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Lords Chamber

Volume 765: debated on Thursday 5 November 2015

House of Lords

Thursday, 5 November 2015.

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Sheffield.

Introduction: Lord Campbell of Pittenweem

The right honourable Sir Walter Menzies Campbell, Knight, CH, CBE, QC, having been created Baron Campbell of Pittenweem, of Pittenweem in the County of Fife, was introduced and made the solemn affirmation, supported by Lord Steel of Aikwood and Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Introduction: Lord Foster of Bath

The right honourable Donald Michael Ellison Foster, having been created Baron Foster of Bath, of Bath in the County of Somerset, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Baroness Barker and Lord Strasburger, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Women: Refuges


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to secure sustainable and long-term funding for women’s refuges in England when the emergency funding for refuge services ends on 31 March.

My Lords, the Government recognise how vital refuges are. That is why in the summer Budget we announced a further £3.2 million of funding for refuges, in addition to the £10 million announced in 2014. We are committed to secure funding for refuge provision, as set out in our manifesto. We are determined to ensure that no victim is turned away from the support that they need. Future funding arrangements are a matter for the spending review.

My Lords, we all know that every week, on average, two women are murdered in this country by their partner or ex-partner. That is one of the reasons why the Government’s £2.1 million crisis funding was so warmly welcomed. Women’s Aid has taken 40 years to build up a network of refuges that save lives every day, yet they and other refuges—those that have not yet closed—have to turn away hundreds of women and children. Therefore, will the Minister assure us that in the forthcoming government spending review a long-term funding solution for refuges will be found? Does she agree that we need ring-fenced funding as well to help women and prevent murder?

The noble Baroness makes a very powerful point. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that no woman will be turned away from the help she needs. Clearly, I cannot pre-empt the spending review, but we have provided additional funding. We committed in our manifesto to securing future funding for refuges, but we have also provided funding to UK refuges online—UKROL—so that victims calling the national domestic violence helpline looking for refuge can get additional help to find the support they need.

My Lords, on the subject of the comprehensive spending review, have the Government undertaken any cost-benefit analysis, either formal or informal, of the benefits of providing good—or at any rate adequate—refuge provision, taking into account both local authority and central government spending?

The cost of domestic violence, both to the individual and to society, is immense. The estimated cost of domestic violence to employers is some £3.1 billion. The total cost is an estimated £23 billion when all the various factors are taken into account, including the human and emotional suffering and the subsequent suffering of children. So the costs are immense, and the benefits of addressing this issue are obviously incalculable.

I welcome the fact that the Minister takes this issue so seriously and that there will be some additional funding; let us hope it will be even more than the Minister indicated. I declare that I am a trustee of Refuge, the oldest of the movements providing assistance to victims of domestic violence. The costs, as she has described, are huge, yet over the last few years we have seen a reduction in additional services of up to 80% for some of the organisations that are providing support. Refuge sees 3,300 women and children coming through its doors every day. So the problem is enormous and the sums involved are very small. Can more money be made available for all the other services that are needed, such as the trauma and legal services, as well as accommodation? Most of the organisations are providing that full gamut, and the money available is simply not enough.

The noble Baroness makes a very valid point; it is not just about refuges but everything else that the woman fleeing domestic violence needs. In fact, we made it clear that the £10 million fund is for additional support services that such women need. Independent domestic violence advocates have proved incredibly helpful and effective, as have the MARAC teams, and there are other forms of provision, such as the additional support services. The Department for Education has provided £138,000 to the Behind Closed Doors programme, which supports children affected by domestic violence. We must not forget all the work that is also going on in the troubled families programme, which has unearthed domestic violence in its work with families. That has been a great success story.

My Lords, if a woman who is fleeing domestic violence has more than two children, her child tax credit element will be cut. As I said yesterday, I would really appreciate the Government looking into this issue. There are also other real and serious issues, such as the complexity of mental health services. Are the Government thinking of putting money into dealing with those complex issues and needs?

My Lords, as I said in answer to a previous question, domestic violence is a very complex issue. For the people, mainly women, who experience it there are more complexities than just the domestic violence they suffer. As the noble Baroness says, they may have children and suffer mental health problems, often as a result of the abuse they have suffered. So yes, we are thinking very clearly about that.

My Lords, given that about 30 of the refuges have had to close, a lot of this need then falls back on local government, which is not able to offer the same specialist, trained advice. Does the Minister accept that this is not just about having a plethora of places? There must be specialist, trained people to provide help and direction, whether to legal aid or to other forms of help.

My Lords, UKROL data show that bed spaces actually rose from 3,216 in 2013 to 3,350 in 2015, but—it is a huge “but”, and I am not at all dismissing what the noble Baroness says—demand is increasing massively. She is right that it is absolutely crucial that we think about the support and other services that are needed. Those services will be provided not just by local authorities and housing associations, but by all the providers who have been so active in this area for so long.



Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, as part of their counter-extremism strategy, they will encourage a national debate about the nature of Islam, including whether the Muslim tenet of abrogation remains valid today.

My Lords, the Government’s approach and strategy to countering extremism is firmly based on further strengthening our relationships and work with the communities and organisations across the United Kingdom and together confronting, challenging and disrupting extremism in all its ugly guises.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that fairly helpful reply. Some noble Lords may not be aware that abrogation means that, where there is contradiction in the Koran, its later and more violent verses outweigh its admirably peaceful early texts. Is the noble Lord aware that, together with some Koranic scholars, I have written a short summary of Islam, which I will send him, and that we are asking the Guardian newspaper to hold an open debate as to its accuracy? Secondly, given the seriousness of our domestic situation, could not the Government themselves sponsor a council of our Muslim leaders in which they could clarify the modern meaning of their religion and cast the extremists out of Islam?

My Lords, I look forward to receiving the noble Lord’s summary of the great religion of Islam. Perhaps during his reflection he will also have noted that, with the exception of one verse in the holy Koran, every verse starts with the words: “In the name of God, the gracious, most merciful”, which underlines the true sentiments and principle of that religion. The Government have very much been engaging in debate across Muslim communities. Indeed, the Prime Minister recently launched an engagement forum where he is meeting with people of all denominations from across the Muslim community and beyond to ensure that we confront extremism, as I said earlier, in all its ugly guises.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that while it is appropriate for the Government to sponsor good community relations and to promote British values in citizenship courses and in schools, and while it is right that civil society should debate the merits, perhaps, of each religion, surely it would be totally inappropriate for the state to be involved, as the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, has suggested, in a critique of one of the world’s great religions, which is followed by 1.2 billion people throughout the world?

My Lords, does the noble Lord think it is helpful or constructive that any religious text—be it from the Koran, the Old Testament or even the Hebrew scriptures; taken and quoted selectively—should be used in a negative, divisive and political way to put whole communities on trial?

I totally agree with the noble Baroness. No community should be on trial in our great country. There are extremists of every guise who take noble faiths and seek to hijack them. That is the challenge that we face within Islam today, but I am pleased to say that it is the Muslim communities of Britain and beyond who are at the forefront of challenging that.

My Lords, what are the Government’s views of the following comments: “Most Nigerians are generally bad people”; “Jewish bankers financed Hitler”; “Islam is a cancer”? What should be our response to a political party that holds such views?

The views that the noble Lord has just articulated, which he is reporting to the House, are abhorrent, and I think I speak for the whole House.

My Lords, first, I was not aware that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, was a scholar of Islamic theology. I do not profess to have any such expertise, but I am concerned that such a debate as he advocates could be divisive and further exacerbate the current rise in Islamophobia. I, like the vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, was taught that peace, compassion and obeying the law of the land are fundamental. To me, that is the nature of Islam. Does my noble friend the Minister agree that such a debate would be unhelpful for interfaith relations and social cohesion?

I agree with my noble friend. This Government, and indeed the previous coalition Government, have built on the previous opposition Governments’ work in bringing communities together. It is about fighting hate in every guise in which it is found. I am therefore delighted that in October the Prime Minister himself announced—I am sure many noble Lords followed it—that, from April 2016, along with anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim crime will be recorded as a specific hate crime by all 43 police forces across England and Wales.

My Lords, I strongly agree with the question raised by the previous speaker and the Minister’s reply. Does the Minister agree that encouraging education and dialogue across a broad front should be a key part of our strategy, including: encouraging relationships not only between the faith communities but between all the faith communities and civil society; encouraging agencies such as the Islamic Society of Britain—which does such powerful good work in education in schools and other areas; raising the levels of religious literacy at all levels; further analysis of why people of faith do, in a minority of cases, resort to violence; and building on the excellent work of the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, in his recent book Not in God’s Name?

The right reverend Prelate raises a very important issue about education. I think that education is the cornerstone of all progressive societies. The Near Neighbours scheme, for example, run by the Church of England, is a great scheme which brings communities together, irrespective of faith and denomination, to ensure that good and sensible values—the prevailing values; we often talk about British values but ultimately they are the human values we all share—prevail in a modern, progressive Britain.

The Minister made reference to a comment by the Prime Minister. Does the Minister accept that the Prime Minister made a comment about sections of the Muslim community quietly condoning extremism, and that that risks causing division and fuelling resentment which will be counterproductive to the Government’s recently published counter-extremism strategy, which quite rightly focuses on building cohesive communities?

I am sure the noble Lord has read the strategy; its foreword is by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the one leading on this strategy of countering extremism. It is about bringing together people of all communities, of all faiths and none, to ensure that we can tackle extremism in all its ugly guises—whether it is those who seek to hijack a noble religion, as we currently find in the religion of Islam, or those who use race and religion to divide society. We must unite against all such extremism.

Royal Navy


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many committed tasks the Royal Navy has to fulfil and what is the maximum number of committed tasks involving a frigate or destroyer that the Royal Navy could undertake over a prolonged period.

My Lords, the committed force focuses primarily on providing nuclear deterrence, defence of the UK and its overseas territories, and supporting the civil emergency organisations in times of crisis. The Royal Navy makes a sustained contribution to the delivery of military tasks on which the committed force is principally focused with frigates, destroyers and other force elements.

I thank the noble Earl for his Answer. In 1998, we decided to have only 30 destroyers and frigates. We realised more were needed, but we said we would take the risk. Since then, the world has become more chaotic, as the Prime Minister has recently said, and we now have 19 destroyers and frigates, which I am on record as saying I believe is a national disgrace for a great maritime nation. Of those 19, six are the Type 45 destroyer, a brilliant anti-air warfare ship with fantastic capability, but there is a major main propulsion problem with those ships, so in reality today we have 13 escorts to do all the tasks required for our nation. Do we have a method in place now to resolve this problem with the Type 45’s main propulsion? When will they all be available for full operation, or will we be looking after this nation with only 13 escorts?

My Lords, as the noble Lord is only too well aware with his enormous experience, the normal operational cycle of every ship involves them entering different readiness levels depending on their programmes and departmental planning requirements. He is right that the Type 45 has experienced some equipment reliability issues, including with the power and propulsion systems, but I am glad to tell him that most of them have now been remedied and work is continuing to resolve the remaining issues. Notwithstanding the issues that I have referred to, the Type 45 class remains operational and has certainly demonstrated its capability in the time that it has been in service.

How many personnel are required on board these ships to fulfil those committed tasks? What gives the Minister confidence that there are enough skilled men and women to ensure that all ships and boats have their full complement?

I am sure the noble Baroness will be aware that manning numbers are flexed according to whatever task the ship is assigned to fulfil. The bottom line is that no ship will ever go to sea unless it is fully manned for that particular task. For example, the Type 45 has a manning complement of 191, and for the Type 23 it is anything between 120 and 220. The manning situation in the Royal Navy is broadly in balance, although the noble Baroness will be aware of specific shortfalls that are most prevalent in surface and submarine engineer and warfare specialisations. There are a number of mitigating actions in place to address those issues.

Keeping the seaways of the world open for trade and commerce is essential to the well-being of an island people like us, and means being able to protect our interests if they are threatened. I am sure the Minister and I agree on that. The head of the Russian navy has admitted increasing submarine patrols by 50% in the past two years and the chief of US naval operations has said that Russian warships are operating at a level not seen for two decades. He said that the Americans are debating whether to increase their naval presence in Europe. Are they doing that because they believe that Britain is no longer able to mount a response? Have they raised this matter with us? If we are asked to help, how many ships could we deploy?

My Lords, I am sure the Russians are in no doubt of the capability that the Royal Navy can demonstrate. The Royal Navy has a robust range of measures in place for detecting and shadowing non-NATO naval units which may seek to enter our territorial waters without prior authority. We continue to develop new detection capabilities to maintain the operational advantage that we need. The strategic defence and security review currently under way will allow us to assess the full spectrum of submarine detection capability, including the utility of fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft.

My Lords, my noble friend has revealed how many operational ships there are in the Royal Navy. Will the Minister tell us how many admirals there are?

My Lords, I wonder if the noble Earl would remind the SDSR team that there are many thousands of very high-calibre young men queuing up to join the Royal Marines, both as enlisted men and as officers—and that there should be no question of reducing the numbers in the Royal Marines, given the vital role they play in Britain’s defence.

My Lords, the noble Lord, with his experience of the Royal Marines, makes an extremely good point. No doubt that issue will be at the forefront of the planners’ minds at present.

My Lords, is it not true that a Royal Navy ship shot down a missile yesterday? If so, should we not have more ships than admirals perhaps?

My Lords, my noble friend is referring to an exercise off the west coast of Scotland, which did indeed incorporate an anti-ballistic missile exercise—a very notable landmark in the capability of the Royal Navy.

My Lords, does that mean that we are now embarking on ballistic missile defence in our warships as a future policy?

My Lords, when I first saw the wording of this Question, I wondered whether my noble friend was being asked to speculate about what the actual numbers might be. We heard some useful information this afternoon in that direction, but it is a long-running episode which requires attention from Defence Ministers all the time. I hoped that we could have a bit more precision. After all, the Question asks about,

“the maximum number of committed tasks involving a frigate or destroyer that the Royal Navy could undertake over a prolonged period”,

which gives an open way to an answer. Perhaps my noble friend can elaborate on that.

I think the central point to make is that the SDSR provides the Government with an opportunity to take a deep look at what the Armed Forces need to meet the challenges that are assessed to face our country. It will set out the defence planning assumptions and the military tasks—essentially, what the Government may ask the Armed Forces to undertake. I am afraid that my noble friend will have to wait until the publication of the SDSR in a few weeks’ time.

Living Wage


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the recent report by KPMG on the number of people not earning the Living Wage, what action they will take to ensure an increase in the proportion of workers earning the Living Wage.

My Lords, from April 2016, we will be introducing the national living wage for workers aged 25 and over. At £7.20 per hour, it will mean that a full-time worker working a 35 hour week will earn £910 per year more than at the current national minimum wage. The Government encourage all employers to pay above the national minimum wage, where they can afford to do so.

My Lords, KPMG in its survey was talking about the real living wage, which is £9.40 per hour in London and which enables employees to live with dignity and receive fewer tax credits. Why does the Minister think that 1.3 million more women than men are paid less than the living wage? Why is it that a young woman in her 20s is going to be 50% more likely to earn less than the living wage next year than the workforce in general? It is great that more than 700 employers now pay the London living wage, but the retail industry is notably recalcitrant. In September—

It might be long, but it is important. In September, I co-signed a letter to Sir Philip Green with Susan Benavides, a cleaner at Topshop who is struggling on the minimum wage and whose life would be transformed by the London living wage. What can the Government do to aid people like her?

My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right as far as the living wage and wages for women are concerned, and the sooner that we have more parity in that, the better. She also mentioned the retail industry. I should point out that from next April, when the national living wage will be paid, Lidl, Starbucks, Costa, Morrisons, Amazon and Mitie have all committed to pay the national living wage.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the self-employed have a particular responsibility for, and indeed control over, their own earnings? One of the reasons why Britain is the best country in Europe to become self-employed in is the very high threshold for registration for VAT, which is £82,000, which is about 10 times that of the other countries in the EU. This means that someone starting a small business does not have to charge VAT until they reach a turnover of £82,000, which of course gives them a huge competitive advantage if they are selling their services to people who cannot reclaim VAT.

My Lords, my noble friend is right on that. It is so important that these small businesses have as much help as possible, and the fact that we have this high threshold for value-added tax helps them. I add that the Government are increasing the employment allowance from £2,000 to £3,000 from April 2016. This will benefit up to 590,000 employers, and as a result those businesses could employ four people full-time on the national living wage and pay no national insurance contributions.

My Lords, the justification given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for reducing the payment of tax credits was that recipients would be compensated by increases in the minimum wage, incorporating the living wage. Even on the Chancellor’s own figures, this will not happen until 2019-20, and now the Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed that the increase will not provide adequate compensation for the loss of income by many recipients. Does the Minister now agree that the justification given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was deeply flawed?

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Ashton of Hyde answered a Question on this subject yesterday. With the leave of the House, I shall repeat part of what he said:

“As the Chancellor has made clear, the Government will set out in the Autumn Statement how we plan to achieve the same goal of reforming tax credits and saving the money we need to save to secure our economy”.—[Official Report, 4/11/15; col. 1631.]

My Lords, the KPMG report shows that 72% of 18 to 21 year-olds are earning less than the living wage compared with 17% of those in their 30s, yet the Government have chosen to exclude under-25s from getting what they call the new living wage—in fact, a new minimum rate for over-25s. I would like the Minister to tell the House why. The Paymaster-General, Matthew Hancock, said the reason was that young people were not productive enough to merit a living wage. Is that the reason? If not, what is?

My Lords, as the noble Baroness is aware, the national minimum wage, which covers young people under 25, has had the biggest increase in its rate—3%—since 2006. This means that the national minimum wage is closer to the average wage than ever before. She asked a number of other questions that I do not—

I realise that, my Lords. I am afraid I will have to write to the noble Baroness; I have lost my train of thought.

My Lords, the report by the Living Wage Foundation demonstrates that in London the wage to be paid as a minimum should now be £9.40 an hour, instead of waiting until 2020 for it to reach £9 an hour under the Government’s formulation. What is the Minister’s view of the fact that, for another four years and more, millions of people who serve this country, serve this capital and serve every industry and activity outside it are going to be grossly underpaid?

My Lords, the noble Lord makes a point relating to the UK living wage of £9.40 in the capital of this country. Employers choose to pay the UK living wage on a voluntary basis. It is not actually affordable for all employers. The rates for the national minimum wage and the trajectory for the national living wage toward its target of 60% of median earnings by 2020 are recommended by the independent Low Pay Commission in order to set the pay floor as high as possible without having a material impact on employment.

Business of the House

Motion on Standing Orders

Moved by

That Standing Order 46 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Tuesday 10 November to allow the Finance Bill to be taken through its remaining stages that day.

Motion agreed.


Motion to Take Note

Moved by

My Lords, your Lordships may feel that they have sometimes listened to a speech from these Benches and thought that the speaker is not entirely familiar with the subject. There is, of course, an old adage that generally the Bishop speaks and generally the Bishop speaks generally. I shall avoid an echo of the confessional, but I can say that my first-hand knowledge of pornography is very limited. Of the range of vices available to me, I have been tempted by most, but not in any significant way by pornography. If the statistics are to be believed, that makes me a rather unusual, if not exotic, creature.

Pornography is a very widespread feature of western society, especially since the advent of the internet age. In my ministry I have come across addiction to pornography as a factor in individual marriage breakdown. As a Bishop, I have had two of my clergy prosecuted for downloading child sexual abuse images, usually called child pornography. Both these priests were given custodial sentences and both are unlikely ever again to exercise the Christian ministry for which they were trained.

As I understand it, the sheer volume of cases of downloading child pornography has overwhelmed the police to the point that prosecutions are no longer routinely brought. Will the Minister comment specifically on this point and let the House know if and why possession of child pornography is now taken less seriously by the criminal justice system?

Beyond this direct contact in my ministry with the consequences of pornography, I have been struck by a whole series of warnings that I have read about. Earlier this year the BBC reported a survey of 700 children aged 12 or 13. Some 20% said that they had already seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them. More than 10% said that they had taken part in or had made a sexually explicit video. Half of those contacted were not yet teenagers. The director of Childline was reported as saying:

“Children of all ages today have easy access to a wide range of pornography. If we as a society shy away from talking about this issue, we are failing the thousands of young people it is affecting … they also tell Childline that watching porn is making them feel depressed, giving them body image issues, making them feel pressured to engage in sexual acts they’re not ready for”.

Also earlier this year the Times reported a study by the University of Bristol School for Policy Studies across a range of European countries, including the UK. It found that 40% of the children surveyed, this time between the ages of 13 and 17, had suffered sexual coercion of some sort ranging from rape to being pressurised into unwanted sexual activity, often with elements of physical violence. A television programme in the past week rather vividly brought out the situation reflected in that survey.

Last week the Prime Minister told the other place that he had negotiated an opt-out to protect the UK from the new net neutrality provisions for the European Union, which would make the current voluntary adult content filtering arrangements in the UK by the main internet service providers illegal. We should all be grateful to the Prime Minister for his commitment to keep children safe, but can the Minister confirm whether this will require legislation which, I assume, will take up the main provisions of the Online Safety Bill in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, which had its Second Reading in this House in July? I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for her persistence in raising these issues over the years. Will this protection extend to all ISP providers and not just the big five, which cover 90% of the market? Furthermore, in the Conservative manifesto there was a commitment to stop,

“children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material”.

Can the Minister say when the Government will deliver on this important manifesto commitment?

I turn to the wider impact of pornography on our society. I will begin by making some remarks which have been supplied by the judiciary. Earlier this year the Lord Chief Justice gave evidence to the Justice Committee in the other place and referred to deeply disturbing criminal cases which had been influenced and intensified by pornography. These were not only sexual offences against children, although that was a major concern, but offences against adults, and especially women. Many other judges have referred to the influence of pornography on criminals in relation to particular cases.

Looking beyond the influence of pornography on serious crime, there is a growing body of evidence that regular interaction with pornography often has an adverse effect upon the close family and intimate relationships that are such a crucial part of human flourishing. Human beings are characterised by a high degree of what I might call intersubjectivity. Through the acquisition of language and in other ways we have a great disposition and aptitude towards communicating with each other and developing deep interpersonal relationships. David Attenborough brought this out with typical brilliance in the last episode of his series “Life on Earth”, looking at human beings from a biological perspective.

The underlying problem with pornography is that in particularly significant and sensitive areas of human life it encourages people to view other people simply or primarily as objects to be used and discarded. The danger is that in tacitly or openly accepting the pervasive presence of adult pornography in people’s lives, we are choosing to make the attitudes which lie behind and in pornography seem normal: objectification, exploitation, and, very often, abuse.

As a society we have recognised the need to have vigorous procedures to protect children from abuse and harm, and have begun to realise how endemic and deep-seated abusive attitudes have been. This new awareness is entirely to be welcomed, and needs to be pursued with vigour. I hope that the new inquiry under Justice Lowell Goddard will do this and try to unravel the causes of this disastrous feature of recent history, including the growing and easy availability of pornographic material as one underlying cause.

However, this leaves young people still exposed to much damaging material which presents them with distorted images of life. If this is true of both boys and girls, it is girls who arguably suffer the worst consequences, with poor perceptions of their own bodies and the damage that flows from that. The sharing of sexually explicit images via the internet and mobile phones is another dimension of the potential harm, especially when they are shared with other people. In adults, of course, this can produce so-called revenge porn, which I am glad to say has recently been recognised as a criminal offence.

The damage which is inflicted, especially but not only on young people, should not be seen as only psychological. Indeed, we should not think that psychological damage is in itself less important than physical damage. There is growing evidence of a direct and potentially permanent impact upon the brain itself, which provides a biological aspect to the phenomenon of addiction to pornography. In preparation for this debate I contacted an experienced judge, who commented:

“I have seen a good number of cases where curiosities have become fused into compulsions because of this very dimension. Porn evidently produces something of an addictive neurochemical trap. The brain is affected biologically and a ‘new normal’ emerges. There is then (exactly as with drugs) often a quest for increased exposure, for increased stimulation and for more extreme images to arouse interest and retain attention. The pursuit of pleasure and release from sexual tension delivers only addiction and an actual decrease in pleasure unless fuelled by more extreme material”.

That is the comment of an experienced judge in our country.

I am grateful to the charity, Naked Truth, which attempts to help such addicts to recover from their addiction, for access to the academic studies that have been undertaken in this area. This is the UK equivalent to the American charity, Fight the New Drug, which is mentioned in the Library note. I believe that one day such charities will receive the recognition that has been given to Alcoholics Anonymous and anti-smoking charities. It took a long time for the serious health hazards associated with smoking or excessive alcohol consumption and addiction to be recognised. We recall how for years the tobacco industry disputed the causal link with harm. We have yet to face the damaging effect of the widespread availability and use of pornography, and in that case too there is a powerful industry that discourages us from doing so.

I should acknowledge, as the Library note sets out, that there is a significant problem of formulating a tight definition of what is pornographic and I did not want to spend a lot of my limited time attempting a definition: I acknowledge that issue. Yet neither can we use the difficulty of establishing a precise definition as an excuse for ignoring the very obviously problematic character of pornography at all levels in our society. My hope today in bringing this debate to your Lordships’ House is simply that: to engage in a debate and recognise how important the various issues raised by it are, perplexing though they may be in various ways.

As I understand it, to date the Government are content to try to draw a sharp distinction between children and adults as far as access to pornography is concerned. I can understand this attempt to protect the free choices that adults may make and I acknowledge the dangers of trying in some way to ban pornography. In the internet age this is unlikely to be successful, even if attempted, and such attempted curbs can easily be counterproductive in other ways. It is sometimes said that if something is banned in the Old Testament it was going on quite widely, so there are real issues about how we respond. Today, I want to draw to our attention an issue we are not very happy describing and talking about. Doing nothing does not seem right either, given the evidence that pornography clearly harms adults as well as children—men and women, but especially women. My question to the Government, and to us all, is whether it is right to strike a pose of neutrality in the face of the obvious damage and dangers of the adult use of pornography.

I would like to end in a way that may surprise some Members of the House, so as to indicate the nature of the underlying problem as I have come to see it. I find myself to some degree at least with an unexpected bedfellow, if I may put it that way, in DH Lawrence. I am not sure whether bishops have defended DH Lawrence in your Lordships’ House before. He has certainly had a long time to wait for it happen.

As I understand Lawrence, a central concern in his writings was a conviction that in European civilisation the relationship between mind and body has become seriously dislocated. The relatively innocent understanding of sex that one sees in Chaucer or Renaissance art—in Botticelli for example—declined over the years into the brutality of modern pornography. I would like to quote Lawrence, from a famous but neglected essay, Pornography and Obscenity. He said:

“Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it”.

He referred to this as,

“the catastrophe of our civilisation”.

He went on to say:

“I am sure no other civilisation, not even the Roman, has showed such a vast proportion of ignominious and degraded nudity, and ugly, squalid, dirty sex”.

This is not the Bishop of Chester saying this but DH Lawrence, who wrote these prophetic words in 1929. What would he make of contemporary society? His vision was, I think, too idealistic, not least in how he saw human sexuality, but he did identify the problem that underlies the floodtide of unhealthy, objectifying, sexual pornography that we now confront. At its heart it is a spiritual problem, the problem of identifying and upholding a healthy view of human life in the context of the contemporary world’s attempt to reduce us to an undignified bundle of unfulfilled appetites.

I look forward to this debate and to the range of views that I am sure will be expressed on this difficult and, as I have said, perplexing subject.

My Lords, I congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester on securing this important debate.

There was a time when debates about pornography could be characterised as being a matter of moral sensibility versus free choice. In that context, the public policy response tended to be: we must protect children but, where adults are concerned, this is a matter of choice so long as the pornography in question is legal. The debate has now become more complicated as a result of an increasing recognition of some of the practical effects of pornography use, one of which relates to health. I am speaking in today’s debate as a doctor and will focus my comments on the growing health concerns surrounding pornography addiction in adults.

There is now increasing evidence to suggest that the brain activity of individuals who consume large volumes of pornography is similar to the brain activity of those with other addictions—notably, an addiction to drugs. Research conducted by Dr Valerie Voon and colleagues at the University of Cambridge highlighted this point. The study examined, using functional MRI scans, the brain activity of 19 individuals with compulsive sexual behaviours, known as CSBs, and 19 individuals without CSBs while watching both sexually explicit and non-sexually explicit videos. An additional 25 volunteers without CSBs viewed the videos without being scanned. The research revealed that individuals with CSBs showed a greater desire or “wanting” to view the sexually explicit content but not necessarily a corresponding enjoyment or “liking” of the material. The researchers concluded that the dissociation of wanting and liking is similar to incentive motivation theories which can be found in those with drug addictions. They also reported that the research revealed:

“There are clear differences in brain activity between patients who have compulsive sexual behaviour and healthy volunteers”,

and that these differences are like those of drug addicts.

Similarly, a study conducted jointly by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Psychiatric University Hospital Charité at St Hedwig Hospital used scans to examine the brain activity of 64 healthy men as they viewed sexually explicit and non-sexually explicit videos. The results were published last year in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and revealed that constant pornography consumption can reduce the size of the parts of the brain that relate to reward. One of the authors of the research stated:

“We therefore assume that subjects with high pornography consumption require ever stronger stimuli to reach the same reward level”.

At this point, I should say that in preparing for today’s debate a case was drawn to my attention that I found rather disturbing. The suggestion is made that there is an absolute divide between adult pornography and child pornography, the latter always being completely and utterly unacceptable. That divide, however, is not as clear as we might think. I know of at least one case of someone who was drawn into adult pornography use but who, as he was sucked into it, found that it provided less and less of a stimulus, and he ultimately ended up using child pornography and was prosecuted.

When considered together, these studies highlight the physiological effects of excessive pornography consumption on the brain, but what of the other effects? In 2012, the University of Sydney conducted an online survey of 800 people who used internet pornography. Of these, 30% acknowledged that their work performance suffered due to excessive viewing. The University of Cambridge research, to which I referred earlier, also reported that participants had acknowledged negative consequences to their pornography use, including an impact on relationships, sexual dysfunction and suicidal ideation, as the right reverend Prelate mentioned.

The charity Naked Truth exists to help people wrestling with pornography addictions and can provide numerous testimonies from recovering porn addicts, to whom public policymakers need to listen. These highlight very powerfully the destructive nature of pornography addiction. As the right reverend Prelate said, similar stories have also been published in recent months on the websites of the BBC and the Times. I am not suggesting that sexual addiction is always driven by pornography, nor am I saying that everyone who uses pornography has an addiction, just as I would not say that everyone who gambles becomes a problem gambler. However, for some individuals using pornography or gambling, their behaviour becomes a problem for themselves and those around them. We need to face up to this fact, as it relates to pornography use, and consider the appropriate public policy response.

I conclude by asking the Minister two questions. First, what are the Government currently doing to engage with public policy challenges emanating from pornography addiction? Problem gamblers are assisted by various provisions including, for example, self-exclusion, which mean that they can, on a strong day, limit their access to gambling opportunities for a period of their choice and get help during this time. It is not 100% foolproof, but the provision is helpful and appreciated. We now need to seriously consider this kind of provision in relation to pornography addiction. Secondly, would the Minister be willing to meet with recovering pornography addicts, to hear what public policy changes they believe would help? I look forward to the Minister’s response.

My Lords, I also congratulate the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chester, on initiating this debate. I do not completely agree with some of the things he said, but he wanted debate and this is the platform for it. We are living through the greatest period of technological change ever, in terms of pace, depth and global scope. The dominant force is the digital revolution. We cannot understand pornography today, or discuss how it should be regulated, without realising that sexuality is being transformed at the same dramatic rate as some areas of business. Think of the rise of Uber from nothing to a capital value of some £50 billion—the same as General Motors —in less than six years, and apply the same principle to everyday life and emotions.

As the right reverend Prelate said, what we now define as pornography has been around for centuries, and, indeed, millennia. However, we are the first society ever in which pornography is available to everyone who has access to global communications, and the first for which much of it is self-produced and free to the consumer. Pornography today is still an industry, but it is also something far more complex, which intersects with changes affecting human sexuality at all levels of the life cycle. In some ways, cybersex has become simply part and parcel of everyday sexuality and it is crucial to recognise this.

The complete range of human inventiveness is there. The very nature of sexuality is being transformed by all of this. One example among many is the emergence of complex forms of transgender experimentation. There is, however, as we all know, a very dark side, some of it carried on the deep net, which is inaccessible to most users by definition, where violence and the most extreme forms of sexual degradation are the driving forces.

Pornography has always been driven largely by male desire, and this remains the case today. However, just as sexuality is changing rapidly, so is interest in pornography on the part of women. Some studies in the US indicate that as many as 40% of women now watch internet pornography on a regular basis. Many of both sexes participate in the making of pornographic materials, at least in the broad sense of that term, as the use of visual images via smartphones and mobile devices has become so common. Since much of this is historically unprecedented and is moving so rapidly, we cannot say with any confidence where it will lead. The regulatory issues are huge; they are, I think, far more complex than the right reverend Prelate indicated, as are those of drawing the boundaries between what is acceptable sexual experimentation and innovation, and what is not. There is a wholly new world out there which no generation of human beings has ever experienced before in the same way.

With some reservations, I support what the Government are doing, with the Minister at the forefront. I congratulate her on having been at the forefront of the digital revolution—this ocean of change, which is breaking through our society in an unprecedented way. The Government wish, above all, to protect the most vulnerable children—a necessary objective. It is crucial, as in the #We Protect strategy, to work directly with the major digital providers here. I know the speeches on this that the Minister has given in different parts of the world. I admire the dedication of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, on this issue and her persistence with her Bill. Yet, speaking as a social scientist, I have to say that we must be systematic about these issues, not just draw things out of the air and draw extreme conclusions from them. Looking at some of the assertions that are commonly made, I was shocked to see how thin the evidence base actually is. When you look in detail at the research studies across the world, you see how superficial the materials are that support them. What in-depth evidence we have—there is not much and it is all moving so fast—points to a lot of complexity. I do not doubt that the phenomenon described by the noble Lord, Lord McColl, exists, but we have no clue about how general it is because the data are simply not there.

As a social scientist, I want work on these issues to be systematic, but we do not know how far regular exposure to pornography on the part of minors affects their sexual behaviour, damages relationships, leads to addictive behaviour and so forth or, crucially, on what scale. We just do not know. Some have argued the contrary to what the right reverend Prelate has said, including full-time researchers in the field. They have said that pornography can substitute for impulses which otherwise might be expressed in more harmful ways.

My main point is that a great deal more research is needed, especially if intrusive policy is being considered —as indeed it is. Again, speaking as a practising social scientist, I hope that the Government will provide some funding for such work, as otherwise well-intended policies could simply rebound.

Childhood itself is changing in the digital age, perhaps radically. As Philippe Ariès famously argued, childhood barely existed historically. In the past, even young children dressed like adults, worked on the farm at a very early age and were constantly in direct contact with adult sexuality. They had no option, because they almost always slept in the same room, and quite often in the same bed, as adults. The notion of the “innocent child”, which we have come to see as universal, was in fact an 18th-century invention. In the digital age, some have argued—and I think there is some force to this—that childhood is again disappearing, because it is simply not possible to separate the younger generation from the adult world. Children are becoming what are called “kidults”, and kidults are quite a mixture of the child and the adult. My main point is that the subtleties and the unknowns in all this simply must be borne in mind by policymakers.

I am strongly in favour of empowering parents as far as possible, and providing the technology for them to supervise what their children watch. They must work in direct conjunction with schools. The role of the state should be confined very largely to areas of directly illegal activity. However, I stress strongly that there is a very fine line to tread. If children are shielded too much, and for too long, they may not be able to cope when plunged into the maelstrom that is sexuality today. We must confront the uncomfortable truth that, as the first truly digital generation, children today might know more about the temptations, and even the threats, of the online world than their parents do.

Is the noble Lord seriously suggesting that no harm is being done, despite the fact that the majority of 11 year-old children are watching on the internet the most appalling, violent pornography, mainly directed at women?

Not at all, because, as I said, I support the #We Protect strategy. I said strongly that I backed that strategy and that we must protect children. The difficulty is knowing where the boundaries are and how far things that are said very commonly really are the case, because we do not have enough research on those issues. We must have that research, and we must not plunge into policies that are based on inadequate information and research. We must realise that this is a world undergoing gigantic change such that we have never experienced before, at least in my view. We have to protect children, but we have to do so against the background of a world that is just swirling away from our control at the same time.

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the right reverend Prelate on securing this important debate. Before I move to the main focus of my speech, I want to say that I very much welcome the opportunity provided by this debate to stand back and look at the impact of pornography not just on adults but on society as a whole—adults and children. However, there is a growing recognition that pornography, rather like gambling, can have profoundly negative implications for some adult users as well as for children. The challenges faced by problem gamblers are very similar to those experienced by people who are addicted to pornography. In the same way that, while we do not ban gambling, the gambling industry is called to account for the very significant economic costs arising from legal, adult use of the services it provides, the time has come for the Government, similarly, to call pornographers to account.

In coming to child protection and children, I begin by congratulating the Prime Minister, ably assisted by the Minister in this House, for the leadership he has shown on this issue in relation to filtering. I do, however, have some very real concerns about the progress made, which I will set out today in the form of a number of questions to the Minister. First, I would like to echo the question that has already been asked about the implication of last week's “net neutrality” vote in the European Parliament, and the statement by the Prime Minister that he has negotiated an opt-out. Assuming that legislation is still necessary to resolve the problem, I ask the Minister to use the opportunity presented by this development to address two problems with the current voluntary arrangement.

First, approximately 10% of households are not covered by the adult content filtering agreement, which pertains only to the big four ISPs. I appreciate that some of the providers that are not subject to that arrangement have put in place similar provisions, but that is not the case across the board. When I raised the matter previously, the Minister said:

“It is important to note that … providers state at installation and on their marketing materials that they do not have child safety credentials”.—[Official Report, 17/6/15; col. 860.]

I do not find this approach very satisfactory. It rather begs the question why the other providers cannot simply do the same. If we are moving to a statutory approach, it would seem very odd to allow some providers not to be subject to the law as long as they tell customers that they are not subject to it. What kind of precedent would that set?

The second issue is the fundamental design fault with the current voluntary approach: that it is possible for anyone to elect to disable adult content filters and to opt in to adult content without any kind of prior age verification. The only safety mechanism provided is applied after the person concerned has lifted the filters, in the form of an email sent to the account holder informing them that the filters are no longer in place. This arrangement is, however, very weak. In the first instance, even if the account holder opened his or her email quickly and took immediate action, the chances are that their children would have been able to access adult content for some hours. ComRes polling for the charity CARE, however, has demonstrated that a total of 34% of British adults—some 16.3 million people—said that they would not read an email from their ISP immediately, of which a staggering 14% said that they were unlikely to read any email from their ISP at all. This would leave a significant number of children exposed to adult content, some permanently.

When I raised this point previously, the Minister suggested that she was content with this back-to-front age verification system, simply stating that,

“three-quarters of parents in the UK are confident that children are unable to bypass these tools. But to mitigate any further risk … ISPs email the main accountholder when filter settings are set or changed”.—[Official Report, 17/6/15; col. 860.]

Today, I gently press her again and say that surely she and the Government cannot be content with such a blatantly feeble approach. Even if only 25% of children seek to disable the adult content filters, this can be no justification for exchanging credible age verification procedures for a half-hearted retrospective warning mechanism that we know will not be picked up by parents in a significant number of cases.

I very much hope that the Minister will today confirm that the Government, if they have to introduce legislation to deal with the net neutrality challenge, will also use it to address these two shortcomings. If legislation is not necessary, I ask her to acknowledge that these are none the less problems that need to be addressed. Filtering requirements must apply to all ISPs servicing households with children, and anyone seeking to disable the filters must be age verified before they are lifted.

I turn to the Conservative Party’s very welcome manifesto commitment to introduce age verification checks specifically on websites carrying pornographic material. ATVOD is clear that the vast majority of the R18 material accessed in the UK comes from sites based outside the country. Some 23 of the 25 sites most accessed are located beyond the UK. Indeed, when one realises that the two sites based in the UK are already caught by our Audiovisual Media Service Regulations, it is clear that the primary function of the Government’s new age verification provision must relate to sites located outside the UK if the proposed measure is to make a significant difference. The Government are very well placed to rise to this challenge, because they have just inaugurated a means of regulating all online gambling websites that are accessed in the UK regardless of where in the world the sites are located. Indeed, my own Bill addresses this issue by drawing on the precedent of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014.

I very much hope that the Minister will confirm today that central to the Government's proposals, as the plain words of their manifesto commitment suggest, will be the requirement that all websites accessed in the UK—regardless of whether they are based in the UK—must put in place robust age verification. I look forward to hearing how the Minister will respond to these questions. In closing, I note that my own Bill provides a means of dealing with all the problems I have highlighted and any EU requirement to make adult content filter provision statutory. If the Government wanted to adopt it as their own, I should be delighted.

My Lords, I join those congratulating my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester on bringing this debate into your Lordships’ House. I also commend his detailed knowledge of DH Lawrence. I recall that when I was in school there were merely three pages of his book that captured our attention.

Despite what my noble fiend Lord Giddens has said—and there is much sense in what he said—there is a general anxiety in our society about pornography and its impact, not just on our children and young adults but also on adult behaviour.

I thank the right reverend Prelate for giving way, because I do not want be misunderstood. We need controls, and these controls have to be solid; but at the same time, one must realise that this is such a rapidly changing world that we do not have a lot of information about how we are going to deal with this in many policy areas which are much more fuzzy.

I agree entirely with what my noble friend has just said. I am searching for a bit more meaning because, as I was about to say, a number of issues seem to require further thought and research before we seek to change the law. When we see the kind of rapid change that my noble friend has clearly outlined, there is a responsibility on society, and indeed on government, to make an early assessment of where this kind of change is leading society. That is all I would say to my noble friend. That said, we should not be complacent and do nothing. There is enough evidence, although I agree that we need more, for concern. I look forward to hearing how the Minister will respond to this important debate.

I recently spoke with a woman in my diocese who is responsible for teaching about relationships and sex education in secondary schools across the city of Bristol. She told me that she was completely unprepared for the apparent normality of children and young adults using pornography to learn about how human beings ought to relate to each other sexually. The problem with this unofficial pathway for youngsters to learn appropriate sexual relationships and activity is that it uses sex undertaken purely for the camera and beyond the scope of any relationship. Without sinking into graphic detail, it portrays sexual techniques that are designed to be watched. Most human sexual activity —though I agree not all—is neither watched nor undertaken for the camera. The point is that young people’s minds are being formed at this stage and for this stuff to be seen as normal is both bizarre and potentially damaging.

I am sure that something needs to be done; the issue is what. We tried to frighten people off the use of classified drugs but it had minimal success. It is difficult to believe that seeking a similar strategy to scare people off the use of pornography will have anything but minimal impact.

At the same time, there seems to be an unwritten assumption, reinforced in the media, that although it is fine to take action to protect children, adult use of pornography is not a legitimate public policy concern, unless, of course, the material viewed is illegal. This position would be logical and defensible if pornography threatened adults with no harm, but I am not yet clear whether that is the case. I want to look particularly at the impact of pornography use on couples’ relationships. I am especially concerned about the evidence that pornography is potentially affecting adult relationships. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester noted in his speech of 17 July that pornography can be,

“a huge factor in relationship breakdown”.—[Official Report, 17/7/15; col. 844.]

This is something that the Government, with their emphasis on family-friendly policy, must at least take notice of.

It has to be said and conceded, however, that some couples claim—I am not sure that I understand this—that pornography has improved their relationship. In its 2015 report The Way We Are Now: The State of the UK’s Relationships, Relate reported that 19% of people in its survey said that pornography had a positive impact on their relationship. It also needs to be said that the very same report said that 23% of 16 to 34 year-olds reported that it had had a negative impact on their relationship. The report said that pornography use,

“is an increasingly common topic in the counselling room”.

I suspect it is also a concern for others who do not make it to counselling and help.

Last year, in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, the results of an analysis of a large set of data collected annually in the USA since 1973 showed that adults who had watched an X-rated movie in the past year were more likely to be divorced and more likely to have had an extramarital affair when married. They were 12% less likely to report having a very happy marriage if they were still married, and 7% less likely to report being happy overall. The authors conclude that their research adds to the,

“negative consequences of pornography use”

documented by other researchers,

“who found that pornography use was negatively correlated with sexual satisfaction and positively correlated with infidelity”.

NetDoctor, meanwhile, has reported:

“Various experts from Relate and the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT), have reported that solitary use of porn is a huge factor in relationship breakdown and that it is ‘spiralling out of control’”.

Dr Kevin Skinner, writing in Psychology Today, has also stated:

“My heart hurts for individuals caught in the web of pornography. When you see grown men crying in your office because they can’t quit and when they tell you that porn is costing them everything, you quickly realize that pornography is not just a leisurely activity. Then, when you meet a woman who feels rejected, not good enough, and unloved by her partner because of porn, you want to change something about the way things are being done”.

He also refers to Dr Jill Manning’s testimony to the US Senate which stated that,

“56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites”.

The link between pornography and relationship breakdown should be—

I am sorry to keep interrupting the right reverend Prelate but for that to be proper research you would have to have analysis of people who were not in that sample and who were acting differently—the opposite. You do not have that. I am making a social science point.

I would not argue, as they are arguing, that it is the sole cause, but I think that they are saying that there is enough of a correlation. It was a reasonably large sample and that was their conclusion. My noble friend is free to disagree: I am just quoting what I have read and has concerned me.

It is assessed that the cost of family breakdown per annum is £47 billion. Other noble Lords have drawn parallels with the gambling industry. Both pornographers and the purveyors of gambling services provide a product that comes, for some, with a very real social price tag. A judgment has been made not to ban either product because others utilise the services without a problem, but the scale of the problem posed by these services in some contexts is such that the providers should be called to account. It seems to me that at present the Government call the gambling industry to account to some degree. The industry has the threat of a levy over it in the Gambling Act, and, on the basis of that, it provides £6 million per annum. What are the Government doing to call pornographers to account for the negative effect of pornography on our social environment and, specifically, for the fact that these activities undermine government policies to counter family breakdown by promoting commitment and stable two-parent families? I look forward to the Minister’s response.

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester for securing this debate and I fully support his opening contribution to it.

I believe that the impact pornography is having on society is, almost bizarrely, something of a no-go area for polite conversation, yet it is imposing considerable harm, particularly on young people and particularly on their perception of how healthy relationships should look and feel. Unless there is some basic honesty in this area, we are in danger of sleep-walking our way through deeply concerning changes to norms of decency and acceptability in our society and neglecting the young on a massive scale.

Today’s young people are the parents of tomorrow. We must also look ahead, further up the age range, and not ignore what is already happening in older generations. Others may consider that the viewing habits of consenting adults belong beyond the bounds of public comment, but I believe this approach is ostrich-like and naive in the extreme, for reasons I hope I will make clear to your Lordships.

Yesterday, the Children’s Society published a report suggesting almost 10% of 16 and 17 year-old girls have been victims of a sexual offence, but fewer than one in 10 of those offences were reported. Half of those not reporting sexual abuse to the police feel it is not worth their while to do so, hinting at a pervasive acceptance that this just comes with the territory of growing up in Britain today.

Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson says:

“Pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition”.

Research shows that more than four in 10 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in England have been coerced into sex acts and a fifth of girls have suffered violence or intimidation from their teenage boyfriends, a high proportion of whom are on a steady diet of pornography.

There is a clear and strong link between viewing violent pornography and perpetrating sexual violence. Despite the high premium we place on equality in this country, one in five boys harbour extremely negative attitudes towards women.

My Lords, there have been a number of interruptions. I ask noble Lords to remember that this is a timed debate and we are very close to time, so please keep interruptions to a minimum.

As the majority of online porn is created for men and is often aggressive, if not violent, the premature sexualisation of young minds is re-embedding constructs we have battled to eradicate: that women are primarily sex objects, there to provide men’s sexual gratification, and their significance is dependent on them being desirable and attractive to men.

The consequences are grim for young women’s physical and emotional health. Internal injuries can be caused by sex acts inspired by young men’s access to porn. I have read about one family doctor working in a leafy suburb in the Home Counties—not a concrete jungle in an inner city—treating growing numbers of teenage girls suffering from the after-effects of frequent anal sex, such as incontinence.

I cannot imagine that this GP is unique in having this in her case load and would be grateful if the Minister could ask the Department of Health whether there are data on the prevalence of such injuries. As the GP said:

“these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that”.

Far from them enjoying it, considerable pain is frequently involved. She found that young women simply did not feel able to say no. Boys expected anal sex and it was treated as standard. Young women are under considerable pressure to act like porn artists.

There are also profound emotional effects of what has been termed the heterosexual meat market. The Journal of Adolescent Health reported a 7% increase over the last five years in the number of young girls aged 11 to 13 reporting emotional problems. Researchers ascribed the increase to pressures to achieve an unrealistic body shape, driven by social media and the increasing sexualisation of young women. It has gone way beyond whether they look good in the latest fashions to whether their naked or almost-naked bodies measure up to the remorseless scrutiny of people who neither know nor care about them.

The objectification of vast swathes of our young people is gathering pace: according to CEOP, sexting—or sending self-generated nude or nearly-nude images and videos—is becoming quite normal for teenagers, due to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and apps. Two-thirds of 12 to 15 year-olds have smartphones, which are the biggest source of porn. Even vigilant parents have shockingly little control over what their children are seeing on their, or their friends’, mobile internet-enabled devices.

Tragically, 45% of boys treat porn as sex education, but that education can be violent, as I have mentioned. We must ensure that our young people receive clear and unapologetic messages in schools about the importance of respect and commitment in relationships which will, I hope, be backing up what parents are saying. The effects of pornography should be made crystal clear. Some may say that the case against it has not yet been proven but I would strongly disagree.

We know that the well-being of children, young people and adults depends on them having safe, stable and nurturing relationships with people who love them unconditionally, not on the basis of their physical appearance. Can the Minister inform the House about how schools are educating young people about relationships and warning them about the dangers to their physical and emotional health from consumption of porn?

As I said at the outset, it is not just young people whose relationships are at risk from pornography. Several studies have demonstrated that an adult’s use can undermine his or her partner’s sexual and relationship satisfaction and self-esteem. Many feel insecure, less desirable and unattractive since discovering their partner’s usage. There is also the concern that adults who want to view porn will not use protective internet filters or block viewing channels, thereby leaving any minors in the home at risk.

We know that relationships are already under considerable strain in this country. The price tag for family breakdown is around £47 billion per year, as we have already heard, yet national government funding for relationship support is a scant £7.5 million. A couple of months ago, I was one of more than 70 signatories to a letter published in the Telegraph calling for a tripling of this amount in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review. Can the Minister please add her voice to others in government making a strong case to the Treasury for this essential help?

I will end on the implications of disturbing evidence of a link between violent pornographic use and recidivism in child sex offenders, especially those already at high risk of reoffending. This means that we can predict which individuals who have been imprisoned for deeply harming young lives are most likely to go on to destroy the happiness of yet more children if they access violent porn. Given the promise of a rehabilitation revolution from the Secretary of State for Justice, can the Minister confirm that this knowledge will be acted on? If we ignore these evidence-based insights, we do perpetrators no favours.

To conclude, pornography is shredding the social and relational fabric of our society. Soft-peddling its harms grossly neglects the welfare of young people, and as they will found the families of tomorrow, we ignore the pressures they are under at our peril.

My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester and congratulate him on securing this debate. He introduced it with great clarity and compassion. He presented a general picture of malaise in our society and did so very movingly. While I agree with the general malaise in our society and the way in which sexuality has become such a dominant part of our life, I am not entirely persuaded that unease can be best articulated in the language of pornography. I think there was a tendency in the right reverend Prelate’s view and that of other noble Lords who followed him to blame pornography for all sorts of things that go on our society and to forget the deeper causes, the deeper roots, of what goes on. I want briefly to talk about those deeper roots.

I think it is widely recognised, and the right reverend Prelate pointed it out, that sexuality is embedded in a structure of social relationships. Ideally, it should be enjoyed within a relationship and be motivated by mutual love and respect. Pornography comes into the picture when these two elements are missing, when sexuality is divorced or detached from a sustained relationship or not motivated by love and mutual respect. Then it takes all kinds of vulgar forms that have been mentioned. Individuals in that relationship might be treated with violence, their body parts might be mutilated and some people might get pleasure out of it or they might be degraded. In other words, it is a case of mutual exploitation not just exploitation by man of woman because, as the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, pointed out, women also enjoy pornography. It is a question of both parties seeing each other as sexual objects and in the process looking on the whole thing as an exercise in mutual exploitation.

We know the consequences. The right reverend Prelate rightly pointed them out. However, it is not just a question of consequences; there is also our own attitude to what goes on. When you watch degradation in a pornographic movie it certainly has consequences but before they are evaluated we also find that it is offensive, so one should not be evaluating things entirely in terms of consequences. In other words, one can make a deontological as opposed to a teleological or a utilitarian judgment on what goes on.

All this is a matter of concern. What do we do about it? This is where I am more inclined to agree with my noble friend Lord Giddens. In a consequentialist argument, what evidence can one show that, for example, addiction to pornography can lead to extramarital relations or lots of other things that have been mentioned? The evidence is difficult to show and to demonstrate. It is the question of positive correlation between undesirable consequences and the practice of pornography. The second, far more important, difficulty has to do with the fact that we live in a liberal society where we cherish individual liberty and personal autonomy. In that kind of society people prefer to regulate their sex lives themselves. If some of them say that they enjoy sadomasochistic violence, who are we to say that sexuality should not be mixed up with violence—that it is not to be allowed? If they say they prefer a relationship in which some kind of consensual mutual degradation is a part of their enjoyment, who are we to say they cannot? The question is thus twofold. What is the evidence that it has certain kinds of consequences and, more importantly, in a liberal society are we in a position to tell people how they should live their lives, especially an area of life as intimate as this?

That does not mean that we cannot lay down certain broad limits. We could say, for example, that sadomasochistic violence should be based on consensual acts or the harm should not be irreparable or whatever. Likewise, we might be able to say, as one of the government documents points out, that you cannot have sexual intercourse with a corpse or an animal. One can impose those sorts of limits on this, but beyond that, it is difficult to go and therefore some form of pornography is bound to remain a part of our life.

While this is so, the difficulty arises—here I part company with my noble friend Lord Giddens—with respect to children. Children are not in a position to exercise personal autonomy. They cannot be entrusted with the liberty we would entrust to adults. They are not grown-up enough. They are not able to distinguish between real life and fantasy, and they can easily be persuaded to do all kinds of things that ought not to be done. As future citizens, the problem has to be tackled at that level. They need to be protected against certain kinds of manipulation and exploitation, some kind of collective guidance has to be given to them, and certain attitudes have to be developed in them so they know how to conduct their relations when they grow up. Mediawatch-UK says that one in three children around the age of 10 has seen pornography online. Only 3% of pornographic websites require proof of age before granting access to sexually explicit material. This simply cannot be tolerated, and my strong plea is that online or in easily accessible media no sexually explicit material or pornography should be allowed unless the viewer’s age is identified and permission is given only to those who are of a certain age.

My Lords, I have to admit that I am not an expert on pornography. I took the liberty of putting my name down for this debate because I am very deeply concerned about the extent to which disadvantage is being passed down from generation to generation in our society today.

Judging from two reports on pornography which I have read recently, pornography is a growing problem in our society. It can seriously damage families, sometimes making healthy sexual relationships difficult to sustain and sometimes damaging parents’ relationships to one another and to their children. In our society today, family breakdown is an ever-increasing problem. To give an idea of the importance of this problem, I shall give one statistic and not bother your Lordships with more. It is now generally agreed by experts that the cost to this nation of family breakdown and dysfunction exceeds £40 billion a year—more than the entire defence budget.

Pornography can stand in the way of healthy sexual relationships and interfere with parents’ ability to care for their child. I believe that parental commitment and support are so important that we should be doing much more than we are today to prepare our young people and teenagers as they move through school, secondary school and their teens for the responsibilities of parenthood when that comes along. In talking about preparation for parenthood, I am talking not about technical details about the care of a child, such as putting on a nappy and making the drink, but about helping prospective parents to grow up as confident individuals committed to doing their best for their child or children and believing that they can do so. I believe that pornography could be extremely damaging to that objective.

Why is it that today we teach our adolescent children in school about the importance of passing exams and getting a job—of course, that is very important—but scarcely a word is ever said by schools or government about preparing children in our secondary schools for the responsibilities and challenges of being good parents in the future? To this, again, pornography is relevant. Today we have a large and increasing number of chaotic families. Social services do their best to pick up the pieces, but better preparation for the responsibilities of parents could prevent so many of these problems.

I want to ask the Government to do two things for me. Would the Government consider the possibility of a clear statement in law that each parent is responsible for each of their children, as the law in Scotland provides? Will the Government legislate to prevent as far as possible these issues relating to pornography of which the noble Lords have been speaking this afternoon? That is all I plan to say this afternoon.

My Lords, I am sure we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, for his extremely concise speech and the very relevant questions that he asked at the end of it.

We are all very much in debt to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester, not only for bringing this somewhat awkward and emotive subject to our attention, but also for the very moderate, balanced and thoughtful way in which he approached it. We have already seen certain divergence of opinion, although I think there is one strand that unites everyone who has spoken so far: a concern for children and their exposure. I am glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, nodding vigorously at that point.

We have to recognise that this is an old problem that has been totally transformed by technology. We also have to acknowledge that, to a degree, pornography is in the eye of the beholder and how the beholder is taught to look at things. I do not think that there is anyone in your Lordships’ House who would say that the Warren Cup in the British Museum is pornographic. Only last year, or maybe it was the year before, the British Museum had an extraordinary exhibition of Japanese erotic prints, which were held up as being great examples of the art of their time—many of them dating back to the 17th century. There are many other examples that one could give: Rowlandson, who is well known for his vigorous cartoons certainly strayed into the realms of what today we would call pornography. Even that absolute model of Victorian rectitude, Archdeacon Grantly, had books that he looked at only when he had locked the key of his study.

What we are dealing with today is something remarkably different. It is for the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, has indicated. The noble Baroness, Lady Howe of Idlicote, has also sought to tackle this. How glad we are to see her back in her place and speaking with her accustomed vigour. We hope that she will be able to do so for a very long time.

I am very exercised, as a grandparent with four grandchildren, about the uninhibited and unlimited effect that pornography on the internet has. I believe that there is an absolute moral duty resting upon all of us to seek to come up with a solution that will indeed protect the young—protect them, as much as anything else, from their own curiosity and desires in an age which is so different from that in which any of us in this Chamber grew up. When I was elected to the other place—I make no value judgement but merely state a fact—the vast majority of children lived with two parents who were married to each other and were of opposite sex and who conformed to certain norms, as they were then regarded. Now some people will greatly regret—I do myself in many ways—the passage of that stable society. It is no longer what we can regard as something we can take for granted. We have to recognise that society has changed. For those of us who believe in the value of the sort of norm that used to be taken for granted, and to which I have just referred, there is a real obligation to recognise the changes that have taken place. How do we do that? How do we tackle the problem which has been created by the fact that countless young people, by the use of a mobile device, or by locking themselves in their bedrooms for hours on end, could indulge not only in questionable, socially isolating video games but in an uninhibited way indulge in things of which they cannot have a proper knowledge, and for which they have no moral compass. When the moral compass of society itself has to a degree been eroded, that problem is compounded.

I am not one of those who believes in severe censorship and prohibition. I am not a libertarian Tory, but I am sufficient of one to recognise that as much freedom of choice that is possible should be encouraged, but—and there is a very big but here—those who purvey sadistic images, sex without love for commercial gain, caring not whom they damage in the process should be regarded as pariahs. We need to devise a proper structure and scheme to ensure that the penalties that those people face are enormous and potentially deterrent. To pollute the minds of the young is as damaging and despicable as to pollute the oceans. If some company by design or inadvertently does the latter, we expect them to bear a very heavy responsibility and price.

We have to devise a scheme, and I look to my noble friend the Minister to give some encouragement, to translate the Prime Minister’s pledges into action, by making it a very severe offence—the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, touched on this in his speech—to purvey pornography. It is not just a question of locks and checks and balances and voluntary agreements. It is a case of dealing with those who are guilty of a very real offence. I hope we can progress from this debate not only to define the offence in more detail but to come up with punishments that really punish.

My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Cormack—especially with regard to his comments on the impact on children. The pornography industry is a lucrative and thriving business with a staggering estimated worth of $97 billion, according to an NBC report. It sacrifices at its altar our many vulnerable children and families. This begs the question about how we define freedom of expression and what cost we are prepared to pay to protect our children.

I wish to express my gratitude to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester for calling our attention to this and for his profoundly thoughtful contribution. I echo the voice of many when I say that pornography is one of the most detrimental factors eroding the integrity of childhood, specifically with the rise of access over the net, yet we find that the terminology in law remains contested. How explicit does the content have to be for us to consider material as pornographic and criminal? I am not an expert but my contribution today is based on my long-standing professional experience of caring for children and families forced to deal with sexual violence and abuse, where as social workers we were at the cruel end of helping families come to term with the damage caused to children by being sexually assaulted. Even the most socially liberated society has to be deeply disturbed by the NSPCC survey of 2,000 young people speaking of watching porn comfortably as a normalised behaviour, and its consequences as detailed by the noble Lord, Lord Farmer.

The Authority for Television On Demand’s 2014 report, For Adults Only?, found that 200,000 children aged between six and 15 had visited a pornographic website in December 2013. This is supported by the results in the IPPR report, Young People, Sex and Relationships, which showed that, out of 500 18 year-olds, eight out of 10 believed that it was easy to accidentally view porn on the internet.

The shift of pornography from sex shops to smartphones can now impact on children and young people directly, thereby making it difficult to manage and control access even if you are the most vigilant of parents. I do not accept that there is no link between what consenting adults choose to do in private and the availability of porn. No matter how much our society advances, we must have unequivocal standards about exposing children and young people to the danger of porn. Steadily we have seen and heard of the thousands of children and young people being groomed and raped while only some of the perpetrators have been caught and put to justice.

Seven men belonging to what was described as the worst ever paedophile ring were jailed recently for a total of 107 years for raping babies and toddlers. They shared indecent images and videos of children being abused, communicating via their smartphones. The evidence shows that their targets and victims were babies and infants. The sentence cannot begin to reflect what those babies and infants will suffer for the entirety of their lives. In September 2014 a man pleaded guilty to arranging and facilitating the commission of child sex offences and making and possessing indecent images of children. In a Norwich court, a woman that the court described as depraved was convicted on 23 accounts, including rape and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The effects of pornography passes the effects that it has on the individual on to their families, thereby impacting all of us as a society, something more eloquently depicted by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester. The Naked Truth research on family impact has already been noted by noble Lords, with family breakdown services costing the UK £47 billion and more each year. What preventive measures are in place to address this as part of our social services response and empower women’s organisations to equip them to deal with the issue of pornography?

End Violence Against Women and many other charities have drawn clear links between pornography and negative attitudes towards women, and state that it depicts allowing groping, touching and exposing as acceptable and fun, resulting in sexual violence against women. The IPPR report found that 70% of respondents believed that pornography had a damaging effect on how people view sex. As has been said, the report also found that 72% of respondents believed that it raised unrealistic expectations of sex, which can have damaging effects on their sexual experiences.

In the summer I attended a seminar on revenge porn, again mostly affecting women. I take the opportunity to commend the efforts of the lawyer Dr Ann Olivarius, who is leading a team that is deeply committed to using civil law to bring an end to revenge pornography. In representing YouTube presenter Chrissy Chambers in the first civil case against a perpetrator of revenge pornography, they hope to pioneer a new civil law framework that will permit victims to seek redress for the harm they have experienced when prosecutors are too overburdened to pursue criminal charges. They have also identified ways to improve the law so that it can be a more meaningful deterrent. Now the law requires that anyone charged must “intend to cause distress” to the specific person depicted, which means that the hundreds of people who spread these images on the internet and social media for money or just for kicks get away with it. Allowing victims to get injunctions against perpetrators would mean that the images could be taken down before they circulated widely. This is very important to victims. It is clear that a robust civil law can act as a deterrent while also enabling victims to receive financial compensation to help them to rebuild their lives.

I welcome the suggestion to change the main focus of the law from the victim’s distress and the perpetrator’s intent to whether the victim gave consent. That way, all the other people who contribute to the harm by sharing the images via social media, or upload them to additional websites, could also be prosecuted. Since April 2015 more than 200 incidents of revenge porn have been reported to the police, with some victims as young as 12. However, the actual number may be much higher as many cases go unreported. Can Her Majesty’s Government disclose the number of revenge porn incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police? What more does the Minister believe the Government can do so that the police take these reports seriously? Would the Minister be willing to meet Dr Ann Olivarius and her team to discuss these matters?

I very much hope that we can begin to arrest any further development of the porn industry itself and put the safeguarding of children and young people before the profits and lusts of those who are willing to overlook and question its impact of rape and torture on children.

My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester for obtaining this debate and introducing it so well. It was an absolute masterclass and, as far as I am concerned, comprehensive. I am delighted that the church is taking a stance on this issue. Its authority will lend considerable weight to the discussion and at the same time—I hope I do not sound patronising or pompous—this really shows the church fulfilling its natural role in the best possible way.

I will speak about our children and the dreadful effect that pornography—particularly what is loosely termed “adult pornography”—is having on them. I agree entirely with the remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Farmer and Lord Cormack, and I do not plan to go over all those remarks again. Life in the internet world, a world of flickering images where we grown-ups cannot join them, can be a strange place for children, sometimes seemingly with no limits. Children need limits; they feel happy and secure within sound frameworks. They enjoy and thrive on routine and predictability.

We are constantly hearing the phrase, “The welfare of the child is paramount”. We hear and read it in speeches, reports and policy documents, but do we as a nation really mean it? Divorce always hits children hard, regardless of the measures that are put in place, and divorce is now commonplace. Single motherhood is becoming commonplace too but I am not sure that it always gives a child the best start in life. Is the welfare of the child well and truly paramount?

Yesterday, by chance, while I was glancing through the Hansard report of the Statement on the draft investigative powers Bill, a sentence caught my eye in the context of cyberattacks:

“The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre estimates that there are 50,000 people in this country downloading indecent images of children”.—[Official Report, Commons, 4/11/15; col. 969.]

Reports of child abuse, both historic and recent, appear with depressing regularity.

We bring children into the world and we should care for them, and by “we” I respectfully include your Lordships’ House. I make no apology for repeating some statistics that I used in an earlier debate. In the space of just one month, at least 44,000 primary school children and 200,000 under-16 year-olds accessed adult content online, including hardcore pornography. Who can possibly know what they have seen and what deep and lasting damage it has inflicted on them?

We must stop this happening. It can be done; the remedy is available. A secure system of age verification must be introduced as soon as possible so that nobody under the age of 18 can gain access to this kind of material. It has been claimed that this is too difficult and complicated, but that is not so. I understand that just such a system has been introduced by the online gambling industry. It works well and takes only a matter of seconds to administer. However distasteful it may seem to be regularising such an industry, not to regulate it in this way will simply condemn our children to continued exposure to this appalling material. We have no choice but to act and to act now. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

I end by once again sincerely thanking the right reverend Prelate for obtaining today’s debate on this crucial issue, and I hope we can all keep debating it.

My Lords, I, too, thank the right reverend Prelate for initiating the debate, but I come at it from a rather different angle—from the point of view of an academic psychiatrist. I work in an area where we are used to looking at evidence from all sides, some of it often not very clear, and making judgments on the evidence we have.

So far, the debate has made me feel a little mischievous. If I go slightly over the top, I hope colleagues will forgive me for once. I feel that what I might call the “Giddens school” of approaching the problem has not been strongly supported, except, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Parekh.

I am going to ignore for the moment the pornography which is so prevalent in society that hardly anybody worries about it any more. I am talking about the stuff available in hotel rooms that can be subscribed to, the top-shelf magazines, and the sex videos on sale in R18 shops, only for adults. Much of it is pretty silly stuff. It is highly enjoyable for those who like watching ordinary heterosexual pornography. It is used by a huge proportion of the population. Some 40% of women now read erotic literature, which is more or less pornographic. Look at the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. Heavens—that is a horrible piece of literature! For those who have not looked at it, it is basically a bit of sado-masochism and really rather nasty, but it is popular and has been read and, I think, enjoyed. Let us understand how widespread the issue is.

I think noble Lords are more concerned with the possible effects of watching explicit sexual violence and the degradation of women on screen, and the effect that might have on children and wider society. Pornography is broadly available, but I remind your Lordships that it is still illegal to manufacture and put this stuff on the internet. We already have quite draconian legislation to stop certain sorts of material becoming available. Noble Lords might say, “We are not very good at implementing it”. That might be the debate we should be having. We should be asking the Minister why controls on children’s access to pornography are not more effective. The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, mentioned bestiality. Well, making a video of bestiality is illegal. We should think about what we are going to do to implement existing legislation.

The paucity of research needs to be brought home to us. One of the problems is that no evidence of harm is not the same as evidence of no harm—that is so with all such research. Some would say that we should not hang around waiting for evidence to emerge. However, I suggest that we have no evidence that, for example, there is a rise in violent or sexually aggressive crime. In fact, violent crimes have dropped dramatically over the last 15 years in this country. In the United States, where internet porn is even more readily available, there has been a dramatic decrease in aggressive and violent crime over the last 25 years; indeed, recorded sexually aggressive crime against children has actually gone down.

Noble Lords who have looked at the evidence from Japan will know that the Japanese watch much more violent, difficult and horrible porn than people do here, and they have one of the lowest rape rates. Other misogynist societies—I include Japan as marginally misogynist—have much lower rates of rape. These issues are very complicated and require a lot more looking at from the social point of view and many multifactorial points of view. We cannot say that it is simply pornography that is creating some of these ills in society.

One of the great problems over the last 30 years is that the systematic evidence has been laboratory-based. It has focused on the theoretical impact—on people reporting the impact of pornography. Forgive me for using this language, but pornography is there to aid masturbation. Much of the literature is about the impact of watching pornography without masturbating. People may say, “By looking at some of this research, we are creating completely spurious behaviours which people never engage in”. In the same way, much of what children are exposed to—particularly very young children—they experience before they have any understanding of the broader context. Noble Lords may say that that is a cause for huge anxiety, and it probably is, but I do not think we should leap to conclusions about the impact of the research.

Neil Malamuth, an American whose research over 30 years has probably added more to the good literature than anyone, has recently done several meta-analyses of available data, not all of it very good. He suggests that there are good correlations—that does not mean causality—between the use of very violent and sexual-aggressive porn and a small number of violent young men who are already predisposed to violence and will use that porn. However, there is very poor evidence of wider usage.

Let us think for moment about how we use our fantasies. Have your Lordships ever fantasied about murdering somebody? Some may fantasise about murdering their party Whip, from time to time. The reality is that noble Lords go away, have a fantasy about killing somebody and the very fantasy itself is helpful and allows them to come back and vote, having missed the opera, football or whatever it is they were going to watch. Fantasies do not translate into behaviours, and that is the core problem. Sexual fantasies are no different; they do not translate into behaviours.

An overwhelming number of viewers do not report problems with pornography. As for relationship problems that people experience when their marriages are failing, is it surprising that people who are not getting sex at home go away and use pornography? No, it is not. These things probably reflect difficulties, not the other way round. We do not know if it is the proverbial chicken or the egg, so we do not know whether this accessibility to porn is a difficulty.

My time is up. Noble Lords get my gist: let us be cautious about this. By all means let us protect children—I am interested to hear what the Minister has to say about that—but let us not be too virulent about an issue that we hardly know anything about.

I too thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester for raising this issue. As one of the issues around pornography and its use is that we as a society do not talk about it a lot, this debate is part of the solution to addressing some of those issues. As pornography is ultimately a moral issue, discussion of it becomes very subjective. The noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, explained quite clearly why people’s interpretations of what is pornographic can differ. There is also more than one view on whether pornography is harmful. The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, and the noble Baroness both addressed the point regarding confusion about the evidence.

There has been a lot of debate about children and safeguards but a common theme—that we have to protect those who are underage. In this technological sphere, however, a technological solution cannot be a solution in itself. Humans interact with technology, so both a human and a technological response will be needed to address technological issues affecting children. We should not assume that filtering generally or age filtering will be enough. Young people use Instagram and Snapchat on their smartphones, so filtering will not prevent their distributing porn and seeing sexual images. We need to be much more clever. Parents and other adults need to be involved in socialising young children, talking openly with them about sexuality and issues around pornography. We cannot assume that a blank filter will solve the problem because it will not. The latest research on web-camming, the Emerging Patterns and Trends Report, shows that in young people’s world, the use of smartphone apps, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp, is far more prevalent than sitting at a laptop or using a mobile device simply to go on the web. We have to be clear that porn is here to stay; it will not go away. It is the same debate as we face in discussing drugs.

If it is a moral issue and here to stay, then, as the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, and the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, said, we will need to prove the harm before setting out our exact response. If consenting adults decide to watch or make porn, and if there is no harm, what should be the role of legislators and government? Clearly, as we have talked about, there is harm when it involves a corpse or bestiality or issues to do with children, but if consenting adults decide to use porn to live out fantasies or even to spice up their own sex life, what role is there for legislators? I would say that it is very limited indeed.

As Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures at the University of Sunderland, has said, pornography is about fantasy, and in no other area is the use of the imagination regulated. That is what we are talking about in this debate—putting in place the safeguards we have described while dealing with something that, for most people, is fantasy. As has been suggested, the evidence is not one-sided or conclusive. I would suggest that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, said, for most people who watch pornography, it is a matter of fantasy. Once the watching is done, they do not go out into the real world to try to live out their fantasy. A small proportion will because of personality issues—they are predisposed to violence—not because of the pornography itself. That is what we have to think about in this debate.

If we are to clamp down or take similar action we will need to prove harm beyond doubt, not simply use vague and self-selecting online surveys, as some noble Lords have done today. That is not evidence. Surveys are very different from evidence. Is harm being caused? I will cite two studies that might offer a different view from that offered earlier in the debate.

In 2010, the European Commission conducted a survey across a number of European countries which concluded that there is no evidence of a causal link between watching pornography and sexual violence or crime apart from in a small sample of males who were already disposed to violence. That exactly mirrors what the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, said. In 2011, Milton Diamond conducted an interesting study of the Czech Republic, where pornography had been forbidden but then was allowed. The sexual habits, behaviours and interactions of adults were observed over a period of time. The report concluded that there was no change at all in the levels of sexual violence or relationship violence between individuals apart from in a small number of people who were predisposed to violence. So when we are talking about the impact of pornography on society, we have to talk about personality disorder rather than pornography itself. It would seem that some people are predisposed to do harm to others. We need to look at that a lot more rather than make blanket statements. Most people who watch porn use it as a fantasy but do not live it out. They live successful, useful and what would be seen as normal lives with their families.

Others see pornography as emancipating. About a month ago, there was a very interesting programme on Radio 4 called “Can Porn Be Ethical?” in which feminist pornographers said that they used pornography as a positive way of showing relationships. They talked about how it emancipates them and gives them power in an area where they were not seen as powerful. Not all porn is the same, as has already been said. Some feminists use pornography as a way of showing an alternative. As a feminist, Petra Joy, said, it is a “political thing” allowing her to change the model of sexuality and show it in a more realistic way. She said that she is able to develop the relationship as well as the sexual part of pornography and gives her some control as a woman.

I finish with a quote from Myles Jackman, a lawyer who specialises in this area. He said:

“Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die”.

I want noble Lords to think about that. Without proving harm and showing that it is pornography itself that is causing it, we are in an area of legislating unnecessarily. I accept, as everybody who has spoken in your Lordships’ House today has said, that there are certain laws about protecting minors and certain issues about technology that we must address. As humans, we also have to be clear that it is the human relationship with the technology that will solve the problem.

There is no justification to say that, outside this House, the fires of hell will be burning because society is degrading into a pornographic cauldron of disrepute. That is not the case. I believe that more research is needed and that we must understand that most humans who interact with pornography do so in fantasy and do not live it out. As there is such a paucity of evidence, I ask the Minister whether we could do here what we do or have started to do on drugs: to have an evidence-based solution rather than a kneejerk reaction to online surveys or one based on assumptions about what is happening in society.

My Lords, I, too, thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester for initiating this debate. As we have heard, many have genuine concerns about the use of pornography, and its effect on individuals and society. While I would like to see, as many have said, more evidence on this, I share the right reverend Prelate’s sentiments, which I read about in his local newspaper, against activities that demean and exploit other human beings.

Back in July, the right reverend Prelate welcomed the noble Baroness’s Online Safety Bill at Second Reading and called for further measures to help adults addicted to online pornography. He said:

“There is an illuminating parallel between addiction to pornography and addiction to gambling”.

That is another debate in which we have both participated. He argued that,

“whereas the economic and social costs of gambling are relatively well understood, the equivalent damage caused by adult addiction to pornography is much less appreciated in our society”.

The right reverend Prelate also referred to the following:

“Research findings across a number of studies suggest that the use of pornography in an addictive way is a significant factor in at least half of all relationship breakdowns”.—[Official Report, 17/7/15; col. 844.]

However, I totally agree with my noble friend Lord Giddens that, as with gambling in the debates that we have had, we must ensure that any response to potential harm is evidence based. Simply prohibiting something does not necessarily address the problem; often it can exacerbate it, as in the case of gambling, by driving it underground. While the right reverend Prelate and other noble Lords have referred to research studies, I, too, ask the Minister what assessment the Government has made of current research findings. Have the Government any plans to commission their own independent research to assess the issues raised by the right reverend Prelate?

In the recent debate on the advertising of prostitution, initiated by the noble Lord, Lord McColl, my noble friend Lord Davies of Stamford referred to a fundamental principle, which is that the state should not restrict the freedom of any citizen, except to the extent required to protect the freedom of others. He argued that it flows directly from that that acts in private between consenting adults are no concern of the state or of the law. I also agree with his view that you violate that principle at your peril.

In the same debate my noble friend also recognised that virtuous and respectable people, in the interests of reforming society as they see it, are always trying to encroach on that principle. The worst case of this was the introduction of legislation in the 1880s criminalising homosexuality, which continued on our statute book for over 80 years.

However, as many noble Lords have indicated, we are living in a rapidly changing world, in which pornography is so freely available and widely accessible. It is of major concern to everyone in this debate how that affects children. ChildLine, the NSPCC helpline, receives calls and messages every day of the week from concerned young people who feel that they are being badly impacted on by the way they and their friends can view unlimited online pornography. ChildLine, as we have heard, decided to run a campaign to support children and young people with these concerns, which were corroborated by multiple and other NSPCC and external sources.

On the back of this growing pool of evidence, ChildLine decided to conduct a survey, the findings of which are worth repeating. One in five children between 12 and 13 think that watching porn is normal behaviour. Nearly one in 10 children aged 12 and 13 are worried that they might be addicted to porn. One in five of those surveyed said that they had seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them. Some 12% admitted to making or being part of a sexually explicit video.

As we have heard, as a consequence of government policy since February of this year, all the major internet providers made the porn filters the default option, to which the noble Baroness referred. Although the vast majority of Britons continue to shun the scheme, data reveal that the change in policy has led to a massive increase in the number of people using porn filters. Last year, an Ofcom survey found only a small number of people had volunteered to use the filter: 4% of Virgin Media customers, 5% of BT subscribers and 8% of Sky users.

As the right reverend Prelate and others in the debate mentioned, the European Parliament voted through legislation that will require all internet providers to treat online traffic without discrimination as part of the broader move by the EU towards net neutrality. Online companies cannot block access to specific content, although exceptions are made for illegal websites. As we have heard, on 28 October the Prime Minister said that the Government had secured an opt-out from this ruling and will introduce legislation to ensure that children are protected. Can the Minister explain when and how the Government propose to do this? How are the Government continuing to monitor the effects of pornography on children and young people?

The scale of the problem cannot simply be addressed on the supply side; good-quality, age-appropriate sex and relationships education is vital. It is known to equip young people with the language and tools to be clear about personal boundaries, and understand appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, to be able to resist pressure assertively, and to know to whom to talk and when to ask for help if and when they need it. It helps older children resist pressure, make safe choices, and be able to challenge and be critical of misleading and inappropriate messages about sex that we hear in the media. National and international research shows that young people who have had good sex and relationships education are more likely to choose to have sex for the first time later. When they do have sex, they are more likely to use condoms and contraception.

Despite the obvious public health and child rights imperative for SRE, the current situation is that maintained schools do not have to teach any SRE beyond basic information on puberty, anatomy and human reproduction found in the science national curriculum. Maintained secondary schools must also teach pupils about HIV and AIDS. However, academies and free schools do not have to teach any of this. A Commons Education Committee inquiry, launched after Ofsted stated that more than a third of schools were failing to provide age-appropriate SRE, found a mismatch between the priority that Ministers claim that they give to PSHE and the steps taken to improve its delivery in schools. In particular, it said that there was a lack of clarity on the status of the subject and that it should be given statutory status.

There is an overwhelming demand from teachers, parents and young people for SRE to become compulsory. SRE forms an important part of any school’s efforts to safeguard young people from abuse and is particularly needed to protect the most vulnerable children. As the chair of the Commons committee said:

“PSHE builds character and resilience, and will help young people to live happy and healthy lives”.

The Government said that they would consider the committee’s findings carefully and indicated that they had already set up a new expert subject group on PSHE to identify key areas where teachers need further support. Perhaps the Minister can update the House on progress in that regard.

We owe our children good, compulsory sex and relationships education. We owe it to children already experiencing abuse and we owe it to those who might later become adult victims because the key messages are not being ingrained from the very beginning.

My Lords, I am most grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester for introducing this most important and timely debate on the impact of pornography on both children and adults. Before I begin, I should say that the Government’s focus is of course on children because of the obvious need to protect them from exploitation, abuse and violence. However, what has been said today regarding the impact of pornography on sexual relationships, with a potential increase in violence and addiction, will be taken into consideration, and by no means do I want to minimise that in my comments.

As is abundantly clear from the debate, these are issues that we all care deeply about. I thank all participants for their valued contributions, bringing to bear the wealth of expertise and knowledge for which this House is renowned.

I shall start with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, which I thought were particularly prescient. He spoke about the ocean of technological change breaking through society. I think that that is the best way to put it, as the very nature of sexuality is evolving at an unprecedented pace. My noble friend Lord Cormack, rightly, said that this is an old problem but it is one that has been transformed by technology.

Many noble Lords have made it clear that an evidence-based approach is essential. That highlights the need to seek out more conversations like the one that we have had today. I therefore recommend that noble Lords bring forward any additional evidence that they come across in their research.

My noble friend Lord McColl spoke very eloquently about the brain activity of healthy people when exposed to prolonged incidents of pornography. It is very important that, in addition to the study he cited, we get evidence to add to the debate so that we understand the impact perfectly well and can make informed policy decisions.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, has been a pioneer in this area and I thank her for her counsel. I have worked very closely with her and appreciate all the work that she has done in this area. Rightly, she pointed out that the filter regime often leaves children able to access unsuitable content. In the last couple of weeks we have seen evidence that young people know a lot more about technology than we do. The TalkTalk hacking incident and the arrest and questioning of young people illustrates just how behind the curve many adults are and the fact that children are way ahead of us. Before we say that one solution or the other is going to solve a problem, it is important that we recognise that, whatever solutions are in place, they will fail at times. Young people are smarter with technology than we are. They will find a way around filters, and they will find their way to this material. Therefore, we must be realistic and put together a policy package that makes sense and can achieve the aims in the best possible way in most cases, although we will never be able to solve this problem completely.

Many powerful and emotive examples of the potential harms from pornography have been raised today. The noble Lord, Lord Scriven, said that human relationships are redefined by technology. The very nature of adolescence is changing beyond recognition. Some of the more extreme examples were raised by my noble friend Lord Farmer, who asked about causal linkages between the use of violent porn and sexual crime. We are of course aware of tragic cases where an individual’s use of extreme pornography has been linked to them committing serious offences. The Ministry of Justice introduced provisions in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 making it an offence to possess pornography depicting rape or sexual assault. However, we are not aware of robust and conclusive evidence showing a causal link between increased access to pornography and sexual/violent crime. End Violence Against Women has noted:

“Neither research nor practice-based evidence can effectively demonstrate a causal connection between pornography and violence against women”.

That, again, illustrates the importance of gathering more information and creating an evidence base with which to move forward. However, pornography and an increasingly sexualised culture more generally are noted as a “conducive context”, perpetrating certain stereotypes, particularly about men dominating women. The Government are committed to challenging stereotypes around sexual violence to ensure that people properly understand consent and to encourage the reporting of abuse. Since 2010, the Home Office has been running a successful relationship abuse and rape prevention campaign called This is Abuse.

I confirm that around the time we publish the consultation on age verification—it is upcoming and I will speak about it a bit more—we will publish independent research in this area. We look forward to noble Lords’ comments on that.

My noble friend Lord Farmer asked about injuries related to certain types of sexual activity. I confirm that I will take up this matter with the Department of Health and get back to him. He also talked about the amount dedicated to relationship support and asked whether it was enough. The Government will shortly be publishing their spending review and will go into detail in this area.

Regarding questions on porn addiction, the relationship counselling service Relate considers that porn addiction is a form of sex addiction. Support is available. It may not be enough but anyone who is concerned that they may be suffering from addiction to pornography can speak to their GP.

In response to the request from my noble friend Lord McColl, I will speak to colleagues at the Department of Health about meeting recovering addicts so that we can learn from their experiences.

I thank my noble friend Lord Farmer for his question on the objectification of women. Clearly, none of wants a society in which women in particular may be objectified or subject to negative stereotypes. The Government have, this year, published guidance for teachers on teaching about body image and consent, and they have produced the PSHE Association guidelines.

While it is not for the Government to dictate to consenting adults what sort of content they may legally access, we must remain mindful of the potential harms that pornography can exert on society, and particularly on the young and the vulnerable. In that context, we have learned about offences from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, who has been unable to take part in today’s debate. We would like to explore the matter further and will come back to her on that. It is important that this issue has been put on the record today and, having consulted the Department of Health, I can confirm that the Care Act statutory guidance is very clear that exposing or subjecting vulnerable people to pornography, whether online or offline, is sexual abuse. It must not be tolerated and it must be dealt with. The Government are committed to preventing and reducing the risk of abuse of vulnerable adults and the example which was given clearly illustrates the importance of protecting the handicapped and vulnerable in our society.

Long-term, extensive use of pornography has been shown, in some studies, to have damaging effects, particularly in terms of addiction. We must therefore harness our collective talents and expertise, here and in the other place, to ensure the best outcomes for UK citizens. We agree with noble Lords who have spoken today that pornography should be considered as another category of potential addiction. As with other addictions to activities and products such as smoking, alcohol and gambling, we must ensure that people are supported and that children especially are protected. In response to the question from my noble friend Lord Farmer, many schools choose to teach about the impact of pornography as part of their PSHE curriculum. The non-statutory PSHE programme of study, produced by the PSHE Association, includes teaching about the role of sex in the media and its impact on sexuality, including pornography and related sexual ethics such as consent, negotiation, boundaries, respect, gender norms, and sexual norms. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol said, depictions of sexuality in porn are often aggressive and we need to help teachers educate young people to understand that these depictions do not reflect reality or healthy sexual relationships.

We also support and invest in schools to develop qualities such as confidence, leadership, self-discipline and motivation in their pupils; in other words, to ensure that young people are prepared for adult life. Furthermore, we should not ignore the important resources made available to schools and families through partnerships between government, industry and charities, which I will mention in greater detail in due course. As the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, reminded us, we must never forget the crucial role of parents and education in preparing children for life in modern Britain.

Invariably, any debate about pornography and its impact on society must address the internet. As UK digital citizens, we enjoy vital freedoms, particularly freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and access to all the information and opportunities the internet offers. However, it is equally clear that such freedoms bring with them risks, many of which have been outlined today, as well as responsibilities.

The younger generation is far more technologically aware than we are: they are connected to each other, and the wider world, through devices which did not even exist five years ago. We must always ensure that the safety, health and well-being of our children and young people are sacrosanct, and be mindful of the potential harms to impressionable, still developing minds. I trust that noble Lords here today will rest assured that these matters are taken extremely seriously by this Government, and will join me in recognising the huge progress that has been made to protect children online. The UK is leading the world in the fight to address the most heinous crimes against children online, as well as being at the bridge-head of ensuring that a child’s experience on the internet can be safe and positive. Internet service providers and mobile operators have taken important steps by introducing parental control filters to their internet services, and industry and charity partners continue to develop new, creative campaigns that educate and support parents, teachers, and children themselves, to safely navigate online risks. We need only look at the examples of recent initiatives to see how much has been achieved through working together: Parent Info, provided by CEOP and Parent Zone, is a free source of expert information for schools on how children can stay safe online; Internet Matters is aimed at parents and corrals the considerable heft of the four main ISPs—BT, Virgin, TalkTalk and Sky—to provide parents with valuable insight on online safety; Google’s Good to Know school roadshows, which are now taking place across the country, are taking digital citizenship lessons for teenagers straight into school assemblies; and the exemplary partnership between the NSPCC and O2 also delivers workshops, staff training, and online support.

I must inform the House that, following the telecoms single market negotiations in Europe, filters on home broadband, mobiles and public wi-fi have recently been called into question and last week the Prime Minister said in the other place that this may necessitate legislative action. We must be absolutely clear: the Government would never accept a position which diminished our ability to protect children online, and family-friendly filters are a key pillar of our efforts. As such, we can legislate in order to safeguard the existing arrangements with the UK’s main internet service providers and mobile network operators. The UK leads the world in the protection of children online and, should it be necessary to do so, we will enshrine in law the ability to provide family-friendly filters, which are a vital tool for parents. We recognise the excellent progress made by industry on this and the concerns raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, about age verification and smaller providers. We will consider these points and develop an approach in consultation with her and others.

However, the global nature of the internet means that the UK cannot solve these problems on our own. My work with the #We Protect global alliance, which was established by the UK Government, demonstrates that progress is achievable. For instance, working closely with government, Google and Microsoft have recently made significant progress in removing and eliminating pathways to child sexual abuse images and videos in their search results. As a result of these changes, Google has seen an eightfold reduction in people searching for this material. Both companies have also introduced technology to find and remove images of child abuse online, working in partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation. I will be using my experience to tackle further the issue that we have been discussing today: the effects of pornography on society.

There is deep concern about the ease with which minors can access online pornography and the effect it can have on their sexual development and overall health and well-being. The teenage brain has become a subject of much research recently. The University of Pennsylvania neurologist Francis Jensen says that teenage brains are hungry for stimulation yet the development of the frontal lobes is not yet complete. The repeated viewing of pornography can result in neuro-adaptation: literally rewiring the brain. The recent meta-analysis by Gert Martin Hald et al strongly supports the correlation with regard to pornography inducing violent attitudes against women and young people. The teenage brain adapts to pornography and changes occur in its internal circuitry, particularly in the pleasure and reward pathways. As my noble friend said, in time, the brain seeks more and more extreme pornography to get the same effect, with terrifying implications, potentially including the normalisation of sexual violence.

Children clearly do not necessarily have the tools required, or the life experience, that an adult would have, to deal with the same circumstance, so we must deal with the context. Although we are not aware of robust evidence suggesting there are causal links between sexual abuse of young people and pornography, I can confirm that we are taking action on a range of fronts to tackle the viewing, downloading and sharing of abuse imagery online. The Government have established the Child Abuse Image Database, or CAID, which became operational in December 2014. All UK police forces and the NCA will connect to it by the end of this year. This database provides tools to search seized devices for indecent images of children. It helps increase our ability to identify images and prosecute perpetrators.

The noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, mentioned revenge porn and her valuable work in this area. In the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, the Government created a new offence to tackle this. Alongside this, the Government Equalities Office launched a dedicated helpline in February. Since then, it has taken over 2,300 calls and supported over 370 victims. As my noble friend Lord Cormack said, we must consider the relative ease with which young people can access hardcore pornographic content online, as opposed to the offline world. We would not expect a minor to be able to wander into a sex shop on the high street and buy a DVD containing such material. However, the Government’s contention is that the online world needs to be brought into line with the physical world. The potential harms to children and young people of online pornography mean that the most responsible approach is to ensure that, while online freedoms should be protected, they should not jeopardise or come at the expense of the rights of children to a safe internet experience. Children should be able to enjoy the huge benefits the online world has to offer, but they must have the right to experience a happy and healthy childhood.

The noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, made some very valuable points, and I welcome her considered and questioning contribution. I assure her that the Government are determined to base their approach on evidence. We are engaging academics to ensure that what we do has the impact that we intend it to have.

Turning to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, we believe it is critical to maintain the balance between individual rights and protections for the young and vulnerable. We are persuaded of the harms for children and young people, hence our focus on under-18s.

Finally, even in the face of some of the horrific examples that we have heard today, I contend that there is great cause for optimism here. We can address the harms caused by pornography, and we can have rational, reasoned debate and discussion about what we can do and how society, and the lives of young people, can be improved. As always, noble Lords have been invaluable in supporting and challenging the Government to do more, and I will continue to seek your thoughts going forward.

I thank the Minister for her comprehensive reply. There were a few questions that she did not cover; no doubt she will write to those concerned. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, mentioned Archdeacon Grantly from the Barchester chronicles. Unlike the Bishops, the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, referred to hell at one point. Archdeacon Grantly had his own definition of hell, which was an eternity of having to listen to his own sermons. Whether that applies to Members of your Lordships’ House having to listen to contributions here, I shall leave open.

The debate certainly demonstrated what a complex subject this is in a society that is developing so rapidly. I have said before that the internet age—the digital revolution—is like steam power in the 18th century and its impact on the 19th, or the internal combustion engine in the 19th and its impact on the 20th. Now we are doing the same for the 20th and the 21st. It is even more powerful than those earlier revolutions. It was very easy then to drift into problems without seeing them. We drifted into the First World War without realising that the whole nature of warfare had changed by industrialisation.

I hope that this debate has usefully aired a range of views on this subject, which we find difficult to talk about. In that respect, it has been very helpful. I am very pleased, if I may say so, that the two very distinguished social scientists spoke in the debate; I am enormously grateful for their contributions. Evidence is very important. We seem to agree pretty much that the evidence is there in relation to protecting children. Broadly speaking, there is agreement on that. There is less agreement on the question of harm to adults: that is an open question. The noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, who took a different line from me to some degree, said it was an issue that we hardly knew anything about. I agree with her on that, in many ways. She asked, “Does the chicken or the egg come first?”. When you are looking at a chicken omelette, that question becomes a bit academic. We will have to at least try to answer it.

I thank everyone who has taken part. The future must lie with research and education, and, I hope, digesting the lessons that we all learned in this debate.

Motion agreed.

Aviation Security


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement on the recent decisions taken by the Government following the loss of the Russian Metrojet flight on Saturday. I know the House will join with me in expressing our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives: 224 lives were lost. I was able to express our deepest sympathy to the Russian Ambassador yesterday, when the Foreign Secretary and I signed the book of condolence.

We still cannot be certain what caused the loss of the aircraft, but we are reaching the view that a bomb on board is a significant possibility. If this turns out to be the case, it clearly has serious implications for the security of UK nationals flying from Sharm el-Sheikh. We have therefore taken the decision that it was necessary to act. The decisions we have made are based on a review of all the information available to us. Some of it is sensitive. I am not able to go into detail on that information, but the House can be assured that we have taken this decision on the basis of the safety of British citizens.

There are two stages to this process. We are working with the airlines to put in place a short-term measure. This could, for example, include different arrangements for handling luggage. Beyond that, we are working with the Egyptians and airlines to put in place long-term sustainable measures to ensure our flights remain safe. We very much hope that it will be possible to declare that it is safe to fly to the resort and to resume normal flight operations in due course. That is why my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary announced yesterday evening that the Government are now advising against all but essential travel by air to or from this airport.

All UK-operated flights to and from the airport have now been suspended. We are working with the Egyptians to assess, and where necessary to improve, security at the airport. More than 900,000 British nationals visit Egypt every year. Most visits are trouble-free. As my right honourable friend said yesterday, we are grateful for the continuing efforts of the Egyptian authorities to work together with us on these vitally important tasks.

The Government are now working with the airline community to put in place interim arrangements for getting people home. This is clearly a very difficult situation for travellers and their families. I would like to thank the airlines for their support during this difficult time, and holidaymakers for their patience. In parallel, specialist teams will be working intensively with the Egyptian authorities to allow normal scheduled operations to recommence.

The decision to suspend flights is a very serious one and has not been taken lightly, but the safety and security of the travelling public is, of course, the Government’s highest priority. We will need to be confident that the security standards meet our expectations and those of the public before we allow services to resume. I recognise that this is a stressful time for British tourists, but we have not changed the travel threat level for the resort itself. People should keep in touch with their tour operators. We also have consular staff on the ground providing assistance. We have aviation security experts on the ground, and will have arrangements to bring people home safely in due course. The airlines are working with us to bring passengers home. No UK-bound aircraft will take off until it is safe to do so. We do not expect flights to leave today, but we hope to have flights leaving tomorrow”.

I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made earlier in the Commons. We certainly wish to associate ourselves with the condolences expressed in the Statement to the families of the 224 people who have lost their lives.

The Government have said that they still cannot be certain what caused the loss of the Russian MetroJet aircraft, but that they are reaching the view that a bomb on board is a significant possibility. That view is based on a review of all the information available to the Government, some of which cannot be disclosed. However, even without knowing the evidence, I am sure that the Government’s prompt decision to advise against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, with the consequence that all UK-operated flights to and from the airport have been suspended, has been made on the basis of the need to ensure the safety of British citizens.

The Statement referred to working with the airlines to put in place short-term measures, which could include different arrangements for handling luggage. It said that beyond that, the Government are working with the Egyptians and the airlines to put in place long-term sustainable measures to ensure that our flights remain safe. If the airlines and the Government have now concluded that there perhaps ought to be different arrangements for handling luggage, is it being said that the current arrangements for handling luggage and other security issues—at an airport in a country and an area of the world which, as has been known for some time, is not exactly the most secure one could find—are not as appropriate or secure as they should be?

The Statement says that the Government are working with the Egyptians to assess and, where necessary, to improve security at the airport. Are the Government able to say that they and our personnel involved have been and are receiving all the co-operation they need from the Egyptian authorities on this issue?

What about the security arrangements at other airports in Egypt? Are they being reassessed? Are the Government now also looking with the airlines concerned at the security arrangements at airports used by British citizens in all parts of the world where there are current security and stability issues? Will the Minister also say what kind of measures are being considered with the Egyptians and the airlines in the light of the reference in the Statement to putting in place,

“long-term sustainable measures to ensure our flights remain safe”?

What are those long-term sustainable measures?

The Statement says that the Government have not changed the threat level for the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh itself. How was the conclusion reached that there is no threat in the wider Sharm el-Sheikh resort, given that the Government have decided to advise against all but essential travel by air to and from the airport, and to suspend all flights to and from the UK?

The Statement says that the airline community is putting in place interim arrangements for getting British citizens home, who as I understand it total some 20,000. I take it that the reference in the Statement to the hope that flights will leave tomorrow relates to flights leaving Sharm el-Sheikh, rather than leaving to go to that airport. How long do the Government expect it will take to get back home all British citizens who wish to return as soon as possible from Sharm el-Sheikh, rather than stay until their scheduled return date? Do the Government have any target date by which they anticipate that flights from this country to Sharm el-Sheikh will resume?

Finally, will the Minister say what consular support the Government are providing to British citizens in the resort and elsewhere in Egypt? I note that the Minister said, “we also have” consular staff, rather than what is in the written Statement. Given that the Statement says “will also have” consular staff on the ground providing assistance—implying that they are not there at the moment—is consular assistance not yet in fact being provided? If it is, or is going to be, provided through moving staff from other locations in Egypt to Sharm el-Sheikh, will consular assistance still be available to British citizens in other parts of Egypt?

My Lords, we must all add our condolences to and sympathy for the families of those killed in this terrible accident. It is a salutary reminder of the perilous state of the world when terrorism strikes at a place so many British people know from their tourist experiences.

The Government have taken what we believe is correct, appropriate, swift and decisive action, because the safety of British citizens is paramount. However, looking at the precise wording of the Statement, I ask the Minister about the level of certainty of the security information. We understand that the security information cannot be made available to all of us here, and nor should it, but we are still interested in the fact that the level of certainty that this was due to a bomb on board is slightly less strong than I would have expected in the Minister’s Statement.

In looking at the long-term experience, I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. Clearly, for those 20,000 tourists currently waiting to come home from Sharm el-Sheikh, there is a great deal of hope that they will be able to come home very soon, but looking at the long-term issues, there is no certainty in the Minister’s Statement as to how long it will take for normal flights to resume. The Statement refers to “due course”. I am interested in what the Government believe the meaning of that phrase to be.

I, too, was surprised by the reference in the Statement to the threat level in the resort itself not being changed. That is very interesting information, and I would be pleased to hear further detail from the Minister as to why. The obvious concern of the families of tourists currently waiting in the airport and in their hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh is that, by leaving them there, they are in some danger. It is therefore important that they be reassured, if possible, that the level of threat has not changed. Will the Minister explain that in some detail?

On the general implications, as the noble Lord said, Egypt is far from the only trouble spot in the world. Many countries in that region are affected by the same forces. Will the Minister explain the routine processes applied by the Government and by airlines to ensure that security at airports across the world is up to standard? I ask this because those processes have clearly failed in this case. I would value further information on that.

Finally, will UK security specialists, on behalf of the Government or airlines, be located on Egyptian soil in the long term to deal with ongoing threats in that area?

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, for their general support of the actions that the Government have taken. I am sure that they would agree—indeed, all noble Lords would—that the first and primary duty of any Government is the security of their own citizens. Suffice it to say that the decision in the Statement, as I said, was not one that the Government took lightly. It was made after due consideration and it was felt to be entirely appropriate and in line with that very principle of protecting our own citizens.

To take up some of the questions raised first by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, starting with the general question of personnel and people on the ground, yes, consular staff are already on the ground. Indeed, in addition we have sent staff from Her Majesty’s Government, including aviation experts from my department, the Department for Transport, and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who are assisting our citizens on the ground directly.

The noble Lord also asked about long-term measures. As I said, these are being reviewed. Of course, I cannot comment on some of these details because they are specifically security-led. When it comes to aviation security, we have an ongoing arrangement with airports across the world. This has just been done. It is a continuing requirement and we continue to conduct regular visits to various parts of the world to review security arrangements on the ground, in conjunction with the sovereign authorities in those countries.

On the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, about the threat to the resort, I want to be very clear that the advice we have been given—as I said, we are working with the airlines on this, as well as the Egyptian authorities—relates specifically to flights into and out of Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The resort itself is not considered to have increased risks. I stress this point since the question was raised.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also asked about flights due to leave tomorrow. He is correct in assuming that these are flights departing from, rather than arriving in, Sharm el-Sheikh. To be clear, we have decided—as any responsible Government would—that until we are satisfied that the risk has been addressed and the additional measures put in place, it is appropriate for flights into the resort to remain suspended.

The noble Baroness asked about security arrangements across the world. I have addressed that in part. We have continuing arrangements with authorities across the world to review aviation security arrangements in airports regularly to ensure that they are meeting required standards. The noble Baroness also raised the issue of the level of certainty. Currently, we can neither confirm nor rule out that this was a terrorist incident. The actions that we have taken suggest that we take seriously the possibility of the flight’s having been impacted by a bomb.

With regard to other questions raised about the general response, these decisions are being taken seriously. To update the House, two COBRA meetings have taken place, one yesterday and one earlier today. These were chaired by the Prime Minister. In addition, as noble Lords will be aware, the Prime Minister has also met with President Sisi at Downing Street. These matters, which are of concern not just to us in Britain but to the Egyptian Government, have been discussed and appropriate issues raised.

My Lords, the Minister mentioned the discussion that the Prime Minister is having with President Sisi today. Is Her Majesty’s Government’s position as a candid friend to Egypt that to deal with terrorism does not mean that it is appropriate to lock up the thousands of democracy activists, secularists, bloggers and all manner of people who simply want to express their right to free speech and to have an opinion? Will the Prime Minister’s discussions take into account that you do not fight terrorism by locking up people who just ask for democracy and human rights?

As I am sure the noble Baroness is aware, we have broad discussions with the Egyptian authorities and others over the concerns that she is raising in relation to human rights. These continue. My noble friend Lady Anelay is specifically responsible for human rights within the Government. We continue to raise these issues. The meeting took place at 12.45 this afternoon and matters of mutual interest were raised. We defend human rights, raising concerns there as they are put to us, not just in our discussions with Egypt but with other friends and allies across the world. It is right to raise these issues.

My Lords, I return to the position of the British citizens currently stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh. Various assessments of the numbers involved have ranged up to 20,000, although some of the travel agencies have said that the number is nearer to 12,000. Will the Minister update us?

On the question of consular support, have consular officials been brought in from neighbouring jurisdictions? Consular work is sensitive, difficult and requires training. It should have been possible to have brought in some of our consular officials from neighbouring countries. Have consular officials been able to leave the United Kingdom to give support to their colleagues in Egypt, because presumably there will be consular officials going out of our embassy in Cairo?

Are British-based airlines being approached to go to Sharm el-Sheikh to bring out our citizens? I think that the Statement said that the first are expected to be able to leave tomorrow. One cannot help wondering what is happening to people who may be at the end of a holiday period and who have not got funding available to pay for extra flights, let alone for extra nights in Sharm el-Sheikh, for food or for sustaining young families. I hope that the Minister will address that.

As regards forensics, this was a Russian aircraft over Egyptian territory. We are good at forensics, being acknowledged as being among the foremost countries. Have we been asked or have we offered to provide forensic support on the ground? That does not impinge on intelligence. Have we been asked for or have we offered support to go to Sharm el-Sheikh to look at what happened to this aircraft? There are all sorts of rumours about the condition of the plane and the condition of the dead, for whom we all have sympathy as we do for their families. Are we playing our part as regards forensics?

The noble Baroness is right to return to this key concern that we all share for the British citizens on the ground. She is quite right that the numbers have varied. That is partly due to the fact that some numbers and details come from the tour operators and other people have gone there of their own accord, perhaps visiting or passing through the country. The figure that the media are primarily using is 20,000. That is the figure at which we are looking at the highest level. Some may well be there serving and working throughout Egypt. It is not possible to give an exact number now. Nevertheless, we are fully aware of the assessments and working very closely with the carriers.

She asked about the airlines. This morning, we have had the airlines working with us at the Department for Transport. They are working together and with the Government. I acknowledge, as did the Secretary of State, the incredible support and co-operation that they are giving to the Government and to the authorities and in particular to the people on the ground.

She rightly raised the issue of those who, financially, could not afford to make arrangements. Again, through the airlines we are working to ensure that anyone whose flights are delayed, or who are delayed in the resort, are also catered for without extra financial hardship. She is also aware from her own experience that there is a specific fund that has been created to deal with these issues, the hardship fund. We believe that the combination of factors, working together with the airline operators and the Egyptian authorities, will enable us to address the primary concerns and to facilitate the safe departure of all those who wish to leave the resort as soon as possible.

She raised the valid point about this being a Russian plane. I can assure the noble Baroness that this afternoon, following the visit by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport and Foreign Office representatives to the Russian ambassador, the Prime Minister will be speaking to Mr Putin directly. Without pre-empting what the Prime Minister or President may discuss, I am sure that during the course of those discussions we shall, as we do when such tragedies happen around the world, seek to extend whatever assistance we can from the British Government.

My Lords, the noble Lord did not address the issue of forensics that was raised by my noble friend directly. The subtext to his Statement is that the evidence of a device on board is not forensic; otherwise, the Government would probably have placed the information in the public domain. Therefore, we must presume that it was intelligence based. We know that the evidence of intelligence information is not going to be placed in the public domain, but in so far as the Egyptian economy is going to be quite badly damaged as a result of this and we know that there have been protests from Ministers in the Egyptian Government, surely we owe it to them at least to give the Egyptian Government some information, not as to the source but as to what intelligence information we may have gained that has led us to take the decision that we have taken?

I assure the noble Lord that the situation with regard to forensics is ongoing and evolving as more details emerge, which we will provide when that is possible. We have made a Statement to the House today. I have also shared with noble Lords the fact that two COBRA meetings have occurred. As the noble Lord is aware, it is not just the President meeting our Prime Minister today; other officials are also attending. Those meetings will be used to share information and our concerns. We will use this opportunity to discuss this matter with them. Notwithstanding some of the media reports, the reciprocal arrangements that we had in place with Egypt before this tragedy occurred have worked well. We have a good relationship with the Egyptian Government. The respective authorities have been extremely co-operative throughout yesterday and during the last day or so. The common cause and concern we all share is to identify and, more importantly, address the exact reason why this tragedy occurred. The noble Lord is also right to point out that this is based on the intelligence that the Government have received thus far. However, I cannot go into more detail on that. I reiterate that after the COBRA meeting today the Prime Minister said specifically that our hearts and sympathy go out to the Egyptian people. However, as I repeated at the start of the Statement, our primary concern—I am sure the noble Lord shares that—must rightly be for UK citizens. That is what we are putting first.

This is clearly a tragedy for the Russians and, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, reminded us, obviously does enormous damage to the already battered Egyptian economy. The noble Baroness, Lady Symons, also reminded us of the appalling disruption, particularly for families, when suddenly they find that their planned charter or schedule return will not happen for 24 hours. The pith of the Statement seems to be that it will be safe to fly out of Sharm el-Sheikh tomorrow but it is not safe to do so today. That is the message that will have to be given to a lot of tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh. The Minister cannot tell us everything but can he explain, so that one can explain to the tourists themselves, what will change between today, when everything has been cancelled, and tomorrow, when we will have to put on all sorts of charter flights and special flights, make special arrangements, reschedule leave and reorganise schedules to make it safe for people to start flying again?

As my noble friend will know from his own experience, these matters are very fluid. As I said, we are hoping to resume flights at the earliest possible time, as the Statement indicated. We want to ensure that we can facilitate the safe departure of those who want to leave as soon as possible. We are making sure that various factors are in place to ensure that we can facilitate that. The volume of people who wish to leave Sharm el-Sheikh requires certain logistics to be in place on the ground. As I indicated in responding to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, we are working very closely with the airlines to ensure that the correct number of aircraft are available to facilitate the departure of this sizeable number of people. However, ultimately, we will be driven in all of this by the need to ensure that we are satisfied with the security arrangements for their safe passage and departure from Sharm el-Sheikh.

My Lords, a noble Lord asked about routeing. Some airlines have announced that they will change their routeing and some have refused to comment on their routeing. Is it possible to devise a mechanism whereby passengers can be reassured that their flights in the future will avoid some of the world’s trouble spots such as Syria and Iraq—and now we have to add Egypt?

Airlines share information with their passengers as they consider appropriate. All that it is appropriate for me to say at this point is that the Government receive intelligence reports from across the world. We share certain reports with airlines and we share certain levels of advice. Based on that, and in the light of events, some of which the noble Duke has articulated, airlines make certain adjustments. We could go into the mechanics of the extent to which threats can be realised in some parts of the world and the height at which planes should be flying. All these things are of a very technical nature. However, the authorities, Governments and airlines correspond with each other on a regular basis with regard to security measures to ensure that passengers of whatever nationality, wherever they are in the world, can be protected across the world.

My Lords, while essentially the House will be fully behind the Government’s rapid response to this situation, does the Minister agree that we should be concerned about not simply the British people who are affected but all those involved, and that we should express—as, indeed, he has—the strongest possible solidarity and support for the victims and those who have been bereaved by this incident? Is this not another cruel illustration of the nihilistic, brutal techniques employed by those who take such action and a total denial of any concept of human rights for the victims? In that context, is it not more important than ever that in all we do to try to reach international arrangements to prevent such situations, we always demonstrate that we will be second to none in our own upholding of human rights?

The British Government have a very distinguished record in upholding human rights. I totally agree with the noble Lord that we should empathise with all involved in this situation. This is a real challenge primarily for the Egyptian nation itself. Certain actions have been taken. As I said, we are still awaiting further details to substantiate the exact causes of this tragedy. Nevertheless, it is important that, as a responsible UK Government, our first concern must be to ensure the safety and security of UK citizens and residents. At the same time, as I indicated to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, it has always been the case, and should continue to be so today and for future Governments, that we extend whatever assistance and co-operation we can to others when such tragedies occur. We have done so before and we are doing so now.

My Lords, is this not a wake-up call because we have all got so used to being body searched and searched for liquids and goodness knows what else, and now somebody has got through and almost certainly put a bomb on an airplane? Instead of asking whether we should know about routeings or anything else, I hope my noble friend agrees that we should all take it on ourselves to stop moaning about what happens at airports and just be eternally vigilant. Is it true that a United States official spoke to an internet company such as AP that reported this, saying that the US had obtained evidence about a terrorist threat and a bomb on that plane through having listened to conversations? That is what the BBC is reporting today.

As regards my noble friend’s final point, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on media speculation. Generally speaking, intelligence agencies, and the sharing of intelligence with our allies to avert any such tragedy, is an important part of how international co-operation works. I agree absolutely with her earlier point about a wake-up call. This is very close to home for me as I am the Minister responsible for aviation security at the Department for Transport. I assure noble Lords that we have regular reviews in place. I look regularly at the issues and challenges we face on this front. In doing so, officials and Ministers engage with, but also visit, different locations to review security arrangements. The challenge we face—it is out there, we have all said it before and I am sure we all relate to it—is that a determined terrorist will go to any length to achieve their aim and their aim, ultimately, is to cause disruption and destruction to innocent lives. We must come together to universally condemn it and I pay tribute to all noble Lords who have spoken today. Notwithstanding the questions that they have rightly asked, we have come together rightly to condemn this tragedy, in which the current quite strong suggestion is that a bomb was involved.

My Lords, I have no difficulty in accepting the Government’s view that a bomb is a significant possibility. I am sure my noble friend will agree that, if it was a bomb, there is no possibility other than that it was a terrorist incident. As the noble Baroness from the other side said, I think we can all agree that the minimum way of dealing with terrorists is to lock them up. In that context, taking into account the history of terrorism in recent years in Egypt, it is obviously very important to know who is responsible. ISIS has already claimed, apparently, to have downed the aircraft. When do the Government expect to publish the report of the Jenkins inquiry into the terrorist links of the Muslim Brotherhood?

I thank my noble friend for his support of the Government’s position. The review to which he referred is being looked at by the Government and we will, I am sure, look to publish it at the earliest opportunity. He asked about the links we have; indeed, he suggested, and it has been widely reported, that Daesh/ISIL has claimed responsibility. As I was coming into the Chamber I noticed, again through media outlets, that a video to that effect has been released. The threat we face from ISIL/Daesh is real and is leveraging itself not just in that region but beyond.

The other thing I will say about ISIL/Daesh is that its recruitment methods are such that it seeks to recruit not just from different countries within the region but, regrettably, from right here in the United Kingdom. We are taking steps to avert and prevent our citizens travelling to support such a perverse ideology and cause. Wherever we see acts of terror we will collaborate with all right-minded Governments to ensure that we can eradicate it.

Olympics 2012: Regeneration Legacy

Motion to Take Note

Moved by

That this House takes note of progress made in the regeneration of East London since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the remaining challenges.

My Lords, a great deal has happened in east London since the summer of 2012, when the world marvelled not only at this country’s ability to put on such a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games and to arrange the weather for it, but also its bold promises to create a legacy from the Games in east London second to none. While there have been some challenges, the legacy promises made in east London in terms of regeneration are on track and developing at quite a pace. I declare an interest as a director of the London Legacy Development Corporation and as chairman of the Communities and Regeneration Committee.

I first became involved in the Olympics 17 years ago, when it was becoming clear to east Londoners that if London put its hat into the ring, the only place in the capital city with enough vacant land to hold the Games was on our doorstep in the Lower Lea Valley. It was also clear that if the Games came in 2012, they would present east London with a bold opportunity for regeneration at a scale that had not been seen since the Victorian age. The Games could act as a catalyst and speed up the regeneration process that was already well under way down the valley. It could help join the dots and connect the development nodes to the south at the Greenwich peninsula and the Royal Docks with the £3.7 billion regeneration programme already proposed to the north, in Canning Town.

Across the water from there was Canary Wharf, the business district, today due to double in size in the next 10 years, and to the north was the £1.7 billion community regeneration programme in Poplar, also already under way and championed by the local housing company, Poplar HARCA, and the Bromley by Bow Centre and its partners. This community regeneration programme had a focus on community building, enterprise and entrepreneurship in what were formerly dependent housing estates. Connect these developments with Stratford and a new Westfield shopping centre—at that time a twinkle in the eye—and position the Olympic site next door as a catalyst, and one could begin to imagine a new city emerging in the east of London, with its own airport and world-class rail communications network. Sir David Varney, former CEO of Shell and BG and chairman of O2, described it as one of the most significant investment zones in the western world.

What connected these development nodes together was the 6.5 miles of waterways which have driven the social and economic life of east London for 2,000 years. Fly into City Airport and look down and one can see it. What was coming to life was what the late Reg Ward originally described, in his first plans for the London Docklands Development Corporation, as a water city—I have copies of his original documents. This was a dream. Today this vision is becoming a reality and we need central government to understand and ever more focus on the economic benefits east London is once again bringing not only to London but to our national economy. There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the business, public and social enterprise sectors to grasp the moment and join the dots. There may also be important hard-won lessons here to share with the northern powerhouse and other city regions that dream of similar transformation.

I go back to the detail of what we have achieved on the Olympic Park since 2012, as its tentacles spread down the waterways and out into the surrounding communities of the Lower Lea Valley. It is a little over 10 years since London won the bid in Singapore to stage the Games of the 30th Olympiad. Since the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this country has secured the most advanced legacy of any modern Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is now open and flourishing, with 8 million visitors since it opened in July 2013. The permanent venues are thriving, with spectacular events such as the Rugby World Cup 2015 and many regular users. Some 40,000 additional jobs will be located on and around the park by 2025.

East London has a history of building public sector housing estates which have been both a social and economic disaster, which we do not intend to repeat. We want to build not just housing but integrated communities that connect people and place and encourage business and enterprise and a sense of well-being and community. The first of five new neighbourhoods is now under construction, with two other neighbourhoods brought forward by six years. Some 31% of the homes we build will be affordable and 24,000 new homes will be built in the wider area by 2031. Many of the essential elements critical to delivering probably the most successful Games to date have helped with the unfolding regeneration story.

Before the Games, we created an effective process to deliver the venues, stage the events and hand the venues over for legacy use. The key ingredients were ensuring that we had dedicated bodies for delivering venues and infrastructure and for staging the events with high-quality, motivated personnel. It was also essential to have cross-party political support at national, regional and local government levels. That support did not waiver when Boris Johnson was elected as Mayor of London in May 2008 and the national Government changed in 2010. Post-Games transformation work began as soon as the Paralympic Games ended.

That work and the development of the park is the responsibility of the London Legacy Development Corporation, a regeneration body answerable to the Mayor of London. It has plan-making and development control powers and is a single point of contact for developers, investors and landowners. From autumn 2012 to spring 2014, the LLDC undertook a major programme of work to create the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which opened in phases from July 2013 to April 2014. One key to ensuring success was to ensure that the permanent venues had their long-term legacy secured as soon as possible. The Copper Box Olympic handball arena is now a public sports centre for the local community and has hosted major events, attracting 800,000 visits since its opening in July 2013. The London Aquatics Centre and its two 50-metre swimming pools are hugely popular, with 1.2 million visitors already. There is a big demand from schools and swimming clubs and a waiting list for the Tom Daley Diving Academy.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit opened in April 2014 and there are plans for a new slide to attract even more visitors. It will be one of the highest slides in the world and Boris promises us that he will be the first to give it a try—watch this space. The Lee Valley VeloPark, which opened in March 2014, now has four cycling disciplines and is a venue for major competitions. Sir Bradley Wiggins broke the one-hour distance record there in June 2015. The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre opened in 2014 and is the host this year to the EuroHockey Championships and wheelchair tennis championships.

The stadium has of course been the greatest challenge. Its transformation was paused twice, in 2013 and 2015, to allow athletics events to take place and for five matches in the Rugby World Cup this autumn. Almost 500,000 spectators will have passed through the venue this year. The stadium will now be a national competition centre for British athletics and home for West Ham United Football Club. It is an iconic venue that will keep east London on the world map. It will be capable, going forward, of hosting a wide variety of other sporting and cultural events, from those five matches in the Rugby World Cup and the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games to a motorsports race of champions event—as well as hosting the 2017 IPC and IAAF world athletics championships.

People have asked why we could not leave the stadium as it was. The reality was that much of the infrastructure for the stadium was temporary, so a new roof covering all the seats was required so that it could stage international sporting events of the highest standard. It will be the UK’s only IAAF cat 1 and UEFA cat 4 accredited venue. It was a massive engineering project, requiring a new permanent roof and significant work to strengthen infrastructure to support the load. A new retractable seating system has been installed to make the venue as flexible as possible.

One of the exciting developments, for me, is Here East—the development of the former press and broadcast centres. This building is bigger than Canary Wharf, laid horizontally, and the LLDC has just signed a 200-year lease with a technology company to create a new business district generating 5,300 jobs. The building is already 40% let, with tenants including BT Sport, Loughborough University, the new London postgraduate campus, Hackney Community College, an Infinity data centre and Wayne McGregor Random Dance—a world-class dance company.

The regeneration of the Olympic Park has not just been about buildings. It has also been about pulling down the 11 miles of fences that surrounded the park during Games time and connecting this 248-hectare site with local people and the local communities that surround it down the Lower Lea Valley. Forty-five thousand people have now participated in events as part of the “Active People, Active Park” programme. A community-based Paralympic sports programme, Motivate East, and the staging of the annual National Paralympic Day has been helped by £1.1 million in funding. Seventeen thousand sport and physical activity opportunities have been delivered for disabled people.

The major construction works at the park have allowed the LLDC to help create job and apprenticeship opportunities for local people, particularly for young people and underrepresented groups. The Games were not the end of the building period; in some ways, they were just a kick-start to a major regeneration programme. Hundreds of local people have been trained in industry-required trades and skills at the park.

Some of us in east London learnt many years ago that we are the environments that we live, work and play in. Quality design matters. The park is becoming a benchmark for design standards on accessibility and inclusive design. Some of the new buildings we are creating will be world-class. We are very conscious as a board of directors at the legacy corporation that we are not just rebuilding a park but are responsible for a critical catalyst, which will in time influence the transformation of an area down the Lower Lea Valley that is the size of some cities. Many newer developments down the valley have much to learn from all this work— and we want to share the lessons learnt. It is our hope that the Royal Docks, which is the next big piece of the regeneration jigsaw, will take on board these lessons and not repeat past mistakes.

The transformation of the 248 hectares of the Olympic Park is not confined to the park. One of the central goals of the regeneration programme has been to see the impact of the Games spill across the park boundary and out into its surrounding communities. Westfield Stratford City is today the largest urban shopping mall in northern Europe and attracts more than 40 million visitors each year to its 1.9 million square feet of retail space and three hotels. Future plans include 1.1 million square feet of office space. The international quarter borders the park with 4 million square feet of work space, 330 new homes, a new hotel and more than 50,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. It will create space for 25,000 jobs with Transport for London, while the Financial Conduct Authority have already committed to moving there by 2018. Glasshouse Gardens is under construction, with luxury apartments due to be occupied from 2016 with completion in 2017. Chobham Farm is creating 1,200 new homes in a mixed development to the east of the park. Lea Valley River Park has connected the park to the Royal Docks and Thames to the south, with a new continuous walking and cycling route along the River Lea. A new entrance is planned for Stratford station.

The legacy plans for the Olympic Park are not set in stone. They are constantly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose and deliver the best outcomes for local communities. One of the planned neighbourhoods on the park was Marshgate Wharf, which has been through such a review. As a result of this process, it will now become the home to a new cultural and education district that Boris calls Olympicopolis—not easily said if you have false teeth. This exciting £2 billion project, bigger than the Centre Pompidou in Paris, will be home to new branches of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells dance company and, we hope, the Smithsonian Institution. In addition, University College London will create a new campus and University of the Arts London will combine its separate buildings to create one new home for the London College of Fashion.

The Government have committed £141 million to this scheme, master planners have been appointed for the UCL East campus and an architectural team led by Allies and Morrison is working on designs and a masterplan for Stratford waterfront. We hope that this scheme alone will create £2.8 billion of economic benefit and 3,000 new jobs. It will drive more than 1.5 million additional visitors to the park each year and deliver some 780 homes. The scheme neatly encapsulates the Olympic legacy. It is highly ambitious in its scope and objectives, will secure a lasting impact on local communities and will cement the creation of a new part of the capital in the area around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as it continues to be transformed.

This debate is timely, as the Foundation for FutureLondon will be launched later this evening at an event on the park, with the core task of securing those major philanthropic donations to complement the funds already committed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Mayor of London and the partner organisations involved.

I was very encouraged this summer to take 300 East End children into the Here East complex on the park for the first time, as part of a science summer school programme that Professor Brian Cox and I have been running in a local school in Tower Hamlets over the last four years. The summer school has been focused on connecting the school science curriculum with world-class university academics and local technology and engineering businesses that are putting down roots in the Lower Lea Valley. It has been focused on finding some of those 1 million engineers who we are short of in this country, and on which the success of our future economy so depends. Listening to 16 year-olds at Here East describe in detail the complex molecular biology of diabetes, seeing them engage with world-class scientists and engineers and listening to a 16 year-old West Indian boy describe in detail the Higgs boson was mind blowing. It gave us all just a little clue as to the role of the Olympicopolis and the Olympic Park, going forward. It pointed us to a talent pool that is critical to the future economy of this country, which will be triggered only if we can all move beyond our old-fashioned government silos and join the dots.

I finish on a personal note. Delivering the Olympic legacy in east London has been a long journey. It has required key leaders in the public, business and community sectors to come together and trust each other—to take the long view and to care about a place over a long period of time. It has required a clear and determined commitment to engage with and embrace the talent of a global community that is the modern east London—a community defined today not by stereotypes from the last war but by innovation, creativity, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

At a time when the Mayor of London is launching the “City in the East” master plan, I hope that the lessons that have been learnt delivering the legacy programme to date will be applied to these wider opportunities. It will be important that they are not run from City Hall or Whitehall. In the same way that the legacy company has brought together four boroughs to work closely with local partners, developers and communities, it will be important that the development nodes are locally owned and managed.

Investment will be needed. I encourage the Minister to reflect with the mayor on the less-than-glorious previous attempts to develop the Thames Gateway via central control with many boards and a wide range of representative bodies and contrast that with the focused approach of the legacy company. There is enormous potential, but this will not be delivered unless there are sufficient resources for infrastructure, particularly transport, including use of the bridges over the Thames. Equally, it will live up to its promise only if key local partners are empowered to take control and make it happen.

I finish with two brief questions for the Minister. First, given the scale of the developments in the Lower Lea Valley and that the centre of gravity of London is moving inextricably east, what practical steps are the Government taking to ensure that Eurostar stops at Stratford International station? The platform is already built. Secondly, what practical steps is the Minister able to take to ensure that the lessons learnt from the successful delivery of the regeneration legacy are applied to wider developments in east London and form an integral part of the wider devolution narrative for other parts of the UK, including the northern powerhouse, to ensure that they achieve their full potential? I beg to move.

My Lords, I declare past interests as former chairman of the British Olympic Association in the run-up to London 2012, director of the London Organising Committee and one of the full members of the Olympic Board back in 2005, which worked well, across party lines—as the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, pointed out—and to reasonable effect over the seven years of work it undertook. I also declare an interest as an officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Sport and Fitness, a point I will come to in a moment.

The whole House should pay tribute to the work the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, has undertaken on this subject. When I started, very soon after we won the bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, already had a long history of assiduous hard work on behalf of the local community and businesses in the area with a vision for bringing the Olympic Games to London and regenerating the East End. His work has been consistent. It is helpful and timely that we are looking at this subject again today, and personally and professionally I congratulate him on is efforts to make sure that London 2012 was the success it was.

In this House the noble Lord has been ably assisted by the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, who has worked equally hard, raising the relevant questions and ensuring that all those interested in the subject were very much on message. He has also been assisted by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who from a political standpoint has an extraordinary depth of knowledge of the subject but also chaired the ad hoc Select Committee that looked into the Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Again, it showed that by working together, which we have always done on matters relating to sport in this House, we can achieve a great deal.

Very soon after the Olympic Board first met in 2005, there was a clear vision. The bid was built on a promise to accelerate the planned regeneration of east London and the wider Thames Gateway. The Olympic programme was intended to deliver that promise as a critical component of the massive and comprehensive development of east London. Plans for the significant regeneration of the lower Lea Valley were underpinned by the then new opportunity area planning framework for the lower Lea Valley, which was launched by the Mayor of London, DCLG and the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation. The framework set out in the early days the comprehensive social, economic and environmental vision for changes in the valley for all those who live, work and visit there. Both mayors who were in post during the seven years recognised that the East End of London was a priority area for development, regeneration and infrastructure improvements, with the capacity in the period to 2016 to provide 104,000 additional homes and 249,000 jobs. Those were the objectives we began with.

The largest new urban park in Europe for 150 years was firmly in our minds, with 11,000 to 12,000 new jobs in the Olympic Park alone and, of course, new homes. Some 9,000 new homes were projected back in 2005-06 in the park area, including the conversion of the athletes’ village to new apartments, which was intended to contribute to increased local housing choice. Many of these objectives have been achieved; some have not. It is important and noteworthy that the success of the programme of urban regeneration of the East End of London to date has been in no small part due to the original work of Sir John Armitt, who headed up the ODA, and David Higgins and Alison Nimmo, who worked very effectively as a team. I remember John Armitt saying in the early days that 75p of every pound they spent was on long-term regeneration, so a great deal of work was already being done in the formative stage of design and implementation to create a lasting legacy for the project.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, said, every aspect of the work we undertook was intended to make sure that London was a first: not only putting on a great games —which I believe we did, not least courtesy of the athletes, both Olympic and Paralympic, who excelled—but making sure that the whole Olympic Park was designed in a way that would benefit local communities, elite athletes training there in the future and other visitors. A great deal has been achieved in developing that vision and implementing the legacy outcome.

I have a number of questions to put to the Minister but I fully appreciate that, of all the ministerial team, she is probably the most hard worked at the moment, being responsible for a number of Bills. I am sure she recognises that there will be a number of questions and I, for one, would be completely relaxed if she responded to some noble Lords in writing, so she can think about some of these difficult issues and respond in full.

We always hoped there would be progress in narrowing the employment gap between the host boroughs and the rest of London. It was a subject that taxed the Select Committee, and in 2011 the six Olympic host boroughs and the Mayor of London published the Convergence Framework and Action Plan 2011 2015 to take forward collective actions towards meeting the convergence ambition that:

“Within 20 years the communities who host the 2012 Games will have the same social and economic chances as their neighbours across London”.

We have not achieved that. In 2012 the convergence gap was at its lowest, but since then even the Government’s own response to our supplementary questions to the Select Committee accepted that it has deteriorated to 2009 levels. I very much hope that the Ministers responsible will recognise the vital importance of narrowing this employment gap, as a result of the catalyst of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We need a new convergence strategy and action plan. It is being put in place for 2015-18, but I hope that the Government will attach a high priority to this critically important issue.

The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, raised a subject which has been raised before in this House and I hope he will forgive me for emphasising its importance. It is called Stratford International station for a good reason: it is meant to be international. Currently, no international services use it. As I understand it, the Government have little room for manoeuvre on Eurostar, which operates international services from London, because it is a privately owned enterprise, but the line between London and the Channel Tunnel is under a concession from the Government and is incentivised to increase traffic. That is the area where the Government can bring their influence most to bear. New services and new operators on the route are a function of government oversight of that concession. I hope the Minister can say today that there is still an impetus and wish to see Stratford International station develop the facilities to be truly international, which in its own right would be a catalyst for further business growth and a benefit to the local community.

I was disappointed in the response to our supplementary questions about the Prime Minister’s legacy team, which was set up with my noble friend Lord Coe as legacy ambassador, a legacy Cabinet committee and a legacy unit. In the immediate aftermath of 2012, we were all persuaded that many of the challenges that had to be faced on the urban regeneration legacy and the sports legacy were longer term. Ten years was regularly quoted by Ministers, my noble friend and others as a reasonable period within which to judge the success or otherwise of the urban regeneration legacy, so I was a little disappointed, to say the least, when the legacy unit that was based in the Cabinet Office until 2014 was effectively wound up after two years. I do not know whether we still have a legacy ambassador, or what resources have gone with the two people now within DCMS who look after legacy and attempt to co-ordinate such a huge issue. It is important to have strong, co-ordinated central responsibility within Government to ensure that the urban regeneration and sports legacies are successfully implemented and delivered.

We are focusing today principally on the urban regeneration legacy, but there were two key legacies from London 2012, the other being sport. The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, alluded to one of the unquestionably successful outcomes: hosting international events during the decade of sport. However, we have a long way to go on the sports legacy, and I shall touch briefly on this, as noble Lords would expect.

We are one of the very few countries in the world, certainly in the advanced world, which does not have a sports policy backed by legislation. Many countries such as Australia, France, Italy and Germany have had a number of measures brought before their legislatures to support sport, because sport now reaches out in government policy in a way it never did 25 years ago, be it tackling obesity or the importance of sport within the educational system. In the context of international affairs, it is excellent to see that the United Nations recognised only a couple of months ago that sport is an important development tool. I believe that the time is right for your Lordships’ House to consider a sports policy. Billions of pounds are spent on sport and recreation by different departments, but accountability is weak. The governance of sport nationally and internationally is poor and, regrettably, participation figures are falling in many sports. The methodology used to monitor levels of participation is so out of date as to be an embarrassment. How can you possibly accurately judge the level of teenage activity if you use only landlines to collect data for the active people survey? Recognising that teenagers are more likely to respond positively to a mobile might be a step in the right direction to get accurate figures to back up the active people survey. Investment is falling overall, and the level of volunteering was not raised to that which many of us hoped would be achieved immediately after 2012. Steps which could have been taken to link sponsors for 2012 to sports and grass-roots sports in this country were missed, and the net result is that some sports have near-total reliance on government or lottery funding.

That said, we have a new ministerial team, and we have never had a Secretary of State and a Minister for Sport with so much expertise and knowledge. Certainly, Tracey Crouch, the new Minister for Sport, is a great enthusiast for sport and I hope she will take on board a number of the issues I have raised.

There is one further point I want to make which is very important in the context of women’s football, hence the importance of declaring my interest earlier. When I was chairman of the BOA for London 2012, I fought long and hard to make sure that we had football teams in Team GB, particularly a women’s football team. The role of the British Olympic Association was to lead, select and manage. The Scottish and Welsh FAs did not agree with me, but they had no constitutional status in the context of the British Olympic Association, the International Olympic Committee or the FA. I cannot understand why we are not selecting to support and be role models for women’s sport a team that won a medal in the recent world cup and has real opportunities to medal in Rio next year. It was never a one-off, and I hope that the Minister will at least agree to come back to this House at some stage, perhaps in writing, to explain why we are not sending a women’s football team to Rio as part of Team GB.

The Paralympics were memorable. We started perhaps nervously, but we ended up focusing on the abilities of disabled athletes, not their disabilities. I hope we can look at the Olympic park best practice guidelines for access for disabled supporters to make sure that West Ham leads the country with an action plan; not removing walking aids, which happens at too many football grounds; enhanced steward training; supporter assistance teams; and making sure that ticketing policy and procedures look after those with disabilities. Too many clubs simply do not give season tickets to those with disabilities, which is wrong. We need named managers and disability access officers, and much more work needs to be done to meet the Equality Act 2010 conditions. Manchester United has been criticised recently in this House. I met its representatives yesterday, and it is now responding positively to many of these issues. I hope that one of the great legacies of the Paralympic Games will be that we take best practice in the Olympic park and disseminate it across the country, so that those with disabilities have far greater access to sporting events and, indeed, to wherever they wish to go in the country. I close by again congratulating my noble friend Lord Mawson, government and everybody who worked collectively and effectively towards delivering a successful urban regeneration legacy for London 2012.

My Lords, I echo the thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, not only for securing this debate but for the huge contribution that he has made over decades to the regeneration and life of east London. I also thank him for giving me the opportunity to reprise some of the themes of the Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy, which I had the privilege of chairing in 2013. It is a particular pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who had a pivotal role not only in the Games themselves but in the work of the committee that I chaired. We have just heard in his speech his knowledge and enthusiasm for pursuing the issues.

It is the local people who should have stood to gain the most from the Games’ legacy. It is for this reason that the regeneration of east London was a major part of the promised legacy. On the day the bid was won, Jack Straw, who was then Foreign Secretary, said:

“London’s bid was built on a special Olympic vision. That vision is of an Olympic games that will be not only a celebration of sport but a force for regeneration. The games will transform one of the poorest and most deprived areas of London”.—[Official Report, Commons, 6/7/05; col. 404.]

In 2009, the strategic regeneration framework for the Games, which has just been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was published. It articulated the objective that has underpinned activity ever since: that,

“within 20 years, the communities who host the 2012 Games will have the same social and economic chances as their neighbours across London”.

The so-called principle of convergence was born.

It is a fact that previous Games and other major sporting events around the world have failed to leave meaningful transformative legacies for local people. In our 2013 inquiry, 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 fact that the London Games have focused so heavily on the regeneration legacy is an inspiration to future host cities.

As we have heard, the regeneration of east London is a huge, long-term task, with a potentially great reward. There is no question but that the Games have had an amazing transformational effect on the area. Untold billions of investment were brought into the country and it is inconceivable that so much investment would have been put into east London in such a short timescale without the Games. However, the questions that we have to address this afternoon are whether that transformational momentum has been as great as it might have been; whether it has slowed too much since the Games themselves; and whether the progress can be sustained going forwards.

The redevelopment of the Olympic Park itself is led by the mayor’s London Legacy Development Corporation, the LLDC. It is responsible for delivering the social, economic and physical legacy of the Games—not only in terms of the long-term planning, development, management and maintenance of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park itself but in terms of its impact on the surrounding areas. I pay tribute to the work that it has done, including the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Mawson. I also pay tribute to the leadership shown in that work by Neale Coleman. His departure is an enormous loss to seeing through the next phases of the legacy. I am sure that his talents will be put to excellent use in his new role with my right honourable friend the leader of the Opposition.

In our 2013 report, we were pleased to find that the park was intended to offer a mix of good-quality new housing within the former athletes’ village and the five new neighbourhoods which will be developed across the park. We said how important it was that a fair proportion —by which we meant at least the LLDC’s target of 35%—of this housing was affordable for, and accessible to, local residents. The Government and mayor’s response to our report was that the aim was to deliver,

“as much affordable housing as possible”—

which is not quite the same. I do not deny that much new housing has been delivered. However, the 35% figure has been steadily eroded. In Chobham Manor, only 28% of the 828 new homes will be affordable. In the East Wick and Sweetwater neighbourhoods, the figure is 30%. The Government say that the Legacy Communities scheme has now been revised to set the upper affordable housing target to 31%—down from 35% to 31%. And that, of course, does not engage with the question of what “affordable” means in London.

I turn now briefly to the question of the transport infrastructure. Both noble Lords who have already spoken have highlighted the issue. The transport infrastructure is critical to the future of east London. The one particular issue which everyone is focused on is the recommendation that we and others have made 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—no willingness whatever—to engage to a greater degree to push this process along. There is still no progress now. Indeed, the Government have seemingly washed their hands of the matter, saying that it is a,

“commercial matter for the operator”;

and, earlier this year, that they are merely “supportive” of more extensive use of the HS1 network to improve rail connections with continental Europe. By implication, however, that supportiveness does not involve actually doing anything to promote Stratford International and making sure that some international trains stop there, with all the implications that that has for business in the local area and for the local communities.

The development of the park and the surrounding area is intended to generate significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. 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 of technological jobs that will have benefit not only locally but for the nation as a whole. The transformation of the former media centre is crucial to this, as has already been mentioned. I know that the committee I chaired was impressed, in the very early days, by the way in which BT Sport had used the space that it had acquired. I visited Here East again a few months ago and was pleased to see how the plans were developing.

I have to say that the perception of the local people we met during our inquiry was that they have not always felt the benefits of these new opportunities. I am not sure that the position is much better now. Our report called on the responsible bodies to develop a co-ordinated programme through which new opportunities could be targeted at local communities. LLDC assured us then that it was rolling out a programme of outreach and engagement events to ensure that local people were aware, but it is a question of how you ensure that local people get those benefits.

Rolling out information will only ever be half the answer. The new jobs will be taken by locals only if the skills base of people in the area improves. That requires action to deliver the promised convergence. However, in many instances that vital convergence is not being delivered in the way that we might have hoped. Let us be clear: the employment rate remains worse in the six so-called growth boroughs than in the rest of London, and the gap is widening. The gap in median earnings for full-time owners remains stubbornly high; if you live in the six boroughs, expect to be paid less. The gap for the proportion of the working-age population qualified to at least level 4 is also getting worse. Those are all areas where convergence was looked for but has not been delivered.

Other aspects of convergence are faltering too. Unfortunately there are no new data to track household overcrowding, but the latest figures available suggest that in the six growth boroughs more than one in 10 households are defined as being overcrowded—10.4% is not just not good enough, and substantially worse than the London average. Health levels remain poorer than in the rest of London: obesity levels in year 6 school -children, those in the top class at primary school, remain more than 10% higher than in the rest of London, and again the gap is widening. Mortality rates from cancer in those under 75 remain stubbornly higher than in the rest of London, 14% higher in those six boroughs. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, referred to the survey of sports activities. We discussed its shortcomings in our committee but, even on the basis of that survey, nearly 60% of adults do no sport or activity, nearly 20% worse than across London as a whole, and those levels, and the gap, have risen since the Games themselves.

So why has the progress not been as good as we might have legitimately expected? That brings me to what I always regarded as the central theme of our 2013 report: 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 very healthy drive to ensure that the plethora of organisations, the veritable Tower of Babel of competing voices within and outside government, were led strongly to a single common purpose. That leadership and sense of direction is just as necessary if we are to deliver the legacy after the Games now that those fixed deadlines have passed.

In 2013 we were unconvinced that the Government’s oversight arrangements would represent a robust way to deliver the legacy. We identified confusions on the timeframes and targets involving its delivery, and a lack of clear ownership. We recommended that one senior 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 could not see how any of the meaningful legacy would take place outside London. In the same vein we called for the mayor’s office to be given lead responsibility and the necessary powers to take forward the vision for the future development of east London and create a lasting Olympic legacy in the capital. In their response, the Government did not engage with the recommendation that a single Minister be given responsibility beyond restating the role of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. With the best will in the world, DCMS may well focus on the sporting legacy, but whether it is going to have the clout to focus on the wider regeneration legacy, not only in London but elsewhere, I question.

Revisiting the issue now, it is clear that the worries expressed in our report were justified. In the run-up to the Games, governance was effectively joined up between London and central government. Since the Games, though, those joint mechanisms have been dropped, and therefore the joined-up common purpose of achieving Olympic legacy and convergence has not been as effective as hoped. Since entering into an interauthority agreement in 2006, the host boroughs, now the growth boroughs, have had in place robust governance arrangements for the discussion of matters relating to the 2012 Games, the resulting legacy for those boroughs and the drive towards convergence. That has been delivered through regular meetings of borough chief executives, leaders and mayors to provide strategic direction. So the boroughs have been playing their part and continue to do so. In the run-up to the Games, they were involved and participated in the east London legacy group and the Olympic Park Regeneration Steering Group, where they had a place at the table with the other relevant stakeholders, including the London mayor and central government. This indeed ensured a successful Games, defined the commitment to legacy and convergence post-Games and provided the framework for strategic direction and delivery. The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, referred to this.

Four of the boroughs have a place within the governance of the London Legacy Development Corporation because of their involvement with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but it is important that the involvement of all growth boroughs, previously exercised through the now-defunct east London legacy group and the Olympic Park Regeneration Steering Group, be replicated in any future strategic governance arrangements so that legacy is effectively focused and the drive towards convergence in east London takes place in an area much wider than the park itself. Since the Games’ time, participation work between boroughs and the GLA has continued—an annual report on convergence is published—but what is lacking is a triple-tiered forum where central government and London government sit with local government, either at political or officer level.

As we move forward, I fear that already the present mayor is beginning to lose interest and focus as he sets his sights unequivocally on other prizes, perhaps at the other end of this building. London-wide leadership is being dissipated and, with the best will in the world, I repeat that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is not a powerful central government department able to knock other departments’ heads together so as to complete the joint endeavour to achieve convergence and ensure that the most enduring legacy of the Olympics will be the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there.

In 2013 my committee called for strong leadership to drive the vision for regeneration legacy forward—leadership from the mayor’s office and leadership at the heart of central government. Massive progress has been made, as we have seen, but there are now clear signs that convergence is faltering and the unique once-in-a-century opportunity provided by the London Games is in danger of not being fulfilled to its maximum potential.

My Lords, I remember going to the site that was to become the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park just after we had won the bid to host the Games and feeling completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead of the organisers. I need not have worried, because they exceeded all our expectations and provided world-class facilities on time and within budget—a spectacular achievement. Since the Games, a team of largely unknown people has also worked tirelessly in the background to ensure a lasting legacy. We owe them our gratitude. I too pay tribute to the fantastic work that has been done by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson.

As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, participation in sport is sadly declining again. But sport was never meant to be the prime political motivation for bidding to be the host city. Winning the Games was, as the then mayor Ken Livingstone put it,

“the only way to get billions of pounds out of the Government to develop the East End”.

After a century of decline and decades of successive Governments’ ambivalence to the plight of those people, billions of pounds were poured into the East End—and what a difference they have made. They have transformed a blighted post-industrial desert into a blooming 560-acre park enjoyed by 8 million visitors to date.

Despite the fears of the doomsayers, there are precious few white elephants on the site. The press and broadcast centre has found anchor tenants and a legacy use as a state-of-the-art digital campus. The velopark, aquatics centre and Copper Box have been successfully transformed for long-term sporting use, while the stadium is well on its way to providing a new home for West Ham United—albeit at a hefty conversion cost to the taxpayer. Next month, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will host the Wheelchair Tennis Masters, bringing together the world’s elite wheelchair tennis players for their end-of-season final. Both the venue and the fact that four British players have qualified for the event amply demonstrate the legacy benefits of accessible and affordable sporting facilities in the heart of the East End that can also host world-class events.

The careful pricing of access to those venues in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park may have gone some way to allay the suspicion expressed to me before the Games by a young man at a nearby youth club. He said, “When this is all over, everything will go to the toffs and we will be left looking through the window”. Those suspicions cannot be dismissed when it comes to housing and jobs, without which a new swimming pool, cycle track and tennis courts are of little use. We were promised that the most enduring legacy of the Olympics would be the regeneration of an entire community for,

“the direct benefit of everyone who lives there”.

Yet the promises made in the bid document presented to the IOC in Singapore have already been undercut. The original pledge that 50% of new housing in the park would be affordable homes for rent and sale was initially downgraded to 35%. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has just said, it has now been downgraded even further to 31%. So new homes are being built and the athletes’ village converted into rental apartments, but precious few of them will be within the grasp of local residents.

In East Village—the new name for the athletes’ village—the cheapest available two-bedroom apartment costs £430 a week. That is the entire net median household income in Newham. At £575 per week, a three-bedroom apartment costs more than the median household income in the surrounding boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Newham. A local family with two children might reasonably conclude that they have more chance of winning gold at the Rio Games than affording an apartment in the Olympic park.

My second concern is jobs for local people. They were promised that they would get “many” of the 10,000 new jobs originally forecast to arrive in the area. That loose definition should have been a clue to the vagueness of the promise and the paucity of data collected to measure its delivery. The bid pledged to transform the lives of long-term local residents—the people who had had to put up with years of disruption while the area was being prepared for the Olympics. Yet people are being counted as local at the moment, regardless of how long they have lived in the area—all they need to do is to provide a local address. This is not what was promised.

Similarly, it is difficult to see how the original target of getting 70,000 previously unemployed people into jobs can be measured because there is no system whatsoever in place to collect data about the long-term unemployed. A suspicious mind might suggest this lack of enthusiasm to measure success indicates an expectation of failure. If some of the badly-needed homes planned for the park are to come within the reach of existing local residents, they must have access to, and training for, those new jobs that will be based in and around the park.

Like the young man I met at the youth club, my fear has long been that the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games might well be a fantastic, vibrant new quarter for London, but one which gleamed like a prosperous oasis in the midst of a deprived desert. We cannot and must not allow that to happen. I know that the London Legacy Development Corporation and local government in all the growth boroughs will strive hard to ensure that regeneration brings real benefit to local people. However, they must be long-term local people, not people who have just moved into the area to get a very nice house on their doorstep.

Delivering the promises made to the people of east London will be not a marathon but a triathlon. Success requires that the next Mayor of London and the Government remain sharply focused on the finish line so that the long-term residents of the area are not left outside, looking in.

My Lords, I am particularly pleased to speak in this debate. If noble Lords saw my full title the secret would be revealed—it is Lord Cashman, of Limehouse. Limehouse is where I was born and is where I now live. My family lived in Stepney, I went to school in Bow and Poplar, cavorted in Stratford, and my families are buried in the cemeteries of east London. I know it well. Since the 1950s I have seen the amazing changes. However, in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s—and yes, even into the 1980s—those communities thrived because there was employment. There was a sense of ownership of the wider community in which you lived.

Of course, I witnessed the London Docklands Development Corporation. If you were local, when you were offered a flat on the Isle of Dogs you always refused, because there was nothing to do after 7 o’clock at night and if you got what was called a “bridger” you could not get to work in the morning. Look now at what has happened there because of determination and imagination. Again, I look at Wapping and at other parts of the island, where people used not to want to live; indeed, at times it was not a safe place to live.

When I think of Stratford itself, were they not amazing, those pioneers who had the courage to speak out and defend something when others wanted to get rid of it? Joan Littlewood and Gerry Raffles saw the amazing potential of the people of Stratford and Stratford East and built that shrine to culture and the arts for local people, the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

I will come to some of my concerns, but I congratulate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for his determination, imagination and courage in seeing through a dream which for many had been unimaginable. The six London boroughs were among the poorest and most deprived in London, and perhaps still are, so the ambitions and aspirations for the regeneration were and remain laudable. Yet, despite the Prime Minister’s words in 2010, east London and, more importantly, its people have not shared fully in the capital’s growth and prosperity—not in the local growth and prosperity.

For the avoidance of any doubt, let me state that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were an outstanding success and a deeply humbling experience, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, as is the legacy of regeneration. Therefore I will not be mean-spirited. I believe in celebrating those who try, aspire and reach for the sky, especially for the benefit of others—as this House has shown so very recently.

The reason I am going to raise concerns is that I believe there is still an opportunity and a timeframe within which to address these concerns, and thus ensure that the people of east London—that is, all who live and work there—truly benefit from the inward investment and developments. The convergence strategy referred to before will need revisiting if it is to deliver on jobs, skills, housing and quality of life. As has been said, it is of deep concern that the progress made has now been lost, particularly in relation to jobs, which are now back at the levels of 2009 according to the documents lodged in our Library.

We need to address urgently the low number of apprenticeships, of which there have been only 124 at work in the park since 2012. We can and must do better. The new convergence strategy and action plan must be regularly reviewed and adapted if necessary to ensure that it delivers on new job creation.

As noble Lords have said, it is lamentable that the huge financial investment in Stratford International station has not paid off. I know that we cannot force international operators to use the facilities, but we can have imagination and flair in promoting them to international operators, as well as work with national carriers to exploit the economic opportunities.

I come to my main area of concern, and that is housing. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, rightly said, the centre of London is moving further to the east, and that has consequences. People like me who live locally in the six boroughs, particularly in the private rented sector and in social housing, are under increasing threat as they see a diminishing supply of social housing or privately rented accommodation at affordable rents. People are literally having to move away from where they were born or grew up or work, and often away from their communities where they feel that they belong. I am saddened to say that this is due to the regeneration and its success, and a lack of focus on a stronger mixed-housing development policy.

Allocations of affordable and social housing, as your Lordships have indicated, are not increasing on the site but diminishing. From a starting point in the East Village of 49% for affordable housing, current plans on the other sites are now in the region of 30% to 31% and even as low as 28%. That is entirely unacceptable, particularly when not all allocations have gone to people who live and have lived locally. These levels must be increased, with an emphasis on the social rented sector; otherwise, the opportunity of a generation will be lost. Because of its success people now want to live in and around the regeneration areas, and not only in the Olympic Park sites. We are witnessing rent increases in the private sector, diminishing social housing, an increase in house prices and a subsequent increase in land prices, resulting in further pressures on local communities.

The land grab has extended all the way towards the City of London, at Aldgate. There is the controversy of the Cass sites, acquired by the Department of Education and dubbed the “Aldgate Bauhaus”, which are now likely to be destroyed and lost. Elsewhere in Tower Hamlets, an area that I know well, I have deep concerns about the effects of two particular developments on the housing needs of local people, and the damage that these will cause to diverse and cohesive communities.

The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, referred to the work undertaken by Poplar HARCA and it is to HARCA that I now wish to refer. The redevelopment of the Chrisp Street site in Poplar will see a large reduction in the numbers of social housing units and a large increase in units for private sale or rent. Especially worrying is the proposed development of the Balfron Tower in St Leonard’s Road, Poplar. The key issue there is that the tower was built and designed as social housing, and maintained as majority social housing even after the right to buy. The estate and property have been poorly maintained, despite leaseholders paying several thousands of pounds per flat per year in service charges.

There has been incredibly poor communication with, and an incredibly poor attitude towards, tenants and leaseholders from the current landlord Poplar HARCA over the decant and refurbishment, with changing plans, the insidious decanting of tenants, years of delay and an eventual declaration that Balfron Tower would be 100% privatised. The need to provide affordable accommodation for all the community is essential. Tower Hamlets has always prided itself on being a diverse and inclusive borough. Might I suggest that social cleansing in this way is the antithesis of that?

The social landlord Poplar HARCA has finally submitted plans to refurbish the 146 homes at Balfron Tower in Poplar, which it promised to do when it took over the management of the block in 2007. However, instead of the refurbished flats being returned to former social tenants, they will now be sold off as luxury apartments on the private market. As I said earlier, there will be a loss of 99 social homes—at least 99, as 11 flats were declared void during the stock transfer in 2007—despite HARCA’s boss, Steve Stride, claiming that no development should see a loss of social housing.

The history of this site and the tower embodies what the architect set out to do. Ernö Goldfinger specifically designed the block to give tenants on low incomes a decent standard of living. Sadly, HARCA now deems the flats to be too valuable for the local community. Tenants and leaseholders have demanded that Balfron stays at least 50% social. I do not consider that to be too vigorous a demand. They have many objections but I will list them briefly: a failure to meet statutory affordable housing targets; a failure to meet best practice guidelines on inclusive consultation; a failure to meet adopted standards defining heritage significance, because the tower has now been registered as grade 2 listed; and a failure to meet best practice guidelines on accountable regeneration, which it is worth restating. The regeneration consultation documents promised that,

“no resident will lose their home involuntarily”,

and that,

“there will be no loss of homes for rent on the Brownfield Estate”.

For the people at Poplar HARCA, and in particular at those two developments, that is not the reality.

I want to go back to how I started and congratulate those who had the courage, determination and imagination to proceed, and to celebrate the amazing Olympic and Paralympic Games, which gave us enormous pride in what we can do and what we can achieve with and for others. That is what I expect of the regeneration of the six boroughs and the sites beyond—the so-called domino effect.

I have cited two cases where things are plainly going wrong but, sadly, there are others, and in other boroughs. The regeneration throughout the six boroughs has transformed an area of London once, as I know only too well, overlooked and left behind. However, we must ensure that the ongoing regeneration does not leave behind or remove the local communities and the local people, who, above all, should benefit from and enjoy the fruits of development. Those fruits of development are theirs, or we have failed.

My Lords, the noble Lord mentioned provision of the arts, for example, for deprived people in the East End. Perhaps I may invite him to recognise and applaud what I think is a very important development. Mudchute is an inner-city farm where children who have never seen farm animals can experience what it is like to be close up to these creatures. It is the result of the amazingly civilised vision of Michael Barraclough and is now run by local people. I invite the noble Lord to endorse the work of Mudchute.

My Lords, I take great delight in endorsing it. As a child who rarely used a handkerchief—I am trying to give you a picture—I played at the Mudchutes, because it was famous for newts. I am pleased to say that the development of and emphasis on culture, arts and the local environment are to be applauded and replicated elsewhere. Rest assured that, although I may not be jumping on the Docklands Light Railway, I will be walking from my home in Limehouse to the Mudchute to give it my imprimatur.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for securing this important debate on the regeneration of east London following the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and members of the committee on the Olympic and Paralympic legacy in your Lordships’ House, who play such an important role in analysing and closely scrutinising how we can maximise the fruits of the Games. Like other noble Lords, I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for the work he has done in east London for many years.

First, I declare that I am an elected councillor in Lewisham in south-east London. We did not get any of the Olympic Games events, but considerable use was made of Blackheath for security measures. The missiles were there, as were other ancillary and support services. We were grateful that we could play a part in making sure the Games were great. The regeneration of east London and south-east London, where I live, is of paramount importance to the whole of the capital and its role as the powerhouse for the whole of the United Kingdom. Looking back, the Olympics were, as other noble Lords have said, outstandingly successful and a moment in British history which we can all be very proud of. I agree with my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey that the regeneration legacy is of paramount importance. When we look back in years to come, it will be seen as one of the real successes of the London Games, compared to those in other parts of the world.

When the Games were first secured in 2007, one of the five main themes was to create an environment which would benefit the community through regeneration. The Games were, therefore, purposely sited in east London, across the six boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. These areas have typically suffered high unemployment, deprivation and a lack of opportunity. Three years on from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, statistics show that the regeneration of east London has moved forward, but not always in the way we expected. In the whole of London, the three boroughs with the highest unemployment rates are still in east London: Barking and Dagenham, with 9.8%; Tower Hamlets, with 8.8%; and Newham, with 8.6%. Barking and Dagenham has the highest unemployment rate of any London borough, with 27% of residents earning below the London living wage. One quarter of young people in the area live in households receiving tax credits.

The London Plan, published in 2015 by the Mayor of London, promises to,

“close the deprivation gap between the Olympic host boroughs and the rest of London. This will be London’s single most important regeneration project for the next 25 years. It will sustain existing stable communities and promote local economic investment to create job opportunities (especially for young people), driven by community engagement”.

We can all agree with that. Given that the unemployment statistics are not so encouraging, can the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, tell us what the Government are doing to ameliorate the situation? The House of Lords committee noted that where jobs are being created, local residents were not benefiting in all cases. Is this because job opportunities are not being communicated enough locally, or because local residents do not have the skills to take on these jobs? What steps are the Government taking to ensure more local residents are aware of job opportunities? In addition, what evidence is there to show that the London Legacy Development Corporation’s funding to local authorities to develop the necessary skills has resulted in more jobs being taken up by local people?

The new cultural and educational complex in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, is an exciting initiative. It is important, again, that local people benefit from the 3,000 jobs which are expected to be created. Will the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, tell the House what the Government are doing to ensure that local people get their fair share of these? The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is right when he says that we need a new convergence strategy to deliver jobs for local people in the six Olympic boroughs. I also completely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, who spoke about the transformation of the Olympic park and the world-class facilities we have there today. I also agree with her comments about the failure of local people to secure the jobs that have been created.

The Olympic Delivery Authority, which oversees the development of the Olympic park into residential accommodation, struck a deal in August 2011 to sell 51% of the site to developers of private rental accommodation, and the remaining 49% to Triathlon Homes to deliver affordable housing. In addition, the most recent deal struck with Balfour Beatty involves building up to 1,500 homes, including 450 affordable homes. Building new homes is always welcome and will contribute to improving the housing situation in London; but in the last three years, homes have been sold under the right-to-buy scheme, with only one home replaced for every four sold. Can the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, update us on what plans the Government have to ensure that the area remains one of mixed tenures, and to guarantee that any homes sold under the right to buy are replaced on a one-for-one basis? We keep hearing a lot about this from the Government, but so far the figures do not add up.

The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, referred to the number of affordable homes planned for the area in his opening remarks, as did my noble friend Lord Cashman. I am in complete agreement with my noble friend’s remarks about the challenges of ensuring that local people benefit from local housing. The noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, also made remarks that I agree with, particularly those relating to the downgrading of the social housing element of future schemes. There is a huge problem here with this notion of affordable homes as they can often be anything but affordable to local people on lower incomes.

I would like to briefly mention the Orbit, to which the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, also referred. The Government’s 2015 progress report describes it as a “unique attraction” in east London, providing,

“spectacular views and a number of extremely popular events”.

However, recent reports from last month show that this attraction is actually losing £10,000 a week and lost more than £500,000 last year due to visitor figures falling well below the forecasted numbers. Given that this was built with over £3 million of taxpayers’ money, what are the Government doing to increase the number of visitors to the Orbit and to improve its failing finances?

Transport infrastructure has improved considerably in recent years in east London: the DLR, the Jubilee line, and improved road connectivity as well. The bullet train between St Pancras and Stratford International was a great success during the games, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey and others, although it is a matter of great disappointment that we still do not have any international train services operating out of Stratford International station, despite there being over £1 billion of public investment in the international train station. That is a staggering figure and still we have no international train services coming in or out of the station. It would be useful if the Minister could comment on the view from the Lords committee, which did not get the sense that there was any overarching ownership or co-ordination of this issue with the Government. The Government—and in particular the Department for Transport—really need to get a grip of this issue and actually deliver international train services to and from the station. I do not accept that this is just a commercial matter for the operators alone. As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, it will be a catalyst for further regeneration of the area.

Finally, I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for securing this debate. It was a timely opportunity to look again at the regeneration of this part of London and what has happened since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There has been some excellent work undertaken, but there have also been some disappointments. The real measure will be when we look back in 10, 15 or 20 years’ time and see what has been achieved and what the real legacy of the Games is. For the goals of the legacy as originally perceived to have been delivered, the people living in the six Olympic boroughs really need to have benefited and shared in the opportunities of the Games.

My Lords, I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for initiating this debate, for his thoughtful and fascinating speech this afternoon, and for his magnificent work on East London regeneration. I also thank my noble friend Lord Moynihan in the same way; the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, bringing her perspective; the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, and the others involved on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee. It is a typical example of something that this House does very well indeed. I also thank the other noble Lords who have contributed to this fascinating and wide-ranging debate.

I will try to answer some of the points that have been raised, but if I am not able to do so, I will write to noble Lords. I also share in the tributes that have been made to some outside the Chamber. In particular, I include Sir John Armitt and his team, who factored long-term, lasting regeneration into the Olympic project. That is one of the lessons. At the end I will try to respond to the A-level set for me only an hour or two ago by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson.

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which took place in east London, were a huge success. It was a euphoric summer, not only because of the incredible atmosphere and the best ever performance by our British athletes, as inspiring as those were. The Games were delivered jointly by a range of agencies, national and local, public and private. The delivery of the Games was only a success because of the spirit of partnership that prevailed.

The noble Lord, Lord Cashman, of Limehouse, took us on an amazing journey via Theatre Royal Stratford East, which I also like very much. I add that Canary Wharf, close to the Olympic park, is perhaps now the most vibrant financial centre in the world. I have visited an awful lot of them in my business career. I was there recently, at 8.15 in the morning, to speak at the launch of the report by the noble Lord, Lord Davies, on women on boards. The numbers coming off the Jubilee line were extraordinary. They were buying poppies from a British Legion band playing that morning to all of us as we arrived. It is an amazing centre, a biscuit-toss from the park.

I was also very interested in the points made on health, on obesity, on jobs, and on the whole issue of convergence in the east London area. I am not sure that I have an answer to all those points today, but it is very good that the debate widened into some of those areas.

The 2012 Games’ legacy has been acclaimed by Jacques Rogge, the former president of the International Olympic Committee, as a blueprint for future Games. Some 1.4 million more people are playing sport than when we won the bid in 2005 and the UK has benefited to the tune of more than £14 billion in trade and investment. All eight permanent venues on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have a secure future. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson said, millions and millions of visitors have enjoyed the park since it was reopened after the Games. Other Olympic parks elsewhere do not have nearly such an impressive record.

Government and other public sector investment has been the catalyst for the development of this corner of east London. The private sector is taking up the opportunities and driving further development. New communities are now growing in and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. More than 4,500 people live at East Village, in the former athletes’ village. Contrary to what the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, said, half of this housing is affordable. There is a new school, Chobham Academy, and a medical centre, the Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health and Wellbeing Centre, in the park. People will start moving into the first new housing in the park at Chobham Manor later this year, to be followed by other new neighbourhoods in the years and decades to come.

There are employment opportunities. In all, it is expected that 15,000 jobs will be created in the park by 2025. Here East, the media centre during the Games, was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey. It is being transformed into a huge digital campus, bringing together business, technology, media, education and data. It will deliver more than 7,500 jobs, including 5,300 directly onsite and a further 2,200 in the local community. Here East is more than 40% let and BT Sport is already operating from the venue. Tenants, including Loughborough University and Hackney Community College, are moving on to the site and Here East will fully open in Spring 2016.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, said, Westfield Stratford City is the biggest urban shopping mall in northern Europe, with 40 million visitors a year. It has provided around 10,500 permanent jobs. There will be more employment opportunities with Olympicopolis, which, as has been said, is bigger than the Pompidou Centre in Paris. That is the cultural and academic quarter of the park—which we should emphasise: this is not just about sport. The Government have committed funding to catalyse this new and exciting development, providing £141 million. The Victoria and Albert Museum —a great favourite of mine—Sadler’s Wells and, I hope, the Smithsonian will all have a presence there, as will academic institutions including University College London and University of the Arts London. Stratford has been turned into one of the best-connected areas of London thanks to the investment in the run-up to the Games, with the Jubilee line, the Javelin service to St Pancras and the Docklands Light Railway.

The first question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, was indeed about Stratford International station. Noble Lords piled in behind—everyone mentioned this. I shall not name everyone since it was a common theme. The great wish is that Eurostar services should call there as part of their cross-channel routes, bringing more business, more tourists and more convenience. As has been said, this is a matter for Eurostar as a commercial company. However, today’s debate has provided an opportunity to publicise the desirability of that—the power of amplification, as I call it. I shall report to ministerial colleagues in the Department for Transport on the strength of feeling in the House on this issue and on the opportunities that have been described, especially once Crossrail arrives at Stratford in, I think, 2018 or 2019.

My noble friend Lord Moynihan waxed lyrical on the subject and on a host of other points. I shall take up his suggestion of a letter to respond to most of them. My noble friend is an expert parliamentarian. I think that it is the discipline of the cox—every time, he finds an amazing way to move things forward. He makes a virtue of a long shopping list by suggesting a letter—another elegant parliamentary device that we can add to the annals. I agree with him that the Active People survey needs substantial change. Sport England has this in hand and a new methodology will be introduced in 2016. Polling based on landlines is bound to understate participation in sport. Young people mainly use mobiles and the internet, so it is not right that our data derive from landline polling.

My noble friend also expressed regret at the absence of a GB women’s football team in Rio in 2016. I share his disappointment. However, FIFA requires agreement of all the home nations for a British team to compete. The other home nations remain concerned that FIFA could see a British team at the Games as a reason to question the validity of having separate national teams in world competitions.

I thank the Minister very much for giving way. It would be helpful to the House if the Minister could ask the British Olympic Association to publish the letter from FIFA that set out those requirements, given that the International Olympic Committee does not require home nation agreement for the national Olympic committee to select a team for Team GB. If that letter could be published it would be helpful.

My Lords, it is not my letter but I will certainly take that point away. The time to look at this again—2016 is nearly upon us—is ahead of the 2020 Games, by which time I think we all hope that FIFA will have been reformed. I make a strategic pause here. But, obviously, that is my greatest wish and, I think, the greatest wish of many others in the House.

Returning to today’s debate, I think we can be rightly proud of the investment made by successive Governments and the subsequent effects this has had. It was rightly lauded by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey. UK Trade & Investment figures covering the whole of London, which were boosted by the British Business Embassy at Lancaster House, show that there were 796 investment projects in London in 2014-15, creating more than 21,000 new jobs and safeguarding a further 2,500.

The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, asked about the lessons learned for the wider area of east London and for projects elsewhere such as the northern powerhouse. Major events, sporting or otherwise, provide a catalyst for regeneration of deprived areas and wider economic growth, including through trade and investment. We have seen this not only in the East End of London but also in Manchester and Glasgow, with their staging of the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2014 respectively.

What else have we concluded from our debate today? We have a dedicated legacy body, high-quality personnel, leaders, management, support for local stakeholders, work on jobs and skills and apprentices so that the employment opportunities, some of which I have described, take off and are sustained. Partnership working, involving local communities through consultation and end-users, is important. My noble friend Lord Moynihan talked of the disability legacy of the Paralympics in terms of both vision and design. That is another lesson that we have learned from this great project.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, talked about—if I may summarise him—focus and being joined-up. I think that we can all agree with that objective. There are obviously differences of detail. He suggested a single Minister and a single unit in the mayor’s office and talked about the role of local government. But I think that the theme—I am not putting words in his mouth—of focus and being joined-up is important. As he said, ensuring that the legacy extends beyond the area and beyond the Parliament is very important. These are long-term things, which is why cross-party working is so important. We had this over the Olympics. I think it was one of the reasons for its success and I am sorry that today’s debate drifted at times too far into party politics.

That brings me to housing, which is another area where we need to learn lessons from these projects. The Government have done their bit in relation to the former athletes’ village, as I mentioned. I accept that the proportion of affordable housing in other developments and in other areas, including some in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is lower. The latter issue is a matter for the mayor and the London Legacy Development Corporation. The Government remain keen to see vibrant new communities in east London with a healthy mix of housing. I will reflect on the comments and look into the specific points, including those made by the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, of Limehouse, because that was helpful feedback. I will talk to the Department for Communities and Local Government. I thank him for his comments.

I am delighted that the park is supporting the Government’s apprenticeship programme. The numbers are not huge—124 apprenticeships since the Games, including at the stadium, Here East, Chobham Manor and the venues, but 88% of these have gone to local people. That is how it should be. Last year, more than 600 local residents received specialist construction training as part of the wider construction programme taking place on the park.

How does the Minister define local people? Is anybody who has an address now defined as local, as I said in my speech? The bid document and all the promises that were made in the run-up to and at the Olympics defined local people as long-term residents of those areas, which were seriously deprived.

My Lords, I do not know the answer to that question. I will come back to the noble Baroness. The point I am trying to make is that local is important. We can argue about definitions, but we want to use these great regeneration opportunities, both here and, in future, in other parts of the UK, to help local people get employment. I think there is a certain amount of agreement about that. In September 2014, 66% of the workforce across the venues and in estates and facilities management were local residents—which we will, of course, define. Employment will also be helped by the use of the venues. The Rugby World Cup was amazing, it was wonderful to see it on our screens, and it is great that West Ham and UK Athletics are using the park. My noble friend Lady Brady is vice-chairman of West Ham.

Finally, I come back to the regeneration of east London. The development is based around marvellous sporting venues on the park, which are available for community and elite use. A swim in the pool where Michael Phelps won his record 18th gold medal costs under a fiver—what a great way to spend one’s time—and it will help our sports participation figures, because, as noble Lords know, swimming has gone backwards. The Lee Valley VeloPark opened in March 2014 and is the finest cycling hub in the world, with the iconic velodrome at its heart. It is the only place on earth to offer the four Olympic cycling disciplines: track in the velodrome, BMX on a modified version of the Olympic track, road cycling on a new one-mile circuit and mountain biking on challenging new trails, watched—a lot—by my very masculine family; a husband and four boys.

My time has nearly run out. I will write to noble Lords whose questions I have not been able to answer this evening.

I was reflecting on something that the noble Baroness said that I think she will want to clarify. She said that a partisan approach was introduced to the debate around housing. Does she accept that housing is not a party-political issue?

It was a general remark, as I think the noble Lord will find when he reviews the debate. On housing, I agree that we should try to move forward in a non-party way if we can. I am sure that there are party elements, but I was not, in any event, referring to any of the points he was making on housing —housing followed next on my list. I was trying to respond to the challenge identified by the noble Lord who so kindly brought us this debate today: what are the lessons? I look forward to hearing other answers to that excellent question, which has given us so much food for thought.

I conclude by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for giving us the opportunity to have this debate. It has certainly been very enlightening to me and I look forward to what, I am sure, will be a brighter future for this wonderful area, thanks to the legacy of the London Olympics.

May I ask for one point of clarification? The Minister said that there will be 50% affordable housing. The Olympic bid document said that the park will have 50% affordable housing. The point I was making is that the figures I have from the London Legacy Development Corporation are that 28% will be provided in the first tranche and 30% in the second tranche. I am not clear where the 50% came from and it would be very helpful if the Minister would explain.

My Lords, my time is up but I will write to the noble Baroness. I have already undertaken to look into these housing points to try to shine a light on them, and I look forward to doing so.

My Lords, I thank all those who have taken part in this debate, particularly those in the Chamber who have made such a major contribution through the Games to the regeneration of east London. We are very thankful for that and I give many thanks for the kind remarks from colleagues. We all know that it has been quite a journey.

I will make one or two comments. On the employment gap, there is a limit to what one can say in a speech, but perhaps I might draw people’s attention to a speech that I made in this Chamber a couple of weeks ago on apprenticeships and some of the work we have been doing on that. There is a lot more to do. Across the road the Bromley by Bow Centre, which I founded, has 60 local businesses operating around the park. The science summer school is all about this agenda. I would draw attention to the work of Sir Robin Wales, the Labour Mayor of Newham, who has been absolutely consistent about this point and made a major contribution.

I welcome very much colleagues’ support for Stratford International station, as I do the Minister’s comments. I encourage her to speak to the noble Lords, Lord Heseltine and Lord Deben, who were personally responsible for ensuring that that platform appeared in Stratford.

I have given some of the numbers on local community involvement in the park. I was actually at a party at Here East last night, which is just opening its first piece of that building with a fantastic local event and a reception. There is a very big event tonight in the stadium with the noble Baroness, Lady Brady, and others, which is focused on the Olympicopolis. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, that we may need 10 years to make a proper judgment about these big things. They take time.

We understand well the needs of long-term residents in the area. We focus closely on them and it is very good that the staff at the legacy company are people from the area, who have worked practically on these issues to deliver real things over a very long period. I will ask the chief executive of Poplar HARCA—which, just so we understand the history here, is a local resident-controlled housing company—to write to the noble Lord setting out why it is today committed to creating mixed communities and what the practical realities are in doing this in Poplar today. I would be very happy to share with the Minister my experience of this company, which I have been involved with for over 20 years.

Successive Governments have played their part in giving the people of east London the necessary cross-party support that created the essential conditions and continuity necessary to trigger changes on this scale. The job is not finished, and there is more to do, but the die is set and we welcome anyone who wants to invest or bring their institutions east. It is where the future economy of London lies.

I hope that this Government will share the lessons learnt with other regions of the country as they rightly invest large amounts of taxpayers’ money in the north of England. Britain’s economy today is on the move and we in east London want once again to play our role as a central driver in the capital city, focused on innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship—attributes that set this nation apart from the rest of the world. We are absolutely committed to local people being part of all of that. We have in east London the largest artistic community outside New York. We have global brands moving in. What we need now is clarity and focus within central government to see the bigger picture in the Lower Lea Valley, join the dots and make the connection in the narrative that tells about the Olympic Park and the surrounding area. Today, east London is on the move and we are ready and up for the task.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 4.38 pm.