House of Lords
Wednesday, 19 March 2014.
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of St Albans.
The revival of the automotive sector has created component supply opportunities across the UK. Sertec, for example, a Midlands-based supplier to JLR, has seen its turnover quadruple and will create 400 new jobs over the next four years. The Automotive Council has identified a potential £3 billion in opportunities for UK-based manufacturers where components are currently sourced overseas. To help marry this opportunity with investor appetite, we have created the Automotive Investment Organisation.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. There are many small companies that survived somehow through the recession and showed great courage to keep their teams together and to continue to invest, often while reducing their own pay as directors. Does the Minister agree that these companies should be praised for doing the right thing?
I acknowledge my noble friend’s comments and applaud those small companies that have maintained customer relations through often tough trading conditions, sometimes by ploughing back past profits into the business. They in turn rely on large manufacturers remaining here in the UK. For example, General Motors’ decision to retain its Ellesmere Port facility and grow its local supply chain while making cuts elsewhere is testament to our flexible, skilled workforce and collaborative working between government, industry and the unions.
My Lords, in 2008, soon after Tata took over Jaguar Land Rover, I visited its factory. At that time, it faced huge challenges. Today, Jaguar Land Rover is making more in profits than it paid for the company six years ago. I was with the chief executive, Dr Ralf Speth, last week, who said that the most important thing to them is innovation. What are the Government doing to promote, support and encourage innovation in the automotive industry and in manufacturing?
Much innovation is going on, across a range of issues. It is very good that we have announced today some help particularly for apprenticeships and a doubling of funding for our direct lending programme to £3 billion. Innovation is key to making sure that the products that we make are in demand abroad, not just in Europe but beyond.
Indeed. It is good to hear that. Last year, we produced more than 1.5 million cars in the UK, which was 3% up on 2012, so it is a real success story, with a car rolling off a British production line every 20 seconds. The UK has now overtaken France as the third largest European car producer, behind Germany and Spain.
My Lords, the transformation of the car industry is remarkable, but only one-third of car components are sourced in the UK. With the growing concern about shortages of technical skills, does the Minister agree that a similar transformation of our technical education is urgently required?
That is certainly true and I welcome the challenge. We established the Automotive Investment Organisation with up to £3 million-worth of funding over the next two years. It aims to double the number of jobs created or secured in the automotive supply chain through foreign direct investment over the next three years to 15,000. The Government certainly support investment, R&D and skills. For example, we fund an industry-led project with £13.4 million for training to help improve the competitiveness and capability of automotive supply chain companies.
Does the Minister agree that at the heart of the excellent news that he just gave about the automotive industry is the ongoing strategic collaboration between government and industry through the Automotive Council—a simple Labour innovation bringing together the modern face of engaged and flexible trade unionism with management and the Secretary of State? What plans has the Minister to introduce this to other sectors of our economy?
My Lords, the Minister recognised the need for innovation in maintaining a healthy industry. Innovation depends on R&D—research and development. The Government have a programme for grant-aiding research and development in industry. The important thing is that the money comes while the initiative and manpower are there to accept it. What is the average time taken by the Government to respond to applications for R&D grants? Is it faster than the snail-like progress of the European Union?
Does the Minister recognise that the automotive industry now is classically an industry of the European Union? Does he celebrate with me the German investment through BMW and VW at Crewe with Bentley Motors and with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, the enormous improvement of the product and the increase in the number of jobs?
Is my noble friend aware that, as far as the high-powered Formula 1 area is concerned, within Northamptonshire there must be something like 25 or 30 high-tech companies contributing to the development of the automotive industry? I will make one comment on what is still missing. Is my noble friend aware that the Queen’s Award for Enterprise needs to be revitalised to recognise all the exciting work coming out of these creative industrial engineering companies?
Health: Local Healthwatch Funding
The Government have made no assessment. We welcome transparency in funding for local Healthwatch—something we called for in response to the Francis inquiry report—and Healthwatch England’s findings are a helpful contribution to that. We remain of the view that local authorities are best placed to decide local funding arrangements based on local needs and priorities, which is why the funding made available to them is not ring-fenced for a specific purpose.
So the noble Earl is telling the House that £10 million—almost a quarter of the money that his department allocated for local Healthwatch—has disappeared midway through the Department for Communities and Local Government to local government and not reached local Healthwatch. Was that not predictable and predicted? Why do the Government not now recognise that providing a local voice for the users of the health service is critical to the development of the health service and ensure that the funds are channelled through Healthwatch England for it to commission local services? If they cannot do that because it would require legislation, perhaps the Government could publish an indicative statement of what each local authority ought to be spending on local Healthwatch.
My Lords, I would say that it is not the role of the Government to dictate what local authorities should be doing. It is up to local authorities to make judgments about what are the needs and priorities of their areas. I would also say that there cannot really be any direct comparison between the money made available by central government and the funding provided to local Healthwatch. It is not the case that £10 million has somehow disappeared. It is, rather, that councils have made local funding decisions which mean that £33.5 million was invested in local Healthwatch last year. What matters here is the transparency. That is what we very much welcome. It enables local Healthwatch to hold local authorities to account for their funding decisions and thereby, perhaps, influence them to give them a bit more money if that is required.
My Lords, we will not have a comprehensive picture of the impact that local Healthwatch has made until it publishes its annual reports later in the year. At the moment, we have anecdotal reports of some considerable successes around the country, but until we have those annual reports, it would be premature for me to make a general comment.
My Lords, it is surely disingenuous to think that local Healthwatch can properly represent the interests of patients—the Government made very strong commitments about that during the passage of recent health Bills—when it is being starved of cash. What discussions have been taking place between the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government to ensure that the money gets to the right place?
I simply say to the noble Baroness that it is too soon to say whether local Healthwatch has been starved of cash. What matters most to local communities is the difference that their local Healthwatch is making, such as rooting out poor practice, ensuring that the views of local communities are heard in inspections and helping to improve local services. It is only after a period of time that we can make the relevant judgments. I can tell the noble Baroness that Healthwatch England is playing the role that it was designed to do: overseeing and supporting local Healthwatch where necessary.
I agree with the noble Baroness that, in the normal course of events, expenses should be reimbursed, but I say again that it is not the role of Ministers to second-guess the judgments of local authorities. We believe in local autonomy. There are plenty of other ways in which many local authorities are supporting voluntary groups in their areas apart from Healthwatch, and making a difference in that way.
My Lords, I refer noble Lords to my health interests. I can hardly believe what I am hearing. Of course I understand why the noble Earl’s department does not want to tell local authorities what to do, but surely this is a question of upholding propriety in the use of public money. His department allocated more than £43 million to the DCLG to distribute to local authorities for Healthwatch. Somewhere along the line, either in the DCLG or in local authorities, someone has nicked £10 million. Does the department not want its money back?
I do not believe that anybody has nicked £10 million, my Lords. The issue here is the one raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and others: the absence of ring-fencing should not be seen as something negative. It has enabled councils to take a strategic approach to allocating their resources, in line with local needs and priorities. It has given them freedom to deploy their resources across the piece to achieve value for money. It is now, as I said earlier, up to local communities, but also local Healthwatch itself, to hold their local authority to account and thereby to demonstrate the impact that they are having, and make the case for more money if they feel that they merit it.
My Lords, the Minister said that this was about transparency, which of course it is. However, is it not also about consistency? There must be regions, boroughs or councils that are not using the money that has been allocated, which is surely to the detriment of the local community and to patients there. Surely we need to know where that money is not being spent and where patients and users of the health service are being sold short.
We do need to know if people are being sold short. I would say to my noble friend that that is one of the reasons why local Healthwatch has a seat at the table of the health and well-being board, where it is eminently able to make its voice heard if it feels that it does not have sufficient resources to do the job which local authorities are legally obliged to commission.
Trade: Import Substitution
Trade and investment are essential to returning the UK economy to balanced and sustainable growth. This Government have focused efforts on creating an attractive business environment in the UK, increasing support for UK firms to grow through exporting and introducing a new service supporting UK businesses to bring jobs back to the UK. Our actions will help UK businesses to compete across the globe, including in Europe and the high-growth market.
I thank the Minister for his very sagacious reply. Does he agree that, as mentioned in today’s Budget, we cannot go on borrowing abroad indefinitely to fund our huge trade imbalances, not least our £88 billion deficit with the EU last year? Currently, our exports are made even less competitive by an ever rising pound which then subsidises the import of goods, many of which we could perfectly well make here at home. Does he agree that, as a trading nation, we cannot ignore our exchange rate and that, by getting this down, we would bring home hundreds of thousands of jobs that our borrowings are creating overseas, reduce our indebtedness and help exports? Is this not a virtuous circle to be recommended as the best way of reducing unemployment and balancing our books?
The Government recognise the scale of the trade deficit as a problem that only a substantial expansion in exports will fix. Building upon the work of my noble friend Lord Green, my noble friend Lord Livingston has refreshed UKTI strategy to focus on helping more medium-sized companies into overseas markets, thereby delivering up to £50 billion-worth to the economy.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, mentioned Bentley, which is now moving the manufacture of all its 12-cylinder engines from Germany to the UK. Is that not marvellous news? In declaring my interest in my own business, we used to manufacture the vast majority in Europe and then reshored because Burton-on-Trent is capable of producing the best beer in the world. The Chancellor mentioned manufacturing in great positive terms in his speech today. What are the Government specifically doing to encourage manufacturing in this country that will help reshoring and help our exports?
Manufacturing remains the most important part of what we do in the UK. UKTI has joined forces with the Manufacturing Advisory Service to relaunch Reshore UK, which will be a new, one-stop-shop service to help companies bring production back to the UK. This will give greater reassurance to hard-working people that there is increasing job security and a better plan for them to make for their families for the future.
My Lords, is not the best contribution that the Government could make towards improving the trade balance a firm commitment to the single market and a policy of strongly supporting the completion of the single market as a committed member of the European Union?
My Lords, the Government could not be clearer that membership of the EU is in the UK’s interest. We will continue to make that case vigorously as we progress with our proposals for reforming the EU. We recognise that the EU supports UK jobs, prosperity and growth through increased trade and investment both inside the single market and through free trade agreements.
My Lords, is it not true that, according to the ONS, only 12% of our GDP goes in trade with clients in the European Union and that is declining and in deficit, 14% goes to the rest of the world and that is increasing and in surplus, and the remaining 88% stays right here in the domestic economy? Is not the answer to this perfectly obvious?
My Lords, I was not intending to be drawn into a discussion on Europe, but the House will like to be reminded that an estimated 3.5 million jobs—some one in 10—are linked to, but not dependent on, trade with the EU. Since the single market came into being, our trade with Europe has tripled. Some 45% of UK exports currently go to the EU, so it remains a most important market.
My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the measures on energy and on support for investment and manufacturing announced in today’s Budget will improve the competitiveness of our industries and therefore encourage import substitution and improve the trade balance?
My Lords, the Government will be aware from the recent CRESC report that the UK pigmeat supply chain is in crisis. The national pig herd has declined by around 50% and the UK has gone from 80% self-sufficiency in bacon sandwiches to less than 50%. Would the noble Lord the Minister—sorry, the sagacious noble Lord the Minister—agree with me that the Government need to take action urgently to encourage the horizontal integration of producers, to support the creation of farm co-operatives and to provide assistance with marketing?
My Lords, is it not true that the European Union’s policies on increasing the cost of energy and, of course, widening fuel poverty are also driving chemical engineering firms out of Europe and out of Britain and will cause a grave loss of jobs? Can we not just tell them that we do not wish those policies to apply here?
Employment: Universal Jobmatch
As I stated last week, our plans are to continue to make improvements to the Universal Jobmatch site based on feedback from employers, jobseekers and staff.
My Lords, is the Minister not just a bit embarrassed that the official government job website has about a third of a million bogus jobs on it, such as “MI6 target elimination specialist” or “International courier for CosaNostra Holdings”? If the Government are anxious to tackle fraud, should they not put their house in order immediately?
My Lords, there is a great deal of confusion around this. I am pleased to be able to straighten it out, because there has been a lot of misrepresentation. There is a small amount of fraud on the site, as there is on other sites. It is less than one in 1,000. We clear them off. This is a hugely successful site. It has more than 500,000 employers on it and nearly 6 million job searches a day. It has transformed the service of getting people back into work, which is of course now at record levels.
My Lords, we take security very seriously. One of the reasons that there is a difference between the standard Monster site and that run by the state is exactly to make sure that there is security in our site. We work closely with Monster on that. People have to be careful with their information on the site, as for anywhere else on the internet. We make sure that there is proper support for people and instruction on how to keep their information safe.
My Lords, when I asked a Question on this subject last week, the Minister was very reassuring. He told the House that:
“Universal Jobmatch has revolutionised the service of Jobcentre Plus. It is a transformative service”.—[Official Report, 11/3/14; col. 1673.]
He added that, of 500,000 employers, only 179 had been looked at for breach of conditions. However, this week the Daily Mail reported that, at the beginning of March, 125,000 jobs—a fifth of the total—were taken off the site. The Guardian reported that, in fact, the department was going to scrap the site in 18 months because there were so many problems.
I invite the Minister to reconsider the answer he gave to me then. Did he know then that the Universal Jobmatch website had so many problems? If so, why was he so reassuring? If he did not know, why did he not know?
My Lords, I am pleased to say that I do know and can reconfirm what I said last week; I can actually amplify it. We are currently investigating about 17 sites for potentially being in breach of our terms and conditions. That does not mean that they are fraudulent; it just means that they may have mistakes in them, they may be duplicates, they may be from job boards, or there may not be a contract with the end user. That is what we mean by being not in compliance with our terms and conditions.
Universal Jobmatch is a very successful system. We are working closely with Monster and the contract runs to 2016. To the extent that there may be some misunderstanding and misrepresentation, the phrase “extend a contract” has a precise meaning: that you run a contract to a certain point, and do not go on extending but renew. We have a policy to work closely with Monster right up to 2016.
Will my noble friend clear up some confusion? Every Labour Government there have ever been have promised to reduce unemployment —of course, because they believe in doing it. Yet every Labour Government there have ever been, from Ramsay MacDonald through Clement Attlee—if my noble friend will forgive me—Wilson, Callaghan and of course Blair and Brown, have left office with unemployment higher than when they came in. Does my noble friend think that there is anything on the website that might explain why that is?
My Lords, to run a successful economy you need to make sure that you do not run it into the ground. I am very pleased to say that with today’s figures the employment rate, if you exclude full-time students, is now running at the same high level it peaked at before the crash. Therefore we have managed to put the right structural changes in place to get employment up to as high a level as it has ever been.
My Lords, Stephen O’Donnell, who runs the National Online Recruitment Awards, said:
“I think it’s criminally unfair to sanction jobseekers for not using such a clumsily built website, rife with spammers … identity thieves and anonymous job ads”.
Will the Minister give a firm assurance that no jobseeker will be sanctioned for failing to use that hopeless website?
My Lords, I make absolutely clear that it is not a hopeless website; it has been hugely misrepresented. Noble Lords in this House would not take criticism from a competitor interest quite as seriously as criticism from more disinterested sources. However, I can assure the noble Baroness that to the extent that anyone is sanctioned, that sanction does not stand. At the moment we are down to a vanishingly small number.
Tax Credits (Late Appeals) Order 2014
Guardian’s Allowance Up-rating Order 2014
Guardian’s Allowance Up-rating (Northern Ireland) Order 2014
Tax Credits Up-rating Regulations 2014
Motions to Approve
Electricity and Gas (Energy Companies Obligation) (Amendment) Order 2014
Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order 2014
Motions to Approve
That the draft orders laid before the House on 6 and 10 February be approved.
Relevant documents: 22nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 34th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, considered in Grand Committee on 17 March.
Committee (6th Day)
Relevant documents: 22nd Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 8th and 12th Reports from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and 6th Report from the Constitution Committee.
Clause 62: Fees
79F: Clause 62, page 50, line 3, at end insert—
“( ) Any power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory instrument, not to be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”
My Lords, I hope it is nothing I am about to say that is encouraging a mass exodus from the Chamber at this point.
We now come to a group of amendments that deal mainly with the transitional and consequential provisions. Our amendments come from some of the recommendations of the 22nd report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, and I turn to them first. Amendment 79F comes from a recommendation of the committee. Clause 62 deals with fees to be charged in connection with immigration and nationality. This would provide for any order made under this clause to be subject to the affirmative procedure. It is a probing amendment to draw the House’s attention to the committee’s remarks and seek information from the Minister.
The provisions in the clause replace the existing provisions in Section 51 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. However, as the committee points out, the structure of the new provisions is different. For absolute clarity, I shall quote from the committee, which states:
“Under section 51, the matters in respect of which fees may be charged are required to be set out in an affirmative order with the amount of a fee to be specified in regulations. Fees regulations under section 51 are subject to the negative procedure unless the amount specified exceeds the cost of the service to which it relates, in which case it is subject to the affirmative procedure. Under clause 62, the matters in respect of which fees are to be charged must still be specified in an order subject to the affirmative procedure and the amount or rate of the fee would also still be specified in regulations. But, those regulations would in all cases be subject to the negative procedure even where the amount or rate of the fee exceeds the costs of provision. However there is a significant difference in that under clause 62 the affirmative order is required to specify how the fee is to be calculated and the maximum amount or rate of the fee that may be specified in the regulations”.
The report continues:
“The Home Office argues in its memorandum that it is appropriate for fees regulations under clause 62 to be subject to the negative procedure where the amount or rate exceeds that required to meet the cost of provision, because the upper limit for the fee will have been specified in the affirmative order under clause 62”.
Although the committee agreed with the Government’s reasoning, it wanted to,
“draw these provisions to the attention of the House because … this represents a reduction in the level of the parliamentary scrutiny applied to immigration and nationality fees where the amount of the fee exceeds the cost of provision”.
Can the Minister put the Government’s reason for this clause on the record, and expand on it, because I am not 100% clear on the reason? The Minister has been very clear when he has spoken in debates about his commitment to scrutiny, so I am sure that he will understand the concerns about any reduction in scrutiny on such issues.
Clause 66 deals with transitional and consequential provisions. Subsection (2) confers power on the Secretary of State by order to,
“make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of”,
the Bill, while subsection (3) provides,
“an order under subsection (2) includes provision amending, repealing or revoking any enactment”.
Our Amendment 81B would leave out subsection (3). Once again, it is a probing amendment and emanates from the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee report, which said—and I share its concerns—that the wording of subsection (3) is very wide. It said that it is,
“not explicit as to whether it is limited to a power to amend an enactment passed or made before or in the same Session as that in which the Bill is enacted, whether it includes a power to amend an enactment passed or made after that, or indeed whether it includes a power to amend an enactment contained in the Bill itself”.
The Government responded to the committee saying that it was,
“not intended to extend to a power to amend future legislation”,
and that the reference to any enactment cannot be read as applying to the Bill itself. I seek clarity on that, because the Minister said that the Government were considering amending subsection (3) to extend the power to amend the provision of the enactment passed after the Bill but in the same Session.
I am grateful to the Minister for sharing that letter with us. Our reason for tabling the amendment is to get the Government’s rationale on record. Has he considered the committee’s recommendation that this be made explicit in the Bill? Is he intending to bring anything forward? The Government said that they thought that it was clear and the committee said that it did not think that it was. If the Government are considering an amendment, surely now would be the time to bring it forward, given that the issue has been raised already. I am curious as to whether the Minister thinks that an amendment should be brought forward and if he is considering doing so at a later date. It is clarity that I am seeking there.
The other point on which I seek clarity concerns transitional arrangements under the Bill generally. What transitional arrangements does the Minister expect to make under this clause? He will recall that I raised this point in a previous debate in relation to Clauses 33 and 34 on access to health services. I asked the noble Lord whether he could help me understand the position of someone who was in this country legally, had not paid the visa levy but would do so once the visa became subject to renewal. Given that they are in the country legally, I assume that they are still entitled to healthcare even though they will pay the surcharge when they have to renew their visa.
I understand the policy behind this measure but do not quite understand how it will work in practice. How will doctors and hospitals be made aware of the fact that these people are not required to pay the charge, even though they have not paid the surcharge? These people are here legally and will pay the surcharge if they renew their visa, but how will the persons themselves know that the charge does not apply to them? There is a lack of clarity about how National Health Service staff will know whether or not to charge somebody and who is eligible in those circumstances.
When I raised this point before, the noble Lord did not really answer my question. He made clear what the position and the policy were and said that the payment would be required only if people were making a new application or were new applicants. I understand the policy but I cannot work out how it will be implemented. I think that when the noble Lord responded to me there was confusion about transitional provisions in the Bill, and transitional arrangements to ensure that the Bill can be implemented. That is the part I am trying to get to the bottom of—how will these provisions work in real life? If the noble Lord can clarify that in the light of any transitional arrangements to be made, I would find that helpful. If it is not clear how this policy will work in practice—it is not yet clear to me and may not be clear to other noble Lords—new transitional provisions may have to be inserted in the Bill to clarify that. If the noble Lord can enlighten me on that issue now, it would avoid my having to bring forward a further amendment on Report to seek clarity. I may not have been 100% clear when I spoke on this issue previously, and perhaps that is why the noble Lord did not answer my question fully at the time, but I hope that he can do so now.
Obviously, I cannot speak to amendments in the group in the names of other noble Lords, but the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has tabled a number of interesting amendments on the technical operation of the Bill. I look forward to hearing what is said on those amendments, and the Minister’s response to them, because at this stage of the Bill the thing we seek most is clarity in regard to its implementation. I beg to move.
My Lords, my noble friend Lady Hamwee and I have several amendments in this group, the first of which is Amendment 82A. I am not quite sure why that provision appears in Schedule 9 at all as it does not appear to be consequential on anything elsewhere in the Bill, and nor is it transitional.
We would also like to know why the Secretary of State thinks it necessary to have this sweeping power to revoke a person’s indefinite leave to remain, if it was obtained by deception, without considering the proportionality of the action. Section 76 of the British Nationality Act, which it is sought to amend, already contains a power to revoke a person’s ILR if it was obtained by deception, and if the person concerned would be liable to deportation because of the deception but cannot be removed. It is these latter qualifications that we seek to delete since otherwise the power would apply to any ILR obtained by deception whatever the circumstances. The qualifications mean that the deception has to be of a nature serious enough to justify deportation, and we think that provision ought to be retained. This means, for example, that the person must have known that deception was used to obtain his ILR and that consideration must be given to the length of time that he has been in the UK and to any family ties that he may have in this country.
Amendment 87ZG would retain Section 87 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which allows a tribunal judge to give directions following a successful appeal. Again, it is a mystery to us as to how this provision finds itself in a part of the Bill headed, “Transitional and consequential provision”, when neither of those adjectives apply. I should like the Minister to say that all the paragraphs of Schedule 9 referring to other Acts will be repositioned before Report.
As long as there are successful appeals—as there will be, however much the Government try to minimise them by removing legal aid and tightening up the Immigration Rules—judges ought to have these powers. Directions commonly require the Home Office to do something within a particular time or take specific steps—for example, to bring a person back within the jurisdiction. There is a special place for directions when a successful appeal is brought against deprivation of nationality. When a person wins such an appeal, it surely ought not to be within the Secretary of State’s discretion as to whether that person’s citizenship is restored. Yet that would be the position if this amendment is not accepted. As the law stands, the judge could order the Secretary of State not only to restore the person’s citizenship but to backdate the restoration to the date of the unlawful deprivation. This could be important, for example, when a child is born to the person during the period of their deprivation and the child forfeits their own British citizenship as a result.
Amendment 87ZH retains the definition in Section 113 on interpretation in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. There is a reference to varying leave to enter or remain but it does not include a reference to adding, varying or revoking a condition of leave. This amendment is designed to give the Minister an opportunity to explain to the Committee why it was considered necessary or appropriate to widen the scope of these definitions.
Finally, Amendment 87ZJ deals with the notice that the Secretary of State may serve on a person, P, who has made a protection of human rights claim or an application to enter or remain in the UK, or in respect of whom a decision to deport him has been or may be taken. In addition to the specified information that the notice may require P to provide, we proposed to add the words in the amendment, which would deal with any change in his circumstances to which new subsection (5) would apply. The requirement of that new subsection, whereby if P’s circumstances have changed he must immediately spell out those changes to the Secretary of State and inform her of the additional reasons or grounds on which he should be permitted to enter or remain in the UK, or should not be moved from or required to leave the UK, is unreasonably onerous. It should be borne in mind that P will probably be unrepresented, given the removal of legal aid for immigration cases, other than asylum. How on earth is P supposed to know that such a statement is required? If he does know because it was explained and given in writing to him when the first notice was served, or even because notice is given and received in accordance with this amendment, will the Minister not concede that it is terribly unrealistic to expect P to identify and articulate those grounds, there being no properly resourced system of advice and representation for the person who is subject to immigration control? There will inevitably be requirements that he is unable to comply with, and this is certainly one of them.
By virtue of the test for legal aid, an applicant, including a child, must have been lawfully resident in the UK for 12 months. Persons who are accepted as having been trafficked are eligible for legal aid for their immigration case but not for judicial review. The same applies to victims of domestic violence. Does my noble friend really consider that people in these situations will be able to provide the supplementary statement required in new Section 120(5), or will he concede that it is nothing but a trap to be used against them?
My Lords, first, I think that my noble friend has informed the Minister that we will not be speaking to Amendment 87ZD. We realise that we have made an error in it, for which I apologise to the Committee.
The last amendment in this group, Amendment 87ZJ, is also an amendment to Schedule 9—the part dealing with the grounds for an application. P—the person to whom my noble friend referred—is required to provide a supplementary statement to the Secretary of State or immigration officer setting out new circumstances and additional reasons or grounds, where there are any, as soon as practicable. My amendment would add to an earlier paragraph a requirement for P to inform the Secretary of State of the change in circumstances in order that he is made aware of the need to do so. As my noble friend said, he will probably have no assistance in this, so we are suggesting that the Secretary of State should include this in the notice served on P.
The first of the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness had me looking at Clause 62 this morning. On Monday, the Minister said that he believed in scrutiny. I do, too. I also believe in getting answers to questions on the record. I will whip through my questions quickly and hope that he will be able to whip through his answers quickly, but they are points about which, when fees are being set, I think practitioners as well as parliamentarians will be concerned.
I read the term “specified fee”—which is used, among other places, in Clause 62(7)—as meaning that the Secretary of State will make an order specifying categories of fees which will then be set by regulations. If that is so, can my noble friend indicate the criteria for making some categories subject to an order and some to regulations?
I went on to see in Clause 62(2) that there seems to be a requirement for a fees order for all fees—or are fees to be chargeable outside the functions within subsection (2)? Does “any specified fee” in Clause 62(4) mean each fee specified by a fees order? In that subsection and in subsection (6), which deal with the factors that might apply in setting fees, what factors might there be other than an hourly rate? The drafting suggests that they might be something similar to an hourly rate, but it would be helpful to understand what they might be.
Can the Minister confirm that in Clause 62(6) the rate is in fact an hourly rate? Can he tell the Committee whether—this is perhaps less technical but it is of considerable interest—a calculation that involves an hourly rate will give the position or grade of the officers for whom the rate is charged? Where a fee is intended to exceed the cost, because that is allowed for, will this be made clear in the Explanatory Memorandum to the regulations?
Clause 62(10) provides for exceptions. Can the Minister tell the Committee whether the exceptions might allow for an increase in a particular class of cases or individuals and how exceptions will be determined? I am interested in how Clause 62(10)(b) will work with Clause 62(8). I assume that subsection (10)(b) overrides subsection (8), which requires that a fee should not be less than a prescribed minimum. Why is Clause 62(10)(c), concerning failure to pay, needed? There is a provision relating to this in the next clause. The subsection refers to,
“the consequences of failure to pay a fee”.
What might those be in addition to enforcement of the debt? Might this refer, for instance, to refusing a visa when a future application is made?
Clause 62(12) defines costs. Perhaps we could have an example of the costs that will be covered by a fee that is,
“not funded from public money”.
My imagination did not stretch that far. Finally, Clause 62(13) refers to “particular arrangements” and “particular ways”. Are these terms intended to cover services such as the premium fast-track service? I am grateful to the Committee for its indulgence and particularly grateful to the Minister for dealing with these issues.
My Lords, I share the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in relation to Clause 62. In particular, will the Minister give the Committee an assurance that there will be transparency as to what proportion of the fees will relate to,
“the costs of exercising the function”,
and what proportion will address other matters? It is very important that the public and both Houses of Parliament know the breakdown of the fees in that respect.
I am concerned also about Clause 66(3), which is the subject of the probing amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, and relates to “Transitional and consequential provision”. I agree with the comments of the Delegated Powers Committee that it would be highly desirable to make clear in the Bill that this power is intended to cover only existing legislation and not to give a power to amend, repeal or revoke future enactments. I am sure that that cannot have been the intention but it is highly desirable that this should be clarified.
I do not think that there is any risk, which the Delegated Powers Committee was concerned about, that Clause 66(3) could be interpreted to allow for amendment of this legislation. As I understand it, it is linked to Clause 66(2). It allows an amendment to repeal or revoke,
“in consequence of this Act”.
It seems to me that to amend this legislation could not be in consequence of this Act. But if it is the Government’s intention to confer a power by Clause 66(3) to amend this legislation, please will the Minister say so.
My Lords, I beg the indulgence of the Committee if I raise a matter which may appear to be more relevant to an earlier part of the Immigration Bill that the House has already taken. I should like to ask the Minister at what stage either the Secretary of State or any other Minister in the Home Office became involved in the case of Alois Dvorzac, an 84 year-old Canadian who died in handcuffs at Harmondsworth detention centre? He was born in Slovenia and was on his way from Canada to Slovenia, in transit through Gatwick, when he was taken from Gatwick and put into Harmondsworth, where he died. He neither claimed United Kingdom nationality nor had it removed. Therefore, this seems to be something of which the United Kingdom should fairly be ashamed. At what stage did Home Office Ministers become involved in this tragic affair?
I rise to probe the Government’s intentions on fees following the questions that have been put by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, on Amendment 79F and in the other points raised. This is a useful consolidation of the rules and the powers on fees, but I have two questions that I hope my noble friend will be able to comment on. First, what are the Government’s plans for immigration and visa fees following the passage of this Bill? Secondly, will fees and future changes to fees be set out clearly on the government website which I hope the Government will establish so that, following the passage of this important Bill, everyone clearly understands the prevailing immigration and visa arrangements? Those are points about intention and about transparency.
My Lords, noble Lords have asked me quite a number of questions and I will do my best to show a techie side to my nature. Where I slip up, perhaps noble Lords will allow me to write. I am aware of the case mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. I will have to write to him because I cannot give him an authoritative answer on a point that is not directly to do with the amendments that we are considering today. In any event, I will make sure that I get a letter to him on that issue.
I will speak to Amendments 79F, 81B, 82A, 87ZG, 87ZH and 87ZJ, which have been grouped together. I will not mention Amendment 87ZD because that has not been spoken to.
Amendment 79F concerns fees. It fits slightly uneasily in this grouping, but I am sure that it is something that we want to address. The current legislative framework for setting and amending visa fees is slow and inflexible, and we are experiencing that at the moment. We had a statutory instrument in January, and later on next week we will debate the actual fee levels. This two-part process is not necessarily the most informative. It makes it difficult for the Home Office to respond to identified issues—and opportunities, because this is an important area of income generation for the Government.
For example, it does not allow us to introduce new premium services or amend fees up or down within a particular period. It has also been criticised in this House because the “menu” of immigration and visa services is debated separately from the prices of the things on the menu. As I have said, that seems a funny way of doing things. The fees measures in the Bill are meant to address both of those issues.
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Pannick—who queried transparency on this issue, as did my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe—that the whole point of this is to be more transparent and provide information on fees. The mandate to provide fees is an important thing to secure in Parliament. As I said, they are an important factor for the Home Office.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee made a number of technical points and I would like to thank her for advising me of them. The fees order will set out in relatively general terms the types of categories of fees that will be charged for. It will set the maximum and in some cases—although not all—the minimum levels for the fees that fall within each category. The order will be subject to the affirmative procedure. The regulations will then specify the precise fee for each product, which could stretch to several hundred different fees. This mirrors the current arrangements. For example, the current fees order states that we can charge for,
“a sponsor licence or renewal of such a licence”,
and the fees regulations specify all the different fees for each type of sponsor licence payable by the different categories of sponsor. Thus the detail included in the order and the regulations mirrors the current arrangements set out in Section 51 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 except in terms of the introduction of maximum, and in some cases minimum, fee levels into the order.
My noble friend went on to say that Clause 62(2) appears to require a fees order for all fees. She asked whether fees are chargeable outside of the specified functions. All chargeable functions must be set out in the fees order. The only caveat to normal treatment is set out in Clause 64:
“Power to charge fees for attendance services”.
She asked whether “any specified fee” under Clause 62(4) means each fee specified by a fees order. That is correct; it does. She assumed that Clause 62(10)(b) overrides subsection (8)(a)(ii), which requires a fee not to be less than the prescribed minimum, and that is correct. She also asked why subsection (10)(c) needed a failure to pay in the light of subsection (3). The consequences might mean the refusal of a visa in the future. Subsection (10)(b) relates to debt recovery in particular circumstances, such as where a payment is withdrawn once it has been processed and the application considered. Paragraph (c) ensures that we can provide that applications will not be considered if payment is not received. It also states that any other consequences for failing to pay must be set out in regulations. These provisions have been carried forward from current legislation.
My noble friend asked about costs and whether we can give an example of costs. Costs will be incurred by our commercial partners when, for example, providing visa services overseas, and they form part of the costs to the Home Office when providing services or processing applications. On Clause 62(13), she asked whether there are particular arrangements or ways to recover such things as the premium service. Yes, there are such arrangements. This subsection reflects that fees for the same function may vary depending on where and when they are delivered, and the specific service provided. It also reflects the fact that we may, in limited circumstances, charge different fees for the same product in different circumstances. We might, for example, enter into a reciprocal arrangement with another country by which we agree to offer a reduction in the visa fee to nationals of that country.
My noble friend put a question to me about Clause 62(4). This subsection is directed at the factors that the Secretary of State can consider in setting fees, taking into account costs and benefits to applicants. Subsections (4) and (6) are directed at the mechanics of the calculation, so that if the fee is being set out at a flat rate or by reference to an hourly rate, the reference to other factors is to give us flexibility in the future in order to charge, for example, with reference to a daily rate. My noble friend asked whether the rate is the hourly rate. Yes, it is, or there can be other factors. As I have just said, there can be a daily rate as set out above. I was also asked whether the calculation will involve an hourly rate to give the position/grade of the officers for whom a rate is charged. The grade of officers is not a relevant consideration when establishing an hourly rate. Where the grade of staff is relevant in establishing an estimated unit cost, it will form part of the calculation. This level of detail will not be set out in statutory instruments or a fees table.
My noble friend asked whether, where a fee is intended to exceed the cost, this will be made clear in the Explanatory Memorandum to the regulations. We will include the unit costs, as is currently the case. She asked whether the exceptions might allow for increases in a particular class of individuals. No, the exceptions relate to exemptions from payments; that is, waivers. The Home Office currently provides a number of exceptions in regard to fees including, for example, asylum applicants and children receiving local authority assistance, and there is no plan to withdraw the exceptions currently offered. This is complicated and I am sorry to have rattled it off but my noble friend did ask that I put it on the record. I hope the record has noted it and that I have reassured my noble friend.
Setting out maximum—and in some cases minimum—fee levels in affirmative resolution orders will ensure that Parliament is able to consider the menu of services and pricing at the same time. Setting out fees in subsequent negative resolution regulations will increase speed and flexibility without removing Parliament’s right to set limits on fee levels, meaning that the Home Office will not have a blank cheque when setting immigration and visa fees. I have already reassured the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe that we intend to be transparent in this matter.
The proposed amendment would make all statutory instruments made under the fees measures in the Bill subject to the affirmative procedure, which would act like a double lock and take away the flexibility that the fees measures are meant to introduce. I hope the noble Baroness understands the thinking behind this. The Home Office’s ability to respond in the future to customer demand for new services or to government policy on economic growth should not be diminished in any way by these orders.
It would also mean that Parliament would debate the same thing—immigration fee levels—twice. The measures in the Bill require Parliament to debate and approve maximum fee levels for the services set out in a fees order. A further debate on specific fee levels within the regulations does not make sense. Either it will be unnecessary, because it will merely confirm the conclusion of an earlier debate, which would be the case where the fees in the regulations are approved, or it will be inappropriate, because it will overturn government policy and previous parliamentary approval, which would be the case where a fee in the regulations is rejected even though it is less than or equal to the approved maximum.
I hope I have dealt satisfactorily with the fees situation, and will now move on to other matters, in particular Amendment 81B, which concerns the delegated power in the Bill to amend an enactment in consequence of the Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, spoke about this, and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, also mentioned it. The matter was raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, and the Government have already responded to the committee.
Before I turn to that response, I first assure the House that Clause 66(3) is not intended to extend a power to amend future legislation. The Government consider this is sufficiently clear because no words of extension are used. If the intention had been to extend the power in this way, the clause would have used wording such as that in Section 89(1) of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 or Section 33 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, both of which confer powers to amend an enactment “whenever passed or made”. The Government have said in their reply that they are considering whether to amend Clause 66(3) to extend the power so that it can also amend the provisions of an enactment passed after this Bill but in the same Session as the Bill, as for example with Section 99(2) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. However, because this Bill is likely to be passed towards the end of the current Session, such a provision may be unnecessary. Although there are some technical points to follow on particular items of legislation, I will move on, but I will keep the noble Baroness informed of our decisions on this matter and whether we will bring forward an amendment. I will be happy to talk her through the provisions of any amendment at that time.
Turning to Amendment 82A, I should explain that Section 76(2) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 currently applies a power to revoke the leave of persons who have obtained indefinite leave by deception only where the person is non-removable. This is because, for those who are removable, the removal decision itself, under the current Section 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, automatically invalidates any leave that the person may have been given. As the legislation stands, there is no need for revocation to extend to removable persons.
However, the changes we are making in the new Section 10, as set out in Clause 1, mean that it does not have this same effect of invalidating extant leave. It simply allows us to remove a person who already has no leave to be in the UK. As a result, we need another mechanism for cancelling indefinite leave obtained by deception. It is therefore necessary to extend Section 76(2) so that revocation also applies to those who obtained leave by deception but are removable. This does not alter the current position that those who cannot be removed for legal or practical reasons may have their leave revoked, nor does it mean that we will be able to remove those persons who previously would have had their leave revoked because they could not be removed from the UK. I hope that has explained why this provision is in the Bill.
The noble Baroness talked about the transitional arrangements in respect of health charges. I am having some difficulty finding the exact part of the Bill to which she referred. We have discussed health charges. I am very happy to research the particular points that she made but I am not able to help her today, except to say that while the Home Office is responsible for collecting the health surcharge, the health service is the provider of the service and needs to satisfy itself that the records are in place that someone should not be charged. The computer program Spine, on which I have been briefed, is in place to provide that database.
I know that my noble friend Lord Howe is very keen to talk to noble Lords about the health service reforms, which are not part of the Bill but go closely with it, and the importance of health charging for the health service, which I think noble Lords will understand is an important facet. I hope we will be able to clear that up, and I will certainly write to the noble Baroness on the particular point that she raised.
Amendment 87ZG relates to the repeal of Section 87 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The power of the tribunal to give directions, when an appeal succeeds, to give effect to its decision is repealed because the Bill means that the range of decisions that the tribunal can make will be much more limited and their consequences clearer, so will not need to be defined when the tribunal gives its decision.
Currently, someone can appeal against the refusal of a work visa and raise Article 8—family life—in their grounds of appeal. The tribunal could allow the appeal for one of three reasons: that the work visa application should have succeeded; that the appeal succeeds on Article 8 under the Immigration Rules; or that the appeal succeeds on Article 8 outside the Immigration Rules. It is this type of case in which a direction from the tribunal is needed to make clear the basis on which the Secretary of State should grant leave. However, appeals on a number of very different grounds will no longer take place owing to the changes to appeal rights in Clause 11. The outcome will be simpler and therefore a power for the tribunal to give a direction to the Secretary of State is no longer necessary. That is the reasoning behind this part of the Bill.
Amendment 87ZH would retain a definition of leave to enter or remain in Part 5 of the 2002 Act, which relates to appeals. This definition is no longer needed, as this Bill provides that there is no appeal right against refusal of leave to enter or remain.
Amendment 87ZJ would require the Secretary of State to specify the ongoing duty to notify her of changes of circumstance in a notice served under Section 120 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. I am happy to assure the Committee that we will make this duty clear to those affected, but the detailed contents of this notice are a matter of operational procedure and, as such, it is not appropriate to include this requirement in the Bill.
I was asked a couple of questions by my noble friend Lord Avebury. He made the point that many of the changes in Schedule 9 are not consequential but substantive and should be positioned in the body of the Bill. The changes in Schedule 9 relating to appeals are consequential for the reasons that I have explained. The changes made to appeals in Clause 11 mean that the changes in Schedule 9 are necessary and consequential.
The noble Lord asked: if no direction can be given about how to implement a successful appeal against deprivation of nationality, how can it be implemented? The Secretary of State implements the judgment of the tribunal in accordance with law. Where a person has succeeded in appealing against the deprivation of nationality, the Secretary of State will implement that judgment. I am satisfied that the outcome of such an appeal is sufficiently self-explanatory that the tribunal does not need to give directions as to how effect should be given to it. This has been quite a long contribution from me, but I hope that it has helped noble Lords better to understand this section of the Bill.
Will the Minister deal with the question that I asked about the directions that the tribunal would formerly have been able to give regarding the restoration of citizenship and its backdating in cases where that was appropriate? Since the tribunal has lost its power, those directions can no longer be given.
My Lords, I think that I will have to write to my noble friend if he wants an authoritative on answer on that. I have given the answer that I have before me, but if that does not meet the point that he has made—it is clear that it does not—I hope that my noble friend will allow me to write to him.
Before my noble friend sits down, will he go just one step further on the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and the case to which he referred, which seems on the face of it to be extremely serious if the facts as reported by Channel 4 last night are correct? Will he undertake to provide an answer and place it in the Library, and as soon as possible? I can see that, since the inquest has not taken place as yet, it would be all too easy for Ministers to hide behind that fact and not give us urgent advice on what seems to be a major problem with the way in which the immigration law is operating at present.
I do not want to be difficult. This matter is clearly not associated with an amendment or even this part of the Bill, but I am sympathetic to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and my noble friend Lord Tyler have made. I will do my best to inform the House on the facts of the matter as much as I am able. If matters are sub judice, it would be inappropriate for any Minister to interfere with due process. I hope that noble Lords will understand that. I am always prepared to answer either Oral Questions or Written Questions on any subject, but we are here to debate the Immigration Bill. It may interest the noble Lord to learn that I am going on a removal flight on Friday to Kosovo and Albania. I want to see what goes on. I share the noble Lord’s determination to make sure that things that are done in our name are done properly. I hope that with that reassurance my noble friend will understand why I do not want to give an answer at the Dispatch Box at the moment.
My Lords, I appreciate that that point is not part of the deliberations today on the Bill but it was appropriate for the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, to address it given the concerns raised. I am glad the Minister has offered to place an answer in the Library if he is able to. I suggest if he is going on a removal flight that people do not know he is on there and he goes incognito. That is the best way to understand how these matters are carried out. I hope that is the case.
I turn to the amendments. On transitional provisions and arrangements regarding health, perhaps I should have been clearer. I apologise to the noble Lord if I was not. The reason for raising the matter here is that I am not clear from what he said in his previous responses when I raised this if any transitional provisions are required for the transitional arrangements. He referred to the arrangements between two departments—the Department of Health and the Home Office. Where I am confused and do not understand this is, as I said, in the real-life implications and workability. Will Home Office computers be able to talk to and share information with Department of Health computers?
My recollection as a government Minister of various meetings on Cabinet committees on this is that there must be some kind of process, agreement or even legislation to ensure that that happens. I am not clear if that has been agreed from what I have seen so far. It does not seem to be in the Bill and nobody is able to tell me how the process would work where, for example, somebody who has a visa and is in the country legally but has not paid the surcharge turns up for treatment. How will the health service know that they are legally in the country but just have not paid the surcharge? They came into the country and took their visa before the surcharge was in place. If that information can be provided only by sharing information between the computers of the two departments, how will that be done, have the arrangements been put in place and is legislation needed? If not, something will be needed in transitional provisions, presumably in this Bill, to undertake that. That is what I am trying to get to. I need to understand how it will work in practice.
All I can say at the moment is that if that were needed in transition it would be in the Bill. I have been party to some of the discussions that have taken place. Indeed, it is intended that there should be an exchange of information between the two departments. If the noble Baroness does not know how that will happen, I hope I am in a position to inform her. This matter does not need legislation; it is one of good administration. My noble friend Lord Howe and I both share the determination that this should be properly done because it is important to make sure that the health service is not in any way impeded by measures that we enact in this Bill.
My Lords, I do not for one moment question the determination of the noble Lord and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, to make this work but when we pass legislation we need to understand—as I said at the very beginning, at Second Reading—the evidence base for something being brought forward and the workability of it; that is, if what is sought can actually be achieved and the implications, including unintended consequences. I really want to understand this. If the noble Lord could undertake to write to me with further information about how this will work in practice that would be really helpful.
I raised two other points in speaking to my amendments. It was helpful to have the response on the record. I take it from what the Minister said that there probably will not be a government amendment coming forward on the points I raised on my second amendment, but if there was it would be helpful to have very early notice of that. I would have expected that today. On the other issue, he made the point on fees. This is a reduction in scrutiny. I understand the Government’s reasoning that under Clause 62 a higher level is set and it cannot go above that but in terms of setting the amount, specifically where the fee for the visa is higher than the cost of the provision, we experience a loss of scrutiny. That is now on the record and I am grateful to the noble Lord for accepting that, even though I understand the reasons. With that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 79F withdrawn.
Clause 62 agreed.
79G: After Clause 62, insert the following new Clause—
(1) The British Nationality Act 1981 (c.16) is amended as follows.
(2) After section 4C (acquisition by registration: certain persons born between 1961 and 1983) insert—
“4D Acquisition by registration: legitimacy
(1) A person is entitled to be registered as a British citizen if—
(a) he applies for registration under this section; and(b) he satisfies each of the following conditions.(2) The first condition is that the person was born before 1st July 2006.
(3) The second condition is that the person is not already a British citizen.
(4) The third condition is that the father of the child satisfies any requirements as to proof of paternity prescribed under section 50(9B) of this Act (interpretation).
(5) The fourth condition is that the person would have been a British citizen had his father been married to his mother at the time of his birth.””
My Lords, we have made several attempts in previous legislation to remove the disadvantage which illegitimate children suffer compared to their legitimate siblings in citizenship law. Some children born to British fathers who are not married to their non-British mothers are still not entitled to inherit their father’s citizenship. Since 1983, that applies to a child born out of wedlock in the UK to a British father and a mother who is neither British nor settled in the UK—an anomaly that was only partially redressed by Section 9 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. That section restored the right of such a child to British citizenship if he or she was born on or after 1 July 2006, leaving an arbitrary gap of 23 years from the date in 1983 prior to which all children born in the UK automatically acquired British citizenship.
The parents of such a child can apply to register him or her as a British citizen while he or she is still a minor, and the Home Office normally, but not invariably, exercises discretion in favour of those applications under Section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981, but once he or she reaches the age of 18 there is no provision that allows him or her to become British—an irrational barrier, because it relies on the parents being aware of the qualified right and acting on it in time. There are examples on record of parents who discover the 2006 change too late.
The proposed new clause would allow a child born to a British father who is not married to their mother, and for that reason alone not British, to register as a British citizen. It assists a child born abroad to a father who is British otherwise than by descent to become British himself, and deals with the gap between 1983 and 2006 for the child born out of wedlock to a British father and a woman who is not British or settled in the UK. That would enable us to withdraw our reservation to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which declares in paragraph 2 of Article 9:
“States parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children”.
The UK Government said that our acceptance of Article 9,
“shall not, how ever, be taken to invalidate the continuation of certain temporary or transitional provisions which will continue”,
beyond January 1983.
Discrimination in our citizenship has continued well beyond what might be considered temporary or transitional. Discrimination against women was corrected only by Section 4C of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2006, and discrimination against men has been corrected only for their children born after 1 July 2006. We now have the opportunity to put this last piece of the jigsaw in place so that we can ratify the convention and sign up to the European Convention on Nationality. I hope that your Lordships will therefore agree to the amendment.
My Lords, I am pleased to be able to support the amendment, although I was not able to put my name down to it fast enough. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has made the case for it very well. As I understand it, the Government accept the merits of the case and the substance of the amendment but, in the Public Bill Committee, questioned whether it lay within the scope of the Bill and suggested that there were better ways to take this forward. Presumably, as the amendment has been accepted by the Public Bill Office here, it is within the scope of the Bill.
I am not sure how many people are likely to be involved—perhaps the Minister could give us an estimate. As the Government said about Clause 60, it is the principle, not the number, that matters here. Even if it is only a handful, it matters to those people. I hope that the Minister will be able to come back with an amendment at Report to rectify what is clearly an unfair and anomalous piece of discrimination, based on the outmoded status of illegitimacy—indeed, what I would call an illegitimate status.
My Lords, this is an interesting and useful amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has brought before us. If the only objection from the Government in the other place was that they thought it was out of scope and that it could not be brought forward, it is clearly no longer out of scope as it has been brought forward. I hope that the Minister might take the advice of my noble friend and that, if the Government are not able to accept this amendment or bring it back, they will explain why. I really hope that there can be a positive resolution to this.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Avebury for raising this matter and to the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister of Burtersett and Lady Smith of Basildon, for supporting it because we are well aware of the issues faced in acquiring British citizenship by those whose parents never married. We agree that this is an anomaly which deserves to be addressed. Having understood that nationality matters were outside the scope of the Bill, we were considering whether a measure covering this could be drafted as a government handout Bill for the next Session. I understand that had this amendment been tabled in another place, it would indeed have been ruled out of scope. However, this House has different rules on relevance and therefore it is appropriate for us to debate the matter.
I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, that while I cannot give her any numbers, she is quite right that this is not about numbers but about whether to do it or not. That is the position the Government are coming from.
As my noble friend Lord Avebury pointed out, the law changed on 1 July 2006 to enable British citizen fathers to pass on their citizenship to a child where the parents were not married. This was not made retrospective, however, because it could have created difficulties for those affected in relation to any other citizenships that they held. For example, some countries do not allow dual nationality, as some noble Lords will know. Since 1987, the Secretary of State has exercised discretion in relation to those born to an illegitimate father. Discretion is exercised under Section 3(1) of the 1981 Act to enable the registration of children born before 1 July 2006 who are the illegitimate children of British citizens or settled fathers. Registration can take place if the Home Secretary is satisfied about the paternity of the child, if all those with parental responsibility have consented, if the good character requirement is met and, had the child been born to the father legitimately, if he or she would have had an automatic claim to British citizenship or an entitlement to registration.
However, this exercise of discretion under Section 3(1) applies only to those who are minors at the date of the application for British citizenship. There is no power in law to register as a British citizen a person who was born illegitimately to a British citizen father before 2006 and who is now an adult. We accept that this creates a lacuna and that those who were born illegitimately to British citizen fathers are at a disadvantage compared with those whose parents were married.
I cannot accept my noble friend’s amendment as currently drafted because while this provision covers any person who would have been a British citizen had his parents been married, we think that it should be set out clearly exactly who should benefit from such a change in the law. In addition, other matters would need to be considered such as good character, which persons registered under this provision should be British citizens by descent and what additional measures should be included for those who might apply when under the age of 18. These are technical matters which need to be considered in amending the legislation. I am afraid that I must resist the amendment as it stands but I am happy to commit to taking it away, with a view to considering urgently whether the Government could prepare a suitable amendment for tabling at Report. I hope that amendment would have the support of the House, should it come back, and I therefore ask my noble friend to withdraw his amendment and its proposed new clause.
I am most grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Smith, and particularly to the Minister for his extremely accommodating reply and his undertaking to consider this proposal as a matter of urgency in the hope that something can be produced to be tabled on Report.
As to scope, I was not in doubt: if the Secretary of State could include provisions in the Bill regarding deprivation of citizenship, surely it was proper to allow acquisition of citizenship also to be within scope. That is implicitly conceded if the Minister can produce an amendment by Report that will match the aspirations of the amendment I have moved.
I never expect an amendment that I have drafted to be accepted on the spot by the Minister—that does not happen in real life—but the answer he has given is extremely satisfactory, and I am most grateful to him for the careful consideration he has given to this proposal. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 79G withdrawn.
Clauses 63 and 64 agreed.
Amendment 80 not moved.
81: After Clause 64, insert the following new Clause—
“Welfare of children: asylum seekers
(1) Schedule 3 to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (withholding and withdrawal of support) is amended as follows.
(2) In paragraph 6(1), after “person” insert “who entered the United Kingdom as an adult”.
(3) In paragraph 7, after “person” insert “who entered the United Kingdom as an adult”.”
I shall speak to Amendment 81, which stands in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Storey, and, in doing so, support Amendment 81A.
The effect of our amendment would be to take children who arrive in this country out of Schedule 3 to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, “Withholding and Withdrawal of Support”, so that if they arrive in this country as children and reach the age of 18, they will not have all support withdrawn from them. As vice-chair of the APPG on children and young people in care and leaving care, I am particularly concerned as many of these young people are care-leavers and would not receive the support that I see other young people leaving care getting. I am also concerned that, through a technical detail, I think, in effect some of these young people are treated more harshly than adults in these processes. Whereas adults can have support withdrawn from them only once they have received removal instructions, some young people leaving care who have arrived in this country as asylum-seeking children can have support removed before they receive their removal instructions.
Noble Lords might like to know what kind of young people these are. For instance, a young man I met had come from Afghanistan. He had taken photographs of a solider or soldiers who had been hitting a woman with a rifle. The soldier or soldiers concerned did not like that and started to take an interest in him and his family. That was the reason that he gave for coming to this country. I played chess with a young man of my acquaintance over a period of nine months several years ago. He was a Kosovan Albanian. His father was a teacher. He was a very well turned-out young man who took great care of himself. He was very well spoken and very polite and considerate. Those are the kinds of young people that I have come across.
I know that some of these young people will have come through camps at some point in their life. My experience of that has been visiting one of these camps in Angola several years ago, which was very densely populated by adults and families. There had been no planning involved: the camp had simply grown and had gone on for many years beyond the time that had been expected when it was set up. It was really arranged in an ad hoc way. The Government were so neglectful of it that the people living there even had to pay for the water that was supplied by tankers to the area.
These young people have often had traumatic experiences before they made those traumatic journeys. In this country, we recognise that young people who have had such trauma and come into care should get additional support when they leave. We recognise that they should have special services provided to them to the age of 21 and, in certain circumstances, to the age of 25. These are vulnerable young people. They need additional support. They have had additional challenges which other young people have not.
It is therefore concerning to me that these young people who have had such trauma often have so little support once they turn 18, and may even be made destitute. That, of course, also raises the risk that they may become involved in crime. I remember meeting this particular Kosovan Albanian young man, who was so kind and seemed of such good character, with another young man—perhaps from Kosovo as well—who looked to me like a real thug. This young man was looking up to this leather-clad, rather rough-looking chap. I can see that if one makes such young people, who may have come from good backgrounds, destitute, the risk is that they will get involved with such unsavoury characters. One is particularly concerned for the young women who may be put in this situation of having their support withdrawn at the age of 18, and thinks about what might become of them if they should become exploited and involved in crime. These concerns are shared by the Refugee Children’s Consortium, a coalition of 40 charities working in this area.
I meant to make an apology to the Minister; I am sorry not to have done so before. In our recent discussion on the welfare of women who are pregnant or who have newborn children, I regret that I may have given the impression that the Government and the Minister himself did not care that much for the welfare of these women. I am sure, of course, that the Government are very concerned about the welfare of such women, as we all are. I apologise for giving that impression; I will be more careful in future. I look forward to the Minister’s response. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, The noble Earl successfully moved an amendment during the passage of the Children and Families Act, which the Government courageously supported, on children in foster care staying on beyond the age of 18, realising that that care and support was crucial to those young people.
This is a simple but essential amendment. This has been my only contribution to the Committee, and I am grateful to the organisations that have sent me briefings on this topic, not least the Children’s Society. The principle behind Amendment 81 rests on the belief that all young people who came to these shores as children and were in care should be able to receive leaving-care support, as all other care-leavers do, until they settle here or until they leave the UK.
I am deeply concerned about the impact of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act, which allows local authorities to withhold or withdraw support from certain migrants, and the effect it has on young people who came here as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, who have been made destitute because they exhausted the appeal rights when they turned 18. This House has always believed that the welfare of young children is paramount. As such, care-leavers are rightly supported in education according to their need rather than their status. Whether they were trafficked here for exploitation, were escaping a war-ravaged country, or fleeing torture or persecution, they should be able to get the support they need while they are in this country.
Some Members of the Committee might well say that if the Minister accepts this amendment, we will create further incentives for young people to falsely claim to be under 18 when they put in an asylum application. That argument is baseless—it simply is not supported by any evidence. The OECD has shown that there is no correlation between levels of support, permission to work and access to healthcare, and the number of asylum applications a nation receives. I hope the Minister will tell us what he makes of that.
From my time as leader of Liverpool City Council, I am well aware that when children are taken into care, a local authority assumes the role of corporate parent. That means that the authority has both a legal and moral duty to provide the kind of support that any “good parent” would provide for their own children, regardless of where they were born or who their parents are. That role rightly continues as children approach the age when they leave care, as it equips those young people with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in later life. Crucially, that should include those who came here as unaccompanied children.
It is interesting to note that the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England said the current situation was,
“a stark example of how legislation, designed with the best interests of children in mind, differs in its implementation between young people who are, and those who are not, subject to immigration control”.
Children are children. Best intentions are simply not good enough. Indeed, children’s charities have raised concerns about the correlation between Her Majesty’s Government’s policies on immigration and the incidence of destitution among asylum-seeking and migrant children. As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, noted during the passage of the Children and Families Act, our understanding is that we currently treat those 18 year-olds more harshly than adults of similar status, but who have not come through the care system.
To withdraw leaving-care support from those young people will put them at risk of exploitation and forced criminality, as well as make it less likely for them to return home when it is safe for them to do so if they are no longer in contact with local authorities. I therefore hope that the Minister, in his reply, might agree to review the impact that will have on child protection and children’s rights. We must not miss this opportunity a second time. I have personal experience of this as a head teacher. When an unaccompanied child from Mongolia came to my school, I saw the wonderful support he was given by his foster parents, but also saw the problems he faced when he got to the age of 17 and a half.
Forget targets and quotas; I hope that we will have the courage to remember that we are talking about children and young people here.
My Lords, this is the appropriate place, following the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and my noble friend Lord Storey, to thank them and other noble Lords for all the work they did on the Children and Families Bill to secure this increase from the age of 18 to 21 for those who would have lost care. They made sure that those who reach age 18 will not immediately be cut off from their lifeline and support network. We are also grateful to the Refugee Children’s Consortium—a group of more than 40 organisations that are actively interested in and concerned for young people—for coming on board and saying, “What this proposes is unacceptable; to cut off care at 18 is not something we should countenance at all”. The Children’s Society, Action for Children—formerly the National Children’s Home—the NSPCC and all the refugee councils are working tirelessly on this issue.
I shall just mention Amendment 88. According to data from the Ministry of Justice, more than 2,500 additional non-asylum immigration cases involving children under 18, and 8,400 immigration cases involving young people aged 18 to 24 bringing cases in their own right each year, will no longer be covered by legal aid provisions. This is an absolutely outrageous situation. There are many separate migrant children in the UK who never claim asylum but whose welfare may depend on being able to remain here. So who are these children? Examples that have been highlighted repeatedly by noble Lords and by the Refugee Children’s Consortium include children who have been abandoned by their parents or carers in the UK; children who are in care; children who are abused or exploited in private fostering arrangements; and children who would be at risk of abuse or exploitation if they were returned to their country of origin. Sometimes these children will have been living in the UK for many years and will have no significant or lasting connection to their home country; many years might separate them from the culture into which they were born, and they are now in a different culture and environment. Their best interests would depend on their being allowed to remain in the UK.
When the Government passed the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, they relied heavily on the use of exceptions to preserve justice. These exceptions include some—and here is the confusion—but not all refugees; some but not all trafficked persons; and some but not all survivors of domestic violence. The Government forecast that there would be 70,000 applications for this funding every year to provide the aid needed. In fact, there have been six, and one of those was an immigration case. Why is that? For the children I speak of today, applying for this funding is a mountain to climb. There are 14 pages of forms to fill in plus an 11-page information pack and the usual means and merits forms. This is a big task for any adolescent with no help whatever.
A child’s immigration status based, for example, on having lived most of their life in the UK, will attract no legal aid, even if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. I ask the Members in this Chamber today to imagine that they are 17 and a half years of age and are facing deportation. How would they feel? They would have a feeling of terror. I have heard so many stories of youngsters reaching this age; one even hung a noose over his bed in case the day came when there was a dawn raid, in which case he would commit suicide. We cannot countenance this sort of society, in which so many young people live in this absolute terror and great fear, and are abandoned and unknown.
I am a grandfather and am lucky to have seven grandchildren—and there are other grandfathers and grandmothers in this Chamber. Can we imagine our children in this situation? We would deplore it in so many ways. Yet that is exactly the situation in which so many of these children find themselves, with the fear of a dawn raid; of standing up by themselves in front of immigration officials, because lawyers cannot be found; and of deportation to somewhere they have never known. Then there is very often the dark period when they consider whether life itself is worth living.
In conclusion, I quote some of the studies by Sue Clayton, a film producer, who has monitored these youngsters. One said:
“I faced the court at 18 with no lawyer. 1 was sick. Another boy wet himself”.
This is most embarrassing for kids. Another said:
“I answered all the questions truthfully but they said I was lying. I was hurt and upset. My parents are dead, and the court made fun of me, as if I was nobody”.
They did not understand what was happening. A third person said:
“I went away and thought it is best to kill myself, as no one has listened or understood. I have no proof, and they treated me like a criminal”.
I ask the Minister to think thoroughly about this sort of situation. These are not children from East Anglia, Scotland or Wales. They come from all parts of the world and we have an obligation to them. When I was younger, it used to be said that the Church of England was the Conservative Party at prayer and that the Labour Party owed more to Methodism than to Marxism. Every party has its moral foundations. I suggest that we will betray our moral foundations if we let the Bill go forward without any further serious amendment.
My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendment 81A, which is in my name along with that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, whom I thank for her support in helping me to put it together. I also support what was said by the other three noble Lords who have already spoken. This is a probing amendment and the intention is to investigate how best support can be given to young people brought to this country as children—that is, refugee children, trafficked children and children brought here for sexual exploitation and so on. These young people find that their lives come to a complete standstill when they reach 18 due to their non-status and lack of citizenship.
I thank my noble friend the Minister for meeting me to discuss this issue, and for his letter explaining the present policy and responsibilities of local authorities and children’s services, which are obliged to assist and protect young people with unresolved immigration status. My noble friend quite rightly pointed out current laws and regulations which theoretically should be applied by well managed and financed local authority children’s services. However, Kids Company, the charity which provides therapeutic, emotional, practical and financial support to 36,000 children, young people and families in services across London, Bristol and Liverpool—some with unresolved immigration status—still has serious concerns that the impact of the proposals in the Immigration Bill in its current form poses a major risk to vulnerable children and young people because, despite all the good intentions, the Bill does not appear to make adequate provision, or provide sufficient safeguards and protection, for the young people who find themselves with unresolved immigration status.
Kids Company’s concerns are not hypothetical; it has considerable evidence related to failures in care by some social work departments handling very serious child protection issues. In fact, the organisation spends approximately £1 million a year on staff whose sole responsibility is, sadly, to police the working of social work departments, which apparently cut corners and avoid responsibility, presumably because of budget limitations, and which it finds merely go through procedures as opposed to affording genuine care and protection to children. As Kids Company says:
“Unfortunately, unstable economic times … can lead to further pressurised and fundamentally unlawful decision-making by local authorities”.
Kids Company has had to initiate a number of pre-action protocol letters and judicial reviews, every single one of which has been actioned or ruled in favour of the children. With legal aid being diminished and time limits on assessments being removed, the framework of protection afforded by social work departments to the most vulnerable is weakening, so it is unreasonable to base further legislative change, which impacts on the children accessing vital services, on the premise that the system currently operates as described in the Minister’s letter. That is simply not the case according to Kids Company and other organisations. There must therefore be further clarification about the degree of the obligations that the Secretary of State and local authorities have in respect of this problem.
This amendment is necessary because many of these children, even those in care, when they turn 18 are often forgotten, unlawfully, by many local authorities. They are left to navigate a system that presupposes that they have an adult who has brought them up and have the tools to navigate themselves into early adulthood, or have parents who are able to assist when something unknown comes their way. This is simply not the case. So when local authorities fail to submit applications to the Home Office or fail simply to fill out an application for British registration to ensure citizenship, who is that young person or child supposed to express that failure to? How is that local authority being held to account?
We need to consider the psychological strategies used by overstretched workforces in local authorities to defend against overwhelming demand. In Kids Company’s experience it has found that some social workers can become immune to children’s distress because they have seen too much violation. They can become complacent, driven by overfamiliarity with horrific abuse; and that complacency can become normalised in the workplace. Unacceptable risks emerge when social work departments are under clinical and financial pressure.
There is an unintentional impact on children leaving care. The current legislation states that children leaving care are entitled to support until the age of 25 if they are still in education or training. However, in Kids Company’s experience, as soon as a child turns 18, some local authorities have already failed to confirm the child’s immigration status—and now use that failure to prevent the child leaving care accessing statutory support based upon the immigration position—or their limited leave to remain, granted by the Home Office. As a result, the young person has to go through the whole immigration court process to extend their stay. This can often take years and their lives can be left on hold because, even though their leave is extended, statutory bodies and employers are fearful of immigration laws.
There is some anecdotal evidence that some unscrupulous solicitors who receive legal aid to assist these young people are practising without giving proper advice or carrying out the work correctly. These young people urgently need documentation to show that they have legitimacy to be in the UK—legitimacy that is suspended when they reach 18. This causes a huge problem when it comes to accessing higher education, which involves many obstacles and seemingly impossible hurdles for these young people. The university application forms require rigorous and detailed information that is impossible to supply because the young people have no documentation. So they live in limbo, waiting for decisions to come back from the Home Office to gain immigration status and, during that time, their access to higher education becomes a distant dream. They become disheartened as their ability to access local authority services is stopped, based upon their having no documentation. With no ability to work, the child turned young person is caught up in a cycle to survive in a state that has blocked his or her access to official help.
Another problem caused by unresolved immigration issues is that young people are not able to open bank accounts due to lack of relevant ID and proof-of-address documentation. The additional requirements on banks to carry out checks are another way of stigmatising this group. A further implication is that those young people will have no formal way of accessing support payments, if they are in care, once they have turned 18 or are receiving their leaving care grant. Because these young people have no documentation, they often live under the radar, surviving in rented accommodation that is poorly maintained and often not fit for habitation. However, they have nowhere else to go. Often the local authorities do not have social housing to offer them. Therefore, the proposed checks that landlords are expected to make will have an impact on these young people, and that is a cause for concern.
Kids Company has majors concerns that at the moment a number of young people have significant undiagnosed mental health problems. Also of concern are other health issues such as FGM, sexual assault and rape—in fact, all forms of child abuse. Therefore, with restrictions relating to the NHS, there will be a great impact on young people with unresolved immigration issues and mental health concerns who are not cared for by local authorities. This matter does not seem to be addressed in the Bill but it needs to be taken into account when forming policy because it could lead to harmful and potentially life-threatening situations for individuals, with an impact on society.
The Home Office has not acknowledged the significant delays in sending out residence and leave to remain cards, and this is another considerable concern. For example, Kids Company has a client who was granted leave to remain two years ago and only this year received the card after a judicial review was launched by his legal aid immigration solicitor. In that period, he was not able to work legally or to access the leaving care support that he would have been entitled to had he had the leave to remain paperwork. His social worker eventually stopped support on the basis that he had not resolved his immigration status and he could no longer continue to be housed. This is just one example of a situation which is repeated regularly concerning those with unresolved immigration status.
Some might say that one easy option would be for those who have reached 18 and have lived in the UK for some years after being brought to this country to be granted citizenship automatically. If only life were that simple. Sadly, this policy would have many unintended harmful consequences, mainly with criminal gangs and unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of poor disadvantaged parents across the world by falsely offering a safe haven and citizenship for their children in the UK in return for large sums of money. These families would then be continually indebted to them. We must not give criminals any opportunity to exploit others. There therefore need to be other practical solutions to safeguard, protect and support these children and young people who tragically find themselves in an incredibly difficult and traumatic situation. I have met some of these young people and their stories make you weep, but one thing you realise is that they are very strong, extremely resilient and determined to take every opportunity to better their lives.
As I said, this is a probing amendment and the intention is to investigate how best to give that support to these vulnerable young people. As I have highlighted, the amendment will bolster and clarify the obligations of the Secretary of State and local authorities in relation to the various problems. I am sure the Minister will agree that there should be joined-up policies across various departments to ensure that these vulnerable young people do not fall through the gaps in the system. There is evidence of that happening and it has the potential to get worse unless we put sufficient measures in place. I look forward to hearing the Minster’s response and I dearly hope that we can find ways of working together to address the important issues that have been identified.
My Lords, the amendment in this group to which I wish to speak is Amendment 81AA, which would require independent legal guardians to be appointed to look after the interests of children trafficked into the United Kingdom. The amendment proposes the insertion of a new clause but this is by no means a new issue. A similar amendment was recently voted on and narrowly defeated during the passage of the Children and Families Bill. The Committee will be aware of the tremendous work of the noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, who has championed this issue for a very long time, and indeed the work of other noble Lords, including the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and my noble friend Lady Royall of Blaisdon. We have been pursing this matter and the shadow Home Secretary has raised it a number of times.
We are returning to the matter again because it still is very much a concern. At least 450 children were identified as possible victims of trafficking in the past year alone. NGOs and police all say that it is most likely that the numbers of people trafficked, including children, are far higher than the national referral mechanism statistics record. A shocking two-thirds of children who are rescued from traffickers go missing again because the system to protect them is not strong enough.
Most of those children come from countries outside the European Union. They are here alone and have no knowledge of the country that they are in. They often speak and understand little English, and do not know who to turn to or how to find help. In the debate on this issue during the Children and Families Bill, noble Lords heard evidence from research commissioned by the Government, which highlighted the desperate need of trafficked children for specialist, independent support. That research, and the report by the Children’s Society and the Refugee Council, entitled, Still at Risk, which was published in September 2013, recommended the provision of “an independent trusted adult” whose,
“role would be to ensure”,
that all child victims are,
“able to understand their rights, ensure that their voice is heard in decisions that affect them and are supported effectively through the different legal processes that they are engaged in”.
Amendment 81AA would provide such a person.
When this was discussed in the Children and Families Bill, the Government argued that there was no need for new independent guardians for trafficked children since there are a number of professionals with responsibility for supporting a child under the Children Act. They pointed instead to the introduction of draft regulations and statutory guidance which they claimed would address all the faults in local authority care, rendering specialist guardians unnecessary. I suggest that that misunderstands the role of the independent legal guardian.
Child victims of trafficking find themselves in a foreign country and to access help they are expected to deal with many different state agencies; that is, local authorities, social workers, police, investigators, immigration officials and so on. When dealing with each organisation, they must engage with a different set of people and must repeat their story again and again, with all its traumatic details. This process is distressing and unhelpful for a child in unfamiliar surroundings. Children can become alienated and distrustful of those trying to help them, which leaves them vulnerable to retrafficking. Local authorities do not always seem to appreciate that young victims of trafficking often maintain links with the person who brought them to the United Kingdom because they speak the same language. A guardian with legal responsibility for the child would understand the dangers.
The role of the legal guardian is an entirely new role that no existing agency currently provides. That person would be a constant for the child in an ever changing world. They would accompany the child as they relate to all the different state agencies and would also have the right to speak on behalf of the child if the child requests it so that the child does not have to keep repeating their painful story if they do not want to.
Noble Lords will be aware that the Government recently published their draft Modern Slavery Bill but that does not provide for an independent guardianship system, so we are raising the matter again here. There is a growing coalition of support behind this idea. Trafficked children should have access to a trusted and independent advocate or guardian who is legally responsible for them and their interests in order to do what we are failing to do all too often at present; that is, to protect children who are the victims of trafficking in human beings from repeated trafficking and repeated abuse. I hope that the Minister will give a sympathetic response to this amendment.
My Lords, as the noble Lord has said, the issue of guardianship for victims of child trafficking is one that has support right around the House. When it was raised during the Children and Families Bill, I said in reply to the noble Lord, Lord McColl, that when he first raised this some years ago I had not been persuaded. However, particularly through his arguments, I came to be persuaded of the need, in part from the point of view of someone who has practised as a solicitor and needs someone from whom to take instructions. That is one of the functions that a guardian would fulfil. The draft Modern Slavery Bill, which is the subject of pre-legislative scrutiny, has been drawn up from the point of view of the victim and, like the noble Lord, I think that this would fit absolutely in protecting and assisting victims.
I have a couple of comments about the issues raised by my noble friends with regard to children and young people without immigration status. I first want to draw attention to a report published last year by the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford, entitled No Way Out, No Way In about irregular migrant children. Its summary, which is a tiny part of a report that goes on for many pages, states:
“Our estimate regarding the high proportion of irregular migrant children who are either born or have spent most of their childhood in the UK invites a refocus of public understanding of this population”.
The second issue that I would like to mention is the very uncomfortable reporting that we have seen, not so much of the children to whom my noble friend Lady Benjamin drew attention, although some would fit into this category, but of wonderful young people—just the sort of young people we want to have in this country —who reach the age of 18 and are accepted at university and told they cannot go there. They are told that they need to go “home”. I am not saying that they are any more deserving than the other children in question, but I hope that the Government have been embarrassed by the reports because they should be, just as they are about the reports of the children assisted by Kids Company and others of whom we have heard.
When I tried to draft this clause, I really did not know how to do it. It seemed that so much is a matter for the Secretary of State’s discretion. I hope that when the Minister replies, he can assist the Committee with some clarity about what issues are matters of discretion and how that discretion comes to be exercised.
I will speak briefly to Amendments 81, 81AA and 88; they all deal with issues that have been covered recently by reports of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am a member.
I start with Amendment 88 on legal aid. In its report on the implications for access to justice of the Government’s proposals to reform legal aid, the JCHR was very critical of the application of the residence test to children. We said that,
“we do not agree that the Government has considered all groups of children who could be adversely affected by this test, and we note that no Child Impact Assessment has been produced”.
This is becoming a bit of a pattern, I have to say. The report continues:
“Such groups of children include children unable to provide documentation of residence and those who need help to gain access to accommodation and services … We are concerned that the Government has not given full consideration to its obligations under the second article of the UNCRC … we do not consider that the Government’s argument that cases can always apply for exceptional funding is sufficient to meet UNCRC obligations or the Government’s access to justice obligations. We are sure that the Government does not intend vulnerable children to be left without legal representation. The proposals give little consideration to the access to justice problems that the proposal specifically creates in relation to children, such as the potential complexity and urgency of the cases for which children would need advice and representation, or in some cases, the need to find a litigation friend to assist the child with their proceedings because they have become separated from their families … We do not consider that the removal of legal aid from vulnerable children can be justified and therefore we recommend that the Government extend the exceptions further by excluding all children from having to satisfy the residence test”.
In their response, the Government agreed to extend the exceptions further, but in my view, not far enough. Although any further exception is welcome, it goes only so far and does not meet the concerns of the JCHR about protecting children generally in relation to our obligations under the UNCRC. Having a lot of exemptions just complicates matters and I would have thought it was easier simply to say that it should not apply to children.
The new clause set out in Amendment 81 reflects the concerns about destitution raised by the Joint Committee which are very similar to those expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. Again, the Government’s response did not deal adequately with our concerns, so they remain an issue. My noble friend Lord Rosser spoke to Amendment 81AA, and again the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report on unaccompanied children and young people in the UK drew attention to the experience of the guardianship system in Scotland and suggested that it would be helpful to run a pilot of something similar here. It would not have to be exactly the same, but there should be a proper guardianship system. We waited many months for the Government to respond, which did finally happen recently. The response draws attention to the special advocate system of trial as if that solves the problem, but we have already heard why it does not. A special advocate is not the same as a legal guardian.
In addition to the arguments that have already been put, I should like to quote what ILPA has to say about this:
“‘Personal advocates’ without the requisite authority to make decisions on behalf of the child are not a solution to the problems legal representatives face because of the lack of an adult competent to give instructions in the case of a trafficked child”.
So while anything is better than nothing, this issue, which was raised over and again in the debates on the Children and Families Bill and previously, still has to be resolved. I hope that we can manage to do that through this Bill.
My Lords, I add my voice in support of the Amendment 81, tabled by my noble friend Lord Storey and moved by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. The other day I read a Children’s Society report which was produced some time ago about the journey made by an asylum-seeking child. It is as relevant today as it was then. I should remind the Committee that when the United Kingdom ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child back in 1991, it recognised that children are vulnerable and require additional care and protection, and acknowledged their autonomy as rights holders in their own right under Article 3.
Later on, in Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, certain provisions were put in place to safeguard children. At the time, in their response to the Children’s Commissioner’s independent review, the Government made clear their commitment to,
“give due consideration to the UNCRC Articles when making new policy and legislation”.
“At the centre of this Coalition Government’s thinking is a determination to see children and young people achieve to their full potential, and the desire to empower individuals to shape their own future”.
This should apply equally to children and young people subject to immigration control. This is really the heart of the issue. As has already been mentioned, the children who we are seeing come from well documented war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea. These children have often fled from these countries having seen family members killed and often having escaped being recruited as child soldiers. They have seen horrific things that we can only imagine and which none of our children, thankfully, will ever have to witness. However, they then have to navigate a system whereby they have to prove somehow that they are worthy of not being sent back once they get to the age of 17 and a half, after they have lived and been protected in this country for some years.
The phrase used here, which comes up time and again, is this “culture of disbelief” that they face when they have to navigate the system. Sometimes they are given a solicitor and, as my noble friend Lady Benjamin said very eloquently earlier, they have to rely on officials, usually from local authorities, who have a responsibility as corporate parents. However, often this is not very consistent and they find themselves—like most young people, who are very vulnerable—worried. Some of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress and all sorts of psychological problems due to what they have experienced but then have to prove that they should not be sent back and are worthy of being allowed to stay here and being given protection. We need to think very long and hard about the way we treat young people. It does not matter where they have come from—as my noble friend Lord Storey said so succinctly, they are still children. These are extremely vulnerable young people, and the other thing is that they are not huge in number. There is a perception that we are talking about vast numbers—we are not, but they are very vulnerable and distinct and their cases need to be given due care and diligence when they are looked at.
The amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, spoke to on guardianship is very important as well. That would guarantee that somebody is appointed who will be looking out for and speaking and advocating on behalf of young children. We have heard from social services departments, and I speak as a councillor and cabinet member for health and social services with particular responsibility for corporate parenting. I have met many social workers who were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do and who felt they were subject to the legislation rather than being able to look at each individual case. I was not always satisfied that they were able to give the individual young people the care and advocacy that they needed, not because they were unwilling but because of pressures of work and sheer numbers in some inner-city areas. In particular, some very bright young people were offered university places and were unable to take them up. It was very difficult then for them to do anything further. It was almost as if their situation was parked and officials moved on to somebody else. I urge the Minister to think very carefully about this situation, where we are talking about very vulnerable young people.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for moving his amendment and to other noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. Amendment 81 would allow persons who entered the UK when they were children to continue to be provided with local authority support after they reached adulthood and had all their applications and appeals to stay refused but failed to leave. The noble Earl and others illustrated some of the cases that the noble Earl had in mind. Nevertheless, I would point out that our well developed system of justice and the rule of law has determined that these people should not be here.
Under the current legislation, automatic access to support and assistance stops if the person’s asylum claim and any appeals have been rejected. However, the legislation still allows support to continue where that is necessary to avoid a breach of the person’s human rights. This would include cases where the persons cannot return to their own countries through no fault of their own; for example, because they are too sick to travel or need time to obtain a necessary travel document. The Government remain committed to ensuring that failed asylum seekers leaving local authority care do not face an immediate or abrupt withdrawal of all support. In answer to my noble friend Lord Roberts, it is important that the consequences of the failure of their asylum claims are fully explained to them at the time. It is also important that human rights factors are properly assessed by the local authority in a consistent way. My noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece expressed some concern on this point.
I understand that the Children’s Commissioner has been looking at these issues and will shortly be issuing a report. The Government will consider the report very carefully. However, I think it is wrong in principle that adults who can reasonably be expected to return to their own country should retain access to welfare support from public funds if they refuse to do so.
My noble friend Lord Storey expertly raised the issue of age on arrival. The Committee will certainly need to consider whether the amendment creates obvious incentives for young people to claim, falsely, to be under 18 when they apply for asylum. My noble friend Lord Storey suggested that there is no evidence that the amendment would lead to more asylum seekers claiming to be children. As a simple matter of fact, many local authorities have to do age assessments because some asylum seekers falsely claim to be children. If people who claim asylum before the age of 18 are allowed indefinite support, this can only add to the problem.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Benjamin for the detailed way in which she spoke to her important Amendment 81A. It is not clear what this amendment would achieve for the really important people—the young people themselves—other than by being a great probing amendment. The criteria for making the decisions covered by the amendment are already known and publicly available. As I understand the proposed new clause, the reference to,
“young people … who have irregular immigration status”,
is meant to refer to a group of young people who are entitled to indefinite leave to remain or to British citizenship because their parents had that status but, for whatever reason, those parents never got round to pursuing the applications of that kind that would benefit their children. Some of those young people will also qualify to be here in their own right because of their own length of time spent in the United Kingdom.
Publishing a report will not give those children and young people what they need. What they need to do is to come forward and apply. There are very clear routes open to them. If they were born in this country and have lived here for 10 years with only short absences, there is provision for them to be registered as British citizens. They may also apply on the basis that their family life or private life is in the UK. For private life, there is special provision for a person under the age of 25 who has spent at least half their life living continuously in the UK; and for a person under 18 there is provision for someone who has lived continuously in the UK for seven years and for whom it would be unreasonable to expect them to leave. These are generous provisions and it is difficult not to regard most, if not all, the cases behind the amendment being included here.
In addition, we are willing to make available a named point of contact for them or for the charities and NGOs working with them to approach with personal applications. This will also allow us to make formal referrals to local authority children’s services on behalf of those who need support and assistance in that way. If some of them are in risky situations, as we are frequently told, these arrangements are by far the best for them and not some kind of blanket approval without contact with us.
Apparently, there may in some cases be issues about funding these applications or about eligibility for local authority support. Many will, of course, be covered by local authority arrangements for looking after children in need. If people are uncertain or anxious about this, that is all the more reason for the various groups working with them to approach us with individual applications so that we can find practical solutions. My noble friend Lady Hamwee talked about the Oxford study, No Way Out, No Way In. We have seen this and understand that the figures in it for such children are at odds with other studies. In our view, the best way forward for these young people is to make applications, so that any issues they may have that we are unaware of can be taken into account.
On Amendment 81AA, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for explaining the problem. In 2010, just after the coalition Government came to power, I was shocked to hear about the problems and I am grateful to my noble friends Lady Doocey and Lord McColl for raising these issues by a variety of means, both inside and outside the Chamber. The Government are wholeheartedly committed to tackling the abhorrent crime of modern slavery and building on our strong track record in supporting the victims as well as fighting the perpetrators. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is taking action through legislation, a draft Modern Slavery Bill currently in pre-legislative scrutiny, and through a range of non-legislative work.
Supporting children, the most vulnerable group of all, is at the heart of our efforts. During a debate initiated in December by my noble friend Lord McColl of Dulwich during the passage through this House of the Children and Families Bill, the Government made clear their commitment to improving the support received by trafficked children. This House decided this issue at that time, as pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. We already have comprehensive and well established child support arrangements under the Children Act 1989 and a statutory duty under the Children Act 2004 to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in need of protection, including trafficked children, but we recognise that local support to trafficked children can be inconsistent and that we must do more.
Following that debate and the long-standing call from parliamentarians and NGOs, the Government have announced a trial of specialist and independent advocates for child victims of trafficking. The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, suggested that special advocates were not the same as legal guardians, but what vulnerable children need is not so much more legal advice as an adult whom they can trust and talk to openly. That is what we are providing through special advocates, who can befriend them through this process.
The trial will not only include both independent specialist advocacy provision but test it against the existing system that I have described, supported by new, strengthened statutory guidance and regulation in this area. I say in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, that an evaluation will take place six months into the trial, with a full evaluation at 12 months. This means that we can start looking at the impact of the child trafficking advocate model during the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill.
My Lords, I very carefully read through the noble Lord’s amendment—to the extent that I detected a typographical error. There were a lot of points, but, broadly, that is the objective. However, I cannot say at the Dispatch Box that every single provision will be covered.
My Lords, I would be delighted to do that.
We are fully aware of the importance of getting support for trafficked children right and are wholly committed to doing so. It is crucial that we take the opportunity to look closely at how we achieve the best possible results for children. I hope that the Committee agree that it will be important that we learn lessons from this trial so that we get the right arrangements in place for this exceptionally vulnerable group of children.
Amendment 88 effectively holds the Government to ransom. My noble friend Lord Roberts asked about the availability of legal aid and suggested that not all asylum, trafficking and domestic violence claims receive legal aid. I reassure him that all asylum claims and appeals, and all applications for a right to enter or remain by victims of trafficking and victims of domestic violence, receive legal aid, subject to the usual means and merits test. As the Committee knows, the scope of the legal aid scheme has been decided by Parliament through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act—LASPO. I do not believe it is advisable to reopen the issue here and I am sure that, in his heart, my noble friend Lord Roberts recognises that, too.
The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, when speaking to Amendment 88, suggested that the residence test should exempt all children. As she said, the Government responded to the JCHR report by extending the exceptions to the residence test in relation to children. The Government are satisfied that the proposals for the legal aid residence test are compliant with their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I also wish the House to note that the residence test is not yet in force. Parliament will have the opportunity to consider the residence test when the relevant statutory instrument is laid before it.
Legal aid is and will remain available for the highest priority cases, such as asylum seekers or advice and damages claims for victims of trafficking. Children—or those who entered the UK as children—who fall into one of these groups are eligible for legal aid. It is right that limited funds should be targeted towards them. Therefore, only children and young adults who do not fall into one of those high-priority groups will not be eligible for legal aid, in line with LASPO. Children who are to be removed are well protected in the immigration system. In addition to the duties towards them imposed by the Children Act and the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act, in this Bill we add further protections—placing the Government’s policy of ending the detention of children on a statutory footing. In light of that, I hope that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment and other noble Lords will not press theirs in due course.
Before my noble friend decides what to do with Amendment 81, I urge the Government most strongly to give maximum publicity to what they have just said: first, about no abrupt withdrawal of support for children in care who reach the age of 18; secondly, about the possibility of children who have been here for 10 years or more achieving British citizenship; and, finally, about there being perhaps now or certainly in future a named point of contact for children and young people in irregular migrant status. In passing, I thought the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, rather too mild: something much stronger and clearer is needed.
My Lords, the noble Lord makes an important point. There is no point in having good arrangements if you keep them quiet. We need to make sure that everyone knows what arrangements have been put in place—and perhaps who is responsible for prodding the Government to do them.
My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for his careful reply. I would be grateful to know more about one particular matter; perhaps he will write to me about it. It is the situation where young people who have come to this country as children and then become adults are removed and get harsher treatment than those adults who exhaust the asylum process. I think that it occurs in situations where they have exceptional leave to remain. For some reason there is a technicality that means that young people leaving care can be more harshly treated than adults. I would be grateful if the Minister looked at that particular question and wrote to me on it. Perhaps there will be a chance before Report to discuss these issues around young people and children a bit further.
I appreciate the Minister saying that. I will withdraw this amendment in a moment but want to thank the Minister for his careful response. I also thank all noble Lords who took part in this important debate. I am very grateful for their contributions, particularly that of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, who drew our attention to the JCHR report on these matters, and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, who talked about the very important work of Kids Company—which is so well respected in this area—and its concerns. I understand that a number of local authorities face real difficulties because they may choose to extend support to young people leaving care in this situation but cannot guarantee that they will be refunded for that support. They face difficulties there. Again, I thank the Minister for his reply. I will look at it carefully but suspect that I will come back on Report with a further amendment in this area.
My Lords, the Minister gave us some noises regarding the continuation of support for youngsters when they get to 18 years of age. What is the Government’s intention in dealing with that? Is there some possibility of them bringing their own amendment on Report?
Amendment 81 withdrawn.
Amendments 81A and 81AA not moved.
Clause 65 agreed.
Clause 66: Transitional and consequential provision
Amendment 81B not moved.
Clause 66 agreed.
Schedule 9: Transitional and consequential provision
82: Schedule 9, page 103 , line 18, at end insert—
“Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 (c. 68)In section 2 of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 (jurisdiction: appeals), in subsection (2), after paragraph (c) insert—
“(ca) section 78A of that Act (restriction on removal of children and their parents),”.”
Amendment 82 agreed.
Amendment 82A not moved.
Amendments 83 and 84
83: Schedule 9, page 104 , line 21, at end insert—
“Prison Act 1952 (c. 52)(1) Section 5A of the Prison Act 1952 (appointment and functions of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (5A)—
(a) omit “and” at the end of paragraph (b);(b) after paragraph (b) insert—“(ba) in relation to pre-departure accommodation within the meaning of that section, and”.(3) In subsection (5B)—
(a) in paragraph (a), after “facilities” insert “, accommodation”;(b) in paragraph (b)(i), after “facilities” insert “, pre-departure accommodation”.”
84: Schedule 9, page 104 , line 21, at end insert—
“Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77)In Schedule 3 to the Immigration Act 1971 (supplementary provisions as to deportation), in paragraph 3, for “33” substitute “33A”.”
Amendments 83 and 84 agreed.
84A: Schedule 9, page 104, line 25, leave out sub-paragraph (2)
My Lords, Part 2 of Schedule 9 applies new provisions on bail to proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. SIAC frequently deals with persons detained by administrative fiat under high-security conditions without a time limit and without being brought automatically before a court, in conditions normally reserved for persons serving long sentences for criminal offences. Yet those appearing before SIAC have not been convicted of any offence at all.
As I hope to demonstrate in a moment, it is a matter of settled law that the alternatives to a bail hearing—that is, an application for habeas corpus or a judicial review of the lawfulness of detention—are insufficient in cases before SIAC to comply with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to liberty and security of person. That article provides:
“Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful”.
The Government’s justification in the Home Office’s memorandum on SIAC and the ECHR is that the power to grant bail is limited rather than removed and that the Secretary of State has discretion over bail in certain circumstances, but the Secretary of State is not a court of law for the purpose of Article 5(4) and the question is therefore whether JR and habeas corpus are sufficient for the purpose of compliance. In Chahal v United Kingdom in 1996, 23 EHRR 188, paragraphs 58 to 61, the European Court of Human Rights held that neither judicial review nor habeas corpus provided an adequate basis for challenging a deportation on national security grounds because closed material could not be disclosed in those proceedings. These principles can be applied to challenging a decision to detain. The High Court would not be able to undertake a full review of the lawfulness of the detention sufficient to comply with the conditions of Article 5(4). That point is not addressed in the government briefing, which assumes without argument that judicial review and habeas corpus provide adequate remedies. We know that this concern has been drawn to the attention of the Home Office, and we therefore expect a full reply from my noble friend. I beg to move.
My Lords, I offer my support to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, on Amendment 84A. As he said, the Committee will recognise the importance of the right to bail, particularly in relation to persons who have not been convicted of any criminal offence and who are often detained for lengthy periods.
I ask the Minister whether proposed new subsection (5A) is being brought forward to address a practical problem. How often are applications being made within the 28-day period, and with what result? I am concerned about proposed new subsection (5A) because it is not difficult to envisage cases where it may well be appropriate to bring a further bail application within the 28-day period, even if there is no “material change in circumstances”, the criterion in proposed new subsection (5A).
Suppose, for example, that a bail application has been dismissed because of the incompetence of the legal advisers—sadly, in this context, as in others, that is far from a hypothetical contingency. Suppose that the individual concerned lacks proper legal advice when the bail application is made. New solicitors may be appointed, a friend may be assisting the individual, they may be able to present a bail application differently or they may have discovered a binding Court of Appeal judgment which, hitherto, escaped attention. None of that would be a material change in circumstances, as I understand the concept, but it would surely be highly undesirable for the detainee to have to wait for 28 days before an application for bail could be heard and ordered, if it is appropriate on the facts of the detainee’s case.
I hope that the Minister will therefore be able to tell the Committee that he is prepared to think again on this important matter before Report.
My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to debate my noble friend’s amendment because it provides me with the opportunity to reassure noble Lords that the safeguards we highlighted when we debated Clause 3 in terms of the Home Office’s process and policy, common law and case law protections and, indeed, judicial oversight are in place when immigration bail applications are considered by SIAC. The power to detain under immigration powers flows from the Immigration Act 1971, and the consideration of whether detention remains lawful is governed by exactly the same legal principles. It is simply the venue that is different: SIAC, instead of the immigration tribunal. SIAC has its own procedure rules, separate from the tribunal procedure rules, and paragraph 2 of Schedule 9 requires SIAC’s rules to mirror those of the tribunal in how repeat bail applications made within 28 days should be handled in cases where there has not been a material change in circumstances. My noble friend’s Amendment 84A would remove the requirement for SIAC to dispose of repeat applications made on the same facts within 28 days without a hearing. That would create disparity between how different tribunals are required to handle the same matter.
As will be the case in the immigration tribunal, if a further bail application is made within 28 days of a previous unsuccessful bail application, SIAC can agree to an oral hearing, provided that there are genuine reasons to seek another hearing because there are materially different grounds to consider which may lead to a different outcome.
As I have said, safeguards are already in place. Clause 3 does not prevent an individual from applying for bail. Nor does it prevent an individual from challenging the legality of their detention, and legal aid will remain available for that. The Home Office will continue to conduct formal reviews of detention, and detainees will continue to have full access to legal advice.
I have been asked how many times the existing power has been used. The existing power has not been used for some time, so the Government have no statistics on its use. It is drafted so broadly that its meaning is, arguably, unclear. The government amendment is clear about the circumstances in which the power can be exercised and is proportionate. Therefore, it is more workable.
My noble friend Lord Avebury asked about judicial review and habeas corpus and their relationship with SIAC. He suggested that they were not adequate in SIAC. I hope that I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, that the position in SIAC differs from the position in the tribunal. SIAC is a superior court of record, whereas the tribunal, which considers most bail applications, is not. In SIAC bail applications, SIAC does consider the lawfulness of detention, and detainees do not have to apply for JR or habeas corpus, although those options remain open to them should they wish to do so.
I hope that I have covered the salient points made by my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. I understand that my noble friend’s amendment was probing. I therefore hope that my comments have reassured the noble Lords that there is no difference in the policy, procedural or judicial protections that those detained under immigration powers enjoy even if the case is under SIAC’s jurisdiction rather than that of the immigration tribunal. I therefore ask that my noble friend withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, I understood on good legal advice that the principles in Chahal did read across to SIAC but in view of what my noble friend has said about that, I shall go back to my advisers and see whether they have any further comments on what he has said.
Perhaps I may make an aside about this amendment and others that we have dealt with today. It is very inconvenient, when looking up the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act or any other Acts to which amendments are being made by the Bill, to find at the head of each page in the version that we can see online that it cannot be guaranteed that all the amendments which have been made to that Act have been incorporated. This is a serious disadvantage because it means that we always have to go back to the Library, which has access to another database that contains the full Keeling schedules of Acts that have been amended. Normally, people using the parliamentary website cannot see that database and that causes some considerable inconvenience. I would be grateful if my noble friend could address that point at some stage in the future. I do not ask him to give me a reply now but this is a general disadvantage to people who are trying to work on these Bills which work by reference to other legislation. However, with those words I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 84A withdrawn.
Amendments 85 to 87
85: Schedule 9, page 104, line 38, at end insert—
“Northern Ireland Act 1998 (c. 47)In section 69C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (investigations: places of detention), in subsection (3)(g), for “or short-term holding facility” substitute “, a short-term holding facility or pre-departure accommodation”.
Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33)(1) The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is amended as follows.
(2) In Schedule 11 (detainee custody officers)—
(a) in the heading above paragraph 3, at the end insert “and pre-departure accommodation”;(b) in paragraph 3—(i) in sub-paragraph (1), after “facility” insert “or in pre-departure accommodation”;(ii) in sub-paragraph (2), after “facility” (in both places) insert “or accommodation”;(c) in paragraph 4(c), after “facility” insert “or in pre- departure accommodation”;(d) in paragraph 5(c), after “facility” insert “or in pre- departure accommodation”.(3) In Schedule 12 (discipline etc at removal centres)—
(a) in paragraph 4 (assisting detained persons to escape)—(i) in sub-paragraph (1), for “or short-term holding facility” substitute “, a short-term holding facility or pre-departure accommodation”;(ii) in the opening words of sub-paragraph (2), for “or short-term holding facility” substitute “, a short-term holding facility or pre-departure accommodation”;(iii) in sub-paragraph (2)(a), for “or facility” substitute “, facility or accommodation”;(iv) in sub-paragraph (2)(b), for “or facility” substitute “, facility or accommodation”;(v) in sub-paragraph (2)(c), for “or facility” substitute “, facility or accommodation”;(b) in paragraph 8 (notice of penalties)—(i) in sub-paragraph (1), after “facility” insert “or contracted out pre-departure accommodation”;(ii) in sub-paragraph (2), after “facility” insert “or pre-departure accommodation”.”
86: Schedule 9, page 104, line 38, at end insert—
“Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (c. 41)In section 62 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (detention by Secretary of State), in subsection (3), after paragraph (a) insert—
“(aa) a reference in paragraph 18B of that Schedule to an immigration officer shall be read as a reference to the Secretary of State,”.”
87: Schedule 9, page 104 , line 38, at end insert—
“Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (c. 47)In section 59 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (vulnerable adults), in subsection (7)(d), after “facility” insert “or in pre-departure accommodation”.
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (c. 19)In section 2 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (meaning of “relevant duty of care”)—
(a) in subsection (2)(b), for “or short-term holding facility” substitute “, a short-term holding facility or in pre-departure accommodation”;(b) in subsection (7), for “and “short-term holding facility”” substitute “, “short-term holding facility” and “pre-departure accommodation””.UK Borders Act 2007 (c. 30)In section 48 of the UK Borders Act 2007 (establishment of border and immigration inspectorate), in subsection (2A)(a), after “facilities” insert “and in pre-departure accommodation”.”
Amendments 85 to 87 agreed.
87ZA: Schedule 9, page 106, line 15, at end insert—
“After section 3D insert—
“3E Extension of leave following revocation
(1) This section applies if a person—
(a) has limited leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom (including leave that has been extended by section 3C); and(b) the person makes a protection claim or a human rights claim within the currency of that leave or within 14 days of the conclusion of any administrative review of a decision to vary, refuse to vary that leave.(2) the person’s leave to enter or remain is extended during the period when—
(a) the protection claim or human rights claim is neither decided nor withdrawn;(b) an appeal could be brought under section 82(1)(a) or (b);(c) an appeal under that section against refusal of the protection or human rights claim is pending within the meaning of section 104.3F Revocation of a protection status
(1) This section applies if the Secretary of State has decided to revoke a person’s protection status.
(2) The revocation shall not take effect during the period when—
(a) an appeal under section 82(1)(c) could be brought;(b) such an appeal is pending within the meaning of section 104.””
My Lords, I will speak also to Amendments 87ZE and 87ZF. The first of my amendments would introduce two new paragraphs to ensure that leave continues in the event of revocation on the terms and conditions which have applied while an asylum or human rights appeal is pending. The Bill does not repeal the provisions for extending leave during the period for lodging an appeal or while an appeal is pending once a decision not to extend leave or to revoke has been made. However, those provisions will not function because the provisions on which they bite are being repealed. I acknowledge readily that this is not my analysis and I am grateful, as so many noble Lords have been and no doubt will be during the course of the Bill, to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association for this.
I made a point on Amendment 72B on Monday in respect of drivers’ licences but I do not think that the Minister who was replying was able to deal with it. In this situation, it would mean that a person’s presence immediately becomes unlawful, with implications for employment and his employer, education and his university, tenancy, holding a bank account, access to healthcare and so on. I might be wrong about holding a bank account; I think that I mean opening a bank account.
It would also mean that there would be a break in the continuity of his leave, which might have implications for a later application for settlement or citizenship. Schedule 9 provides for leave to continue on the same terms and conditions while an administrative review is pending, so it seems likely that people will make both an application for review and a human rights appeal. There would then be the dual review and appeal—parallel might be a better word—which I know the Government want to avoid. That is my first amendment.
The second amendment, Amendment 87ZE, would retain Section 23 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Under that section, the Secretary of State must,
“appoint a person to monitor … refusals of entry clearance in cases where there is … no right of appeal”,
and produce an annual report which is laid before Parliament. The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has been carrying out this function when he inspects entry clearance posts abroad. I suppose that this amendment amounts to asking the Minister to confirm whether the chief inspector will have the resources and the power to continue monitoring these posts.
I have been sent a number of extracts from recent reports with regard to overseas posts and I will quote briefly from a couple. Last December, regarding the Dhaka visa section, a report said that,
“sampling identified serious ongoing issues with decision quality”,
“problems with half the cases we examined”,
“decision-making did not appear to have materially changed since the former Independent Monitor,”
reported five years previously. There was reference to the misinterpretation of evidence, not retaining relevant documentation,
“not recording clear grounds for their decision”,
“refusing applicants for failing to provide information, the need for which they would not have been aware of at the time of making their application”.
Again, in the report on the Warsaw section last December there were references to “poor decision-making” and the need for,
“a robust system of quality control to ensure that flawed decisions are put right before being communicated to applicants”.
I could go on.
The last of my amendments would mean that Section 86(3) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 would not be repealed. Under that subsection, the tribunal must allow an appeal in so far as it thinks that,
“a decision against which the appeal is brought or is treated as being brought was not in accordance with the law”.
Is this actually what we think should become a matter for administrative review? I beg to move.
My Lords, shall speak briefly on these amendments because I have listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, quite carefully on them and I share some of the concerns that she raised. Concerning Amendment 87ZA, can I just be 100% sure that I have understood it correctly? The current position is that once a decision is taken not to extend or revoke leave, that leave is extended on the same terms and conditions during the period provided for lodging any appeal or while the appeal is pending. However, the Bill would remove that provision. The noble Baroness is nodding at me, so it seems I have understood it correctly.
I share that difficulty. However, what the Bill does has quite significant implications. If I take the example of somebody who is employing an individual whose leave is revoked and who then appeals, the employer has the opportunity to continue to employ that person quite legally. What is being proposed here seems to make the employer commit an offence, because from the moment that leave is revoked, even if the individual is appealing against it, they are no longer allowed to employ that person. What I come back to on a number of areas in the Bill is the issue of unintended consequences—not thinking through from point A to point B. I may have it completely wrong, and I am happy if I have, but I would like some clarification on that point.
On the other two points, the Minister will be aware of how concerned we are about the Government’s proposals on appeals and administrative reviews. I fail to understand why the Government do not want to have the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration reviewing decisions taken in this case. The noble Baroness asked him to confirm that. An explanation would be quite helpful. The same is true on Amendment 87ZF.
As with so many proposals the Government bring forward, I would like to understand the evidence behind the decisions being taken and an assurance that they understand and know the consequences, including the unintended consequences, of such measures.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for moving this amendment and confessing, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, to having difficulty getting her head around some of this. Having had this landed on me very recently, I have similar issues.
I am advised that it is not correct that this Bill means that leave does not continue where an application has been made in time. I think there is a double negative in there. My understanding is that Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 provides that where someone makes an application for further leave while they have existing leave and that the existing leave expires before the application for further leave is decided, their existing leave is extended on the same terms until that further application is decided and any appeal against its refusal is no longer pending. That is the existing position. Section 3D of the 1971 Act makes the same provision where someone has existing leave which is revoked, extending leave while they can appeal against the revocation. Schedule 9 to this Bill amends Sections 3C and 3D so that they extend leave also while an administrative review can be brought or is pending. I hope that is helpful. No doubt the noble Baronesses will want to consider it. I think that is the accurate position.
Nothing in the Bill prevents people making protection or human rights claims. We are committed to protecting such fundamental rights but equally, as has been explained on numerous occasions in Committee, we also seek to prevent abuse of the system and to create an improved process. Our concern is that the amendment that my noble friend has moved would undermine both these aims.
Extending leave because a protection or human rights claim has been made following an unsuccessful administrative review would create a strong incentive to make such claims. This would undermine the greater efficiency of the appeals framework in this Bill. There would be an advantage in making a protection or human rights claim just before leave extended under Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 expired, even after an appeal at the First-tier Tribunal has been decided. This would create a sequential process where the further claim and any appeal are considered after the other claim has been decided rather than at the same time. It would mean that leave is extended on current conditions for a worker, even when that worker has first sought an extension of leave as a worker and then decides he no longer wants to be in the UK to work but rather wishes to claim asylum. We do not believe that that consequential inconsistency is right.
Inserting new Section 3F into the Immigration Act 1971, as proposed by Amendment 87ZA, would create duplication. Existing Section 3D of the 1971 Act already provides that where leave is revoked, the leave will continue while any appeal against revocation is brought.
I wish to make the important point that, as I said at the outset, there is nothing in the Bill that seeks to stop or prevent people making protection or human rights claims. The Home Secretary will consider and decide any human rights claim made to her and will not remove any person while that claim remains undecided, irrespective of whether they have leave. I hope that is a reassurance that there will not be a removal while a claim remains undecided.
Amendment 87ZE queries the necessity of a consequential appeals amendment. We believe that the consequential amendment is necessary. Schedule 9 repeals the provision establishing a monitor for entry clearance cases with a limited right of appeal. This monitor role is now performed by the independent chief inspector under Section 48 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. However, the Bill provides that there will no longer be any entry clearance cases with a limited right of appeal, and therefore Amendment 87ZE would retain an otherwise redundant provision.
With regard to Amendment 87ZF, the Bill simplifies the appeals framework and removes “not in accordance with the law” and “different exercise of discretion” as grounds on which appeals can be brought. Amendment 87ZF would reinstate these as reasons for allowing an appeal, although they are not grounds on which an appeal can be brought. Noble Lords will recall from when we debated Clause 11 that the grounds of appeal under that clause are that a decision breaches the UK’s obligations under the refugee convention to those entitled to humanitarian protection, or is unlawful under the Human Rights Act. These are the relevant grounds for challenging refusals of protection or human rights claims, and, in considering them, the tribunal is considering whether the decision was in accordance with the law. That is the important point in the appeal. Similarly, the UK’s obligations to asylum seekers entitled to humanitarian protection or under the Human Rights Act are not discretionary. There is therefore no exercise of discretion for the tribunal to consider in those appeals that come before it.
I hope that in the light of this explanation and these reassurances, my noble friend will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, it would be foolish of me to try to continue the debate at this point. I obviously need to read—probably several times—what my noble friend just said and to consider it with those who are far more familiar with the whole raft of immigration legislation than I am. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 87ZA withdrawn.
87ZB: Schedule 9, page 106, line 26, leave out paragraph (b)
My Lords, Amendment 87ZB would retain Section 40A(3)(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981. This provision can be used by an immigration judge hearing an appeal against deprivation of nationality to direct, following a successful appeal, that an order depriving a person of his or her British nationality is to be treated as having had no effect. I think what my noble and learned friend said in response to Amendment 84A is relevant to this provision because he said that it is no longer necessary for immigration judges to have these powers of direction.
Amendment 87ZC would retain Section 2(6) of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997, which states:
“In this section ‘immigration decision’ has the meaning given by section 82(2) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002”.
It would thus be consequential upon leaving Clause 11 out of the Bill so that the existing Section 82(2) was preserved. As matters stand, Clause 11 removes the list of immigration decisions in Section 82(1) against which Section 82(2) gives a right of appeal.
Amendment 87ZCA amends Section 2B of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997, which reads:
“A person may appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission against a decision to make an order under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61) (deprivation of citizenship) if he is not entitled to appeal under section 40A(1) of that Act because of a certificate under section 40A(2) (and section 40A(3)(a) shall have effect in relation to appeals under this section)”.
It is the cross-reference to the provision that Amendment 87ZB seeks to retain.
These amendments arise from the case of Hilal Al-Jedda, which was referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, on Monday. Mr Al-Jedda, originally an Iraqi citizen, sought asylum in the UK in 1992. He obtained refugee status in 1994, ILR in 1998 and UK citizenship in June 2000. Then, in June 2004, he was detained in Baghdad as a suspected member of a terrorist group and was held without trial at a camp in Basra for the next three years. At the end of that period, it was discovered that he was a UK citizen. On 13 December 2007, he was released from detention and went to live in Turkey, where he remains to this date. Towards the end of his detention, the Secretary of State wrote to Mr Al-Jedda, saying that she was minded to make an order depriving him of his citizenship under Section 42 of the British Nationality Act, as well as excluding him from the UK, and inviting him to make any representations he chose against the order. His solicitors replied that he wished to challenge the order but, to do so, they required details of the facts on the basis of which he was suspected of terrorism. The Secretary of State declined to give that information and proceeded to make the order on 14 December 2007.
In the course of this correspondence, neither the Home Secretary nor Mr Al-Jedda’s solicitors referred to Section 40(4) of the British Nationality Act, which provides that:
“The Secretary of State may not make an order under subsection (2) if he is satisfied that the order would make a person stateless”.
It later transpired that the Home Secretary has been working on the assumption that Mr Al-Jedda had reverted to his previous nationality, even though an Iraqi who takes any foreign citizenship automatically loses his Iraqi citizenship. Her view was confirmed by SIAC when Mr Al-Jedda appealed to it in July 2010, but that was overturned by the Court of Appeal and remitted again to SIAC. SIAC reaffirmed its original decision, as did the Court of Appeal for a second time. The Secretary of State then appealed to the Supreme Court, where she argued that she could be satisfied that making the order would not make the person stateless if he had another nationality option, and that in this case Mr Al-Jedda could have applied for a resumption of his Iraqi citizenship which would have been granted. This was a wholly spurious argument, because Section 40(4) of the British Nationality Act refers to a person’s situation immediately the order has been made and not to what it might be at some time in the future when the stateless person had taken specific steps and the country of his former nationality had hypothetically responded favourably to them.
Lord Justice Richards said in the Court of Appeal that the point was,
“by no means free from doubt”.
As a stateless person living in Turkey, Mr Al-Jedda would have had to apply to the Iraqi authorities for a visa to re-enter the country to make the application for citizenship in person and, if he got that far, he could have been refused on security grounds. What it boiled down to was not arcane speculation about what might happen in a country still recovering from dictatorship and war, however, but what Mr Al-Jedda’s position was, immediately an order was made.
As to the circumstances which led up to the deprivation, the Supreme Court held that Section 40(4),
“does not permit, still less require, analysis of the causative factors”.
The inquiry the Secretary of State needs to make is a straightforward exercise to determine whether the person holds another nationality at the date of the order.
Now, clearly, the Secretary of State, having been forced to recognise the “fallacy behind her appeal”, as the Supreme Court described it, decided to change the law to make it possible to deprive people of their UK citizenship even when that means that they will become stateless. In my noble friend the Minister’s letter to the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, chair of the Select Committee on the Constitution, he says:
“We are legislating to correct the anomaly between what we do with regard to statelessness and what we are required to do in international law”.
It seems that there is no express contravention of international law in what the Government are doing, because when we signed up to the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness we entered a reservation that allowed us to deprive a naturalised person of his nationality on grounds that are broadly similar to those in Clause 60. But, as Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, counsel in the Al-Jedda case, observes, there are both domestic and international human rights implications. If the person is in this country when the order takes effect, he might be given limited leave to remain, with conditions regarding access to public funds and the right to work or study, though it is clearly the intention to remove him to his country of origin if that is possible. In the Minister’s letter to the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, he says again that we may grant leave to those persons, on conditions analogous to those of other migrants with temporary leave. Family members who are UK citizens will not be deprived of their rights, but what access will they have, for instance, to public funds? Will they be treated as if they were dependants of a citizen, or would they suffer financial and other penalties as a result of their relationship with the person being deprived of his citizenship? What will be their position if they are not UK citizens—for example, if the spouses and children of that person were from the country of origin and still awaiting indefinite leave to remain?
Where the person is not in the UK, such as Mr Al-Jedda with his wife and eight children, do we expect the other country to look after him for the rest of his life? He entered Turkey on a false passport and is therefore presumably not eligible to work—if indeed he can speak Turkish and has skills that would be useful to a Turkish employer. I suppose that as long as the Turkish authorities are not protesting we can say that it is not a matter of any concern to us how Mr Al-Jedda and his family survive, though some of his children are probably British citizens.
Other countries may not be so complacent when we dump our unwanted citizens on them. As another example, Abu Hamza, who served a seven-year prison sentence here for terrorist offences, was subsequently extradited to the US where he is now in custody awaiting trial on further terrorist offences. If he is acquitted, or if he is convicted and serves his time there, would the US authorities be happy to keep him and to accept that he was no longer returnable to the United Kingdom? They would surely argue that he had been admitted on extradition as a British citizen and it is likely that he travelled with a British passport. The US would be entitled to rely on those facts and the applicable international law when pressing the UK to take him back.
The Minister was asked how many of the people who have been deprived of their citizenship so far under the existing law were in fact abroad at the time at which it took place. He dodged that question when it was last asked. It is important that we should know the answer to it this evening.
As we have been told, there are probably going to be only a handful of people affected by these provisions, but what is far worse even than the effects on those few individuals and their families is the appalling example we are setting to the rest of the world. Britain was in the forefront in promoting the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and has since worked to reduce the pockets of statelessness that still exist all over the world, such as the Bidoon in the Gulf states, the Rohingya and the Palestinians. How can we now pretend to a share in the leadership of the UNHCR’s continuing effort to eliminate statelessness when, at the same time, we are enacting domestic legislation to create more stateless people? I beg to move.
My Lords, I suddenly thought that the court which heard St Paul declare himself a Roman citizen must have been just as surprised as we are at some of the people who claim to be British citizens, both by name or background and present place of abode. Your Lordships will remember that St Paul made an important and entirely supported point. Having declared himself a Roman citizen, he was treated in a different way. We have an important point here, and I commend my noble friend Lord Avebury in raising it. This is a very difficult area, not least because the exemplars are not ones that are easily taken to the heart of the broad mass of the British people. That means that those people should be particularly able to call upon this House.
I live in a house which was previously occupied, a long time ago, by the man who won the War of Jenkins’ Ear—the Battle of Porto Bello. At that time we thought that British citizenship was of enormous importance. People who found it quite hard to explain how they had managed to become British citizens were still supported, sometimes for pretty dubious reasons.
I hope that my noble friend will consider very carefully the points which the noble Lord has made. We live in a world in which statelessness is one of the most terrible things that can befall anyone. If you do not belong and cannot come to belong, you are placed in an impossible position. In a sense I welcome that this is so peculiar. This so special a situation which has been adumbrated, and the others around it are small in number and, as I suggested, do not affect many people or raise their sympathy in this country. Indeed, I fear that they could easily be used by some organs of the press as another way to beat the Government on their immigration policy. That makes it all the more important that we are very serious about this.
I therefore hope that my noble friend, in expressing his view on this amendment, will reassure the House that we do three things which are basic to British justice. First, we will recognise that if we have granted citizenship, or if someone has citizenship, we will defend it, and do so even though it be to our own hindrance. Secondly, we will not continue, unless there is some really good reason, the unacceptable position in which we say to somebody, “We will take away your citizenship but will not tell you why”. I find that unacceptable. I can see why people do that, but the circumstances must be most extreme before it is reasonable and acceptable. Thirdly, to take away someone’s citizenship, it is not reasonable to say that you assume that they can get another country’s citizenship. It is only reasonable to say that you know that they have another citizenship; anything less than that is wrong. It may not be convenient, but it is not right.
We have been the signatory to and the driver of much of the international law that seeks to reduce statelessness to its minimum. I fear that in this particular case, we may, for very good reasons—in seeking to close loopholes and make neat what is essentially a not very neat kind of law—do something which will do great injustice to a very small number of people. However, it is none the less injustice if it affects but one.
My Lords, I will be brief, because I do not want to repeat the lengthy debate we had on this issue on Monday evening. That the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has raised this again tonight, as well as the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, indicates the strength of feeling and the very grave concerns about the Government’s provisions, which would make stateless some people in this country who are currently citizens. The issue was never, as the noble Lord perhaps thought on Monday, about the withdrawal and deprivation of citizenship, but about the consequences of making people stateless, not just for that individual but for public safety, national and international security. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, made the point about somebody either being trapped, stateless, in this country, and our obligation to that individual, or somebody being isolated overseas, with the implications that that has for the security of that country and our relationship with it.
I asked a number of questions on Monday, not to be difficult or to try to trick the Minister in any way at all, but because of a lack of comprehension about the consequences this would cause. Most of those questions were not answered; the noble Lord essentially apologised to me on the Floor of the House for not being able to answer all the questions, but perhaps the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, will be able to answer some of them this evening. Perhaps he could address in particular the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, on the number of those who have had their citizenship withdrawn when they were out of the country and therefore remain stateless while they are out of the country; that number would be useful.
A very important point was also made about the discussions that the British Government have had with other countries, which may end up having a citizen whom the British Government think is likely to be a terrorist or certainly liable to take action prejudicial to the interests of the UK. We would leave them to try another country, although that person would have been accepted into that country because they had a British passport. We have to consider quite seriously the implications for our international relations. I am interested to know what discussions have been had with other countries about those provisions, because there was no answer to that on Monday. If the noble and learned Lord is unable to answer tonight, I will in any case meet the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who has agreed to do so. However, if we could have some answers to those questions tonight, that would be very useful for our understanding of the Government’s reasons for including this clause, with its very serious implications.
My Lords, important points have been made in this debate, following on from the debate which took place in Committee on Monday on the issues of deprivation of citizenship and statelessness. My noble friend Lord Deben has reminded us of important things: “Civis Romanus sum, civis Britannicus sum”. This is of great seriousness, and in no way do I wish to detract from the seriousness of these matters, to which I am sure the House will inevitably return on Report. Neither do I wish to try to dodge the question the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, asked, by looking at the amendment. The amendment does not raise these profound issues, which as I said, I am sure we will come back to—indeed, she has indicated that she has a meeting with my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach to discuss some of those issues.
The amendment moved by my noble friend relates to part of Schedule 9, entitled “Transitional and consequential provision”, and specifically would omit Section 40A(3)(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981. The point of that omission is that Section 87 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 is repealed by paragraph 28 of that schedule. I think that this matter was debated at an earlier stage; my noble friend Lady Hamwee tabled an amendment which sought to reinstate the power of the tribunal to give directions when an appeal succeeds. The point of this amendment is to reinstate this paragraph in relation to a section which relates to the power of a tribunal to give directions following a successful appeal to give effect to its decision. When my noble friend Lady Hamwee raised that issue in an earlier debate, my noble friend explained that that power is no longer necessary, as the range of decisions that the tribunal can make following appeals reform in the Bill will be more limited, and therefore the consequences clearer.
As Section 87 is repealed by virtue of paragraph 28, the reference to Section 87 in the British Nationality Act 1981 is deleted. The consequence of my noble friend’s amendment would be to reinstate a reference to a section of a Bill that has been repealed. If that is what the amendment is about, it is on that basis that we cannot accept it. But that in no way detracts from the seriousness of the points raised, which it is inevitable that we will return to on Report.
Likewise, Amendment 87ZCA seeks to retain a further cross-reference that is redundant following the repeal of Section 87 of the 2002 Act. There is a cross-reference in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 to the section of the British Nationality Act which refers to Section 87.
Amendment 87ZC also relates to a change made to existing legislation as a consequence of the changes to appeal rights in Part 2 of this Bill. It would retain a reference to “immigration decision” in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997. This reference should be removed because Clause 11 on rights of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal does not use the term “immigration decision” to describe decisions that can be appealed. Therefore, the terminology is simply inappropriate and wrong.
I apologise to the Committee for a very technical answer to what are, in fact, technical amendments. In doing so, I do not wish in any way to detract from the seriousness and importance of the points that my noble friends and the noble Baroness have made, which I am sure will be the subject of further discussion outside the Chamber and, again, when the House returns to the matter on Report. In the light of those technical explanations, I hope that my noble friend withdraws his amendment.
My Lords, in the light of those technical matters, we thought that those amendments were necessary. That is why we still consider that the power of direction of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission should be retained, as we suggested in Amendment 87ZB. As my noble and learned friend says, these are matters to which we shall return, presumably on Report when there is a fuller attendance in your Lordships’ House.
Meanwhile, I should say how grateful I was to my noble friend Lord Deben for his remarks. The same quotation occurred to me as to my noble friend—Lord Palmerston’s famous speech, in which he ended, “Civis Britannicus sum”. It was the case of a person who might not have been considered particularly worthy of British nationality, but he had it, and he was being victimised by the dictators in Naples. We should still be able to say, “Civis Britannicus sum”. As my noble friend Lord Deben said, we should not allow the Secretary of State to take away a person’s citizenship, particularly when, as he pointed out, she does not have to explain why she has done that. He agrees that it should be feasible for her to take away a person’s citizenship only when she knows that the person has another citizenship to turn to.
I am grateful also to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, for her reference to the consequences of making a person stateless, which go well beyond the individual consequences of the person concerned. We have to think of the influence that that will have on other states that already have persons who are stateless in their community or are contemplating making people stateless; they will look to the British example, and statelessness will thereby be increased across the world. We should not underestimate the influence of a decision by a state such as Britain, which has always been in the forefront of combating statelessness and has now abandoned that stance. So I am sure that we shall return to this matter. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 87ZB withdrawn.
Amendments 87ZC to 87ZJ not moved.
Schedule 9, as amended, agreed.
Clause 67 agreed.
Clause 68: Commencement
Amendments 87A to 89 not moved.
Clause 68 agreed.
Clauses 69 and 70 agreed.
Bill reported with amendments.
Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee
Motion to Take Note
My Lords, before we begin tonight’s debate, I express my delight at the calibre of those who have signed up to speak. The entire membership of the committee is participating, which does not surprise me as, throughout what was at times an intense inquiry, their diligence, enthusiasm and expertise helped the committee to get its job done. Even the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, served his time on the committee; our loss was the Government’s gain when he was promoted to the Whips’ Office in October. We are delighted that he will be responding to tonight’s debate. In addition, two valuable witnesses to the inquiry, the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, are joining us, along with the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, another multiple Paralympic medal winner.
In that context, I should perhaps begin by declaring an interest, or rather a non-interest, in my own rather less than distinguished, not to say non-existent, sporting career. At the age of 12, I was expelled from the PE department of my school—or, as they put it, “Harris is excused games for the rest of his school career”—on the grounds of wilful lack of effort. As noble Lords can see, the rest is history. I stand before you as a nasty warning of what will happen if the Government fail to take our recommendations on school-age sport more seriously.
The committee, which I had the privilege to chair, was appointed in May last year to consider,
“the strategic issues for regeneration and sporting legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
We were ordered to report by 15 November and, in the event, managed to do so a few days early. This committee was an experiment by the House. Rather than having the full Session to conduct an inquiry into one policy area, this year two committees shared the resources of one to complete two separate inquiries. Suffice it to say, given the breadth of the topic set by our terms of reference, this was a tall order, which we sought to resolve by packing as many witness sessions into six months as most committees would attempt in a year.
Tonight I shall speak to both our report and the joint response to it from the Government and the Mayor of London, which was issued, in my view rather inappropriately, while the Lords was in its February Recess.
We began our inquiry less than a year after the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games, which I think we all felt was early to try to gauge the legacy. As a result, we did not even attempt to make definitive judgments on what the end results would be but instead concentrated on whether credible arrangements were in place to deliver the maximum possible legacy, once the euphoria of the Games themselves had disappeared. We tried to see the most representative possible range of groups and bodies. We took formal evidence in person from 52 witnesses in Westminster and one in South America —by video conference rather than visit, I hasten to say. We sat for four days during the Recess in September and, importantly, spent one of those days very fruitfully visiting people in the host boroughs. That day included what I am sure was unique—a visitation by your Lordships’ House to an East End boxing club.
The tightness of our timetable meant that our work was necessarily compressed, and that many of our oral submissions had inevitably to take place before we had received the written submissions from the organisations concerned. Like all ad hoc committees of the House, there is an issue over how our report will be followed up. I know that the Liaison Committee is looking at this, but my colleagues and I are, like Barkis in David Copperfield, willing—willing to be recalled to review these issues in the future, should the House so request us to do.
I am grateful to everyone who engaged with the inquiry. Personally, I am indebted to my colleagues on the committee who were, between them, expert in so many aspects of the terms of reference. Our work would not have been possible without the superb support of our clerk team: Duncan Sagar, who has now switched seamlessly to covering modern slavery; Matthew Smith, who switched on the day of the report’s publication from being an expert on urban regeneration to being one on the taxation of personal service companies; and Helena Ali, who has now, I understand, been poached by the House of Commons. We were also ably assisted by our two advisers: Professor Ian Henry and Professor Allan Brimicombe.
The euphoria over the Games was justified. The hosting of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was an outstanding success. The Games exceeded expectations and confounded sceptics by giving the world a spectacular example of what the United Kingdom is capable of doing, and, what is more, they delivered that major event on time and to budget. The evidence that we took suggested that legacy played a bigger part in the planning of the 2012 Games than for any previous Games and, again, this in itself deserves credit.
At a year’s distance, many of our witnesses argued that it was simply too soon to assess the legacy for the regeneration of east London. This will be seen only over decades and generations. However, the sporting legacy, or perhaps in some instances the lack of it, is easier to assess. The single biggest promise on the sporting side was for a much more physically active population. The UK faces an epidemic of obesity, which, on Budget Day, I should note costs an estimated £20 billion per year, as well as seriously curtailing health and quality of life. The promise of inspiring a new sporting generation was crucial and a tantalising part of that legacy aspiration. We found the evidence was pretty clear in this regard and, I have to say, rather disappointing. The envisaged post-Games step change in participation across the United Kingdom and across different sports simply did not materialise. If anything, sporting activity subsequently declined.
There were, of course, some honourable exceptions. Some sports, such as cycling, have used a succession of events and sporting successes, building on the Manchester Commonwealth Games and various victorious Tours de France, to have a really impressive and sustained boost in participation across the country, amplified by the heroics of Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy and their teammates in 2012. However, across the board, the picture was one of a lack of legacy planning by sports, particularly for what would happen at grass-roots level. The links between sports governing bodies, the investment from Sport England, and community clubs, schools and facilities, are critical and need more investment. From the Government’s response to our report, it seems that this message is only now beginning to hit home. This may be, tragically, too late to secure a participation legacy from 2012. This was a missed opportunity, and we have to hope that it is not too late to leverage the coming decade of sporting events hosted in the UK, beginning with this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The Games themselves were also an impressive example of what could be done to inspire volunteers, but here again there was a missed opportunity adequately to harness that enthusiasm. I have spoken to so many of those who were Games makers, who tell me that, with a little more encouragement in the immediate aftermath of the Games, they would have been ready to continue with that level of volunteering commitment.
To try to address these gaps in planning, as well as to ensure that sports governing bodies are reaching out to previously underrepresented groups, we called for more transparency through the publication of the whole sport plans, which each sport produces as a part of Sport England’s funding process. I was disappointed that the Government in their response did not engage with this recommendation positively. I hope that the Minister, when he responds, will give us a reason why these documents should not be put in the public domain.
The Paralympic Games seem to have provided genuine inspiration for more people with and without disabilities to take up sport. However, there are barriers in the quality of the facilities available in clubs, which affect disabled people looking to participate in sport. As well as boosting sporting participation for those with disabilities, an important hoped-for legacy of the Paralympics was the transformation of general public perceptions of disability. Extensive media coverage has certainly had a powerful effect on changing public perceptions of disabled sport. However, I have to say that there is less clear evidence that there was a similar impact on the broader perception of people with disabilities.
The adequate provision of sport for school-age children is essential, coming at that key moment in young people’s lives when an intervention can create lifelong habits and enjoyment of exercise. Our report supported the findings of the recent report for the Welsh Assembly by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, on sport in schools in Wales, in particular that PE needs a greater emphasis in the school day and that teachers, particularly in primary schools, need the training and skills to teach PE if we are to achieve meaningful progress. Our report called on the Department for Education and Ofsted to take more active roles in making this change happen. The Government’s response, including confirmation that PE will remain compulsory at all four key stages and that Ofsted is emphasising PE skills in new teachers, certainly talks the right talk. It is essential that this translates into meaningful progress.
Turning to high-performance sport, the biggest single controversy was over UK Sport’s “No Compromise” approach to funding, whereby funding is directed at those sports with the best medium-term medal prospects. Because of Team GB’s hosting of the Games, a number of Olympic and Paralympic sports received additional funding so that we could field teams in every event, including those that were not traditionally popular in the UK. Some sports, such as handball and volleyball, really caught the public imagination and had the potential to grow new participation bases on the back of Team GB’s displays. There is no question that the “No Compromise” approach to sports funding has clearly improved the top end of Team GB’s performances in the recent past, and the transformation in medal haul from Atlanta in 1996 to London in 2012 is a staggering achievement. However, we were concerned that it does not sufficiently help emerging sports. There is also a bias against team sports, a point put to us powerfully to in evidence by Sir Clive Woodward. Without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we called for UK Sport to adopt a more flexible approach, which reflects this problem and enables sports to nurture a broader base and a wider pool from which future world-class talent might emerge.
I have been contacted—as, I am sure, have colleagues since the report’s publication by a number of those affected by UK Sport’s recent decisions. One of the most disappointing aspects of the Government’s response was their flat refusal to consider making the process more flexible. Will the Minister confirm whether the door is closed to rethinking the “No Compromise” approach in future? Certainly, today’s funding announcements by UK Sport hardly bode well for future participation in the sports such as basketball that have lost out.
Before turning to the second limb of our inquiry—the regeneration legacy—I want to say a word about the facilities built for the Games and their future use. We searched hard for the white elephants that have been the legacy of so many previous Games and we did not find any. The Olympic stadium itself will not be standing idle and empty but will be the home of West Ham United. That was not the original legacy concept, but it will be used.
Our view was that the stadium is a national asset and it remains important that the focus must be on making the best use of it for the community and the taxpayer. Last week, I met West Ham United, and I recognise the enormous efforts it is making to bring football “back to the people” with its Kids for a Quid scheme, its community sports trust, and its work with youngsters to reduce anti-social behaviour and provide out-of-school study support for underachieving children. The arrangements for the stadium’s use when West Ham is not using it must also be focused on delivering community benefit.
It is the local people who should stand to gain most from the legacy of the Games, and it is for this reason that the regeneration of east London was a major part of what was promised. Previous Games and other major sporting events around the world have failed to leave meaningful transformative legacies for local people. We heard from the vice-president of the IOC that regeneration is all about domestic palatability, and the promise to transform the lives and prospects of future generations of east Londoners was the biggest moral case for the Games.
The regeneration of east London is a huge, long-term task with a potentially great reward. The redevelopment of the Olympic park itself is led by the mayor’s London Legacy Development Corporation, or LLDC. We were pleased to find that the park will offer a mix of good-quality, new housing within the former athletes’ village, and in five new neighbourhoods that will be developed across the park. It is important that a fair proportion—at least the LLDC’s target of 35%—of this housing is affordable for, and accessible to, local residents. We recommended that the LLDC should take steps to manage and monitor this. We were a little concerned that, in the mayor’s part of the response to the report, the LLDC seemed to be focused only on affordability and not on the wider questions of suitability. Many local families are relatively large when compared with the UK average, and it is more common in the local communities than nationally for extended families to cohabit. If the housing is to work for local families, it needs to have a decent share appropriate for those larger families.
Outside the park, there is massive potential and need for further housing development in the surrounding boroughs. It is essential that the mayor, the GLA and local authorities work together to accelerate development on these sites and to ensure that the high standards so far achieved are sustained in subsequent development. The responses of the Government and the mayor contain a number of commitments to exceed environmental and sustainability minimum standards. I trust that they will stick to those commitments.
The development of the park and surrounding area will generate significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. The perception of the local people whom we met during this inquiry was that, so far, they have not felt the benefits of these opportunities. Our report called on the responsible bodies to develop a co-ordinated programme through which new opportunities can be targeted at local communities. The LLDC has assured us that it is rolling out a programme of outreach and engagement events to ensure that local people are aware. However, this is only half the answer. The new jobs will be taken by locals only if the skills base of people in the area improves. This requires action and investment in the short term to secure the longer-term dividend. We were pleased that the GLA and the LLDC responded positively to our recommendation that a construction employment and skills programme be developed, and the corporation is now working on it.
Central to all this is the extent to which the Olympic park itself comes to embody the potential future of the East End—a future of aspiration and hope, and a future of technological jobs that will have a benefit not only locally but for the nation as a whole. The transformation of the former media centre will be central to this, and I know we were impressed by the way in which BT Sport has used the space that it has acquired. I was heartened also to see the news last week that Maker Faire, which the Observer rather unkindly called an “unashamed celebration of geekdom”, will come to the park next year—the first time it has taken place outside the USA—and is expected to draw 75,000 visitors over its four weeks during the summer holidays.
The transport infrastructure left in the wake of the Games will also be critical to that future development. We recommended that the Department for Transport take proper ownership of the unsolved problem of providing Stratford International station with international services. I was disappointed that the Government’s response showed no willingness whatever to engage to a greater degree to push this process along. In preparation for the Games, Transport for London made great strides in improving the accessibility of the London transport network, including for travellers with disabilities. The momentum of these changes must not be lost, and the successful joint working by transport operators must be maintained.
A number of initiatives also piloted during the Games allowed businesses, particularly SMEs, a platform on which to compete to provide services in support of the Games. We concluded that these initiatives were successful and need to be maintained to maximise the benefits to businesses.
In summing up, I come to perhaps the most important observation that ran throughout the various legacy programmes. The real-world pressure of a set deadline to host the Games and the political unacceptability of failing to deliver a world-class event meant that there was a healthy driver to ensure that the plethora of organisations—the veritable table Tower of Babel of competing voices within and outside government—were led strongly to a single common purpose. This leadership and sense of direction are equally important to delivering the legacy but they diminished after the Games passed. We were unconvinced that the Government’s current oversight arrangements represent a robust way in which to deliver the legacy. There is now confusion on the timeframes and targets involved in its delivery and a lack of clear ownership. We recommended that one Minister be given overall responsibility for the many strands of the legacy, working with the devolved Administrations to ensure UK-wide co-ordination. Otherwise, we cannot see much of a meaningful legacy outside London. In the same vein, we called for the mayor’s office to own the vision for the future development of east London and the creation of a lasting Olympic legacy in the capital—and for the mayor’s office to be given the necessary responsibility and power.
In their response, the Government overtly accepted only one of our 41 recommendations. They did not engage with the recommendation that a single Minister be given specific responsibility, beyond restating the role of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Time will tell, but the committee was convinced by the evidence we received that more coherence is needed if the huge and very real legacy opportunities are not to be missed. I commend this report to the House.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for securing this debate on an issue of such importance, not just to this House but to the entire United Kingdom, and for chairing the ad hoc committee in such a commendable way.
On 6 July 2005, just before 1 pm, London time, I stood in Trafalgar Square for what was surely the longest envelope-opening in history—and we heard that word, “London”. What a decision, what a journey, and what a Games. Some 2.4 million fans came to the Paralympics in person, tens of millions watched on Channel 4, and hundreds of millions watched around the world—many watching Paralympic sport for the first time. It was a Games that made household names out of Paralympic athletes for the first time in history. It was a Games in which all the Olympic sponsors were also signed up as Paralympic sponsors, and in which broadcasters around the world showed wall-to-wall coverage.
However, that was then. What of this in 2014? There are massive memories and all that glittering gold, but what stacks up in terms of the legacy promised right from the word go? It makes sense to start with sport. When the noble Lord, Lord Coe, spoke in Singapore he talked about inspiring young people all around the world to choose sport. Since that moment, 350,000 more disabled people are engaged in sport, but that represents tens of percentage points less than their non-disabled counterparts and is a stubborn figure on which to improve.
The funding is in good shape. UK Sport, post-London 2012, has increased funding for Paralympic sport by 45%. Sport England has committed £157 million to improve participation facilities so that disabled people right across the country can get into sport. For the first time, it has put a criterion in the funding programmes for national governing bodies requiring figures to be recorded on disabled participation in their sports. Forty-two out of the 46 national governing bodies have signed up to this. What does the Minister believe Sport England is doing to ensure that that becomes 46 out of 46?
There has also been a tremendous events legacy from the Paralympic Games. In November, the International Tennis Federation will host the wheelchair tennis male singles. Next year, the Para-Swimming world championships will take place in Glasgow, and in 2017—probably the high point of this current cycle—the IAAF World Athletics Championships will also have a Paralympic Athletics World Championships.
On the one-year anniversary of the Games, we saw this events strategy brought into stark relief with, for the first time, the National Paralympic Day being hosted on the Olympic park. Some 6,200 people came through the Copper Box to watch not only elite sport but, in the morning, to witness young people from all the growth boroughs have the opportunity to have a go and try out Paralympic sport. That is a real legacy. And it was not just about London: in 36 events right across the country, from Glasgow to Hastings, people had the opportunity to try sport. Leeds City Council reported 1,000 people trying out Paralympic sport in that city alone, and there was a social media campaign touching three-quarters of a million people. This was ground-breaking stuff.
A year on from the Games, back at the park and right after the Anniversary Games, we saw not only superb Olympic performances but Paralympic athletics in a packed-out stadium. For the first time, sponsors were not just getting involved at Games time but continuing their involvement with the British Paralympic Association and with Paralympic sport. Sainsbury’s was very quick out of the blocks with its legacy plans. It announced them in the same week as the closing ceremony for the Paralympic Games. The Sainsbury’s Active Kids For All programme goes to the heart of one of the key problems, enabling those involved in teaching and in leading sport to gain the skills, the experience and, crucially, the comfort and the confidence to become involved and to offer sporting opportunities to disabled people right across the country.
Similarly, BP and BT have announced continued commitment to the British Paralympic Association right through to the Rio cycle. This has never happened before. Historically, Paralympic sport has not even had sponsors in the first place; certainly the sponsors do not stick around post-Games to be involved between the four-year cycles.
Probably one of the greatest things, and the one that gave us so much promise for the legacy, was the broadcast deals that we were able to strike at LOCOG. Channel 4 provided wall-to-wall coverage at Games time, with a continued commitment post-Games, not least in programmes such as “The Last Leg”, which was truly ground-breaking, brave broadcasting. Its marketing campaign at Games time and post-Games was led by Dan Brooke, something of a marketing guru. He runs the marketing campaigns at Channel 4 and he also happens to be the son of my noble friend Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville.
Then there was Sochi only last week. Previously, had it not been for London, you would not have seen Paralympic winter sport on your TV screens. The coverage of the athletes on snow and ice brought to us by Channel 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live was a real sporting legacy from the broadcasters.
It is probably worth mentioning at this point one of the unsung but most significant parts of the Games, not just in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games but post-Games. A real cornerstone of the legacy is the National Lottery, which provided half the funding for the Paralympic Games. I think we all owe a tremendous debt to Sir John Major for what he did all those years ago. He showed the vision, drive and determination to have a National Lottery which would commit so much funding and so much possibility to sport, culture and the arts in this country. It made a difference at Games time and it will make a difference in legacy, not least with the Spirit of 2012 Trust, which has £40 million to push into strategic projects, not least in the area of disability sport.
How do we measure all this? In some ways in terms of the legacy for 2012, one could cite AJP Taylor on the Russian revolution: “It’s too early to say”. Much research was done post-Games. We at LOCOG commissioned research all the way through—we were convinced that we should root everything we did in research. What we saw in the autumn, post-Games, was a real shift in both qualitative and quantitative data. There was attitudinal change as a result of our hosting the Paralympic Games in London. The qualitative data showed that it was not just a question of numbers shifting by large percentages; they showed that attitudes had shifted tremendously. However, all this is incredibly tentative and could easily just slip away if it is not gripped, grasped and driven by all the different organisations responsible for making this stuff happen post-Games for decades to come.
Similarly, we did not just want London 2012 to be the most accessible Olympic and Paralympic Games in history. We were not just providing access for access’s sake; we were doing it to build an inclusive experience at Games time. That is a key element of the legacy. What we were able to achieve at Games time is not what people experience in the premiership, in rugby or in sporting events right across the country. In the coming year, we are going to lead a piece of work for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to really drive into this and to try to assist those organisations to make a significant difference in that area. My interests in the EHRC are as set out in the register.
When we talk about legacy, it is useful to glance over our shoulders and remind ourselves that we have the absolute honour to have started the Paralympic Games in this country. We have that gem and are pushing it into our legacy going forward. Now, wherever the Paralympic Games are held, there will be a flame festival at Stoke Mandeville, where the flame will be lit and taken to wherever the Games are. We saw it recently as the flame started its journey to the Sochi Paralympic Games. This will happen for Rio, Pyeongchang and beyond, putting Stoke Mandeville at the heart not just of history but of the Games going forward. This is reflected across the park with Mandeville Place, with the Agitos—that fabulous Paralympic symbol—and with a medical centre named after Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the genius who came up with the idea of a Paralympic Games in Stoke Mandeville in 1948. That is where it began and it has to have a future, a purpose and a relevance.
In conclusion, I want to highlight two final points which, of themselves, may seem quite small but which I believe had an incredible impact at the time and have the potential, if grasped, to be central to the whole question of legacy. The first is that for the Olympic and Paralympic Games we were able to get true cross-Whitehall working, with 18 government departments coming together and connecting to makes the Games happen. The Games were unique but that cross-Whitehall working does not need to be unique just at Games time; it needs to continue in order to drive and deliver the legacy, and it needs to continue across, quite frankly, every appropriate relevant policy area.
Secondly, the work we did with Get Set and the education programme enabled young people with open minds to learn about the Olympic and Paralympic values. Schoolchildren with open minds—the architects, web designers, policymakers and politicians of tomorrow—are learning about inclusion. When they grow up and are in their professional careers, diversity and inclusion will be a given.
There are many ways to look at legacy. There are many measures, including more than several spreadsheets and many metrics. All that has its place but alongside it I urge that we look at the specific, the individual, to see the world in a grain of sand. That was brought home to me last year at an event when a young blind lady spoke to me. She said, “Before the Paralympics, I was ashamed of my white stick. I did not like going out in public. The Paralympic Games made me proud to be a disabled person in Britain”. Our mission is nothing short of that. We have to ensure that we drive legacy and that our Government, corporations, communities and individuals do everything they can to enable that inclusive environment where everyone, regardless of background, disability and any intervening factor, is able to achieve their full potential in a truly united kingdom.
My Lords, looking back to that wonderful day when we were told that London would host the Olympic Games of 2012, the future of sport seemed secure. Our bid was inspirational and unique. There was a pledge to produce a new generation, a sporting generation, which seemed not only possible but inevitable. Seeing the support of the nation, the Government promised all the funding needed for the project. The team given the task of planning and building the Games was formidable; success was assured—and so it was. The Games were wonderful. The facilities, the well funded athletes and the millions of volunteers combined to enchant a worldwide audience. As we were promised, it was the “greatest show on earth”.
So how could the original pledge be so badly broken? Who should take the blame? What can be done, and must be done, to remedy the failure? The facts are stark. We have no new sporting generation. Worse than that, we have a generation scarred by obesity. The Government have failed to catch the wind and have made wrong decisions about elite sport over grass-roots sport. They have failed to provide a sound, cohesive strategy to create a strong sporting foundation for the future.
Every sensible person knows that a successful sporting lifestyle has to begin at the earliest opportunity. Expert advice across the piece—from governing bodies, educationalists and medical professionals—was of one mind: namely, that an early start is essential. The Government inherited the school sport partnerships programme, which for the first time brought fully trained physical education teachers into state primary schools. It worked, and the results spoke for themselves. So how could it be that the first post-election action of the Education Minister, Michael Gove, was to scrap the system, thus putting grass-roots sport to the back of the queue? Following public and professional outcry, he was forced to replace the scheme—with a pitiful replacement which has little or no chance of success.
The Government’s response to our report is totally negative. Only a radical rethink will repair the damage. Investment in fully qualified PE teachers, helping to create a link between clubs and schools, and helping clubs to improve their facilities with support for better playing facilities—such as flood-lights where appropriate —are actions that the Government must take if we are to see any progress. But none of those has brought any positive response from the Government to our report.
We must have a Minister with overall control of all these issues. Without that, we will continue to see a decline in our promised sporting nation. Given the fine start that the Olympic Games gave us, what a tragedy that hopes are dashed and millions of pounds have been wasted. The Government, being responsible for increasing sporting participation, had plenty of warnings that all was not well. Sport England, the Active People Survey and the Taking Part survey into sport all flagged up concerns. The sporting press became more vociferous and asked: where is the promised legacy? Failure was becoming evident.
Tennis is a good example. For many years, tennis writers and observers were critical of the Lawn Tennis Association and its chief executive, Roger Draper. It was all promises and no product, despite the fact that he was being paid £640,000 a year and had an annual budget to spend of more than £60 million. As the scandalous mismanagement persisted and the facts were put to the Sports Minister, no action was taken. Yet the Government had a duty to intervene. For the first time, government funding, taxpayers’ money, was gifted to the LTA to improve grass-roots performance. But there was absolutely no response from the Government. Why did they not intervene? Why was the LTA not called to account? Even today, after Roger Draper has been forced out of office, the chickens are coming home to roost. We have heard from Sport England, formerly the English Sports Council, that two sports—football and tennis—have showed a serious decline in participants in the past 12 months.
After watching football on TV last weekend, I can see why football is in trouble, but in the year that Andy Murray won Wimbledon—after a 77-year wait—and added the Olympic gold medal to his collection, how could the numbers have fallen in tennis? It was almost more difficult to see a reduction than to see an explosion in the number of new tennis players. Public courts should have been swamped by youngsters taking up the sport. But, sadly, many of those tennis courts have been closed. The point that I am seeking to make is that, if the Government had intervened earlier and taken a stronger stance, thousands of pounds could have been saved and the health of tennis could have been improved. It is an object lesson in incompetence and complacency.
In conclusion, I am sure that the setting up of the Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy was entirely right. It allowed the committee to call for evidence from a wide range of sources. It allowed the press and the public to look again at the Government’s competence in fulfilling their Olympic pledge and to challenge the outcomes. Questions that we asked were echoed by the press and the public. The written submissions, of which there were hundreds, bear them out. The Government clearly wanted the legacy issue to fade away but our committee has ensured that it will not.
The committee was excellent. It was committed and competent. Our chair, my noble friend Lord Harris, is wise and tolerant, and our expert advisers were outstanding. I found the whole experience valuable. I learnt much which I promise to use in the future to ensure that some of the glaring mistakes made by the Government will be hotly challenged. We can and must do better.
My Lords, the whole experience of the committee was one in which I found myself looking with a critical eye at something about which I cared passionately and had always supported. Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, provided a very good hand on the tiller, particularly as he admitted that he was not in love with the idea of sports. That provided a nice, sane stabiliser.
We were looking at a huge project that had huge energy and focus. As the noble Lord pointed out, we had a finite time to deliver. This meant that the political class got its act together and got on with it. It said, “We will not tolerate anything going wrong”, and made sure that those they were talking to were told that they were not going to tolerate things going wrong. That proved that if you have focus, you can achieve.
Historical examples of such things happening are there in abundance, but the new thing was legacy. As the noble Lord pointed out, the one legacy that we knew about and had experience of—because we had got it wrong in the past—concerned the facilities themselves, which seem to have turned out to be a success. We have function, in that the stadium will be used and facilities have been reinvented. We are going to get rid of the stuff that we do not need and leave the hard core that is useful. That is a very good idea. Remember Wembley Stadium and Pickett’s Lock? Remember the disasters? Remember the places that did work? Principally, they were for the Manchester Commonwealth Games.
When we came to a sporting legacy, we had an idea—an idea to take what we do, inspire and support the concept of being involved, taking part and creating an elite and going forward with it. To expect us to get things absolutely right first time was probably asking too much. Indeed, I remember on several occasions saying to various people that the people who would experience our legacy model best would probably be those at the next Games. We should remember that this is an international organisation and many of the examples that we used, about how not to have white elephants, waste money or go over budget, were taken from those who went before us, particularly at the Sydney Games and the Athens Games.
Taking on the idea of the legacy in terms of sporting achievement and going forward was always going to be something that we would be taking the first steps on. The most important first step is the fact that we are still discussing it now. I have received briefing from the RFU about the Rugby World Cup, which is desperate to ensure that it has a legacy. It is probably easier for a single sport. Indeed, when rugby league had its world cup, it also tried that. In a single sport you have a focus and you can encourage structures to get involved, recruit players, get better pathways, and make sure that you are there to receive them. I will let noble Lords into a little secret. This is merely an extension of what they should have been doing anyway to build their sports. All sports should have been doing that.
On youth involvement, to go back to rugby union again, I had the great privilege of finding myself at lunch the other day with the chap who invented mini rugby. For those who do not know it, that is the junior, short version of the game that was created for rugby union so that when young children play the game they do not find themselves having an exercise in boredom waiting for the ball to come to them. They receive it and are allowed to play. This is something that has been taken on by all sports—you create something small that people can get involved in. It can be shorter-term activity such as short tennis, kwik cricket and shorter terms of football. All of them take this on board.
How do we work this in? How do we build it in? It has to find a home in the education process. There is disappointment about the government response. All political parties have this problem. Sport is great when you are cheering from the sidelines, but would we all not rather be talking about English pass rates or how maths is in decline? I am afraid it is there. There are far too many people involved—although I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, is now a convert—who gave up sport at the age of 14, when they could fake their mother’s signature and join the politics society. It happens. If noble Lords have not seen that, I will take them on a guided tour. We have to try to ensure that involvement is consistently there and that we take it on. Unless we make it a central focus of what we are doing, youth involvement and early involvement will fail.
The previous Government took some interesting steps, but the idea remained that something had to be done, and that idea was probably already within the current Government—in both parties. That something had to be done and that there was a row about it was probably a good thing. Maybe the scheme was great, maybe it was not, maybe it had flaws, but the idea going forward is the important thing. That is what we must try to encourage. It may not be perfect, but the idea is there.
Carrying on from that, one area that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, brought forward is the “No Compromise” approach for elite-level sports. We dealt with the problems of Atlanta in 1996. I hope that we have killed that dragon, or at least given it a good thump and driven it off the field of play. We have to look at something that develops our sporting base. We need more in sports aspiring to be at the top. Great as it may be to cheer people winning in rowing and cycling—the Australian joke is that we are great at sports where we sit down—we have to try to expand. We need more people competing in more sports and challenging. We can do it. British amateur boxing is now a dominant force. Maybe that was under this system, but it was on the grounds of one person winning a medal at one Games. I am afraid that the “No Compromise” approach is vulnerable to one person having a bad day—two training accidents and somebody having food poisoning at a competition. That makes you vulnerable to losing your base and your future. We must get the idea that we have to go further and bigger. We have won this: do not refer back. Try to go on and get something out there.
Basketball has already been mentioned. It is a sport that has huge potential, especially in areas of urban deprivation. It does not require that much infrastructure —a hard surface and a hoop, and teams of five that are interchangeable. It is non-contact—supposedly. It can involve people. It is a sport that eternally struggles to make it through to the next stage. What we know about mass participation is that it is incredibly helped by having elite-level sport to look up to. Children like heroes.
Unless we can tie everything together with focus and unity, at least within government—and I hope across the political parties—we will all always bump into “Wouldn’t we rather do something different?”. Unless we decide that we must have a way of trying to get those groups and sports outside who are not having instant success, and tolerate some failure, although not eternal tolerance, we will miss opportunities. We have done well and come far, but we must not peter out or flatline: we must think creatively. We may have to offend the rest of the world by saying, “You must change to do this”.
My Lords, I, too, had the privilege of serving on the Select Committee. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, whose hard work in keeping us all up to speed was an invaluable component in the success of this venture, as was the extremely impressive input of our officer team and the diligence of my committee colleagues.
If I have a criticism of this experiment in the use of the Select Committee approach for a short, sharp, focused exercise, it is a positive one: a report with this much good material in it deserves more widespread publicity and dissemination. A few newspaper articles are not enough to spread the word and while this debate tonight is more than helpful, a more extensive follow-through over a sustained period would make the whole exercise better value for money.
I turn to the content of the Select Committee’s excellent report. My special interest is in the legacy promised by the Games for the regeneration of east London and beyond. Just how successful has this huge investment been and are there lessons, positive or negative, that we should take for regeneration projects both here and elsewhere in the future? A number of our witnesses explained how installing the transport and developing the sites of the Olympics and Paralympics meant compressing decades of much needed investment into a few years. The incredible facilities, the transportation systems and extensive infrastructure, and the housing—the Olympic Park alone will eventually house more than 10,000 new households—have all magically accelerated the regeneration of east London. Certainly there has been a speeding up of the hoped-for convergence between the position of the East End boroughs and the rest of London as measured by a number of key indicators.
So is this a story of unmitigated regeneration success? It is important to see what has worked and why, because of the implications for the regeneration of other post-industrial areas of the UK and, indeed, for other large-scale housebuilding projects, including the development of whole new settlements like the “garden city” of Ebbsfleet, announced earlier this week. What this whole exercise has demonstrated is that a particular set of organisational structures, a particular governance framework and a particular modus operandi can be hugely successful. The key components are central government support for a devolved local agency that crosses local authority boundaries with a powerful co-ordinating vision and a clear master plan, with powers—compulsory powers, if necessary—to acquire, assemble and control land use. Like the London Docklands Development Corporation which gave us the phenomenon of Canary Wharf, like the new town development corporations, and like so many international examples of large-scale regeneration from Amsterdam to Singapore, these are the characteristics for successful outcomes. What is then achieved is what was positively planned, in this case including high-quality buildings delivered on time and within budget, not the least of which is well designed, sustainable, affordable and accessible housing.
These are the things we hope for in other places but so seldom achieve. Indeed, the usual approach to development in the UK is almost the exact opposite. By and large we sit and wait for speculative developers to come forward for planning permission with projects that we hope will fulfil all the economic and social objectives an area needs, and we are invariably disappointed. The model of the Olympic Delivery Authority and now the new mayoral London Legacy Development Corporation, show how we can do so much better. These lessons can be transferred not just to the new town of Ebbsfleet, but to major regeneration projects far from the south-east of England, and indeed to the vital task of doubling the nation’s supply of new homes.
I come now to a less positive lesson from the regeneration legacy of 2012. Despite all the brilliant outcomes from the Games, I feel that there is an Achilles heel in this success story. It is that the economic development that produced thousands of new jobs largely bypassed Londoners born and brought up in the East End. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, the Select Committee met with local community groups and heard the sense of grievance that there had been so few opportunities for them. This is confirmed by statistics suggesting that despite there being 104,000 unemployed people in the Olympics boroughs, convergence with the rest of London on the employment criteria has lagged behind, even though more than 10,000 new jobs were created by the Games. Counting as a “local”—someone who has lived nearby for the last 18 months—misses the point. Waves of workers from eastern European countries moved here over the several years of the Olympics development, and they did a great job. I accept the point made by a manager on one of the projects we visited. He agreed that it was a pity that no one on the site was truly a local, but asked, “What did you want—the Olympic village built on time and on budget or a construction training scheme for local residents?” He had a point.
In a world of globalised labour markets and with a major problem in this country of poorly targeted skills building, we cannot blame the leadership of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for failing to engage enough home-grown talent. Some useful efforts were made to persuade contractors to take on apprentices and the results were better than for most construction sites, but largely the opportunity was missed. However, the massive regeneration effort kick-started by the Games will run and run. I note in today’s Budget, for example, that extensive housing and development is to be supported in Barking and that some 6,000 new jobs are likely to result. It is not too late to change our ways and use investment in regeneration to skill up many young people—there are still nearly 1 million under 25 year-olds who are not in employment, education or training—so that we can gain not just buildings but jobs for local labour. It is wasteful to pull in the next cohort of eastern European building workers while the unemployed of east London remain unskilled and dejected.
I commend the report released two weeks ago following an inquiry by a cross-party group of parliamentarians jointly chaired by the right honourable Nick Raynsford and myself called No More Lost Generations: Creating Construction Jobs for Young People. The report, which was backed by the Construction Industry Training Board and the Chartered Institute of Building, calls for work in schools and for careers advice about the opportunities in an industry that reckons it will need over 500,000 more workers over the next four years to replace those retiring and to cope with the current expansion of building activity. Yet, as the report notes, only 7,200 apprenticeships were completed in the construction industry last year. I was encouraged by the Government’s and the mayor’s response to our firm recommendations that this issue should henceforth be given real priority in order to take forward the legacy of the Games, and I hope that the LLDC will see this through.
In conclusion, the regeneration legacy of the 2012 Games is truly wonderful and demonstrates what a proactive, empowered and devolved development structure can deliver. But as we continue to regenerate east London, and indeed take the legacy lessons elsewhere, I hope that we can use the resulting investment to achieve a double benefit, not just the infrastructure and new homes we need, but the apprenticeships, the training and the jobs that the construction industry can so importantly provide for our own next generation of workers.
My Lords, 10 years ago in your Lordships’ House, the day after London was shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee as one of the bidding cities for the 2012 Olympic Games, I tabled a Motion for debate to call attention to the progress of the London 2012 Olympic bid. Our prospects were not good. The IOC may have shortlisted us, but we lay eighth out of nine cities, behind Madrid and Paris and even Leipzig, Moscow and Havana. The demonstration of all-party support that day was as important to the success of the bid as I believe it is important to the success of the sporting legacy. This House has continued to play a significant role and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Harris, the Select Committee and the clerks on their work. The report holds out real hope that an urban regeneration programme can deliver an outstanding and lasting legacy for east London. If it does, it will be due in no small part to the foresight and skills of the Olympic Delivery Authority chairman, Sir John Armitt, the chief executive, David Higgins, and the senior management team, including outstanding contributions from Dennis Hone and Alison Nimmo.
Olympic glory represents the pinnacle of sporting achievement. Its attainment requires a partnership between the highly talented athletes who compete and a national sporting infrastructure that allows them to rise to the top because of it rather than in spite of it. As chairman of the British Olympic Association which was tasked with selecting, leading and managing Team GB for the Games in Beijing and London, it is my firm belief that Olympic success requires a dynamic, vibrant, positive and inclusive approach that reaches up from the grass roots of primary schools and after-school clubs to the very pinnacle of elite performance.
As the report concluded, the true sports legacy of London 2012 will come through the protection of playing fields and facilities, quality PE teachers, first-rate coaches, enthused volunteers and the transformation of sport in our schools. London 2012 was the opportunity to provide the inspiration to generate a step change in the provision of school sport. However, as we discovered during the work of the Select Committee, very sadly, it has barely touched the sides and has left a generation uncertain and at the centre of an increasingly sterile debate over the success or otherwise of school sports partnerships. If every school had a trained PE teacher, a programme of building relationships with professional and voluntary clubs, a strong competition framework, and a supportive head backed by parents and local clubs, there is no reason why school sport should not succeed in this country, as it does in all leading sports nations.
We need to meet the goal set out by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, following his attendance at the closing ceremony in Beijing, to extend the time pupils participate in sport from two to five hours a week, if necessary by a longer school day, and set a date by which we intend to deliver this objective. Such a policy would pay for itself many times over in educational and health benefits for young people, particularly by addressing the challenge of obesity and inactivity. Physical education should be an entitlement for all children and young people, and the keystone of a sustainable sports legacy. Our attitude to sport and its role in our lives is formed in childhood and in school sport. We need to deliver physical literacy and to recognise the social policy benefits of sport in our communities. Sport is the great social worker.
According to afPE, at least 40% of all newly qualified primary school teachers receive six hours or less preparation to teach physical education out of the totality of their training. That requires a response which goes far beyond the nominal pilot projects which have been commissioned by government and were mentioned to us in evidence. A nationwide approach to finding a solution is essential, and the Department of Health should be central to this campaign, not on the fringes.
Although we heard that many of the activities organised around the School Games have been fun, the four pathway levels are not functioning as effectively as we would like. It is a little-appreciated fact that no school competes at national level; young people represent the region in which they live. Thus it is impossible to capitalise on the loyalty between pupils and their schools which inspires success. These are not the School Games—they are the School-Age Games. With the level of funding involved, the governing bodies of sport, which in many cases have run inter-school competitions at local, regional and national level for more than a century, could transform the landscape for far more children, in far more sports, to a much higher level of attainment than has been achieved.
The Government have argued that there has been an increase in participation. In winding up, I would be grateful if my noble friend could confirm once and for all the position regarding participation levels in sport. My noble friend Lord Coe, in his evidence, talked of 1.5 million more people playing sport—but since 2005, he added. That 1.5 million comes against a background of a 4 million increase in population, the majority of whom are economically active or students. As such, the figure represents a decrease in participation among the overall population, and yet an increase was fundamental to the sports legacy that was set at the time we bid for the Games.
According to the breakdown by sport, there are six major professional sports in the UK, and the London Olympic Games regrettably had negligible impact on their activities. In order of economic impact they were: football, horseracing, tennis, cricket, rugby union and rugby league. In terms of participation, tennis moves above horseracing, but the list remains otherwise unchanged. Golf is the only other professional sport that has mass participation in the UK, and there is no evidence that this was impacted by London 2012.
Let us focus on the 26 summer Olympic sports and what they gained in the London 2012 process, bearing in mind that professional sports occupy more than 95% of the media coverage during an Olympic quadrennium. Of the sports I have mentioned, only football and tennis were Olympic sports in London, and participation in tennis, as the noble Baroness mentioned, has actually dropped since the Games, despite Team GB winning a gold and silver medal in the event. The two sports showing an upturn are swimming and cycling. Cycling has done so for a complex set of reasons, both Olympic and non-Olympic, including Team Sky and the remarkable success in the Tour de France, while swimming has recently been penalised heavily at the elite level by UK Sport.
As Hugh Robertson, Minister for the Olympics and one of the best Sports Ministers this county has seen, stated:
“We have held an Olympics which surpassed expectations; it has produced an amazing stimulus, and a new generation of sporting heroes. However anybody who remotely pretends it will be easy to increase general participation in sport is kidding themselves”.
It may not be easy. It will require a comprehensive overhaul of sports policy and a move to empower the governing bodies of sports, but it is essential that we reverse the current trend and not lose the requirement for an Olympic sports legacy by kicking it into the long grass and placing it in an arbitrary 20-year plan.
The National Lottery, introduced by Sir John Major in 1995, revolutionised funding, as my noble friend mentioned. At the top of the pyramid, the Select Committee reviewed the so-called “No Compromise” philosophy of the Government-appointed UK Sport—which is, incidentally, still without athlete representation on its board. Even UK Sport has never dared to echo the Government’s response to our report:
“UK Sport’s ‘No Compromise’ philosophy has taken the GB Olympic team from 36th in the medal table in Atlanta 1996 to 3rd in London in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
It is not the “No Compromise” approach that wins medals, but outstandingly talented able-bodied and disabled athletes, superb coaches from around the world, world-beating support systems and world-leading performance directors—all supported and led by the governing bodies and not run by UK Sport. The money from lottery players, channelled through UK Sport, is of course absolutely invaluable as a platform, but money does not guarantee a suite of medals. If it did, the results in swimming would have been very different. We have to empower the governing bodies to deliver the performance pathways at all levels: child, junior, senior and Olympic. It is performance pathways, not funding based on previously won medals—after which, incidentally, many of the athletes then retire—which should drive funding.
So far, the pursuit of the “No Compromise” approach has seen the demise of any chance of a sports legacy for synchronised swimming, handball, water polo, weightlifting and the full basketball programme—all of which have had their funding completely withdrawn by UK Sport. Volleyball is also down, by 90%. Are your Lordships and David Walsh the only independent campaigning voices for Olympic sport left? It is surely wrong as well for UK Sport to take the position that, as it stated in its evidence:
“We have no plans to review this approach as we have no wish to give other nations a competitive advantage over Team GB”.
John Coates, vice-president of the IOC and mastermind of Australia’s Olympic success over the years, demonstrated in his evidence that he fully understands every aspect of the “No Compromise” approach.
Furthermore, it is very unwise for anyone in government, of whichever political party, UK Sport and the ultra-secret work of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy to talk of exceeding the 29 gold medals won in London when we go to Rio —even when you include the new sports of rugby sevens and golf—before you know who you have selected and who you are competing against and, on top of that, not to take into account the home advantage we had, with Team GB supported by a nation of patriotic sports fans galvanised across the United Kingdom. Aspirations are fine, but medal projections are for the bookies, not for serious politicians and sports administrators. Sir Clive Woodward’s evidence about the cuts to Olympic sports and the impact on the future performance of Team GB was impressive in this context.
At stake in this report is the provision of a genuine, far-reaching and enriching sports legacy for this country: one which fundamentally transforms the expectations, aspirations and very lifestyles of future generations of children and adults alike. This was an outstanding report, the best on the subject from inside or outside Parliament. It allows us to have a defining moment in time, when we can revolutionise our sporting life—if we have the collective vision, courage and determination to do so.
Sadly, after a brilliant Games and with such potential for the regeneration of the urban legacy, precious little progress has been made on the sports front over the past two years. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, this is deeply disappointing. We need determined leadership, strong independent voices, and members of the Cabinet sub-committee out on the road, not closeted in secrecy. We need commitment and attention to detail, not the generalities of long-term aspirations for the next 10 or 20 years of sport. We need action now, not in the distant future. We owe it to the British Olympians who made the Games great. Above all, we owe it to the athletes of tomorrow and the young people of today.
I begin by declaring an interest as Channel 4’s diversity executive and I am incredibly proud of Channel 4’s legacy as the Paralympic Games broadcaster. I echo the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, about Channel 4’s achievement in changing attitudes towards disability, not least the “Meet the Superhumans” trailer, masterminded by Dan Brooke. It was nothing less than a game-changer. So, too, was the entire legacy promise of London 2012. No previous Olympic Games had ever put legacy at the very heart of the bid. Our legacy promised,
“nothing less than a healthier and more successful sporting nation, open for business, with more active, sustainable, fair and inclusive communities”.
The key question was posed by one of our veteran 2012 medallists, the rower Greg Searle. He said: how do we turn all the national pride generated in all corners of the country into producing not just the next generation of Olympic gold medallists but the next generation of good citizens? How do we inspire a generation, make Britain a more active sporting nation and, through the Paralympics, give every disabled child the same chance of engaging in sport as their able-bodied counterparts? Our report considers those huge questions, and how we can fulfil the legacy before it is too late.
I will start with the most obvious and urgent legacy: a healthier, more active nation. Why is it so important? The answer is simple: it is a matter of life and death. Is this an exaggeration? It is not, especially if you live in Tower Hamlets. I will come to that shortly. The obvious starting point is the well documented obesity epidemic facing Britain. Data from the Health Survey for England show that by 2050 fully one-quarter of young people under 20 will be obese. Today only one-third of boys and one-quarter of girls achieve the recommended 60 minutes’ physical exercise a day. That means that two-thirds of boys and three-quarters of all our girls are setting themselves up for health problems in later life, including but not at all limited to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In other words, they are setting themselves up for premature death.
I am sorry to say that in Tower Hamlets we have already reached the future predicted for England in 2050. Today, on average, women in Tower Hamlets already die 18 years earlier than their counterparts in Richmond. Men in Tower Hamlets can worry a bit less: they die only 15 years earlier than their counterparts in Richmond. You lose approximately a year of life for every stop on the District line as you move from Richmond to Tower Hamlets. In Tower Hamlets, more than one-quarter of all children leaving primary school are clinically obese. If you add together the children leaving primary school in Tower Hamlets who are both overweight and obese, the figure is over 40%.
There are two things that will stop those children dying younger. It is not rocket science—we know what they are. One is increased activity and the other is better nutrition. I will leave better nutrition for another day, although I confess to being slightly obsessed with it, because too often I spend the morning at the school gates in Tower Hamlets watching children eat crisps for breakfast and drink fizzy cola. I will concentrate instead on increased activity and grass-roots participation in sports. That is why the committee’s recommendation to improve PE teaching is so important. In our report we state that,
“PE needs a greater emphasis in the school day … Improving PE is fundamental … and we call on the DfE and Ofsted to take more active roles in making this change happen”.
I endorse everything that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said on this issue. If we need to lengthen the school day, let us lengthen the school day. Surely it is better than shortening children’s lives. I also endorse the excellent report by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, calling on the Government to give PE greater priority in the school curriculum.
It is absolutely critical to improve the link between primary school and secondary school sport. My noble friend Lady Billingham has already spoken about the sad demise of the school sport partnerships. The problem with the current system is that money goes to individual schools but does not support the sporting infrastructure between schools that promotes competitive sport.
A related problem that we have already heard about in some detail is the negative impact on team sports of the “No Compromise” approach. The focus on medals above all else has damaged funding opportunities for team sports. Team sports are the ones that kids are most likely to play—football, netball, volleyball, basketball, rugby and hockey —the sports we all remember playing as kids. They are the sports where you get the most bang for your buck in terms of grass-roots participation. They are the sports kids want to play. These sports will arguably do most to keep the London 2012 flame alive. How perverse would it be for our elite medal quest to reduce the sporting participation of British kids and shrink our sporting talent pool?
I understand that our approach has had huge success and I would be the first to say that I was filled with enormous pride at our medal haul. To come third in the world behind only China and America is extraordinary. The mountain we climbed was perilously steep, as we have heard, from being ranked 36th in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 to coming third overall in London 2012. But the one thing that would be even more extraordinary and make me even more proud of this country would be a 2012 legacy that inspired a fitter, healthier country. It would be seeing Britain climb the league table to become the healthiest and most active country in the industrialised world. It would be to see our children living longer and having more active and meaningful lives.
That is the thing about sport: it creates this magic thing that politicians and policy wonks call social cohesion. We all remember the Oldham riots, where Asians and whites fought running battles in the streets. What was the one thing, the only thing, that the council could find that represented a bridge between the two communities? It was football, and that is because sport is a universal language.
London 2012 also made sport more inclusive, particularly for disabled athletes, as we have heard, but also for women. Women in the Olympics have come a long way. The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, is similar to many great men in history. His achievements were, well, great—and his belittlement of women was even greater. At the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, which de Coubertin arranged, 245 men took part, representing 14 countries, competing in 43 events. No women took part because de Coubertin said their presence would be,
“impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect”.
You wonder what he would have said about the Paralympics; it does not really bear thinking about.
In 1912, women were allowed to compete in swimming for the first time, but none of those competing was from the USA, because the USA banned its women from entering events without long skirts. I am not talking about Saudi Arabia; I am talking about the USA. That illustrates how far we have come. We have come so far, in fact, that, today, the words “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect” would probably be a fair way of describing our men’s football team in London 2012, but not our women. I salute all the British women who performed so magnificently and I look forward to the Minister securing equality of funding for women’s sports.
On the subject of fairer funding, we should also look at who gets to represent Britain in the first place. Elite sport is dominated by those who are privately educated—that should not be such a surprise, because everything is dominated by those who are fortunate enough to have a private education—but it is still staggering, even though we know that that is real world, to find, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, first pointed out to me, that more than 50% of the medals won in 2012 went to British athletes who were privately educated. Why should we get so exercised about that? Well, it is about the talent pool, stupid, because that means that more than 50% of our sporting talent is drawn from less than 7% of our population—the 7% of British children who go to private schools.
I have raised some of the problems affecting children growing up in very disadvantaged areas. These problems, which lead to nothing less than premature death, require structural change. One small yet decisive structural change in government that would support London’s 2012 legacy is our committee’s proposal to have a Minister for the Games Legacy. I have one simple question for the Minister: what harm could it do? It could no harm, yet it could secure immeasurable good. It would make current plans more coherent; it would give added impetus at a government level. It would cost nothing—zilch, zip, nada—not even a newly minted 12-sided pound coin, not even a threepenny bit. If it is so cheap at the price, why are the Government so resistant to considering it? It would be fantastic to get a considered reply and not just a restatement of government policy, although experience tells me that that is probably the most the Minister will be able to achieve—but I live in hope.
As our report states, and as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who so ably chaired the committee, stated, we hunted for white elephants but we did not find them. What we found, despite the resounding success of London 2012, were myriad missed opportunities. Some were modest, some were galactic—such as the missed opportunity immediately to harness the enthusiasm of the volunteers—but the biggest missed opportunity would be a failure to nurture increased sporting participation. Given the link between sport and social cohesion, between sport and good citizenship, and between sport and living longer, it would be an unforgivable failure of the promise of 2012 if that legacy was not realised. I therefore urge the Minister to heed the report, which states:
“We are unconvinced that the Government’s current oversight arrangements represent a robust way to deliver the legacy”.
For that reason, I ask the Minister to give a more positive response to the committee’s well researched and evidenced recommendations than we have thus far received from them.
It was one of the most pleasurable and immensely interesting experiences of my three years in the Lords to take part in this Select Committee, ably and expertly led by our chair, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and very well served by our excellent committee staff and our advisers. Above all, we all got on incredibly well. I wondered why that was and I think that, fundamentally, it was because we were discussing and examining something that was successful and we all had great determination that we were not going to lose the legacy of that success.
I think that there are four principal elements of this legacy. There is the ongoing sporting success which we want to lead to increased participation in our sport and to better lifestyles and health—we are, after all, a nation of great lovers of sport and it is always more enjoyable when we are good at it. The second legacy that we were interested in is the boost to business, which was so successfully involved in the running of the Olympics—the construction, the involvement of our creative sector, the event organisers, the logistics experts and sporting businesses. Thirdly, there was the huge success of delivery by government agencies, assisted by private sector expertise. We must learn the lessons from that and the best practice that was employed through that success. Finally, the most important thing going forward is the whole regeneration of the East End of London, which was at the heart of our original Olympic bid.
We have discussed a number of issues tonight, but I want to draw on a number of examples of people whom we met and people whom we visited to draw out lessons for the legacy. I want to start with the issue of elite sport. The medal tally was outstanding. There was, however, a huge advantage to the home team. We must have lower expectations in Brazil, because I fear that there will be a spiralling down of performance, as happened with Australia, which simply continued after Sydney through Beijing to London. That is a warning to us.
There were two evidence sessions which left a mark on me. The one has already been mentioned, with Sir Clive Woodward. Sir Clive Woodward was exceptional as a witness and he clearly played a key role in our athletes’ success. We know what happened to English rugby when he left that scene. We know also that he told us that there was a huge organisational effort behind the scenes to achieve success in the Olympics, where the margins between success and failure at this level are so narrow. He said that it would be very difficult to replicate that away from home, and the team has largely disassembled since. He gave us a warning also about the lack of encouragement to key underperforming team sports and said what we should do about it. It is most difficult to win in those sports, which is one reason why they are not targeted, but we know that they have large public participation benefits. We have to understand, obviously, the rigour in competition for encouraging success at elite sports. It puts pressure on improved performance.
However, we have also to admit that UK Sport has ignored our advice—it has done that this week. If it does not want to consider compromising on the basis of elite funding, somebody—I suppose that that is going to be Sport England or other organisations—has to provide parallel, complementary funding for community sports to encourage sports where there is high participation potential, even if elite success finds it very difficult to qualify for elite sport funding.
The second meeting which impressed me was that with Ian Drake, the chief executive of British Cycling—modest, professional, supremely successful in what he has achieved—setting out his original objectives. Twelve years ago, he told us, they had to advertise for athletes to be Olympic cyclists. The strategy that they adopted matched their elite performance success in Beijing and London, with target rates of public participation improvement. Now they choose from 50,000 competitive cyclists for their success at the senior level.
The approaches outlined by Clive Woodward and Ian Drake contrasted, as we have already heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, with the complacent approach of more wealthy major sports such as football and tennis. I hope that Greg Dyke will shake up football in England at national and community level and answer the questions: does Germany’s success depend much more on its community football structure, with twice as many volunteer qualified coaches than we have; and are training facilities and processes for players and coaches simply not rigorous enough?
As my noble friends Lord Holmes and Lord Moynihan said, elite sport success has been built on John Major’s initiative with the Lottery. Over £300 million goes into the current Olympic cycle for elite sport funding. However, others in the world will copy what we do and have achieved. They will poach our know-how and skills so that it will become much more difficult for us. We cannot stand still or be complacent. We must seek out enhanced, competitive advantage and, ultimately, focus on increased participation and better training pathways than other countries can produce.
As for regeneration, two visits struck me and stay in my mind as showing the challenge for regeneration. We have already heard of the meeting we had with the community residents in Newham. It was depressing. They saw little benefit from the Olympics. Their perceptions were of traffic congestion, construction work, Games disturbance and no jobs while their council houses remained unpainted. Then there was the uplifting meeting we had at Gainsborough School in Hackney Wick. Some 40% of children there were from immigrant population origins and 10% came to the school not speaking English. Yet it was vibrant—a well led school in a Victorian building, with only a tarmac courtyard for play facilities. We met keen, aspirational children who had been in the opening ceremony at the Olympics. They were enthusiastic about the Olympics and their own aspirations were encouraging. The school facilities were about to be transformed by two pitches on the Olympic park by the press and broadcast centre, with their own bridge across the canal from the school to those playing pitches built by the legacy corporation.
The challenge for us in regeneration, though, is whether we can retain the optimism and aspirations of these children as they move through our educational system. Regeneration will work well only if all parts of the community benefit and housing is provided that is affordable. I picked up one word of warning as we went round the park: the first £1 million flat was for sale. Is that a warning of what will come? As we regenerate and build, the skills of the local people—as the noble Lord, Lord Best, pointed out—must be harmonised and harnessed in that process. That started a bit, as we heard, in the Westfield shopping centre, but this is an area of low aspiration that must be transformed with better educational and technical training facilities. In the response from the Government and mayor, it is encouraging that they are moving ahead with the opening of two university technical colleges, one dealing with modern methods of construction of business units and the other with design and engineering. That is a start.
As for the stadium, we had two fascinating meetings with the CEO of West Ham and the chair of Leyton Orient. We thought the dispute between West Ham and Leyton Orient was unseemly. Having seen them, we were cautious in proposing that they should work closely together—that was probably wise. But the national stadium is iconic. It is bigger than those two clubs. There was a huge cost in changing the plans for that stadium. What matters now is that those two clubs do for their communities what really needs to be done and make a success of those facilities and their presence there. They have a key role in raising expectations and achievement in those communities. That role could be immense. It is also very important that the stadium sets a standard—as I am sure the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, will tell us in her remarks—for the quality and quantity of seating for the disabled. I was encouraged by the Government’s response to the report on that issue.
So much success in sport, business and indeed politics depends on strong confidence. The key to the Olympic legacy is not to lose the feeling of confidence that we really can achieve something in our sport, business ventures, regenerating east London and inspiring those young children we met in east London to aspire and take advantage of the Olympic legacy so that it becomes self-fulfilling.
My Lords, I, too, place on record my appreciation for the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, chaired the committee and the excellent support we were given by the committee clerk and his team, and the two special advisers.
As has been noted, the committee put in a very considerable volume of work at short notice to get our report completed by our deadline. Against that background, the Government’s response is disappointing. On many issues raised by the committee in its unanimous report there was little response more than restating government policy without regard to the report’s rationale. There is little point in incurring a commitment of time and money in undertaking such an investigation if the Government treat it less than rigorously. But, to be even-handed, I note my disappointment that there appears to be no direct comment from the Governments of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, either, although many of the recommendations have a direct bearing on the responsibilities of those devolved Administrations. Of course, they have no obligation to respond. However, the Welsh Government recently took their own initiative. I will return to that in a moment.
I make one general point before addressing six or seven of the 41 government responses. The Olympic Games are awarded to a specific city and not to a country. The ethos of the Games requires that the competitors, and hence the competitions themselves, function within a reasonable proximity of the location at which the Games are held. These aspects are not always fully understood. As the general UK taxpayer had to fund the considerable cost of the Games, there was a feeling sometimes that they should benefit more from a greater spread of the activities. For example, there was no need to build artificial mountain cycling locations in Essex. There are perfectly good natural ones in Wales. Sports such as sailing which, inevitably, had to move away from London could have been held in locations such as Pwllheli, where many European competitions are held.
I accepted that London and south-east England would benefit far more from hosting the Games for those reasons, but perhaps the Government should have been more honest from the start by making that clear to everyone. I also repeat what I have gladly put on record many times: that the Olympic Games and, in particular, the Paralympic Games, were a tremendous success and that everyone involved—competitors, organisers, security services and volunteers and, indeed, both Governments—deserve congratulations.
Perhaps I may make a few brief comments on half a dozen issues arising directly from the Government’s response. First, there are the recommendations relating to sport in schools, to which several noble Lords have already alluded, particularly primary schools. I am looking at recommendations 4, 5 and 6. There does not seem to be any new government thinking on those matters; rather, there is the approach that “We are already doing what we deem appropriate”.
I urge the Government to follow carefully the initiatives taken in Wales arising from the work of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and her review committee. In fact, just yesterday, the Welsh Education Minister Huw Lewis announced a new £1.8 million physical literacy programme for schools. That is part of the response to the report of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, on schools and physical activity. It is to do four things: increase physical activity in schools; develop a physical literacy framework; involve prominent athletes in community sport; and build on Wales’s annual school sport survey.
The Welsh Government, in taking that strategic initiative, have asserted that physical literacy should be as important as reading and writing, which goes towards the proposal of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, that PE should be a core subject, something which will now be considered by Professor Graham Donaldson in his curriculum review, due shortly. No doubt the noble Baroness will expand on some of those points in her contribution.
However, I welcome the Government’s response 13, dealing with the access to and facilities for disabled people at sports grounds, particularly football grounds. I am glad that the Government are prepared to consider further legislation on licence conditions, and I hope that we will be hearing more about that. Can the Minister —our poacher turned gamekeeper, if I may put it that way—indicate the timescale envisaged to progress that legislative aspect?
I am somewhat disappointed by government response 15. It relates to the identification of the net benefit figures and the committee’s call for them to be published. The response has been woeful. The Government appear to be totally complacent about measuring the economic effects in terms of gross benefit and stubbornly refused to identify the net benefit. I can only conclude that they may have something to hide and that the net economic benefit is a much smaller proportion than the gross figures.
As we are repeatedly told that so many aspects of the project spending would have taken place in due course irrespective of the Games, I can only conclude that such infrastructure spending is being treated coyly to avoid the possibility of generating Barnett consequentials for the devolved Administrations.
On response 32, the committee called for SMEs to be helped in the public sector procurement process by having the “compete for” system permanently available. The Government’s response did not address our worries about the danger to SMEs of the proliferation of procurement tools. Can we be assured that the Government have taken that fully on board and are sensitive to the needs of SMEs, and that opportunities for SMEs will be equally available throughout the UK?
The committee noted in item 33 that south-east England benefited disproportionately from the Games and called on UKTI to assess the reasons for the disparity. The Government defend their record by quoting the number of projects going to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—14%, by number—but they do not give the figures with a breakdown by value and do not address the failure to give northern England a fair deal. That response is rather complacent.
I can, however, welcome the response to point 34 about the need to ensure that tourists coming to the UK get beyond south-east England. I notice that the DCMS has asked VisitBritain to address that issue and I hope that the House will be kept informed of progress.
I turn to response 37, dealing with the committee’s questioning of the existence of any long-term distinct legacy benefit of the Cultural Olympiad. The Government passed the buck in its entirety to the Arts Council of England, and every item that it mentions which has a geographic base is in fact in England. That is perhaps understandable for the Arts Council of England, but the Government are a UK Government, and taxpayers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland contributed to funding the Olympic Games. Surely the Government should have been aware of the need to address legacy issues in terms of the arts and culture in the three other nations, not just in England. Perhaps they have done so and have just forgotten to mention it in their response. Perhaps the Minister can clarify that.
Finally, I address item 39, which concerns the omission, tacitly acknowledged in the Government’s response, on ensuring that the legacy is delivered outside London and that a designated Minister should work with the devolved Administrations. The Government’s response is that it is a matter for the devolved Administrations to make the most of the Games’ legacy in devolved functions, so there will be no additional resources or co-ordination on those matters. I believe that that is letting down a particular aspect of the legacy. I pick out those points and ask for the Minister’s response on them, but there are many other points in the body of the report which I hope will not be forgotten.
My Lords, there are many speakers here this evening better equipped than I to talk about the sporting legacy of the Olympics. I was a member of the committee and it was a very enjoyable experience, as others have said, helped by a very able chairman and a back-up team who were excellent. I think it better if I restrict myself to some aspects of the broader legacy, particularly in employment, skills and trade.
The Olympics demonstrated that Britain is indeed Great and gave credence globally to the campaign being run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to market this country and what we can do. However, parts of Britain are not in some ways as great as others. Unemployment in the host boroughs was, as we have heard, prior to the Olympics some of the highest in the region. The massive project of the Games and the regeneration programme has improved the situation a little, but not enough. There is a continuing challenge to ensure that the boroughs get the new jobs that they need.
The Stratford City development as a whole is due to create 30,000 new jobs. Westfield at Stratford has already created 10,000 jobs and of those, a third went to local people who were previously long-term unemployed. There are those who carp that the Westfield shopping centre was going to go ahead, come what may, but it certainly happened sooner than it would have done without the Olympics and, for those who are working there, time of course is money. Meanwhile, of the people now employed at the Copper Box—the first venue on the Olympic park to reopen to the public and a wonderful facility for local people and schools—more than 90 per cent are local. Admittedly, this is a small number but the principle is encouraging. Equally encouraging is that the Copper Box is being run by a social enterprise and that several other businesses now operating within the Olympic park are social enterprises, giving people who work there not just a job but a sense of ownership.
At iCITY, which was the communications hub during the Olympics and Paralympics, tenants are being asked to have a quota of jobs for local people. This is a particularly exciting prospect because iCITY is to be home to some of the digital and communications businesses that are the future of this country—the real engines of growth. As your Lordships have heard, we were lucky enough to go along and visit the BT Sport centre. We saw the state-of-the-art studios that it has built in what was the communications centre during the Olympics. The studios are fantastic and were opened in record time, and they are taking on local people as well. New jobs are being created down there and yet the evidence we heard indicated that there was a degree of doubt, verging on cynicism, about whether the upsurge in job opportunities that is part of the Olympic legacy would benefit the local people.
The noble Lord, Lord Best, pointed out some of the reasons that that might be. One can sympathise with the belief that in getting the stadia ready and finished on time for the Olympics, getting there on time was more of a priority than training locals in the skills needed to create the buildings. However, there are now signs that that is changing. The legacy corporation is already working with local jobs brokerages but we recommended that people needed to be skilled up and that there should be a concerted effort by the Mayor, the host boroughs and employers to invest in developing a construction skills programme. There seems to have been great progress on this front and, as my noble friend Lord Stoneham pointed out, it is great news that not one but two university technical colleges are being built in east London to provide vocational training to lead 14 to 19 year-olds into careers in the construction and engineering fields.
We heard wonderfully cheering news today on the jobs front generally, with the Budget speech revealing that youth unemployment has been falling faster than at any time since 1997. That may, in part, be part of the Olympic legacy but we also heard about the Government’s determination to help businesses flourish and drive exports. There are some businesses which had hoped that their involvement in the Olympics would provide them with a major advantage in winning future contracts, but which have been disappointed. The Olympics provided a fantastic showcase for what Britain could deliver and UK Trade & Investment has done—and continues to do—a great deal to help many of those companies, big and small, that were involved in the 2012 Games. This was the first time that the International Olympic Committee had been persuaded to allow a supplier recognition scheme, which has allowed more than 770 companies to gain official recognition for their contribution to the Games and use it to promote themselves.
It is no fault of the Government that there are many other businesses which are precluded from taking this route. Many of them are in the creative industries, where the UK excels. According to PLASA, the trade association for the professional entertainment technology industry, some of the companies that were responsible for developing the most memorable moments in the opening and closing ceremonies, including the iconic Olympic rings, cannot boast about the fact that they were there and they did it. The reason is that the supplier recognition scheme is limited by the draconian Olympic no marketing rights protocol. The protocol is intended to protect the giants who are the major sponsors of the Olympics, so companies are excluded from the supplier recognition scheme if they are involved in—it is a broad-brush approach—audio, video and audio-visual equipment.
Our committee recommended that the Government should work with the British Olympic Association and suppliers to narrow the list of exclusions. The Government’s response to our recommendation was somewhat disappointing, albeit perhaps realistic. They said:
“There is no scope for changing these categories”.
While I acknowledge that the IOC is not always prepared to compromise—perhaps that is putting it mildly—it is surely worth encouraging the British Olympic Association to press further on this point. To put massive handicaps on David in order to protect Goliath seems to lack a bit of the Olympic spirit.
Let me give you just one example of how these broad-brush restrictions work in practice. Baldwin Boxall is an innovative business which provided the London Olympic stadium with a special voice communication system that would help disabled people in the event of an emergency, particularly a fire. It is for use in emergencies only. The system does not broadcast. Yet the company has been unable to use its involvement to market what it did in 2012 to help it pitch for Sochi or Rio. The reason is that Panasonic and Samsung are among the sponsors who need to be protected. Baldwin Boxall is an innovative business, but it employs just 45 people and has a turnover of around £5 million. Does Panasonic, with around 300,000 employees and revenue last year of $76 billion have anything to fear from Baldwin Boxall? Should Samsung, with 427,000 employees and revenue last year of not £5 million but $269 billion be frightened by the little company from the Wealden Industrial Estate in Crowborough?
Companies such as this helped the UK deliver a superb Games. They ought to be able to reap the rewards and, in so doing, they ought to be helping to boost British exports. The British Olympic Association surely needs to do better in battling for the little guys against the protectionism of the IOC.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and the Select Committee for their helpful report and for keeping us all focused on the longer term issues that surround the Olympic project. The long-term legacy in east London has been the focus for my work over the past 16 years of involvement with this project. The Olympic project is far from finished; it is a work in progress. If done well, in partnership with the business and social enterprise sectors in east London it will continue to act as a catalyst regenerating an area that stretches across the lower Lea Valley from the O2 in the south, north up through Canning Town, Canary Wharf, Poplar and Stratford to Hackney Marshes.
I thought it might be most helpful this evening, as a director of the London Legacy Development Corporation —here I declare an interest—if I focus my remarks on the legacy and regeneration work being undertaken in east London. I will leave other matters mentioned in the report to those more expert than I in these areas.
The London Legacy Development Corporation is driving the legacy of the London 2012 Games to positively change the lives of east Londoners. By transforming the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into a vibrant destination, we will develop a dynamic new heart for east London. Opportunities for local people will be created alongside innovation and growth for the rest of the UK. Our 10-year plan is to lead regeneration and create opportunity in and around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park through a number of routes.
First, we will create a successful and accessible park with world-class venues, leisure space for local people, arenas for thrilling sport, enticing entertainment and an ongoing programme of sporting, cultural and community events to attract visitors. Secondly, we will create opportunities and transformational change for local people, wider access to education and jobs, connecting communities and promoting convergence, bridging this gap between east London and the rest of the capital. Thirdly, we are creating a new heart for east London. We are doing this by securing investment from across London and beyond, by attracting and nurturing talent to create, design and make world-class, 21st century goods and services. The park will be a place where local residents and new arrivals choose to live, work and enjoy themselves, and where businesses choose to locate and invest. The legacy corporation is now working with partners to engage local people and help them to access jobs and business opportunities, and to use the facilities offered. We will make sure that the legacy is one that can be enjoyed by everyone, post-Games.
Since the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games, huge progress has been made. We have removed temporary venues, improved transport connections across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and created beautiful parkland areas. The full opening of the park is on 5 April 2014—only weeks away. More than 1 million people have already visited the park since it partially opened in summer 2013. The future of all eight permanent London 2012 venues is now secure. This collectively means that London is further ahead than any other host city in history. Five new neighbourhoods are being created; each has its own distinctive character. Up to 10,000 homes will be built on the park by 2030. Chobham Manor, the first of these neighbourhoods, will start receiving residents in 2015. Demand has resulted in the acceleration of development in the East Wick and Sweetwater neighbourhoods, bringing forward completion from 2029 to 2023.
Approximately one-third of homes on the park developments will be affordable housing. Family homes will make up 70% of the available housing. These homes will be built to the latest sustainability standards: new play areas, schools, nurseries, community spaces, health centres and shops, as well as parkland and open spaces are being created. Alongside East Village, new community facilities have opened, benefiting both existing and new residents. A new school, Chobham Academy, opened in September 2013, offering free schooling for all ages alongside an advanced medical clinic, the Sir Ludwig Guttmann Centre, named after the founder of the Paralympic Games.
The legacy corporation is also working with the borough partners to ensure that training and job brokerage programmes help local people into work, so maintaining the positive work done by the Olympic Delivery Authority prior to the Games. For the current transformation workforce, the legacy corporation set targets that 25% would be from east London, 10% previously unemployed, 25% from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, 5% women, 3% disabled and 3% apprentices. These targets have been exceeded by a significant margin.
Some 20,000 jobs will be created by 2019, in addition to those already created by Westfield and other regenerated parts of east London, driven by the Games. This figure includes 5,300 jobs created by Here East—formerly iCITY—and a further 2,000 in the ensuing supply chain. The regeneration of Hackney Wick station is under way to kick-start work in the Hackney Wick/Fish Island area following £8.5 million of secured LEP funding. Some 4,421 jobs will result from the creation of housing, shops and other community facilities, and 250-plus jobs will be in the venues and stadium. There will be training and apprenticeship opportunities for the local community.
At a peak there were more than 1,000 workers on-site, and around 40% of the current on-site workforce live in one of the host boroughs. During a survey undertaken of the local workforce, more than 85% had been resident in one of the host boroughs for over a year. The legacy corporation is constantly working with the growth boroughs, partners and contractors to support apprenticeships and programmes to ensure that local employment targets are met.
Here East is located in the former press and broadcast centres on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will provide a new home with state-of-the-art infrastructure for the creative and digital industries. It will include a range of versatile spaces, bringing together global companies with London’s most innovative start-ups to collaborate and learn from each other. It will feature three main buildings: a 300,000 square foot innovation centre, a 1,045-seat auditorium, and an 850,000 square foot building housing educational space, broadcast studios, office space, and a state-of-the-art data centre.
Here East is being developed by iCITY; it is a joint venture between Delancey, a specialist real estate investment and advisory company, and Infinity SDC, the UK’s leading data centre operator. Here East has already secured a number of tenants and is over 40% pre-let. BT Sport is based at Here East with an 80,000 square foot production hub. That contains three industry-leading studios, 20 edit suites, three main interoperable galleries, four sports galleries, and an audience-holding area for a 160-strong audience. Loughborough University will create a multidisciplinary postgraduate teaching, research and enterprise facility. Hackney Community College will deliver its pioneering digital apprenticeship scheme within a new Tech City Apprenticeship Academy. Infinity SDC will develop one of the largest and most efficient data centres in Europe, featuring a 260,000 square foot gross internal area, fed by multiple power grids and providing 40 MVA of power with exceptional resilience.
On regeneration, in December 2013, plans were announced for the Olympicopolis project, a joint project between the legacy corporation, UCL and the V&A Museum to create an educational and cultural quarter on the park. This is a very exciting development which is expected to deliver an extra 10,000 jobs on the park and an additional £5.25 billion of economic value from the area. UCL is focusing on construction and finance, including what it can afford to contribute to development. The V&A is also exploring other cultural uses, as well as funding scenarios, including what can be funded by private sector development. We may bring in other partners and will determine the scope of our plans by the end of the year. We hope to make planning applications in 2015 subject to funding, and the Chancellor announced his commitment to backing plans for the creation of a major new higher education and cultural district on the park in December’s national infrastructure plan.
So much is happening, and those of us who have worked in east London for many years are delighted with progress to date, but there is still a great deal for all of us to do. There are of course some specific challenges, and I will highlight a few of them. First, we need to make sure that East Village is a “joined-up” community and that the disconnects between housing, education, health and business do not replicate themselves, as we have seen so often in government-led regeneration projects across this country. In my view, public sector bodies and businesses still have a great deal to learn about integration and the creation of joined-up communities. Governments should see the Olympic Park as an opportunity to innovate and learn about new ways in which to build dynamic, joined-up communities. This is still a challenge for large organisations, and we need to be encouraged to learn from and build on the local experience of building integrated communities in east London. Silo working will not get us anywhere.
The second challenge is to ensure that the developments on the park are fully integrated with the surrounding area. This will require focus and determination in the years to come. The third challenge is for the Government to tell a joined-up story about the developments that are happening down the lower Lea Valley, which stretch from those around the O2 and the Royal Docks; the airport, which is expanding; £3.7 billion of development in Canning Town; Canary Wharf, which may double in size in the next 10 years; a £1 billion development programme with local residents in Poplar; and the developments in Stratford and the Olympic Park. This is a new city growing in the East End of London—just join the dots. My colleagues and I will set this out at a major exhibition at ExCel in the Royal Docks from 3 May to 11 May, in partnership with Grand Designs Live, which will be called Walking on Water. Here I must declare a further interest. Noble Lords might like to come and have a look.
The future in east London is full of opportunity, but it still demands hard work, focus and a continuity of purpose.
My Lords, I think that it is reasonable to say that, when the committee first met, we had a fair degree of scepticism about such a legacy and that, if a legacy did exist, it would be minimal. Under the very able chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, and with unswerving guidance from our clerks, this, disappointingly, proved to be the case. Although the Government’s aspirations and intentions were well placed, our original doubt proved correct.
One of the principal justifications for spending £9 billion on this great sporting event was that it would transform overnight almost every aspect of how the public engaged with sport. We were all meant to pick up the nearest tennis racket or javelin and begin running, jumping, swimming, throwing and hitting with the passion of a convert. Well, it ain’t turned out quite like that. Taking the report as a whole, the comments and criticisms put forward by the committee found, strangely enough, an unusual agreement across most of the media, which possibly means that we were on the right track.
Out of all this, by far the most important point of this whole affair is physical education in schools, as so many noble Lords have said. In the committee, we made very forceful recommendations to the Government on this point. Physical exercise feeds the nation’s well-being; it causes the blood to flow more quickly and brings about a sense of achievement. It improves results in exams, as demonstrated in schools in Canada, and equally importantly, as mentioned before, it helps to combat the scourge of modern society, particularly among the young—the scourge of obesity. Of course, that would feed through into the hard-pressed NHS.
We called for investment to be made in primary school teachers and club coaches, the link between whom is of crucial importance, to create a more positive attitude to sport and physical activity in young people in the UK. We also called on the Government to require Ofsted to inspect and report on the time in the school day spent on PE, including out-of-hours sport, in all school inspections. That would ensure that school leaders take the development of PE seriously and invest in the professional development of teachers and coaches.
The Government’s response to these points was, frankly, pretty woolly. However, confirmation from the Department for Education that PE remains compulsory at all stages is welcome. It is absolutely essential that this continues to be the case, and woe betide any Government who relax this. As Graham Greene said:
“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in”.
Why should not that future be that of great sporting heroes brought about by PE at a young age in our schools?
As regards individual sports mentioned in our report, I mention in particular tennis, which has been referred to, not only because I am a proud member of the Lords and Commons tennis team, captained recently by the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, but because I say that the criticism she levelled against the Lawn Tennis Association was totally justified. Over the years, I have been to a fair few meetings of the LTA and on all occasions found them to contain a lot of rather plausible waffle, with scant evidence of providing world-class players. I should tell your Lordships that both Andy Murray and Heather Watson did not go through the LTA system. The fact that the then chief executive received some £640,000 a year—the pay of a senior captain of industry—was a scandal. However, I now understand that the whole organisation has been restructured from top to bottom and that the new chief executive’s salary has been considerably reduced—and not before time.
Another of the report’s recommendations was that there needs to be a senior Minister, at Secretary-of-State level, to be responsible for accounting to Parliament for co-ordinating the delivery of this legacy. This would provide clear, identifiable national ownership of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Such a person should be resolute and determined to deliver the legacy. However, since this role would appear to involve every single department of government, we suspected that a certain amount of chaos could arise. It was unfortunate that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport was unable to tell us how often this committee met. It was left up to the galloping mayor, Boris Johnson, who came bounding along and, without hesitation, told us that it met only once a quarter. Does it show continuous resolve and determination to deliver this legacy that is so badly needed when the committee meets only four times a year to track the expenditure of £9 billion?
Out of our 41 recommendations, only one was accepted—that of ensuring that the regions outside London enjoy a tourism legacy from the Games. Were all the others that unacceptable? I think it is somewhat insulting to a committee of very diverse and able people who worked long and hard on this subject.
Governments, Ministers and civil servants come and go and we are on the verge of another general election. A new Government will appear with different priorities, policies and needs. It will take a very strong Government indeed to keep the flag of Olympic legacy flying high. While the Government’s intentions were noble, let us not forget that no Games have ever left behind a lasting boost in sporting participation. However, there have been benefits. For instance, all the remaining Olympic venues would appear to have viable, sustainable futures and the conversion of the athletes’ village into affordable housing is going well.
London 2012 was a wonderful party, and one that revived a desolate part of the capital. What the Olympics really gave us both in the organisation and in the performance of our athletes was the belief that we can be proud of our country and what it can achieve.
My Lords, in common with every other speaker in this debate, I express my appreciation to my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey not only for securing the debate but for the brilliant way in which he led the Select Committee. It was a pleasure to serve on it and I, too, thank our excellent clerk and special advisers who ensured that we covered the ground thoroughly and delivered the report on time. I also express my appreciation to my noble friend Lady King for suggesting the report’s title, Keeping the Flame Alive: The Olympic and Paralympic Legacy. It was an inspired choice which nobody else has mentioned this evening.
I remind the House of two relevant unpaid interests. I am a vice-president of the Football Conference and of Level Playing Field, formerly known as the National Association of Disabled Supporters. I shall be speaking mainly about football this evening.
Three aspects of our inquiry and recommendations are relevant. There was one issue on which we could make virtually no headway and the Government’s response has been virtually non-existent—the future of Great Britain’s Olympic football teams. We recommended that the British Olympic Association should continue to field at least a women’s GB team in future Games, and that efforts be made with the home nations’ football associations to field men’s teams in the Olympic under-23 tournament. I am aware that there are complications and sensitivities here, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, reminded the committee of some of those during our deliberations, particularly over a men’s team. However, given how important the Olympic Games are to women’s football across the world, it is regrettable that the Government have effectively washed their hands of this issue and said that this is a matter entirely for the football authorities and the BOA. In my view, Britain’s women footballers deserve better and would welcome some encouragement from the Government.
The second football issue was the one that attracted some media interest, and certainly the most colourful exchanges with witnesses. I refer of course to the future of the Olympic stadium and the dispute between West Ham United and Leyton Orient football clubs. Members of the committee will recall that on 24 July we took oral evidence in succession from Barry Hearn, chairman of Leyton Orient, and Karren Brady, vice-chairman of West Ham United. Hansard reports me at question 263 as asking Mr Hearn:
“on the ground-share, are you saying to the Committee that if the proposition was put forward that Leyton Orient would share the stadium with West Ham, you would welcome that?”.
Hansard goes on to report his reply, which was:
“Welcome it? My friend—excuse me for being familiar—I would welcome it. I would kiss you, right, and I do not normally kiss men”.
That exchange was picked up by the media, not just in this country but abroad.
While a number of members of the committee were surprised by just how favourable a deal West Ham had received, we did not examine that in detail. Our main concern was to ensure that the Olympic stadium should be available for community use in addition to becoming the home of West Ham. In the committee’s view, that should certainly include occasional use by Leyton Orient. I envisaged that that would be for matches such as major cup ties when their own ground at Brisbane Road was reckoned to be too small to cope with big crowds. The Government’s response to our report said that the London Legacy Development Corporation had arranged a meeting with Leyton Orient to discuss this issue, and I spoke to Mr Hearn yesterday—the first time that I had done so since that exchange in July. I was told that that meeting has now happened. However, bearing in mind that West Ham will be only a tenant of the stadium, not its operator, there seems to be room for some further discussions about a long-term ground share with Leyton Orient in order to help maintain its role as a community club and the stadium as a community facility.
I revert to the question of how to maximise benefits to the taxpayer. Your Lordships may have seen media reports that the present owners of West Ham United may be planning to sell its controlling interest in the club, which would be at a profit enormously inflated by the deal to occupy the Olympic stadium. I should therefore like to ask the Minister whether he can give an assurance that if such a sale materialises the taxpayer will receive a fair proportion of that enhanced value.
On the third of the football-related issues that we covered, I am hopeful that we will eventually record a success—in meeting the need to provide appropriate standards of access and facilities for disabled supporters, which is covered in our recommendation 13. The context for this was set by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, who is going to speak to us in a moment, in her oral evidence to the committee on 3 July. She contrasted the provision of facilities for disabled supporters at the Olympic and Paralympic Games with the situation in most Premier League football grounds, which she described as,
“pretty shocking if you are a wheelchair user”.
In response to questions, the noble Baroness agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that it should be illegal for football clubs to discriminate on the basis of a disability, and with his analogy of clubs having to comply by law with safety requirements, in providing disabled access.
We returned to this issue when the committee questioned the Secretary of State, Maria Miller, on 9 October. We drew attention to the success of the Paralympic Games and the change in public attitudes towards disabled sport generally. However, as far as access to sports grounds is concerned, the situation is patchy at best and scandalous at worst. I referred to recent reports that places for disabled supporters at some Premiership football grounds had been taken out to make way for more television camera positions. By coincidence, the BBC screened an item on its TV news bulletins yesterday, reporting on the findings of its own investigation into disabled access at Premier League grounds. It centred on the experience of Mr Anthony Joy, an Arsenal fan and wheelchair user. The BBC reported that only Swansea, Southampton and Cardiff City comply with the recommendations of the Accessible Stadia guide, and that eight clubs, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, do not provide even half the number of wheelchair spaces laid down in the guide. Mr Joy said that at West Ham, Aston Villa and Liverpool the limited number of spaces meant that he had had to sit with the home fans.
Taking all 92 professional football clubs into account, only 14 provide the minimum recommended number of wheelchair user spaces, and many clubs offer only very few away spaces for wheelchair users, some as few as three. This is not good enough and something has to be done. As Level Playing Field said in its evidence to the Select Committee, it is,
“unacceptable within an industry that remains collectively wealthy with record-breaking resources including the new Premier League TV broadcasting deal for 2013/14 which is reported to be in excess of £5.5 billion”.
I was pleased to see that in their response to our report the Government said that they agreed that,
“disabled people should be provided with appropriate standards of access to football and other sports grounds, to continue the successes around accessibility at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Equality Act 2010 requires providers of services to the public, including sports grounds, to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in accessing those services”.
If football is to avoid having to face scores of claims for damages under the Equality Act, action is needed now. First, there needs to be an access audit review into what has to be done at each ground to ensure that every club meets at least the minimum requirements of the ASG. A strict timetable must then be established for the implementation of the necessary work, similar to what happened in the aftermath of the Taylor report into the Hillsborough stadium disaster, when clubs in the top divisions had to go all-seater within a specified timeframe. This programme should be overseen by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and funded, if necessary, by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund. However, given the amount of money within football today compared with 20 or so years ago, and with clubs prepared to pay players up to £300,000 a week, it is not acceptable for the clubs to plead poverty and to continue to neglect the reasonable access needs of their disabled fans. They have had more than 20 years to make the necessary changes under the DDA.
My final question to the Minister is a simple one. Given the positive nature of the Government’s response to the Select Committee and the encouraging nature of the Secretary of State’s answers to the committee, will he confirm that they are serious about seeing the necessary programme through, that they will, if necessary, hold football’s feet to the fire and legislate if necessary to make it all happen?
My Lords, I very much welcome the debate tonight and commend the work of the committee. It has produced a very detailed report covering many areas, but I hope that the detail of the report and some of the challenges that the committee highlighted mean that this matter will not be ignored in the future. I have said repeatedly, both before and since the London 2012 Games, that we cannot just expect legacy to happen, but there are many different ways in which we can encourage it.
I have a number of interests to declare. Everything is listed on the register but the most pertinent ones for tonight are that I sit as a board member of LLDC and Transport for London. I did work with LOCOG and am a trustee of SportsAid.
Tonight, I shall cover several areas of the report. The Paralympic Games were amazing. They exceeded every expectation that I could possibly have had. On day 1 of the athletics, at 9.50 am, with the session starting at 10 am, the stadium was packed with 80,000 people. Going back to the days when I competed in Atlanta where we could literally name the crowd, I never thought that we would get to a Games where the public would engage in such an amazing way.
Looking back, it perhaps seems that some of those things were easy to achieve. But there were many challenges along the way and a number of people deserve praise, not least the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, for his work in integrating the Paralympic Games into the organising committee. I also worked closely with the diversity and inclusion team, which should be congratulated on the incredible work that it did in employment, procurement and volunteering, which will have a long-term effect, although some of the challenges are difficult to measure.
I am convinced that the Paralympic Games changed the attitude towards Paralympians, but I am not sure that it did much to change the attitude towards disabled people in general. We only have to look at the disability hate crime figures, which when last reported were the worst they have been in 10 years, to see that there is a mismatch between how the public view Paralympians and disabled people.
I strongly welcome the new Sport England targets on disability participation. This is the first time that any governing body will be seriously measured on what it does for disabled athletes, although it has been included previously in various plans. We need to be careful about how we measure participation and that we do not have double or triple accounting, and that we genuinely measure the number of disabled people who have opportunities.
In terms of how we measure equality within sport, I would be interested to find out how many of our Olympic and Paralympic national governing bodies employ disabled people. These data are probably not available now but, in terms of disability rights, we spend a great deal of time talking about co-production, and the idea of working with disabled people and them being part of the decisions that affect them. From what I see of our national governing bodies, we do not have enough disabled people working in the bodies, coaching or volunteering. With a little effort, that easily could be achieved. Through my work with the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, we know that there are not enough women on sports governing bodies. It is my guess that the representation of disabled people is even less.
Wearing my LLDC hat, I am really pleased that there are no white elephants, although I have to say that all that work was done before I joined the board. However, London set the most amazing standard for inclusion for spectators. For the first time ever I went to a sporting event and was able to sit with the people with whom I had bought tickets. My family were not sent 10 rows in front of me and my daughter was not sent to sit in another stand completely. The sightlines were amazing and you could see everything that was going on. The platforms were built in such a way that when everyone jumped up at the start of the 100 metres, we were still able to see. There were some very simple things: for example, the toilets were in appropriate places and the access to food was amazing. In addition, the Games makers were trained to be positively helpful.
Where we are now was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, as regards spectator seating in football clubs, which is not good enough. To have three clubs that provide decent access is poor. We are missing out on a massive opportunity. I strongly support Joyce Cook from Level Playing Field when she said that the clubs need to react to the DDA and Equality Act legislation. It is not as if they have not had a decent amount of support. Information that the clubs have been given goes back as far as 1995 and they still have not done enough to rectify this. The Government provided a detailed, self-explanatory response, so I do not expect the Minister to respond on this matter. But I would strongly support any work that the Government were going to do in that area.
I also do not think that it is acceptable for fans who are wheelchair users to have to sit with the opposing team. That is completely unacceptable. But I also strongly disagree with clubs that offer either a specialist pricing programme or a different way of accessing tickets. What that usually means is that disabled people cannot just buy a ticket the same way as anyone else: they are reliant on a smaller body within the club to allocate them tickets. That is not always a terribly fair way of allocating them. It also means that a disabled person cannot complain. If they complain about the sightlines or lack of access to toilets or food, they will not get tickets next time and they will be even further excluded from watching the sport they love. I was therefore delighted when the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, mentioned that the EHRC will be helping those sports that require to be pushed in a slightly more positive direction.
Transport at Games time was amazing. Last week, I helped to launch “turn up and go” for London Overground, which is about disabled people not having to book 24 hours in advance to travel on the overground in London. The booking system that exists whereby wheelchair users have to book 24 hours in advance makes some sense to me, but disabled people need flexibility in their lives and should be able just to turn up on public transport and travel whenever they wish. I really hope that this will expand out across the whole of the rail network.
Just last week, I was invited to take part in a radio interview with a disabled businesswoman called Sarah Rennie. She was on a train but found out that the only accessible space was in the quiet coach, so she was not able to work. Just a couple of days later, I found myself in exactly the same position when I was travelling from London to Cardiff. I also found out that on a two-hour journey there were no accessible toilets. That particular train company, First Great Western, has since said that on those services it does not have accessible toilets in that particular carriage. It is hard to see that disabled people in the areas of transport are not experiencing some level of discrimination, and I plan to write to the Department for Transport on that particular matter.
In terms of participation, there are some really good things happening, but it does not always feel like that work is joined up. In terms of a living legacy, associations such as SportsAid, which has been around for a very long time and will continue to be around, is doing great work in terms of helping talented athletes, but also working with them to find the next generation of practitioners, strength and conditioning coaches, physios, and sports psychologists, and finding different ways to develop young athletes’ skills. But I firmly believe that we need to have other schemes that do not have such a huge profile, such as the talented athlete scholarship scheme, which helps athletes stay in education while they are training to make sure that when they leave sport they have other things to go on to.
That leads me to my view on elite sport. I sat on UK Sport for two terms and I also sat for one term of “Mission 2012”. I completely understand and accept that the “No Compromise” situation for London was okay, but we need to think differently about how we support our sports teams and how we enable them to get up to a decent international level. Over the years, I have seen many national governing bodies have several attempts to get it right. The sports that are now successful were not immediately so when lottery funding first came in. Gymnastics was one sport that was funded, then not funded and then funded again. It was a maelstrom for athletes and coaches who did not know where they stood. I wonder whether there is anything we can learn from history. By now, we must know quite a lot about performance planning and about how to be efficient with money. I do not think we are talking about huge sums in terms of helping athletes to be the best that they can.
I was really disappointed to learn that water polo, basketball, goalball, synchronised swimming, visually impaired football and wheelchair fencing today lost their appeal. Particularly on water polo I received a huge number of e-mails—possibly the largest number that I have ever received in the time that I have sat in your Lordships’ House—from young girls who want to play water polo saying that they do not know where to go. That is the sport that they want to play and they do not want to be talent transferred to another sport, but they do not feel that they have any options.
At the moment, we are in danger of telling people who have an aspiration to be an Olympian or Paralympian that they cannot do the sport they love. I understand that lots of sports such as lacrosse do not have much funding, but they are not Olympic or Paralympic sports. At the moment, we are consigning these sports to little chance of international success. David Owen, the journalist mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has been vocal about this—he tweeted this evening that we should,
“think about medallists, not just medals”.
Team sports can create many role models but bring in only one medal. I think that the current view is short-sighted. I do not want to be where Australia was in London 2012. I enjoy the friendly rivalry with the Australians and I love beating them, but I like to beat them when they are good, not when they are bad.
Finally, I would like to talk about physical activity. I thank the Select Committee for mentioning my work chairing the schools and physical activity task and finish group on the role of PE in Welsh schools, and I pay tribute to the members of that group who were all experts working on the ground. I worked hard on the project and it led to quite a radical report that made one single recommendation, which was to make PE a core subject. The idea behind it is about physical literacy and balancing that between literacy and numeracy. It is also about influencing teacher training and measuring equality of experience. It is not about measuring how high children can jump or how quickly they can run but about measuring the core skills they acquire. So I was delighted to learn yesterday that the Welsh Assembly Government have announced £1.78 million for a new physical literacy programme and a further £2.35 million has been agreed in principle to continue this work, subject to review.
In England, the money that has been confirmed for English schools is welcome, but I wonder whether the Minister can explain what plans Her Majesty’s Government have to help teachers make cost-effective use of that money. I have seen amazing teachers working in primary schools, but most of the time it feels like it is down to luck—it is because of the sporty teacher, the person who wants to do it. Some teachers find it a struggle and some head teachers may not understand the benefits of sport. They will not make the best use of this money. The situation in schools is this: if our children were being taught maths by someone who stopped engaging with maths at the age of eight, had a really bad experience of it, and then went to teacher training college where the tuition on how to teach the subject lasted four to six hours, there would be universal outrage, but that is happening in PE. I accept that that is a gross generalisation of the worst of the worst, but how can we expect our children to acquire the correct skills if we do not equip teachers to help them in the best way they can? I firmly believe that our children deserve better.
The Games alone cannot change the world. They did a huge amount to move things forward, but we still have an opportunity to do better. I am sure that we will return to this debate and I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, one of the most moving experiences of my life occurred as a result of being in your Lordships’ House. I was invited to participate in the medal ceremonies for the Paralympic Games. I presented six medals to people who had done extraordinary things in an extraordinary competition. The crowd was amazing in its support of the athletes, but what struck me most was that for those professional athletes or those operating at such a high level, I thought that all the emotion would be in the winning. In fact, the emotion was in receiving the medals—standing up and representing your country and being applauded by everyone, including your peers. The moments spent in the green room before the medal ceremonies were some of the most intense that I have ever experienced. It was an extraordinary and life-affirming occasion for me.
This has been a fantastic debate. I think that all the speakers have performed brilliantly. Speaking or being in this House is not an Olympic sport, nor I suspect will it ever be, but I think we should remember that we are up against a rather amazing football match in which a well known team looks as though it might actually win for a change, but noble Lords are in the Chamber and staying until the end of the debate. I am sure that the noble Baroness sitting opposite has the match on her very attractively styled iPad. Perhaps she will tell us when it is finally over because there are still a few minutes of stoppage time, but it is quite close. Anyway, enough of such boring things.
It must have been a fun Select Committee to serve on, and I must say that I felt a twinge of interest when I learnt about all the various things that happened. To have done all that work in such a compressed time speaks volumes about my noble friend Lord Harris and his ability to command and control. We experience it regularly on our side of the House because he chairs our Wednesday party meetings. You have to be very careful when he is in the chair