what his honourable friend said in another place about the land can be accepted as absolutely the case, with no ifs or buts?
The Minister's honourable friend was slightly less committed in the case of allotments, although he seemed fairly committed. In particular, he pointed out that he would have nothing but trouble if he could not give a definite commitment on allotments. I understood the noble Lord himself to say much the same today.
An issue which was raised in the other placeand I understand whywas the fact that part of the future cost will be borne for five years by the three relevant companies. Can we be assured, since we are now discussing a charity, that those companies will certainly
The other point which was raised in another place and which I did not feel was answered satisfactorily is what happens if one of the contributing companies defaults on its obligation to pay? I do not say that the companies will default. None of us would remotely hope that reputable companies, as these are supposed to be, would default. Nonetheless, there is a technical question to which I would like an answer.
There is nothing wrong with the drafting of the order, which is admirably brief. However, I draw the attention of the Minister and the House to paragraph 2 of the order. It does not set out the aims and objectives of the charitable trust to which it refers. Can the Minister say whether the new trust differs in any material respect from CISWO, as it was constituted under the Miners' Welfare Act 1952, apart from the fact that it is now constituted as a charity? If there are any variations between the 1952 trust and the new trust can the Minister give particulars of the changes? It may be that that is so technical that the Minister cannot answer now and may have to write to me. That is the only point of substance that I have to raise.
I have a feeling that this will be the last time that we shall debate any matter of this kind. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I come to the end of my remarks. An era has ended in this country. A great industry, in its original form, is no more. This part of the industry, in terms of what the miners did, is certainly no more.
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