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Lords Chamber

Volume 717: debated on Friday 5 March 2010

House of Lords

Friday, 5 March 2010.

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Bradford.

Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill [HL]


Clause 1 : Amendment of the Building Regulations 2000

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 2, leave out “, by regulations made by statutory instrument, amend” and insert “undertake a review in consultation with representatives of house-purchasers, tenants, house-builders, housing associations and other interested parties, to ascertain the feasibility of amending”

My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 2. The Bill would make it a requirement to install an automatic fire suppression system in all new buildings. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, for bringing forward the Bill. In principle, it is an excellent measure. However, my amendments would require a comprehensive review, in consultation with home buyers, tenants, housing associations, housebuilders and other interested parties, before the Secretary of State could trigger the requirement for all homes to have new sprinkler systems installed.

I declare an interest as chairman of the Hanover Housing Association, which has provided thousands of retirement homes for older people. This housing association and others are keen on finding ways to keep our residents safer in future, and lower the costs of damage if there are fires in our buildings, which sprinklers would achieve. It is also the case that the design of homes is made easier by the installation of sprinkler systems, because you can have an open-plan apartment without the cumbersome internal walls and lobbies that are necessary because of fire regulations. I witnessed many excellent and well designed open-plan apartments for older people when I visited Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and other countries last summer to see how they build their retirement housing. In principle, sprinklers would be better for the residents and owners of a property, and would aid better design. However, the amendments are intended to draw out the reservations to this becoming an instant requirement on all providers of new accommodation.

First, we must recognise that people building new homes are facing another set of new requirements for higher standards: I refer to the requirements for greater sustainability in new buildings. We are gradually cranking up the code for new sustainable homes that will achieve lower carbon emissions. That costs more, and requires adaptations from the building industry. On top of that, and very properly, we are improving the accessibility of new homes—people’s ability to get in and out of them, and to move around inside them. The Lifetime Homes standards are being extended: again, this is a commendable change, but it adds extra costs to new homes.

This is set against a background of a decline in housebuilding to levels that we have not known since the early 1920s. The industry is in a state of collapse, and this is the wrong time to do anything that would deter new investment and home building. The housebuilding industry at the moment produces retirement homes of the kind that my organisation builds for about £150,000 each. The cost of installing a fully fledged sprinkler system might be in the region of £1,500 for each home, which means that for every 100 homes we could have provided with the same amount of money, we would produce 99 homes. It does not sound disastrous but at this time it would be, because housebuilding is at such a low ebb.

The amendments call for an extensive review of the costs and benefits of installing sprinkler systems, against a backdrop of support for the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Harrison. Only after the results of the review were known would the Secretary of State be in a position to decide whether to proceed with a requirement covering all new housebuilding. I beg to move.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Best, for introducing his amendment and for helping me to describe the nature of the Bill; and also for the constructive conversations that we have had. It is not my intention to rehearse another Second Reading speech here, but perhaps it would be helpful for me to comment on Amendments 1 and 2 and then offer some thoughts of my own.

Second Reading was useful in highlighting a number of issues that have arisen, as rightly pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Best, from consideration of the Bill and some new information. The noble Lord said that a further advantage in the design of residential buildings would be a fire suppression system that he described, and which he has observed on the continent. I hope that we can build on what we have learnt and put down a marker for further work in this Chamber on this important issue. I emphasise that it is designed to save lives and the enormous amount of money that is lost on buildings that are incapacitated by fire.

I accept that further work needs to be done to ensure that we go forward on this issue with confidence because we have the facts before us and a cost-benefit analysis of all that we have found as a result of the research that we and the noble Lord, Lord Bates, and the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, have brought to our attention. I undertake to introduce a portmanteau amendment on Report. I believe that further areas need to be researched. We need to ensure that all research from here in the United Kingdom and abroad is brought to the attention of those who make decisions on these matters. We must be forward-looking and take into account the ageing population that we have now. More people will be living by themselves in such residential properties where sprinklers are often the first aid to ensure that a fire is put out and lives saved. There are changes in social policy, local government policy and service delivery at council level.

There are also important issues such as environmental and climate change, which impact on this issue. Without going into great detail because I outlined the issues on Second Reading, these two should form part of the research and review which will help the Minister on moving forward. There are issues affecting the building industry which are illustrated by the amendments and issues affecting the safety of firefighters who face increasing risks from new building materials and construction methods. We should bear them in mind as well.

I have outlined my own concerns to add to those expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Best, and those about to be expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Bates. If we reach Report, we can have an analysis of the issues and then pass legislation that will be enormously beneficial. The regulations are in operation for all new build that is more than 30 metres high. This change would require them to operate for buildings under 30 metres.

Noble Lords have been very helpful, including the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the Minister who came to see us yesterday, to try to make progress. I am hoping to hear more than warm words from him but a positive reaction to the debate to be able to do something constructive for firefighters who face the daily threat of entering buildings on fire and saving property, which ought to be an important consideration. I thank everyone involved who has been so helpful so far.

My Lords, I declare my interest in property and insurance as laid out in the Register. I agree with much, if not all, of what the noble Lord, Lord Best, said, particularly as it relates to the crisis in home construction. The figure that I had for housing new starts showed the lowest number since 1946. The noble Lord, Lord Best, has now pointed out that that is too recent, which is a comment on the state of the economy. It was not that long ago that it was declared from Whitehall that 3 million new homes would be built, but of course that target is nowhere near being met. That is why it behoves us to be extremely careful when legislating and potentially adding costs to the construction of new properties.

As my noble friend Lord Cathcart said at Second Reading, we welcome the goal of reducing deaths caused by household fires. The noble Lord, Lord Harrison, has set out a not unrealistic aim of changing the building regulations so that new build domestic dwellings incorporate a sprinkler system that is designed to extinguish a fire. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Best, pointed out, and as the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, correctly recognises, the Bill is a step towards that change but it is not a perfect vehicle for doing so.

The value of debating amendments such as these in Committee is that it gives all sides an opportunity to think hard about what the result of the Bill might be. Although we all want to eliminate fire fatalities, noble Lords accept that we must also consider the practicalities of attempting to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Best, has proposed a consultation review. Our Amendment 4 is along very similar lines. We have sought to identify some of the areas that need to be considered closely in detail before any firm conclusion is reached. My noble friend Lord Cathcart developed those at Second Reading. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, will consider amendments that he may wish to bring back on Report, and I hope that our amendments may be of use to him for that purpose.

If we are to impose regulations on housebuilders, we must first consider the costs and benefits of doing so. As we are all too well aware, the construction industry, along with the rest of the economy, remains in a fragile state. Any consultation must consider what imposing new costs and regulations will do to the housing market. The cost of new sprinkler systems will not be simply a capital outlay for installation; there will be ongoing costs of maintenance. Presumably, regular tests must be carried out to ensure that the sprinkler system is still working and attended. One assumes that that would almost certainly take place when a house was sold, meaning that the cost would be borne by the vendor or passed on to the purchaser.

I have suggested in paragraph (b) in Amendment 4 that home information packs might be a route to allow the fitness of a sprinkler system to be certified, but we know that home information packs are unpopular and costly, and that would add to their burden. Who will be qualified to inspect sprinklers? Are there enough such people to meet demand? How would inspections be costed?

Beside the costs that arise at the point of sale, there will be ongoing maintenance costs to householders. I understand that the water used for firefighting will be pumped through different pipes from water used for general domestic purposes, but I assume—I am open to advice on this—that those pipes will be just as susceptible to freezing and bursting as ordinary pipes. They will need to be lagged and insulated at a cost, even if the water inside is free of charge. Any consultation must consider that and how poor households would be able to meet the cost. Will there be a contribution from water companies or a reduction in insurance premiums? As the noble Lord, Lord Best, suggested, talking to stakeholders will be crucial.

I have experience of this. I was involved in the construction of a new school academy a couple of years ago in Blyth in Northumberland. That was before the regulations were introduced. We had a fixed price for the construction of that academy, and we were required, not by law, not by regulation but at the request of the local chief fire officer, to place a sprinkler system in that school. We made the point that having a sprinkler system in the school meant that it could be set off maliciously. Because there was a huge amount of technical equipment and carpets throughout the school, the cost of such an occurrence would be huge. The absolute cost of installing the sprinkler system was £1.2 million, which meant that cost savings had to be made elsewhere in IT and other capital equipment, such as fitness suites, for the academy. So a cost/benefit analysis needs to be undertaken.

A further area to consider suggested in our amendment is how to combat the risk of fraud. With a supply of free water being piped into households alongside the metered supply, is there a temptation for the unscrupulous to tap into firefighting supplies? I realise that that requires a certain amount of plumbing skills, not to say determination, but if we were dramatically to increase the number of buildings with a dual supply of water, we might assume that there will be increased attempts to defraud. Could that lead to higher bills for everyone else? Is the water industry ready with new technology to beat that potential fraud? That question must be answered in consultation.

The final point of my amendment is sustainability. That is a nebulous term, I admit, but here we might ask: how long is the lifespan of a sprinkler system? What work might be required to replace worn out systems and how best can leaks and wastage be prevented?

That is a quick run through some of the problems that occur to us. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, is aware of all that, and he has been sensible and reasonable in indicating that consultation will need to take place. I would favour a broad and detailed consultation, and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts on the matter. We will need to hear from the Government how long a consultation might be necessary and who and what it should include. That will help the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, to marshal his thoughts ahead of Report.

My Lords, I said on Second Reading that we very much support what the noble Lord is endeavouring to do in and with the Bill—I well understand that it is a tool for taking forward further work to ensure that sprinklers using the best regime are required for all buildings, subject to some of the concerns which have been expressed. I do not think that I need today to plump for one or other, or all or none, of the amendments; I will just make a very few remarks.

I read the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Bates, as being a little less supportive and a little more tentative, but that may be because he has found it irresistible to list some of the political points that he wants to make, such as those about home information packs. I understand that temptation. There will not be an impact on home information packs, although there may be an impact on the regulations covering how home information packs are developed, to take one example. Of course there should be an impact assessment before regulations are made. I do not think that sustainability is a nebulous concept, but I will not develop that further.

The noble Lord, Lord Best, before he gets to the sweep-up phrase, “other interested parties”, lists a number of organisations. I just suggest two that might fall into that sweep-up provision. One is developers who already have experience of installing sprinkler systems—we have heard that this is not a wholly new concept. The other is the insurance industry. It is quite right to raise the economic issues, but one would hope that there would be a benefit which insurers were able to debate, and perhaps even put a price on. One would hope that buildings with sprinkler systems would attract lower insurance premiums because, after all, they should certainly be safer, and perhaps more sustainable.

My Lords, I believe that I made the Government's position on this matter clear at Second Reading. Although we clearly recognise the significant potential benefits that sprinkler systems can offer, and that there is a place for imposing their provision through regulation in some circumstances, we would regulate only where such provision was proportionate to the risk. In this context, it might be helpful if I briefly set out views on the amendments, and outlined the nature of any review which the Government would see as necessary before reaching a conclusion on further amendments to the building regulations.

Of course, we have sympathy with the thrust of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Best, in calling for a review. Such matters can be complex. Although on the face of it, the use of sprinklers would undoubtedly assist with further reducing the terrible effect of fire, there will be technical matters and regulatory burdens that we are obliged fully to consider before any decision on regulatory change.

Similarly, the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Bates, and his colleague the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, usefully highlight some of the issues that government would need to consider in revisiting and updating the building regulations on automatic fire suppression systems.

We must recognise that any review would need to be sufficiently broad and comprehensive in its scope and involve not only the matters referred to by noble Lords today but many other issues, such as: undertaking a detailed and robust assessment of the costs and benefits; assessing the environmental impact both of the reduction in the size of fires, and of the environmental costs of the sprinkler systems themselves; future projections of our ageing population and what this could mean to fire risk; the safety of firefighters; and the extra facility of open-plan layouts where sprinklers are installed, to which the noble Lord, Lord Best, referred. Meanwhile, it would need to consider changes in construction practice and technology, and both UK and international experience and evidence.

The collection and assimilation of all the available and relevant data for a review of this complexity will take some time and effort. I suggest that it would necessarily take longer than the six months suggested in the Bill for any changes to the building regulations to be made. The risk of forcing an unrealistic timetable is that decisions would be taken on the current evidence base, which would not move the issue forward. However, this is not an excuse for inertia; we need to move ahead with this as quickly as possible. Having said that, I reiterate—notwithstanding any such review, which we shall undertake whatever the destiny of my noble friend’s Bill—that we will continue to work on the variety of approaches to promoting increased fire safety that I outlined at Second Reading.

I should bring to the attention of my noble friend Lord Harrison the reference in the Bill to British standards. Such a reference can result in problems with European directives on free trade and construction products, and such detailed matters are best left in the approved documents that support the building regulations.

On sustainability, my department has recently issued a consultation on the future of the Code for Sustainable Homes. One of the issues on which we have asked for comment is whether there is a potential for the code to recognise the benefits of providing enhanced fire protection in new homes. Subject to the outcome of that consultation, the code will reward such enhancements and thus provide an inducement to homebuilders to consider sprinklers more favourably.

In conclusion, I thank my noble friend Lord Harrison for his continued commitment to the cause of fire safety. The Government share common cause with him in seeking to further reduce fire deaths and injuries, and I hope that we can continue to work together to that end in the manner to which he referred.

My Lords, I am grateful for the support for all the amendments from all around the House, including from the Minister. It would be a very happy outcome of all the efforts made by the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, if there were an extensive review into the costs and the benefits of installing sprinkler systems. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Amendments 2 to 4 not moved.

Clause 1 agreed.

Clause 2 agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported without amendment.

Powers of Entry etc. Bill [HL]


Clauses 1 to 4 agreed.

Clause 5 : Limitations on powers of entry

Debate on whether Clause 5 should stand part of the Bill.

My Lords, I have given the Minister notice of my wish to get an ex cathedra reply to my query about the word “order” in line 10 of Clause 5.

The essence of my noble friend’s Bill is, as we all know, to curtail the unfettered, widespread and extensive powers of entry that litter our legislation. The principal point that I have always made is that such powers of entry should in general, which of course means with exceptions, be subject to a magistrate’s warrant. A magistrate’s warrant is an ancient and well understood part of the way in which we do things in this country. Indeed, the idea that the police, with exceptions, have to obtain a warrant before entering private premises for the purposes of a search has always made the conduct of our police force much more acceptable to the public than is the case in many other countries.

I therefore ask the Government whether the word “order” encompasses the word “warrant”. An essential point about a warrant is that it is a piece of paper, signed by a magistrate, which the person exercising powers of entry has to present to the person whose premises he wishes to enter. My concern is that an order is a more amorphous concept that could have a much wider application and could therefore exclude the crucial test of whether or not the exercise of the powers of entry are justified in the particular instance.

Let me say at once that I have never been opposed to powers of entry, which must be part of any ordered society. Indeed, there are areas in which greater powers are needed. I give just one example. We are all horrified by the all too frequent cases of child abuse, often of the most terrible and heinous nature. In the extensive inquiries that follow, the social services responsible often claim that they had not been able to get sufficient access to investigate or monitor the situation.

My remedy is that the social services should be able to get what I would describe as a running warrant—one that would be exercisable over a limited period of perhaps some weeks and would be renewable—empowering entry. That would, in effect, require the social services to judge how serious a case might be. It would be a useful defence for them to be able to show that they had applied for and received such a warrant against any accusations that they had been asleep on a case. I merely cite this as an example, because my worry is that an amorphous court order might be a much less satisfactory means of proceeding.

My Lords, the suggestion that there is some significant difference between warrants and court orders authorising entry is probably wrong. The Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, is aimed primarily at controlling powers of entry that are added to rules, regulations, statutes and statutory instruments for the purposes of assisting some requirements in the regulation of the many complexities of the society in which we live.

Court-authorised powers of entry have been part of civil law for many years. Powers of entry for the purposes of enabling search and seizure of documents to take place are the best example of that. They used to be called Anton Piller orders—the name derives from the case in which such orders were first granted. When the practice began, the orders were much too readily granted. In the opinion of many, including me, they led to abuse of the powers of the court, with insufficient protection for those against whom the orders were made.

Since then, the procedure has been much tightened. The orders are more difficult to get. They are always granted without notice, but there is an immediate hearing with both parties represented when the matter can be looked at on both sides. I mention this in connection with the noble Lord’s Bill because the civil courts have established rules and procedures intended to safeguard the interests of the person whose premises are to be peremptorily entered and searched and whose documents are at risk of being seized.

Some of the provisions of the Bill deal with what precautions there should be for the person who is subject to these orders. I suggest that in any reconsideration of the Bill—although I understand that it will almost certainly not survive falling into the abyss on the election and will have to be revived consequent on the election by whoever are the Government in power—civil practices, and the rules and regulations that have been tested over many years and are well known to lawyers and many firms and companies that have been the subject of these orders, might form a good model for the powers to go into the Bill.

Perhaps I may make one or two further comments. First, the authority to enter does not necessarily derive from a Minister. Many powers of entry are derived from the authority of a quango or regulator that has been given powers to authorise others to enter. Of course, all those powers are derived in the last resort from statute, but to say that the authorised person is necessarily authorised by a Minister is wrong and too narrow.

Secondly, the alternative to entry by warrant or court order—I really do not think that there is any significant distinction between them—is to enter by consent. Entry by consent must always be permissible. If entry is by consent, one does not need to limit the number of people or provide any precautions. The consent authorises whatever is proposed to be done or limits, according to the wishes of the person concerned, what may be done. The Bill should be directed towards entry by warrant or court order. There should be a clear distinction between entry by consent and entry by court order/warrant. Those are the only additional comments that I want to make on the Bill.

My Lords, the Committee will be grateful to my noble friend Lord Marlesford for introducing this stand part debate by saying that he had advised the Minister what he was on about and that, therefore, the Minister could give a proper answer. I rather suspect that the noble and learned Lord has just given the proper answer, but I will await the Minister’s comments with interest. It is rather unfortunate that my noble friend did not tell me what he was on about, because I had suspected that he was on about something entirely different in this clause.

If an individual has or is likely to have committed a malfeasance, it is hardly likely that under Clause 5(2) he would allow entry into his premises. I should be grateful if the Minister and my noble friend Lord Selsdon could explain that. This is particularly likely to be the case in the example given by my noble friend Lord Marlesford, who spoke, in part as an illustration, of members of the social services not being able to gain access to a child’s home. That member of the social services is hardly likely to be able to gain entry any more easily if the person having control of the premises has to agree that entry should take place. I should be grateful for advice on that point.

My Lords, I did not add my name to the clause stand part question tabled by my noble friend because sometimes you get out of your depth. I suppose one would say:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again”.

One has the ability in this great House to go back into the past and the distant past. With the help of the Library and the archives I went back to the Pentateuch, Roman law and Norman law. I was given something that I thought was terribly important and which made me change my mind about my noble friend’s intervention. It was about entry under warrant by George II and is very appropriate. Perhaps I may put my glasses on and read. After the 29th day of September 1757,

“on bequest made to him, her, or them to open the same by any Peace Officer authorised to search there by Warrant from any Justice or Justices of the Peace, for the County, Riding, Division, City, Liberty, Town, or Place in which such House, Warehouse, or other Place shall be situate, refuse to open the same and permit the same to be searched, it shall be lawful for any such Peace Officer to break open any such House, Warehouse, or other Place”—

in the daytime—

“and to search as he shall think fit therein for the Goods”—

and chattels—

“suspected to be there, doing no wilful Damage”.

That refers to a warrant. I was perfectly happy with the idea of a court order, but I surrender to the wisdom of my noble friend.

My Lords, I spent two years reading Roman law, but it has not been a lot of use to me since. My point does not follow from that. I think that I made this important drafting point at Second Reading. Clause 5(2) reads as if each of the three requirements has to be satisfied, but logic tells me that that cannot be the case. Paragraph (c) states that,

“the person having control of the premises has agreed … the entry”,

which is at odds with the other provisions. In the next Parliament, when the noble Lord brings this Bill back—I suspect that he will, because he has a fine track record of pursuing this matter—perhaps he will look at the drafting of Clause 5(2) to make it clear whether paragraph (c) should be read with the word “or” or “and”. I read it as “and”, but I am not sure that that is correct.

My Lords, I am nervous of discussing in depth Roman law and other law, certainly with someone as distinguished as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott of Foscote, to whom I apologise: I read Hansard earlier this week and I noticed that “learned” was not there, which was my error. My contact with the law possibly started when I was a young lieutenant and, with powers of summary punishment, I could imprison someone for two years at a summary court. The situation has changed dramatically since then, but I felt at the time that it was a pragmatic way of achieving discipline.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, for giving me notice of his question on this issue and his proposal to oppose that this clause should stand part of the Bill because the debate serves to illustrate the potential difficulties in seeking to apply a common approach to all powers of entry. On the specific question concerning the difference between a court order and a magistrate’s warrant, the answer from my experts is that a court order is directed at an individual and requires them to do or not to do something. Examples would be an order under Schedule 1 to PACE for a person to produce documents for the police or a football banning order specifying that someone must not attend a certain sporting event. Failure to comply with a court order may in some cases amount to an offence or allow further forceful action to be authorised under a warrant. A warrant authorises the person to whom it is addressed to exercise a specified coercive power, using force if necessary. The person can, for example, enter and search premises, seize specified articles or arrest a named person and bring them before the court. It may be permissive, as in the case of a search warrant, which does not require the police to execute it, or, in the case of a commitment warrant, it may direct that a person be delivered to prison and detained there or that a person who has failed to surrender to bail be arrested and delivered to the court. That is the best definition of the differences that the experts could come up with.

As noble Lords are aware, each power of entry is subject to individual parliamentary scrutiny. It means that the entry power is considered within the context of the specific primary or secondary legislation that it supports, which I believe is an important safeguard. There are situations in which an enforcement agency can and does seek the authority of a court before entering premises. This may be to enter a dwelling, to enter premises where the enforcement agency has reasonable grounds to consider that entry, if sought, would be refused, or to enter premises where entry has previously been sought and refused. Determining the need for a warrant and how it is applied to each individual power of entry will depend on the nature of the breach, the type of premises being entered and the purpose of the entry. We should not seek to determine operational need in such a prescriptive way as that proposed in Clause 5. Additionally, the requirement to apply for a warrant in certain situations should be seen as a safeguard and not a limitation. At the same time, the amendment would appear sometimes to remove completely the need for a warrant. Neither option is preferable, which is why our approach is to maintain the position in which Parliament considers each power of entry on its merits.

As I shall indicate when dealing with the amendments to the Bill, we propose to introduce a powers of entry code of practice for those other than police officers exercising these powers. The code will set out the criteria for consideration of all powers of entry, including setting out justification for a requirement to enter premises with or without a warrant. In the circumstances, I oppose the proposed amendment and would ask noble Lords, in considering the appropriateness of this Bill, to consider also the points that I have made.

I am grateful for all the speeches, which have taught me a lot. Like everything to do with the law, this is immensely complicated, but I am slightly reinforced in my instincts about the value of warrants, certainly as far as public understanding is concerned. That is quite important.

Clause 5 agreed.

Clauses 6 to 8 agreed.

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: After Clause 8, insert the following new Clause—

“Code of practice

(1) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice for authorised persons in connection with powers of entry.

(2) The code of practice must contain guidance on—

(a) the tape-recording of interviews with a person;(b) the visual recording of interviews with a person;(c) the searching of a person who is not under arrest;(d) the searching of vehicles without making an arrest;(e) the arrest of a person;(f) the detention, treatment, questioning and identification of a person;(g) the searching of premises;(h) the seizure of property found on a person or premises.(3) In this section—

(a) references to “a person” are references to a person suspected of the commission of criminal offences;(b) references to a “visual recording” include references to a visual recording in which an audio recording is comprised.(4) The Secretary of State may at any time revise the whole or any part of the code of practice.

(5) The code may be made, or revised, so as to—

(a) apply only in relation to one or more specified areas;(b) have effect only for a specified period;(c) apply only in relation to specified offences.(6) Before issuing a code, or any revision of a code, the Secretary of State must consult all those authorities, enterprises and bodies who have powers of entry under the Acts and instruments listed in the Schedule.

(7) The code, or a revision of the code, does not come into operation until the Secretary of State by order so provides.

(8) An order under subsection (7) shall be made by statutory instrument and shall not be made unless a draft has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, both Houses of Parliament.

(9) When an order or draft of an order is laid before Parliament, the code or revision of the code to which it relates must also be laid.

(10) No order or draft of an order may be laid until the consultation required by subsection (6) has taken place.

(11) An order bringing a code, or a revision of a code, into operation may include transitional or saving provisions.”

My Lords, I shall speak to all the amendments standing in my name, with a certain trepidation because there is an element of concern as to whether they are right. I should like to begin by thanking the Minister. This is an unusual situation. I have introduced a Bill that is reasonable and says simply that the Government should know what their powers of entry are, Ministers should know what their powers of entry are, and people should know what those powers are. So I was knocked off my perch by the Minister when, not long ago, I asked him which Minister has which powers of entry under the schedule of the previous Bill. The Minister, as you would expect from someone used to high command, said that no Minister has a power of entry. That, I must say, confused me because I wanted to know who does have powers of entry.

With remarkable intelligence, the Minister suggested that I should speak to someone in the Home Office. I know that you do not speak to officials unless you have been given a permission to speak. In the past, when I have had to deal with the more difficult countries of the world, including Iraq when under sanctions, I was not allowed to go there unless I had a permission to speak. This is something produced in green and white, signed and with references to the United Nations. The Minister then suggested that I should meet with him and Mr Alan Brown at the Home Office, and gave me permission to speak. Thereafter, I found that there was a complete change in my own attitude because I had assumed that the Government were trying to hide under the table things that they do not know. I realised that they did not know what their powers of entry are, so with members of my own private team, including Professor Richard Stone, we assembled a list of the relevant Bills.

Historically, this started in 1975 when we found 60 powers of entry. Each time I introduced a new Bill, the number of powers of entry had doubled and redoubled, until we now find a total of 1,208 powers of entry which have heretofore been identified. They are set out in 295 Acts providing 753 powers of entry, and 286 statutory instruments providing 455. What I had not realised is exactly what those powers of entry are. With the help of the Home Office, we produced a schedule, almost all of which was provided by the department. Having done that, I wanted to place that schedule in the Library of the House. But, of course, there is another problem in that a Member of the House is not allowed to place anything in the Library; only a Minister can do so. I should like to ask the Minister if he will go along with what I have done today. I went to the Library and told the librarians that although I am not allowed to place anything, effectively I have left the schedule on the table. Therefore I would be grateful if, following the debate, the Minister would be willing to place it in the Library.

During our discussions between the private sector team and the Home Office, we suddenly found that we had a lot in common. All anyone wanted to know was what are the powers of entry, who are they available to and how can they be exercised. Some time ago we had said that we must have a code of conduct saying that people must be polite, identify themselves and so on. But in our discussions I found out that what in fact would be needed is a code of practice. I am still not sure of the technical difference between a code of conduct and a code of practice, although it was explained to me. If things are left as they are, with a schedule listing 1,208 powers of entry, every time a new power is introduced it would have to be added to it, so the schedule would have to be constantly amended.

Two examples gave me some concern, partly from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott of Foscote. I refer to two statutory instruments that were about to go through: the cluster munitions regulations and what I think were the hatching of egg regulations. To my amazement I found that a cluster of munitions and a clutch of eggs had attached to them exactly the same powers of entry, although they must be at opposite ends of the spectrum. My thought was that the whole idea of a code of practice is right and proper, and that is what we come to in the first amendment.

When premises are entered, someone may have to be interviewed. Proposed new Clause 1(2) provides that the code of practice to be issued by the Secretary of State will contain guidance on,

“(a) the tape recording of interviews ...

(b) the visual recording of interviews...

(c) the searching of a person not under arrest;

(d) the searching of vehicles without making an arrest;

“(e) the arrest of a person;

(f) the detention, treatment, questioning and identification of a person;

(g) the searching of premises;

(h) the seizure of property found on a person or premises”.

The list includes a whole lot of things that I had not thought about, so I was immediately brought round to the fact that one of the solutions is a code of practice.

I shall not read it all out, but the amendment goes on to cover almost anything that anybody could think of, along with many things I would never have thought of myself. I strongly recommend that we adopt a code of practice, and I shall move quickly on to the second clause.

The second new clause relates to the tape-recording or visual-recording of interviews. The third new clause relates to one of my favourite topics historically: the question of identity. As the noble Lord, Lord West, may remember, some time ago I asked him what his full name was and told him that he did not have a legal name. Here, rather than put in the phrase “identity cards”, we have added a few letters, and the heading of the new clause is now “identification cards”. The new clause requires that anyone who has a power of entry—regardless of whether it is under a court order or a warrant, or is justified—will have to identify himself. The Secretary of State will by regulation establish a scheme for the issuing of identification cards to all authorised persons.

The difficult question here is, who is an authorised person? Before privatisation, almost all powers of entry were related to state enterprises, corporations, government departments and so on, but with privatisation, in many cases, the powers of entry have been passed on to private companies. This is difficult. To take but one issue, subsection (3)(b) requires any logo to be included on the card. But what logo do you put on a card? You cannot put on a government or local authority logo. The only thing to do is to devise a new logo—that is, if anyone has a reasonable idea for a powers of entry logo. I would use my own family crest, “Per Mare Per Terram”—over land and sea. The regulations would specify the size, layout and format of the card so that when someone went to another person’s property and said, “Please let me in. I am authorised to come in”, he would hold up a card with his photograph on it and state who he is. The same problem pertains when we apply for our bus passes: what is it; is it passport size; and what does it say on it?

Equally important, what does it say about the power of entry? Which of the 1,208 powers of entry apply? That is a difficult area but I pass it by. If this kind of process was contained in a code of practice—which I now fully support—it could be included in a kind of White Paper that could be considered when the new Government return. If any legislation were to be introduced, I would prefer it to be of this kind. Anything relating to the freedoms and rights of the individual should start in a Select Committee in your Lordships’ House, where we could review it all and then pass it to the Commons.

I turn to the problem of the schedule and the 1,208 powers of entry. These are not all shown in the schedule to the Bill but they are in the brief that I hope the Minister will place in the Library. It was prepared by the Home Office and is on the Home Office website. It is not perfect, but there are certain areas on which I would like to comment. Everyone has favourite Acts; mine is the Truck Act of, I think, 1871. When I first compiled the schedule I thought—many people will feel the same—that it must be something to do with transport. But, of course, we did not make road vehicles in those days, so I assumed logically that it referred to railway wagons. However, it is not that either. It goes back, effectively, to barter trade in early Norman times—though I think that the first Act was introduced in 1474—when landlords or people with land paid their workers in kind. Often they would cheat them by saying that the rate of exchange should be the retail price rather than ex-works price, and this led to a change into coyne. I researched this and when I found, to my amazement, what triggered it off, I suddenly thought, “I will not take any more truck”. We cannot take any truck from the Government and I do not want to take any more truck on this Bill from the Government.

That Act suddenly disappeared and I wondered where it went to. It was in one of the earlier schedules, but it seems to have passed away. I think that the last one was enacted in 1861 or 1871, and I assumed that it had disappeared or been wiped off the face of the earth. But it has not. It has been subsumed or consumed or consolidated into a wages Act introduced into this House originally by Lord Ackner. A question I shall raise when we take this further is: how many dead Acts are there that might still have some implication, and where are they hidden?

I was a little confused by the word “truck”. Having joined the navy only nine years before the Minister, I knew that a truck was the top of a mast. I had a fear when I was an upper yardman and had to climb one of these masts that I would be the chap at HMS “Raleigh” who had to stand on the top of the truck—a term that many people may not fully understand.

My second favourite Act—I declare an interest here—is the Bees Act. I was a founder member of the Wildflower Honey Company, which set about producing logwood honey of the highest quality—Her Majesty also had a coffee plantation in Jamaica—and we studied the law in relation to honey. Diseases such as VD—varroa disease, which rots the middle of the bee and the fighting bees—are quite dangerous, and bees are an important part of pollination. I was involved under the direction of Lord Shackleton in the Noah’s Ark exercise to ship wildlife to the Falkland Islands.

The fun in the Bees Act is that it gives rights that still possibly apply. If you find a bee taking pollen in your garden or on your land, it is, of course, taking raw material from your land. Again, this is Roman law, as the noble Baroness will recall. If you follow that bee and keep it in sight, you may go onto any other person’s land, without permission or court order, and when you find its nest you may take a share of the honey because the raw material came from you. This probably no longer applies, but it is one of the ingredients in the history of all these powers of entry that may cause concern.

I hope the House will allow the Bill to pass so that it becomes the equivalent of a White Paper that could then be considered by a Select Committee of your Lordships’ House—perhaps a pre-legislative scrutiny committee—which could work out what should be done in the future. I cannot let this matter drop because it has got into my blood. It is a most interesting and topical subject. If the noble Baroness goes back to her Roman law, she will understand that. In Roman law, Romans had rights. However, if you did not feel you had rights you could turn to a magical source or someone who threw the bones to give you that right.

I believe that it is right and proper that the Government should publish and disclose all the powers of entry that are available under prevailing legislation. The information is, of course, available on the current Home Office website. Everyone should have access to information about powers of entry so that when anyone tries to get into their home they will know that that person should have with them the correct authorised approval. That is not much to ask. That is the purpose of the amendment. I beg to move.

My Lords, I support my noble friend, who has done so much work on this matter. There are three great benefits expressed in the new clause. First, the Bill has drawn attention to a much wider circle to powers of entry; that is a good thing. Secondly, it has enabled us to know exactly what powers of entry exist; it is quite frightening how many there are. Thirdly—and most important—it could enable us to exercise a new form of discipline over the use of such powers, which could prevent them being as overbearing as on occasions they are.

It was never on the cards to revoke the vast number of powers of entry which exist in the statute, but when there are powers of entry in future legislation, the presumption should be that they would be exercised only by warrant and that that would be set out in whatever the legislation is.

I hope that we will not have primary legislation or statutory instruments which merely slip in new powers of entry as though they were an everyday thing that one has to have in case they are needed. If the Bill goes through and, as my noble friend said, if it can form the basis of a White Paper at a later date, it will hugely improve the situation to which my noble friend has spent so many years drawing attention.

I express my complete and wholehearted agreement with the noble Lords, Lord Selsdon and Lord Marlesford. The Bill will allow to be enshrined in the law what ought to be regarded as a bright-line principle: that officialdom should not be allowed to enter private premises without either consent or a warrant or court order.

This is a composite group of amendments. I shall start with the proposed code of practice. The noble Lord, Lord Brett, told us at Second Reading that the Government have been working on such a code of practice. What sort of code of practice will it be? As I understand it—I am sure that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, will correct me if I am wrong—there are three kinds of code of practice. One creates an absolute offence for not obeying it. Another is taken into account in a criminal prosecution. The third just lies around and nobody quite knows what happens to it, but I understand that it has no legal force.

The noble Lord, Lord Brett, told us at Second Reading that there are 1,208 powers of entry contained in 295 statutes and 286 statutory instruments. Since 1977, Parliament has passed 79 Acts and 220 statutory instruments containing references to powers of entry. One would assume that most of the officers authorised by these various Acts of Parliament to have powers of entry would already have by virtue of their employment some kind of identification card saying, at the very least, what organisation they belong to. Have my noble friend and the Minister identified any people authorised by the various Acts and statutory instruments who do have not some form of identification showing where they come from?

It is all very well for the known powers of entry to be exhibited on the Home Office website, but it is clear that my noble friend Lord Selsdon wants in his Bill rather more than that: he wants them to be in an Act of Parliament. The amendment, which would leave out the schedule and replace it with a new one, may or may not be up to date—I have not checked every one with the Home Office website, nor do I know whether the Home Office website is up to date. At Second Reading, I asked a similar question: whether the list in my noble friend’s original schedule was complete and up to date. Whether it is or not, there is no way, should the Bill eventually—perhaps in a slightly amended form—get on to the statute book, to alter the schedule. One would have thought that this was an absolute necessity, because I cannot for the life of me imagine that we have seen the end of new powers of entry getting on to the statute book. The schedule will need fairly regular updating.

Although Oppositions regularly call for affirmative instruments to introduce this, that or the other operative part of an Act that has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, it would on this occasion be a mistake to have proposed subsection (8) in the new clause. I would be far happier if, rather than being subject to affirmative instrument, the order was just subject to annulment.

I observe that another statutory instrument creeps into this group of amendments, in subsection (4) of the new clause proposed by Amendment 3, on identification cards. Identification cards, if they are necessary, should most certainly have an affirmative instrument.

My Lords, perhaps I may address a couple of small points before going into the amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, wondered whether I would place the schedule in the Library. That seems huge common sense, but I have learnt from bitter experience that when I do things that are huge common sense I get my legs chopped off. Perhaps I may look at that proposal. I am sure that I shall be able to do what the noble Lord suggests, but I need to confirm that I am not breaking some statute of 1320 or something in doing it. However, it seems to make absolute sense.

The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, raised a couple of points on the code of practice. We are proposing that the code of practice be issued as guidance to enforcement bodies. Compliance with the code will then be a requirement when any new or amending proposed powers of entry are put before Parliament.

We have not worked out exactly what the legal back-up will be.

On identity, all officials exercising a statutory power of entry are required to provide evidence of their authority when entering premises and to confirm their identity. Of course, confirmation of their identity will be much easier when they have ID cards, but I am sure that they will voluntarily wish to obtain them.

In considering the amendments in their totality, it might be helpful if I set out what has been achieved to date, which was touched by the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon. The Prime Minister, in his speech on liberty on 25 October 2007—he may have been in cahoots with the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, or have spoken to him—referred to the importance of understanding what powers existed and how they are exercised. In July 2008, we completed the initial stage of the process, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, in publishing for the first time a list of powers of entry associated with statutory powers, along with details of who could exercise them and of rights and safeguards. I, too, was quite amazed by the number that existed; I had absolutely no idea that there were so many—it has been mentioned that 1,208 are contained in 296 statutes and 286 statutory instruments. It was quite remarkable. The fact that we now have them all laid out is good; I am glad that the Prime Minister talked about it; and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, for his single-minded approach to ensuring that it was done.

It is essential that the power of entry, as with any enforcement power, achieves the right balance between the need to enforce the law and ensure public protection and to provide sufficient safeguards and rights to the individual. As noble Lords are aware, each power of entry is subject to individual parliamentary scrutiny, as I have mentioned. This means that the entry power is considered within the context of the wider primary or secondary legislation, which is an important safeguard. To require that each new entry power is considered within the context of a powers of entry Act as well would diminish that safeguard and cause a degree of bureaucracy.

With regard to the safeguard, each power of entry and any associated enforcement powers should be proportionate to the nature of the breach or issue of public protection. Again, applying a common set of provisions as set out in a powers of entry Act would disapply the proportionality test. Additionally, it would not allow account to be taken of any specific investigative requirements associated with a particular power of entry.

On the question of bureaucracy, any proposed entry power that sought, for effective enforcement purposes, to differ from the provisions from a powers of entry Act would require consideration both under that Act and under the legislation in which it was being introduced. This would not only result in consideration being given twice but would also require the new power to be listed in a separate schedule to this Bill. It would need to be listed separately because the criteria for exercising the power would be different from that contained in the powers of entry Act itself. The approach is a recipe for confusion—an unintended consequence, I am sure, of the draft Bill.

The introduction of the Bill, in this amendment, would mean that existing statute would be subject to amendment without any consideration by Parliament on either the efficacy of the change or benefits that it would bring or the operational impact on individual enforcement agencies. The provision of the Bill means that even the routine power of entry for inspection purposes would require a magistrate’s warrant. The noble Lord has not submitted any evidence to show why this might be necessary nor given any indication of the benefits or costs associated with the approach. Such a broad-brush approach to existing Acts and statutory instruments helps to illustrate the potential significant disadvantages of adopting the Bill.

I turn to the new clause. The Bill is about powers of entry, clearly, and while the purpose of such entry may be to investigate offences or suspected breaches of the law, the proposed amendment would significantly extend the aim of the Bill to deal with the investigation and evidence-gathering process. The amendment is therefore outside the scope of the Bill. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act, PACE, and the accompanying PACE codes of practice provide the core framework of police powers and safeguards around stop and search, arrest, detention, identification and the interviewing of detainees. Section 67(9) of the Act states:

“Persons other than police officers who are charged with the duty of investigating offences or charging offenders shall in the discharge of that duty have regard to any relevant provision of ... a code”.

The provisions of the PACE codes therefore already apply to those agencies that are tasked with the duty to investigate offences. It is a statutory requirement on each enforcement body and their responsibility to ensure that authorised officers exercise their powers in compliance with the relevant requirements of each code.

The method of identification should remain a matter for the individual agency in order to assist the owner or occupier to understand the agency or organisation that the person represents. A single point of issue would diminish an additional important identifier for the public. Instead, we are proposing in the powers of entry code of practice the minimum information and the format that agencies should issue to authorised officers. This will include photograph, name, logo and authorisation to act on behalf of the agency.

We aim to publish a public consultation document later this year that will set out proposals for raising public awareness, increasing accountability and improving the quality of communication, a point touched on by the noble and learned Lord in his comments. This will include a draft code of practice on the powers of entry for enforcement agencies other than the police service and security agencies in the exercise of the powers of entry, inspection, search and seizure.

We aim to require that when any new or amending powers of entry are put before Parliament for consideration, the sponsoring department will be required to comply with the code of practice, as I have said, and will set out the need to consider, first, the justification for the powers, proportionality and impact of their use; the rights of and safeguards for the owner or occupier of the premises, and I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, and other speakers that these ancient rights are crucial to our nation; alternatives to using entry powers; the guidance, training and competency of those to whom powers would be granted; the complaints procedure; reporting and scrutiny mechanisms of the powers; and communications and public access to all the relevant data, something that a number of speakers have covered. As I have indicated, the conduct of the investigation after powers of entry have been exercised is not a matter for such a code but is instead subject to the application of PACE codes where relevant.

I have just had a note from the Box about codes of practice. I shall see if my response was wrong. No, effectively my answer on that was correct, so I am very pleased about that. On the basis of what I have said, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

I really cannot let the Minister get away with the idea that a national ID card is a panacea for all our ills. Not only do we have fundamental objections on this side of the House, as noble Lords well know, but the fact is that an identity card will not have the name of the organisation to which the individual belongs on it, and that is one of the things that my noble friend Lord Selsdon is calling for.

I can only say “Touché”. The noble Lord is absolutely right: the card will not have the name of the organisation on it, and clearly that will have to be done. Of course, we have different views on the identity card. I have one already, and I find it extremely valuable; it means that I do not have to have all sorts of other things to identify who I am, and I find that very useful. I think that youngsters find them useful as well. He is right, though: we would have to find some way of showing the organisation.

My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister, except for the last 20 seconds of his comments.

I do not intend to withdraw the amendment. The Minister said that he has 63 powers of entry, but the noble Lord, Lord Bach, sitting beside him, apparently has 62. Neither of them actually knows at present. The agreement that I wanted was that there would be a period of consultation and the Bill would pass through its remaining stages and then fall in the next week or so, as did the previous Bill that passed through.

As the Minister will be aware, we have a powers of entry consultation website going out at the time when the Bill is due to pass. Powers of entry will generally take place in premises or property, and those properties have one thing in common: they are normally in a local authority area. So we will be in touch with all local authorities to get their support.

I am hoping that the Minister will accept what I have proposed. It would be wrong for the Government of the day to say at this time that they did not have time for 1,201 powers of entry that may be exercised between now and goodness knows when. That would send the wrong message. Perhaps he would agree to reconsider and just sit there quietly, as he can do, and not say anything, bearing in mind that if he says that he will not accept any of these amendments, I will move them. Heaven knows how you do that—I would have to find someone to stand in the Lobby and count—but our website would then say that there was no co-operation from the Government. The Minister promised co-operation, though, and so far we have had it.

To take another matter, the intellectual property of what is in the Bill belongs to the House of Lords, not to anyone else. It is not mine; I have checked on this. If all this work has been done with the help of the Home Office, the information is there and we now wish to go through a consultation period, why can we not go through it together?

At the moment the website has only 187 pages on it, and it will probably go up to 230. Part of it will give the history of Roman law and things like that, while other parts will say, “If you want to be bored out of your tiny mind, read the next 100 pages”, and then schedule every single Question.

I shall help the Minister even more. The previous time when I asked a Question, he was the one who replied that no Ministers have powers of entry. On Monday I will table another six Questions every day on this subject to ask the Secretary of State what powers of entry he has. The Whips Office provided me with the relevant Ministers’ names, but even the government Whips Office can make mistakes. Often in such lists there is a little typographical mistake, and in this one Douglas Alexander became Douglas Alexandra. I did not type it; I scanned it in.

I will send a letter to each Minister, saying “Dear Minister, I have tabled this Question. Attached is the Answer. Could you now please place, in response to these Questions for Written Answer over the last few years, the schedule to the Bill, which has been prepared, principally, by the Home Office?”. I think that would be correct. It would not be a good idea, in view of the record in Hansard, to produce a list of all the most unsatisfactory Questions asked in this House over the past three years, which all relate to powers of entry.

I wonder if the Minister might remain seated so that we can pass these amendments. The Bill would then go to the next stage, and then it would fall. I promise not to bring it up again in the same form if the Government co-operate. I think I am the only Member of your Lordships’ House who has never had the opportunity to vote. Could the Minister comment on this rather nice, extravagant gesture that I am making?

I have not taken part in the debate on these amendments, but I urge the Minister to accept the amendment for a reason completely unrelated to the Bill. Many noble Lords—I would be one—would not know how to vote and might not vote. We would not want to see the House counted out; there is some very important business to follow.

I am rather shocked by what has been said. I thought it had been made perfectly clear that the Bill was a means of securing discussion on the whole issue and making progress towards a new regime. It was never expected or intended that the Bill, which is clearly imperfect in its present form, would reach the statute book. I understood that the co-operation that the Home Office had given to my noble friend was such that there would not be the old fashioned, constipated, “not invented here” Home Office reaction of, “Let’s chuck the whole thing out. What do they mean by daring to raise these matters? These are our affairs”. It is awful that, having had such amicable conduct over the Bill so far, there are certain things that the Minister read out—I am sure he did not write them—which reflected that old fashioned Home Office view. It would be very unconstructive if my noble friend were to press his amendment to a vote. The suggestion of the noble Baroness on the Liberal Democrat Front Bench is probably the right answer; a vote would ensure that the House was counted out. I hope the Minister will reconsider, as the noble Baroness has asked.

My Lords, it might assist the Committee if I made the procedural situation clear. If it were to appear in a Division that fewer than 30 noble Lords had voted, in accordance with Standing Order 58 I would have to say that the House then resumed. The House would then proceed to the next business on the Order Paper; we would not lose subsequent business, but proceedings on the current business would be terminated.

My Lords, irrespective of that, may I presume to give a little advice to my noble friend? After all, he has been a Member of this House even longer than I have. It is an extremely difficult matter, even if you do not want to, to get each stage of a Private Member’s Bill through your Lordships’ House and/or another place. Issuing threats of the sort that my noble friend has just issued is not helpful to his cause.

They are not threats. I have never issued a threat in my life. It is what we had agreed in discussion. There would be a period of consultation and the information would be sent out. Everyone has had that information. The only solution is for me to say that we vote on the amendments or I withdraw them. It is difficult when you have undertaken that the amendments would be put down. Many have been drafted from information provided by the Government. The Schedule is the Government’s Schedule. It is wrong to leave a Bill with the wrong schedule of powers of entry. The other question is about removing the requirements that are tabled for codes of practice and leaving that for a later date. I was always perfectly happy that it would be correct for a code of practice to be introduced at the right time, stating that there was no need for a schedule, and every existing and future piece of legislation would be bound by an acceptable code of practice.

I ask the Minister, who has more experience than me although he has not been here that long, what he would like me to do. It is a very difficult scene. I do not want to go away and say that I have wasted all this time and effort. I am asking the questions. I say to my noble friend on the Front Bench that there is no threat. I am stating what I thought had been agreed between private and public sector.

I make a short point on the code of practice, to which I heard my noble friend refer. Without knowing the legal efficacy of it and without having discussed it, at this stage one cannot rely on anything about it. It can be effective in a civil manner on a negligence action, for example, but it is very rare that it can be used in a criminal context. One has to decide whether it gets into either groove. Many are merely exhortations, without legal efficacy. If you are going to consider this seriously, look at the speech that Lord Denning made in this House 30 years ago, which I introduced. Most of the relevant considerations are in that speech.

My Lords, as I have already indicated, we intend to publish a public consultation document, which will include the draft code of practice that has been talked about, covering the powers of entry for enforcement agencies other than the police and security agencies. We welcome the noble Lord’s kind offer of further engagement. Indeed, there has been very good engagement. How he proceeds from here is a matter for him. It is his Bill. I would not deem to guide him on that any further than I have with what I have said already. As regards possible threats, I did not take his words as a threat. I look forward to my eight letters a day for my remaining time in government.

I am most grateful to the Minister. Maybe the solution is this. I did not necessarily want to move all those amendments; I just wanted to change the schedule. Suppose I say that I will not press Amendments 1, 2 and 3, but we just amend the schedule. The Bill will then go through and become the same as the last two Bills—a record of the latest legislation—and the consultation period will go on.

I am also concerned that there will, I believe, be an election soon. Have the undertakings given by Governments in the past in relation to this issue been honoured within that period? Many Governments will say that they have better things to do. If the noble Lord was agreeable, I would not press Amendments 1, 2 and 3 and would just amend the schedule. Then, all we have is an updated schedule. There is no further debate and the code of practice is left to officials to determine in their own way. I have no wish to steal the emperor’s—or the admiral’s—clothes.

The officials must not deal with legal efficacy as they feel it should be. That is a matter for your Lordships.

If I have no advice and no response, I must jump off a bridge and say that I would be willing, in view of the lack of a positive response from the Government, to withdraw Amendments 1, 2 and 3, but not the amendment to the schedule. That would mean I was dishonest.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Amendments 2 and 3 not moved.

Clauses 9 to 12 agreed.

Schedule : Acts and secondary legislation containing powers

Amendment 4

Moved by

4: The Schedule , leave out the Schedule and insert—

“SCHEDULE Section 3Acts and secondary legislation containing powersPART 1Primary legislationAdoption and Children Act 2002Agricultural Marketing Act 1958Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act 1928Agriculture Act 1947Agriculture Act 1967Agriculture Act 1970Agriculture and Horticulture Act 1964Air Force Act 1955Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963Animal Health Act 1981Animal Welfare Act 2006Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001Arbitration Act 1996Armed Forces Act 2001Army Act 1955Atomic Energy Act 1946Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990Aviation Security Act 1982Bees Act 1980Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981Biological Weapons Act 1974Breeding of Dogs Act 1973Breeding of Dogs Act 1991British Fishing Boats Act 1983British Railways Act 1993Broadcasting Act 1990Broadcasting Act 1996Building Act 1984 Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960Care Standards Act 2000Channel Tunnel Act 1987Charities Act 1993Chemical Weapons Act 1996Child Support Act 1991Childcare Act 2006Children (Scotland) Act 1995Children Act 1989Children Act 2004Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955Children and Young Persons Act 1933City of London (Various Powers) Act 1950City of London (Various Powers) Act 1961City of London (Various Powers) Act 1965City of London (Various Powers) Act 1977Civil Aviation Act 1982Civil Procedure Act 1997Clean Air Act 1993Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005Coal Industry Act 1994Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991Coast Protection Act 1949Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Act 2006Common Law Procedure Act 1852Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002Communications Act 2003Companies Act 1985Compensation Act 2006Competition Act 1998Compulsory Purchase Act 1965Computer Misuse Act 1990Conservation of Seals Act 1970Consumer Credit Act 1974Consumer Protection Act 1987Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989Control of Pollution Act 1974Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988Countryside Act 1968Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003Criminal Damage Act 1971Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1987Criminal Justice Act 1987Criminal Justice Act 1988Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994Criminal Libel Act 1819Customs and Excise Management Act 1979Dangerous Dogs Act 1991Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976Data Protection Act 1998Development of Tourism Act 1969Diseases of Fish Act 1937Distress for Rent Act 1737Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953Drug Trafficking Act 1994 Education Act 1997Education and Inspections Act 2006Education Reform Act 1988Electricity Act 1989Employment Agencies Act 1973Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976Energy Act 1976Enterprise Act 2002Environment Act 1995Environmental Protection Act 1990Estate Agents Act 1979Explosives Act 1875Extradition Act 2003Fair Trading Act 1973Family Law Act 1986Finance Act 1994Finance Act 1996Finance Act 2000Finance Act 2001Finance Act 2003Financial Services and Markets Act 2000Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988Firearms Act 1968Fisheries Act 1981Food and Environment Protection Act 1985Food Safety Act 1990Food Standards Act 1999Football Spectators Act 1989Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981Freedom of Information Act 2000Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000Gambling Act 2005Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004Gas Act 1965Gas Act 1986Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995Government of Wales Act 1998Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1968Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1981Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1984Gun Barrel Proof Act 1868Harbour, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847Health Act 2006Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003Highways Act 1980Hill Farming Act 1946Housing Act 1985Housing Act 1996Housing Act 2004Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990Human Tissue Act 2004Hypnotism Act 1952Immigration Act 1971Immigration and Asylum Act 1999Incitement to Disaffection Act 1934 Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981Inheritance Tax Act 1984International Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs Act 1976International Criminal Court Act 2001International Road Haulage Permits Act 1975Knives Act 1997Land Drainage Act 1991Land Powers (Defence) Act 1958Landlord and Tenant Act 1927Landlord and Tenant Act 1985Landmines Act 1998Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993Licensing Act 2003Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982Local Government and Housing Act 1989Local Government Finance Act 1988Local Government Finance Act 1992Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980London Building Act 1930London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939London County Council (General Powers) Act 1912London County Council (General Powers) Act 1920London County Council (General Powers) Act 1948London County Council (General Powers) Act 1949London County Council (General Powers) Act 1956London County Council (General Powers) Act 1957London County Council (General Powers) Act 1959London County Council (General Powers) Act 1963London Local Authorities Act 1991London Local Authorities Act 1995London Local Authorities Act 1996London Local Authorities Act 2004London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980Medicines Act 1968Mental Health Act 1983Merchant Shipping Act 1995Metropolis Management (Thames River Prevention of Floods) Amendment Act 1879Metropolis Water Act 1852Metropolitan Police Act 1839Metropolitan Water Board Act 1927Milk (Cessation of Production) Act 1985Mineral Workings Act 1985Misuse of Drugs Act 1971National Assistance Act 1948National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006National Health Service Act 2006National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002National Heritage Act 1983National Minimum Wage Act 1998National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006Noise Act 1996Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition and Inspections) Act 1998Nuclear Safeguards Act 2000Nuclear Safeguards and Electricity (Finance) Act 1978Obscene Publications Act 1959Offences against the Person Act 1861Official Secrets Act 1911Olympic Symbol etc (Protection) Act 1995Ordnance Survey Act 1841Party Wall etc Act 1996Pensions Act 2004Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925Pests Act 1954Pet Animals Act 1951Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990Plant Health Act 1967Plant Varieties and Seeds Act 1964Poisons Act 1972Police Act 1997Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984Police Reform Act 2002Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000Port of London Act 1968Postal Services Act 2000Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005Prices Act 1974Private Security Industry Act 2001Proceeds of Crime Act 2002Property Misdescriptions Act 1991Protection of Badgers Act 1992Protection of Children Act 1978Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984Public Health Act 1875Public Health Act 1936Public Order Act 1936Public Order Act 1986Public Stores Act 1875Radioactive Material (Road Transport) Act 1991Railways Act 1993Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978Regional Development Agencies Act 1998Reservoirs Act 1975Riding Establishments Act 1964Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954Road Traffic Act 1988Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975Salmon Act 1986Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967Sea Fisheries Regulation Act 1966Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005Sexual Offences Act 2003Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995Slaughter of Poultry Act 1967Slaughterhouses Act 1974Social Security Administration Act 1992Solicitors Act 1974Stamp Act 1891Sunday Trading Act 1994Taxes Management Act 1970Telecommunications Act 1984Terrorism Act 2000Terrorism Act 2006Theatres Act 1968Theft Act 1968Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002Town and Country Planning Act 1990Trade Descriptions Act 1968Trade Marks Act 1994Trading with the Enemy Act 1939Transport Act 1968Transport Act 2000Transport and Works Act 1992Tribunal, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007Value Added Tax Act 1994Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001Video Recordings Act 1984Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003Water Industry Act 1991Water Resources Act 1991Weeds Act 1959Weights and Measures Act 1985Welsh Development Agency Act 1975Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006Zoo Licensing Act 1981Part 2Secondary legislationAdult Placement Schemes (Wales) Regulations 2004Advanced Television Services Regulations 2003Aerosol Dispensers (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1977African Swine Fever (Wales) Order 2003Agricultural Land Tribunals (Rules) Order 2007Agricultural or Forestry Tractors (Emission of Gaseous and Particulate Pollutants) Regulations 2002Agricultural, Fishery and Aquaculture Products (Improvement Grant) Regulations 1991Agriculture and Horticulture Development Regulations 1980Agriculture Improvement Regulations 1985Alcoholometers and Alcohol Hydrometers (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1977Alconbury Airfield (Rail Facilities and Connection to East Coast Main Line) Order 2003 Animal By-Products (Wales) Regulations 2006Animal By-Products Regulations 2005Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions) (England and Wales) Order 2006Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits) Regulations 1997Animals and Animal Products (Import and Export) (England) Regulations 2006Animals and Animal Products (Import and Export) (Wales) Regulations 2006Apple and Pear Orchard Grubbing Up Regulations 1998Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (England) Order 2006Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (Wales) Order 2006Avian Influenza (Vaccination) (England) Regulations 2006Avian Influenza (Vaccination) (Wales) (No 2) Regulations 2006Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals (England) (No 2) Order 2006Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals (Wales) (No 2) Order 2006Beef (Marketing Payment) (No 2) Regulations 1996Beef (Marketing Payment) Regulations 1996Beef Carcase (Classification) (England) Regulations 2004Beef Labelling (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2000Beef Special Premium Regulations 2001Biocidal Products Regulations 2001Biofuel (Labelling) Regulations 2004Biofuels and Other Fuel Substitutes (Payment of Excise Duties etc.) Regulations 2004Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005Bluetongue (Wales) Regulations 2008Bluetongue Regulations 2008Bovine Hides Regulations 1997Bovine Semen (England) Regulations 2007British Wool Marketing Scheme (Approval) Order 1950Brucellosis (Wales) Order 2006Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008Calibration of Tanks and Vessels (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1975Care Standards Act 2000 (Commencement No. 7 (England) and Transitional, Transitory and Savings Provisions) Order 2001Carriage of Goods (Prohibition of Discrimination) Regulations 1977Cattle Identification (Wales) Regulations 2007Cattle Identification Regulations 2007Cattle Plague Order 1928Cereals Co-responsibility Levy Regulations 1988Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994Child Support (Information, Evidence and Disclosure) Regulations 1992Civil Aviation (Working Time) Regulations 2004Civil Procedure Rules 1998Clinical Thermometers (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1993Common Agricultural Policy (Protection of Community Arrangements) Regulations 1992 Common Agricultural Policy (Wine) (England and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001Common Agricultural Policy Single Payment and Support Schemes (Integrated Administration and Control Systems) Regulations 2005Community Health Councils Regulations 2004Compensation (Claims Management Services) Regulations 2006Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994Construction Products Regulations 1991Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997Controlled Drugs (Drug Precursors) (Community External Trade) Regulations 2008Controls on Dangerous Substances and Preparations Regulations 2006Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 Enforcement of Overseas Forfeiture Orders) Order 2005Cross-border Railway Services (Working Time) Regulations 2008Dairy Herd Conversion Premium Regulations 1973Dairy Produce Quotas (General Provisions) Regulations 2002Detergents Regulations 2005Diseases of Fish (Control) Regulations 1994Diseases of Poultry (England) Order 2003Diseases of Poultry (Wales) Order 2003Distribution of German Enemy Property (No 1) Order 1950Domiciliary Care Agencies (Wales) Regulations 2004Dutch Elm Disease (Local Authorities) Order 1984Dutch Potatoes (Notification) (England) Order 2005Early Years Foundation Stage (Learning and Development Requirements) Order 2007EC Fertilisers (England and Wales) Regulations 2006Ecodesign for Energy-Using Products Regulations 2007Education (National Curriculum) (Key Stage 1 Assessment Arrangements) (England) Order 2004Education (National Curriculum) (Key Stage 2 Assessment Arrangements) (England) Order 2003Education (National Curriculum) (Key Stage 3 Assessment Arrangements) (England) Order 2003Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2006End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) Regulations 2005Energy Information (Combined Washer-driers) Regulations 1997Energy Information (Dishwashers) Regulations 1999Energy Information (Household Air Conditioners) (No. 2) Regulations 2005Energy Information (Household Electric Ovens) Regulations 2003Energy Information (Household Refrigerators and Freezers) Regulations 2004Energy Information (Lamps) Regulations 1999Energy Information (Tumble Driers) Regulations 1996Energy Information (Washing Machines) Regulations 1996 Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2006Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (Wales) Regulations 2007Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 2003Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (Wales) Regulations 2002Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (England) Order 2000Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (Wales) Order 2006Export of Radioactive Sources (Control) Order 2006Export Restrictions (Foot-and-Mouth Disease) Regulations 2007Farm and Conservation Grant Regulations 1989Farm and Conservation Grant Regulations 1991Farm and Horticulture Development Regulations 1981Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (Wales) Regulations 2005Feeding Stuffs (Establishments and Intermediaries) Regulations 1999Fish Health Regulations 1997Fisheries and Aquaculture Structures (Grants) (England) Regulations 2001Fisheries and Aquaculture Structures (Grants) (Wales) Regulations 2002Fisheries and Aquaculture Structures (Grants) Regulations 1995Fishing Boats (Satellite-Tracking Devices) (England) Scheme 2004Fishing Boats (Satellite-Tracking Devices) (Wales) Scheme 2006Fishing Vessels (Decommissioning) Scheme 1997Fishing Vessels (Decommissioning) Scheme 2003Fishing Vessels (Safety Improvements) (Grants) Scheme 1995Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2008Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006Forest Reproductive Material (Great Britain) Regulations 2002Gambling Act 2005 (Inspection) (Provision of Information) Regulations 2007Gas (Calculation of Thermal Energy) Regulations 1996Gas (Road Fuel) Regulations 1972Gas Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1995Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996Gas Safety (Rights of Entry) Regulations 1996General Product Safety Regulations 2005Genetically Modified Organisms (Traceability and Labelling) (England) Regulations 2004Genetically Modified Organisms (Traceability and Labelling) (Wales) Regulations 2005Genetically Modified Organisms (Transboundary Movements) (England) Regulations 2004Good Laboratory Practice Regulations 1999Grants for Fishing and Aquaculture Industries Regulations 2007 Health and Safety Inquiries (Procedure) Regulations 1975Hedgerows Regulations 1997Hemp (Third Country Imports) Regulations 2002Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances) (Enforcement) Regulations 1999Hops Certification Regulations 1979Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2004Horse Passports (Wales) Regulations 2005Hovercraft (General) Order 1972Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007Hydrocarbon Oil Regulations 1973Importation of Animal Pathogens Order 1980Importation of Animal Products and Poultry Products Order 1980Importation of Animals Order 1977Importation of Birds, Poultry and Hatching Eggs Order 1979Importation of Embryos, Ova and Semen Order 1980Importation of Hay and Straw Order 1979Importation of Processed Animal Protein Order 1981Imported Livestock Order 1958Incidental Catches of Cetaceans in Fisheries (England) Order 2005Information Tribunal (Enforcement Appeals) Rules 2005Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (England) Regulations 2004Landfill Allowances Scheme (Wales) Regulations 2004Lands Tribunal Rules 1996Local Involvement Networks (Duty of Services-Providers to Allow Entry) Regulations 2008Local Involvement Networks Regulations 2008Marketing of Fruit Plant Material Regulations 1995Marketing of Ornamental Plant Propagating Material Regulations 1999Marketing of Vegetable Plant Material Regulations 1995Measuring Container Bottles (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1977Measuring Instruments (Active Electrical Energy Meters) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Automatic Catchweighers) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Automatic Discontinuous Totalisers) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Automatic Gravimetric Filling Instruments) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Automatic Rail-weighbridges) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Beltweighers) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Capacity Serving Measures) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Cold-water Meters) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1988Measuring Instruments (Exhaust Gas Analysers) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Gas Meters) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Liquid Fuel and Lubricants) Regulations 2006 Measuring Instruments (Liquid Fuel delivered from Road Tankers) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Material Measures of Length) Regulations 2006Measuring Instruments (Taximeters) Regulations 2006Merchant Shipping (Counting and Registration of Persons on Board Passenger Ships) Regulations 1999Money Laundering Regulations 2007Motor Vehicles (Tests) Regulations 1981National Assistance (Powers of Inspection) Regulations 1948National Health Service (General Dental Services Contracts) (Wales) Regulations 2006National Health Service (General Dental Services Contracts) Regulations 2005National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Wales) Regulations 2004National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2004National Health Service (Personal Dental Services Agreements) (Wales) Regulations 2006National Health Service (Personal Dental Services Agreements) Regulations 2005National Health Service (Personal Medical Services Agreements) Regulations 2004National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 1992National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2005Network Rail (West Coast Main Line) Order 2004Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations 2001Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals (England) Regulations 2004Non-automatic Weighing Instruments Regulations 2000Non-Marketing of Milk and Milk Products and the Dairy Herd Conversion Premiums Regulations 1977Notification of Existing Substances (Enforcement) Regulations 1994Nursing and Midwifery Council (Midwives) Rules Order of Council 2004Official Controls (Animals, Feed and Food) (England) Regulations 2006Official Controls (Animals, Feed and Food) (Wales) Regulations 2007Official Feed and Food Controls (England) Regulations 2007Official Feed and Food Controls (Wales) Regulations 2007Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 2007Oilseeds Producers (Support System) Regulations 1992Older Cattle (Disposal) (England) Regulations 2005Older Cattle (Disposal) (Wales) Regulations 2006Olive Oil (Marketing Standards) Regulations 2003Organic Products Regulations 2004Ozone Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2006Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992Passenger Car (Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions Information) Regulations 2001Patients’ Forums (Functions) Regulations 2003Pig Carcase (Grading) Regulations 1994 Plant Health (England) Order 2005Plant Health (Forestry) (Phytophthora ramorum) (Great Britain) Order 2004Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005Plant Health (Phytophthora kernovii Management Zone) (England) Order 2004Plant Health (Phytophthora ramorum) (England) Order 2004Plant Health (Phytophthora ramorum) (Wales) Order 2006Plant Health (Wales) Order 2006Plant Health (Wood Packaging Material Marking) (Forestry) Order 2006Pleuro-Pneumonia Order 1928Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Registration) Regulations 2006Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Application to Revenue & Customs) Order 2007Potatoes (Protection of Guarantees) Order 1984Potatoes Originating in the Netherlands (Notification) (Wales) Order 2005Poultry Meat (Water Content) Regulations 1984Private and Voluntary Health Care (England) Regulations 2001Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (External Requests and Orders) Order 2005Products of Animal Origin (Disease Control) (England) Regulations 2008Products of Animal Origin (Disease Control) (Wales) Regulations 2008Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations 1996Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations 2006Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (Wales) Regulations 2007Rabies (Control) Order 1974Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000Registration of Establishments (Laying Hens) (England) Regulations 2003Registration of Establishments (Laying Hens) (Wales) Regulations 2004Registration of Fish Buyers and Sellers and Designation of Fish Auction Sites Regulations 2005Registration of Fish Buyers and Sellers and Designation of Fish Auction Sites (Wales) Regulations 2006Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2008Return of Cultural Objects Regulations 1994Road Transport (International Passenger Services) Regulations 1984Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986Rural Development (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2007Rural Development Grants (Agriculture and Forestry) Regulations 2000Salmonella in Broiler Flocks (Survey Powers) (Wales) Regulations 2006Salmonella in Laying Flocks (Survey Powers) (Wales) Regulations 2005 Salmonella in Turkey Flocks and Slaughter Pigs (Survey Powers) (England) Regulations 2006Scotland Act 1998 (River Tweed) Order 2006Sea Fish (Marketing Standards) Regulations 1986Sea Fishing (Days in Port) Regulations 1992Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Annual Community and Third Country Fishing Measures) (England) Order 2006Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Conservation Measures) (Wales) Order 2000Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Conservation Measures) Order 2000Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Control Measures) (Wales) Order 2000Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Control Measures) Order 2000 (2)Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Quota and Third Country Fishing Measures) (Wales) Order 2000Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Measures for the Recovery of the Stock of Cod) (Irish Sea) (Wales) Order 2000Sea Fishing (Northern Hake Stock) (Wales) Order 2006Sea Fishing (Prohibition on the Removal of Shark Fins) Order 2007Sea Fishing (Restriction on Days at Sea) (No. 2) Order 2003Sea Fishing (Restriction on Days at Sea) Order 2005Sea Fishing (Restriction on Days at Sea) Order 2007Secure Training Centre Rules 1998Sheep Annual Premium and Suckler Cow Premium Quotas (Re-assessment of Eligibility) Regulations 1996Sheep Annual Premium Regulations 1992Sheep Variable Premium (Protection of Payments) (No. 2) Order 1980Statistics of Trade (Customs and Excise) Regulations 1992Submarine Pipe-lines (Inspectors etc) Regulations 1977Suckler Cow Premium Regulations 1991Surplus Food Regulations 1995Taximeters (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1979Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003Transfer of Funds (Information to the Payer) Regulations 2007Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2008Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (Wales) Regulations 2006Veal (Marketing Payment) Regulations 1997Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2007Volatile Organic Compounds in Paints, Varnishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products Regulations 2005Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006Watermark Disease (Local Authorities) Order 1974Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995Working Time Regulations 1998Zoonoses (Monitoring) (England) Regulations 2007Zoonoses (Monitoring) (Wales) Regulations 2007”

Amendment 4 agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported with an amendment.

Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Bill [HL]


Clause 1 : Pleural plaques

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, at end insert “only where the person first discovered the presence of the pleural plaques before 17th October 2007”

My Lords, in moving Amendment 1, I wish to speak also to Amendments 2, 3 and 4, and to Clause 1 stand part.

Before I address the amendments, I wish to say a word or two about why I have put down a relatively large number of amendments to this relatively brief Private Member’s Bill. I asked five very specific questions at Second Reading, to which I had hoped to receive answers. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, who responded on that occasion, said:

“The noble Lord, Lord Henley, asked five questions, to which I do not have answers, other than that the Scottish judgment is, as he said, currently being appealed and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it. The essential point about the speed at which the asbestos-related claims I have alluded to are considered, and his other questions, will be answered when we complete the process of consultation and publish the results. We hope that will happen shortly”.—[Official Report, 5/02/10; col. 461.]

I have not yet received a letter from the noble Lord answering my questions. It is now something of the order of a month since Second Reading. However, we have since had a partial response from the Government in the form of the announcement made by the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor a week ago about their response to the Bill and to the consultation. However, that seems to me only a partial response. I imagine that we will get a fuller response in due course. We might get some of that response this afternoon because one of the reasons I have tabled these amendments is to find out exactly what the Government’s intentions are. I would still appreciate a letter responding to my five questions, but no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, is working on that as we speak.

Amendment 1 states,

“only where the person first discovered the presence of the pleural plaques before 17th October 2007”.

I believe that that was the date of the House of Lords judgment that this Bill has inspired. The amendment is simply intended to raise queries about which cases should be in scope for either a scheme or for legislation of the sort that is before us.

Amendment 2 would insert,

“only where the presence of the pleural plaques was discovered in an examination by a registered medical practitioner”.

It is intended to highlight the problem that most people find out they have plaques only via claims farmers scouring the traditional heavy industry areas and/or advertising to push people to have X-rays, or, more often, CT scans, to detect the plaques.

The Minister will remember—at least, I hope he does—that in December 2007 the 12th report of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment was issued. That report was designed to look at the impact of personally initiated, X-ray computed tomography scanning for the health assessment of asymptomatic individuals. It made clear that CT scans for non-therapeutic reasons are not advisable. The report stated, at paragraph 1.10:

“The level of radiation received by the individual is an additional concern, particularly with whole body CT scanning. For an asymptomatic individual the potential risk may outweigh the benefits. The dose received by an individual can vary substantially depending on the type of scan employed and the machine and protocol used”.

Claims should be permitted only if they have come through medical referral rather than through marketing by lawyers or intermediaries.

Amendment 3 is a probing amendment. It states,

“only where the person suffers physical symptoms directly attributable to the presence of the pleural plaques”.

This probing amendment is targeted at the medical reasons why the Government are still saying that some people with no symptoms should get compensation. As we have noted, the instance of pleural plaque cases with symptoms is very low, and such cases will still be entitled to compensation.

Amendment 4 would insert,

“only where the person has sustained a recognised psychiatric condition directly attributable to the discovery of the presence of pleural plaques”.

The noble Lord will remember that the Grieves case was also dismissed by the Lords as part of the test cases. In this case there was genuine psychiatric illness, whereas most of those with pleural plaques are simply anxious about having any recognised medical condition. Should this be the basis for compensation?

Those are the specific issues which the Minister may wish to address in the general debate that I am also proposing on Clause 1 stand part. Taking out this clause would remove from the Bill the provision which would overturn the judgment of the House of Lords in those test cases in October 2007. The Government announced very quickly after that decision—as early as 31 October 2007—that they did not consider that the judgment should be overturned. However, that was a long time ago on any view, and well before the run-up to a general election.

The Government’s long-awaited announcement last week that they still see no basis for overturning the judgment is welcome. The Secretary of State’s Written Statement helpfully summarised the position on the medical evidence, which is the key to understanding the House of Lords judgment and why it should not be overturned. Although the presence of pleural plaques is an indicator that a person has been exposed to asbestos, most people who were exposed more than minimally are well aware of that exposure anyway. More importantly, the Government confirmed that,

“in the great majority of cases pleural plaques do not in themselves produce any significant physiological change or loss of lung function, and only very rarely give rise to physical symptoms. In such rare cases it is still possible for individuals to bring a civil claim for damages”.

The Government also confirmed that there was,

“no available medical evidence to show that pleural plaques become malignant or lead to mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Current evidence indicates that it is a person's exposure to asbestos that produces any increased risk of developing a serious asbestos-related disease rather than the pleural plaques themselves”.

That must come as a great relief to many people.

Thus far, I agree with the Government’s position. However, the proposal that there should be an extra-statutory scheme to compensate those individuals,

“who had already begun, but not resolved, a legal claim for compensation for pleural plaques at the time of the Law Lords' ruling in October 2007”,

is more difficult to understand. I confess to having reservations about this. The Written Statement attempts to justify this move on the basis that:

“Such people would have had an understandable expectation that their claim would result in compensation and many had made plans accordingly”.—[Official Report, 25/2/10; col. WS 141-44.]

Is the Minister saying that these people must have already, as it were, spent their compensation and in some way were out of pocket?

This whole “understandable expectation” line smacks of a compensation culture and threatens to set a curious and potentially dangerous precedent. The Court of Appeal and the House of Lords were rightly concerned about the wider effects on society of permitting claims for a condition that results in no symptoms and no risk of future illness. I should be interested to hear from the Minister how he believes the Government’s latest stance on pleural plaques will not in some way open the floodgates for them to compensate for other conditions that are symptomless. If the medical evidence supports the House of Lords decision on the law, why are the Government so keen for payments to be made?

The proposal for a limited no-fault compensation scheme is not entirely new. This was outlined in the Government’s consultation paper in July 2008. As there has never been a properly published government response, other than the Statement of last week, we do not know exactly what the anticipated impact of this proposal would be. Again, I would welcome the Minister’s comments on various specific points made in the consultation paper.

At paragraph 45 of the consultation paper, the Ministry said:

“There is no definitive information on either the total number of people with confirmed diagnoses of pleural plaques. … Estimates regarding the potential numbers of people who would be eligible for financial support are therefore highly uncertain, as they depend on a number of assumptions that cannot be verified … This uncertainty … translates into a wide range for the potential costs of each of the options of financial support set out in the accompanying Initial Impact Assessment, as on the basis of current information it is not possible to provide narrower ranges”.

I very much hope the Minister will reassure the Committee that much better information is now available as to the potential impact.

At paragraph 54 of the consultation paper, the department summarised the potential cost of the limited scheme option as between £52 million and £196 million, excluding set-up costs. The paper states:

“Estimates of the number of people who have been diagnosed with pleural plaques before the House of Lords decision are subject to a high degree of uncertainty”.

The range is obviously very wide, and the Ministry of Justice actually committed to do better. Paragraph 54 also states:

“During the course of this consultation the Government will undertake further analysis in relation to the number of people diagnosed before the Law Lords’ decision, better to inform the evidence base”.

I hope that the Minister can enlighten us on how far they got.

I also repeat the question that I asked at Second Reading about the range of costs, not just to the Government but to the entire industry, estimates of which are between £4 billion and £28 billion. I think that those figures came from the consultation paper. Can the Government confirm that? What are their estimates now compared with the previous wide range of estimates?

At paragraph 48 of the initial impact assessment, the Ministry gave some indication of the number of claims that formed the basis of the estimate of between £52 million and £196 million. It stated that there would be between 11,000 and 41,200 potential applicants under a limited scheme. Neither of those figures seems to be particularly scientific; again, the range is very wide and it is obvious from the impact assessment that a number of assumptions were made which could be significantly out. Can the Minister update us on the estimated claim numbers?

A range of between £52 million and £196 million represents quite a lot of taxpayers’ money for the Government to commit themselves to, even on those limited assumptions. The Minister has a duty to inform the House about which department’s budget will be used to meet both the direct costs of the scheme and the set-up and administration costs. If the money is to come from his department, which front-line services will have to be cut in order to make ends meet?

This would not be the first time that this Government have committed themselves to an extra-statutory scheme for compensating people who are not necessarily suffering. In 1999, the then Department of Trade and Industry put together what are collectively known as the coal health compensation schemes. There has been much talk in this House and another place about the fallout from those schemes, both in terms of the massive underestimating of the potential claim numbers and overall costs, and the massive amounts of money received by certain claimant lawyers under the scheme. The Minister may remember that.

Because of the fallout from those schemes, the National Audit Office published a report in July 2007 into the workings of the schemes, and it made a number of observations on lessons for the future. It highlighted a long list of issues to be taken into account whenever a department was asked to take forward a similar compensation scheme in the future. Having regard to that list, will the Minister outline what action his department has taken on those eight key points? They were: first, to monitor and manage the risks; secondly, to establish a project board; thirdly, to conduct a full options appraisal; fourthly, to put resources in place sufficiently early; fifthly, to put a strategy in place for managing the expectations of claimants and stakeholders; sixthly, to obtain actuarial advice; seventhly, to review the quality of evidence likely to be available to support individual claims; and, eighthly, to create an implementation strategy. Those are just some of the recommendations.

We all remember how badly burnt the Department of Trade and Industry was on the coal schemes. The Ministry of Justice must make sure that it, or whichever department has to pay for this scheme, is not burnt too.

That is a reasonable number of questions to put to the Minister on this first clause. I hope that he will in due course address them and shed some light on the Government’s announcement last week. I beg to move.

My Lords, I very much welcome the fact that we are dealing with this Bill in Committee today. I also welcome the spirit in which the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has put forward his amendments, which he has told us are probing amendments. In his remarks, he asked the Government a number of valid questions, to which I hope responses will be made. Some of the noble Lord’s questions related to the Written Ministerial Statement on this matter that the Government issued on 25 February.

I say from the outset that I welcome the announcement that the Government made last week about helping those people who had made claims but whose claims were then stopped because of the Law Lords’ judgment in 2007. The level of payments that the Government outlined in that Statement are reasonable; they are in the middle of the range previously awarded under the old scheme, before the Law Lords overturned it in 2007. Secondly, I very much welcome the fact that in the Government’s Statement there are measures to speed up the payment of compensation claims for mesothelioma and other serious asbestos-related diseases. That is obviously very important. Thirdly, I very much welcome the fact that part of the Government’s Statement refers to expanding the research into asbestos-related diseases and asbestos cancers. Therefore, much is to be welcomed in the Statement.

We last debated this Bill on 5 February, when we had the Second Reading. On that day, an identical Bill, presented by Mr Andrew Dismore, succeeded in passing through the other place in all its stages. It might seem slightly odd that somehow we are not considering that Bill at the same time as my Bill, since they are identical. I am not a procedural expert and do not fully understand the reasons for that, but I hope that the fact that the Bill has reached us from the other place in the form that it has, which is identical to my Bill, will strengthen the case for my Bill today. I hope that the Government will give time for the further consideration of the two Bills.

The amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, go to the heart of the Bill. For that reason, I was not surprised at his comments on Clause 1 as a whole, as it is really the major part of the Bill. When I first saw his amendments, I was somewhat alarmed because, on the face of it, they looked as if they might contain a rather different policy line from that pursued by the noble Lord’s colleagues in the other place—I am thinking in particular of the strong support given to the Bill by Mr Henry Bellingham, who spoke for the opposition Front Bench. His speech in the other place on 16 October last year was very powerful. He said:

“We should not forget that we are talking about victims … Imagine waking up every day knowing that you have a physical condition that could lead to an evil and wicked illness that is invariably fatal … That is why we need to show compassion to those who are suffering and never forget that they are the only people who really matter in this debate”.—[Official Report, Commons, 16/10/09; col. 572.]

In the same speech, he referred to some of the concerns that the noble Lord has expressed about the possible costs in this case. However, compensation has largely been of a fairly modest nature—not a life-changing sum but varying between £4,000 and £7,000 for each victim. Those points are important to take into account.

The noble Lord’s amendments raise a number of detailed issues. Some of the issues relating to costs and the diagnosis and assessment of pleural plaques can be dealt with through provisions already in force. Certainly, the Civil Procedure Rule Committee and the Jackson review are looking at issues of cost, which are best taken care of in that context rather than through amendments to this Bill. As the person sponsoring the Bill in this House, knowing that it has proceeded twice through the other place in unamended form—because, as the opposition spokesperson in the other place recognised, it was tightly worded and had been carefully checked out beforehand—I hope that, although the amendments raise many useful points, the Bill and Clause 1 can remain in their current form.

My Lords, the argument here reminds me very much of the discussion that we had at Second Reading. Indeed, the tone is the same. The condition affects someone who has clearly been placed at risk, but there is a degree of worry. Have they escaped and dodged the bullet, with a reminder left within their bodies, disguised? How much damage will this cause to their mental health? Future research may prove that it is a precursor to a more damaging condition.

We can dance around this for ever and a day, but that is where we will be left. As the noble Lord, Lord Henley, pointed out, other schemes have been ambushed by ambulance chasing. We are entitled to have some reassurance from the Government, if this is brought in, that it will be a skilled medical practitioner who identifies the problem. If that occurs, some of my concerns disappear. I hope that the proposal in Amendment 2 will be taken into account for any form of compensation.

Amendment 3 means that the provision would apply,

“only where the person suffers physical symptoms directly attributable to the presence of the pleural plaques”.

We come back to the problem. Let us say that you have the condition and have scarring—and what adult does not have a few scars on their knees, acquired in childhood? It is scar tissue; it does not really affect you very much, especially if you cannot see it and it is not disfiguring. What does this do? It is a problem only if it leads or can be attributed to some other condition, but we do not know whether it will.

If the Government are prepared to give us some guidance on who they will allow in and how they will define the condition, I am less worried. That way you will get rid of the bad practice that has marred other schemes. Of all the amendments that have been tabled, the one that would lead to an assurance that that is covered or accepted deals with many of my problems. There is a problem with the idea that you can get compensation for being nearly in that situation or having been placed at risk. That is something that still rattles around with me, although others may disagree. I will probably not have to intervene again if I get a good indication of what will happen and what the case is with the medical practice. I hope that we can get a good answer, because this is where the problem lies. A good answer will help to speed up the procedure.

I should add that, in the previous bit of business, my noble friend made a mistake about what would happen if there was a vote. I have to admit that that was me whispering in her ear. Anyone reading Hansard who finds that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, got something wrong should know that it was the fault of the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

My Lords, it is always a huge pleasure to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, but I had to remind myself that this is a Private Member’s Bill brought to this House by my noble friend Lady Quin. It is not a government Bill. In fact, I should not be the one who replies to these amendments. That is not my role. I am here to comment on the Government’s position with regard to these amendments, which I will do shortly. On the first group of amendments, I will say something about what has happened since Second Reading and today, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked me to do. But this is not a government Bill and I want to make that absolutely clear from the start.

Amendments to Clause 1 of my noble friend’s Bill would all limit the circumstances in which pleural plaques could be held to constitute actionable damage. The main focus of Clause 1 and the Bill as a whole is the subject of pleural plaques. As noble Lords will be aware, the Government have announced their decision on whether the House of Lords 2007 judgment on pleural plaques should be overturned so that the condition becomes compensatable again under the civil law of tort. That was done by way of a Written Ministerial Statement on 25 February.

The announcement indicated that, on the basis of the medical evidence received, the Government are unable to conclude that the House of Lords decision on pleural plaques should be overturned at this time or that an open-ended, no-fault compensation scheme should be set up. While the current medical evidence is clear that pleural plaques are a marker of exposure to asbestos and that exposure to asbestos significantly increases the risk of asbestos-related disease, any increased risk of a person with pleural plaques developing an asbestos-related disease arises because of that person’s exposure to asbestos rather than because of the plaques themselves.

What I will say next is of great importance. If new medical or other significant evidence were to emerge, the Government would obviously reassess the situation. We recognise the importance of supporting people suffering from asbestos-related diseases and have announced a range of initiatives. One of those is the setting up of an extra-statutory scheme of fixed payments of £5,000 for individuals who had begun but not resolved a legal claim for compensation for pleural plaques at the time of the House of Lords ruling in October 2007. In our view, such people would have had an understandable expectation that their claim would result in compensation; indeed, many had made plans accordingly.

The Government regard this as a unique situation and as not setting any precedent for any other circumstances where litigants may be disappointed. The scheme will apply to England and Wales and detailed arrangements relating to the operation of the scheme will be announced shortly. I was disappointed to hear that the Official Opposition do not support the scheme. That is only one measure in the range. Other initiatives are being taken forward by the Government to provide help and support to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases.

A significant consequence of the House of Lords decision has been that people diagnosed with plaques can no longer bring proceedings to establish liability for negligent exposure to asbestos, which was useful for some individuals later diagnosed with mesothelioma, as prior establishment of liability expedited their new compensation claim. That is of particular importance with conditions such as mesothelioma, as patients frequently die very soon after diagnosis, leaving very little time to trace records and obtain compensation. It is imperative that steps are taken to improve the speed of payment for compensation claims for mesothelioma and other serious asbestos-related diseases. Therefore, we are establishing a working group composed of claimants’ solicitors, trade unions, insurers, the judiciary and civil servants to examine litigation practices and procedures for compensation claims relating to mesothelioma and to identify options for streamlining them in order to reduce the time taken to conclude cases. We will also be considering the need for changes to the substantive law.

Further to those initiatives, we are taking action to deal with the problem of people who develop serious asbestos-related disease but are unable to obtain full compensation because they cannot trace the employer’s insurer. That problem has been recognised for some time and, since 1999, the Association of British Insurers and the Lloyd’s Market Association have committed to a voluntary code of practice for tracing EL insurance policies. However, while the tracing service has led to some improvements, many individuals were still left without help—3,210 in 2008. The situation is not satisfactory and the Government are therefore consulting on two proposals to improve matters.

The essential first step is the creation of a UK-wide employers’ liability tracing office, or ELTO, to manage an electronic database of EL policies and to operate the existing tracing services. We are grateful that the Association of British Insurers has agreed to drive forward that work to help claimants and their representatives, informed by the outcome of the consultation. The new office will initially be launched on a voluntary basis but we would ultimately like it to be a requirement on all insurers to publish relevant policy details with the ELTO. We have every expectation that that will deliver significant results, creating a database of records that will help many thousands of people to trace policies and receive compensation in the future.

However, even with an ELTO, there will be some people, especially those who suffer from long-tail diseases such as mesothelioma, who are unable to trace their insurance records and thus will be denied full compensation. That brings me to our second decision. We therefore propose to establish an employers’ liability insurers bureau, or ELIB, providing a compensation fund of last resort for individuals throughout the UK who are unable to trace EL insurance records.

The consultation published on 10 February examines whether the employers’ liability insurance bureau should cover the impact of an ELIB on insurers and employers, how much should be paid by way of compensation, limitations on claiming from the ELIB and what more can be done to ensure that employers who are legally obliged to obtain ELCI do so. The Government will consider fully the responses to the consultation before determining the next steps towards the introduction of an employers’ liability insurance bureau.

A mandatory ELTO and ELIB should, in time, provide a comprehensive framework for supporting people who develop serious asbestos-related disease. However, in recognition of the need for action now, the Government are taking a series of steps to increase the upfront payments currently made to mesothelioma sufferers and their dependants. The Government will increase payments made under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 by 1.5 per cent even though, as the Committee knows, the retail prices index showed negative growth. In addition, we will increase payments due to mesothelioma under the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 so that they equal payments made under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979. Further, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is amending regulations to increase payments to all dependants under the 1979 Act and the 2008 Act by up to £5,000 so that their awards are closer to those paid to sufferers. All those increases will come into effect on 1 April 2010.

The fact that the UK has one of the highest rates of death from mesothelioma in the world is a legacy of our industrial past and the part that asbestos played in it. Just as we were a global leader in the asbestos industry, so we must now become a global leader in research into asbestos-related disease. We have received strong representations from clinicians and others for the creation of a national centre for asbestos-related disease—a collaborative network of funded researchers whose core purpose would be to advance medical research into the prevention, cure and alleviation of asbestos-related disease, primarily mesothelioma. There is now widespread recognition, including within the medical research community, that, while there has been considerable investment in cancer research generally, not enough has been focused on the study of cancers of the lung, including mesothelioma, yet mesothelioma is now the 12th most common cancer killer in men and the cancer of most rapidly increasing incidence in women. We are determined to expand research in this area.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has therefore asked his officials in the Department of Health to consider and advise on how best to create a world-leading network of medical research practitioners for asbestos-related disease. Based on their recommendations, and on advice from the National Cancer Research Institute about research priorities, we will set out how the Government will support an increase in research investment in this area. In addition, the insurance industry will contribute £3 million towards research into asbestos-related disease. We believe that these measures will provide real and significant benefits for people suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease.

I have taken some time to describe the Government’s position. I will not take nearly as much time in responding on behalf of the Government on other groups of amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, asked a number of significant questions, including some relating to Second Reading. I shall deal with some of them quickly and I will look at Hansard carefully and respond to him in writing on the others.

At Second Reading, his first question was:

“Will the noble Lord confirm that those are the figures provided by the department? Does it still stick with them”.—[Official Report, 5/2/10; col. 459.]

Today he asked whether there is an update on the cost estimates of pleural plaques. Further work has been undertaken on the cost estimates in the consultation paper and I will write to him with more detail. I want to make it absolutely clear that the Government’s decision, which I have effectively repeated today, was taken on the basis of the medical evidence on pleural plaques and not on the costs involved, although they clearly had to be taken into consideration.

The noble Lord’s second question was about how the retrospective nature of the Bill affects the estimates of what the costs might be. The costs in the impact assessment included the retrospective costs. His next question, which he said might be more for my noble friend Lady Quin, was about giving the Committee an idea of how quantum would have to be decided in each case if the Bill were to be passed. It is clearly a question for my noble friend. His fourth question was about the position in Scotland. A decision of the High Court has been appealed in Scotland and is to be considered in due course. His fifth question was whether we have any intention of, or suggestions to make about, speeding up the process. I hope that I answered that in outlining what the Written Ministerial Statement said last week.

The noble Lord’s other questions included whether the extra-statutory scheme will open the floodgates for other symptomless conditions. It will not, because there are no other symptomless conditions that have in law been regarded as compensatable damage for a long and settled period. There is no analogy with the symptomless condition for which compensation has never been recoverable in law.

The Government’s position on the noble Lord’s amendments is that, because of the decision that we have made, we cannot support the Bill or any amendments that are made to it. However, we do not oppose the Bill, either. We remain neutral, which is the normal position of the Government when Private Member’s Bills are brought to this Chamber. However, I have to say that the Government have huge affection and respect for my noble friend in her work on this matter.

My Lords, I am interested in the Minister’s response that the Government in this House remain neutral about the Bill. The Minister somewhat ticked me off for treating the Bill as if it were a government Bill—that was the implication—when it is a Private Member’s Bill. I fully accept that it is a Private Member’s Bill, but the Government have a major interest, as they will be paying out considerable sums of money. They also have an interest because they have the resources to answer a lot of the questions that we need to ask about the Bill, many of which have not yet been answered.

I am grateful that the noble Baroness was not for too long worried about the intention behind my amendments. They went down when we saw the Government’s response. The response inspired them, which is why I put them down and why we will be coming to other amendments on which it behoves the Government to provide an answer. They have an interest as an employer, as the ones who are handing out this money, as they have announced, and as they have the resources to be able to do something.

I shall ask one or two questions about what is going on. The Government have had considerable time to examine this. The original House of Lords decision was made in October 2007. For once, the Government acted very quickly and, within about a week, they said that they did not think that decision should be overturned. They announced consultation, which started, as I remember it, in the summer of 2008. In that consultation document, they quoted figures showing an extraordinary range in the total cost to government, the insurance industry and employers as a whole of between £4 billion and £28 billion. For the third time of asking, will the Government confirm that that was the figure they quoted on that occasion? Will they, in due course, confirm that they still accept that as the sort of figure that could land on employers, the insurance industry and government should a Bill such as this get on to the statute book? That is the third time of asking; I asked at Second Reading and in introducing this amendment and now I ask it again. I will, no doubt, ask it again later on in the course of these amendments. The Minister might then confirm that those figures were correct.

In order that the noble Lord will not have to ask the question again, I say that he is right: those were the figures that we used. I think he probably knew the answer to that question. That was in the consultation document. The response to the consultation document will be coming out soon, so the noble Lord will have to be a bit patient.

I never quite know what is the response to the consultation document. We have the Government’s announcement of two weeks ago, which we are told is the response to the consultation. It starts with the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, one Jack Straw, saying that his Ministerial Statement sets out the Government’s decision on the question of compensation for pleural plaques, following their consultation on the issue. That is not the proper response to the consultation, and another document will come out “soon”, “shortly” or “in due course”.

Perhaps the noble Lord would read on. My right honourable friend then said that a full summary of the submissions we received during the consultation will be published shortly. So we can expect another publication: that is what my right honourable friend said.

So the second part of the response will be just a full summary of the submissions received during the consultation, and it will be published shortly. It will not deal with the large array of questions that I put to the noble Lord about how the Government got their figure of between £50 million and £200 million, and how they estimated the number of those who would be affected. Who were the people who had already put in their claims, and how was that defined? Did they, by that stage, have to have issued a writ, or just have got as far as a solicitor or claims farmer or whoever? All those questions must be answered.

When she talked about the wording of the Bill, the noble Baroness said it was identical to the number two Bill. I would be grateful for confirmation that it is absolutely identical, or that one or two words have been changed. She claimed that the Bill was tightly worded. It is very important to accept that it is not quite as tightly worded as it might be, because there is still considerable doubt, certainly on the part of the Government, about how many people will be affected. There is also doubt on the part of the Government about how many people will be affected by their own announcement.

The noble Lord announced that it was the policy of the Official Opposition to object to the payments. I did not say that. I am questioning them, questioning why it is necessary to offer payments to people who are suffering something that is asymptomatic, and also asking—again, this is something that the noble Lord did not answer, and to which I will perhaps have to come back on Report or later—where in his department the money is coming from. I presume that it is coming from his departmental budget.

A number of other issues were raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, that I will want to come on to when we debate later amendments. The question of costs and the review of civil litigation by Lord Justice Jackson are matters that we need to address, and I will do that. I will also, when we debate Clause 4 stand part, ask the noble Lord to expand on the speeding up of the handling of mesothelioma claims. That is a crucial question. The disease can move very quickly, and claims must be dealt with quickly.

I welcome what the Minister said about the proposed employers’ liability tracing office, and about consultations starting with the industry on an employers’ liability insurance bureau. However, he must accept that the way in which that operates must be very different from that of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which has been in existence since the late 1940s or early 1950s, because we are dealing not with a car crash, but with something that may have happened a long time ago, and over an extended period. I note what he said about consultations on that starting with the industry in February 2010. I hope that, given the timescale of their other consultations and their glib use of the words “soon” and “shortly”—I never understand what they mean—the Government will make sure that the consultation goes at a reasonable pace, so that they can come forward with conclusions in due course.

I suspect that I will get no further responses at this stage to questions on amendments in this group. I will come back to a number of them on Report, and to other points that need to be made when we debate later amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Amendments 2 to 4 not moved.

Amendment 5

Moved by

5: Clause 1, page 1, line 5, at end insert “but may not recover legal costs”

My Lords, Amendment 5, which inserts the words,

“but may not recover legal costs”,

provides that in any claim under the Act, no legal costs should be recovered. I was interested to see that the Government have already adopted this position with the limited extra-statutory scheme—or at least I think that they have. Perhaps that reflects the fact that they have learnt at least one of the lessons that I alluded to earlier from the coal-miners’ schemes.

How much of the money that the Minister plans to make available to individual claimants will end up in the hands of lawyers? I hope that there will be no direct payment to lawyers by the scheme administrators: that would replicate the embarrassment of the earlier compensation scheme. However, I have no doubt that those who have presented claims did so with the benefit of lawyers, and that those lawyers will have run up costs under “no-win no-fee” agreements. Have the Government considered what will happen if money is paid to claimants under the scheme? Will that trigger a win so far as the lawyers are concerned? If so, will most of the money end up in their pockets rather than those of the claimants?

I am sure that Ministers have thought through this before making the announcement, although we hear that they will make further announcements in due course. I am sure that they do not want to line the pockets of lawyers at the expense of the people suffering from pleural plaques. However, there is nothing about this in the Ministerial Statement, and I would welcome assurances from the Minister that the point has been carefully considered. Has he sought and obtained assurances from those representing claimants that the money will be retained by the claimants?

I am afraid that Amendment 8, which is in the same group as Amendment 5, has a drafting error. The word in proposed subsection (1) of the new clause should be “costs” rather than “damages”. It provides for the Secretary of State to fix the amount of legal costs paid, and for such regulations to ensure that the legal costs paid do not exceed a reasonable proportion of the compensation. As with the proposal to fix by regulation the amount of damages, I wish to see the affirmative resolution procedure applied. As with many other low-value personal injury claims, claims for pleural plaques have historically generated significant legal costs. Noble Lords will be aware of Lord Justice Jackson’s recent report on civil litigation costs, which was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, in which he concluded that costs were out of all proportion to damages and that the main culprit was the so-called “no-win no-fee” regime, which is now commonplace in personal injury and disease claims.

Unless the Minister can assure us that there will be a positive prohibition on any payment under the scheme by claimants’ lawyers, I want to press him about ensuring that only a limited proportion of any scheme payment can end up in the hands of lawyers. I believe that the same principle should apply equally to claims farmers. I am assuming that it will be relatively easy for a claimant under the scheme to present a claim and that they will not need advice to do so, but that will not stop aggressive marketing in the media and the internet by claims farmers offering to process such claims for a proportion of the compensation. How will the Government act to plug that gap and ensure that the £5,000, or the vast bulk of it, ends up with individual claimants and not with the lawyers or claims farmers? I beg to move.

I repeat what I said earlier. We are debating amendments to my noble friend’s Bill in Committee. We are not debating the scheme that the Government set out in the Ministerial Statement of 25 February. There are various other ways in which the noble Lord can find out more about it, and use the procedures of the House to ask Oral Questions, or Written Questions or to initiate debates. I do not know whether I am right procedurally but my view is that this is not a suitable vehicle to ask questions on matters that do not appear anywhere in the Bill.

Of course they are relevant. I am using the procedures of the House to ensure that the Government explain their scheme. They made the announcement as a direct result of the Bill introduced by the noble Baroness and the Bill in another place. If the noble Lord says that that is not the case, I have doubts. Noble Lords are giving their view on the Bill—that they do not think it is necessary. It is now passing through this House. It is perfectly legitimate and I shall continue to ask those questions. I am asking the Government about the Statement that was made two or three weeks after the Second Reading of this Bill and one week before its Committee stage. I did not table any amendments until that statement, so it is relevant today.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, for introducing the Bill for the simple reason that it has made the Government’s position much clearer, and their approach generally seems to be correct. But it is the process of Private Member’s Bills often to clarify, so it has fulfilled its function if we have a slightly better understanding of the issues. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, has a point about the background detail but it may be that it is for the Bill’s proposer to answer that question, which may be a bit much without the Civil Service behind her. A balance needs to be struck, but the Bill has achieved clarification even if it is not the right vehicle for that issue. We need to take a step back.

My Lords, I shall carry on with my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, on payments under the extra-statutory scheme being made to lawyers. Further information relating to the scheme will be published in due course when it is fully established and ready for operation. I shall expand on what is being done to speed up the mesothelioma claims process. As I said in my response to the last group of amendments, we are setting up a working group and hope to be able to say more about it shortly.

The amendments relate to my noble friend’s Bill and refer to the amount of damages that would be achievable if her Bill became law. We are concerned to ensure that legal costs are properly controlled in civil proceedings generally and we are considering the very important recommendations made by Sir Rupert Jackson in his comprehensive review of litigation costs. The amendments raise interesting issues. They may well turn out to be probing, but I do not know yet. If not, we might consider their phrasing to be rather draconian.

My Lords, I take the opportunity to respond to some of the points made in the amendments and some of the subsequent points made by noble Lords in the debate. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, for his understanding that piloting a Private Member’s Bill is a challenge. Having been a Minister, I remember the bank of comforting advice that I could resort to. It is certainly very different when you are trying to pilot a Bill of this kind, although I must say that I am grateful to my colleagues in another place, who have raised these issues on many previous occasions, and whose arguments have been extremely useful in dealing with the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Henley, is quite right to raise the issue of costs. It goes back to what he said earlier when he expressed some alarm at floodgates being opened as a result of such legislation. The Bill returns the situation to what it was prior to 2007. Although there was certainly a number of claims—we have heard about the number of claims in the pipeline—I do not think that they amounted to a flood. However, I agree with what both the noble Lord and my noble friend said about being vigilant that lawyers do not simply use this to tout for business and try artificially to inflate the number of cases. In this instance, my noble friend is quite right: the findings of the Jackson review and the work of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee will be very important in that respect. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that those issues go much wider than the Bill. They relate to a whole range of compensatable industrial injuries and need to be dealt with on that wider basis, which is why I hope that there will be a positive outcome to the Jackson review process.

I should also stress, and the Government have recognised, that previous awards have been fairly modest. That is quite right, given that—this point has been made—you may have been exposed to asbestos, but you may not necessarily develop a more serious disease. I take issue with the reference of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, to the fact that we all have scarring on knees, elbows and so on. It is a very real worry if you have been exposed to such a highly dangerous substance as asbestos. Many colleagues in the other House who represent constituencies where people are affected have graphically described the worry and, in some cases, trauma, that people go through worrying whether they will develop a very serious asbestos-related disease in consequence. I certainly would not want to underestimate that in any sense, although it seems to me that the level of awards that have been given in the past recognises the situation: they are not comparable to the awards given when more serious illnesses or conditions have developed.

I gave an estimate—I freely confessed that it was a guesstimate, given the amount of information available to me—of the number affected, but it is interesting that it was rather similar to the Government's estimate in their Statement on pleural plaques just a week ago.

Finally, the Minister invited me earlier to refer to the situation in Scotland. Obviously, I accept the point that further appeals are taking place. None the less, I continue to have huge concern, which relates to the fact that I live in a border region of the United Kingdom where workers may have worked in both English and Scottish shipyards and may be resident in England but have been exposed to asbestos in their time working in a Scottish shipyard, or vice versa. It worries me that, although I normally support different policies being pursued by devolved Administrations, on this issue we could be leading towards an unfair and discriminatory situation, which would badly affect a lot of working people in my part of the country. I am sure that your Lordships will understand my human concern for people who might find themselves in that situation.

My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, I come from the borders and so fully understand her point about the Tyneside and Clydeside connection. Like her, I think that it is unfortunate that Scotland has gone ahead with legislation—admittedly, being challenged in the courts at the moment—for separate provisions which would have a dramatic effect on England and on the Government here, particularly for the Government as an employer. The Government obviously have an interest in the Bill, and no doubt the Minister will be able to assure us that his colleagues have had discussions with their colleagues in the Scottish Executive on these matters over the years since that House of Lords judgment.

The Minister said that further information on the working of the scheme will be set before us in due course. Again, this leads me to further confusion about their announcement last week saying:

“This Ministerial Statement sets out the Government's decision on the question of compensation”,

and so on. All it says later on is:

“A full summary of the submissions we received during that consultation will be published shortly”.—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/10; col. 79WS.]

However, we are now told that we will get further statements on how this works, on how the Government will identify the individual people, and on what safeguards there will be. We really need those statements now, while we discuss the Bill, so that we know what to make of it. That is one reason why it is right and proper to continue to put amendments to the House which I expect the Minister to answer.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Bach, that not all my amendments this afternoon will be directed at him; I hope the noble Baroness will answer some of them. I am sure that, with her great ministerial experience, she will be more than up to it, even on her own. Many of us know from the past that the noble Lord has a panoply of advisers behind him who will assist him and the House by providing us with the answers that we need so that we can discuss these amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 5 withdrawn.

Amendment 6

Moved by

6: Clause 1, page 1, line 8, at end insert “save that damages in respect of pleural plaques can only be assessed by the court having regard to the actual physical and mental pain and suffering caused to the claimant”

My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendment 7. Amendment 6 builds on an earlier point and highlights the anomaly that the Bill seeks to reinstate liability without considering the effect on the quantum of claims. How are the courts to approach the valuation of a claim when there are no symptoms? The Court of Appeal suggested a bracket of £4,000 to £6,000 if the law was not overturned, but those figures seem high, given subsequent developments, and the courts would have to consider the matters afresh.

Amendment 7 follows on from that and seeks to amend the Bill to provide that a tariff for damages can be set by regulations and that the tariff would be applied via the affirmative procedure. To my mind, any setting of the level of damages, and therefore of the control of the costs to the public purse, should be subject to careful and ongoing scrutiny by Parliament.

As we have heard, the Secretary of State has already indicated that, in his extra-statutory scheme, the compensation would be £5,000. Again, this is a question for the noble Lord, Lord Bach, although the other matters might be for the noble Baroness. I am curious to know how the Government arrived at that figure. Paragraph 58 of the consultation paper notes that a fixed payment of £5,000 was used for the financial impact assessment, but goes on to say:

“However, as pleural plaques have been held not to be actionable damage, and in view of the minimisation of legal costs, a lower figure may be more appropriate”.

There is a telling rider to that paragraph at the end:

“This is likely to be necessary to make a no fault scheme affordable, were it to be introduced”.

What has changed since July 2008 to make £5,000 more affordable now?

I have more questions about the workings of the scheme. Again, I hope the noble Lord will not mind responding to them. The Statement, as I think I made clear earlier, is silent on what is meant by,

“those individuals who had already begun”,—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/10; col. 80WS.]

a claim for compensation. How far back in time does that go? Presumably even if these people had an “understandable expectation” before 2007, they have rather got over that expectation in the past two and a half years. Again, what proof will the scheme require of the previous presentation of that claim?

I hope the noble Lord will address those points and that the noble Baroness will think a little about the amendments and what figure the courts should come to should the Bill go ahead. I beg to move.

My Lords, as the Written Ministerial Statement states, we,

“decided to make payments of £5,000 to individuals in this limited category under an extra-statutory scheme. The payment broadly reflects the level of compensation likely to have been received if pleural plaques had continued to be compensatable”.

So it is based on awards which would typically have been made at the time that the people covered by their scheme commenced their legal claim.

As to the noble Lord’s second question, paragraph 10 of the Statement states:

“Detailed arrangements relating to the operation of this extra-statutory scheme will be announced shortly”.—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/10; col. 80WS.]

Obviously those detailed arrangements will assist the noble Lord in his questions being answered.

The detailed qualifying criteria and the requirements for proof that an applicant meets those criteria will be published in due course when the scheme is fully established and ready for operation. There is not much more that I can say about the scheme than that.

My Lords, perhaps I, too, may respond to one or two of the points that have been made. I feel less warm about this group of amendments than about some of the previous amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Henley, because these issues are taken care of elsewhere in the legal system. He said that the proposed level of awards is rather high. I have already said that I feel that it is about right, because of the response I gave earlier to the noble Lord, Lord Addington. I am reinforced in this by the fact that the noble Lord’s Front-Bench colleague in another place very much took the same line; namely, that the level of awards was modest. It would not be a life-changing sum of money but, as he said, for people who are probably out of work or perhaps from families with no prospect of getting work, it could bring some relief and happiness when the individual would be suffering great anxiety.

I know that many people who received awards under the old scheme were workers who had lost jobs because of the closure of shipyards. In many cases, they were in their 50s with virtually no prospect of working again. While the award was in relation to the diagnosis and the presence of pleural plaques, and the worries therefore about further asbestos-related diseases as a result, none the less the level of awards was such as to give some very valued and welcome compensation for exposure to a dangerous disease at what was frequently a difficult point in that person’s life and career, as the noble Lord’s colleague said in the other place.

The noble Lord talked about allowing a tariff of damages to be established in one of his amendments, and allowing the Secretary of State to fix by regulation the amount of damages to be paid. But my understanding is that common law sets the damages and tariffs. It might be an unfortunate precedent for that approach to be changed on the basis of this single, fairly tightly drawn piece of legislation.

The noble Lord talked about regulations being laid before Parliament. I am not sure that there would be regulations if the Bill was passed in the form in which it appears before us. Incidentally, at an earlier stage he asked me if the wording in my Bill was identical to the Bill that had come from the other place. It is my understanding that it is identical. But, in any case, the other Bill has also been sent to your Lordships' House for consideration.

The noble Lord’s desire to see regulations laid before Parliament also links into a later amendment concerned with the Government reporting back to Parliament with an impact assessment on this issue. While I understand why he wishes to do that, it is important to point out that parliamentarians have many ways in which we can raise issues about the operation of particular Acts. We can do so through Parliamentary Questions, debates and so on. Certainly the issues around pleural plaques have been debated not only on the Floor of the other place, but in Westminster Hall. Further, the matter has been raised repeatedly with Ministers at Question Time. There are a number of ways already open to us in which Parliament can closely monitor legislation.

Having said that, these and the rest of the amendments tabled by the noble Lord raise issues that it is completely proper to discuss at this stage of our proceedings. From that point of view, I welcome them.

My Lords, I have spent a great deal of the past 50 years trying to obtain damages for plaintiffs, prevent plaintiffs from obtaining damages, awarding or refusing to award damages to plaintiffs, and sitting on appeals on the amount of damages awarded. A significant part of that work has been concerned with diseases of the chest related to asbestos. I do not for a moment claim the depth of knowledge of the noble Baroness, Lady Quin—I have a mere acquaintance with it—but I can recollect vividly coming across those who had real fears and worries. Every time people who had worked in the Belfast shipyard and places like it developed a cough, they were afraid that it might be the harbinger of something much worse.

I admit to a few reservations about the principle of awarding damages for something that is not in fact a matter that should be a cause for concern; that is, the physical manifestation of a serious disease of the chest. It is a difficult principle. I was not a member of the House of Lords Appellate Committee which decided the case to which reference has been made, and I have never formed a standpoint either in litigation or otherwise on the matter, but I want to put in a word to say that awarding damages for a worry that should be resolved—one that people should be able to dispel to a large extent by reassurance—is a difficult principle. But if the Committee considers that this Bill should go through and that damages should be awarded, so be it.

I say only this in relation to the amendment about the tariff proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Henley. One thing which has shone through clearly in all my experience of dealing with damages is that no two cases are the same, and tariffs lead almost inevitably to anomalies and injustices. Their advantages are speed certainty and the costs are kept down. If the Bill remains as drafted, I am concerned that an awful lot of small claims will be exploited by those persons whose business it is to gather in claims on behalf of claimants and plaintiffs in order to obtain disproportionate amounts. If it is better that the tariff should be designed in such a way as to avoid that, it may be of benefit. So, on balance, I will support the noble Lord’s amendment. However, it will need to be carefully drafted so that questions such as age and the type of concern are ironed out. You cannot legislate for everything but, if the Government take this further, I hope that they will think carefully about the way in which the tariff is prepared.

The question the Minister referred to about successive employers is real and difficult. I had many occasions of great concern where a claimant had been exposed to asbestos as, say, a pipe coverer with a whole collection of companies, most of them very well known. However, a lot of them had gone out of business and some of their insurers had either transformed themselves into other groups or even, occasionally, gone out of business. The question was how the claimant, if he had a proper case, was going to enforce his claim. Did he land one unfortunate company or insurer with everything or were they able to come to agreement? On the whole, insurers were able to come to agreements because they could see the concerns raised and the difficulties that would ensue if they did not do so. However, if the Government are considering a way round this difficulty, I would commend it.

My Lords, I am grateful for the support of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carswell. Amendments 6 and 7 are, to some extent, alternatives. They are tabled to highlight the problem of how we assess the damages that should be paid out for something that is asymptomatic. That is the point I was seeking to address and I am grateful for the debate on it.

I shall want to come back to this on Report because there are real concerns involved. I note what the noble and learned Lord the Minister and the noble Baroness have said. I shall seek to bring the amendments or something similar back later. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 6.

Amendment 6 withdrawn.

Amendment 7 not moved.

Clause 1 agreed

Amendment 8 not moved.

Amendment 9

Moved by

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

“Costs Orders

(1) The Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 58A, after subsection (6) insert—

“(6A) Subsection (6) shall not apply to a claim of any type which is permitted by section 1 of the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act 2010.”

(3) This section shall be treated for all purposes as always having had effect.”

My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 10 and 11. The amendments are intended to abolish the recovery of success fees paid to solicitors, after-the-event insurance premiums and “membership organisation” fees paid to unions in pleural plaque claims. Amendment 11 is designed to ban the use of referral fees paid to claims farmers and other intermediaries.

In his final report, to which we have referred, Lord Justice Jackson recommended in chapter 10 that the recovery of success fees in certain types of claim be abolished. In chapter 9, he makes a similar recommendation in regard to recovery-after-the-event insurance premiums. I see this as a way of getting rid of disproportionate costs, and I would welcome the Government’s opinion on whether this might not be a suitable suggestion for how to do so.

Amendment 11 is intended to permit the Secretary of State to prevent the payment of any referral fee by a solicitor acting on behalf of a claimant to the claims farmer or trade union which introduced that claim to the solicitor. I have already made reference to the miners’ compensation scheme. One of the biggest scandals related to that scheme resulted in the solicitors in question being struck off. There was an unlawful deduction from compensation made by the solicitors, who then paid over some of the sums deducted to a claims-farming company. We must ensure that any scheme promoted by the Ministry of Justice does not fall into the same trap.

It is no surprise that, in chapter 20 of his final report, Lord Justice Jackson came out strongly against the use of referral fees in personal injury claims. Paragraph 3.7 on page 199 states:

“Trade unions refer the personal injury claims of their members to solicitors on union panels. Trade unions may charge referral fees, albeit at a lower level than BTE insurers or claims management companies. For example, one union informs me that it receives a referral fee of £200 for every case which proves to be ‘worthy of investigation’”.

Paragraph 4.9, on page 204, states:

“I do not accept that referral fees are necessary for access to justice. Claimants with personal injury claims would be well aware of their right to claim damages, even if claims management companies did not exist”.

Paragraph 4.11, on page 205, states:

“There is also a wider point. In my view, it is offensive and wrong in principle for personal injury claimants to be treated as a commodity”.

That must be the case even where the referral fee is paid out of the claimant’s legal costs. In the scheme proposed by the department, there is presumably no right to recover legal costs and any referral arrangement would have to be financed out of the claimant’s damages. As Lord Justice Jackson rightly concludes:

“The only winners are the recipients of referral fees”.

This scheme is being offered by the Government for the benefit of individual claimants and not of lawyers or trade unions. Will the Minister assure the Committee that none of the money to be paid to the claimants under this extra-statutory scheme is likely to find its way into the hands of either the lawyers or the trade unions? I beg to move.

My Lords, the detailed arrangements relating to the operation of the extra-statutory scheme will be announced shortly, so I am not in a position to answer directly the noble Lord’s perfectly valid question. These amendments have a clear theme of seeking to avoid profiteering from pleural plaques. The questions of whether there were abuses in the past, what might be done to avoid them in the future if pleural plaques were to become compensatable damage, and whether those approaches are viable are all very interesting issues. The noble Lord showed expert knowledge of the recent report on costs from Lord Justice Jackson. That report raises many interesting questions around this theme which would be relevant in this context. As I think he and the Committee know, the Government are considering the Jackson report as we speak. That is really all I need to say at this stage in the context of the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Henley, is rightly concerned about disproportionate costs. Part of what he said related back to one of his earlier amendments, where he sought to ensure that legal costs did not exceed a reasonable proportion of the damages to be paid. I sympathise with that, although it is my understanding that that is in law anyway—perhaps my noble friend can confirm that—and that the principle would apply to legislation such as this.

The noble Lord raised referral fees, and my noble friend to referred to the outcome of the Jackson review. I hope the review will be able to deal with issues such as these, but I reiterate my earlier point that these issues go wider than the Bill and would need to relate to a number of other pieces of legislation and other instances where claims can be made. For that reason, they are better dealt with in that wider context than in a specific amendment to the Bill.

I welcome the presence in the Chamber of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carswell, who reminded us of the interest of Northern Ireland in these issues, which I know well myself. I have at least some knowledge of Harland and Wolff and the industries in the Belfast area. However, on costs and tariffs, it is again better to look at the civil procedure committee work rather than seek to be too prescriptive in the Bill, which is narrowly drawn around one particular issue.

My Lords, again the Minister tells us that detailed arrangements will be published shortly. I hope that before we are finished with this he will be able to give us a better idea of what “shortly” means. He will know that I have some experience of using similar words. I remember that once we made an announcement that we would publish something “later in the spring”, and I confess that we stretched things a bit by considering July to be the spring. Governments have a way of saying that they will “publish shortly”.

We have taken a long time over this. We have had the Statement, which looked as though it was a full and final statement, other than that the responses to the consultation would be added, but obviously it is not. Until we get that final statement, it is difficult to know what to do with a Bill of this sort.

I also notice that the Minister said that the Government at this moment are actively considering Lord Justice Jackson’s report. That is right and proper because the report has only recently come out, but at some point we will all need to consider it and debate it in this House. Whether that will be this side of a general election or the other is another matter. I suspect that the cost of the consideration needed for that report means that we will have to come to that after the election.

For the moment I will withdraw the amendment. I might want to consider coming back to this group on Report, but at this stage it is probably best if I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 9 withdrawn.

Amendment 10 not moved.

Clause 2 agreed.

Amendments 11 and 12 not moved.

Amendment 13

Moved by

13: After Clause 2, insert the following new Clause—

“Contribution to medical research through damages

Where in any action permitted by this Act there is a payment of damages due to the claimant, an amount equal to 50 per cent of those damages shall be deducted for the purposes of research into asbestos-related cancer and paid to such body as the Secretary of State may by regulations appoint.”

My Lords, I am anxious that we make some progress. I appreciate that all the amendments have been in my name, but I assure the Committee that I am not trying to waste the time of the Committee; I am just trying to get answers from the Government, as is right and proper.

Amendments 13 and 14, which are alternatives, are a putative suggestion that claimants who are worried about the risk of future disease ought perhaps to be contributing to the cost of the research that we know is going to be mounted. Noble Lords might prefer the second suggestion, Amendment 14, which would take the contribution from the legal fees. As I have outlined, there is concern in some quarters. Lawyers are pushing for pleural plaque claims to be reinstated because they are used to generate significant costs, usually well in excess of the damages awarded. The costs would include an uplift of an additional percentage for winning cases under no-win, no-fee cases. The lawyers should be encouraged to put a percentage of their revenue from such cases into research for the benefit of their clients—part of their corporate social responsibility, if you like. I raise this purely in a spirit of helpfulness, not in a spirit of knocking lawyers. Noble Lords might like to consider the proposal or possibly suggest some alternative. It might also offer the Minister a chance to say a little more about the research that the Government want to commission in this area. I beg to move.

My Lords, one of the amendments seems to say that some amount for medical research would be deducted from the damages awarded. If this involves taking money away from the claimant, I would be strongly opposed to it. I am not sure that it would comply with human rights legislation. Perhaps the Minister could comment on that. Certainly, it would be a worrying development if that were to be the case.

However, I share a concern that the noble Lord has expressed on several occasions. I sympathise with his concern that lawyers should not profit excessively from these arrangements. His amendment seeks to tease out from the Government how they feel arrangements should be made to prevent lawyers making excessive profits. I would be very reluctant to see anything that seemed to deduct damages from the claimant or victim as a result of the noble Lord’s amendments.

My Lords, would it not be more to the point if we took some of the fees from the lawyers and put them into research?

I am obviously not getting a response from the Government. I accept the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, about Amendment 13. Amendment 14 might contain a better idea, but I do not think it has much support. I will consider the matter again, and whether I wish to address it on Report. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 13 withdrawn.

Amendment 14 not moved.

Clause 3 : Limitation of Actions

Amendment 15

Moved by

15: Clause 3, page 2, line 14, after “determined” insert “, discontinued or withdrawn”

My Lords, Amendment 15 is purely a probing amendment to understand the scope of the proposed scheme. It is now nearly two and a half years since the judgment. Many claims that were live at that time have since been withdrawn or discontinued by the claimant or lawyers on their behalf. Claims that were live at the time of the judgment may now be long gone. I wanted to be clear as to whether such claims are within or outside the scope of the scheme. I can possibly predict the Minister’s answer that the Government will announce this shortly when they announce the further details of the scheme. However, it might be that the Minister can provide some assistance on the question of individuals who have begun but not yet resolved a claim. This point is not entirely clear to me. It would be very useful if the noble Lord could assist the Committee at this stage. I beg to move.

I am sorry to keep repeating myself but I am afraid the noble Lord will have to wait until the details of the scheme are announced. In terms of the Bill, the amendment appears to clear matters up quite well. It is a reasonable amendment.

My Lords, I took it from the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that his amendment was a probing amendment to get some response from the Minister. In that sense it is welcome, although I do not feel that it is necessary as a substantive addition to the Bill.

I did not intend to press it. As I said, it was just a probing amendment. I understand that the noble Lord welcomes the chance to make things clearer and will do so in due course. Is that correct?

My Lords, we consider this to be an amendment to a Private Member’s Bill. We looked at the amendment in the context of the Bill and thought that it provided reasonable clarification. That is all. We are neutral about the amendment, as we are—and as I think I have made clear—about all the noble Lord’s amendments.

I certainly do not wish to oppose the amendment if there is general agreement on it. I make that point to the noble Lord.

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord because I know that he is about to take an action, but we are not going to support this amendment. I pointed out that we think that it is a reasonable clarification to the Bill, but we certainly have no intention of supporting it or opposing it.

Amendment 15 agreed.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed.

Amendment 16 not moved.

Clause 4 : Commencement and retrospective effect

Amendments 17 and 18 not moved.

Debate on whether Clause 4 should stand part of the Bill.

My Lords, I wish to say a word or two on this because I seek further clarification on what the Government are doing to speed up claims in relation to mesothelioma. We all know that it is a horrific disease. It is wholly right that the legal system should give priority to very early determination of compensation claims so that sufferers can obtain proper compensation during their lifetime. We support and applaud the Government’s contribution and commitment to improve the speed of payment of compensation claims. However, it may take a little more than the creation of a working party, as I recall a similar commitment by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2007 that has not yet borne much fruit.

In response to the Government’s Statement, the Association of British Insurers commented:

“It is unacceptable that it takes up to two years for these claims to work through the compensation system”.

I was minded to put down an amendment on this to encourage the Secretary of State to do something. It is important that any handling scheme should place obligations on those acting for claimants as well as on those acting for defendants. I raise this again in this clause stand part debate before we finally conclude the Committee Stage in order to hear from the Government again on this. I am sure that they will be grateful to take this opportunity to say what they feel they can do to speed up the claims, such as fixing legal costs for the various stages of the claims at fair levels so that solicitors are properly rewarded for the work that they do in sometimes difficult circumstances. That might drive early settlement. I would be grateful if the noble Lord set out what the Government are doing to streamline the handling of claims and what progress they think they can make in this area given the lack of progress over the past three years.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said about the Government’s efforts in this field. I am afraid that I cannot add much to what the Written Ministerial Statement says about this and what I said in my response to Amendment 1. As the noble Lord rightly sets out, there is a real problem. Steps need to be taken to improve the speed of payment of compensation claims for mesothelioma and other serious asbestos-related diseases. The Government think that it is imperative that steps are taken to this effect.

As I said earlier, we are therefore establishing a working group composed of experts in this field, including claimants’ solicitors, trade unions—which have much experience representing their members—the insurance industry, the judiciary and civil servants, to examine litigation practices and procedures for compensation claims relating to mesothelioma and to identify options for streamlining them in order to reduce the time taken to conclude cases. The working group will also consider the need for changes to the substantive law. It is good to know that we will have the support of the noble Lord and his party in measures that are taken to hurry this along. As he rightly says, this is a serious matter on which action is needed.

Clause 4 agreed.

Clause 5 agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Business of the House


My Lords, it has been agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, that due to the lateness of the hour there is unlikely to be sufficient time to complete the Second Reading of the Children’s Rights Bill if the House is to rise by the target rising time of 3 pm. I therefore regret to inform the House that we will not proceed with the Second Reading today. The House will rise after proceedings on the Anti-Slavery Day Bill have concluded.

Anti-Slavery Day Bill

Second Reading

Moved By

My Lords, I am moving this Motion on behalf of my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss. It is a privilege and honour to have been asked to pilot this Bill through this House on behalf of my noble and learned friend and I want to explain why it is so important. I hope that the Bill will receive an unopposed Second Reading and that no amendments will be tabled, otherwise it will fail, as there will be insufficient time to receive Royal Assent before the general election.

Let me make one point clear at the outset: this Bill will not result in a public holiday or any day off. That was never envisaged and is not now proposed. The Bill is about something entirely different. It is about focusing attention on and reminding the country each year of the fact that more than twice as many people are in bondage in the world today as there were in chains during the entire 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade. It will also remind us each year that, according to the European Commission, more than 100,000 of these exploited individuals are in Europe. The United Nations considers human trafficking to be the second most profitable criminal activity in the world, generating some $32 billion a year, second only to drug trafficking. Whereas in Wilberforce’s day slavery was visible and took place for the most part overseas, today it is invisible, underground and, sadly, even more widespread, both here and abroad.

The Bill received all-party support in its passage through the Commons on 5 February. The Minister of State for Borders and Immigration at the Home Office congratulated the honourable Member for Totnes, Mr Anthony Steen, who proposed the Bill, on his work and commitment over many years and the important campaign that he and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking in both Houses have been leading, reminding us of the scale and nature of modern-day slavery. The shadow Minister, the honourable Member for Ashford, speaking for the Opposition, offered unconditional support for the idea, as did the honourable Member speaking from the Liberal Democrat Benches.

Everyone cries out for statistics. Unfortunately, due to the very nature of the activity, there are no reliable figures. In a debate in the Commons on 20 January about human trafficking, the Member for Totnes indicated that the numbers of people trafficked in the UK for sexual exploitation might not be as great as at first imagined. However, subsequently the Metropolitan Police highlighted the fact that 90 per cent of women working in London’s 2,200 brothels were from abroad; it is believed that as many as 3,000 of these might have been trafficked from eastern European countries, west Africa and Asia. Whether it is one, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 women, it is clearly too many. Then there are hundreds of children from former Communist bloc countries involved in criminal activity, either on the streets or on the transport system. We know that a child who has been trained for a childhood to be spent in criminal activity can earn up to £100,000 a year for his trafficker by way of ATM thefts.

There is also big money for the traffickers in cannabis cultivation. It is estimated that hundreds of children, mostly from Vietnam, are trafficked here as a final destination, possibly first travelling via other European countries, and subjected to debt bondage by organised crime gangs. The police believe that there are over 2,000 cannabis factories in the UK, with more than 300 in London alone, each netting between £100,000 and £200,000 annually. While some see cannabis cultivation by Vietnamese boys more as an illegal immigration issue than as human trafficking, most of these victims are misled, deceived and put to work in fear of their safety and in what can only be unwholesome circumstances.

We believe that those trafficked for forced labour to pay off their debts work across a range of sectors, including agriculture, construction and the hospitality industries. We know little of the scale of this, but clearly the Chinese cockle picker tragedy some years ago reminds us of this problem. What we know from NGOs is that victims emerge each week around the UK and are not confined to our major cities. The Dutch have similar problems. They were among the first in western Europe to recognise human trafficking problems and introduced as a result far-reaching legislation, including the widespread training of police and border guards. Yet even they have had to admit that trafficking continues there and is growing.

The Poppy Project, to which the Government have given £5.8 million since 2003, provides accommodation for women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. It confirms that its accommodation is more often than not oversubscribed. Victims need better protection and more consistent after-care support. When victims are discovered, they and their families back home are at risk, even more so if the victim is willing to give evidence against their trafficker.

I pay tribute to ECPAT UK, a coalition working for the protection of children’s rights, including Anti-Slavery International, the Jubilee Campaign, the NSPCC, Save the Children UK, the Children’s Society, UNICEF UK and World Vision UK. This organisation is doing excellent, effective work in championing children’s rights. Additionally, it acts as adviser to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Trafficking of Women and Children, of which my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss and the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, are officers. I pay tribute also to the NGO Kalayaan for its sterling work with victims of domestic slavery, particularly those who have been exploited by embassy officials. Your Lordships will recall its work in bringing to our attention cases that helped us to ensure that forced labour and domestic servitude were criminalised through the Coroners and Justice Act.

An annual anti-slavery day will send out a message each year that this country does not welcome traffickers and is hostile to all those who seek brutally to exploit others for personal gain. It will raise awareness and concentrate attention on the issues. Although there are laws to prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking and to assist and protect victims of human trafficking, there must be greater awareness of issues surrounding this phenomenon among those people who are most likely to come into contact with victims—not just public officials, doctors, nurses, social and church workers, but ordinary members of the public, such as students, youth workers and people employed in business. Awareness is a prerequisite for eliminating human trafficking, because the techniques that traffickers use to keep their victims enslaved are changing with modern technology, making it more difficult for victims to come forward.

Part of this awareness raising will also usefully enable organisations to point out to consumers the kinds of questions that they can ask so that they do not inadvertently collude in contemporary forms of enslavement. As some of your Lordships will know, I have brought together parliamentarians and colleagues from the fashion industry to see how we can help to address the unacceptable exploitation of mainly women and children, here and overseas, for our fashion market. For example, in Uzbekistan, many young children are effectively enslaved, working all day, missing school and inhaling pesticides, all to produce cotton goods for us to buy. I believe that most people, given the choice, would not want that to happen, but how many people know that these abuses are taking place? In this House and the other place, we have access to this disturbing knowledge. We can find out quite easily that in big cities, in the suburbs and in rural idylls these appalling practices are taking place. Those working in public services and NGOs also have a keen sense of what is happening, but most members of the public do not.

I hope that I have explained to the House in sufficient detail why an annual anti-slavery day represents a really effective mechanism for provoking debate and spurring people into action. Your Lordships will note that there is no annual specific day designated by the Bill. The actual day would be decided by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Our preference would be for 11 January each year, which is the same day as that designated by the US Senate in 2007 for the United States. That would also fit into our academic terms and allow schools in particular to incorporate the issue of human trafficking into their curriculum and to educate students accordingly through teaching about citizenship and so on. Various events could be organised, as they are throughout the US, including public debates, press conferences, TV news items, film screenings and local authority and church events.

Modern-day slavery, whether for sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic slavery or child trafficking, is on the increase and, as a result, the mission of campaigners such as Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho, Mary Prince, Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson and, of course, William Wilberforce to end the abominable trade remains unfulfilled. Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said of this proposal:

“A day for national reflection in parliament, government, business and civil society on progress achieved and measures needed to end the continued contemporary enslavement of over 12 million people in the world would be a positive measure to help marshal resources necessary to see the end of the struggle”.

An annual anti-slavery day would not just remind us of the extent and malevolence of this repulsive trade here and overseas, but, more importantly, draw attention to the urgent need about what action needs to be taken and what still needs to be done. I beg to move.

My Lords, I am delighted to support the noble Baroness, Lady Young, who has just spoken, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and those in the House of Commons who brought this Bill forward. I do that for two reasons. The first has been amply explained by the noble Baroness in her opening comments and I do not wish to repeat them. Everything she said about what is happening these days is very important and we need to draw attention to it and keep campaigning against it.

The second reason for having an anti-slavery day is to learn from our history—not only our own history in this country but the history of humanity. Slavery has defaced every society that we know about anywhere in the world at any time. That is an important issue in its own right. I have drawn attention to this in the past. If you go a little way down the road to Artillery House in Artillery Row, there is a plaque inside to the 4,000 Scots who were captured during the Civil War and then exported as slaves to the Caribbean. That is amazing. We do not recognise what has happened in our own history. At the same time, pirates from what was then the Ottoman Empire in parts of North Africa were taking slaves from the southern British coast to the Ottoman Empire.

Slavery has been around in every society for all time. That is why we need people to understand that this is not just something that happened in a bad way during the transatlantic slave trade, to which I will return in a moment, and something good that we did when we ended that trade. It is endemic and it goes on today, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said. We need to keep working to defeat it.

I drew attention to this when I got involved in the Mary Seacole memorial statue appeal. It made me look at how black people got involved in the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. If you step into the Royal Gallery, there is a picture of Nelson on the flagship “Victoria”. There are a number of black people on that ship, as well as women. We forget that women served on those ships. When I talked to the Navy about this, I was told that there were close to 200 black people in Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar. Although one cannot know this, one assumes that not only were they being picked up from port to port, but if they got on to a British ship at that time, they were no longer slaves, so for escaped slaves, it was a good way out.

As the industrial revolution developed, the sudden horror of slavery really took off. Britain took over from Portugal, Holland, France and all the other nations that were involved in the slave trade and became the biggest slaver on the transatlantic route in the 18th century. That was not just the result of the power of the fleet we had then but also of the power of industrialisation. If you look at it, it becomes close to being—indeed, in many ways it was—similar to what was happening in some of the camps in Nazi Germany because the treatment of the slaves on those ships was horrendous. Throughout that period, slavery was seen not only as something normal but, more importantly in the context of Britain’s experience, as something that made an enormous profit. It was done with a degree of brutality and insensitivity that was hard to imagine.

It is very easy to damn the whole of the society that was doing that, but growing numbers of people were rising up in revolt against that process and that became the world’s first modern political campaign lead by Wilberforce, the Quakers and others in Britain. It had everything from lapel badges to window bills and posters decrying the transatlantic slave trade. When they succeeded in getting the Bill through Parliament the British Government did an about-turn and instead of simply turning a blind eye to the slave trade they suddenly said, “We’re going to stop this”, and there was the first example of a war of intervention in which we said we would stop the slave trade regardless of the illegality of stopping ships on the high seas. However, we again saw the brutality of the trade because when a Royal Navy ship chased a slaver, in order to avoid being fined by the Royal Navy captain if he was caught, the slaver would throw the slaves overboard. There was extreme brutality.

It is not well known, but one reason for having an anti-slavery day and to learn from the history of the campaign to end the transatlantic slave trade is that some 16,000 British sailors gave their lives. It was a bizarre situation: Britain turned round from being the world’s biggest slaver that introduced some of the most appalling methods—not the Government because these things were done by individuals and companies in the 18th century—to saying that we would stop it. We see the really black side of human behaviour in the way that we managed the slave trade, or allowed it to continue, and the good side when we suddenly switched over and tried to stop it.

One of the messages that should come through on an anti-slavery day is that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has already indicated, slavery has always been with us and is still with us today. If we look back, we can see how blind we were to the awful tragedy and horror of the transatlantic slave trade, yet we can admire those people, whether from Africa or from Europe, who rose up, organised and fought against it. That is the message in the Bill to us today: if we have an anti-slavery day, not only do we campaign on this, but we say to others that people in the past did this very successfully and that is what we ought to do today. That is why the Bill is important.

My Lords, I begin by paying tribute to the honourable Member for Totnes in the other place for his prudent stewardship of this important Bill, which I wholeheartedly support, and also to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for introducing it to your Lordships’ House. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey, on her excellent speech.

I sincerely believe that this legislation will contribute towards heralding a new era of heightened awareness of the abhorrent issue of slavery. I have spoken several times on this matter, both in your Lordships’ House and at events outside Parliament. Some opponents of the Bill say that the United Nations international day for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade already serves the purpose of the proposed legislation. My response is that we are far from the point where it is unnecessary to draw attention to the unsavoury practice that continues to take place in this country and around the world.

Clause 1(1) makes it incumbent on the Secretary of State to allocate a specific date that will be observed annually as anti-slavery day. I welcome this section, which serves a broad purpose in acknowledging the suffering inflicted on victims of slavery, and in turn allows us to pay our respects to these individuals. Most importantly, such a day would serve as a reminder to communities that all types of forced servitude have no place in our society.

Clause 1(2)(b) aims to raise awareness among the public of the threat posed by slavery in our society, and of the importance of rejecting all forms of servitude in our communities. It was encouraging to see programmes across the UK in both 2008 and 2009 that created greater awareness of, and further education on, the perils of the slave trade. I expect that this will continue for many years with, I hope, the welcome addition of the provisions in the Bill.

Clause 1(2)(c) acknowledges the progress made by government and agencies in combating exploitation. I fully support the Council of Europe in attempting to combat trafficking in human beings, as it highlights the importance of a multi-agency approach to ensuring the safety of victims, and prosecution of the perpetrators, of slavery. Europol plays a vital role in fostering co-operation between the law-enforcement bodies of member states, in addition to publishing a document each year on the state of human trafficking in the European Union. I also welcome the Government’s decision to implement an action plan to address the problem of human trafficking.

The Poppy project has proven to be a great success in supporting victims of human trafficking and slavery. I commend the Government for acknowledging the need to give assistance to victims of this social evil. I would be grateful if the Minister would say what measures the Government will put in place to ensure that adequate funding and resources are also made available to community groups that give assistance to victims of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Clause 1(3) states that slavery encompasses child trafficking, as well as trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude. The average age of those who enter prostitution in Europe is frightfully low at 14 years. It is believed that the vast majority of these individuals are victims of trafficking.

Close to 330 children are trafficked in Europe each year; the majority enter the modern slave trade in the form of hard domestic labour or, increasingly, the adult trade. That is wholly undesirable and often results in children continuing in this industry into their adulthood. It is therefore the duty of policy-makers and local agencies to give assistance whenever possible to the overwhelming majority of prostitutes who are in the industry against their will.

Human trafficking is an issue of great concern to me. This immoral practice is the equivalent of modern-day slavery. The United Nations convention against transnational organised crime not only prohibits human trafficking but actively requires countries to strive towards addressing the demand for sexual exploitation. The creation of an effective border security system would play a key role in making sure that border police and officials are able to identify traffickers and their victims. Some cases that result in slavery often involve economic migrants who enter Britain with the promise of work and better living conditions than those enjoyed in their native countries. However, upon arriving in Britain, the harsh reality for many migrants is far from the scenario they imagined.

A notable proportion—women in particular—fall prey to ruthless individuals keen to exploit their circumstances. In extreme cases, these women are subjected to mental and physical torture. Those who subject individuals to slavery or servitude are in direct breach of Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thousands of people are trafficked into the United Kingdom each year, yet figures reveal that between 2004 and 2008, only 92 people were convicted of trafficking for illicit purposes and just four people were sentenced for labour trafficking. Records show that 127 people have been convicted of crimes relating to slavery and trafficking to date.

This disparity does not speak highly of the current methods used to deal with this trade effectively. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that all citizens who engage in any form of modern-day slavery are brought to justice? We should take pride in the fact that a large proportion of our society views slavery and human trafficking as wholly abhorrent practices. In spite of this, statistics reveal that more than 5,000 people are trafficked into this country each year. Every citizen is entitled to a decent level of treatment in all areas of their lives. Slavery runs counter to all the beliefs that we hold so dear in our communities. Any legislation that will ensure individuals are treated according to their basic human rights is welcome. I hope that this Bill will gain swift passage through your Lordships’ House to give those who have been subjected to this form of torture the reassurance that we are striving to eradicate any form of slavery in our society.

I was born and brought up in Africa, which has been ravaged by slavery, where great men like General Gordon and Dr Livingstone lived and died and who passionately believed in abolishing slavery. I have also admired Dr Livingstone and in fact visited Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika where HM Stanley first met him. William Wilberforce, a Conservative politician, played an instrumental part in making sure that the abolition of the slave trade became a reality. We have both a moral and a civic duty to continue along this path.

My Lords, I support the Bill, which would introduce a national day to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey, most warmly for her cogent and highly important introduction to our debate.

There are many reasons to support the Bill, but I first pay tribute to the vision, diligence and strong political will of the Bill’s originator, the honourable Member for Totnes. We were political neighbours in Devon for 10 years, we have been friends for 25 years, and he is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Trafficking of Women and Children. He gives the leadership and vision that is required to the committee on which I have the honour to serve as treasurer. The honourable Member for Totnes has many and high achievements to his credit, but they have always sprung from his deep social conscience and his special awareness of and talent for communication with young people in difficulty. We are indeed fortunate that his future career will focus most especially on anti-trafficking initiatives.

Slavery, for which trafficking is a major mechanism, is a peculiarly repugnant form of human exploitation. It runs directly in opposition to the values of democracy that we uphold. I see it on the same ugly level as racism. Why so? Because, like racism, it rests on the destruction of the identity, on the annihilation of all human rights and the unchangeability of the situation by the victim.

I will focus my remarks today on Clause 1(3)(b), which covers child trafficking. Child trafficking is the fastest-growing sector of organised crime. I have had the good fortune of working lately with Europol and Interpol, and I question whether the European Union can be seen as the best tool for our national anti-trafficking initiatives for children. We have national strengths and absolute national responsibility for the children who cross our borders, but also for the children who come from different countries of the European Union and from the wider Europe. Child trafficking is indeed a modern slavery. I recall well many hundreds of children, perhaps nearly 1,000, who went to Bolivia, supposedly for holidays with supposed parents—different adults each time took three, four, five or six children supposedly from an eastern European country to Bolivia. Of course, they did not come back and were never seen again.

I have visited countless institutions that hothouse their unsuspecting victims. These children, the victims, have been taken from their own families. They are mistakenly labelled as orphans, whereas in fact, across the whole of Europe, only 3 to 4 per cent have lost their parents. Those unsuspecting victims range from babies—I recall countless institutions with babies due to be trafficked out—to small children and many, many children aged seven, eight, nine or 10.

The internet is now a key purchase mechanism. I remember a girl of 15 saying to me, “Isn’t it wonderful? I have now found a family”. I said, “How did you find the family?”. She said, “They saw me on the internet. I know they are going to love me very much”. I do not recall ever hearing from her again. I remember a lovingly fostered boy of three, a lovely child. The authorities photographed him every few months until he reached the required age of four and a half, when he was ripped from the foster family, the only family that he had ever known, and has disappeared in another EU member state. I know where he went to, but he did not stay there long. Another girl of 11, a most beautiful child, a lovely child, was sold to three different purchasers in three different countries. I do not know who got her in the end; I lost the trail.

Those children have no names. They have no case files. They are just numbers on a computer list and supplied with fake birth certificates on point of departure. I have seen institutions in central and eastern Europe that are wholly dedicated to the acquisition, the purchase by outsiders and the dispatch to them of “suitable children”. “If you want a Russian girl under 12 and guaranteed a virgin, it is easy; just come to me”. It is as easy as anything. No identification of the purchaser is needed; a credit card is all that is required, and the deed is done. I am not talking about isolated cases, either. In one eastern European country that I know very well indeed, some 30,000 children at least have disappeared over several years. These are the government figures—the real figures are significantly higher—and this is a Government who can now keep track of what has happened.

What about the purchasers? Criminal fraternities in EU member states and North America, for example, feature heavily among those who deal in children. How should we stop it? The UK is a major magnet, as well as a key route, for onward trafficking. I can think of one poor boy who came through Britain, where his passport was changed to something else. Of course, his original passport was not really his at all; it was in another name. His name was changed here, as were his passport and identification details, and he went off to the USA. Despite the combined efforts of the FBI, Scotland Yard, the police force and ministries of the inadvertently supplying country, none of us could find that boy again. All that was found was a major international paedophile ring; he had disappeared into that vortex.

There are certain hotspots on which we can focus; I am thinking particularly of eastern and central Europe. I recently visited the perimeters of Transnistria. There are no children’s rights in Transnistria at all, as you can imagine. That is a place through which many hundreds of thousands of women and children have flowed in recent years. It is not enough to impose sanctions on Transnistria, as the European Union Council of Ministers declared some 10 days ago. Sanctions will not bite unless we can support and help the Moldovan Government, who are now democratically elected, in practical ways.

Major new European Union member states also supply the trade. What are the problems? They are weak laws, corrupt judiciaries, and complicit or even originating state authorities. How can we help? I recommend that specialist UK police on the ground will make all the difference. It is such a modest investment, yet it works. I have watched it work. It pays multiple dividends. Customs training can also help dramatically, as can judicial training, which Britain has supplied for different countries over the years. We have the experience, and we can offer help and support to the Governments in question.

It is essential to reform the law, as it affects both the rights of the child and the trafficking of human beings. It is extraordinary to recall that Bulgaria, a new member state of the European Union, outlawed trafficking only a few months before it joined the European Union. Even Russia, with whose Duma I discussed the matter, outlawed it a year earlier. Most seriously, we should strengthen British embassies. The extremely modest funds of our embassy in Moldova, for example, have been cut again. Is this a wise decision? Sanctions on Transnistria can only be effective with the newly elected democratic Government, and the British embassy can give tremendous support. We should also work within the European Union to combat other states’ predatory behaviour and make the European Union a bloc of member states that most firmly uphold the rights of the child. Not every member state does, whether it is old or new.

Of course, Britain cannot do everything. But I stress again that we are a key target of traffickers. We have a high national conscience and a tremendous potential to influence. The security and stability of our own society is greatly aided by the stability in the wider Europe and the target countries that we could identify.

I therefore support this Bill wholeheartedly and profoundly, and with deep and bitter personal experience of the source countries from which these children come. We need an annual reminder, a jolt to our consciences, of trafficking, slavery and human exploitation. We need an anti-slavery day.

My Lords, I too thank the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for introducing this Bill and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for stepping into her place so eloquently. I too add my support to this Bill. If I had the opportunity to publish a book of beautiful letters, it would include a personal letter of just 500 words written by St Paul to his friend Philemon. Somehow, it found its way into the New Testament.

Philemon had a slave called Onesimus. He had run away and found his way eventually to Rome where Paul was under house arrest. Paul sent the slave back, in theory, I would imagine, to possible death. After all, within the context of the culture, he was only a slave. He sent him with an impassioned letter saying, “Welcome him back as you welcome me—not as a slave, but as a brother. And if there are any financial issues, I will cover them”. That could have included the price of his redemption. It is the understanding that we are all brothers and sisters in the one human family that conquers slavery and the related abuses about which people have spoken already.

Civilisation is rather like the earth’s crust. It is much thinner and much less stable than we might imagine. The last century has shown us all too tragically how barbarism can erupt even as a nation pretends to be civilised. Holocaust Memorial Day has given us an annual warning, lest we forget. An anti-slavery day will do the same.

The Diocese of Bradford has a link with the church in Erfurt, Germany. Early in my time as a bishop, I paid a visit to Erfurt for a long weekend. It was the weekend of Remembrance Day in England. It was also the anniversary of Kristallnacht and the pogrom against the Jews, as well as the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Just for good measure, it was also the anniversary of the baptism of Martin Luther, who had been a student in Erfurt and had divided western Christendom. Twenty thousand Protestants and Catholics celebrated Martin Luther’s baptism side by side with great rejoicing. The bishop went to the synagogue in penitence. We remembered together.

A day remembering the horror of slavery must be a time when we remember together, whether as representatives of abusers or of victims. How we remember is more important than the mere fact of remembering, if we are to live together as one family and if slavery is truly to be abolished. I had originally intended to suggest a date—30 July. For once this week, I could speak of the church perhaps being ahead of this House, rather than somewhere in the slipstream. We already have an anti-slavery day, when we remember people like William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and fellow members of the Clapham Sect.

One of the people we remember by name has already been mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. Olaudah Equiano was born in the mid-18th century in what is now Nigeria. He was captured, sold into slavery and passed from one person to another. In the process, he was transported to the Americas. He purchased his freedom, became a sailor, and apparently was the first black man to try to reach the North Pole. Whether that it is worth trying to do, I am not sure. Eventually, as a free man and a sailor, he arrived in this country. He settled here and joined the anti-slavery movement. His autobiography was a runaway success and a major factor in changing hearts and minds in this country. He was someone who had been what others were talking about. Incidentally, he was baptised in St Margaret’s, Westminster, just across the road.

I think the date mentioned was 11 January, which would be much better than 30 July, given that the latter date is in the school holidays. I hope that the Bill will become law and that the church will change its anti-slavery day to match.

We are witnessing slavery in our own society today, given the global village we live in. Extensive mention has already been made by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, about sex trafficking. I am also concerned about the domestic slavery which takes place in this country and in the lives of British citizens. I am thinking especially of those who come from south Asia or who are sent there, often unwittingly, to enter into forced marriages. I have met Albert David, who works for the high commission in Islamabad; indeed, a television programme featured him not many years ago. When called, he goes out to rescue girls and young women who find themselves in forced marriages, and brings them back. It is interesting how many of the husbands, as they are, are willing for their wives to leave. Perhaps they made their lives such a misery; I do not know. I commend the work of the British high commission in rescuing young women who find themselves forced to live in a country they do not want to live in and with a family they do not want to live with.

Here in Britain there are also women, perhaps from south Asia or perhaps from this country, who are forced into domestic slavery. In Keighley in the Diocese of Bradford we have a shared project sponsored by Faith in Action, the Keighley Asian Women’s and Children’s Centre and Bradford University. Together a safe place is provided for young girls. We can alert them to the danger of forced marriage and assure them that they have a choice. Talks are given by the police, by a Muslim worker from Bradford Cathedral speaking on the Muslim perspective of marriage, and by another person on Christian marriages. Six of the girls produced a drama which has been recorded by Bradford local radio. The play is based on the experience of one of those girls of an attempt to force her into marriage.

We must keep the issue of slavery in the minds of all our people for fear that things should that we cannot imagine should continue to go on. All our communities should be aware of this abhorrent blot on the history of humanity so that it does not continue as a live issue in our midst.

My Lords, it is with great pleasure that I add my voice to those supporting the terms of my noble and learned friend’s Bill to inaugurate an anti-slavery day. I commend my noble friend Lady Young of Hornsey for the way in which she has moved the Second Reading debate today. Like others, I should also like to pay tribute to Mr Anthony Steen MP, and to the all-party group for its tireless efforts on this issue. At one time Mr Steen and I were neighbours as Members of Parliament in Liverpool before he became the Member of Parliament for Totnes, and we remain friends to this day. My noble friend kindly mentioned the Jubilee Campaign during the course of her remarks, one that I helped to found some years ago. I am grateful to her for that.

In 2007, which was the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, I ran a series of Roscoe lectures on behalf of Liverpool John Moores University, where I hold a chair, commemorating the passage of William Wilberforce’s Bill to abolish the transatlantic slave trade and highlighting the nature of contemporary forms of slavery. For those who may not have read it, William Hague’s magnificent biography of Wilberforce simply cannot be bettered.

Liverpool was at the epicentre of the trade. Even so, brave men such as William Roscoe would not countenance support for slavery, and he voted with Wilberforce. In his epic poem, The Wrongs of Africa, which was published in 1787, Roscoe wrote of the iron hand crushing the people of Africa. He devoted the proceeds of the poem to the London Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. He wrote:

“Blush ye not

To boast your equal laws, your just restraints,

Your rights defined, your liberties secured,

Whilst with an iron hand ye crush to earth

The helpless African; and bid him drink

That cup of sorrow, which yourselves have dashed,

Indignant, from oppression’s fainting grasp”.

With great strength and clarity, the final stanza of part 1 of this 35-page poem warns its readers:

“Forget not, Britain, higher still than thee

Sits the Judge of Nations, who can weigh

The wrong and can repay”.

Hansard records that, on 23 February 1807, Roscoe told the House of Commons that the slave trade had “disgraced the land”, and he condemned what he called an “inhuman traffic”. After his vote and on return to Liverpool, Roscoe was assailed by the mob and was never returned again to Parliament. It is important that stories like his are not forgotten. The courage and determination of men such as Roscoe and Wilberforce and others who have been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Soley, and my noble friend, should remain an inspiration to future generations.

The stories matter because many of the same battles remain to be fought in our own generation. A week ago I was in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. At several events I spoke about the plight of India’s untouchables, the Dalits, and the forms of exploitation and slavery which stem from the caste system. Dalit is a term which derives from a Sanskrit word meaning “broken” or “crushed”. Dalits form about a quarter of India’s population; one in 40 of the world’s population is a Dalit living in India.

I recalled in my remarks there that, on 22 June 1813, Wilberforce made a major speech in the House of Commons about India. In his remarks he said that the caste system,

“must surely appear to every heart of true British temper to be a system at war with truth and nature; a detestable expedient for keeping the lower orders of the community bowed down in an abject state of hopelessness and irremediable vassalage. It is justly, Sir, the glory of this country, that no member of our free community is naturally precluded from rising into the highest classes in society”.

Two centuries later, President Dr Manmohan Singh has trenchantly argued that,

“untouchability is not just social discrimination; it is a blot on humanity”.

Yet, in 2010, while India is a rising world power and is rightly gaining a reputation for innovation and excellence in many fields, this “blot on humanity” disfigures India’s reputation and has become one of the world’s greatest human rights challenges. Hundreds of millions of people remain imprisoned by the bondage of what Wilberforce called “the cruel shackles” of the caste system. Those shackles inevitably lock their prisoners into the most menial forms of labour, trap them in servitude and leave them susceptible to innumerable forms of exploitation.

In fairness to the Indian Government, growing social mobility and a series of remedial measures introduced since independence have provided some amelioration. Some individual Dalits have reached high positions in Indian society, not least Justice KG Balakrishnan, the senior judge of India’s Supreme Court, and Ms Meira Kumar, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower House of India’s Parliament. Yet, as I heard first hand, even where Dalit people are securing some kind of elementary education, the same opportunities for educational progress later and employment opportunities have been blocked to them.

Few would disagree that the caste system, with all the social prejudices and hierarchies which it entails, continues to enforce and compound servitude and exploitation. The perpetuation of humiliating descent-based occupations is the natural and inevitable consequence of the caste system. The rationale for caste was the division of labour, but—to paraphrase Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of India’s constitution and hero of the Dalits—caste came to enforce a division of labourers.

I illustrate this point with reference to one of the most appalling and disgraceful forms of labour anywhere in the world, known euphemistically as manual scavenging. It involves cleaning human excrement from dry latrines and is uniquely performed by Dalits as a consequence of their caste. The number engaged in this occupation is not known for certain, but it may be as high as, or higher than, the equivalent of the population of Birmingham.

Tens of millions of India’s citizens are subject to many forms of highly exploitative forms of labour and modern-day slavery. This often plays into the problem of debt bondage and bonded labour, which affects tens of millions. It perpetuates a cycle of despair and hopelessness, as generations are bonded to the family debt, unable to be educated and unable to escape. Tragically, the debt is often the result of a loan taken out for something as simple and essential as a medical bill.

The caste system also plays into people trafficking, another form of slavery which affects millions in India and which has been spoken about eloquently by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne. According to a report on CNN Asia last year, India’s Home Secretary, Madhukar Gupta,

“remarked that at least 100 million people were involved in human trafficking in India”,

whether for sex or for labour. The head of the Central Bureau of Investigation said that India occupied a unique position as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking, and that it has more than 3 million prostitutes, of whom an estimated 40 per cent are children. These statistics are hugely significant: the situation in India simply must be at the heart of the fight globally against trafficking. The Dalit Solidarity Network UK, which has been calling for an end to manual scavenging before this year’s Commonwealth Games, also highlights devadasi—a system of ritual prostitution of almost exclusively young Dalit girls.

During their time in India, the British failed to heed Wilberforce and resisted the calls to abolish caste. Although untouchability was barred by the constitution when India secured independence, the system was not dismantled. Most of the worst forms of exploitation are proscribed by statute, but all too often the laws are simply not implemented and the police further entrench, rather than protect against, caste prejudice. This point was made repeatedly in the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in May 2007.

A damning verdict was reached also by a recent, in-depth report by the Robert F Kennedy Center, entitled Understanding Untouchability: A Comprehensive Study of Practices and Conditions in 1,589 Villages. It describes,

“the Government of India’s continued ignorance about the depth of the problem and inadequacy in addressing untouchability and meeting its legal obligations in regard to the abolition of untouchability”.

Caste discrimination is usually associated with India but, in parenthesis, I might add that there are also an estimated 3.5 million to 5.5 million Dalits living in Bangladesh, which is 2.5 to 4 per cent of the total population. The majority are landless and live in chronic poverty in rural areas or urban slums. They are deprived of or actively excluded from adequate housing, healthcare, education, employment and participation in public life. Approximately 96 per cent are illiterate.

I commend the attempt of my noble friend to remember and highlight the campaign against modern-day forms of slavery. In my study at home in Lancashire, I have a small terracotta pot given to me by Dr Joseph D’Souza, international president of the Dalit Freedom Network. Such pots must be broken once a Dalit has drunk out of them so as not to pollute or contaminate other castes. This is the 21st century. It is not the pots which need to be broken, not the people, but the system which ensnares them. Dr D'Souza rightly says:

“If we are not intentional about bringing change and transformation in lives and society it will not happen. To love people is to act on behalf of them”.

My noble learned and friend’s Bill will be a stimulus to act on behalf of people such as the Dalits and I readily support it.

My Lords, I thank those who have initiated this debate in the other place and here this afternoon. It is important that we are reminded of, and do not go to sleep forgetting, some of the tremendous horrors that this world has faced and is still facing.

We shall at some point in the next two years present a pageant of Parliament, which will show all the achievements of Parliament over so many centuries. We can see how Parliament can either create nightmares or turn dreams into reality. This House has the opportunity to turn nightmares into dreams.

A little while ago, the Watoto children’s choir were singing in Old Colwyn in north Wales. The Minister smiles, perhaps because he has heard me on this subject before. They are from a community in Kampala of about 1,600 orphans of AIDS victims. Often they are children who have been found on the rubbish heaps of Kampala and the most unexpected places. They have been taken into the community and given some form of hope where before there was none.

I have heard this choir many times. At the end of one performance, I asked these small kids from six to 13 years of age, “What would you like to be when you grow up?”. They were lovely little children. One of them said—remember, they had just got off an aeroplane—“I’d like to be a pilot”. Others said, “I’d like to be a lawyer”, or perhaps, “I’d like to be a doctor”. No one said that they wanted to be a bishop or a Methodist minister, but they had their dreams. The last child I asked was a 10 year-old, a sturdy little lad, who said, “I want to be President of Uganda”. What a wonderful dream. This Parliament can help those dreams become a reality—this is our big opportunity. William Wilberforce has been mentioned, as have Thomas Clarkson and those others who, two centuries ago, removed such a tremendous barrier to freedom. This work continues.

I know a little of Africa. I have not travelled there very much—only in the north. There is so much poverty and need there. People there dream their dreams, but they have little chance of realising them until we step in. It is in the power of this House, this Parliament and the Government of the United Kingdom to help make those dreams come true. Poverty, as has been mentioned, leads to slavery and a feeling of total worthlessness. We can turn that around.

What is slavery? I recently read this passage about its various forms, which states that someone enslaved today could be,

“forced to work—through mental or physical threat … owned or controlled by an ‘employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse or threatened abuse … dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought or sold as ‘property’”.

We are even told, although I find this very difficult to accept, of women and children being auctioned in the lounges of our airports. A further definition of a slave is that he or she is “physically constrained” or has,

“restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement”.

That includes bonded labour, trafficking, forced labour, children being forced to work as soldiers, domestic labourers and commercial sex workers. I was astonished at the figure of 179 million children in the worst forms of child labour in the world today. Many children have entered forced or early marriages. Girls and women are sentenced to a life of servitude, while others are enslaved through bondage of one sort or another.

We can and must continue to act, and on a global scale. Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”.

We and the nations of the world have signed up to that. The United Kingdom can still take the lead in turning those nightmares into dreams. One way, as so many have said today, is to continue the battle against any form of trafficking or slavery in the 21st century.

My Lords, this is a propitious day. I see from my diary that on 5 March 1953, Josef Stalin died. I do not know whether that has anything to do with the Bill; if so, I leave it to your Lordships’ imagination. In any event, on behalf of the Official Opposition, I welcome the Bill and congratulate its sponsors, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and my honourable friend Anthony Steen in another place, on their work in bringing this issue to the fore. This is not to denigrate the activities today of the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey, in introducing the Bill.

I confess that when I first saw that the Bill had been published, I feared that it might be little more than a gimmick, asking for yet another public holiday. On reading the proposals, I soon saw that, thankfully, I was wrong. I now agree that having a national day—like, for example, Commonwealth Day—is an important initiative aimed at raising public awareness of the victims of human trafficking, who sadly and shamefully can be found in communities across the country. I am far from sure, though, that I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford that 30 July would be a suitable day. Although it would be nice to have church and state conjoined, as he might say, for once, I would be far happier to see a date when Parliament is sitting chosen as appropriate. I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, would agree with me.

I am concerned that when slavery is mentioned people associate it only, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, reminded us, with an abhorrent historical practice which is rightly condemned by all. Many people do not realise that 200 years after William Wilberforce succeeded in abolishing legal slavery in Britain, and later across the empire, the practice, as the noble Lord, Lord Soley, said, is not merely still with us but increasingly prevalent, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, pointed out. I do not—nor, do I think, would any noble Lord—wish to detract from the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, but I wholeheartedly agree that only by increasing public awareness of slavery in its modern forms can we hope to stamp it out, just as a groundswell of popular revulsion in the 19th century changed not just opinions but the law.

Trafficking is a modern form of slavery, increasingly prevalent. It is a serious problem for the UK, which, due in part to our lax border controls, is both a transit and destination country for traffickers. Estimates by the International Organisation for Migration suggest that up to 800,000 people are illegally trafficked across international borders each year. Human trafficking, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, explained, refers to the transportation of people in order to exploit them by deception, intimidation or coercion.

The two main forms of exploitation are labour and sexual exploitation. Trafficking affects men, women and children brought into the United Kingdom to work in the sex industry and as forced labour. Women and girls from eastern Europe, the Far East and Africa are especially vulnerable. I have read the debate on the Bill which took place in another place last month, and read the harrowing stories relayed by honourable Members, which they had encountered in their constituencies and elsewhere. I am sure all noble Lords here today have read that debate or heard of similar experiences. If noble Lords have missed this, they should be left in little doubt about the misery that trafficking can inflict from the speech of my noble kinsman, the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson.

Sexual exploitation frequently involves women or girls who are trafficked to work as domestic servants. They are often mistreated on arrival, including through physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Many are lured under false pretences and made financially dependent on arrival. In the United Kingdom, exploitation of labour is too common in agriculture, construction, domestic cleaning, contract cleaning and the care sector. Well publicised and tragic examples include the Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay and the lorry full of Chinese workers who were discovered suffocated at Folkestone.

We on these Benches have been assiduous, as I hope noble Lords will recognise, in working with other parties in closing loopholes, extending legislation and raising the issue of trafficking where possible. My noble friend Lady Anelay did do on the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004; my noble friend Lady Morris of Bolton has done so in several debates, my noble friend Lady Hanham on the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, and my noble friend Lord Henley on the Coroners and Justice Bill last year. I modestly name but four recent examples. The Minister and I conversed on this subject in a Bill last year. We have all done our bit, at times in the face of resistance from the Government—which thankfully melted away each time—to improve protection for people vulnerable to trafficking.

That is not to deny that much hard work has been done on all sides of the House, the other place and elsewhere too. Like my noble friend Lord Sheikh, I concur with all noble Lords that an anti-slavery day should be an opportunity for private and voluntary groups to raise the profile of their work, to highlight the ongoing outrage of human bondage in its myriad forms and to lobby those with power and influence to go beyond words and step into action. With those words, whether noble Lords consider them fine or not, I extend once again my support for this Bill.

My Lords, I join in the congratulations to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, on sponsoring this Bill in this House and to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, on introducing it today in her excellent speech.

Once again we debate the horrendous subject of human trafficking and slavery, which affects every country in the world, including, of course, the United Kingdom. This was amply illustrated by a number of speakers. The noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, spoke from her knowledge of eastern Europe and other parts of the world. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, referred specifically to where this is going on, as did the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford.

This debate is testament to the determination of your Lordships’ House to ensure that the Government and the United Kingdom as a whole continue to focus on dealing with this crime. As the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, said, this is not an historic crime; it is going on today. I pay particular tribute to the work undertaken by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, under the chairmanship of the honourable Member for Totnes, Anthony Steen—he has been mentioned by a couple of speakers—which has consistently raised awareness of this issue in both Houses. I acknowledge the work and commitment of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, in regard to that group.

My noble friend Lord Soley touched on the Royal Navy. I think that, with a slip of the tongue, he referred to Nelson’s flagship as “Victoria”; it was, of course, “HMS Victory”. I thought that Hansard ought to record that correctly. I hope that noble Lords will indulge me if I speak further on the Navy. The Royal Navy has a very proud history associated with the abolition of the slave trade. Through its active policing and enforcement between 1807 and 1866 we captured more than 500 slave ships. In the same period, when the Royal Naval “Preventive Squadron” was merged with another part of the fleet, it freed an estimated 160,000 slaves, but over that period suffered casualties of some 17,000 men—quite a lot. It is important to remember the efforts and sacrifice of the Navy in combating those horrors. The current director of Anti-Slavery International, Aidan McQuade, called this,

“the most inexplicably forgotten campaign of the Royal Navy. Even at over a century removed, the scale of the achievement and the suffering endured for the sake of others cannot but fill one with a profound sense of admiration”.

I am sure that the House agrees with that.

The Government have given considerable consideration to the proposal that the United Kingdom should introduce a national day of awareness about human trafficking and slavery. Our position remains as outlined by my honourable friend the Minister for Immigration, Phil Woolas, in another place. As he said, we support the principle behind this proposition, which is to raise awareness about trafficking. However, on whether this requires legislation, we will maintain a neutral stance and leave it to the House to decide whether it is appropriate that there should be a statutory anti-slavery day. This is our considered position on this Bill, although it should not be taken, of course, as an indication that any further requests to put awareness-raising days on the statute book will be met with the same response. As my honourable friend the Minister for Immigration said, we are very grateful to the authors of this Bill for including reference to the progress made by the Government in tackling this crime.

We have consistently stated our intention to make the United Kingdom a hostile environment for traffickers, while ensuring protection of, and assistance to, the victims. To this end, we have a comprehensive strategy in the United Kingdom Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking. This was first published in 2007, the year of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, as noble Lords mentioned, and is updated annually—most recently in October 2009. This coincided with EU Anti-Trafficking Day, which noble Lords will know is held on 18 October each year.

The noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, in particular asked what our focus was in our ongoing work. The focus of our efforts is an end-to-end victim-centred strategy in four key areas—prevention; investigation, enforcement and prosecution; providing protection to adult victims; and protecting child victims. Critical to our success is the work of our enforcement agencies. This includes the UK Human Trafficking Centre, which co-ordinates the response of law enforcement. In addition, the second highest priority of the Serious Organised Crime Agency is tackling organised immigration crime, which now includes human trafficking.

We have always recognised that enforcement of our laws alone is not enough. We have therefore always sought to co-ordinate enforcement efforts with a clear focus on the need to prevent the problem in the first place and on protecting victims. This approach was commended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its 26th report of the 2005-06 Session, when it stated:

“We are encouraged by our further belief that the Government is also committed to achieving the best possible balance in its overall policy to combat trafficking, grounding that policy in human rights standards, and has an open mind about how this can best be achieved”.

Central to this approach has been recognition of the need to raise awareness. The noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, specifically asked if we were doing this. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, also mentioned that. To this end internationally, the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Serious Organised Crime Agency have supported a number of initiatives which aim to tackle trafficking at source. We have also been working with partners to strengthen the international response to trafficking, especially at EU level, where we have been negotiating a revised framework decision on human trafficking.

That work is complemented by that undertaken by the UKHTC in developing the Blue Blindfold brand. For those in your Lordships’ House who are not already aware of this, Blue Blindfold is the international brand devised by the UKHTC with partner organisations and which is used to raise awareness about human trafficking. Most recently, this brand has been used to launch an awareness-raising campaign in Belfast. The aim of the brand is to encourage law-enforcement professionals and the general public to become more aware of human trafficking generally and the possibility of it occurring in their areas, because often people do not seem to realise how prevalent the problem is. The Blue Blindfold brand has been adopted by international partners, including Crime Stoppers International, linked with the UNODC's Blue Heart campaign. Blue Blindfold, with its strap line stating:

“Open your eyes to human trafficking”,

encourages all sectors to be aware of the dangers of this horrendous crime. Blue Blindfold is therefore a highly valuable resource for all those interested in ensuring that the dangers of human trafficking are communicated as widely as possible.

A number of noble Lords spoke about the Poppy Project. We have invested some £5.8 million in that, and additionally we have enhanced our victim care arrangements in line with our ratification of the Council of Europe convention. On top of that, we are investing a further £3.9 million in the next financial year to build on the previous success of the Poppy Project, which has been immensely valuable, as some noble Lords have said.

We have made good progress in the other priority areas highlighted by the action plan. On enforcement and prosecutions, the efforts of law-enforcement agencies continue to deter, disrupt and arrest traffickers. We have secured 138 convictions on human trafficking since we commenced the dedicated legislation in 2004.

On protecting victims of trafficking, our ratification in December 2008 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings represents a major milestone in our anti-trafficking efforts and has strengthened the protection arrangements for victims by granting identified victims an extendable 45-day recovery period and one-year temporary residence permit in certain circumstances. Going further, since 1 April 2009 we have established a national referral mechanism systematically to identify victims within a multi-agency framework designed to make it easier for agencies involved in tackling trafficking to co-operate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to support.

To support victim care, we have invested more money—about £4 million—in addition to the £6 million already invested. Child trafficking is a particularly emotive issue for all of us, as children are uniquely vulnerable. A number of speakers touched on this, with the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, referring to that marvellous choir of wonderful young children that came over. To address the needs of children, we have established and maintained a multi-agency effort through joint working with children’s services, law enforcement agencies, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre. There is also the work of the missing persons task force, which the Prime Minister launched in December 2009. The task force is looking at ways in which to strengthen and improve the multi-agency response to missing persons incidents through the announcement in January of the Government’s intention to strengthen the role of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre by placing the organisation on a statutory footing and giving it a lead on the issue of missing children, which is something that we needed to do.

We remain determined to eradicate this abhorrent crime, as all speakers have highlighted. I am glad that that is on the record. We have made progress but we cannot be complacent—and we are not. We cannot afford to sit back and reflect on achievements so far; we will continue to look forward and develop our strategy both nationally and internationally, since this must be done as an international effort, to ensure that we do not allow the dangers of human trafficking to slip off the radar. To prevent this from happening, it is crucial that we keep the level of awareness high, not only among enforcement agencies and professions but among the general public. Whether that is best served by legislating for an awareness-raising day is a matter for your Lordships.

I start by thanking all noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon. This Bill has come here due to the efforts of the honourable Member for Totnes, Mr Anthony Steen, and my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss. I have merely been a vehicle to put the Bill forward today.

I shall not try to summarise everything that everyone has said, but I should like to draw attention to a number of points. Several noble Lords made the link between the historic and the contemporary, which is very important, although it can cause controversy in some areas. It is not a matter of saying that one is worse or better than the other. As came out of the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, there are issues around the lack of humanity and the erasing of someone’s human identity, which also diminishes the person who is doing it, although of course they do not see it that way. This utter dehumanisation is a common thread that unfortunately runs through history, as the noble Lord, Lord Soley, pointed out. The noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, also pointed very effectively to the link between the historical and the contemporary, highlighting the strenuous efforts that the Government have made, which the Minister elaborated on. However, in spite of all the measures that have been taken, the situation is getting much worse.

We must do a lot more to raise people’s consciousness and awareness of what is going on. It is good to have these initiatives and I would absolutely support any other initiatives, but I would also argue that, if the Bill is passed, it will enhance those initiatives and give them a higher profile. I doubt at the moment that they have the kind of profile that we would want them to have. I do not know, for example, how many people are aware of the Blue Blindfold initiative.

My noble friend Lord Alton helped to contextualise this issue in a wider human rights context, which is not to denigrate the issue of caste. There was a lot that I had not heard about before which drew those parallels. Again, this is a question of enhancing and elaborating on some of these points so that the general public are much more aware, can press harder for things to be done and be aware of when these things are happening around them. One of the markers in the research that I found both interesting and disturbing was how you can pass a row of houses in your street and not know that these things are going on unless you are alert to the signs. This is an important move in that respect.

I am conscious of the time, so I will finish now. But I have to say that I was slightly surprised and a little disappointed that the Government felt that they had to take a neutral stance on this. It fits so well with their initiatives and the other work that they are trying to do and what they want to achieve. I just wanted to say that for the record.

I hope that the Bill will have an unopposed Second Reading. If there are amendments it will mean that the Bill will fail, so I hope that there will be none. I commend this Bill to the House.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

My Lords, I notice that modesty has caused the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark to slip away. However, on behalf of the whole House, I place on record our congratulations on his birthday today and our sadness at losing him, because he retires today.

I would like to add to the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, on behalf of these Benches, and wish the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark every happiness in his retirement. I take this opportunity to say that, although right reverend Prelates have a switch-off date at the age of 70, I hope that that never occurs with lay Members of your Lordships' House.

House adjourned at 2.58 pm.