House of Lords
Thursday 14 September 2017
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham.
Introduction: The Lord Bishop of Lincoln
Christopher, Lord Bishop of Lincoln, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Bishop of Gloucester and the Bishop of Newcastle, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.
Brexit: Northern Cyprus
My Lords, the Government see a settlement deal that protects the interests of both Cypriot communities as the best way to improve north Cyprus’s trade relations and overcome the isolation of those residing in north Cyprus. As we leave the European Union, we will continue to look at ways to support the economic development of north Cyprus within the constraints of United Nations Security Council resolutions and international law. We will also continue to work for a just and lasting settlement.
I thank my noble friend the Minister for her Answer. However, the settlement talks in north Cyprus have now effectively broken down, although the north Cypriots did everything they could to make them a success. In response to a previous question, I was told that one of the obstacles to freer trade relations with north Cyprus was our membership of the European Union. Now that that is coming to an end and we are no longer bound by the common positions, will Her Majesty’s Government look carefully at giving north Cyprus the same status as, say, Taiwan, another country which has difficulty in certain international institutions?
We are sorry that the attempts to reach a settlement in Switzerland broke down. On the specific question posed by my noble friend, we are unable, obviously, to give a detailed commentary on future trade deals as we leave the EU. However, we have no current plans to review policy on UK trade with north Cyprus. My noble friend raises the issue of Taiwan. Taiwan and north Cyprus are two very different political realities. To be honest, I do not think it is helpful to compare the two; each situation needs to be addressed in its own context.
My Lords, I agree totally with the Minister’s response: of course, the conditions in Cyprus and the social and community divisions can be resolved only by the two parties ultimately coming together. Any action that could frustrate that would be wrong, so I support the Minister. However, this week at the opening session of the General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary-General talked about his willingness for talks to resume. We have also heard the Cypriot president say that he is willing for talks to resume, based on the United Nations conditions. Can the noble Baroness update us on what has been happening at this week’s General Assembly?
The general position of the United Kingdom is that we continue to support all efforts towards a just and lasting Cyprus settlement on both a bilateral basis, in so far as that is available to us, and, of course, within the forum of the United Nations. We are encouraging both sides to reflect calmly on the way forward and see rhetoric as serving only to limit the possibility of future talks towards a settlement. The UK is contributing in a number of ways, including through our deployment of military personnel to the peacekeeping force.
My Lords, since April passengers on flights to the UK from Northern Cyprus have had to deplane in Turkey and go through additional security checks. I understand that is necessary because our aviation security people do not have sight of the security arrangements in Northern Cyprus. Can the Minister say what conversations we have had with officials in Northern Cyprus to remedy the situation so that normal flight arrangements can be restored?
The safety and security of the public are the primary concern of the United Kingdom Government, and we will not hesitate to put in place any measures that we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate. As a result of consultations with the Department for Transport, Pegasus Airlines took the decision to introduce additional security checks on passengers transiting in Turkey on flights from Ercan to Stansted. I repeat: the United Kingdom’s primary focus is on the safety and security of the public.
As the noble Lord is aware, the situation is the subject of both international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions. The important influences are not just the leaders of the two communities on the island but also, obviously, the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, and the United Kingdom as a guarantor power. Although we believe that we can try to facilitate discussions and proffer advice, we cannot impose a solution. The matter has to be resolved by agreement between the two communities on the island.
My Lords, I suppose that I should by now be used to platitudes and avoidance in answers and debates on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, I remind noble Lords of how we surrendered Cyprus to our enemy, EOKA-B, when it betrayed the 1960 Cyprus agreement. When and how will we now meet our historic and moral obligations to the Turkish Cypriot community, who have been horribly betrayed?
The United Kingdom, along with Greece and Turkey and the two communities on the island, not to mention other global partners, is concerned about the situation as it now exists. The UK is very keen to support confidence-building measures between the two communities. Frankly, the only way forward on this is for the two communities to come to an agreement on how best to take forward the objective of a united Cyprus.
My Lords, the Minister made it quite clear in her Answer that she thought that the solution lay with the two communities on the island. Can she confirm that that is the case? Clearly, one problem with relations in terms of the Turkish Cypriots is that this remains an illegal occupation following an invasion some 40 years ago. Can the Minister tell us what is, or should be, being done to stop the frustration of these talks by, on the Greek Cypriot side, diaspora who no longer live on the island and, on the Turkish Cypriot side, the influence of the Turkish Government?
I reiterate what I said in response to other questions but I also emphasise that the United Kingdom is a willing partner in trying to help the situation move forward, and there are other parties that have a role to play. The United Kingdom believes that the solution rests with the two communities on the island. We are very sad that the recent talks in Switzerland did not make progress, although some positive issues emerged from them, and that can introduce a note of optimism. However, at the end of the day, we cannot impose solutions.
My Lords, housing is a priority for this Government. We are committed to ensuring radical and lasting reform to get homes built now and in future, and are delivering the changes needed to make that happen. For example, we have already launched a £2.3 billion fund, which we committed to in the White Paper, to provide essential infrastructure to support up to 100,000 new homes.
My Lords, the consultation on the housing White Paper was published on 2 May and, as we know, it contained urgently needed measures to address the critical shortfall of housing here in the UK. When does the Minister expect the results of that consultation to be ready, and when can we expect a revised National Planning Policy Framework?
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is right about the consultation. Noble Lords will appreciate that this afternoon I will say something in relation to housing need, which of course was covered in the White Paper. Meanwhile, much in the White Paper is delivered independently of the consultation. I have referred to the infrastructure but there is also the land release fund, and increased planning fees will come on stream shortly. We are analysing the responses that came in as a result of the consultation and we will come forward in response to that in due course. I thank the right reverend Prelate for the work that his cathedral does. I was there not long ago—more than two weeks ago, I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes—taking account of what was happening there and the great work that is being done.
My Lords, the noble Lord may be aware that affordability is basically 80% of market rent. He will probably be reassured by some of the things coming forward which are to be presented in the Commons and which I will be repeating. He is obviously right that it is important that we help those people who cannot afford an affordable rent. We are doing that. We are looking at bespoke deals, for example, and we are progressing that with Leeds and the West Midlands.
My noble friend is right that modular housing is more prevalent in Scandinavia, the United States and large parts of Europe. He will recall that it was referenced in the White Paper. We are keen to progress it. It can deliver housing very quickly and more reasonably and is very adaptable. He is right to draw attention to it and the department is certainly looking at it.
My Lords, I declare my interests in property in the register of interests. Did the Minister hear this morning the survivor of the Grenfell Tower disaster, speaking three months afterwards, who is still living in a hotel with his daughter, who is going to school, still living in temporary accommodation —joining the 100,000 children in this country who are living in temporary accommodation? I welcome the Government’s work in this area but what will they do, particularly to ensure that local councils can build sufficient council housing for low-income families so that their children can thrive?
I did not have the privilege of hearing the contribution that the noble Earl refers to but, of course, the Government very much do not want people living in emergency accommodation. However, we understand the position of many people who do not want to move from emergency accommodation into temporary accommodation and then into permanent accommodation. It is a complex issue. In response to his broader point about the need for social housing, this is again referenced in the White Paper and we are committed to working on it. He will know that our delivery of local authority housing over the past six years bears comparison with local authority housing in the previous 13 years under a Labour Government. However, there is still much to do.
My Lords, I refer the House to my entry in the register of interests. Will the Minister comment on the National Audit Office report published yesterday, which finds that in 2015-16 local authorities spent more than £1.1 billion on homelessness and that more than three-quarters of this—£845 million—was spent on temporary accommodation? Is he aware that that money would have built 30,000 new affordable homes?
I acknowledge the work done by the National Audit Office and obviously we will consider its report seriously. The noble Lord is right that we need to ensure that money is spent on housing rather on dealing with homelessness. In short, prevention is better than cure. We are aware of that and take it seriously. However, as he will know, we are committed to 1 million new homes by 2020 and another 500,000 in the two years after that. That is a considerable increase on what we have achieved as a country over the last 10, 15, even 20 years. There is much still to do but we are getting there.
My Lords, has my noble friend given further thought to the recommendations of the Economic Affairs Committee in its housing report? One of the largest costs of housing is the cost of land, so it was suggested that local authorities, health authorities and other public bodies which have land available for housing be given the incentive to sell it by being allowed to keep the proceeds of the sale. Further, what action will the Government take on the oligopoly which the large housing builders represent? They are deliberately withholding land to maintain the price of housing.
My Lords, my noble friend is right about the importance of the release of public land. As he will know, we have increased the funding on that as a result of the White Paper, and action was taken just last month. Yes, we need to look further at the release of public land. I keep trailing what is going to be in the Statement this afternoon. I will not go into the detail, but again it has provisions for dealing with the cost of land. I agree with him about land banking, which as he will recall was covered in the White Paper. We will respond on that in due course.
My Lords, yesterday was World Sepsis Day, a timely reminder that patients rightly expect the NHS to recognise and treat this devastating condition. To continue making progress in tackling sepsis, NHS England yesterday published its Second Sepsis Action Plan. At the same time, NICE published a new quality standard for sepsis, building on the guidance it published in July 2016.
I thank my noble friend for that constructive response. The House may or may not know that sepsis kills 44,000 in the UK every year. It can develop from a simple scratch on the skin, but it is easily cured with antibiotics. The problem is ignorance of the symptoms on the part of both patients and clinicians. Will the department undertake to explore, with the UK Sepsis Trust, an urgent and impactful awareness campaign that will save both lives and money?
I am grateful to my noble friend for raising this important issue and I should like to pay tribute both to the UK Sepsis Trust and to the campaigner, the parent Melissa Mead. I do not know if noble Lords saw the moving “Panorama” programme broadcast earlier this week about the work that she has done to raise awareness of this issue. She is truly inspiring given that she lost her child.
A major campaign was launched at the end of last year to raise public awareness. It was fronted by the Secretary of State, and, indeed, Public Health England is building messages about sepsis into its Start4Life campaign. I believe that the particular proposal is that there should be a campaign of advertising on the sides of ambulances. The Secretary of State is sympathetic to the idea and is raising the issue with the chief executives of ambulance trusts to see whether this is something that we can take forward.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Grade, for raising this extremely important topic, which coincides appropriately with World Sepsis Day this week. My husband is a fortunate survivor of sepsis, albeit at the cost of an amputated leg. He is not one of the 44,000 annual fatalities only because of the speed and skill of the medical professionals at the Whittington Health NHS Trust. I should declare an interest in that he is the chairman of the trust, which I believe has the best record on treating sepsis in London. Clinical awareness is rising in the NHS but it is patchy, so more must be done. Public awareness is very low, and I am grateful to the Minister for announcing those plans. However, they must be reinforced so that friends and family and members of the public know how to spot the possible symptoms.
I am sorry to hear that sepsis has affected the noble Baroness’s husband in that way and I am glad to learn that he is not one of the more than 40,000 people who die from the condition every year. Public awareness is critical and, as I say, we are looking at new ideas for how to get the message across using a range of routes. The point about clinical awareness is also very important. Until a couple of years ago, there was no widespread clinical awareness of the symptoms of sepsis and how to assess and then treat people, but we have seen quite a big improvement. I can give one example. For those presenting with symptoms in emergency departments, previously only around half were assessed for sepsis; the figure is now up to nearly 90%. I see that as good progress, but clearly there is much more to do.
That is absolutely right but I draw the attention of the noble Lord to a couple of things. First, in the NICE quality standard published yesterday there are some very clear statements about the speed with which people suspected of these symptoms should be treated. Those are quite robust in terms of getting intravenous antibiotics to people within an hour, being reassessed by a senior clinician if they then fail to improve within an hour and so on. That is very clear and there is implementation guidance going through. Another thing announced yesterday is quite important. It is a slightly odd phrase but “safety netting” is where someone has been assessed on whether they have sepsis, does not have it but is sent away with materials that show what the symptoms might be and how to report back if their condition deteriorates.
The noble Baroness is quite right. Trusts are now incentivised to report incidences of sepsis and their performance against these quality standards. That is happening. Unfortunately there is still variation within the system. That is why the documents that came out yesterday are so important. For the first time, we have an operational definition of adult sepsis. Clearly, that is critical to making sure that it is spotted in time.
My Lords, the action plan is very welcome. It seems apparent that when patients come through, particularly from A&E, they are not recognised as having sepsis. Clearly, there is an issue about health service staff not recognising the symptoms or understanding the scale of the problem with sepsis. The Minister will be aware of a 2015 report by the national confidential inquiry which criticised the way coding is designed so that, in fact, sepsis does not appear as the prime responsibility for a death. The Government have been asked to look at coding. If it is not in the action plan, will the Minister look at this?
My Lords, as a survivor of total-body sepsis, I very much endorse what my noble friend Lord Turnberg said about the speed and danger of this illness. What was so difficult for both my family and the professionals who treated me to understand was that it could lead to a total failure of all the body’s organs—as it did in my case—within, literally, hours. The urgency of this must be emphasised in any public awareness campaign.
I am very sorry to hear that the noble Baroness suffered that but am obviously delighted that she is still here. Just to re-emphasise the point about speed, I encourage noble Lords to look at the quality standard because it is very stringent about the speed at which treatment must be administered. Of course, the critical thing is making sure that there is proper triage and assessment ahead of that. That is where we still need to make some progress.
HMS “Ocean”: Hurricane Relief
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. Indeed, HMS “Ocean” is a highly capable ship. Sadly, we are getting rid of her at the end of the year. My Question relates to timescales. On Monday 4 September, Hurricane Irma was declared a category 5 hurricane—a really big beast and something to worry about. It is notoriously difficult to predict a hurricane’s track but it was quite clear that it would hit, either leeward or windward, the Greater or Lesser Antilles, where there are a number of British dependencies. On 6 September, it hit Barbuda. Bearing in mind the distances involved—it is about 3,250 miles from Gib to the British Virgin Islands on a great circle route, for example, which would take about seven and a half days at 18 knots—when was the captain of HMS “Ocean” told that his orders were changing? The ship did not sail from Gibraltar until eight days after Irma was declared a category 5. I would be interested to know when his orders changed. As its role at the moment is as the flagship of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 in the Med and it is very important to show NATO resolve while the Zapad exercises take place in Russia, which RN ship has now taken up that role? Do we have too few ships to actually do it?
First, I rebut the charge of unpreparedness. When the threat of Hurricane Irma was known, there was intensive diplomatic exchange at the highest possible level between those likely to be affected. In fact, RFA “Mounts Bay”—the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel, as the noble Lord will know—was pre-positioned in the Caribbean in order to respond immediately when the hurricane hit. The morning after Irma hit Anguilla, “Mounts Bay” delivered six tonnes of aid to the island, restored power to the hospital, provided emergency shelter and cleared the runway to allow relief flights to land. I think your Lordships will understand that Irma was a devastating force of nature with immense destructive power, carving a path through an extensive geographical area and affecting many, often remote, communities. That poses challenges in responding to such a situation, but the UK response has been clear.
On the specific question of what orders were issued to the captain of HMS “Ocean” and when, perhaps if I had been aboard I would be in a better position to inform the noble Lord, but I am not sure whether such information would be properly disclosable in any event. He will realise that HMS “Ocean” was operating in the Mediterranean as a flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group 2. It went to Gibraltar because it had to embark personnel and supplies there. It was important that that craft was properly equipped to cross the Atlantic and get to the affected areas with the skills and personnel on board, and the necessary equipment and landing craft, for example, to deliver real and meaningful help to these gravely impacted communities.
My Lords, I do not criticise what the Government have done because such disasters are very difficult to cope with, but would we not have been better able to cope if we had kept the Caribbean guard ship on station in that area, and a garrison at Belize? Will the noble Baroness have a word with the Ministry of Defence and see whether these matters can be revisited?
I simply say that it is not as though we have a dearth or absence of personnel in the Caribbean area. We have a significant presence there in Foreign and Commonwealth Office personnel and diplomatic staff. As we speak, we have more than 1,200 military personnel and 60 police in the Caribbean. As I said, we have RFA “Mounts Bay”; we have two aircraft, two helicopters and one more inbound; we also have 40 tonnes of food, water and construction aid. A great deal is happening and it is a tribute to those involved in these very difficult circumstances that they have been able to respond—
The difference is that I know it.
My Lords, the serious point is that a devastating natural disaster has occurred in the Caribbean, affecting many hundreds of thousands of people. Those of us who have watched the footage on television must be appalled at the impact on people and their lives. It is important that we pay tribute to everybody who has been involved in responding to this extraordinary situation but do so with willingness, commitment and a resolve to get things better as quickly as possible.
My Lords, on Tuesday in your Lordships’ House, I asked the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, about the number of people who are still missing in the affected British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos and the Commonwealth island of Barbuda. It is a simple and straightforward question in a disaster situation, but I did not get a satisfactory response. May I have one now?
As the noble Baroness will understand, the situation has been fast changing. The information I have in relation to British nationals is that we do not have any reports of British casualties at this time, and we are also not aware of any British nationals who are injured. As I say, the situation is fast moving. Through the existing channels of communication we now have, we hope to be able to clarify the information with greater detail.
Children: Gambling Advertisements
Motion to Take Note
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I immediately declare what may be perceived as a conflict of interest, in that one of my children is head of policy for Google in the UK.
The genesis of requesting this debate today was a summer of wonderful sport on television. However, every commercial break seemed dominated by gambling advertisements. As I watched sports that my extended family love, I found myself asking several questions. Are these commercials really what I want youngsters to see, seated around my TV set in the security and privacy of my home? Are they going to make these young people more responsible adults? Are they being encouraged to believe that gambling is a normal part of everyday life and something to which they should aspire? Are the warnings about the risks of gambling clear, strong and unambiguous?’
I obviously have the highest possible regard for the advertising industry, which I believe is an immensely positive and powerful tool that contributes significantly to the good of our society, so, in moving this Motion, I imply no criticism of the advertising industry or its regulators. I simply ask: do we know enough about the effects of the welter of gambling promotion on TV and online to which children are now subjected, and is there more we could do as a society to protect them from it? In the light of the Government gambling review due this autumn, this seems an appropriate moment to ask these questions.
I am pleased to say that I am not alone in these concerns. Mr Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, said at the firm’s 2017 half-year presentation:
“My personal view is that there is too much gambling advertising on TV”.
“I have teenage children and we are sympathetic to some sort of curb or some sort of review around the level of advertising”.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently told MPs:
“My children can recite just about every gambling ad there is”.
Some of these worries are clearly shared by a majority of the UK public. According to research from the Gambling Commission, 69% of people in the UK think betting is dangerous for family life and 78% fear there are too many opportunities to do it. Indeed, the members of public who think the practice should be actively discouraged has risen from 36% in 2010 to 55% in 2016.
I am most grateful to my noble friend for raising this important subject. When, more than 20 years ago, I was Minister of State at the Home Office responsible for gambling, the principle that then applied was that there should be no attempt to stimulate demand, which restricted advertising. Does he think we should return to that principle?
That is one option. I am going to suggest at the end of this speech four initiatives that I would like the Government to examine.
In summary, a majority of people in the United Kingdom think that gambling should not be encouraged, that it is dangerous to family life and that it is too easy to do. There are now 400,000 problem gamblers in the UK—up by one-third in three years. The rate of problem gambling has nearly doubled from 0.4% to 0.7%, and among 16 to 24 year-olds, it has doubled from 0.7% to 1.5%. These are disturbing increases because some evidence suggests that gambling is more addictive than alcohol or drugs: about 90% of recovering gamblers relapse, a higher proportion than for these other addictions.
The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that 80% of addicted gamblers think about killing themselves and one in five make an attempt to take their own lives—nearly twice the rate for the other addictions I mentioned. As a result, gambling addiction costs the UK up to £1.6 billion a year in mental health, police and welfare system services. The social effect of addictive gambling does great damage to the family unit and to the disposable income the family should enjoy.
There is, as far as I can ascertain, just one specialist NHS gambling clinic. Founded in 2008, it is funded by the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. Last year, it helped 762 people aged 16 and over, most of whom used mobile gambling apps, a practice which is growing faster and faster. In 2016, the clinic received 20% more referrals from GPs, counsellors and indeed addicts themselves than in 2015. The picture of a growing gambling crisis is not hard to paint, particularly among the young.
The Gambling Commission released a study last year which estimated that some 450,000 young people—one in six of those in this country between 11 and 15—gamble at least once a week. That is a higher number than those who smoke or take drugs, and twice the number who drink alcohol. The research suggests that although the number of children drinking or smoking is falling, the opposite is true of gambling. Statistically, it is probable that 9,000 of these children will become problem gamblers, and yet 60% of them agree that gambling is dangerous, 63% had seen advertisements on social media and 57% saw the promotion of gambling on other websites.
Common sense suggests that the ever-growing advertising budgets of the gambling companies, particularly around and during sporting events, are contributing to this upward trend. Last year the gambling industry spent £312 million—a 63% increase on 2012. A little less than half this budget was spent on TV and a little more than half on online and other advertisements. While TV advertising is up 43% since 2012, online platforms are up 87%. Affiliate marketing is also growing fast. Your Lordships may have seen that just yesterday, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints against some gambling firms over adverts placed by affiliates, the agencies paid to direct gamblers to online casinos and bookmakers. Children are, in my view, being bombarded with gambling messages in all directions, both in conventional advertising and online.
It would be wrong to suggest that my view is universally accepted. The Committee of Advertising Practice and the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising focused their reviews on Ofcom figures which showed that in 2012—admittedly, five years ago—children only saw four gambling commercials a week, and much of this research suggests that there is much less impact on young people than my intuition implies.
What does the current law say about this? The Gambling Act 2005 permits betting and gambling companies to advertise across all media channels in our country. The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling requires all gambling advertisements to be scheduled after the 9 pm watershed, except bingo advertisements or sports betting advertisements shown around the televised sporting event itself. All gambling advertisements are, of course, heavily regulated. Some gambling advertising—for example, “Money back if your horse loses”—can only appear after 9 pm. However, there are three issues here.
The first is that the average age at which children start to watch post-watershed TV unsupervised is now 11 years and three-quarters. Secondly, children now access programmes when they choose, not when they are scheduled. Thirdly and obviously, social media in the online sphere is how the vast majority of youngsters interact with each other, choose their lifestyle and share their experiences. I would be less concerned with this whole subject if I felt that the industry were not glamorising gambling—using film stars, for example, to sponsor their brands. Most importantly, I would be happier if commercials carried a stark health warning. Do we really believe that health warnings such as, “When the fun stops, stop” really tell enough about the danger that gambling could present to the person watching the programme? Do such warnings, or references to the website BeGambleAware, really engage young people and children and educate them about the risks that gambling presents?
Other countries are taking this really seriously. Australia, for example, is considering whether to ban all gambling advertising before 8.30 pm, during all sporting events and for five minutes before and after play. Intuitively, therefore, as a parent and a grandparent, I feel that something is wrong here. Not all the statistics support my case. Some clearly suggest that the damage I am predicting for young people is overstated and the chances of this leading to a gambling epidemic is overblown. What I do know is that we need better, independent information. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that GambleAware is now looking at tendering for research into this very area, particularly online marketing.
I call on the Government to ask four questions as they review the industry. First, should there be any gambling commercials during sporting events? Should children be exposed to these advertisements? Does the 9 pm watershed provide adequate protection to young people in the light of changed viewing patterns and online viewing?
Secondly, in preparing for this debate I found that we need more reliable research, particularly on the online gambling industry and its potential effect on children. I will carefully scrutinise the Government’s recommendations in this area, as I will the work by GambleAware to which I referred.
Thirdly, should we strengthen the health warning on gambling commercials to make the risks gambling can present absolutely clear? I want to be sure that if a child sees an advertisement for gambling, he or she also sees a clear, contextualised statement of the risks gambling can present. This is exactly what we have done to considerable effect with smoking.
Fourthly, will the Government rethink the voluntary contribution by gambling companies of 0.1% of their profits to GambleAware? This is an excellent initiative because it provides the funds for much needed research, education and, very importantly, treatment. Could we not do more in this area? If such initiatives were undertaken, it would go a long way to putting to rest my unease when I next watch a test match or football match at home with my children and grandchildren, because I will feel confident that we are doing all we can, in a free society, to minimise the risk of gambling addiction becoming a growing social issue among the young.
My Lords, this is a timely debate for which I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington—timely because I too believe that gambling advertising has reached saturation point, especially for those for whom sport on television is a wonderful way of being where physically one cannot be. I could not have been in the southern hemisphere for the recent feast of world-class rugby there. Even if I had, I could not have then been in New York for the US Open. But through the wonders of television, I lived some great moments, for which I am hugely grateful.
Further, I am not naive enough to overlook the fact that the revenue from advertising helped to bring these delights to me—a point that would not be lost, to which he has admitted, on a shrewd businessman like the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington. That only makes his concerns about children more potent. Like him, although I was thrilled by the ups and downs of the sport I was seeing, I became increasingly concerned by the sheer amount of relentless advertising exhorting us all to gamble. Every commercial break was crammed to the gills with adverts which surely began to pall on many viewers by virtue of their repetition if nothing else.
There was even in these initially amusing commercials a truism to support the view that a fascination for gambling can take you over the edge. Consider the two characters in a life raft surrounded by sharks attempting to get at them. One man, not looking at a mobile phone is getting desperately concerned that his companion is so totally absorbed in a tennis match linked to betting that he is oblivious of the mortal danger he is in. Well, quite. Another version of this ad has the two men in a hut where a polar bear is trying to get in. A third involves a doomed spacecraft where one astronaut is utterly unconcerned as the controls go haywire.
When I first saw these ads, my somewhat dark sense of humour—indeed, I have to admit, the child in me—was tickled, especially since they are well acted and cleverly made. But as they were repeated ad nauseam, I became more and more dismayed and to be honest began to be rather attracted to the idea of puncturing the life raft, and opening the door to the bear to allow him in for a decent meal. Joking aside, it was my realisation that children whom we should encourage to watch sport would begin to think that this was an important part of enjoying sport.
Then we have a famous, somewhat laddish actor telling us that this is the club to be in; it is everywhere; it sees everything, he says, but then adds, as though daddy is watching, that we bet responsibly. Who is “we”, and how does he know? What he means is: like cigarette manufacturers, he is putting the health warning on the side of the packet while making his way to the bank.
Gambling as an addiction is easily acquired, and it is a terrible curse. Financially the victim becomes like the man in the boat or the spacecraft where everything is going wrong. He is plunging to his doom but all will be well if he can just get in another bet. Yet the makers of these commercials realise that they were focusing in on just what many of us—daddies, if you like—are really concerned about.
Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones is a medical doctor and neuroscience researcher working as a consultant psychiatrist in addictions. She has published two text books on pathological gambling. Henrietta is the founder and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, based in Soho, London. She believes that we should have, “far more rigorous watersheds”, and that we should “remove all possibility of mixing gambling adverts and sports, as it gives a very mixed message to youngsters”.
Dr Bowden-Jones has seen the awful results of gambling addiction: ruined careers, broken families and the suicidal tendencies of those afflicted. And it is an affliction—the brain seeks ever more fixes, to use an opiate analogy, to be satisfied. As adults, we have the right to turn over—we do not have to watch. So it is really the potency of the concern about young people and children that is our focus here today.
I finish with a direct question to the Minister. Does not the sheer amount of unavoidable gambling advertising surrounding sports broadcasting in itself conflict with CAP guidelines?
I too add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for introducing this important debate, which has such implications for young people in our country.
Gambling-related advertising poses a substantial risk of harm to children. I am grateful for the work that the Advertising Standards Agency does to regulate the industry, but I do not think that we have been either bold or creative enough in our efforts to protect our children and young people. As we have already heard, exceptions to current regulations allow adverts for bingo and sports betting before the 9 pm watershed, which means that children are now being exposed to record-breaking numbers of gambling-related advertisements. Whether or not they are specifically aimed at children, they are allowed to display footballers and other personalities and stars who may themselves be children, commending and glamorising it as a lifestyle.
According to Ofcom, between 2005 and 2012, the number of gambling-related adverts on TV increased from 90,000 to 1.4 million. In 2012, the average child watching TV saw 211 gambling-related ads per year. The problem is particularly linked to the exception in the current advertising rules that allows sports gambling companies to place ads during pre-watershed football matches. Two-thirds of ads for sports betting are shown pre-watershed. There is substantial evidence that that affects children’s behaviours, especially that of young boys. In the Gambling Commission’s most recent study, more than one-fifth of 11 to 15 year-old boys had spent their own money on a gambling activity in the week before the survey. That compares to just 11% of girls, and mirrors the fact that more men than women in this country are classed as problem gamblers. It is considerably higher than the levels of those who report drinking, smoking or taking drugs and the addictions associated with them.
Exposing young children, especially boys, to huge amounts of advertising, particularly during football matches but also during other games, is a risk to the population’s overall well-being. Allowing some kinds of advertising pre-watershed but not others sends out mixed messages to children and confusingly suggests that some kinds of gambling may carry fewer risks than others. Psychological research tells us that children are less able to make reasonable and appropriate judgments about advertising and are particularly vulnerable to exposure. It is one thing to advertise to adults, who are more able to make fully informed decisions about risk, and another entirely to expose children to this barrage of adverts.
Children need to be educated about gambling by families, schools and other responsible sources in the community. The Gambling Commission survey suggested reasons why children go in for gambling included a desire to make money, and because they thought it would be more fun or exciting.
As we all know, games of chance are no substitute for employment, and the enjoyment some people gain from gambling must be balanced with a knowledge of the substantial risk and responsibility involved for those who choose to play. Allowing children to be exposed to gambling adverts interferes with their ability to receive responsible, balanced messages about the risks of gambling.
Of course, the next frontier is gambling advertising online. More than 60% of 11 to 15 year-olds have seen gambling ads on social media, with a similar number seeing other online ads. I am anxious to hear what comments and analysis we will get from the gambling review on online advertising, and children in particular, but it is clear that betting companies are not doing enough to ensure that children do not see their ads. It is not enough that ads are not targeted at, or designed to appeal to, children. It would be better for children to not have to confront these ads at all, for their own safe development.
Both government and industry have begun to recognise the effect many forms of advertising have on young people. A recent editorial in the respected medical journal, the Lancet, called problem gambling a “public health concern”, saying that the UK has not met the,
“need to balance tax revenue with a duty of care to vulnerable members of society.”
Surely children are some of the most vulnerable and impressionable members of our society. The Government have rightly taken steps to ban cigarette companies from sponsoring sport, and restrict alcohol and junk food advertising targeted at children. The Football Association, recognising the problem that gambling has in the community, has ceased sponsorship deals with betting firms—including a £4 million contract with Ladbrokes—and does not allow betting firms to put sponsorship ads on children’s T-shirts. Nevertheless, further action must be taken to close loopholes and force betting firms to take more drastic action to protect children. We have already heard that recent legislation in Australia has banned gambling adverts during pre-watershed sporting events.
We all accept that betting is part of the life of our nation. Many people enjoy it and do it responsibly; nevertheless it seems to be a growing problem, which may reap a terrible harvest later on. I hope that the Government will be brave in acting to confront this problem in the upcoming review, for the sake of children and their families around our country.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for bringing this very important debate to the House. I apologise in advance if what I am about to say repeats some of his points, or those of the eloquent noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, who made some very good points.
I am sure that many of your Lordships will know of somebody who was addicted to gambling. Your Lordships will also know that gambling can bring devastation to family life and even lead to criminal offences and a complete destruction of a person’s life. Gambling is as addictive as alcohol or drugs. I am sure that people cleverer than me—psychologists, for example—will be able to explain to the House what it is that makes people want to gamble. We need to focus on what it is that lures young people into gambling.
Allow me to go quite a way back in time to the late 1960s and early 1980s—a time when there was no internet, no gambling advertising on TV and no scratchcards in newsagents, when, as I recall, all that was available was horseracing and dog racing, and when ordinary working-class people tried to supplement their income by gambling. They would hear of a win that was equivalent to a whole week’s wages—that was the attraction that lead to the addiction.
One thing we all know is that there are no bankrupt bookmakers, but there are many bankrupt gamblers. In the long term, gamblers never win—bookmakers always win.
Moving forward to the current arena, we have not only horseracing and dog racing, but things you can buy in newsagents such as scratchcards. We have online gambling, slot machine arcades and television advertising between sports events. Opportunity and awareness of gambling have made a giant leap. Unfortunately, gambling has been made easy for people. Gambling ventures stating that only people over the age of 18 are allowed, for example, to buy scratchcards, gamble online or go into slot machine arcades are fine, but the fact is children find a way of doing it.
Why are young people attracted to this? I guess again psychologists may tell you that it is brought about by the culture of the young person’s family, by the company they keep or maybe the fact that they feel they have no chance of getting a good a job but have a desire to get hold of money by gambling as opposed to something more terrible such as drug dealing. Their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters or uncles may be serial gamblers. As silly as it may sound, that young person should be able to see that it has not done them any good. The worst thing that could ever happen to anyone is to win, and to win something which represents a week’s wages or a year’s pocket money, for example. That will get the person hooked.
I believe that part of the school curriculum should not only be allocated to discussing the dangers of alcohol, drugs and smoking; added to that should be a message about gambling—a very strong message put out to the young people that there is no such thing as a rich gambler, but there are many rich bookmakers. You cannot win in the long term. If that message is put across to young people it may sink in that spending money in trying to win a fortune is a foolish thing to embark upon.
The adverts shown between football matches are incredible. They offer free bets, refunds on bets, and are repeated several times during a game. More offers are made at half time. In fact, the whole of the advertising slots during a game are taken up with gambling advertising. What amazes me is that the policy of TV companies seems to have changed. In my days of advertising on TV I was told that inside a three-minute slot of advertising you were not allowed to have two competitors in the same break. I am not sure whether this was something made up by the policymakers at the time, TV broadcasters or the regulators, but now there are several adverts from different organisations in the same slot. It looks like that rule has gone completely out of the window.
I have noted certain adverts on TV where I see the actor Ray Winstone as the lead character. They have recently started to add at the end of the advert “gamble responsibly”. These words are absolutely pathetic. At this point I clarify, if any of the media are looking in, that I am not accusing Mr Winstone of being pathetic, because he may come and thump me afterwards. It was clearly a useless attempt to pacify an authority that maybe complained. I do not know who that was—maybe Ofcom or the Advertising Standards Authority—but it is pathetically weak and totally inadequate.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, that the warnings about gambling are in no way strong enough or anywhere near or similar to those of the warnings of alcohol and cigarette smoke. The Government need to do something about stopping gambling television adverts that can be viewed by young people, the first being, although maybe not a solution, putting them on after 9 pm, after the watershed. No dispensation should be made for football that is played in the afternoon as it is my belief that these adverts are the major culprits that induce young people to gamble. Frankly, they are too clever and too alluring.
I move now to the internet, which is a massive can of worms of opportunities for gambling online. I do not personally have a solution for this, other than to ask the Government to intervene and to get a bit heavy with the likes of Facebook, Google and others on removing adverts for gambling accessibility for young people. I know that it is easier said than done but, digitally, they can do it by ensuring that no gambling adverts are displayed until after, say, 9 pm.
It is a difficult task to police the internet, but the Government have to step in. I go back to cigarettes: Governments across the world have done quite a good job of warning people of the dangers of cigarettes. We do not see any adverts for them on TV, on street hoardings or in magazines—and I do not see any adverts for them flashing up in front of my face on my computer screen on the internet. This proves conclusively that internet providers and search engine providers can do it if they want. I urge the Government to do exactly the same in respect of gambling as they did for cigarettes. Gambling is an addiction. Gambling ruins family lives. Gambling incites criminal activity.
I join others in thanking my noble friend Lord Chadlington for introducing this important debate. I was going to add “on a subject close to his heart” but, lest that be misinterpreted—as far as I know, he has never even bought a scratch card—I use this opportunity to pay tribute to his long and active association with the charity Action on Addiction, of which he was chairman between 1999 and 2008.
I have read quite widely in preparation for today’s debate and received input from a number of bodies from the industry, academia, the charitable sector and, of course, the extensive briefing notes from your Lordships’ Library, all of which serve to underline not only that this is a complex and perhaps underresearched field but that undertaking any research on the impact of gambling is methodologically challenging. Indeed, the Gambling Commission’s own research in 2016 found little evidence that advertising had a direct influence on gambling by children. Intuitively, however, one suspects that it is a lot more powerful than the research suggests, particularly since the very same report admitted that around 450,000 young people—almost 20% of the total cohort of 11 to 15 year-olds—gamble at least once a week and that the number is rising.
This is a field that is mutating before our eyes, so I wonder whether research methodology has kept pace. Tablet and mobile phones are now the most popular devices for going online, and we have witnessed an explosion of smartphone ownership in recent years—according to Ofcom, 79% of 12 to 15 year-olds now own one, up from only 69% two years ago. These devices have no watershed, and the ability to access gambling sites often requires only a tick in the box to confirm age as being over 18.
As a report by Demos observed last year, the whole online gambling ecosystem has changed. New influential voices with huge online followings are seen to promote gambling, and over 500 tipsters and affiliates identified by Demos share tips but fall outside any regulatory framework. Apps operating with digital currency and which look and behave like traditional gambling products also fall outside the gambling licensing laws because they do not yield cash prizes.
Research undertaken by Deakin University in Australia—which spends more per capita on gambling than any other country—shows quite clearly how young people become keen to gamble because of attractive advertising and its link to their favourite sport. Pervasive betting marketing when linked to sport is driving an unhealthy normalisation of gambling in children’s minds. It is not just the commercials that appear in the programme breaks, but everything from the hoardings around pitches to the sponsorship of team shirts.
Professor Cassidy’s research in the UK reinforces this view. There were more instances of gambling advertising during live sporting events broadcast in the UK than were recorded by similar studies in Australia, which has a watershed of 8.30 pm. The majority of these were for online gambling viewed on billboards. During three episodes of the BBC’s “Match of the Day”—screened after the watershed, but of course repeated on Sunday mornings and at will on iPlayer—764 instances of gambling advertising were identified. In similar Sky broadcasts the number was only 524. She concludes that the,
“exclusion of produced commercials from public service broadcasts does not prevent audiences from being exposed to large volumes of advertising”.
She adds that this has become,
“part of the fabric of sporting arena”.
I, too, do not believe that the strategically placed “Gamble Responsibly” adverts can have much discernible effect in challenging perceptions that gambling is as cool as the sport it supports.
Evidence suggests that the younger the age at which problem gambling develops, the greater will be the consequences and the severity of gambling in later life. Therefore, I welcome the two new research studies commissioned by the independent charity GambleAware. The first seeks to understand better the effect of gambling, marketing and advertising in all its forms on children and young people. The second will examine the effectiveness of gambling-blocking software.
The Australian Deakin report suggests that the burden of proof should be on the gambling industry to show that its marketing does not influence risky patterns of behaviour. This approach is now echoed by the UK regulator, which states in its principles that where there is a gambling product with a risk of harm, it will apply the precautionary principle and have the product removed. We must all hope that, in the concluding words on the Deakin report,
“the idea of using sport and advertising to promote this betting behaviour to vulnerable young people will go the same way as the tobacco industry and the dodo”.
My Lords, I too appreciate the work of researchers and others who have given us facts and figures on the present situation with gambling. I could repeat, as others have done, the startling facts with regard to this situation. However, there are different levels of gambling.
May I promote my own town of Llandudno? Noble Lords can visit it at any time. It has at least three or four amusement arcades. They can walk with me to the pier head, where they can roll a penny and try to get two pennies instead of one, or there is a cabinet with a claw coming down and noble Lords might be lucky and get a teddy bear to take home with them. We do other things in Llandudno, I am sure, but that is the simple gambling that we all used to enjoy as kids. When we went on Sunday school trips to Butlin’s, oh boy, we thought that we were going over the top. We did, but it did not affect us very much at all. As I say, there are different levels of gambling.
Advertising has an effect—of course it does—but it is not alone in encouraging gambling. There is also the family influence. As one goes to various parts of the UK, especially those which do not have the healthiest economies, one sees the gambling shop, which represents hope. Once we overcome the period of austerity, we might also develop a better way to tackle gambling.
Like others present, I remember when there was a bookie on the street corner who had the information and took the bets. Then it became more acceptable. Was the introduction of premium bonds an inducement to gambling? Then, of course, we had the National Lottery. Do noble Lords remember that at eight o’clock on a Saturday night there would be great silence throughout the nation as people listened to the numbers being read out, whether they were two, five, seven or whatever? Gambling had taken a hold and become acceptable. It was not just a little flutter on the Grand National enjoyed by many families. Have the Government sponsored the introduction of another form of gambling, and has that had an undesirable effect?
Gambling is reasonable and acceptable: Dad and Mam do it and Uncle Jack once won something on a premium bond, but is it acceptable? Are we not ourselves responsible for influencing children to gamble? We have to move on and see whether it is possible to exert a different influence in the home. That is why I so appreciate the suggestion that education about gambling should be on the curriculum in schools, as well as teaching about alcohol and tobacco and so on. We must take this issue very seriously, as many lives are ruined because of it.
I once paid a visit to Las Vegas. Methodist ministers should not go there, but an American airline had said, “For an extra pound, you can go from Seattle to Las Vegas”, and I went and I saw the magnificent buildings there. One evening, outside the one that I was staying at was a guy who looked very respectable. He wanted to sell me his Canon camera because he knew that, if he had that extra money, he might be able to win back all the money that he had lost. Gambling gives people hope and it becomes an addiction. A moment ago it was mentioned that the younger a child is when he begins to gamble, the more likely it is that he will settle into the routine of gambling.
Perhaps I may turn to some facts and figures. Children and young people are vulnerable to advertising—of course they are, and that is why there is so much gambling. We have been told that £312 million a year is now spent on advertising by the gambling industry.
There has also been a change in the bookmakers. I see bookmakers in very unattractive locations—some railways stations now have a bookie’s office, including the one at Chester, which I go via when I go home to north Wales. It is very easy for people to begin gambling, but the problem is that children are also influenced to do so. It is supposed to be easy money.
There has also been a change from the old style of gambling through a bookmaker to online gambling, which has been mentioned several times this morning. Many children now have mobile phones and apps. How do you regulate gambling on a mobile phone? That is something that we have not yet come to terms with. Ofcom says that 24% of eight to 11 year-olds and 69% of 12 to 15 year-olds now own a smartphone, usage of which may be difficult to monitor. It also says that 16% of the children surveyed had spent their own money on gambling the week before the survey took place.
Existing legislation does not adequately address these challenges. Moreover, research examining the relationship between social media and gambling speaks of changes to the “gambling ecosystem”. There has been a big change since the Gambling Act 2005, and the current legislation does not tackle it.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this debate. I am not suggesting that we dictate to children how they should spend their pocket money, saying, “Don’t spend it in that way”, but the ball is in the Government’s court and they have a responsibility, because the consequences of addiction to gambling are horrendous.
My Lords, I am very pleased to be able to speak in today’s debate and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for bringing this important issue before the House, and indeed, for his excellent, informative speech. Like other noble Lords, I apologise in advance for the fact that my own will include some inevitable repetition.
Last year the Gambling Commission published the latest figures on how many young people are gambling, where young people are defined as 11 to 15 year-olds. The data suggest that more young people are gambling than smoking or drinking. The overall rate of gambling among 11 to 15 year-olds is around 16%. This figure compares to 5% of 11 to 15 year-olds who have smoked and 8% who have drunk alcohol in the last week, while 6% have taken drugs in the last month.
While the commission rightly points out that this is a similar number of young people to previous years, it is also telling us that more needs to be done generally about problem gambling. Indeed, on Tuesday of this week the Gambling Commission issued advice to undergraduate students to ensure that students avoided debt and missing lectures as its latest survey reveals that two-thirds of students gambled in the last month. That compares with just 48% of the population generally. One in eight students missed lectures due to gambling.
As long ago as November 2013 Ofcom reported that there had been a 600% increase in television gambling advertising since the implementation of the Gambling Act 2005. No doubt today the figure is even higher. As the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, said—I think we would all agree—this is a very concerning situation.
In my speech, however, I wish to focus particularly on the challenges of gambling advertising which is located online. This is particularly important given that last year’s Ofcom survey of media stated that for the first time children are spending more time online than in front of the TV, which is especially true of 12 to 15 year-olds. I stress that in highlighting this development I am not seeking to suggest that there is no challenge in relationship to television advertising and that we must now all focus on online adverts. What I am saying is that both are important. Children still spend many hours watching television.
The Gambling Commission’s November 2016 report showed that 63% of 11 to 15 year-olds have seen gambling adverts on social media, 24% more than once a week; and 57% on other websites, 19% more than once a week. Nine per cent of young people follow gambling companies on social media. Of these, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans has already said, one in three has spent their own money on gambling activity in the past seven days, making them twice as likely to have done so as children who do not follow any gambling companies online.
The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling, in the 2015 edition of its code for responsible gambling, said that its code applies to social media, as does the CAP code on non-broadcast material. However, its document states that,
“it is understood that the government intends, in co-operation with the industry and other stakeholders, to undertake further work to ensure that under 18s are suitably protected when using social media”.
This constitutes a significant undertaking. When the Minister responds, will she provide an update to the House on what the Government have done in relation to this important commitment and, specifically, what targets have been set? If she is unable to provide details today, will she write to Members participating in this debate with the information and place a copy of her letter in the Library?
The young people surveyed said that the advertising did not have an effect on them but, as reported in the results,
“the survey does not uncover the potential subconscious effects of advertising and social media posts which may or may not be influencing young people’s gambling behaviour”.
To that I add the impact of gambling advertising during sports matches, either directly during the programmes or indirectly through the clothing the players wear, a point mentioned by many other speakers.
I know that the Government and the Gambling Commission take the involvement of children in gambling seriously and have acted against unlicensed websites. In 2016, the individuals behind the FutGalaxy website were prosecuted because:
“The defendants knew that the site was used by children and that their conduct was illegal, but they turned a blind eye in order to achieve substantial profits”.
The effect of online gambling on children was rightly described by the court as “horrific” and “serious”. However, this case demonstrated, in the words of the Gambling Commission,
“the significant role social media plays in promoting these unlicensed gambling websites seeking to associate themselves with video gaming”.
I would be grateful if the Minister could update the House on any further work that the Government and the commission are doing specifically on the links between advertising on social media and underage gambling on e-sports. How is the Gambling Commission monitoring the number and depth of involvement of UK children and young people, the sums of money being gambled and the type of websites involved?
I am sure that the Minister will tell us that this is all going to be addressed in the response to the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures, which I understand is to be published this autumn; I sincerely hope that it is. This is a connected generation so I hope that there will be read-across to the Government’s Green Paper on internet safety, so that there is joined-up thinking on how to ensure that children and young people are safe on the internet.
My Lords, I want to start, as other noble Lords have done, by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for initiating this important debate, and I can assure noble Lords that, having become so used to being able to speak for only five or six minutes in any debate, the news that the maximum time limit has been reduced from 13 minutes to 12 minutes has caused me no concern at all.
The statistics already mentioned by other noble Lords relating to the number of children gambling are concerning to say the least. Although the Gambling Commission reports that the rate of young people participating has remained static over recent times, its finding that 16% of 11 to 15 year-olds had spent their own money gambling in the week prior to the survey was extraordinary. Even more extraordinary was the fact that the most popular form of gambling in this age group included betting through gaming machines. How are these young people getting anywhere near gaming machines of high stakes? Clearly, improvements have to be made in this area. GamCare has reviewed research which suggests, as others have said, that the younger the age at which problem gambling develops, the greater the consequences and severity of gambling will be in later life. This is why we have age limits on gambling, as well as protective licensing systems and codes of practice on advertising.
As your Lordships are aware, the Gambling Act 2005 sets out three objectives, one of which is the explicit protection of children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Another of the Act’s objectives is to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way. The area about which I am especially concerned and in which I believe the law fails to meet those two central objectives is the unregulated realm of tipsters, affiliates, and affiliates who pose as tipsters.
For those who may not be aware, an affiliate or tipster is a person whose sole aim is to get people to sign up to betting accounts, for which they will receive a fee from the betting company of usually around £30. An affiliate or tipster also makes money from a percentage of “revenues” attached to that account for the life of the account, even if a person uses the account for many years down the line. To increase account activity, affiliates and tipsters will post or tweet betting tips and all sorts of other content on the internet to encourage play, and because they earn their money from a percentage of gambling revenue, this means that they are making money from a person’s losses as well as advising them on how to bet. I do not think that I would follow the advice of someone who profits when I lose.
These individuals not only advertise gambling but actively and relentlessly encourage as many people as possible, regardless of age or vulnerability, to spend their money taking up their unproven tips via any attention-grabbing methods they can think of and, in many cases, by methods for which regulated mainstream advertisers would be reprimanded. I believe they are dangerous to the gambling industry and particularly to young people because they operate almost exclusively on social media—Twitter, Facebook and the like—which, of course, are so popular with the young and have no watershed. Such activities do not clearly fall within current regulatory frameworks as tipsters are considered not to be gambling operators. Neither are their posts or messages classed officially as adverts, so they circumvent the Advertising Standards Authority and the Gambling Commission. Three things are clear: tipsters are advertising gambling; it is meaningfully unchecked; and it can have dangerous consequences to all gamblers but particularly the vulnerable and the young.
A Demos study last year found that a person who has signed up to or follows a tipster, affiliate or an affiliate masquerading as a tipster is very likely to have signed up to a high number of similar accounts. A spokesman for the study commented that if someone follows one of these social-media tipster accounts they are likely to be following very high numbers of similar accounts. He said—I apologise for the poor grammar—that,
“this means users like this could potentially be swept up by a torrent of betting information which could encourage them to become problem gamblers ... If you’re following 40 or 50 gambling accounts and yet you still turn to Twitter to communicate with your friends or to Facebook to find out what’s going on in the world, you’re going to be constantly inundated with tips and with encouragement and with success stories that are being put out by betting affiliates. If I had to guess I’d say there’s a potential risk for someone who likes to gamble of getting really a bit too far stuck into this kind of thing, by this constant barrage of recommendations and tips”.
That makes a lot of sense and is a tremendous cause for concern.
The Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures is currently under way. Is this issue being covered within that body of work? Would my noble friend the Minister undertake to investigate tipster and affiliate activity in general, particularly in relation to the effects they have on children and young people? It would also be interesting to discover the levels of involvement and encouragement betting companies have with tipsters and affiliates. I would be interested to know what percentage of betting companies’ revenues are paid out to these affiliates and tipsters, and how widespread their use and influence really is.
There have been reports that because traditional online gambling adverts have become more expensive, it has encouraged betting firms to explore other imaginative ways to reach potential customers, often using third parties to harvest people’s data. This must be looked into and subjected to the usual social responsibility standards, as traditional advertising activity would be. As legislators, we are supposed to promote responsible gambling and protect vulnerable people. More needs to be done to regulate tipsters and affiliates so they work in a responsible and transparent way, more in keeping with the gambling industry’s aims of counterbalancing the promotion of products with the protection of consumers. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I also express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for raising this important issue. It will become increasingly important and troubling as the gambling industry develops.
I was prompted to speak partly by the fact that I have received instructions recently to act in a number of cases brought by pathological or problem—ie, addicted—gamblers in respect of massive losses sustained after they attempted to limit the damage done to themselves by that addiction by “self-excluding”, which means saying to the bookmakers, “I can’t help myself but I don’t want to bet any more”. For obvious reasons, I will not say anything about the detail of those cases, some of which are ongoing, but the work I have done on them brought to my attention one or two aspects of the problem on which I will say a few words.
The evidence from the research of neurologists and psychiatrists into gambling addiction is at a very early stage. However, there is already evidence based on brain scans and other work done by neurologists which strongly suggests that a susceptibility to gambling addiction is linked to certain chemical states in the brain, about which the vulnerable person can do nothing whatever. That tallies with one’s own experience of life: we all know that most people can have a flutter on the National, and maybe a few other flutters as the year goes on, without being in peril. But we also all know that there are people who fall literally into mortal peril because of their inability to control their gambling.
One of your Lordships used the term “epidemic”, while acknowledging that the evidence for what one might call an epidemic in this area is at present sparse. I would tend to suggest that some evidence is now emerging that this country is facing what might properly be referred to as an epidemic. The Gambling Commission publishes figures drawn from surveys into problem gambling which reveal the following: the rate of problem gambling in England, based on a 2012 survey, was 0.5%; the rate in Scotland, based on a 2015 survey, was 0.7%; and the rate of it in Wales, based on a slightly later and therefore very recent survey, was 1.1%. Even if I could think of any reasons why the incidence of problem gambling should be higher in Scotland and Wales, I would not voice them in your Lordships’ House, although the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, may wish to comment on the last statistic. However, one notices a very striking thing: that those figures have been going up, and fast, in the past four to five years.
In working on the cases I mentioned, I also became acquainted with a rather odd league table. It sets out the positions of various nations by reference to the average amount lost by citizens per head. The country at the head of that league table, by a significant margin, is Australia—the country in which the liberalisation of the gambling laws, which we saw in this country by way of the Gambling Act 2005, took place back in the 1980s. That was earlier than in any other country in the world. There are two or three Scandinavian countries close to the top of those charts, possibly because there is not much else to do in the winter months there, while the UK is rising fast. The average sum lost per head here has more or less doubled over the past eight to 10 years and we are now in the unhappy position of rising in the charts. I think that we have reached seventh or eighth.
Ultimately, the nature of the problem lies in the fact that, entirely lawfully, gambling providers—otherwise known as bookmakers—increasingly make a very large amount of money out of the gambling habits of the British people. I was struck by the fact that in the most recent six-month figures for the consortium formed by the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral, the return from the digital division of that conglomerate has risen by 18% year-on-year. The digital division relates to activities such as gambling on smartphones. It is clear from that rise, and other material to which I have had access, that bookmakers are doing particularly well now because gambling is so accessible by way of smartphones and tablets, in the way that other Members have described. The annual loss sustained by UK punters across the board to September 2016 has been estimated at £13.8 billion. Finally on the topic of a possible epidemic, I refer to a very recent study on the incidence of gambling among students which makes very worrying reading indeed and tends to suggest that the advertisements that we are currently debating have had an effect on the attitudes of young people.
Why is this happening? I can take this shortly to avoid repetition. One reason is the liberalisation of the gambling industry that took place pursuant to the 2005 Act, an Act about which I think regret has quite recently been expressed by one of the Ministers involved in its enactment.
The other, and much more fundamental, reason is that gambling has become so astonishingly easy to access. I do not know whether any noble Lords fall into this sad category, but those who in the 1970s were interested in having a flutter would find that if they visited a betting shop they would not be able to look in because the windows would be frosted. It was against the law to see what was going on in there, and that conveyed, rightly we might think, that something transgressive was taking place within. If you were sad enough to want to go to a casino, you would have to drive up to Soho or some other metropolis, deposit your passport and wait for 24 hours before they would let you in. It was a significant, if not entirely comprehensive, deterrent. Now our children can at the touch of a button using a debit card, or when they get a bit older a credit card, deposit as much as they want on literally hundreds of different websites, I should think, and immediately start playing the roulette tables, online blackjack, online bingo and, I note, a number of other exotic games which I cannot even identify by name, and which seem—certainly to my eye—to have been designed to appeal to young people. Things have changed, and changed massively, and the problems that have caused the noble Lord to raise this debate are going to get markedly worse before they get better.
Some speakers have spoken of the advertisements that one now has to watch if you want to watch the rugby in New Zealand, the tennis in America or whatever other sporting event takes your fancy. The tone of those advertisements is troubling. There is the one featuring Ray Winstone, who masquerades as a junior member of the Kray family while providing a running commentary on the activities of a lot of rather glamorous-looking young people who, oddly, are travelling all over the world. There they are up in the Arctic, there they are in the Australian outback, there they are in New York and all the time they are locked to their mobile phone gambling on something like the number of corners or throw-ins in a match between two teams in the Premiership or whatever it may be. That is presented as the way to live and then, as has been pointed out, a small sop is offered to the regulator in the form of a statement that, at that particular gambling operator, “We bet responsibly”. The first problem with that is that that is a contradiction in terms; the charm of gambling lies in the fact that it is irresponsible, so I wish that phrase would simply disappear. The second specific problem is that the statement “We bet responsibly” is immediately followed by the name of the gambling provider in question, a name which appears to be designed to suggest that the proper approach to this recreation is to bet every single day of the year.
I am taking more time than other speakers, but I will certainly avoid running over the 12 minutes. There is another advertisement which is deeply troubling. It depicts an unhappy young man who, one infers, has very few if any friends, and suddenly his life takes a turn for the better because the characters in the virtual casino which he can access on his computer start singing, dancing and talking to him, and then his cup runs over because he achieves a big win on his mobile telephone. There are many further advertisements of this type, which appears to be aimed at young people.
The enticements now placed before potential gamblers are deeply troubling. Almost every advertisement somewhere is offering what is called a free bet—but if you look into the matter, it is not a free bet, because to get the bonus or the advantage in question you have to stake a large amount of real money. The so-called advertorials, which have been referred to by a number of speakers, are a deeply troubling development. Those of your Lordships who did not pick up the article in the Times yesterday about a recent ruling of the ASA on such a case should do so, because it is extremely shocking.
What is to be done? Obviously there are no easy solutions. No one has suggested, and it would be absurd to do so, that gambling should be banned. That would get one nowhere. For obvious commercial reasons, it does not make sense to rely on the industry regulating itself. That would be naive. I would make three proposals.
First, consistent with much of what has been said by others, the vices and dangers of gambling should form part of the curriculum at our schools. There is no reason whatever why children should be warned about the hazards of sex, tobacco, alcohol and drugs but not about gambling. They could be acquainted with the risks of gambling quite conveniently in their maths lessons. Secondly, increased and compulsory contributions from the industry to GambleAware should be provided for. Thirdly, I would like to see health warnings attached to all gambling advertisements. If cigarette manufacturers can be forced to place a skull and crossbones on cigarette packets, I see no reason why gambling advertisers should not draw the attention of potential gamblers to the fact that, in the long run, the bookmakers always win and the gamblers always lose.
My Lords, I am deeply grateful for the consent I have been given to speak briefly in the gap here. I should declare interests in that I have twice earned my living from gambling: once as the chairman, executive chairman and chief executive of a chain of casinos and the other time as the chairman of the Jockey Club’s 14 principal racecourses, the latter of which gave me all the evidence that horses are very sensible creatures, because they never bet on people. I wholly support this debate and had a very sleepless night last night, asking myself why I had not put my name down to speak.
I was infuriated 12 or so days ago, just before we came back for this September session, watching the last day of the England v West Indies test which England lost. There were two amazing innovations that afternoon which I had never seen before. First, the Sky television channel—which of course can have no possible financial interest in this matter—had started to introduce the bookmakers’ odds on the changing position of the teams to win the match, given in conjunction with the support of their expert commentators and their thoughts on whether England could still win or not. The odds on the screen that afternoon were still quoting England at 8:1 to win at 3 pm, when we were clearly dead in the water already, so any money was a gift to a bookmaker in those terms. What right does a major television channel with a national event like a test match have to be encouraging betting and putting out odds which it is manipulating on screen? This is simply dreadful.
What was also terrible that afternoon was that it all moved so slowly that there were a whole range of new advertising slots. One ad came up seven times in two hours, including on two occasions twice in the same three-minute spell. I have to admit this ad was hilariously funny: a footballer trying to take the last, definitive spot kick to win a major championship—probably the European Cup or the World Cup. His shot hits the crossbar and shoots up in the air, whereupon the goalkeeper turns and rises to celebrate with his colleagues the triumph of winning the cup. As his back is turned, the ball comes back down to earth, does a leg-break which Shane Warne would be jealous of and goes into the net—the winners and losers have reversed their positions. It is a hilariously funny ad and I have watched it many times, but it has a very dangerous subliminal message. It is effectively saying, if you a gambler you can rely on the Archangel Gabriel sitting on a cloud up there to look after you: he will catch the ball and turn your defeat into a victory, so gambling is safe because miracles happen to protect you. That is what a child is going to think if he sees that ad as many times as I did; seven times in an afternoon.
We have a very serious problem here, much more than this brief debate can possibly address, and we have to stop this nonsense. It is awful; it is undermining of a mentality and attitude of responsibility. How can you influence children when they are seeing this stuff? I can watch that ad many times, because it is hilarious, and so will they, but the message is the same, all the time: trust in a miracle and you will be a successful gambler.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for securing this debate and introducing the topic so well. The words, “Poacher turned gamekeeper” popped into my mind, but he elegantly evaded that charge and spoke persuasively from the heart on a matter which I know has engaged many noble Lords who participated in what has been a very good debate. It is also very nice to be opposite the noble Baroness, Lady Chisholm of Owlpen, again: I think we both thought last year that we would not be doing it, but here we are again. I have news for her, because I want to introduce our new Front-Bench lead on DCMS, the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, who is still at the learner stage but will be flying solo from October with support from me—but, I hope, very little. I hope the whole House will welcome him and give him its support.
The key questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, slightly rephrased, were: are we happy about the current amount of gambling advertising when children are watching television; does what we see honestly portray gambling as dangerous and damaging to society, as we know to be the case; is gambling increasingly being put forward as glamorous and socially enhancing; and are we being encouraged to think that it is a natural part of sport, leisure and even our family life? He asked what we are going to do about it. I agree with most of his analysis and I will say more in support of it as I go, though I will go further in some areas, picking up on points made by other noble Lords, and I have additional suggestions for the Government at the end.
The noble Lord, Lord Sugar, said he had never met a failed bookie. I have one example to share with him. I live in a house that was once owned by a bookmaker. The local gossip is that he made a killing on the National one year, invested it in our property and moved out there. He then divorced his wife, put her in one part of the house, remarried and sold off the rest of the estate, which allowed us to buy what was left—just about—which was just the house, and finance his lifestyle, moving away from bookmaking into property development. He died a broken man, unfortunately; things went wrong for him, which is why we are in that house. So there is a moral there, but I take the noble Lord’s point.
The issues that need to be addressed in this debate are the review commissioned by the Secretary of State; the narrow question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, about the proportion of gambling ads on commercial television and their impact on children; and the effectiveness of current regulatory structures to protect children. However, other ways in which children get exposed to gambling have been raised by noble Lords. We are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Trevethin and Oaksey, for his comments about the evidence that now exists for gambling as an addiction. The key point that has emerged from this debate is that the public policy issue we need to crack is not so much the amount of gambling advertising on commercial television, but what package of measures will best deal, head-on, with the protection of children and vulnerable people who become problem gamblers. This is on the assumption, which I support, that problem gambling is a substanceless addiction. Problem gambling is characterised by the same issues of dependence as alcohol and drugs and leads to the same devastating impacts on personal relationships, health and society. It is a public health problem which needs attention and resources, and until we do this, we are simply applying a sticking plaster to a rather grievous wound.
There is an elephant in the room, in that, until we get the review we are in the dark as to what the Government intend. I commend the Secretary of State for calling for this review and I have great hopes for it, but it is not with us. Also, it is not a Green Paper or a White Paper; it is just a review and there may be a problem, in that there will be a considerable delay while whatever policy implications teased out in the report are considered and consulted on. I hope that when the Minister replies she can not only shed some light on the thinking in the report, but confirm when it is to be published and reassure us that that the issues raised today will be covered.
Turning to the proportion of gambling ads on commercial television, my feeling is that the case for a causal relationship between advertising and gambling has not been made. However, the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, spoke for us all when he said that until they can make their own decisions and personal choices, children—I would add vulnerable adults—should not be unduly influenced by inappropriate advertising on traditional media, or increasingly, as we have heard, on social media. Surely, we have to protect and, very importantly, educate children until they can make informed and balanced lifestyle decisions for themselves. Is the current situation satisfactory? I do not think so. Could schools do more? Of course they could. As the noble Lord said, a majority of people in the UK think gambling should not be encouraged, that it is dangerous to family life and too easy to do online and by phone.
The industry relies very heavily on the Ofcom figures mentioned already, which showed that in 2012 children saw, on average, just over four gambling advertisements each week on television. Common sense suggests that that is a gross underestimate. In any case, companies would not advertise if it did not work: as the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, told us, budgets for advertising in the gambling industry reached £312 million in 2016, a 63% rise since 2012. Of this, about half was accounted for by television commercials, but by far the largest increase, as we have heard, was in online and other advertising. As the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Hindhead, warned us, we have this thing called affiliate marketing, which works very heavily against the situation we want and requires significant attention.
I think that the question of the watershed was first raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans. It is obviously true that this is less effective in its operation simply because the way television is now consumed has changed so much, but he is right to point to mixed messages in the way advertising operates pre and post-watershed, particularly around live sport. Excepting bingo from the rule about not showing such adverts before the watershed definitely needs to be looked at again—bingo is not classified as gambling, when it clearly is—and sports betting adverts themselves need to be looked at very carefully.
What should we do? The knee-jerk reaction would be to try to go back to the pre-2007 days and ban the advertising of gambling pre-watershed, but I have some problems with that. I do not think there is a causal relationship, as I have said—I do not think that seeing one or more gambling ads makes you a problem gambler—but there is a correlation and experts tell us that the damage done is not negligible. I agree with the ASA that if a product is not illegal, or prohibited for good reason, companies should be able to advertise it. However, this is not an unconstrained right where it would fuel addiction. More needs to be done, therefore, to balance the adverts for gambling with better awareness of the damage that gambling can wreak. Signposting help is also required and we should think seriously about the idea that, for every advert broadcast around a sporting event, there has to be a balancing message showing where help can be obtained and pointing out the dangers, as I think is going to happen in Australia.
I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, for mentioning the very interesting paper from the anthropology department at Goldsmiths, University of London, in which Professor Rebecca Cassidy points out that although we have been talking up to now about commercial television, public service channel broadcasts of football highlights, which do not include formal advertisement breaks, are none the less completely saturated with gambling ads and advertisements for other risky products. She made the following points, which I think are important. There was more advertising of gambling, alcohol and fatty foods during sporting highlights broadcasts on the BBC than there were during live broadcasts of football on Sky. Across both kinds of broadcast, online gambling constituted the majority of brands advertised. The majority of all advertising seen while watching both highlights and live matches was for online gambling, mainly seen on pitch-side billboards. There is a lack of responsible messaging and counteradvertising across both kinds of broadcasts. Although not directly the subject of today’s debate, this needs to be picked up by the Government and I hope the Minister will respond to these points.
Professor Cassidy also notes in her report—this was picked up by other noble Lords—that children are wearing replica shirts which advertise alcohol and gambling, although the voluntary codes say that this should not happen. It is clear from her watching of matches and reporting on them that children, apparently under 18, are wearing replica kits advertising alcohol and gambling. For instance, the Everton shirt advertises Chang beer, and Swansea is supported by BetEast. This, again, needs a lot of attention. It is not directly related to the commercial advertising but it is still getting the message across that somehow sport and gambling are intertwined, they are not a problem, and that there is something glamorous about alcohol or sports betting being involved in the sport we are watching. We need to do more in this area.
I now turn briefly to the structures around the regulatory area. I have previously shared with your Lordships’ House a principled view that where the Government have established a regulatory structure, it should be done by a properly constituted body, not a private company. Previous examples have included the BBFC. Here, we are talking about public trust and reassurance that the area we are concerned about is being regulated properly. The present structure does not work. There is absolutely no doubt that the ASA has done a good job up until now, but surely what matters is getting it right for the future.
Now that the BBC has Ofcom as a regulator, the press and the advertising industry are the only remaining self-regulators in that most important area of our life—information—and we have seen what vested interests are doing to stifle attempts to reform press regulation. Leveson analysed the insufficiencies of self-regulation in his excellent report on the press. In a debate last year, the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, commented that those also applied to advertising, and I support her. The ASA is not a government agency; it is not a statutory body, and its work is not subject to parliamentary process. It is funded by the advertising industry through the levy collected by the Advertising Standards Board of Finance—ASBOF. The chair of the ASA is appointed largely by ASBOF. The codes of practice are written by an industry committee, which shares an executive with the ASA. The ASA is not subject to freedom of information requests. Three industry panels advise the CAP and the ASA. ASA is not accountable to anyone outside the industry; it is hermetically sealed. It is time to look very carefully and change this system.
In conclusion, where should the Government go now on this issue? They must think hard about whether there should be any gambling advertising around live sport before the 9 pm watershed. They need to think harder about the way in which children are interacting with that and the messages they are actually—not allegedly—receiving. We should look again at advertising on football shirts. Such advertising should be banned and should not be shown on television; it seems to align the wrong impulses and children will not see the difference unless it is stopped. I am thinking in particular of replica shirts, which should not show adverts for gambling or harmful products.
We need to look at the way in which online advertising is changing and how it is targeting gambling and other harmful products. Again, the problem is the reach to children and those who might be vulnerable to addiction. We should reform the regulatory structure. It is really important to think about the balance. We do not want to stop advertising. We want to make sure that it is properly balanced, so there must be warnings and signposting. The current taglines do not seem strong enough and do not properly explain the dangers of gambling’s addictive nature. As the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, said, if an advertisement does happen to be seen by a child, that child should be alerted to the dangers and risks involved. There needs to be much more education about gambling in the school curriculum—maybe maths classes are a way of getting into that—and much more funding for gambling research. GambleAware does a fantastic job but it needs to be supported.
I have two final points for the Minister’s consideration and delectation. There are still issues about the role gambling plays in the provision of fair sport and too many instances of match-fixing. The regulatory environment and the legal framework are still not satisfactory. We tried to deal with this in the House before but were not successful, so I hope the Government are taking that on board. There is a much broader issue. Gambling gets a free ride from sport. Gambling works only if the sport in question is widely televised and broadcast. Yet gambling makes very little contribution to sport itself. Is it not time to think again about sports rights and a way to ask gambling to contribute more to those who wish to get into sport—at the grass roots? We should look at that very seriously.
My Lords, this has been a most informative and interesting debate, and I thank my noble friend Lord Chadlington for bringing it and allowing us to discuss these important issues.
As the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, mentioned, for millions of people gambling is an enjoyable leisure activity. We all remember as children putting our pennies in the slot and those claws coming down. In a way, that was a good thing for me because I never won anything, so that put me off gambling from a very young age.
The Gambling Act 2005 allows licensed gambling to be offered and advertised. But the same Act makes it clear that this subject has essential objectives. Gambling must be kept free of crime, kept fair and open, and the vulnerable must, as mentioned by my noble friend Lord Chadlington and the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, be protected. Protecting children from being harmed or exploited by gambling is one of the core objectives of the Act and a priority for the Government. As the right reverend Prelate mentioned, children are among the most vulnerable, and must be protected.
There are already strict controls on the content of gambling adverts, whether or not they are on television. Operators must comply with the advertising codes of practice, which are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA acts on complaints and proactively checks the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements. The codes include many provisions to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. For example, gambling adverts must not appeal particularly to children or young people, especially by reflecting youth culture. They must not exploit the susceptibilities or inexperience of children, young people or other vulnerable people. It is also forbidden to show or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. The rules apply to all forms of advertising, including social media.
The gambling industry also has its own code for socially responsible advertising. This bans gambling advertising on TV before 9 pm, except for bingo and lotteries, and advertising sports betting around televised sporting events. So it is forbidden to target adverts at children. It would also be a waste of money. Children are not allowed to participate in most forms of gambling, and it is an offence to invite a child to gamble. The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, mentioned betting shops being so prevalent. There are strict controls to prevent children from gambling both in premises and online, via the Gambling Commission’s licence conditions. Where there is a failure to prevent underage gambling, the commission will take regulatory or criminal action.
As my noble friend Lord Chadlington mentioned, the Gambling Commission published a survey of children’s gambling behaviour in November last year. While 16% had gambled in the previous week, most of the activities involved were legal—for example betting with friends. Children’s participation in gambling has remained relatively static in the last five years and has declined since 2007. No more than 1% of all 11 to 15 year-olds surveyed said that adverts for gambling companies had prompted them to start gambling for the first time. But this is no reason to be complacent. Importantly, as many noble Lords have said, we need to look at what happens when children become young adults and are able to gamble. Recent figures published by the Gambling Commission showed a problem gambling rate of 1.9% among young men aged 16 to 24, compared to 1.5% for men overall, and 0.8% for the general population. We take these issues seriously and the forthcoming review, which I will come to, is looking at social responsibility measures.
The right reverend Prelate mentioned the glamorisation of gambling. The advertising codes specifically prohibit a range of approaches which might exploit the susceptibilities of young men. For example, gambling adverts must not suggest that gambling is a rite of passage or offers escape from educational concerns. It must not be linked to toughness or resilience, and it must not show people who are, or appear to be, under 25.
There is certainly much more gambling advertising on television than there was a decade ago. Before the Gambling Act came into force in 2007, only bingo and lotteries could advertise on TV. Liberalisation led to rapid growth, especially as online gambling expanded. TV advertising is measured in impacts—one person seeing one advert. A major Ofcom report showed that gambling advertising impacts rose more than fivefold for adults between 2005 and 2012, and more than threefold for children.
To bring the picture up to date, the number of gambling adverts on TV seen by children and young people—16 to 24 year-olds—continued to rise until 2013. It has declined in every year since and, in 2016, the average child saw 25% fewer gambling adverts than they did in 2012. Those figures will be published with other gambling review evidence in the autumn. But why is there a decline? The reason, as the Ofcom research showed, is that children are spending more time online, as my noble friend Lord Chadlington said.
Of course, the use of social media, and advertising via social media sites, has also grown very significantly for all age groups since 2007. Importantly, the review asked for evidence on protection around gambling advertising in general, not just television. Online gambling advertising is also subject to the advertising codes and must not be targeted at children. The Committee of Advertising Practice published guidance this year on responsible targeting of age-restricted material. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 brought all online gambling sites under the remit of the Gambling Commission. Both land-based and online sectors are subject to the same robust standards of regulation; they must adhere to the licence conditions set, or risk losing their licence. They are equally held responsible for the actions of their affiliates on their behalf. The commission will continue to exercise its powers wherever necessary to protect vulnerable people.
I think that it was my noble friend Lord Smith who mentioned affiliates. The recent Advertising Standards Agency rulings were the result of work between the Gambling Commission and the ASA to address irresponsible adverts published by rogue affiliates. The commission works closely with other regulators, including the ASA, to raise standards in the gambling industry. Operators must take action to ensure that they have a clear view of what their affiliates are doing on their behalf. When they fail to do this, the commission will not hesitate to use its powers to hold them to account.
Through the digital charter, we are looking to create a framework for how businesses, individuals and wider society should act online. This will include how big tech companies can play their part in tackling emerging challenges, such as online harms. We will look across the full range of possible solutions, including working with industry and regulators where appropriate.
Despite the large rise in advertising over the decade, problem gambling has remained static, at less than 1% of the population. While the figures published last month show a rise from 0.6% to 0.8% between 2012 and 2015, this is not statistically significant, given the sample sizes. However, we take this issue seriously, as we are aware this may equate to around 600,000 people who face significant consequences as a result of their gambling—clearly, 600,000 too many.
Research, education and treatment are vital and, to that end, the Gambling Commission requires all operators to make an annual financial contribution to one or more organisations that carry out research, education and treatment for gambling-related harm. That is a licence condition. The industry currently contributes over £8 million per year. My noble friend Lord Chadlington, along with the noble Lords, Lord Berkeley and Lord Stevenson, mentioned GambleAware, which is seeking to increase that contribution to £10 million, in line with what the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board estimates is needed to deliver its responsible gambling strategy.
As noble Lords are aware, a review of gaming machine stakes and prizes was launched in October last year. That review is also looking at social responsibility measures to ensure that all possible means to help problem gamblers were considered. Evidence on advertising protections was sought as part of the review.
Noble Lords mentioned several other points, including logos on shirts from the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. The FA has withdrawn its sponsorship with Ladbrokes on the grounds that it was not appropriate to take betting sponsorship, and is removing its logo—but that will very much be looked at in the review.
The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, mentioned several points, and I am afraid that several of the answers will need to wait until the review. However, she also asked about looking at underage gambling on e-sports. Betting on e-sports presents risks that need to be managed in a similar way to other forms of betting and gaming. The commission expects operators offering markets on e-sports to manage the risk, including the risk that children and young people may try to bet on such events, given their popularity. In August 2016, the Gambling Commission launched a discussion paper, setting out its thinking on virtual currencies, e-sports and social gaming, and seeking views on emerging issues that pose a risk to regulation and player protection.
The noble Lord, Lord Trevethin and Oaksey, talked about gambling online. Children are not allowed to gamble online, as we know, and all gambling operators in the British market must obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission and adhere to the licence conditions. These include requirements for age verification and ID checks within 72 hours of an account opening, or before any withdrawal of funds, whichever is first. Online betting is account-based and, where checks fail to verify the customer’s age, the operator cannot pay out any winnings.
I am sure that my noble friend Lord Chadlington and other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate will understand that I cannot discuss in detail many of the proposals raised. I do not want to pre-empt the findings of the review. We have listened to what has been said today, and I assure your Lordships that the Government take the issue seriously. I apologise if my responses have not been as full as I would wish and hope that the noble Lord, Lord Sugar, will not intervene and say, “You’re fired!”. I ask noble Lords to be patient until the review is published, when I am sure that we can debate these issues again.
We want to be sure we have the right balance—a gambling sector that can grow and contribute to the economy, but also one that is doing all it can to protect customers and communities from gambling-related harm. We have considered all the evidence and options open to us before publishing our proposals on the whole range of review topics, and the review will be published in the autumn. I expect that we will have another debate in this House then about how we go forward. I thank all noble Lords for taking part.
I thank all noble Lords for their excellent contributions to this debate, which I have greatly enjoyed and from which I have learned a great deal. My noble friend Lady Bloomfield referred to my time as chair of Action on Addiction. That experience convinced me that I have the addiction gene, if there is such a thing, and workaholism is my preferred addiction. I never fell foul of a gambling addiction, mainly because I was brought up in a small Welsh family and my parenting was remarkably good. In the Government’s proposals, I shall look for what they are doing to help parents in today’s families to deal with the mixed methods of gambling and manage their children with the same success as my parents managed me.
Local Housing Need
My Lords, with the permission of the House, I shall repeat a Statement that was made in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State. The Statement is as follows:
“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the latest stage of our work to fix this country’s broken housing market.
As I told the House in February when I published our housing White Paper, successive Governments, all the way back to the Wilson era, have failed to get enough new homes built. We are making some progress in tackling that—189,000 homes were delivered last year and a record number of planning permissions were granted. But if we are going to make a lasting change—building the homes we need to meet both current and future demand—we need a proper understanding of exactly how many homes are needed and where.
The existing system for determining this is simply not good enough. It relies on assessments commissioned by individual authorities according to their own requirements and carried out by expensive consultants using their own methodologies. The result is an opaque mishmash of different figures that are consistent only in their complexity. This piecemeal approach simply does not give an accurate picture of housing need across the country. Nor does it impress local people who see their area taking on a huge number of new homes while a town on the other side of a local authority boundary barely expands at all.
If we are going to get the right number of homes built in the right places, we need an honest, open, consistent approach to assessing local housing need, and that is exactly what we are publishing today. The approach we are putting out for consultation follows three steps. The first uses household growth projections published by the Office for National Statistics to establish how many new homes will be needed to meet rising need. I should add at this point that these projections already take account of a substantial fall in net immigration after March 2019. But this number simply shows the bare minimum that will be required in order to stand still. If we only meet rising demand in future, we will do nothing to fix the broken housing market—a situation caused by the long-term failure to match supply with demand.
So the second step increases the number of homes that are needed in less affordable areas. In any area where average house prices are more than four times average earnings, we increase the number of homes to plan for. The assessment goes up by 0.25% for every 1% that the affordability ratio rises above four. Of course, the state of the housing market means there are some areas where this would deliver large numbers that go well beyond what communities have previously agreed to as part of their local plans.
That is why the third stage of the assessment sets a cap on the level of increase that local authorities should plan for. If they have an adopted local plan that is less than five years old, increases will be capped at no more than 40% above their local plan figure. If the plan is not up to date, the cap will be at 40% above either the level in the plan or the ONS-projected household growth for the area, whichever is the higher.
These three steps will provide a starting point—an honest appraisal of how many homes an area needs. But it should not be mistaken for a hard and fast target. There will be places where constraints such as areas of outstanding natural beauty or green belt mean there is not enough space to meet local need. Other areas may find they have more than enough room and are willing and able to take on unmet need from neighbouring authorities.
That kind of co-operation between authorities is something I want to see a lot more of. To the frustration of town planners, local communities are much more fluid than local authority boundaries. People who live on one side of a line may well work on the other. Communities at the edge of a county may share closer ties and more infrastructure with a community in the neighbouring county than they do with another town served by their own council, and so on.
From talking to the people who live in these kind of communities, it is clear that they get very frustrated by plans being based on lines on a map rather than their day-to-day, real-life experience. Planning authorities are already under a duty to co-operate with their neighbours, but that duty is not being met consistently. So today we are also publishing a statement of common ground—a new framework that will make cross-boundary co-operation more transparent and more straightforward. Under our proposals, planning authorities will have 12 months to set out exactly how they are working with counterparts across their housing market area to meet local need and fill any shortfalls.
The methodology we are publishing today shows that the starting point for local plans across England should be 266,000 homes per year. Nationwide, this represents a 5% increase on the upper end of local authority estimates, showing that the local planning system is broadly on target. For almost half of the authorities we have data for, the new assessment of need is within 20% either way of their original estimate. Nearly half—148—actually see a fall in their assessment. They go down by an average of 28%. In the 156 areas where the assessed need increases, the average rise is 35%, but in most cases the increase will be far more modest: 77 authorities see an increase of more than 20%.
We are not attempting to micromanage local development. This is not a return to Labour’s ineffective and unpopular top-down regional strategies we abolished in 2010. It will be up to local authorities to apply these estimates in their own areas; we are not dictating targets from on high. All we are doing is setting out a clear, consistent process for assessing what may be needed in the years to come: how to meet the need, whether it is possible to meet the need, where to develop, where not to develop, what to develop, how to work with neighbouring authorities and so on remains a decision for local authorities and local communities.
But new homes do not exist in a bubble. New households need new school places, new GP surgeries, greater road capacity, and so on. That is why, earlier this year, we launched our new housing infrastructure fund. Worth a total of £2.3 billion, it ensures that essential infrastructure is built, alongside the new homes we so badly need. We will also be exploring bespoke housing deals with authorities that serve high-demand areas and have a genuine ambition to build. We are also providing further support to local authority planning departments, with a £15 million capacity fund.
So those are our proposals. But past experience tells me that, as soon as I sit down, the right honourable gentleman opposite will leap to his feet, bang his fist on the Dispatch Box, and tell us that today’s announcement is not enough, that it will not get homes built—and he will be absolutely right. These measures alone will not fix our broken housing market. I make no claim that they will. As the White Paper made clear, we need action on many fronts. This new approach is one of them. On its own, it will simply provide us with numbers. But, taken with the other measures outlined in the White Paper, it marks a significant step in helping to meet our commitment to deliver a million new homes by 2020 and a further 500,000 by 2022.
It is so important that we fulfil that commitment, because the young people of 21st-century Britain are reaching out, in increasing desperation, for the bottom rung of the housing ladder. For the comfortably housed children of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s to pull that ladder up behind them would be nothing less than an act of intergenerational betrayal—one that our children and grandchildren will neither forget nor forgive. If we are going to avoid that, fix the broken market and build the homes the people of this country need and deserve, we must start with an honest, open, objective assessment of what is needed where. Today’s publication provides the means for making that assessment, and I commend it to the House”.
My Lords, I declare that I am a local councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham and a vice-president of the Local Government Association. I thank the noble Lord for repeating the Statement made by his right honourable friend in the other place.
I am not in the habit of jumping up and banging my fist on the Dispatch Box, but I am deeply disappointed at the actions of the Government. We have had seven years of failure, the shambles of the Housing and Planning Act—which must be in contention for one of the worst pieces of legislation ever put on the statute book by a Government; it is an absolutely dreadful piece of legislation—and the housing White Paper. Again, I remember all the hype we had—“It’s coming tomorrow!”—and then, of course, it delivered very little.
We have a housing crisis; I think everybody knows that, and they are absolutely right. Everyone knows somebody who cannot get the home they need or aspire to. Home ownership has now hit a 30-year low, affordable housebuilding has dropped to a 24-year low, and last year just 1,000 new homes for social rent were started—directly as a result of policy decisions taken by the Conservative Party since 2010. That is seven years of failure on all fronts. The country expects much more from the Government. Even the Prime Minister knows that a big reason why she lost her majority at the general election was because of their policies on housing.
What has been announced today will be useful to help underpin the National Planning Policy Framework, albeit five years after it was adopted by the Government. New planning permissions are only a small part of the answer to the housing crisis; 300,000 planning permissions were granted last year, yet affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low. I often tell the Minister and the House about what goes on in Lewisham. Many times we have granted planning permissions but nothing is built there, so this is not on its own the answer to the problem.
A standard method to assess housing need is sensible. There was one, as well as the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, but both were abolished in 2010. Can the Minister tell the House when these new procedures will apply from? Will it be from 2018? The lack of a standard method does cause delay in producing local plans—part of the reason it now takes longer to approve them than it did in 2010. How much quicker does the Minister estimate these changes will make the plan-making process?
The new national formula fixes housing numbers for local areas. The Minister tells us that this is not a “hard and fast target”, yet local plans must meet the new numbers, and in more than half the country the numbers will go up by an average of a third. Is this tough new action from the Government or just warm words? Will the Minister be very clear about what he means by all this? What action will follow when an authority fails to meet these new numbers? How many authorities does he estimate will meet the new housing delivery test set by his department?
My Lords, I remind the House that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association.
It is good that councils will be undertaking a more accurate assessment of housing needs in their area and working across boundaries with neighbouring authorities—perhaps better than occurs in some places. The further support through the capacity fund is welcome, although I suspect that it may prove not to be enough, but no doubt the Government will keep that under review.
The Statement goes so far but when it says that,
“we need a proper understanding of exactly how many homes are needed and where”,
there is something missing. We need to know also what tenure they ought to be. Are they for sale, and at what kind of price range? Are they for rent? Are they to be affordable or are they to be homes for social rent? A major failing in the Statement is that it does not address the issue of finance. I will come back to that in a moment.
I am interested, if the Minister happens to know, in how much the expensive consultants using their own methodologies have actually wasted. Presumably there is a figure in the department which would indicate to us how much money has been spent by consultants who are not using common methodologies. It should be a matter of concern if public money is being spent for purposes that may not be giving us a clear result. But the Statement ends by saying:
“The result is an opaque mishmash of different figures that are consistent only in their complexity”.
We need to know more about that, because the figures that are being used for planning purposes need to be reliable.
Perhaps the Minister will explain why the four times average earning planning figure is being used rather than some other number. Presumably it has been carefully worked out but another number could be more appropriate. The Government may find that they need to keep under constant review whether the three stages of assessment are actually working. They may do, but the consultation will reveal whether or not they actually do.
Is it necessary for planning authorities to have 12 months,
“to set out exactly how they are working with counterparts across their housing market area”?
In some cases they already are; in other cases where they are not, they should be doing it a great deal more quickly than in 12 months. If there was to be a faster figure, I would want to support that.
The Government have come out with the figure of 266,000 homes per year as the starting point for local plans across England. I just draw the Minister’s attention to the report by the Economic Affairs Committee of your Lordships’ House, which said that it should be 300,000 a year—after a great deal of work. Perhaps the Minister could explain whether 300,000 is the Government’s target. Presumably, to hit 1.5 million over five years, as the Statement also indicates will occur by 2022, it is closer to 300,000 a year. Unless the financial arrangements are sorted out to enable local authorities and others to build, particularly for social rent, a problem is going to arise because I do not think you can build 1.5 million houses to sell. Whether it is for a form of shared ownership or whatever, in the end we simply need more social homes for rent.
The Statement makes it clear that:
“These measures alone will not fix our broken housing market”.
That is absolutely true. But the Statement does not go on to tell us why that is. But the reason is because the financial arrangements are not in place to do it. Earlier today in Questions, I cited the National Audit Office report on homelessness, which cost local authorities £1.1 billion in 2015-16. That would have provided 30,000 new affordable homes—not necessarily homes for social rent. It is clear to me that the broken housing market will not be fixed only through changes to the planning system. The root of the problem is that the cost of renting is too high and not enough social housing is being built. The Government are at serious risk of not delivering the 1 million new homes by 2020 and the further 500,000 by 2022.
Finally, the Minister said a great deal about the regional spatial strategy. There were problems with the regional spatial strategy, but it was not quite as bad as the Statement made out. This new approach may be better, but it is still slightly top-down. I draw the Minister’s attention to a report published recently by Homes for the North, which looks at a regional approach to the provision of housing and identifying housing need. What is particularly interesting in its statement that 500,000 homes are needed over a 10-year period across the north of England is that the work is being done in conjunction with Transport for the North; in other words, there is an integrated planning system, not officially in place but unofficially in place, which I think is going to help identify need. If the Minister has not read the report, Future Housing Requirements for the North, I hope he will endeavour to do so.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Shipley, for their contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, was keen to tell us that he was not going to bang on the Dispatch Box but then went for a metaphorical bang on the Dispatch Box before he got out of his first sentence, I think, on the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which is a routine approach of his, I know. I take issue with him on the housing White Paper. This was widely welcomed, including by many people in the Labour Party, certainly in the other place, as being radical and forward-looking. I am not sure I would go along with his uncharacteristically churlish approach. I also remind him that 333,000 new homes have been built since 2010. On the local authority housing situation, as a Government or as part of a Government in the past five years, we have built more than double the amount of local authority housing that Labour did in 13 years. We all have challenges to face but these are irrefutable facts.
I remind noble Lords that this is a consultation. This is not the definitive word. We are opening this for consultation and the consultation is open until 9 November. I do not want to say, “This is definitely what we are going to do”. We are consulting on many of the issues that noble Lords have understandably raised. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, asked when this would take effect. I appreciate that there is a lot to take in in the documents but we have indicated that 1 April 2018 is the date we are looking at, or later if the National Planning Policy Framework is altered. It is whichever of those two dates is the later but of course we will want to take account of the consultation, which is not ending until nearly halfway through November. I am sure noble Lords would expect us to do just that.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, also asked about what happens if local authorities do not agree with that approach. Let us presume that it goes forward after consultation in a very similar form—though, as I say, the consultation is open. If the local authority does not like a particular figure, or wants to revise it because of green belt or an area of outstanding natural beauty in its area, the policy will then go, in the normal way, as in every case, to examination by the planning inspector, who could disagree with it. That decision will be the definitive decision unless there is judicial review, if the planning inspector misdirects himself in law. There is a process there for independently ensuring that the agreed figure is carried forward.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, for his comments on common ground and working across boundaries in the housing market areas. He questioned why the period is 12 months. I anticipate that some local authorities will say that the objective is challenging. Although we are always tempted to go more quickly, some local authorities may have not one, but various, boundaries to cross, perhaps working with other authorities to the east, west, south, and so on. It may be a taller order than is immediately apparent.
The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, also raised the issue of consultancy costs. Our workings on that show that, on average, each local authority is spending around £50,000 on consultancies. We are not suggesting that that is wrong—certainly it is intra vires within the present system—but we think that the system we are recommending will be simpler and not need those consultancies, because it will essentially be a mathematical formula. I am not suggesting that that money has been illegally spent, but it could be saved. We are proposing a uniform approach. I do not think it is top down in the way that was suggested, in the sense that we will still be giving local areas key decisions on whether to disagree with the approach, and so on. Nevertheless, it will provide a uniformity of approach. Four times average earnings is a formula we have adopted, but the consultants at the consultation may throw up other suggestions.
The noble Lord referred to our existing targets and suggested they are challenging. I accept that they are: 1 million new homes by 2020 and 1.5 million, so another half a million, between 2020 and 2022. Those will not all be homes to purchase—I correct the noble Lord on that point—some of them certainly will be for rent. The White Paper refers to the need to get the social housing sector moving as well. We are of the view that this needs a mixed approach. The figure of 266,000 may well be exceeded. We may find—we hope—that some local authorities will want to go further. They will have to justify that again when the plan goes for examination, but they could well go further, so this figure would therefore be a baseline.
The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, also referred to other issues that should be integrated. I fully accept that, and we expect to work alongside the national infrastructure framework and the £2.3 billion that we have allotted to help achieve that. I think I have covered the points that the noble Lords raised but, as always, I will write to them after the Statement concludes to pick up any points I have missed and perhaps to answer any detailed questions.
My Lords, I declare an interest as vice-president of both the Local Government Association and the Town and Country Planning Association. Earlier, I welcomed the Government’s White Paper, not least because it reversed some of the worst bits of the Housing and Planning Act, as it now is, but also because it was entirely positive about trying to build more homes. I believe the Government are absolutely sincere in wanting to up the numbers and achieve some of these targets. I welcome the objective assessments regime, announced today, and recognise its intention to see more homes built. That is exactly what we want.
I think the two anxieties that people have are on the affordability and the quality of the new homes that are built. We need to express an interest not only in quantity but in affordability and quality as well. Earlier in your Lordships’ Chamber we made a good deal of mention of affordability when we discussed the fact that those on the lowest incomes are no longer able to afford rents, even those produced by the housing associations in their homes, because housing association grants have been cut. That has pushed up the rents but housing benefit has not taken the strain after the succession of cuts that have reduced it. I recognise that I am talking to the wrong government spokesman on those issues, as this is a matter for the Department for Work and Pensions, but those issues are extremely serious and it is very troubling that the housing associations set up to house the poorest in society are saying that they are having to turn the poorest away nowadays. Of course, the private landlord will not step into the breach, meaning, we fear, that homelessness is bound to rise.
The other issue, which comes squarely within the Department for Communities and Local Government’s remit, is that of quality, which goes alongside quantity. Our front line in trying to achieve quality—with the largest proportion of all new homes being built by housebuilders and private sector developers—is the planning system. We have watched that system become increasingly underresourced and unable to hold its own in the negotiations with housebuilders that followed. We consistently get complaints that housebuilders do not come up with the quality that local communities deserve; that they come up with poor design; that they do not always build out the schemes for which they have planning consent; that they negotiate rather too successfully to keep down the amount of affordable housing they can build; and that often they attempt to renege on the agreements they have made with local authorities to produce affordable homes at the end of the process.
We need a strong planning system as our front line to ensure quality under those different headings. Can the Minister assure us that in the package, as well as getting more help under the quantity agenda, we will get more help under the quality agenda by ensuring that planning departments are better resourced and better able to hold their own against the housebuilders and developers of tomorrow?
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Best, very much for his contribution and I welcome the work that he does in this area. He set out two anxieties, the first of which was affordability. The fact that in the formula we are looking at the areas where prices are highest and affordability is a real issue—and putting an additional obligation on those areas to deliver more housing—should have a beneficial effect on prices in those areas. I agree that that could be exaggerated but, nevertheless, it will put some downward pressure on prices.
The second issue that the noble Lord raised was quality. I very much agree with what he said, and perhaps it is a point that I should have addressed earlier. This House has taken a particular interest in quality and design—and I think of the response that I gave in a debate on a Select Committee report on this very issue led by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews. We are seeing what we can do within the department to mainstream design much more as an important part of the process. It is important.
The other thing that I should have picked up in response to the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Shipley, is planning committee fees. In addition to the money that we talked about in the Statement itself we will soon bring forward an SI on the 20% increase in planning fees. In the consultation there will also be, as noble Lords will see when they read it, an additional 20% on those authorities that deliver the housing set out in their housing need targets. That incentivises it, and of course that money must be ploughed back into the planning department; that is one of the attached conditions. I am sure that that will be beneficial too.
My Lords, I welcome the Government’s intention for there to be an open and honest approach. As part of that, it is important that we all accept that successive Governments have not succeeded on the issue of housing for our country.
I was disappointed that so much was made in the statement about the record number of planning permissions. We all know how meaningless that is. There is already a mountain of planning permissions that have not been acted on. However, I am interested in the steps in the consultation. If the first two on the household growth projections and increasing homes in less affordable areas are carried out—one on accuracy and one on building homes in areas of real need—they will be very good steps indeed. I will ask a little more about the third step, which is setting a cap on the level of increase that local authorities should plan for. I was not quite clear what that meant for existing local authority planning.
I will ask a bit more about what plans the Government have to enable more local authority housebuilding. It may have more than doubled, as the Minister said, but it has probably more than doubled from a pretty pathetic figure. Enabling local authorities to expand any housebuilding projects would help enormously.
My final point is about the construction industry, which has not been mentioned. It is going through some relatively bad experiences, certainly outside London. Balfour Beatty has been making hundreds of very experienced construction workers redundant. I know the housebuilding sector is rather different from some of the very big construction companies, but I wonder whether the Government are in consultation with those construction firms to ensure that they are around and able to build these houses, and that their workers are in the right place to help build them.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy, for her characteristically honest and candid contribution on the shared blame we all have relating to the problems we face and why we must all move forward together. As she rightly said, this is about seeking to build more in less-affordable areas. As I said, that should have a beneficial effect in those areas, particularly for people struggling to buy. As I said, the cut-off date for existing local plans is that if they have gone in before 1 April 2018 they will not be subject to the new, consulted-on regulations. That is the cut-off deal.
The noble Baroness referenced the need for more local authority building. I agree. She will know, and I think I mentioned this previously, that we are seeking to do bespoke deals with authorities up and down the country. We are in discussion with many authorities. We are certainly at a fairly advanced stage with Leeds and the West Midlands, but there are others.
The noble Baroness then mentioned the construction industry. Obviously we consult it, particularly on employment issues and the impact of Brexit on the workforce, where we have concerns, as set out in the Farmer review, which was an independent review but commissioned by the Government on the industry. It is something we look at very closely and we are in discussion on a regular basis with developers about the industry’s needs.
My Lords, I warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to radically increase the supply of housing. I declare two interests as chair of the Centre for Ageing Better and as a member of the Intergenerational Commission. The problems of insufficient housing are borne by both ends of the spectrum. Younger people face significantly higher housing cost and significantly lower quality of housing because we have failed to build enough housing in the last 20 years. The greatest growth in the number of households and the percentage of households is in people aged 65 plus. Clearly, the housing White Paper makes some reference to this, which is welcome, but there is an urgent need to recognise the importance of the million new homes, many houses being provided that are suitable for older people or people as they get older, and ensuring a supply of suitable accommodation for people to move into in urban and rural areas as they wish to adopt more suitable housing for their later years. What will be done about this?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much indeed for that contribution. I reiterate the point he quite rightly made that this is about cost, but we must also have regard to quality. He refers quite rightly to the great growth in the housing needs of people aged 65 and over, not least because people, thankfully, are living longer. Their needs will be very different as they age. He will recall that on the then Neighbourhood Planning Bill there was discussion on this, prompted initially by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, I think. As a result of discussions on that, the Government were keen to ensure that we placed an obligation in the National Planning Policy Framework relating to elderly housing, which has been taken forward. It is very much at the forefront of our thinking and therefore places an obligation on local authorities to make provision for that age group when they present their plan.
My Lords, the Government’s mantra is that the housing market is bust—they say broken, I say bust. The truth is that the local planning system is bust, very largely due to the cost and complexity the Minister referred to of producing local plans. He is really blaming local authorities for this—I declare my interest as a member of a district council in Lancashire—but all the councils are doing in producing these local plans, using expensive consultants and producing incredibly complex documents, is following instructions from above and doing what they are told to do, and how they are told to do it, by the Government.
The Statement says:
“We are not attempting to micromanage local development … It will be up to local authorities to apply these estimates in their own areas—we are not dictating targets from on high”,
unlike the old regional spatial strategies, but this is exactly what the coalition Government said when they introduced the present system six or seven years ago. It has not worked out like that. The truth is that the numbers that come out are effectively dictated from on high by the rules and regulations laid down. It seems this will be just the same.
Will the Minister give a bit more detail about the relationship between this new system when it comes in, which presumably will be next spring some time, and the existing local plans that have been adopted and the local plans and core strategies going through the system in different local authorities? The Minister said that if a local plan is in existence before 1 April 2018 it will not be subject to these new numbers, but will the new numbers still apply when people apply for planning permission for new developments over and above the numbers in the adopted core strategy or the adopted local plan? What about areas where numbers would go down when local people and perhaps the local authority quite reasonably expect to be able to resist applications for planning permission on the basis of new numbers, even if numbers have been set out or land allocated in their local plan?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, very much for that and give him this assurance: I certainly was not blaming local authorities. I went very much out of my way to say that action was being taken on the system as it was and that it was intra vires their powers. As I have been at pains to say, successive Governments have brought us to the position that the market is broken—bust, as they apparently say in Pendle. It is right to say we are going for a uniform approach, as he indicated, but issues about where the housing goes and the type of housing is a matter for the local authority. We seek to set out a framework here and we are of course consulting on it.
Regarding the dates for when this comes in, if there is an existing plan as of now or an existing plan goes in before 1 April 2018, or later if the national planning policy changes later than that date, that plan is the valid one until it runs its life. New ones will come in and take over from the old plans.
In relation to the issue of some authorities wanting to be or being in a position where, on the formula, they will require less housing, if they want to go further than that then of course the Government will be delighted, but they will need to justify that to the Planning Inspectorate on examination. Once again, that will be an independent process. That is the essence of what we are consulting upon but, as I say, we are very much open to this discussion, which will end on 9 November.
I thank the noble Lord for the Statement. I admire his expertise on the subject—I admit that I have none. I welcome the Statement to the extent that I understand it and as far as it goes. I am a member of the Economic Affairs Select Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, which produced the report referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley. The two things that struck me most in that exercise were that, first, if one approaches the problem from the basis of the crying need for more social housing, it really is necessary to allow local authorities to borrow to build and that, secondly, if one approaches it looking at the development by the private sector, one really has to think of a way to tackle the problem of three-quarters of a million permitted houses not being built. The big developers were very clear that their business model does not depend on land banking. Yet their results are very good at the moment and the markets might well think that they are doing pretty well on large land banking and not building the houses for which they have obtained permission. As we approach the budget season, can the Minister talk to his colleagues in the Treasury about the possibility of incentivising, taxing or penalising builders to build the houses for which permission has been obtained?
I thank the noble Lord for the reference to the excellent report from the committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Hollick. The Government are of the view that there is sufficient headroom on the borrowing at the moment which is not utilised, so there is no need to look at the cap. There are considerable reserves held by local authorities as well. Obviously this is something that we review but, just at the moment, there does not seem to be any need to move on that.
The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, also referred to the issue of land banking, which I think also came up in an Oral Question today. Obviously it is something that was tackled and mentioned in the White Paper; we are analysing the responses and will come forward following the consultation on that. I am very grateful to him for exaggerating my powers with the Treasury, but I think that that will be a matter for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. It is obviously an option that is canvassed and talked about, as we certainly want to encourage builders to ensure that we do not need to take that action by not sitting on great reserves of land.
My Lords, I was not intending to enter this debate but I want to make a couple of comments. On the point that was just made about local authorities apparently having enough reserves to build more social housing, even if they do, all those properties—given the Government’s formula—eventually become subject to the right to buy. They come back on to the private market and their prices rise to meet whatever the local circumstances are. If we look at the situations in some local authorities, the right to buy has become the right to buy to let for about 50% of those properties, with very large rents and a huge amount of housing benefit going to these private landlords.
What is the Minister’s view about the developments going on in a number of places? I read recently that, in Hackney, they are using what they call a community land trust, whereby the house may pass on but the land remains in the control of either the community or the local authority. Is this a way forward? It may not solve all the problems but it seems to me that it has a real contribution to make. Are the Government considering ways of encouraging this approach?
I thank the noble Lord, who I know has considerable expertise in this area. I am glad that he decided to contribute. He will know that we are looking at bespoke deals on social housing and a diverse range of ways to deliver housing—I have mentioned Leeds and the West Midlands, for example. I am aware of the community land trust option; I think it is an interesting one and, given that we are going for a diversity of approach, I am sure that in some situations it is entirely appropriate. It will be interesting to see where else that is being followed.
We are in close discussions with the London mayor. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State met him last week—there is a good relationship there. They discussed London’s needs on housing and, of course, we delivered a record-breaking settlement with the mayor of £3.15 billion, so much is being done in London. We accept that there is a great challenge on affordability—as well as design, which has been referred to—and we are grappling with this. I hope that noble Lords will agree that this Statement offers a way forward. It does not solve the crisis, as we are very keen to say, but it is an important contribution to it.
English Baccalaureate: Creative and Technical Subjects
Motion to Take Note
My Lords, I begin this debate by declaring my relevant interests: I am a governor of Bexhill Academy and chair of the Suffolk Youth Pledge. I am grateful for the opportunity to have this important debate and I look forward to all noble Lords’ contributions and thank them for the time that they have invested in preparing to take part. I also thank the many organisations that have sent briefings, which show that they really understand the challenges faced by our education establishments, employers and young people.
Today we will debate the impact of the English Baccalaureate on the take-up of creative and technical subjects and the case for broadening the curriculum to create a coherent and unified 14 to 19 phase. Looking back on previous Questions and debates on this subject, I am mindful that we would do well not to repeat much of those previous contributions. I think, however, that this hope might be too ambitious—so no promises, but let us try. I also hope that we can debate this today in the spirit of how we help, and what is best for, our young people who are either entering, or are already in our education system, to ensure that we are preparing them for a future in which they can compete with the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed and be full of hope and aspiration. Let us make the facts speak for themselves.
I think it might be helpful for me to outline why I wanted to hold this debate. The economy needs businesses at this time—they are a main contributor to achieving a good economy and, in order to do so, they need people in their workforce who are well educated, both academically and technically, and are motivated and highly skilled. Building such a workforce starts at the earliest point of a young person’s education. Not all pupils—and I count myself here—thrive and succeed in a purely academic environment. Many are suited to one that is more technical and practical. For young people in this category, it can be apparent at a very early stage that it would be helpful for them to start their journey on that route sooner rather than later. Our education system does a good job for the majority but, for those who are not suited to a purely academic future, it sometimes does not do all that it could. Let me say now that I am not knocking the EBacc, but asking for it to be able to accommodate more GCSEs that employers in the creative industries need for their workforce and that, for those who need it, the journey will start sooner rather than later.
Originally it was the Government’s plan for 75% of young people to study the EBacc by 2022, rising to 90% in 2025. I understand that the Department for Education has now confirmed that:
“In the light of the consultation responses, we have also decided that it is not appropriate to expect the same rates of EBacc entry from UTCs, studio schools and further education colleges with key stage 4 provision as in mainstream schools. The pupil cohorts in these education settings will therefore not be included in the calculation of the 75% ambition for 2022, or the 90% ambition for 2025”.
I thank the Government and congratulate them on taking account of this issue raised in the consultation and on their decision. I also take this opportunity to thank the Minister and his colleagues for all their efforts to ensure that we have a system that is fit for purpose. On the face of it, I think the decision means that UTCs, studio schools and further education colleges are now exempt from this performance measure. It would be helpful if the Minister could confirm that I have understood this correctly and that performance at these establishments will be reported on the basis that they are exempt, because, if not, they will appear to be failing when they are not.
I used to be a patron of a studio school that tragically closed. There were many reasons for that, not just one. However, if the change in reporting to which I have previously referred had been in place, the school’s success would have been more appreciated. In fact, for every year that the school operated as a studio school, every single one of its graduates went on to higher education at the establishment of their choice: none went into clearing. In 2016, the studio school was the 15th in the country for pupil progress from 16 to 19, and in 2017, every student got A* or distinction in theatre arts. As I understand it, it was the best in the county.
Studio schools were established to be industry-facing schools and align their curriculum with the needs of the current and future labour markets. The creative industries have long been recognised as a sector which can provide rewarding careers for young people, and many studio schools have focused on these industries. Subjects taught at these schools have been carefully selected with significant input from the creative industries, both nationally and locally. If I have understood the position correctly, there has been no demand from employers to teach the EBacc. Indeed, often there is resistance rather than demand. However, I acknowledge that many students studying EBacc at A-level have found that that opens up a wider range of opportunities as regards their choice of university.
I know that all noble Lords are distressed, as I am, that our noble friend Lady Fookes has been very unwell for such a long time. In fact, at one point I thought that we were going to lose her, but noble Lords would expect her to fight back and that is exactly what she is doing. I know that she is on the mend because she sent me a message this morning to tell me that she was very sorry she could not be present for this debate but that, if she could have been here, she would have said the following: “The point I would make is that discovering and encouraging artistic talent in unlikely places is extremely difficult and does not lend itself to the methods used for measuring intellectual ability. It’s like chasing a will o’ the wisp”. I am sure that we wish my noble friend a continued recovery.
Across the country, the engineering, manufacturing and creative sectors are critical to the success of our economy. Combined, they are worth more than £500 billion—29% of the overall economy. The challenges facing our economy need no repeating in this debate. We know that we need to develop our home-grown talent to ensure that we produce a highly motivated and skilled workforce. We need to build on the progress made on the skills agenda and we need to make sure that the EBacc reflects the needs of the industry and fulfils the aspirations and abilities of young people so that they can play their part in this critically important workforce.
I am very sad to say that between 2010 and 2017, total entries for GCSE creative subjects have fallen by 28%. I do not want to be too dramatic but I shall provide some context for that. It equates to about 181,000 GCSE entries. The most dramatic drop is in design and technology, which shows a drop in take-up of some 116,000 entries, equating to 43%.
It is argued that the EBacc is just a core and that pupils are able to study creative and technical GCSEs in addition. For most young people who study nine to 10 GCSEs, this may well be true. However, the lowest quartile of attainers take an average of six to seven GCSEs each, ironically making the narrow academic EBacc the whole diet for those young people, who are more at risk of disengagement but may be wholly suited to a career in the creative industries if they follow the right route.
While 40% of young people across the country are now entered for the EBacc range of subjects, just 26% pass it—I understand that is increasing—so we run the risk of creating a generation of young people who either have a narrow range of academic skills or will feel that they have already failed at the age of 16. We cannot have that and we must avoid it.
I looked at what other people have said, as that is important. As the Social Mobility Commission has recognised, the EBacc is a recipe for some young people’s disengagement. In my time at Tomorrow’s People, I saw the impact this had on the lives of young people. There is a solution worthy of our consideration. I would like us to broaden the EBacc to include a creative and a technical subject to give every young person a truly broad, relevant and balanced curriculum.
In preparing for this debate, I looked at what works well in other countries. There is evidence from Germany that a more academic curriculum resulted in an increase in disengagement with school and attendance drop-off. This led me to look at what was happening around the world. I thank the Edge Foundation for giving me some very good information. In a passage from one of its papers headed, “Learning from world leaders”, we read:
“England is one of a handful of countries where 16 is the strict dividing line between lower and upper secondary education. Elsewhere in Europe, choices are usually made earlier”.
One example of this is Austria. The facilities in Austria for young people to enter an engineering career cover the following: classroom tuition, practical experience in workshops, a range of equipment for manufacturing and measuring metal and plastic components, IT and computer-aided design. This has contributed to Austria having one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the EU. In countries where a high proportion of students choose a technical and vocational path, there are often lower rates of youth unemployment and vice versa.
Our Government’s technical education reforms are to be welcomed and built on, but, in summary, the impact of the EBacc could be seen as not meeting the needs of employers in a market with great economic growth and potential; not preparing some young people to meet their aspirations and potential in a predominantly academic system; a significant reduction in GCSE take-up, which has a negative impact on employers having the highly motivated and skilled workforce they need; and not starting early enough for many young people, thus making them follow a route which, for them, is not fit for purpose.
There is much to be proud of with the EBacc. Let us build on what we have to ensure that we give up the best to get the better and have a system that includes high-quality employer engagement and careers advice and provides a broad and balanced curriculum which suits all young people. It needs to culminate in a coherent and wide-ranging true baccalaureate and be judged on the strength of young people’s successful destinations into apprenticeships, university and work.
A cross-party group from this House meets informally to discuss this issue. Would the Minister like to join us for one of those meetings? I do not say that because we want to put on a performance, bang the table or jump up and down; we are way past that sort of thing. However, I think that we would all find the Minister’s comments helpful and would hope that they would move us forward. I beg to move.
My Lords, there is an advisory speaking time of seven minutes for Back-Bench speeches for this debate. However, there has been a reappraisal in the Whips’ Office of the mathematical formula and I am pleased to inform the House that the speaking time is now eight minutes. However, speeches should be wound up as the clock reaches eight.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Viscount on his maths. I also congratulate the noble Baroness on securing this important debate and on the excellent way in which she has introduced it. I remind your Lordships of my interests in respect of my employment as the chief education adviser at TES.
This debate goes right to the heart of what we think the vision for schooling in this country and the curriculum should be. I have ringing in my ears the voices of a discussion that I hosted this morning. Andreas Schleicher, the head of education at the OECD, led that stimulation for us. He talked about the exponential change going on across sectors throughout the world, particularly in the world of work, largely driven by technology. There is massive change everywhere except in education, where not a lot changes generation by generation. He said he thought that there was a risk of schooling becoming obsolescent in our digital age.
This debate goes to the heart of whether we think that schooling is about churning out children whom we define as “educated”—as being familiar with a canon of knowledge that they have an ability to recall at will at small desks in large sports halls in June, and whether, in turn, their ability to perform in those exams can work as a sort of academic sift. We have a system designed around sifting, rather than developing, people so that they can then go to university—probably 40% of them and, if we were ambitious in my day, perhaps 50%.
However, I question whether that is still valid. The person who will be babysitting in our home on Sunday is a very bright 20 year-old with excellent A-levels. She is now in the Civil Service and has worked in the private office of a Cabinet Minister and, post the Brexit referendum, she worked for the Department for International Trade on trade negotiations. She now has another excellent job, while her friends from school are saddling themselves with huge amounts of debt and are looking jealously at her career progression. The assumptions about a sifting system to get us into a university system that is starting to creak need to be challenged.
At the same time, that system obviously fails around 40% of young people who miss the sift. They do not get the five A* to C equivalents at GCSE. They are pushed through an accountability system that is getting tighter and tighter around test recall, and they are turned off learning in the way that the noble Baroness described. Yet what they really need for their future in the workforce is a love of learning, because they will be cycling through multiple careers.
The person who has just refitted our bathroom is an excellent plasterer, electrician and plumber, and his tiling is superb. He is a Bulgarian who fully qualified as a veterinary surgeon. He is not going to continue with his building skills because his wife, who is a lawyer in Moscow, is not allowed a visa to come to live in this country, so he is moving to Moscow to set up two internet businesses with a Chinese partner. That will be his third career, and he is not unusual in this world. We do not have an education system that prepares people to reinvent themselves in the way that we need them to do.
Instead, that 40% who are turned off by the system are channelled into work-related learning. Why is not everybody channelled into work-related learning? We have heard how important the creative sector, the manufacturing sector and the technical sectors are to around a third of our economy, yet the higher-performing people have no learning relevant to work; it is all about relevance to going to university.
The noble Baroness talked about design and technology and the fact that in the last seven years there has been a 43% drop in GCSE entries in those subjects. The device on which I have the notes for my speech was designed, along with all the other Apple products, by a British hero, Sir Jony Ive. His dad was a design and technology Ofsted inspector. A Christmas treat for Jony was to work in the labs in his dad’s school during the holidays, and Jony did a degree at what was Newcastle Polytechnic. He has changed the world through design and technology. This country has a rich tradition in design and technology, yet we do not have room for it in the curriculum in many of our schools. We need young people to be confident in the human skills of empathy and of getting wisdom from reflection through the creative subjects in particular, and they need to have the resilience to deal with the changes that are coming thick and fast in our society.
Today, Andreas Schleicher talked about a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep. I worry about just extending the EBacc into some more subjects, because I worry about the level of prescription to which we already require our teachers to adhere. Then, at 16, we go all of a sudden from width into great depth, which, compared with what happens internationally, is very unusual.
We will also be creating a binary choice for children when the T-levels come in in 2020. They will have to decide at the age of 16 whether they are going to be academic or technical. Incidentally, I do not know how the T-levels will work against apprenticeships, with employers being asked to take on work experience people for T-levels or for more directly vocational qualifications. I would love the Minister to tell us how that middle route will be any better than or different from the diplomas which I was responsible for steering through and which ended up not really taking off because of a change of Government. I do not know whether, having got their kids into a great school at 11, parents will be aspirational to allow them to leave at the age of 16 to go to college to pursue a middle-level qualification that is not quite vocational and not quite academic.
Instead, I would love to see us collapse a lot of the curriculum, free up the 14 to 19 phase, get rid of GCSEs at 16 altogether and have a free run at it, embracing UTCs and studio schools. I would love us to have some public examinations at 14 to test the recall of a broad and balanced curriculum, but then to free up and trust teachers to build their professionalism and collaborate, as we see them doing in Shanghai and Singapore. Teachers there are trying to learn from what we used to do with creativity. Then, we can not only give employers, with their increasing frustrations, what they want from a schooling system but we can give our young people the best possible chance to live fulfilling lives and make a meaningful contribution to our society.
My Lords, I join in thanking the noble Baroness for this very important debate at a time when, against the backdrop of Brexit, this country’s need to build on its skill base is ever more important.
I begin with two facts, one of which I mention often, and it has already been referred to by the noble Baroness. It is that the creative industries are the fastest-growing sector of our economy. However, there are currently 17 creative roles on the Government’s shortage occupation list, yet there is hard evidence that creative subjects are being squeezed out of the school curriculum.
Clearly, something is awry, and this appears to be the EBacc. It includes computer science, which is vital to our creative economy, but not any creative subjects. As we have argued often from these Benches, this is a serious omission. Our creative industries are hungry for talent and skills and they are crucial for the future prosperity of this country.
Darren Henley, now chief executive of Arts Council England, back in 2012 in his review into cultural education, noted that this area of cultural education,
“is no longer valued as much as it once was”,
and, further, the EBacc system has so far led to creative subjects being abandoned by state schools. Five years on, there is no improvement. The GCSE results for 2016-17 show a great drop in the uptake of creative and artistic subjects. I will not requote the figures because we have already heard them from the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott.
Yet it is a fact that schools providing high-quality cultural education get better academic results across the board, not least, in my view—I think that the noble Lord, Lord Knight, said the same thing—because it inculcates a love of learning. It is a fact that private schools entice parents with access to culture. Thomas’s Battersea, so much in the news at the moment, offers alongside the national curriculum specialist teachers in art, ballet, drama, ICT and music. Does the Minister agree that what is offered to a Prince should be offered to all?
The Government’s long-awaited response to the EBacc consultation appears not to accept this, and the DfE data publication to which it refers insists:
“There is little correlation between the change in EBacc entry and the change in arts uptake in state-funded schools”.
Can the Minister explain why this does not take into account figures from before the introduction of the EBacc in 2011, or indeed the latest figures from Ofqual, as mentioned earlier by the noble Baroness, and why the DfE excludes design and technology from the list of subjects included in its analysis despite it being the hardest hit subject and such an essential part of the creative process, as the noble Lord, Lord Knight, has mentioned.
The Minister may suggest that it is up to the individual schools as to what is on their syllabus, but there is no incentive for them to offer creative subjects. There are 119 accountability measures that a state secondary school has to consider, and not one of them pertains to the arts. The fact is, as that great creative figure Grayson Perry has said:
“If arts subjects aren’t included in the Ebacc, schools won’t stop doing them overnight. But there will be a corrosive process, they will be gradually eroded ... By default, resources won’t go into them”.
That is backed up by the principal of Ferrers art college, who has,
“spoken to many headteachers who are cutting subjects … in order to feed into the EBacc … So … now the school is saying, geography is in the EBacc, drama isn’t, we really, really recommend you do geography”.
We on these Benches believe in STEAM not STEM. The success of those in the creative industries lies in a fusion of creative and technological skills. It was this fusion that fuelled the first Industrial Revolution. The Victorians understood this. They had a Science and Art Department and invested in what was to become the V&A in order to develop the skills needed to feed British industry. In today’s world, in what is referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, inventors recognise the need for creative skills to maximise the potential of their products, and they are working in ever closer collaboration with those who possess these skills, and vice versa. Notions of “us and them”—a perceived opposition between those who practise science and those who practice the arts—are being proved obsolete.
To ensure that our next generation is a generation of creators, schools need to be encouraged to promote not just either science or art but the arts-science crossover. I know the Government believe, as we all do, in the need for the pursuit of knowledge, but it is unnecessary for bogus battle lines to be drawn between the learning of fact and creative interpretation.
It seems a long time ago, but it was actually the beginning of this year, when the Prime Minister acknowledged the need for investment in skills. She said:
“We will go further to reform our schools to ensure every child has the knowledge and the skills they need to thrive in post-Brexit Britain”.
She also said:
“A Global Britain must also be a country that looks to the future. That means being one of the best places in the world for science and innovation”.
The emphasis on science and innovation is right, but does the Minister accept that the creative industries are an integral part? Does he also accept that the recent proposed reforms of the EBacc will not achieve the Prime Minister’s stated aims and should not be implemented?
Instead, we on these Benches, support the noble Lord, Lord Baker, and the Edge Foundation’s new Baccalaureate, which delivers, as it says in its report,
a very good word—
“curriculum which provides a solid academic core alongside creative and technical subjects”—
and one which, crucially,
“links to the needs of the economy”.
We are a creative isle. Our arts and culture enrich us both literally and metaphorically as well as economically. We have hugely successful industries spawned on the back of our creativity that have generated soft power. However, unless nurtured and encouraged, we risk losing at this crucial stage in our history a great success story.
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott has secured this debate. By her laying down an alternative point of view, as the noble Lord, Lord Knight of Weymouth, has also done, one of the things this debate provokes—perhaps even more than is usual in education debates—is the fundamental question of what is and is not a good education for our children; and, furthermore, is that not the education they are currently receiving?
I want to try to answer these questions myself by using as a starting point a couple of things that School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has said this year. The first, which is in the excellent Library briefing, is from the Written Statement of 19 July of this year repeated in this House. It stated that the EBacc subjects,
“are the core of a rounded and well balanced education that should be the entitlement of the vast majority of pupils”.
The noble Lord, Lord Nash, has repeated on a number of occasions that he thinks that what is being offered is a rounded education.
The other is from comments made by Nick Gibb at Chobham Academy in east London and reported last week in the Times Educational Supplement. He said:
“If you keep the Ebacc small enough … and don’t give in to the temptation to add more and more subjects to that core, you … enable pupils to also take a vocational subject … to take arts to GCSE, and that’s really what lies behind the whole Ebacc policy”.
I too believe passionately in a rounded education—I will say why in a moment—but the first and most obvious thing to say is that by including sciences but not the arts within the core subjects then, by definition, you are not facilitating a rounded or well-balanced education because you are elevating the one thing above the other. This seems to me so obvious that it is difficult to understand why the Government are doing what they are doing.
However, in his other comments, Nick Gibb makes a distinction between core and vocational subjects—which is a distinction that people make. Not everyone who studies the arts goes on to become a professional artist or a professional musician, just as not everyone who studies the sciences or mathematics becomes, in the most specialised sense, a scientist or a mathematician. Indeed, in all these cases they are in the minority. The underlying assumption is of course that, as subjects to study and understand, the so-called “vocational subjects”—a term I would dispute—are not worthy of study to the same extent, the prejudice, as we know, being towards the inherent form of the knowledge imparted.
However, education is not just learning towards a specialisation or even a practice—although the Minister would do well to take on board many of the noble Baroness’s arguments in this respect. It also means that through studying subjects you will become part of the audience for them. This, in my view, is the meaning of education for its own sake, a phrase we do not hear often enough these days. This is the process of literacy which enriches society as a whole—meaning also, in the case of the arts, it should not just be a minority of privileged students who can afford, for example, music lessons through private schooling or private tuition, but all students.
I would say that, without even considering yet evidence that the EBacc is harming creative subjects, the Government’s set of core subjects which represents a very particular vision of education—supposedly the right requirement for entry into a certain group of universities—is simply wrong from the outset. Wrong because it is restricted and restrictive—perhaps any set of core subjects is—and curiously standing in contrast to other courses around the world which prepare students for university and other colleges, such as the International Baccalaureate, which assumes that creative subjects will be studied up to pre-university level.
At some stage students want to specialise. We might argue when that should be but they should not be forced into a box—which is what the EBacc is—but able to make their own choices, and to do so from the more powerful position of an already wide-ranging education.
The EBacc may be a performance measure and entered by less than 40% of pupils in state schools, but it is the culture that the EBacc represents that is being instilled in and felt by schools, with creative subjects being squeezed out of the teaching day. To answer my second question: yes, of course the EBacc is now having a huge effect and schoolchildren are not getting the education that even the Government say they should be getting. For example, a new Norwich University of the Arts study on Norfolk schools finds that since 2010 there has been a decrease of 40% in staffing in art and design and/or design and technology. Design and technology has 25% fewer teachers with 23% fewer teaching hours. A similar story is being revealed by a growing number of studies. The National Society for Education in Art and Design’s survey of teachers last year,
“told us that the implementation of the EBacc has reduced opportunities for young people of all abilities to select art and design at GCSE”.
A study by the University of Sussex of more than 700 schools in England shows a decline in music in the curriculum. Across the country there are significant falls in the number of hours taught, a decline in specialist teachers, in teachers overall, and in resources.
There are also knock-on effects within the system. The City of London Corporation briefing notes, which we probably all received, talk about the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s concern at the decline in good students from state schools. And of course we are seeing dramatic falls in the take-up of creative subjects at GCSE, the figures for which were quoted by the noble Baroness. Evidence of the decline of creative subjects in our schools is becoming a torrent. How will Ofsted reflect the Government’s EBacc policy in its inspection procedures, as it has promised to do? How will non-EBacc subjects not then start to be neglected?
In the interests of a rounded education, as the Norwich University of the Arts paper recommends, what is urgently required is parity of esteem between creative and STEM subjects. This will be achieved only through radically reforming, or better still scrapping, the EBacc.
My Lords, when I was helping to fashion the national curriculum in the 1980s, I selected 10 subjects. The basic subjects were English, maths and science and seven more to ensure a rounded education, with art and other creative subjects among them. The idea was to prepare GCSEs for the 10 subjects and hope that 70% of schools could reach the standard. In fact it proved to be too ambitious. You do not have to worry too much about bright children because they will survive any education system, and that is true right across the world—if they are not neglected they will do very well. I was more concerned about the long tail of underachievers who were not coping with such a demanding curriculum. So I very much welcomed the Dearing report in 2003 which recommended a simplification of the curriculum. Certain subjects like history, geography and a foreign language were made voluntary, as it were, at GCSE. The world did not fall apart because of that. There was a much greater variety of GCSEs; indeed too many were rather light and careless ones which were quite properly excluded in 2010. On the whole, however, pupils got a much more rounded education as a result.
In 2010, Michael Gove decided to impose the EBacc on the education system. It covers just five subjects: English, maths, science, history or geography and a foreign language. Everyone is expected to take it. The EBacc is the policy of an American educationist called E D Hirsch. There are very few examples around the world where it has worked, but none the less it is what we have got, and of course it has had very serious consequences. As all the speakers in the debate have said, a whole range of subjects have been dropped. From 2010 until now, art, music, drama and dance have all declined at GCSE; that is irrefutable. I am very concerned about design and technology, a subject that I introduced in 1988, where the take-up has fallen by 30%.
By the age of 16, many youngsters will not have had any experience of a technical education at all. It is not surprising that that is in huge contrast to Germany where by the age of 18, some 70% of young people have had experience of a technical education, while in Britain it is 30%. The policy of the Government is to expand technical education, so what proposals does the Minister have to arrest the decline in design and technology? For example, could a bursary be given to teachers of design and technology similar to those which are available to the teachers of maths and physics? There should be a policy to reverse this decline.
The other subject that worries me considerably is the status of computing. At GCSE there are two exams—computer science, which is a tough exam, and a less tough one in IT. This year the take-up of the tough exam rose by 4,000 but the easier one fell by 11,000. This July, 7,000 fewer students took an exam in computing. This is the digital revolution and the Government have a digital strategy, so where do those figures fit into the strategy? I am very concerned about that. The charity I chair wants a fundamental change, but I do not think that this Government are going to bring one in. Perhaps we could settle for something that would move towards it.
At this point I want to put a positive proposal to the Minister. It is not a wrecking proposal, but a positive and helpful one. The concept of a choice between subjects in the EBacc is already in place because students must choose whether to study history or geography. Why can there not be a choice between a foreign language and computing? Some 300,000 students study a foreign language while only 65,000 take computing. It is more important that the students of today should have an understanding of a computer language than a smattering of a foreign language, particularly when we are on the edge of having instantaneous translation. It will soon be possible to speak in your own language and have it translated into the language of the person you are talking to, and his response translated into your own language. Given that, I do not believe that the importance of learning a foreign language is anything like as great as it was. This is a positive proposal and I hope that one day I might get a response to it.
The real problem with the Department for Education is that it is rather bifurcated. There is the side where my noble friend Lord Nash is—I should like to thank him for the very considerable support he has given to UTCs; he understands what we are trying to do—while the other side of the department is concerned with FE colleges and so on. At the moment they seem to be on different tracks. The FE side wants more apprentices, but if a student has studied only academic subjects up to the age of 16, it is very difficult for that student to be employed by someone as an apprentice. They have not had any practical experience. This is the great advantage of university technical colleges. By the age of 16, our students will have worked in teams on projects, something you do not get in normal schools. They will have worked on problem solving, something else you do not get in normal schools. They will have made things with their hands and designed things on a computer, which you do not get in normal schools any longer. These students are highly employable as apprentices.
By far the most remote UTC in the country is up on the energy coast near Sellafield. It is 100 miles away from the next UTC. In July this year, the school placed 59 apprentices, 30 of whom were 16 years old. No other school in the country will place anywhere near even 10 apprentices, let alone 59. If those young people had gone to normal schools in Cumbria, they would not be apprentices at 16. Employers want them because they have handled metal, they have designed things, they have solved problems, and they have experience of all those things which no longer happen in normal schools. This particular UTC also achieves a 96% pass rate in engineering and 80% in English and maths. Some sixth-formers took the triple A in engineering and they all got A*s. This simply would not have happened if they had been studying for the EBacc.
On most days the Minister likes UTCs and he knows what we are trying to do. There has to be a greater variety. We have to train youngsters today for the jobs of tomorrow, and not with the sort of curriculum that I studied years ago, which is what the EBacc is. In fact, it goes back even further. Its progenitor was the curriculum announced by a Minister at the board of education in 1904. It is word for word the same curriculum. Those who support the EBacc so strongly should perhaps ask why it has not worked well for 120 years and why are we still committed to it.
I hope that my proposal to offer a choice at the age of 16 between foreign languages and computing will be considered seriously by the Government.
My Lords, like most people speaking in this debate, I have form on this subject. We were warned by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, to try and avoid the dangers of repetition but I fear that that is inevitable and some things bear repeating. I congratulate and support the noble Baroness in bringing forward this important debate. I also express the hope that the Government, having unaccountably ignored my attempts to convince them up to now, will find some of the arguments put forward today more compelling coming from a distinguished member of their own Benches.
The noble Baroness focused her attention on the 14 to 19 curriculum and the EBacc. I agree with pretty much everything she said and with a great deal of what was said by other noble Lords. I hope the House will forgive me if I take the opportunity of the debate to look a little more widely, as the issues the noble Baroness and others identify stem from a broader problem that affects the whole school system: primary and secondary, not just 14 to 19. That problem is the consistent failure on the part of Governments for at least 20 years—obviously, I am not making a party-political point, although it has got a lot worse in the last few years—properly to grasp the value and significance of arts education, cultural and creative.
This has little if anything to do with the personal convictions of individual Ministers, many of whom over the years, including the noble Lord replying to this debate, have often been anxious to stress how much importance they attach to cultural studies. It has to do with policy and with a growing emphasis on education as a largely utilitarian process: information in, jobs out—not quite Gradgrind but uncomfortably close. This process was eloquently described by, among others, my noble friend Lord Knight and by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. A very experienced education practitioner of my acquaintance said to me only yesterday, “We have forgotten what education is for and that is bad for democracy”. That is an important point. When people are stuffed with information but do not have their imaginative and critical capacities enhanced to the same extent, they will not be able to make the kind of nuanced choices that a mature democracy requires of each and every one of us. We can see some of the effects of that before us right at this moment. That is deeply regrettable because ultimately, this undermines fair access to cultural capital, which, as we all know, is a crucial asset for young people to acquire if social mobility—mentioned before in this debate—is to have any meaning at all.
As an example, I refer briefly to my own grandchildren, who are currently at a maintained primary school in London. It is a perfectly all right school, there is nothing wrong with it at all, but it has limited access to music, drama or any other arts-based opportunities to offer its pupils. My granddaughter, who is nine, is an inexpert and not altogether always enthusiastic trumpet player. It is quite hard to persuade her to do her practice—this will be familiar to many noble Lords. This summer, she had the opportunity to spend a week at a brass academy at which pupils ranged from her at the bottom end on grade 1, right through to those about to go to conservatoires. She spent a week among these people and came away probably a slightly better trumpet player. What she certainly came away with was an experience that she really found, in her little way, life-changing. She learned, first, the real merits of working hard at something and getting better and, secondly, the merits of teamwork: working together in a band—literally a band—towards an aim. The aim was to produce a concert at the end of the week, which they did. Unfortunately I was not there, but I have seen the video and there at the back is this little girl, not a very good trumpet player but my goodness me, she is participating. She did not learn from that that she will have a career as a musician—she almost certainly will not—but she did learn an enormous amount that she will now feed back into the school community of which she is part.
Her brother is a keen footballer and gets a lot of the same things out of playing football. He also plays the piano because his parents understand the value of all of that being on offer to their children. They are not wealthy parents: one is a teacher, the other a performer—you can do the maths yourselves. However, they understand that importance. Not all children get this advantage from home. It is not just about money but about understanding how important it is for children to have these experiences. Schools should be able to reinforce that understanding and fill the gap where necessary, but they do not get the right level of encouragement to do so. Often, they would like to do more, as the unmet need for what the Royal Shakespeare Company’s associate schools programme can provide demonstrates, for example. I declare an interest as a member of the board of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
If you glance at any school prospectus, it will be full of lovely photographs. Are they of children taking exams? No, they are very often of a school orchestra—if there is one—a school play or some sporting achievement. Schools know what makes their offer attractive. Arts-based education is much more than just a nice-to-have extra. It enhances cultural capital and develops flexible, marketable skills such as those already mentioned: empathy, resilience and an ability to adapt. As already mentioned, there is a huge and diverse range of job opportunities available in the creative industries, which is a successful and growing part of our economy.
The inclusion of arts subjects in EBacc is important for its own sake and for the reasons amply demonstrated by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, and others. Should it come about, it would also exemplify a commitment from the Government to make clear the vital role arts subjects play in a fully rounded education at every level, from reception to A-level. Will the Minister commit to a simple first step by requiring Ofsted to withhold “outstanding” status from any school that does not provide a full range of creative opportunities, no matter how excellent other aspects of its provision may be? This really matters. The Government should say so unambiguously and make it stick.
My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Baroness obtained this debate, which she introduced so tellingly. I start with some good news about the EBacc, although I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Baker, will agree. Among the languages that can be included is Latin. Students taking advantage of this option may learn that the word “education” comes from the Latin “educare”, itself closely related to the similar verb “educere”, meaning “to draw or lead out”. That encapsulates what education should be about: drawing out people’s talent and potential to enable them to achieve what they are capable of, both for their own benefit and satisfaction, and for the society in which they live. Education should seek to identify and draw out the specific abilities of each individual to the fullest possible extent. It should encourage them to go as far as they are able in the fields they choose to study. Above all, it should foster the highest possible aspirations, so that learners reach beyond their comfort zones to achieve ambitious goals.
What sort of curriculum might best support these aims? I have no argument with the centrality of literacy and numeracy in the EBacc. However, given the ever-increasing importance of technology—here, I may be more in line with the noble Lord, Lord Baker—I would add digital skills and understanding to these fundamental requirements. Although computer science is among the science options for the EBacc, it is regrettable that some element of digital skills, including online safety and data protection, is not a mandatory requirement—not just for the EBacc but in all apprenticeships and technical education qualifications. Beyond that the crucial need is for the EBacc, as a qualification aiming ultimately for 90% take-up, to be sufficiently flexible to address the needs and aptitudes of all students, not just those looking to progress into careers via the higher education route.
One of the characteristics of an excellent school is its ability to draw out students with very varied interests and aspirations. I was lucky enough to go to a first-class school with a dauntingly high standard of academic performance for those whose talents lay in that direction, but at the same time offering outstanding facilities and tuition for development in other areas: sport, drama, art, music, design, engineering, becoming Prime Minister and more—your Lordships may hazard a guess at its identity. To my mind, a large part of Eton’s success is due to it offering a broad enough range of curriculum options to attract, inspire and draw out students of widely differing dispositions and interests. Of course, few schools can offer as wide a range of options as Eton but all should go beyond the narrow scope of the EBacc.
I share the concern of other noble Lords that the EBacc as currently designed is likely to limit the range of aspiration and opportunity for many students—to box them in rather than drawing them out. It does not allow room for them to pursue different subjects better aligned with their own inclinations, particularly for less academic students who find it hard to manage even the minimum seven GCSE subjects necessary for the EBacc. Of course, there is nothing easy or undemanding about many of the creative subjects which are so deplorably absent from the EBacc. Music, my own passion, requires deep knowledge and understanding even for listening and proper appreciation—if I had more time, I might have been tempted to quote my hero Berlioz on that subject—quite apart from the advanced practical and technical skills required for performing or composing. On the educational benefits it can bring, let me quote Julian Lloyd Webber in a recent letter to the Times. Music, he said,
“develops areas of the brain related to language and reasoning, encourages memory skills, increases hand-to-eye coordination, expands creative thinking, builds self-confidence, and has been proven to help children with their other school subjects.”
It is perhaps no accident that the UK’s leading music conservatoires, 94% of whose students get jobs within six months of graduation, on average, rank among the top higher education performers in this respect. I am sure the Minister does not need reminding of the £87 billion of GVA that creative industries contribute to the UK economy, including £4.1 billion from music alone, or of the fact that businesses are crying out for creative and digital skills, as we have heard, with hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies in these areas.
One of the most troubling aspects of the absence of creative subjects from the EBacc is the disproportionate effect this will have on the opportunities available to students from disadvantaged or less well-off backgrounds. Leading schools and affluent parents can always ensure their children have access to arts and creative subjects, outside school if necessary. Far from enhancing social mobility, the EBacc proposal as it stands seems likely to widen the opportunity gap between the haves and the have-nots. Surely the Minister would not adopt what might have been Marie-Antoinette’s reaction to such a situation: “Let them learn Latin”.
I will conclude with one point that puzzles me. The Government rightly seek to transform post-16 technical education to align it much more closely with the needs of employers and move it towards greater parity of esteem with academic education. This is laudable and should open new opportunities for numerous, often less academic, students. But how can this eminently sensible and long-overdue reform be reconciled with the intention to require 90% of students before the age of 16 to follow the much more restrictive and inflexible EBacc path? I hope this debate may elicit an answer from the Minister. More importantly, I hope that with his clear and admirable commitment to improving our education system, he will look for ways of broadening and improving the EBacc for example—on the lines suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, and others in this debate.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott for giving us the opportunity of this debate and I declare my interest as editor of the Good Schools Guide and parent of a 14 year-old.
I am unusual in this debate, in that I am a fan of the EBacc. In a fast-changing world, an academic education is as good a foundation as you can offer any child. I share the Government’s estimation that eventually we might be able to offer that to—I say “offer to” rather than “impose on”—90% of children. There is a lot to do to get there but we are doing a lot. A lot of good things are happening in education and I am very cheered by a move to evidence-based practices, but there really is a lot to do. I listened to a 16 year-old today who had just moved from a Kent comprehensive to a Kent grammar. She said to me, “At last, I can ask a question without losing my friends”. When education at that sort of level has a disdain of academic success, I really feel that there is potential to improve.
Because I believe in the EBacc, I am an immense opponent of having more grammar schools. I cannot begin to understand how the Government reconcile their ambitions for the EBacc with the creation of selection for the top 25%. Nor can I understand how they continue with comparable outcomes as a measure at GCSE. What is the point in thinking that you can give 90% of children an academic education if the system of scoring in the exams means not more than 60% can succeed? These dissonances at the heart of the Government’s education policy need sorting out but I still support the EBacc.
Beyond the EBacc, we all need a strong, creative part to our lives. As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, we need what we individually do best to be valued while we are at school. It is an enormous motivator; if you are good at art and art is valued at school, it really helps you to do well in your academic subjects. It gives you confidence and impetus, so we must not lose the breadth and the art content, particularly in 11 to 16 education.
However, we do not deal with it best by fighting over how much more we can stuff into the pie and what we should chuck out. I will go with George W. Bush on this: we must make the pie higher. There are lots of ways of doing this and I will suggest a few to my noble friend. There should be a real, concentrated effort to reduce teacher workload so that they have more space to bring their passions into it. There is an overemphasis on marking but some interesting things are going on: the Michaela school, for instance, is really working to reduce it. We should pick out good practice on how to chuck the time-consuming rubbish out of teaching GCSEs. For instance, there is excellent work going on with the alternative qualifications created by Sevenoaks and Bedales. They show the way and we should pick up on that. There should be much more technology. If we really get assessment techniques so that an essay can be evaluated properly, rather than reducing it to, “Did you introduce these six forms of grammar and five points about the subject?”, that will make a great difference.
We can bring creativity into a lot of subjects which it has been excluded from. If you go to the American School in London, you will find that in the course of its art lessons they cover the physics of light, the chemistry of colour, the biology of sight and the mathematics of perspective. They link across the curriculum; that way, you get creativity running out into the science subjects. Sir Anthony Seldon is quite right that a lot is coming down the line from technology, which we will see in the next 10 years. I have seen my daughter pick up something from YouTube videos in no time at all, while most of the people who give us trouble in hacking scenarios have learned that all online. No teachers have been involved at all; it has been a totally online experience. Bringing that sort of thing into schools will enable more breadth and a greater density of teaching.
On good discipline, there has been a great Twitterstorm about a school in Norfolk that went overboard on that, but there are still too many schools where the discipline does not allow concentrated learning.
Another way is broader university courses. So much of the focus in school comes down to the fact that universities are selecting on just one subject, so GCSEs focus down to A-levels that focus down to university. That is entirely contrary to people’s interest in a varied life. They need to keep a broader base. There needs to be some breadth to university courses. Even if you are studying history, you need a bit of science, arts and business in there somewhere if you are really to flourish afterwards. You ought not to have to pick them up afterwards.
We also need collaboration. There is a marvellous experiment going on in Plymouth that I urge my noble friend to visit. The whole city—businesses, the city authorities, higher education, further education, the university technical college and the schools—has come together to help kids who need to have a space to exercise their programming skills and be valued for them. When you get the whole city working together like that, there is so much more you can do than if you try to break things into little bits. It offers enormous opportunity in science, English and other areas to bring practical experience into GCSE and A-levels and broaden people’s experience. Switzerland does that much better than us. Early involvement with the real world is something to aim for.
We need state school/private school partnerships. I know my noble friend listened to a lecture on those yesterday. If you are looking for access to the arts, as Thomas’s Battersea does, open out your extraordinary facilities to local state schools.
As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, Ofsted is crucial in this. Only it has a mechanism to force schools to keep breadth in 11 to 14 key stage 3. It ought to be communicating much better with parents about what is going on in schools. The whole Ofsted model needs to be revisited so that it is much more ongoing, rather than the just once every five or 10 years we are stuck with at the moment.
We really need to support the Careers & Enterprise Company on the skills passport. It produces a mechanism for things outside the EBacc that are to be valued.
Finally, we need really to focus on the measures we are imposing on schools in league tables. We need to make sure that what they are incentivising is in the interests of the child, not the school. What we have seen revealed in Orpington in the past week or two is not uncommon, and we have to root it out.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness on securing this debate. We share an interest in this area, and I like to think of her as a friend as well. I declare an interest as chair of the governing body of my local primary school. I have been on the governing body for a while, but as there was a vacancy, I thought I would try my hand at chairing it. It has been an interesting challenge. I was reflecting on the point made by my noble friend Lady McIntosh about the importance of the arts when watching a recent school play in which about 100 young children took part. They were singing and dancing in a production written and devised by a previous deputy head, who still comes back to the school to produce it. It brings joy to the heart to see those children, and you just hope that when they transfer they will not lose that joy in artistic creation. Surely that should be part of our aims and objectives.
What are the Government’s objectives? They are clearly set out in their consultation response and reflect the manifesto ambitions. They include that 75% of year 10 pupils in state-funded mainstream schools start to study for GCSEs in the EBacc combination of subjects by September 2022 and that 90% of them do so in 2025. I looked at the opening paragraph of the statement by the Minister for Education and I like it. It says that we need to become a great meritocracy and,
“need an education system which ensures that everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will allow. We need to remove the barriers that stop people from being the best they can be, and ensure that all children are given the same chances through education to succeed”.
Who could quarrel with that in its broad thrust? However, we have to ask whether the EBacc approach creates that kind of meritocracy. If we examine it, I do not think it does. That is the problem. It is all focused on narrow, academic achievement leading to a degree qualification. It is what I call a shoehorn approach, predicated on the view that the vast majority of pupils—90%—will benefit from the EBacc as one size fits nearly all. I do not often differ from the noble Lord, Lord Baker, but when he used the phrase “bright children”, I worried a bit because it made me think that perhaps the rest of them are not so bright. I know he did not mean it in that context, but my quarrel with it is that it assumes that all children develop in a similar way, and we know that they do not. It is not a question of whether they are academic, but sometimes they will develop more slowly and sometimes they will have a different range of skills and talents. If we are serious about developing an education system that will be a genuine meritocracy and will release all those talents and skills, we must make sure that this is the right approach. I think it is too narrow, and I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, that we should make the pie higher. It is just too narrow. I hope that the Minister will reflect on this debate.
As my noble friend Lord Knight said, it is not what all employers want. It is not just about qualifications. There are other essential skills—I always bridle when I hear people talk about soft skills as they are not soft skills; they are essential skills—such as the ability to communicate, to work as part of a team, to create, to problem-solve, to learn in a workplace environment and to participate in lifelong learning. Are we to assume that if you are not part of the 90% taking EBacc you have failed? I do not think that is what the Government believe or intend but, I was somewhat surprised to see no mention of apprenticeships or the Government’s much-heralded T-levels in the Government’s consultation response. I assume that the target of 3 million apprenticeships during this Parliament is still an objective. If we look at the demographics of a number of key industries—they have already been cited here today, so I am not going to go through them again—we know we are going to need huge numbers of high-grade technicians and a lot more people in the creative and arts environment because we know how important it is to the economy. We surely want them to go down the apprenticeship route, starting at 16, 18 or whenever. That is essential, with the added bonus that apprentices can earn while they learn and enhance their job prospects.
Nobody has mentioned the B word during this debate, and I hesitate to do so, but whatever happens, whether we get a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, one thing is for sure: we need more of our own home-grown skills. I have never understood where the academy for Polish plumbers is, but it must be bloody—pardon me, very—successful in the numbers that it turns out, and now there is a Bulgarian academy as well. I say that not really in jest because there is a genuine need to ensure that more young people take on these skills. I thank the Edge Foundation for the document it produced. I am going to cut short some of the points in it because I have not got time, but it makes a point about the decline in design and technology, and the Government need to take that very seriously. The document notes that Alan Milburn’s Social Mobility Commission recognised that,
“there is a risk that an inflexible EBacc will disengage some children. There is some evidence from Germany that a more academic curriculum resulted in an increase in disengagement with school and an attendance drop off”.
The good news is that on page 16 of the Government’s response, they recognise that there are alternative educational routes which do not need to apply the EBacc formula and assessment. I hope they will answer the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, about what they are going to do with UTCs, studio schools and so on. I hope that they will recognise that there are alternative educational routes leading to very good careers.
How can we measure success? We can measure it when young people have real choice in education and career paths—all young people, including those who perhaps have been statemented, those who suffer either physical or mental disabilities—and when vocational education is seen as a valid choice that may eventually lead to a degree. Perhaps, in the final analysis, we would be able to see the numbers of those who are not in education, work or training come down to a minimum. That is when we will be able to say that we have succeeded.
I congratulate the noble Baroness on this really interesting discussion. It is one of those discussions that you think will go in one direction, but before you can turn around, it is going in all directions and covering virtually everything that we need to think about that is coming in the world in the next 10 or 20 years. Mark Carney said at the Roscoe lecture a few months ago that over the next 10 or 20 years 50% of all jobs that are now considered white-collar or middle-class jobs will disappear. But what will they be replaced with? That is why this debate is one of the most significant. I was in a debate last week about overcrowded prisons. I know the answer to the problem of overcrowded prisons: it is to do something about the education system. As Justine Greening admitted to me, given that 37% of our children fail at school and then become 80% of our prison population et cetera, we can see the importance of education. We can see that education is important not just because it will give you a good job but because it will give you a good chunk of humanity.
I have to declare that, in spite of appearances, I am a young father. I have a 10 year-old and a 12 year-old. When I realised that my children suffered some of the dyslexia that I suffer from—it was picked up a bit earlier—I took them out of the state system and put them into a Steiner school. Now, Steiner schools are very strange schools, often described as the kind of school you put your children in if you want them to grow up as hippies. I am quite happy that my children will grow up as hippies, as long as they do not harm anybody in the process. In Germany, for instance, a lot of state schools are Steiner schools, and there are many other examples. On their first day of school, my children picked corn—or wheat, or whatever—broke it down and separated it. Then what did they do? They made flour and bread—on their first day at school. On their second day at school, they were in the woods, finding out about the difference between the trees—a bit like in South America where, if you happen to be a young child up the Amazon, you will know, by the age of four, 300 or 400 different trees. We have to find a way. This is where the Government will find it very difficult because Governments are rather cumbersome thinkers and have to go on results and things that add up. But we are moving into an intellectual revolution that has to be reflected in the way we educate our children.
Maybe I should not say this because it is on the record, but my children are two of the most refined creatures I have met. They are 10 and 12 years old, and if you meet them—I hope some of your Lordships will—you will find that they know how to relate to human beings, including adults. People are astonished by this. It is because they are very good at languages, very good at chess and very good at working in teams. When they discuss history, they go to places such as Hadrian’s Wall. They take up theatre: my children are obsessed with theatre, because they use theatre to learn history, to learn medicine and to learn geography. It is absolutely incredible, and I wish we would all dump the present system that we have and adopt another.
Looking at my own education, I went to what is now quite a desirable Catholic school in Chelsea, but then it was a bit rough and I did not learn anything. When I left school, I was largely unable to read and write. I could pretend that I read books, and carried them around, but I was not very good at it. I was rescued by Her Majesty’s prisons department. It was the greatest moment of my life when, after a boy’s prison, I was put into a reformatory and given an education that cost twice the amount of Eton—where I believe my noble friend Lord Aberdare went. It cost twice that amount to educate me for a period of two years, and they had me climbing trees and learning all sorts of things. They mixed it all up—for example, the technical with the creative. We went to the Old Vic and saw Laurence Olivier or somebody—we did not know who it was—and went to see the Guildford orchestra. We read books—Thomas Hardy and all sorts of things. This was a school for naughty boys. It was a wonderful invention, and I learned all sorts of things there. For part of the day I had to go into the glasshouse and learn the difference between the abutilon megapotamicum, the squarrosa “louisae”, the aphelandra squarrosa “louisae” and the zonal pelargonium.
This is what they did to our working-class children who had erred and fallen. Unfortunately I got into a bit more trouble for the next maybe 10 or 15 years, but I got out in the end. The thing was that the redemption rate—whatever the rate is that they judge people on—was enormous: 70% or 80% of people went in bad and came out better. If we can do it for the most disfranchised, why can we not do it for those 37% of children? That is going to take a revolution in thinking from central government, making sure that when we talk about education, we talk about broadening and emphasising all sorts of things.
I am a great believer in systems. The first thing I would teach a child when they go in at the age of four or five is about their body. I am a 71 year-old man and I do not know where my pancreas is—I do not know anything. This beautiful system can be taught as a work of art, a work of technology, as a work of all sorts of things. If we start to teach our children about systems, we can move on to the weather, to the environment and to other things. Why is it that most people who hate capitalism do not know how capitalism works? It is because they do not know how money or art works. They do not know the relationship between theatre or music, and they put them into these silos and do it that way. In my opinion, this is one of the most interesting discussions and I am really glad I participated in it. Thank you very much.
My Lords, I too congratulate my noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott on initiating this important debate, which has produced some wonderful speeches this afternoon. I want to focus my remarks today on one subject which was mentioned very powerfully by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, which is music.
In the debate on EBacc last year the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Yardley, said:
“I am not against maths, English, science, foreign languages, history or geography”,
but she went on to say that if you have a priority, you are saying that you,
“give less priority to the other things”.—[Official Report, 4/2/16; col. 57.]
The worry is that when you say that some subjects are important, you are saying that other subjects are less important.
Some of your Lordships may have heard Julian Lloyd-Webber on the radio last week talking about the brand-new Birmingham Conservatoire which has just opened and where he is the director. He said that removing arts subjects from the core curriculum was not conducive to creating the artists of the future. He compared Britain to countries in the Far East where he said it was perfectly normal to learn a musical instrument. He was worried that here in Britain we are missing out on a massive amount of talent. The Minister and other Ministers say that they share these ambitions for music. I looked at the Government’s national plan for music education, published six years ago, and it said all the right things: music education should be available to as many children as possible; music can enhance the lives of all young people; and music should not be the preserve only of better-off families who can afford tuition in musical instruments.
My brother and I, many years ago, attended the same school in Manchester. In our first year, aged 11 or 12, we were taken to the Manchester Free Trade Hall to hear the Hallé Orchestra. My elder brother heard Handel’s “Water Music”, then badgered our father to buy him the LP, which he played morning, noon and night until the record actually wore out. When it was my turn to go, I heard Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Overture”, with the conductor explaining how the music told the story of the fighting, the love scenes and the death scenes. These were really inspiring musical experiences. Many noble Lords will have seen Gareth Malone on television struggle to build a choir in a school among very sceptical, if not hostile pupils, especially the boys. It was an uphill struggle, yet somehow he pulled them all together and when they finally performed in front of the school and their parents, the pupils, including the boys, not only discovered the joy of making music together but also discovered something new in themselves—a previously hidden talent, teamwork and a new confidence.
As other noble Lords have said, we know from research and from experience that the benefits of a music education go much wider. It can help you retain verbal information, enhance your intellectual development, increase your social confidence and help with maths. The connection between music and maths is very well known. Of course there are huge benefits to the economy from the creative industries and the music industry. We have some of the best musical colleges and conservatoires in the world, some of the best orchestras and some of the best musical theatre, but we have a shortage of skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or in numbered string positions. We need a pipeline of talent coming forward.
I acknowledge what the Government are doing. Music education hubs have been established to give children the opportunity to learn a music instrument. The exam board of the Royal Schools of Music, the ABRSM, examines 300,000 pupils each year in the UK who are learning to play a musical instrument. The Department for Education has worked with the ABRSM to develop the Classic 100 music app for primary schools, with music ranging from “Peter and the Wolf” to Beethoven’s fifth and Handel’s “Messiah”. My right honourable friend Nick Gibb, the Minister, is on record as saying that the new national curriculum will ensure that music is taught as an academic subject. However, in a survey of schools in 2016-17, in only two out of three schools was music a compulsory part of the education, despite it being part of the national curriculum.
My final and most important point is that music can be intrinsically life-enhancing and inspiring for every child and every adult throughout their lives. So while I am sympathetic to the emphasis placed on core academic subjects, it should not downgrade other subjects which are crucial for a child’s personal development. My plea to the Government is this: please do everything you can to make sure that music classes are not the ugly duckling of the school curriculum; they must not be the last courses to be added and the first to be cut.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury, and his love of “Romeo and Juliet” by Tchaikovsky, which I, too, studied at school. I welcome the enterprise of the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, in bringing this vital issue before us today.
I always try to avoid being overly melodramatic when speaking in your Lordships’ House, but I have to say to the Government that the exclusion of creative subjects from the English baccalaureate has been viewed by the creative industries as disastrous. Let me explain this concern in just one particular respect, one that might—I use that word advisedly—be compounded by the outcome of Brexit negotiations. Orchestras in this country are already worried about a drop in young musicians coming through the education system, as we have heard. If recruiting from abroad and, indeed, touring abroad becomes more difficult they foresee huge problems in the coming years. Young instrumentalists need to start while their muscles and limbs are still malleable—not to mention their minds. It is like tennis, cricket, skiing or football—the earlier you start the easier it is to gain a technique or “muscle memory” as trainers like to say. That is why the Russians have such fantastic techniques. They may lack other things, but they start really young.
Can I forestall one aspect of the Minister’s possible response? He might, with some justification, point out to us that creative subjects are still available but just not as part of the EBacc. However, this, many of us feel, rather diminishes the role of the arts and music and is having a deleterious effect on the take-up of, for example, music. As my noble friend Lord Aberdare pointed out, this tends to mean that the well-off can give their children music while the poor are at a disadvantage. This at a time when the Government are always at pains to praise the revenue and reputation that the creative industries bring to this country.
Then there is the dividend of social cohesion that the arts bring to young people and thereby society at large. Here, I am very much with my noble friend Lord Bird. The arts tend to pick up waifs and strays who somehow do not fall easily into the required niche as so well described by the noble Lord, Lord Knight of Weymouth. These waifs and strays—I would have included myself in this bracket at one point—tend to fall by the wayside if not catered for. When I think back to my schooldays, it is the maverick, the outsider, who has often achieved the unexpected, the remarkable. A music master who took an interest in me helped to lift me from lacklustre academic achievement to a route that fulfilled what limited talents I had. I still have the well-thumbed scores of Bach’s “Double Violin Concerto in D minor”, Bartók’s “Concerto for Orchestra”, and yes, Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet”, which were the O-level set works and which have remained dear to me ever since.
Acting in various school productions, from Gilbert and Sullivan to Pirandello and from John Mortimer to Shakespeare, was the best kind of education into the workings of the world and us hapless mortals—and goodness, how we need help with that. It undoubtedly helped to give me the confidence which, I am sure, helped me later as a broadcaster.
I am always amazed that this country boasts such a stunning array of world-class talent, given that our history is rather more philistine than that of some countries. We did not, for instance, have a court system of commissioning music. Hunting was more the order of the day. Sir Peter Hall, who has just died and to whom I pay tribute if I may, was just the kind of visionary who transformed British theatre by presenting not just the classics but insisting on the best of the new—David Hare, for example. Hall and Hare, and so many other artists, have stressed the burning need to introduce the arts to young children not just as a choice but as a necessity—as a central part of the curriculum.
The numbers of high achievers in the arts who trace back their success to a particular teacher and the availability and opportunity—what an important word that is—that they encountered at a young impressionable age are legion. We are hugely successful in the field of the arts but we simply cannot sit back on our laurels. Rather, we must invest in the future not just financially but in terms of the respect and importance that we attach to creativity. That is why I believe that it really was disastrous to omit creativity from the EBacc syllabus.
I join in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, on securing this important debate. She is a doughty champion of creative and technical education and shares the concerns of so many of us around this Chamber at the decline in take-up up of such valuable subjects. As we have heard, the English baccalaureate has done good work in promoting the academic subjects it specifies, but has caused a deal of neglect of others which should rightfully have their place in the curriculum.
The Government’s concentration—an obsession one might think—with English, maths and other academic subjects is resulting in a school syllabus, and school leavers, with few outlets for more practical skills. School league tables and funding contribute to the focus on academic learning, and we have recently had highlighted the inequity of schools banning their lower-achieving pupils ahead of exams, to shore up their league tables presumably, but with little regard to the effect that that may have on the young people so treated.
As we have heard, education should be about so much more: preparation for life; creating good citizens; empowering young people to succeed; and giving them the aspiration, resilience, confidence and self-respect to know that they may have a contribution to make to society. This may, or may not, be an academic contribution, as set out by the noble Lord, Lord Young. Sadly, if it is not academic, schools have limited means of encouraging them. It was interesting to hear the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Bird, with the Steiner schools, and perhaps reassuring to know that if his children do become hippies at least they will be refined hippies. It was also interesting to hear of his own unplanned but, in a way, privileged education.
For education to succeed, we of course need the full co-operation of employers. We know that work experience has been shown to be invaluable in motivating young people and giving them a real step into employment. We also know that the country faces an acute skills shortage, in craft and creative as well as technical skills. Our creative industries play an immensely significant part in our economy, as well as our quality of life, as we have heard from my noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter and as the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, set out so clearly. But young people do not emerge from their years of compulsory education equipped with the knowledge and skills to embark on careers in these areas.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, said in her introductory remarks, we note that the total entries in GCSE creative and technical subjects have fallen by 28%, 181,000 people in the last seven years. IT and computer skills have similarly been in decline. Schools are now so beset with the calls to meet targets and tick boxes that, as one head teacher said to me recently, “It knocks out any time for encouraging a love of learning”. The noble Lord, Lord Knight, spoke also of the importance of the love of learning. No longer can young people learn because it is fun and fascinating; there has to be a test at the end of it to be recorded into the school statistics.
How can we return to the days when all was not well with the educational world but at least there was time in the school day for music, drama, exploration and curiosity? What has happened to woodwork, metalwork, cookery and needlework? Many schools have dismantled the labs and kitchens, disposed of the chisels and sewing machines. But young people whose fortes are not grammar and algebra but doing and creating can be re-engaged into learning by those practical skills. I am sure that I am not the only the noble Lord who has found very little use for my wonderful proficiency in logarithms and trigonometry since I sat my O-level.
The negative impact of the EBacc on music provision in schools is clearly a concern for the commercial music industry, which contributes £4.1 billion to the UK economy. Michael Dugher, the CEO of UK Music, recently warned that cuts to music in schools, coupled with the closure of hundreds of small venues, means that the music industry is potentially facing a perfect storm which, if allowed to develop unchecked, poses an existential threat. How much the poorer would life be without music? We wish every success to the granddaughter of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and her trumpet—and I speak as the grandmother of a cornet-playing grandson. I know what enormous pleasure they get from this, even if practising it is not always at the top of their agenda; computer games sometimes, alas, take precedence. The noble Lord, Lord Sherbourne, also spoke eloquently of the importance of music.
What steps will the Government take to ensure that the existential threat is averted? My noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter cited the concern of Darren Henley, who was brought in some years ago to advise the Government on creativity and music. His voice should have been heard far more clearly than it has been.
The EBacc set out to remedy what was perceived as a shortfall of academic achievement in schools. It is intended as a core, but with seven subjects that leaves little space for any but the most academically able students to take up additional ones. I notice what the noble Lord, Lord Baker, said about doing computing instead of modern languages. As a modern linguist, I always bitterly regret any suggestion that modern languages are not important. Post Brexit, it will be even more important that we can communicate with our European and international neighbours and friends in their language, rather than speaking our own loudly, as is so often the way with the British. I also note that in the Edge proposals, modern languages go not head to head with science but head to head with history, under the humanity heading. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Baker, will be reassured that computer science is contained within the sciences, so it is not entirely neglected even if it is in competition with chemistry.
The EBacc did not arise out of demands from the teaching profession to reform the exam process. Any teacher knows that the benefits of any reform, whether changing the name or curriculum, or changing the marking from letters to numbers, only ever emerge after totally disproportionate administrative burdens, which take teachers away from delivering exciting lessons and into the tedium of administrative negotiations. Teachers prefer reforms and updating which are introduced gradually to allow the continuation of lesson planning and time spent on students. Sadly, that is not dramatic enough for politicians, very seldom themselves practising educationalists, who love to make their mark on future generations. Can I put in a plea for school decisions to be taken primarily by those in the profession, with politicians standing well back?
The Government love to say that our teachers are the best ever. That is a bit of a blow to some of us who were teachers way back, because we did not think that we were totally hopeless then—but there we are. But if they are the best ever, why are they so beset by constantly having to record and justify their work? As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said, why cannot the Government not just trust the teachers more and assess them less?
The report from the All-Party Design and Innovation Group, Developing Creative Education after Brexit, drew on a wide range of specialist organisations to support art and design as a core component of the EBacc. Art subjects could cover music, drama, dance, film—all the parts of our highly successful creative industries sector, which is being starved of talent in the state sector because of its exclusion from the syllabus. It is notable that the private sector sets great store by creative activities, as we have heard from the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. But why should these wonderful skills be available only to those already privileged? What steps are the Government taking to stop the decline in craft and creative teaching and learning? How are music, art, drama and technical teachers encouraged to stay in the profession, and will the Government give serious consideration to the Edge Foundation’s proposals for the EBacc, which would give a broader base for our young people to be equipped for life? I look forward to the Minister’s reply.
My Lords, it is entirely appropriate that the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, secured this debate. To no one’s surprise, she opened it with a flourish and covered so much ground that it left very little for others to say that was new; I certainly find myself in that position.
Labour is not opposed to the EBacc—certainly not per se. We recognise its value, and it is right that every student should have the opportunity to take all the EBacc subjects if they want to. But we do not believe that it should be compulsory. It is to some extent instructive that, of the 13 previous speakers, only the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, spoke favourably about the EBacc as it currently operates. Forcing it on 90% of GCSE students is sensible neither for them nor for the long-term needs of the country’s economy. Further, it amounts to yet another accountability measure on which schools will be scrutinised and judged, including by Ofsted.
By imposing the full EBacc, the Government are claiming that foreign languages, and history or geography, are inherently, and in all circumstances, of more value than non-EBacc subjects. The noble Lord, Lord Baker, handled that point effectively when he offered an escape route, should the Government desire one. If there is evidence to support the Government’s position on this, I do not think that I would be alone in your Lordships’ House in being very interested to see it.
The logic of the EBacc appears to be that GCSEs in these subjects are harder and therefore more worth while, and they are described as the facilitating subjects that Russell Group universities want to see. That means that you need to do two of them at A-level in order to be in the best position to get on to a Russell Group course. Two of them—not five of them—and only if you want to go to a Russell Group university, and only at A-level. So that rationale is exaggerated, at best.
Other subjects should form equally valuable components of a student’s rounded education, as other noble Lords have said. Surely it cannot be denied that arts and technology are important, not least because of the personal development that they allow young people to pursue, but also because the creative industries, as other noble Lords have said, are now such an important feature of our economy. So we should not be sending a message to schools and to young people that creative and technical subjects are not really valued. There has been a great deal of government rhetoric about closing the divide between academic and vocational education, but with the EBacc the Government are unequivocally promoting the superiority of the academic pathway.
The curriculum should not be driven by the needs of the minority who are going to the most selective universities. Many of the essential work-related skills that the CBI warns are in short supply may well be better developed in technical and practical contexts. To impose the EBacc on students regardless of their interests and ambitions for the future is simply not appropriate. That is not to say that some young people are not suited to academic subjects and so should be pushed down a vocational route. But there should be a genuine opportunity to choose at 14, rather than be forced into a government-designed straitjacket.
Quite rightly, the Government have been promoting the apprenticeship route heavily as a valid alternative to university, and further education colleges now recruit 14 to 16 year-olds directly. Equally, the Government are encouraging still more university technical colleges and studio schools, which, according to the Government’s response to the EBacc consultation, are to be exempted from the 90% threshold. To develop a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, in her opening remarks, perhaps the Minister can say what percentage will be expected of them and indeed whether any target will apply. Despite what the Government said in their response to that consultation, which was published in July, these initiatives leave the Government’s position confused, if not contradictory.
Changes must be made to the EBacc—otherwise, the Government will not meet their stated objective of improving technical education—but just as important is the effect the EBacc will have on restricting the range of subjects available in many schools. Research carried out by King’s College London for the National Union of Teachers showed that 74% of teachers believe that the EBacc has already narrowed the key stage 4 curriculum offer in their school. Arts and technical subjects are often the losers, and the Government’s persistence with a measure which reduces students’ opportunities to take part in such subjects risks disengaging some from education altogether.
The Minister has said in the past that there will be room for students to study subjects outwith the EBacc core—in theory, perhaps, but in recent years there has already been a significant shift away from creative and technical subjects in key stage 4. The impact on design and technology has already been referred to by many noble Lords, but between 2009-10 and 2015-16 there was a 35% drop in take-up, which must be a matter of real concern. My noble friend Lady McIntosh spoke passionately about the benefit of arts and culture being delivered as part of the curriculum. As we have heard, these subjects are already being squeezed.
The DfE response to the consultation makes great play of the New Schools Network survey published earlier this year. The New Schools Network is well known as a cheerleader for government education policy, but its figures do not square with those involved at the chalkface. I have already referenced the King’s College survey of teachers. The National Association of Head Teachers found that four-fifths of school leaders are against government plans to make 90% of pupils take the EBacc, while the Association of School and College Leaders is concerned that,
“this will have a significant impact on arts and technology subjects and increasingly squeeze them out of the curriculum for many pupils”.
These are the professionals dealing with our schools on a day-to-day basis and what they say should be given considerable weight.
At a time when school budgets are under severe pressure, head teachers will naturally look at closing classes that are not full or not as popular as others. Perhaps the Minister will inform noble Lords whether the Department for Education has cast its net wider than the NSN survey in considering the likely effects on narrowing the curriculum.
Enforcing the EBacc on 90% of students also means that the current teacher supply problem will be exacerbated, not least in relation to modern languages. Equally, there may be teachers of non-EBacc subjects who are deemed surplus to requirements. How does the Minister intend that staffing issues emanating from the EBacc will be dealt with?
Not all young people thrive and receive positive reinforcement of their strengths in a highly academic curriculum such as that of the English baccalaureate. The robust nature of the new grade 9 to 1 GCSEs is likely to propel the move towards a narrower curriculum offer to allow for greater focus on those core subjects. This will not serve young people whose strengths lie in hands-on technical and professional subjects, such as the creative arts, construction or the service sector, all of which make a considerable contribution to our economy.
The Government's current emphasis is on vocational or technical and professional education, outlined in the Post-16 Skills Plan for delivery from 2020. Young people and educators are being encouraged to focus on destination outcomes: work or higher education. Yet the opportunities for young people to experience subjects with a clear path towards work at key stage 4 are being eroded, in contrast with high-performing countries such as Norway. In the academic year 2009-10, 63,000 key stage 4 students attended college for at least one day a week on vocationally focused programmes. By 2014-15, that had dropped to 24,000. Evaluation of these increased-flexibility programmes points to the value they provided in confidence building and progression directly on to level 2 or 3 programmes post 16. The Government’s plans on EBacc will not address this problem.
Further, by 2022, when 90% of young people are supposed to be entered for the EBacc, the gap between the number of students entered and their achievement levels will inevitably grow. The danger is that more students will feel that they have failed—a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott—and failure, or perceived failure, at that level could have a negative impact on confidence as they progress to post-16 education.
The Minister may have seen or had drawn to his attention the OECD Education at a Glance 2017 report launched this week. My noble friend Lord Knight mentioned the OECD. Given that that report runs to some 487 pages, I would not recommend that the Minister or indeed any other noble Lord devour it in its entirety, but it shows that the UK spends less per vocational student compared with other OECD countries, most of which spend more on technical and vocational programmes than on academic ones. The challenge put forward for western OECD countries is to make teaching more financially and intellectually attractive—a point that the Minister and the Department for Education should note.
It is essential that the Government allow some flexibility in the development of the EBacc. Rigid adherence to the 90% target will not allow sufficient room for opportunities to study the creative and technical subjects better suited to many students. That would not only act as a boost to career opportunities for some of the less able and disadvantaged students, but more broadly it would begin to bridge the growing skills gap that the Government otherwise seem intent on tackling.
I say to the Minister that some consistency is required, because mixed messages and conflicting policies will help neither the next generation of the workforce nor the already uncertain future of the UK economy in a post-EU world.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott for calling this debate, and to all noble Lords who have contributed to this lively discussion.
I am sure everyone agrees that we need an education system that ensures all our young people have a fair chance to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them, regardless of their circumstances. An important part of that will be ensuring that children have the opportunity to study the core academic subjects at GCSE: English; maths; science, which could include computer science; history or geography; and a language. That is the EBacc.
From international studies, it is clear that there is a strong correlation between high-performing educational jurisdictions and EBacc-type content in their curriculum. Many studies have shown, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, that it is pupils from a disadvantaged background, who may suffer from not having that core cultural capital at home and who particularly benefit from gaining a high cultural capital from academic and arts subjects.
I begin by reminding noble Lords of the facts surrounding the recent history of our education system. Schools previously entered many more pupils in EBacc subjects, but those figures slumped under the Labour Government. For example, the number of pupils studying geography fell from 44% to 26%, the number studying history from 35% to 31% and the number studying science from 81% to 63%. As a result, in 2010, only 22% of state school pupils were studying a course of those academic subjects, which we call the EBacc and which will be regarded as minimum basic fare in any private school and in most successful educational jurisdictions. The fact is that during that slump in the EBacc, we also slumped down the international league tables for education. I am afraid it gives the lie to my noble friend Lord Baker’s point that these academic subjects are not connected to educational performance. Happily, thanks to our EBacc, the number of pupils now entering these academic subjects has nearly doubled in the last six or seven years.
We know why the Labour Government introduced a broad range of vocational subjects—I am sure it was a genuine attempt to improve vocational standards and the range of available opportunities for pupils. Their mistake, which is probably the most polite way I can describe it, was their use of the concept of equivalence, so that many subjects that were not GCSEs were ranked as GCSEs in the league tables. My favourite—I have mentioned it to noble Lords before—is the higher-level BTEC diploma in fish husbandry, a subject in which there were no formal exams, only coursework, but which counted for four GCSEs. Other favourites of mine include cake decorating and hazard control; sadly, there are many other examples. Head teachers and teachers inevitably respond to the incentives that are put on them; those were the wrong incentives. We believe the EBacc is the right incentive and they have responded well to it.
My noble friend Baroness Stedman-Scott spoke about the case for broadening the 14 to 19 curriculum. That is exactly what was tried, and I am afraid the result was that too many young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were told that academic qualifications were not for them and that they should study these subjects. During that period, among the OECD countries, we fell from seventh to 25th in reading, from eighth to 28th in maths and from fourth to 16th in science. Happily, the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, helped us reform these vocational subjects from 14 to 16, and from 16 to 19.
The OECD’s adult skills survey found that the level of maths ability in England is no different among school leavers than among retirees, unlike in most other countries where school leavers perform at a higher standard than older generations. In fact, our youngest adults, aged 16 to 24, are amongst the OECD’s lowest scoring countries, alongside their peers in Turkey, Chile, Israel, Greece, Italy and Spain. That is why we are building an education system where pupils master the basics in primary school, study common core subjects up to the age of 16, and then start to specialise after that through high-quality academic, technical and apprenticeship routes.
My noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott talked about UTCs and studio schools. We have removed them from the target of the percentage of pupils that will study EBacc, but while we continue to keep this matter under review, we have not exempted them from the performance measures. It is for UTCs and studio schools to demonstrate progress to Ofsted by baseline testing their students as they enter to show Ofsted that they have made significant progress under their management.
My noble friend and many other noble Lords referred to a decline in entry in many subjects. Some of the confusion here is caused by a substantial decline in the secondary school population—approaching 10% over the last six to seven years. I will therefore veer more helpfully here to facts relating to percentages. It is also relevant and undoubtedly the case that some pupils in the recent past, as I have alluded to, have been encouraged to take some of these subjects because, bluntly, they were seen to be easier. As I said, we have reformed the subjects to make them more rigorous and more internationally competitive.
I turn first to design and technology. A number of noble Lords referred to the decline in this. Indeed, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, talked about a torrent. He is quite right; there was a torrent. There was a decline from 40% in 2010 to 28% in 2016, but from 1998—we do not have figures for 1997—to 2010 there was a fall from 65% to 40%. A number of noble Lords have spoken about the huge importance of music. Since 2010, in percentage terms, those taking music has stayed static at 7%. For art and design, the figures since 2010 have gone up slightly from 26% to 27%, but in the years prior to that from 1997 to 2010 they fell from a third of pupils to just over a quarter. Drama has declined a little from 13% to 11% since 2010. Business studies has gone up somewhat. Lastly, on computer studies and IT, it may be relevant—the noble Lord, Lord Knight, referred to the importance of not letting our school system become obsolete—that more pupils are interested in taking these subjects. The number of pupils taking computer studies and IT since 2010 has gone up from 7% to 23%—it has more than trebled.
The Government are in no doubt that studying EBacc subjects up to the age of 16 is right for most pupils. We are committed to unlocking their potential. That is why we would like to see 90% of year 10 pupils studying GCSEs in EBacc by 2025. I thank my noble friend Lord Lucas for his support in this matter.
Research shows that there are big differences in A-level subject choices depending on social background, and a major reason for this is that the GCSE subjects studied by pupils still differ depending on their background. Disadvantaged pupils remain half as likely to be entered for the EBacc combination of subjects as their peers. The Sutton Trust has found that this gap persists even among the most academically able pupils. We must therefore encourage more pupils to take the EBacc. The noble Lord, Lord Watson, asked for a broader church of research than the New Schools Network. Research was published last month by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the IoE which shows that studying the EBacc combination of GCSE subjects increases the likelihood that a pupil will stay on in full-time education.
Contrary to the arguments of those who think that many pupils cannot study the EBacc, Sutton Trust research has found that when schools move to a core EBacc curriculum at GCSE, pupil attainment improves. In fact, pupils in these schools are more likely to achieve good GCSEs in English and maths, refuting claims that a more academic curriculum would distract them from these subjects. In 2016, the Ark King Solomon Academy, which has a high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals, entered 80% of pupils for the EBacc and 76% achieved it. We have many more examples of successful schools. Some of our free schools have just reported some really quite stellar results in the EBacc. These are schools designed to promote the EBacc, particularly in areas of disadvantage. Taking the EBacc is important not only for those who want to pursue A-levels but for those who want to go into technical education. As I am sure noble Lords are aware, we have reformed GCSEs, AS and A-levels to be internationally competitive.
The noble Lord, Lord Knight, talked about university not being right for all pupils. I am delighted that he has accepted that his Government’s desire for many, many pupils to go to university was rather misguided. For too long, however, pupils from a disadvantaged background with the potential to study at our world-class universities missed out on that opportunity, simply because they never thought of applying or never knew that they could. In recent years, we have seen that the number of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university has gone up substantially.
Through our consultation on implementing the EBacc, we wanted to understand the barriers that schools face in increasing EBacc entry. We do not believe that it needs to be the case that studying the EBacc will deter pupils from studying the arts and creative subjects. We have always said that the EBacc should be studied as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. In fact, the EBacc was designed to be limited in size to enable pupils to do that. On average, pupils in state-funded schools do nine GCSEs, rising to 10 or more for more able pupils. The EBacc covers seven GCSEs, or eight for those pupils taking triple science, which leaves room for other choices. My noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott spoke about the fact that the lowest quartile of attainers take an average of six or seven GCSEs. In fact, in 2016, the Progress 8 measure showed that the number of GCSEs taken by this cohort has risen to seven or eight.
The noble Lord, Lord Watson, talked about not all young people thriving on an academic curriculum. It is of course for schools to decide about that. My noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott referred to an informal group of people who are focused on this and I would be absolutely delighted to meet them whenever suits them.
The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, talked about the importance of arts-based subjects and a broad and balanced curriculum, and I entirely agree with her. She also raised the question of how it is possible for a school or academy to be deemed outstanding when many of them do not even offer the full range of arts subjects and talked about the narrowness of curriculum. I also particularly enjoyed the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Bird. I am personally concerned about the narrowness of curriculum at key stage 3 and about the narrowness of curriculum in many of our primary schools. I know that Her Majesty’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, sees a broad, rich and deep curriculum as of vital importance to all pupils. I entirely agree with that. She has commissioned a major Ofsted study of the curriculum, which is currently under way. The outcome of this will inform Ofsted’s approach to school inspections, and will inform the Government’s approach.
The noble Lord, Lord Watson, talked about the evidence to support the position advanced that entries to arts subjects have fallen as a result of the introduction of the EBacc. As we say in our response, we carried out an analysis of the trend in arts uptake in schools that had increased EBacc entry. This analysis was published. It showed that in the nearly 300 schools that increased their EBacc entry rates by 40% or more between 2011 and 2016, on average 49% of their pupils took at least one arts subject. This is the same as in other state-funded schools. Furthermore, we found there to be a small positive correlation between schools’ EBacc entries and arts entries, suggesting that schools where EBacc entry has increased tend to have also seen an increase in their arts uptake. I agree that there should be space in the curriculum for the arts, and good schools, such as the King John School in Benfleet, show that there does not need to be such a false choice. Between 2011 and 2016, it increased its EBacc entry rate by almost 50%, and during the same period the percentage of its pupils who took at least one arts subject increased by nearly 50%.
My noble friend Lord Lucas expressed concern about comparable outcomes, an approach that has been used by Ofqual since 2011 and is designed to ensure that the grading system is consistent and fairly reflects the ability of the cohort of pupils each year.
We should also remember that GCSE statistics do not tell the whole story. Many students take part in dramatic societies, choirs, orchestras and bands. A number of noble Lords were concerned about music—the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, the noble Lords, Lord Aberdare and Lord Berkeley, and my noble friend Lord Sherbourne. I entirely agree about the very great importance of music. My noble friend Lord Sherbourne referred to our music hubs and a number of our other initiatives that benefit many pupils. My noble friend Lord Baker suggested that there should be encouragement and bursaries for design and technology teachers. In fact, we have a bursary of £12,000 if you have a first or a PhD, and £9,000 for a 2.1. He also talked, as I have done, about the fact that computing counts towards the EBacc.
My noble friend Lord Lucas made a very good point about making sure that we study what works in schools and build on good practice. He referred to the Michaela free school’s approach to marking. We intend to look closely at those schools, including free schools, which have had remarkable success. We have funded the Education Endowment Foundation with £137 million to look at just this sort of thing.
Alongside reforming GCSEs, AS and A-levels, we are undertaking a programme of reform to technical education, which we debated in your Lordships’ House recently, and which I believe received fairly broad support. We will invest £2.5 billion by 2020 in apprenticeships. We are introducing the apprenticeship levy and raising the quality of apprenticeships. This will result in new, high-quality apprenticeships in many occupations, including creative and design—for example, junior journalist and broadcast production assistant, with standards for fashion studio assistant and live event technician in development.
Reforming technical education will help meet the needs of our growing and changing economy. It will have 15 different routes, each grouping together occupations where there are shared training requirements. Within these will sit our new two-year T- level programmes. We want T-levels to have real labour-market value and credibility, so we will work closely with employers to define the standards and the content. The T-level certificate, awarded on successful completion of the overall programme, will capture the technical qualification achieved, the work placement and attainment in English and maths. These reforms will ensure a consistent technical education system, raising its prestige and ensuring that it is a sought-after option. They will help young people and adults to achieve their potential, as we hope that T-levels will become a gold standard for technical excellence.
We do not expect that a technical education at 16 will close down to 18 year-olds options such as pursuing a degree. High-quality careers advice will of course help in this regard. We are confident that enabling pupils to progress from the core academic subjects that all pupils study up to the age of 16 to our reformed post-16 technical education routes will provide the skills and knowledge that we need for our growing and rapidly changing economy.
Again, I thank all noble Lords for debating such an important issue. Ensuring that every young person is allowed to achieve their full potential is of course vital. Our reforms to the curriculum and qualifications are aimed at just that. Our ambition for the majority of pupils to take the EBacc subjects as part of a broad and balanced curriculum is central to ensuring that every young person has the best preparation for life in modern Britain.
My Lords, first, I thank all noble Lords and the Minister for their efforts and contributions today. I hope that everybody has found an opportunity to put forward their views and for those views to be responded to. I hope too that they feel, as I do, that our hearts all beat in concert, in that we want our young people to have the best, as the Minister said.
I have just a few points to make to the Minister. We talk about broadening the age range and the subjects in the curriculum, but nobody wants to do subjects which are of no use to them at all; they want to do those that help them ensure that they meet the needs of employers and our economy, as well as ensuring that they can have a good and fruitful career. The Minister’s point about numbers and percentages was well made, but however you add it up or take it away, there is still a decline, and we want to stop that if we can.
We have covered a great deal of distance today and have probably given the Minister an action list that would put most people off. I am always told not to try to boil the ocean, which is probably what we have wanted to do today, but we are going to have a go—we are, I hope, going to turn the heat up.
I thank all noble Lords for their excellent contributions and for their balanced and measured thoughts. It would be wrong of me to thank everybody individually but I promise to write to all noble Lords to thank them and tell them the nuggets that I have extracted from this debate. I also thank the Minister for agreeing to join our informal group. I think that the membership will now go through the roof, which will be no bad thing. As the Edge Foundation hosts us, the refreshments alone will be worth coming for. I also thank the Minister’s team for their efforts, help and support.
Sadly, we recently lost one of the great icons of the creative industry. His success in his career brought joy to people, and I am sure that it increased the revenues in box offices and television companies. Sir Bruce Forsyth was just a great entertainer. He might not have been everybody’s cup of tea but he succeeded, and I am sure that we all wish his family well.
The noble Lord, Lord Young of Norwood Green, is my friend. When I asked him to speak in this debate, I told him that he would be my best friend if he did. Sir Bruce Forsyth, when begging someone to do something, said, “You’re my favourite”. My Lords, you are all my favourites today. I thank your Lordships very much for taking part in this debate—I greatly appreciate it.
Schools Update: National Funding Formula
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education in the other place earlier today.
“In my Statement to the House on 17 July, I set out my department’s plans to increase spending on schools by £1.3 billion over the next two years, on top of our existing plans. I informed the House that this would mean that we could press ahead with introducing a national funding formula for schools and high needs from April 2018 that would provide a per pupil cash increase in respect of every school and every local area, and maintain the overall budget in real terms per pupil. And I promised to return to the House in September to set out the Government’s final decisions on introducing fairer funding in full. Today I am doing just that.
This is an historic reform. It means, for the first time, the resources that the Government are investing in our schools will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. Not only will the national funding formula direct resources where they are most needed, helping to ensure that every child can get the high quality education that they deserve, wherever they live, it will also provide that money through a transparent formula, providing greater predictability. And, by clearly setting out the sums that we are directing to different aspects of the formula—to the basic amount per pupil, or to children with additional needs—for the first time it allows for properly informed debate on this vital topic: something the existing, opaque system has held back.
The need for reform has been widely recognised across this House, and beyond. The National Association of Head Teachers says, ‘a revised funding formula for schools is essential’. The Association of School and College Leaders believes that ‘the way in which funding has been distributed to schools has been flawed for many years … Reform of the school funding system is vital’. The case is so strong because of the manifest unfairness when Coventry receives £510 more per pupil than Plymouth despite having equal proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals; or Nottingham similarly attracts £555 more than Halton, near Liverpool, in Cheshire. Addressing these simple but damaging inequalities will represent the biggest improvement in the school funding system for decades. It is a step that previous Governments have failed to take for far too long.
In making such a significant reform, it has been vital to take account of a broad range of views. Our wide-ranging consultations, in both 2016 and earlier this year, allowed us to hear from over 26,000 individual respondents and representative organisations. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to share their views and to respond to the consultations, including many Members across the House. We have carefully considered them all.
As I said to the House in July, I am putting an additional £1.3 billion into core funding for schools and high needs so that the overall budget will now rise by around £2.6 billion from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £42.4 billion in 2018-19 and £43.5 billion in 2019-20. Building on this firm foundation, I can today set out the final funding formulae we will introduce, which, over the next two years, will mean we will deliver on our manifesto pledge to make school funding fairer and ensure that we deliver higher funding in respect of every area and school.
Building on our consultation proposals, as I set out in the House prior to the summer recess, I am increasing the basic amount of funding that every pupil will attract. We recognise the challenge of the very lowest funded schools so we will introduce a minimum per pupil funding level. Under the national funding formula, in 2019-20 all secondary schools will attract at least £4,800 per pupil. Today I can announce that all primary schools will attract at least £3,500 per pupil through the formula in 2019-20, and the formula will provide these levels of funding quickly: secondary schools will attract at least £4,600, and primary schools £3,300 in 2018-19; and then the full amounts the following year. I will also provide a cash increase in respect of every school. Final decisions on local distribution will be taken by local authorities, but under the national funding formula every school will attract at least 0.5% more per pupil in 2018-19, and 1% more in 2019-20, compared to its baseline.
Many schools will, of course, attract significantly larger increases under the formula—up to 3% per pupil in 2018-19 and a further 3% per pupil in 2019-20. And the minimum per pupil funding level will not be subject to this gains cap—delivering particularly fast gains in respect of the very lowest funded schools.
Our consultation confirmed the importance of funding for additional needs, deprivation and low prior attainment. We know that these factors are the best way to identify those children who are most likely to fall behind, and to remain behind, their peers, and it is only right that we provide the greatest resources to the schools that face the greatest challenges. As I said in July, we will protect the funding that the formula will direct towards additional needs at the level proposed in our consultation, and I can therefore confirm today that the total spend on additional needs will be £5.9 billion. As we proposed in December, we will distribute that funding more fairly, in line with the best available evidence. We will use a broad measure of deprivation to include all those who are likely to need extra help, and we will increase the proportion of additional needs spending allocated on the basis of low prior attainment to give additional support to those who may not be economically deprived, but who still need help to catch up.
I can also confirm today that, as we proposed in December, the national funding formula will allocate a lump sum of £110,000 for every school. For the smallest and most remote schools, we will distribute a further £26 million in dedicated sparsity funding. Only 47% of eligible schools received sparsity funding in 2017-18 because some local authorities chose not to use this factor. Our national funding formula will recognise all eligible schools.
Our formula will rightly result in a significant boost directed towards those schools that are currently the least well funded. Secondary schools, which would have been the lowest funded under our December proposals, will now gain on average 4.7%. Rural schools will gain on average 3.9%, with those schools in the most remote locations gaining 5.0%. Schools with high numbers of pupils starting with low attainment will gain on average 3.8%.
As I set out in my Statement in July, to provide stability for schools through the transition to the national funding formula, each local authority will continue to set a local formula which will determine individual schools’ budgets in their areas for 2018-19 and 2019-20 in consultation with local schools. This means that the school-level allocations from the Government that I am publishing today, alongside this announcement, are notional allocations which we will use to set the total funding available for schools in each area. As I set out, schools’ final actual funding allocations for 2018-19 and 2019-20 will be based on the local formula agreed in their area by the local authority, and schools will receive their allocation ahead of the new financial year as normal. I will place copies of both documents in the Library of the House.
Our objective to provide the best education for every child places a particular focus on the support we offer to those children who face the greatest barriers to success, and on the high needs budget which provides for that support. The case for reform of high needs funding is every bit as strong as the case for school funding reform, and therefore the move to a national funding formula is every bit as important.
We set out the full proposals for the introduction of a high needs national funding formula last December, alongside our schools formula. I am today confirming that we will proceed with the proposals. Moreover, thanks to the additional investment that I announced in July, I can increase funding for high needs so that I will also be able to raise the funding floor to provide a minimum increase of 0.5% per head in 2018-19 and 1% per head in 2019-20 for every local authority. Underfunded local authorities will receive up to 3% per head gains a year for the next two years. That is a more generous protection than we proposed in December in order to help every local authority maintain and improve the support it offers to some of our most vulnerable children. It means that local authorities will see on average a 4.6% increase in their high needs budgets.
The additional £1.3 billion we are investing in schools and high needs means that all local authorities will receive an increase in 2018-19 over the amount they plan to spend in 2017-18. Local authorities will take the final decisions on distributing funding to schools within local areas, but the formula will provide for all schools to see an increase in funding compared to their baseline.
In conclusion, the new national funding formulae will redress historic inequities in funding that have existed for too long while maintaining stability so that schools and local areas are not disadvantaged in the process. After too many years in which the funding system has placed our schools on an unfair playing field, we are finally making the decisive and historic move towards fair funding.
The national funding formulae for schools and high needs and the increased investment we are making in schools will help us to continue improving standards and create a world-class education system. No one in this House should accept the system as it has been. It has perpetuated inequality and that is unacceptable. I am proud that a Conservative Government are now putting this right. On this firm foundation, we will all—government and schools, teachers and parents—be able to build a system that finally allows every child to achieve their potential, no matter what their background or where they are growing up”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Secretary of State’s Statement. If today’s announcement is indeed a funding formula where not a single school loses funding and it is genuinely new money, I will welcome it. Indeed, I will offer hearty congratulations to the Minister because that would mean the Government had formally adopted Labour Party policy, as set out in our manifesto for this year’s election.
To expect the Minister to concede that point might be a step too far but in any case we are not yet there. Real questions remain about real-term protections for school budgets, the length of the transition to the new funding formula and whether the Government will finally begin to reverse the wider cuts facing school budgets. However, I unconditionally welcome the recognition given to high-needs pupils, not least in the title of the policy document itself. Yet the total spend of £5.9 billion that the Minister mentioned is not referenced. Is that the figure projected to 2020? What is the baseline figure?
On the question of cuts to schools already being dealt with by head teachers, non-partisan bodies such as the National Audit Office and the Institute for Fiscal Studies stated that even the £1.3 billion of what we now know is recycled money announced by the Secretary of State in July would reduce the 6.5% real-terms cuts facing schools only to 4.6%. What effect will today’s announcement have on these real-terms cuts? Indeed, where does the £1.3 billion announced in July stand in relation to today’s Statement? It is mentioned but it was not clear to me how it is tied in. The Statement says core funding for schools and high needs will rise from £41 billion this year to £42.4 billion next year and then £43.5 billion. It is not clear how that relates to the £1.3 billion announced in July.
I mentioned that if this is as it seems it will be welcome but head teachers, teachers, support staff and students deserve to know quite clearly where they stand in respect of today’s announcement. In announcing the £2.6 billion additional core funding, the Statement mentioned delivery on the Conservative Party manifesto in terms of fairer funding. However, it made no mention of the fact that that same manifesto promised £4 billion of new funding in the period of the entire Parliament, should it last up to 2022. What status does that commitment now command? I hope it still stands.
Finally, we welcome the fact that the Government listened to the voices of teachers and parents, as expressed during the general election. That clearly had a considerable bearing on the content of this announcement. However, as ever, the devil is in the detail. Until we have that detail, future funding for our schools will remain unclear. I hope the Minister will allay those fears. I would not expect him to come back on those points just now. It would be perfectly acceptable if he wrote to me.
My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for repeating the Statement, which on the face of it sounds extraordinarily good news. However, we have concerns that none of this money is actually new and is being taken from efficiencies and savings in the DfE budget. We have £420 million taken out of the capital budget, including £315 million from healthy pupils capital funding used to fund improvements in schools’ PE facilities. Surely, at a time when we hear of the concerns about children’s obesity, that is not a terribly wise transfer of money.
The free schools budget is also being cut. Three of the 14 planned new free schools will now be funded by local authorities. There is a sense about this Statement of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The National Audit Office estimates that it will cost £6.7 billion to return all school buildings to a satisfactory condition. Why is the Secretary of State pilfering from the capital budget to pay for the increase in core schools budget? If the Tories can find £1 billion for the DUP, can the Treasury please find some more money for schools?
The Government broke the pay cap on police and public sector pay, and yesterday they were unable to defend the cap on NHS staff pay. Will they now look again at giving teachers a pay rise above the 1% too, with the Secretary of State increasing the schools budget accordingly? The teaching profession faces a number of crises and shortages and, surely, a long-overdue pay increase would be most welcome to try to redress some of the iniquities in the system.
The Government have scrapped their plans to make private schools help out neighbouring state schools or lose their charitable status, which is particularly worrying at a time when we see state schools unable to afford building repairs and forced to cut back on resources for their students. In our earlier debate, we heard how there was much advantage to the independent sector in creative studies. Will the Education Secretary urge the Prime Minister to rethink her broken election promise as a matter of urgency? Does the Education Secretary not also think it deeply short-sighted to fund the core schools budget by cutting the capital funding for PE facilities? I have already mentioned this, I think: we know childhood obesity rates continue to rise.
The per-pupil funding for 16 to 19 year-olds in sixth forms and FE colleges has been frozen since the 2015 spending review. Now that the Government are pledging that per-pupil funding for schools will increase with inflation, will the Secretary of State make the same commitment to 16 to 19 year-olds? I repeat that we welcome anything which causes funding for schools to be fairer, particularly if it focuses on the more deprived children and areas, but I would be grateful for the Minister’s reply.
I am grateful for the general tenor of support for our proposals. It may not surprise the noble Lord, Lord Watson, if I do not go quite so far as he wished in his dreams that I would but I will write to him in more detail about his points. The £5.9 billion is for additional needs, not high needs, and we have maintained the existing total that authorities are currently allocated. This funding will be maintained in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and rise in line with pupil numbers, but I will write to him with a more detailed figure.
There is a lot of talk about cuts but, as I think everybody knows, they are not actually cuts. They are cost pressures, which everybody has suffered from in the private sector and business. Schools are more than half way through those cost pressures, caused by things such as pensions. Well-managed schools do their budgeting extremely well and are managing to improve this.
We have a huge amount of advice available to schools—I have referred to our website before—with a lot of resources such as toolkits, benchmarks and comparators for them to look at. We have a buying strategy in place, as £10 billion of schools’ spend is on buying services. This is a bit theoretical and top level but our analysis reveals that if all schools bought at the cheapest prices available there would be considerable savings, probably over £1 billion. We have a big programme in place on that and it is true that our best-performing school groups on finance, the MATs, are also often our best performers educationally—and, sadly, vice versa—because those school groups have learned how to focus their resources on exactly the areas they want. They have thought through where they want to spend their money and drive efficiencies so that there is much more available for the front line. If I have not covered any other points and noble Lords feel that they would like me to, I will write to them.
My Lords, would my noble friend not agree that what the Opposition Front Benches meant to say was that they are immensely grateful to this strong and stable Government for grasping the nettle and making a reform that they jolly well should have made when they were in power?
Well, it is true that we are the first Government who have actually done this. It is not easy and I pay tribute to the officials in the Department for Education. They tell me that they have been working on this for at least 10 years, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Knight, knows, and are personally delighted that it has happened.
My Lords, I congratulate the Government and particularly the officials on bringing this forward. I certainly remember commissioning a review of the funding formula back when I announced one, about 10 years ago. Unfortunately it felt as if politics, with things such as general elections and changes in government, got in the way of implementing the outcome of that review. These things happen. I am particularly pleased to see sparsity issues recognised in this announcement.
My question relates to a welcome guarantee, if I heard the Minister correctly, of a real-terms, per-head increase of at least 0.5% next year and 1% the year after. That is important. However, I am also mindful of this week’s report from the National Audit Office regarding the recruitment and retention of teachers—and I remind the House of my interest in respect of my work at TES. At paragraph 2.2, the report states:
“To meet the increasing need for teachers, particularly in secondary schools, the Department for Education … and schools will need to improve teacher recruitment and retention. We reported in February 2016 that the Department has not met its overall target for filling teacher training places in each of the past four years. It has since missed the target for a fifth year”.
As the department reflects on that, particularly given that this week we have seen the pay cap go for the police, is it possible that it might reflect that the pay cap for teachers needs to be lifted? If so, will the department then ensure that the Treasury funds that rather than it coming out of the money announced in this funding formula? I would hate to campaign to raise the pay cap for teachers but then see the ensuing problems as schools scramble to try to fund 0.5% from what, certainly in some of the urban areas, will be quite a limited extra amount of money.
The noble Lord makes some very good points about teacher recruitment and retention. Of course we have a strong economy with very high levels of employment and very low levels of unemployment which impacts on the ability to recruit teachers. We are doing a huge amount of work on improving our recruitment approach, which is a much more regionally focused approach to look at where we particularly need to recruit teachers. There is no doubt that the work of a number of our multi-academy trusts in career development, CPD and teacher retention will help teacher retention.
The independent School Teachers’ Review Body has recommended teacher pay increases. We have listened carefully to what it recommended and accepted the recommendations. We continue to work closely with schools to help them manage their finances.
I think we all welcome this, and the Government are to be congratulated on bringing a fair funding formula forward—four Fs, such alliteration. I have a number of questions. Schools will still face financial difficulties because the problem for school budgeting has been oncosts, such as national insurance and the costs of buying in services, which vary dramatically, and we will not know the full financial impact until we see the figures working in schools. In terms of primary schools and £3,500 per pupil, will that be the same for each key stage—that is, foundation, key stage 1 and key stage 2—or will it vary between the stages? I am fascinated by the fact that we are gradually bringing local authorities back into the frame. Who would have thought that the archenemies, local authorities, are now going to have a little role in terms of the distribution of funds in their areas? In terms of schools in remote areas, what is the definition of a small school which would be eligible for this extra funding?
The noble Lord is absolutely right about the oncosts, which is what I was referring to, and them actually being cost pressures rather than cuts. But as I say, we have very sophisticated work under way in the department looking at school finances. We have something called a RAT—a risk assessment tool, which is slightly easier to say than a fair funding formula. We are working with local authorities and with academy trusts to ensure that their financial planning is good. I do not really recognise the expression “archenemy” as applied to local authorities. We are working very closely with local authorities on a number of fronts, including the free schools programme and our basic needs school place planning. We have increased the number of school places by three-quarters of a million in the last six years. We now have the strategic improvement boards, on which local authority representatives and regional schools commissioners sit, among others. I am confident that this will improve relationships even further. But, as I think I have said, the relationships with local authorities are generally extremely good. The noble Lord may be very pleased to hear that.
My Lords, it would be churlish not to congratulate the Government on a fairer formula, although we will need to look at the repercussions. I still meet head teachers who are having to reduce the number of teachers and are under pressure as a result of national insurance, pensions and things like that. There is concern on that front. I have two other points to make. I presume, as we have not heard any reference to it, that the £50 million or so of funding for the extension of grammar schools has disappeared. I hope that will not be a further oncost, as I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on that. I read the couple of paragraphs in the document, but does this sustain the existing pupil premium or slightly increase it? Can the Minister just confirm that? It certainly makes a significant difference in my primary school budget. I have already declared an interest in a previous debate as chair of the governing body.
Will Members of Parliament receive a briefing from the Department for Education about the implications, constituency by constituency, of this remarkable announcement today and the good news that it brings to every constituency in the country? I also want to ask my noble friend about independent schools, which the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, touched on. Will my noble friend confirm that the Government remain as fully committed now as they ever have been to securing the closer involvement of independent schools in co-operation with schools in the maintained sector? What individual independent schools can do varies so much depending on their size, their resources and the facilities that they have to share with the state sector. It also all has to be on a reciprocal basis. Is this not the underlying intention and aim of the Government today, just as it has been in the past? Finally, would my noble friend agree that it is always worth noting, when charitable status is mentioned, that independent schools give more in means-tested bursaries than they receive in benefit from their charitable status?
The answer to my noble friend’s first question is yes, there will be detail by school and by constituency. I entirely agree with what he says about independent schools. We had of course an event yesterday about independent and state schools working more closely together. Interestingly, that afternoon I went to visit an independent school close to one of my academies and was struck by the willingness of the head teacher there—who himself was state-educated, and the first in his family to go to university—and his school to engage with our state school.
There has been some lack of awareness in the past, which I hope has been partially solved by the Schools Together website, which now has more than 1,000 examples of schools and the independent sector working together. Fantastic examples include both King’s, Wimbledon and the York Independent State School Partnership, where all schools in York—I think it is three independents and 10 state schools—work closely together. We are dedicated to ensuring that every part of our school system, whether independent or state, works quite closely together and it is clear to me, having had detailed discussions with the Independent Schools Council, that it is determined to do that.
House adjourned at 5.05 pm.