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NGBs such as the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Football Association have the duty to promote and regulate sporting activity in a structured environment. One of the duties they take extremely seriously is the welfare of those who participate in sport. We need to send out a message to parents that their children will be well looked after when they are involved at sports clubs or in other forms of leisure and sporting activity. I therefore support the Government's work to safeguard vulnerable groups and the reforms set out in the Bill, such as the introduction of portable criminal record checks, which will make life easier for governing bodies which undertake a huge number of checks each year on their employees and volunteers.
I have two concerns, which I know are shared by many on all sides of this House, not least the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol. Concern number one is that Clause 79, on the disclosure of information, has the specific intent to remove the requirement that a person must send a copy of their CRB to a national governing body. Concern number two is that Clause 64, on the definition of regulated activity, aims to reduce the number of individuals who are regulated by excluding those who are subject to day-to-day supervision. The ECB, for example, currently processes vetting checks on all in cricket who work with children, whether these are individual coaches coming from overseas for the summer or long-term volunteers in their sporting
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Those who manage these vetting arrangements at the ECB and at other sporting bodies tell me that the changes proposed in the Bill increase the risk of dangerous individuals coming into contact with children. The proposed changes would therefore mean that registered bodies would be denied access to relevant information about all individuals who could pose a risk to children. Bodies such as the ECB currently manage disclosure content centrally with experienced and trained staff, ensuring consistency of decisions across the game. Obviously, the average club-level volunteer does not have such expertise. If, in future, an individual has to show their disclosure to their local sports club rather than to the governing body, there will be two problems. First, someone may have to show that they have a criminal record to their immediate peer group, undermining their privacy and possibly increasing the chances of collusion or of falsifying forms. Secondly, training will need to be provided to local club volunteers on how to handle disclosure content, which will increase burdens on volunteers at a local level and will mean extra costs to NGBs centrally to develop and run this training, thus creating a costly and time-consuming level of bureaucracy. All this would be unnecessary if the governing bodies received copies of the disclosure directly, which is what happens now.
The informal nature of volunteering in sport presents opportunities for individuals to withhold information. As a consequence, it is those types of individuals who pose the greatest risk to children and are likely to be manipulative in their behaviour, yet could still integrate into the club. It is surely not right that those who volunteer in sport, doing so no doubt because they love that sport, suddenly have a working responsibility to become experts on criminal record checking procedures.
Clause 64 amends the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 by narrowing the definition of regulated activity, as my noble friend Lady Walmsley mentioned. Crucially, this would exclude any role fulfilled while subject to the,
The proposed changes mean that an individual who has been barred would not be prevented from working with children in a supervised role-for example, as an assistant coach at a cricket club, provided that another supervising adult such as a head coach was present, because that assistant coach will no longer be liable to a full criminal record check.
With respect, the new arrangement fails to understand the way in which sports clubs are run. The House needs to note that, for example, many sports coaches, club minibus drivers and match organisers in a sports club could be considered as assistants if the club has a head coach, but unless the head coach were working alongside every volunteer assistant at every session it would be wrong to classify these people as assistants. I ask the Minister to consider how a sports club is to interpret the concept of supervision when on summer or winter evenings successful cricket clubs and junior
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I hope that these concerns are well understood. My request at this stage of the Bill is that perhaps the Minister may agree to meet a delegation on this issue, including national governing bodies of sport, the Sport and Recreation Alliance and even Girl Guiding UK, which has also contacted me. I humbly suggest that just small amendments to the otherwise excellent Bill would uphold the protections that this House, the Government and all sports bodies and organisations want to see applied in order to safeguard potentially vulnerable groups of sport-loving youngsters.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark: My Lords, it is fair to say that the Protection of Freedoms Bill contains interesting as well as worrying proposals. Many of the proposals are welcome and noble Lords on these Benches give them their full support. There are, however, other aspects of the Bill that are worrying and we on these Benches will have to oppose them.
The title of the Bill is a bit over the top if you look at the subjects contained in it. They are a collection of issues that do not necessarily fit very well together. Maybe that is why the Bill has a rather grandiose title but not so grandiose items. In some cases, the Bill contains some very risky proposals.
I have the greatest concern about the proposals concerning DNA. When my right honourable friend Alan Johnson was Home Secretary, he brought forward legislation providing for essential safeguards regarding the use and retention of DNA. These are serious matters and we should seek to achieve a sensible balance. I believe that we had that balance, but now the Minister is taking risks with our freedoms in his proposals regarding DNA. What evidence does he have to make these changes in respect of the retention of DNA samples?
Can the Minister also direct some of his remarks to the number of people who have been caught committing serious offences only because their DNA sample was on the database? Under these proposals, the DNA evidence would never have been there. Kensley Larrier, Lee Ainsby and Abdul Azad have all been convicted of the offence of rape, using DNA evidence held on the database. If these proposals had been law at the time that they committed their offence, the evidence that convicted them would not have been available. They would have been free to carry on committing further offences. How is that protecting our freedoms?
Government have a duty to protect their citizens. These proposals weaken their ability to do so. They are wrong, they are risky and they should be opposed. Parts of the Bill, as I said previously, are very welcome. Proposals regarding the express parental consent for the use of children's fingerprints are welcome. Other proposals, such as those to deal with rogue wheel clampers, making it a criminal offence for cowboy
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I am disappointed that the Government have chosen not to deal with the issue of ticketing in this respect, as my noble friend Lady Royall outlined earlier. I hope that noble Lords can persuade the Government that this is an issue that they need to address during the passage of this Bill through the House.
I also welcome the proposals in the Bill to provide a scheme to deal with convictions for consensual sex between men above the age of consent. These proposals have been too long in coming. The Government are right and they should be congratulated on putting these proposals forward.
As my noble friend Lady Royall said, the August riots gave us a timely reminder of the benefits of CCTV. It is an important tool in the fight against crime and it is disappointing that proposals from the Government may make this more difficult. I hope that any code is as light a touch as possible, but it seems odd to me that these provisions will not apply to all. I hope that the Government will keep that under review.
Like many noble Lords, I welcome the proposals regarding freedom of information. I am a big supporter of freedom of information legislation, and proposals to increase its scope and deepen it further will always have my support.
My final comments are around the issues of the detention of terrorist suspects and the proposals for detention periods of 14 days and 28 days. If we can all accept that 14 days should be the norm, where we may differ is how we get to 28 days in exceptional circumstances. There are many noble and learned Lords in your Lordships' House, and I hope that they in particular will be able to give the Government timely advice on how to proceed carefully in this area.
In conclusion there is a lot that I can welcome in this Bill, but there are some really dangerous, misguided aspects in it. I hope that your Lordships' House will be able to persuade the Government that they need to think about them again.
Baroness Randerson: My Lords, I strongly support the spirit that unites this wide-ranging Bill. This evening it has been called a Christmas pie and a mishmash. Whichever view you take of it, it certainly covers a great deal of ground. We have had a debate which has touched on virtually every aspect of this Bill and heard some very important points from all sides. I am delighted that there is so much agreement on some parts of the Bill.
In the last 15 years or so, I believe that we have been sliding almost imperceptibly into a society where we take for granted that the state has the right to look into almost every corner of our lives. We take our liberties rather too much for granted in Britain. Because they have not been threatened in a wholesale way in the adult lifetime of almost all of us, we accept that those liberties are there. We have allowed them to be eroded on a piecemeal basis. We have not really noticed
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These steps were of course taken with the best of motives. It is a natural human reaction that when something terrible happens we all say that something must be done to stop it ever happening again. In the name of safety and security, the previous Government eroded the concept of innocent until proven guilty by retaining the DNA of over 1 million people who have not been found guilty of a crime just in case those samples might be useful in the future. They eroded the right to liberty by extending the period of pre-charge detention. They eroded our right to trial by jury. They eroded our right to live safely in our own homes by creating hundreds of new powers of entry so that there are now more than 1,200 separate, different and therefore confusing powers of entry. Significantly, nearly 500 of them were created by secondary legislation.
The previous Government also eroded trust by their plans to introduce the draconian vetting and barring system which would have forced 11 million adults to pay for registration in order to prove that they were not abusers of children. The key issue to me on this matter is that it deters volunteers. I contend that the benefits of community volunteering greatly outweigh the benefits of vetting and barring on the draconian scale assumed by the previous Government.
The previous Government eroded our right to walk peacefully along the streets by empowering the police to stop and search us without needing reasonable grounds for suspicion. The figures on this give a very worrying picture. In 2008-09, there were 210,000 stop and searches that led to only 1,245 arrests, and of them only nine were for terrorism. There has undoubtedly been considerable damage to community relations as a result of this broad-brush approach.
I said at the outset that these steps were taken with the best of motives. Our country faces new threats and challenges. Terrorism, although not new, is newly fierce among us, and there are the old threats, the old evils, that we have been too blind to in the past, such as paedophilia. In attempting to deal with these problems, it is important all the while to keep in mind that the response has to be proportionate. For example, the previous Government legislated to keep biometric data for as long as possible in case they might be useful one day. By spreading the net wider and wider they seemed to hope that they would legislate away crime.
There has been another factor at work, which is technology. Many of the developments that I am referring to-DNA samples, CCTV or the ability to create and interrogate vast databases-would not have been possible 25 years ago. There is a human tendency to feel that if the technology exists, we need to use it, but we have been in danger of making ourselves the slaves of technology, rather than its masters.
I shall briefly tell the story of a lady who was my constituent. She was elderly, frail, very timid and of exemplary good character. She came to see me following a traumatic experience. Her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer's, had had a stroke, fallen over and hit
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There are details in the Bill that need questioning and interrogating, and I have concerns about one or two of its provisions-in particular, as some noble Lords have already mentioned, issues in relation to university research. I also wish to probe the Minister about the provisions in relation to CCTV cameras because I have come across two serious abuses of CCTV cameras, one on university property and one on National Assembly for Wales property, and I cannot see that they are covered by the Bill. I will be pursuing those issues in future, but I believe that, in general, this Bill is a proportionate response to the threats and problems of our society.
Baroness Grey-Thompson: My Lords, in this Second Reading I had considered raising in some detail the issue of parking infringements and ticketing, in Chapter 2 of Part 3 of the Bill, especially in relation to how the Bill may relate to the abuse of blue badge parking by large numbers of individuals. I believe that this abuse highlights something of wider concern, which is a widely held, negative attitude that is being directed towards disabled people. Perhaps, however, I will come back to this at a later stage.
Unsurprisingly, I have decided to keep my main comments at this stage to those parts of the Bill which could have a serious effect on British sport. I refer specifically to Part 5 of the Bill, on safeguarding vulnerable groups. I support the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, in calling for the correct balance for criminal record checks. As a volunteer in sport, I admit that I have felt a certain amount of frustration with the system in the past. Over the years, however, the system has improved greatly. At one point, I think that I held five separate CRB checks-one for a charity of which I was a trustee, where I did not actually meet any children. Therefore, I strongly welcome the sections on portability, which is very valuable.
As a mother whose daughter is involved in many sports, I like the reassurance that checks have been carried out on the volunteers who work with my daughter, and also that these checks have to be periodically updated. Sport currently has a robust framework in place for safeguarding children and it is well placed to determine who should be checked. Those involved also understand the huge risks to their sport of not protecting young people. It is essential that sport and recreation organisations have clear information about volunteers who pose a risk. Volunteers working in sporting environments have access to large numbers of
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I understand that one of the aims of the Government's proposals is to protect individuals who may receive a certificate with inaccurate information. Since registration began in my own sport of athletics, only one check has been returned with a major error, displaying incorrectly that the individual had been barred from working with children. This error was corrected one day later by the Criminal Records Bureau. Athletics-I declare an interest, in that I sit on the board of UK Athletics-is a large sport with many thousands of volunteers. To put this into further context, last year approximately 7,000 checks were carried out through the centralised system. These were carried out by experts in the field. At present, only two individuals within UK Athletics are able to view criminal record disclosures. Clause 79, covering the disclosure of information, would seriously undermine the anonymity of the current system because the safeguarding team would have to chase copies of the disclosures.
The current system, which is centralised within the NGB, prevents the need for the volunteer to get involved. Withholding disclosures from the NGB would mean that the individual is flagged up to the NGB as not having returned their certificate, maybe unfairly, which could lead-again, unfairly-to suspicion. Those who we would not want to be working with children could delay a return of forms, thereby giving themselves longer access to children. The administration also has a financial cost which must be considered.
The provisions in the Bill put the onus on the individual-volunteers who often have many other commitments-to provide information to the national governing body. That could cause many difficulties. For the individuals who have to return the disclosures by post, there are further costs such as recorded delivery. For those who do not want to send their sensitive documents back by post, a volunteer at the club may have to view the disclosure. That puts other club volunteers in a difficult position, as has been well described by the noble Baroness, Lady Heyhoe Flint.
Without volunteers, British sport would not exist. I think virtually all the athletes I know who compete at GB level have been coached at some point in their career by volunteers. But sport also needs young people taking part in it, and parents need to feel a level of reassurance.
I also have some concerns over Clause 64, which narrows the definition of "regulated activity". It makes an assumption that day-to-day supervision is enough, but I believe that the proposed changes mean that an individual who has been barred would not be prevented from working with children in a supervised role. The issue of "regulated activity" has been raised by many in your Lordships' House, so I will not talk any more on this point now, but I agree that it places another unfair burden on yet other volunteers. I believe that it might be appropriate for all bodies in this sector to be granted an exemption from Clause 64(5).
I would like to ask the Minister for his reassurance that the protection of young people and vulnerable adults will be uppermost. The role of a coach or volunteer is hard to define. While a coach may say that they "just" spend several nights a week at a club, it is so much more than that. The coach can be a mentor, a friend, someone who challenges the young person to be the best they can or someone who sees you through the difficult teenage years-a confidant. My coaches were all of those. By their very nature, strong bonds are built. The coach is there to help a young person fulfil their dreams in sport. They hold a unique position in a young athlete's life, and there is great potential for misuse of the role by those who wish to.
Finally, I would like to ensure that we have a system that is as simple as possible, and I would welcome further debate in this area. Record checks should protect coaches or volunteers from error, but they must also protect the children and vulnerable adults who are in sport.
Lord Rosser: My Lords, we have had a lengthy and interesting debate. With a Bill that covers a number of separate issues, it is not surprising that we have heard a number of thoughtful speeches that have concentrated on specific areas addressed in the Bill. These include the impact of Freedom of Information Act changes on universities and their research work, changes to the vetting and barring procedures, and DNA retention. We also heard a glowing testimonial to the last Government from the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, although I had better add for the noble Lord's sake that it related only to the specific issue of powers of entry.
This Bill, as my noble friend Lord Kennedy of Southwark said, has a somewhat grandiose title, but as Mr Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, said in the other place in March this year:
It is hardly a piece of legislation on a par, for example, with the Human Rights Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, all of which were enacted by the previous Government.
However, the Bill affects important issues and makes proposals involving change in a rather different climate from that which existed when some of the original legislation was passed in this House and the other place. My noble friend Lady Royall of Blaisdon went through the Bill in her speech and set out the parts with which we agree, those with which we disagree and areas where the Bill remains silent but which we think should be addressed. I do not intend to repeat all the points made by my noble friend but will concentrate my comments on particular aspects of the Bill.
The proposalsfor changes to thevetting and barring regime drawn up following the horrific Soham murders are a cause of concern, not because they make changes but because of the nature of the changes that they make. These were referred to by, among others, my noble friend Lady Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde. Under
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The objective should be to ensure that if one organisation or authority is aware that an individual has a record of abuse of others of whatever age, another authority or organisation engaging that person either as an employee or a paid volunteer in work with vulnerable people should not do so in ignorance of that individual's previous record of abuse, including any assessments that have been made. Serious and potential serious sexual offenders are all too often very determined and very good at covering their tracks and activities. It is all very well wanting to reduce regulation, as clearly the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, does, but not if it is at the expense of someone else's safety, particularly a vulnerable person or, in extreme cases, at the expense of their life.
The Government are proposing changes to the retention of DNA samples. In the light of reoffending rates and the benefits of preventing and solving crimes, the previous Government had already legislated for a six-year retention period for those who were not convicted. The then Opposition did not oppose the six-year retention period, no doubt because they accepted that a number of serious offenders, including murderers and rapists, were brought to justice after committing other crimes, because of DNA profiles. Yet this Government now propose to bring the retention period down to three years for an adult who is charged with, but not convicted of, a serious offence. We have not yet heard any convincing evidence that supports such a step, which will make it more difficult for the police to solve and prevent serious crimes.
Certainly the Government's evidence is not convincing. Their proposal appears to reflect the Scottish model of a three-year limit. That was based on a report by an academic and seemed to be determined by a judgment of the appropriate balance and interpretation of an ECHR decision rather than empirical evidence. The Government have undertaken separate analysis of the Scottish model of DNA retention, and the results suggest that the earliest that offending risk in the charged group falls to the level present in a comparable general population is just over three years after the initial charge. That is based on a comparison of only the lowest-bound hazard curve for the charge group and the risk estimated for all individuals in the general population. It really is a case of being highly selective over the figure picked to try and provide backing for a predetermined point of view.
The six-year retention figure in the Crime and Security Act 2010 was based on extensive Home Office analysis on the length of time for which the offending risk of a group of individuals who might be subject to the retention policy is above the level observed in the general population, known as the hazard rate. The analysis suggested that within four years the hazard rate converges with that for the peak offending age group-males aged 16 to 20. The cohort converges with the general population only after a significantly greater number of years.
ACPO estimated that there would be a loss of about 1,000 matches per year under the changes proposed in the Bill. In other words, people currently brought to justice for serious offences because of DNA matches would escape justice and quite probably commit further serious offences. This is not an area where we should be taking chances by making a change based on less than convincing evidence.
In addition, in more than two-thirds of rape cases in which a suspect is arrested, there is no charge. Under this Bill, DNA will be kept where there is no charge in only very specific circumstances, so the DNA will be lost in most of these cases, even though, as the hard evidence shows, it can lead to a repeat offender being caught for this particularly unpleasant and violent sexual offence. Associated with this issue we also consider, as my noble friend Lady Royall of Blaisdon said, that a new clause should be added to the Bill to make a specific new offence of stalking. We shall be tabling an appropriate amendment in Committee to this effect. Stalking is currently covered by the offence of harassment, but the two are not the same and, to prove stalking, harassment also has to be established. There has been a change in Scotland where there is now a separate offence of stalking. The number of prosecutions for stalking is already this year some 10 times higher than the number of prosecutions when harassment was the offence that had to be proved.
The Bill addresses the issue of wheel-clamping and in particular the need to take action against rogue car clampers, with which we agree. We need to be sure, though, that the provisions of this Bill will not hamper action against the rogue parker: the kind of individual who leaves their car in your drive because your home is near a station or a football ground, or the kind of individual who leaves their car in parking bays reserved for disabled drivers at supermarkets and in car parks at leisure activity locations. These questions will need to be pursued during the later stages of this Bill.
The Bill proposes changes to the use of CCTV. Many people regard CCTV as a tool for preventing and fighting crime, and we believe that a full report is needed from the police on its effectiveness before we
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Local authorities and police forces will have a statutory duty to have regard to the code in their use of surveillance camera systems. Yet most cameras are used within the private sector. If the Government consider there to be a protection of freedom issue at stake, can the Minister say why no code of practice is to be applied beyond local authorities and police forces? Crimes, and particularly serious crimes, affect our security, and our freedom is in jeopardy if a Government do not regard the right to security as of paramount importance. The previous Government had to address unprecedented peacetime attacks, and the continuing threat of such attacks, on this country. We have heard a great deal in this debate about the rights of the individual, but we have to be careful in protecting those rights not to compromise the security and safety of our communities and our nation.
The previous Government presided over a year-by-year reduction in crimes of all kinds and a 43 per cent reduction in crime overall, according to the British Crime Survey. They left this country a safer place in which to live, work and play than when they came to office, and that is an enhancement in freedom that should not be casually dismissed.
This Bill will be the subject of detailed debate and consideration during its remaining stages, as it should be. While there are changes in this Bill with which we do not disagree-indeed, we agree-there are, as my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey highlighted, other changes that, despite some of the rhetoric from the Government side, weaken not strengthen an all- important freedom: the right to safety and security for the people of this country.
Lord Henley: My Lords, I start with one point on which I am in total agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. The Bill will be the subject of detailed debate at its later stages and I look forward to those later stages. I also offer my congratulations to all noble Lords who spoke. I never thought it was likely that I would be getting to my feet so soon after 9 pm. I do not know whether the usual channels will notice this but I hope they do not suggest that we start every day with a two-and-a-half-hour debate on procedural matters hoping it will speed up later proceedings.
We have done very well to get through a big and detailed Bill of this sort-a Bill with some 115 clauses and 10 schedules-in the time we have. I will endeavour to be brief in responding because, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said and I agreed with him, obviously a great deal of this must be discussed in further detail at later stages.
The Bill was described rather cruelly by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, as a "mishmash" and by others as a "Christmas pie". It is possibly a bit too
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The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, thought that the balance was wrong, but a great many other speakers, including my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Goodhart, thought that the balance was right. The noble Lord, Lord Dear, thought that the balance was right, but he wanted to see extensions in the Bill in areas such as freedom of speech. He said that he would not bring forward amendments relating to freedom of speech or removing "insulting" from the Public Order Act while our consultation was out, but he asked whether it might be possible to have some debate on that. As always, I will say that that must be a matter for the usual channels, but no doubt the noble Lord will find some way of introducing it in Committee.
In the time available to me today I hope to run through the various parts of the Bill and make a few brief comments on them, starting with Part 1, on DNA and biometrics. I shall deal first with biometrics in schools, particularly because my noble friend Lord Lucas referred to the proposals as-I think that I have got his words right-a "daffy overreaction" to a perceived problem which would do nothing to improve safety or privacy. I note what he said, but I noted also that his general reaction to the Bill was positive. I can assure him that, although the coalition agreement is generally our bible and something that we always abide by, the proposals have been included not just for reasons of the coalition agreement. No doubt my noble friend will want to come back to that in due course.
On the wider question of DNA and whether we should keep the DNA of people who have not been convicted for three years or six years, again there was a division of opinion within the House. My noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts and the noble Lord, Lord Dear, both thought that the current position was untenable. I had the support of my noble friend Lady Randerson, but others, such as the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and the right reverend Prelate, had considerable concerns. I think that it was the right reverend Prelate who used that dread expression "the precautionary principle", which always worries me. I tend to run away when I hear about the precautionary principle, because it implies that one cannot do anything because something might go wrong. I do not know what it would prevent us doing if one took it too far, but, again, I note what he says.
It was my noble friend Lady Berridge, speaking from her experience as a barrister, who reminded us of the importance of the presumption of innocence, the right to privacy and the risk of a breach of Article 8 and rights of privacy if we kept an excessive amount of data. Again, these matters will have to be looked at in considerable detail, but it is important that we get this right. It is important also that we come to address the questions raised by my noble friend Lady Doocey and by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, who discussed possible costs to the police in dealing with that.
I will cover two other points in relation to the question of retention of DNA. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who suggested that we were going to be taking some 17,000 rapists off the database and that potentially some 23,000 offenders' details per year will not be entered on the database under these provisions. The contention that every single person suspected of rape will instantly come off the database is simply not true. It is about keeping the details of thousands of innocent people, who have not been convicted, on the DNA database because of a hypothesis that a proportion of them may go on to commit-
Lord Harris of Haringey: The figures I quoted were from the Home Office's own figures, reanalysing the cases where individuals would have been taken off the database as a result of these changes and subsequently -these are facts and involve real people-gone on to commit other crimes in 6,000 or 7,000 cases. I will have to check my notes again on the figures, but these were serious crimes, including rape and murder.
Lord Henley: I will obviously allow the noble Lord to check his facts again in due course, but I stand by what I said. The presumption that he was making-along with, I think, the noble Baroness, Lady Royall-was that we were taking all these people off and that they were all going to be guilty. I was trying to make clear that simply keeping the details of those people on the database, because of a hypothesis that a tiny proportion of them may go on to commit serious crimes in future, is not actually going to do anything to increase the conviction rate for rape. As I explained in opening this debate, those charged with a qualifying offence, including rape, obviously will have their DNA retained for three years. It is then up to the police to apply to the courts to extend that by a further two years. That is set out in the Bill. For those arrested but not charged with a qualifying offence in cases where the victim is vulnerable, the police may still apply to the independent commissioner to retain their DNA for three years.
My noble friend Lady Berridge also raised the very important question of the over-representation on the DNA database of those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. Obviously, the database is not self-populating, because for a person's DNA to be taken the person must have been suspected of committing a recordable offence and that arrest in law must have been necessary. You cannot, as another noble Lord said, simply arrest so as to get the DNA. That is a significant threshold. However, our proposals will mean that the vast majority of those who are arrested, but
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We have very difficult questions to address, again, on the regulation of surveillance and very difficult questions of balance between those who feel that we need further safeguards and those who feel that people always welcome more cameras, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Harris, suggested. I have to say he ought to look at Project Champion in Birmingham, which I referred to in my opening remarks, and he will find that that is not always the case. I had better stop mentioning the noble Lord if he is going to rise to his feet on every occasion, but I will give way.
Lord Harris of Haringey: Perhaps I will not rise on the next occasion you mention me. The issue about Project Champion was that people welcomed the original introduction. It was when they found out they had been misled about the purposes of the cameras that the anger-the very real and justifiable anger-arose.
Lord Henley: My Lords, it was a real anger and it was quite right that something should be done about it. I think he is wrong, though, to imply that people welcome more and more cameras on every single occasion.
Obviously, we have got to get this right, so I was very grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady O'Loan, for example, welcomed the fact that we were going to have a code of practice and a new commissioner. Again, she said it was important that further things should happen. I think she saw that there was insufficient provision for complaints to be made and she also suggested that there was not-I think I have it right-sufficient oversight. I will certainly look at that, and these are obviously matters that we can examine in Committee.
The last point that I should pick up on is that made by my noble friends Lady Miller and Lady Doocey, and the noble Baroness, Lady O'Loan, when they talked about the number of commissioners and considered whether there could be a merger of commissioners. I appreciate that the number of commissioners seems to be growing, but their roles are distinct. Again, that is a matter of detail that we should be able to consider in due course in Committee.
Turning to powers of entry, my noble friend Lord Goodhart, who generally welcomed the Bill, for which I was very grateful, raised the issue that it includes a number of Henry VIII powers. Whenever that expression is mentioned, I think back to what was almost the first Bill that I handled at this Dispatch Box, which related to statutory sick pay, which was one of the earliest modern reintroductions of Henry VIII powers. I remember the savaging that I received from the then good friend of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, Lord Russell, and the problems that we had with the Bill. When I die, no doubt Henry VIII powers will be found engraved on my heart. However, the noble Lord accepts the fact that it is possibly appropriate here, in removing powers of entry, to use those Henry VIII powers. I stress-in particular, to my noble friend Lord Selsdon-that that power is only for the repeal of powers of entry. Clause 41, which allows amendments to be made to powers of
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Turning briefly to wheel clamping, that is a matter for Committee on which I know that my noble friend Lord Attlee, who has great expertise in the area, will be able to deal with it. As my noble friend Lord Bradshaw said, this is something that we need to look at with very great care, especially access to the DVLA database. I shall also consider, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said, what we need to do about ticketing and abuse in that area. I have also noted what the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, did not have to say about the abuse of blue badge parking, which concerns all of us and which we should address. However, clamping in a disabled parking area is not the solution to that problem, because once you have clamped a vehicle in that area, you cannot use that area. There are other, better ways to deal with that problem.
Moving to counterterrorism and the questions raised about the reduction to 14 days, I note that most noble Lords are happy with the reduction from 28 days to 14 days, but I note the concern about the measures that would have to be used to raise that 14 days to 28 days if we were in a difficult situation where we needed to do that. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, was very honest when he said that it was difficult to see how we could get from the 14 days back to the 28 days. We have to look at that. At the moment we have Clause 58 and the powers in the Bill as set out, but certainly we will want to look at those again very carefully. I note what the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, had to say, that he thought that we had not gone far enough in what we were doing, and that it would be too difficult to do it. He would certainly want to try to extend Clause 58, as I understood him, to allow the Home Secretary to extend the period in other circumstances where appropriate. I was grateful that he made it quite clear that he hoped she would never have to make use of any of those powers.
I come now to vetting and barring, and again that expression I used at the beginning about getting the balance right is more important here than in virtually any other field. Of course, as the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, put it, our first priority must be the protection of children and young people, and that will remain our priority. However, we obviously have to have the right balance, as was stressed by my noble friend Lord Hodgson, though others thought that we had got this wrong and thought more protection ought to be brought in. As I said at the beginning, I want to stress that if you bring in too great a control and too great protections, there is the danger of encouraging a tick-box mentality, which might not provide the better protection for children and young people that we want. Again, I will look at that as we discuss these matters in Committee.
I would say to my noble friend Lord Addington, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, but more particularly to my noble friend Lady Heyhoe
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I would also like to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who said that he was not happy about what might happen to volunteering and the risk to volunteers, that he look at some of the briefing provided by Volunteering England, which states:
"However, we would not want to see this wording tightened up by use of terms such as 'close' or 'constant' supervision, as has been suggested by other organisations, because it could further restrict the involvement of volunteers. If the requirements for supervision are too prescriptive, organisations may be put off from involving volunteers and potential volunteers deterred from volunteering".
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: Will my noble friend give way momentarily? One of the questions now is: what is "frequent and intensive" when dealing with children and vulnerable adults? Are we going to have a new definition of it, and if there is a new definition of it, will it be available for discussion in Committee? Clearly, there is a wide range of opinions around the Chamber about how we should tackle that.
Lord Henley: How you would interpret those words is really a question of fact and degree. I will have a further look before we get to Committee to see whether I can write in greater detail on that. If I cannot, I am sure that it is something that we would want to discuss in greater detail in Committee and at later stages.
Finally, I come to freedom of information and data protection in Part 6. I will touch on this only very briefly because I understand the concerns expressed by my noble friend Lady Hamwee, the noble Lord, Lord Bew, and the noble Baronesses, Lady O'Neill and Lady O'Loan, about the publication of research, particularly early publication. I accept that there is a genuine concern coming from Universities UK.
Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve: I just want to clarify that. There is absolutely no concern about the publication of research. That is what researchers aim to do. The concern is about applying the publication criteria to databases which are of a size that precludes their being published in journals, monographs or any other way. These are causing concern for large numbers of research institutions which have such databases but are committed to open publication.
Lord Henley: I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Baroness. I have written down "pre-publication". I will look carefully at what she had to say. Certainly, I hope that we can address that in due course. The noble Lord, Lord Bew, said that we should copy Scotland but I think that the noble Baroness, Lady O'Neill, was not so keen on that idea. Again, we need to address these matters in due course and examine them in a manner that I properly understand, particularly as I just seem to have misunderstood the noble Baroness on this occasion. The noble Baroness went on to ask what she described as some boring questions about costs. As they are allegedly boring questions-I am sure they are not-I will address them in a letter.
That is a rather rapid gallop through some of the comments that we have received today. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions. If we can agree on nothing else, we can agree that we will have an interesting and possibly somewhat lengthy Committee stage. As noble Lords will know from the Motions that I will move after this Bill has had its Second Reading, it will move down a novel line with some of the Committee stage taking place in the Chamber on the more contentious issues and some taking place in Grand Committee. I hope that that will have the agreement of the House and that once the Second Reading Motion is agreed, your Lordships will permit me to move the other Motions that stand in my name.
Clauses 26 to 39, Schedule 2, Clauses 40 to 53, Schedule 3, Clauses 57 to 61, Schedule 5, Clauses 62 and 63, Schedule 6, Clause 85, Schedule 8, Clauses 86 to 109, Schedules 9 and 10, Clauses 110 to 115.
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