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The Government have effectively done what we urged them to do when we debated the issue in the Commons. The Minister will know, because he was the one dealing with part 2 of the Bill, that we pressed in Committee for the exclusion of community and social care services from the Bill to be removed. He is right; we highlighted the fact that the Bill included a broadly drawn power,
which sounded encouraging, that was narrowed substantially by the exclusion of community care services. When we pressed the Minister in Committee, the answer that he gave was about avoiding duplication or causing confusion. We pressed him on that, and I am pleased that the discussions that took place-presumably between the Minister's Department and the Department of Health-have been successful. He has confirmed that the pilots will be able to include community care services and that if those pilots are successful, as I very much believe they will be-
Mr. Harper: Yes, I must call them trailblazers. That is an important use of language, because it suggests to those running the schemes that that is how we want things to happen-it is important to recognise that there is cross-party support for the initiative. The trailblazers are being introduced to work out how best to do that; they are not pilot schemes that may or may not be successful. For those local authorities and other bodies that are thinking of implementing such programmes, it is worth knowing that there is a genuine commitment on both sides of the House to putting disabled people at the centre of the services provided to them and to having them being in control of the funding. That is an important message, so I am grateful to the Minister for heckling me and putting me right about calling the schemes "trailblazers".
The Minister also drew attention to the work done in the other House, which involved Baroness Campbell of Surbiton working closely with the Minister-Baroness Campbell and I have also had many discussions about the matter. With the Lords amendments in the current group, the Bill now looks in good shape. As I was saying before we had that little diversion, if the trailblazers are successful, Ministers will have the general power to get rid of the community care exclusion, so that when the schemes are rolled out across the country, we will see genuinely joined-up services.
One of the powerful things in this debate is that by taking money from different Departments, putting it together and giving it to the individuals concerned, thereby putting them in control and allowing them to spend it, we are likely to be more successful in joining up services and delivering them seamlessly, rather than having different Departments working alongside each other. I therefore welcome the amendments in the group that deal with that point.
The first set of amendments that the Minister mentioned deal with, as it were, changing the order of precedence. I welcome the fact that the way in which the amendments are worded now puts the disabled person at the centre of things and makes it much clearer that the local or other authority with which they are working has to work with them in partnership, which was not adequately reflected in the original wording. That is a step forward.
With those two changes together, we have an improved Bill. In particular, the right to control has the potential to change the lives of many disabled people significantly for the better and give them the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We therefore have no hesitation in welcoming the amendment.
Jonathan Shaw: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He is absolutely right that we are talking about trailblazers, not pilots. That is the policy intention. We have had the pilots and we have learned from them about what works and about those areas where we need to improve things. I appreciate, too, his words about our discussions with Baroness Campbell. I hope that the House will accept the amendments.
Helen Goodman: Lords amendment 50 will help to ensure that Parliament can properly review the effectiveness of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission's power to disqualify a non-resident parent from holding a travel authorisation without application to the court, where that non-resident parent has wilfully failed to pay child maintenance and other forms of enforcement have failed. Parliament's ability to make that review before the legislation comes into permanent effect will be the same as that already provided for in relation to the driving licence provisions.
Lords amendment 50 will ensure that reports on the operation of the driving licence and travel authorisation powers must be put before Parliament within six months of the end of a two-year review period. Based on the outcomes in that report, the Secretary of State will have the option of making the administrative system permanent or reverting to the existing court-based powers for either or both of those administrative powers. Any decision to maintain an administrative system must be made by an order subject to the affirmative procedure. Hon. Members will thereby have an opportunity to debate the success of each measure before a permanent administrative system is introduced.
The Government appreciate the movement that the Opposition have made on the issue and the support given to the amendment in the other place. I agree with my noble Friend Lord McKenzie of Luton that the amendment represents a significant workable compromise. I hope that hon. Members agree that the commission needs robust enforcement mechanisms at its disposal, so that the small minority of non-resident parents who refuse to support their children financially are made to comply. The amendment gives the commission the means to help it to achieve that.
Let me turn to the amendments concerning the joint birth registration provisions. Lords amendments 82 to 86 are technical amendments that are necessary to bring into effect new sections 2B, 2C and 2D of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. These sections cover the processes to be followed in cases in which unmarried
parents are acting separately, because they cannot or will not register jointly. The amendments seek to ensure that the processes to be followed by parents under our new proposals are as streamlined as possible.
Under the joint birth registration provisions, most parents will register together as they do now. However, in the exceptional cases in which parents cannot or will not register the birth together, they may be required to provide information separately to the registrar. In some of those cases, the mother will give the registrar her required information in advance of the father providing his details. At that time, she will also give details of the father to the registrar, so that the registrar can contact him and require him to co-operate with the registration process.
As the Bill is currently drafted, once the father has been contacted and confirmed his details, the mother would be required to return to the register office to sign the birth certificate. These amendments will ensure that the mother will not be required to return to the register office once the father has been contacted. Instead, she will discharge her duty to sign the register by signing a declaration when she first attends. Therefore, when the birth is registered, once the father's information has been obtained, the entry will be considered to have been signed by the mother.
Lords amendments 81, 87, 88 and 89 address an issue raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in its report published on 30 April. New section 2B(1) of our provisions will enable the information given by a mother under section 2A about her child's father to be prescribed in regulations. This information is essentially contact information to enable the registrar to contact the man concerned in those exceptional cases in which a child's parents are not co-operating with each other.
As currently drafted, the power to prescribe this information lies with the Registrar General, rather than with the Minister, and it is therefore subject to no parliamentary scrutiny. However, the report made clear the Committee's view that the power is substantive in nature. The provisions under which the Minister has the power to make regulations are included in the list of relevant provisions set out under section 39A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953, as inserted by this Bill. These amendments would include in that list of relevant provisions the regulation-making power conferred by new section 2B(1). They address the concerns of the Committee by seeking to ensure that the information given by a mother about her child's father is prescribed by the Minister and subject to the negative resolution procedure. I commend the amendments to the House.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The Minister has also made reference to other amendments in the group. The Lords amendment under discussion at the moment is Lords amendment 50, and the question is that this House agrees with Lords amendment 50.
I will be brief, Madam Deputy Speaker. I want to discuss Lords amendment 50 in relation to the travel authorisation provisions. I welcome the amendment from the Government. It follows a similar amendment that was tabled by my noble Friends Lord Freud and Lord Taylor on Report. There was a good debate on that occasion, in which Ministers made a commitment
to return with a Government amendment. This amendment effectively delivers on that promise, and it was agreed with cross-party support in the other place.
This is a sensible amendment. I could never understand why the Government were treating the powers relating to driving licences and travel authorisations in different ways, but two good things have now happened. First, we are now treating them consistently and, secondly, because Ministers will have to report back to Parliament, the affirmative resolution procedure will give this House and the other place the appropriate powers to decide whether this significant sanction should be carried forward on a permanent basis. I welcome this Lords amendment and we give it our support.
Steve Webb: The Minister is right to say that this represents a concession on the part of the Opposition parties, which understandably had grave reservations about allowing officials to have the power to withdraw passports, rather than it being done through a judicial process. I have to say that those reservations remain, but at least we now have the promise of a review after two years, at which point the matter will return to the House. I hope that whichever Government are in power at the time will take seriously the lessons learned from that process and be willing to conclude that doing this through officials rather than through the courts is not the way to proceed, if the evidence suggests that that is the case. I hope that the pilot will be undertaken with an open mind, and a willingness to accept the argument, to which we still hold, that judicial protection for these important civil liberties should remain enshrined in practice.
On the changes in regard to birth registration, I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Paul Rowen), who is unable to be here this evening, has taken a close interest in that issue and sought to persuade Ministers to re-examine it. I therefore welcome the fact that their lordships have tabled amendments to reflect the fact that joint registration can raise concerns, albeit in a small minority of cases, and that issues of domestic violence, among others, mean that the provisions need to be looked at again. I welcome the fact that the other place has sought to amend the Bill to take some of those concerns into account, and the amendments therefore have our support.
Helen Goodman: With the leave of the House, I am grateful for the agreement of the hon. Members for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper) and for Northavon (Steve Webb). With respect to the measure on travel documents, I hope that the evidence that we have obtained from experience abroad will be replicated, but, as the hon. Member for Northavon has acknowledged, we will make a full assessment of the pilots and bring the matter back to the House, so that all hon. Members can take a view. I also hope that he is satisfied that we are incorporating sufficient safeguards-notwithstanding his dislike of the word "safeguards"-in the administrative approach, so that people who are affected by the measures will feel that their civil liberties are protected. I commend the amendments to the House.
That the following provisions shall apply to the Health Bill [Lords] for the purpose of supplementing the Order of 8 June 2009 (Health Bill [Lords] (Programme)):
Consideration of Lords Message
1. Any Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.
2. Proceedings on any such Message shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion two hours after their commencement at today's sitting.
3. Any further Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.
4. The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement .- (Mary Creagh.)
Gillian Merron: All the amendments were passed in the other place yesterday. They are consequential to the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), which the House accepted on Report on 12 October. My right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) tabled a series of amendments on vending machines on Report. Of these, only the substantive amendment was considered and accepted by the House. Amendments 11A to 11G make the necessary consequential changes.
As my right hon. Friend clearly explained to the House, the aim of the amendments was to remove the power to restrict sales of tobacco from vending machines. That meant that the national authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be able to make regulations only to ban tobacco sales from vending machines completely. As I have previously explained, vending machines are the usual source of cigarettes for 10 per cent. of 11 to 15-year-olds who say that they smoke-some 200,000 young people in 2007. These are the new recruits that the tobacco industry needs, to replace those who die. Throughout the passage of the Bill, we have heard many powerful arguments on the need to act, given that some two thirds of current and past smokers say that they started smoking regularly before the age of 18, and that smoking kills more than 80,000 people every year.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health made it clear in his speech on Third Reading that the will of the House would be respected and that the Government would not seek to overturn the amendment in the other place. The amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield and amendments 11A to 11G were considered in the other place and were accepted. The consequential amendments replicate the amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend on Report, but which were not reached. They ensure that the vending machine provisions are workable and achieve the full effect intended by the House. They also ensure that the provisions in clause 23 for Northern Ireland align with those in clause 22 for England and Wales. I can confirm that Ministers in both Wales and Northern Ireland are also committed to prohibiting the sale of tobacco from vending machines in accordance with the amendments.
Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South) (Lab):
I want to probe my hon. Friend on the proposal made in the other place yesterday by our noble Friend Baroness
Thornton. My constituency has one of the manufacturers, Duckworth Blackpool, that will be affected by the process. It employs 30 people. Our noble Friend was asked yesterday what proposals there might be for compensating those going out of business and for the jobs lost as a result. She said that she did not know the answer, but would let the House know. I wonder whether my hon. Friend can provide any more information on that.
Gillian Merron: I understand why my hon. Friend raises such an important point. As is usual, compensation will not be payable. I realise that that will be disappointing to his constituents, but I hope the fact that the measure will not come into effect until 2011 will be of some assistance. It would also be a wise entrepreneur, I believe, working in the tobacco industry who looks to broaden their activities in the current climate in which fewer and fewer people are smoking.
I have explained that the Government are fully committed to protecting our children from the damage caused by smoking and to supporting those who want to quit. The prohibition of sales of tobacco from vending machines represents a major step forward in achieving that aim.
Let me say from the outset that I fully understand the Government introducing the amendments. They bring Northern Ireland and Wales into the legislation. However, what a mess the Bill was in when it left this House as a result of the speed of the Government's U-turn on vending machines during its passage, particularly on Report!
In Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) and I tabled amendments that would have restricted access to vending machines, yet the Government opposed those on the basis that the Secretary of State wanted to keep control of the provisions on vending machines. The Government did not at any stage of the Bill propose a total ban-until the last minute when the Whips clearly did a deal with the right hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), resulting in the obvious mess in the Bill as it went to the other place.
There, the noble Baroness Thornton said that this House had voted on a free vote on the ban on vending machines, but that was not the case. A free vote could have taken place only if there were a Division on that basis. A free vote was allowed for the Opposition, but it was certainly not a free vote for Labour Members, yet we had called for one for all the smoking debates.
With that in mind, when does the Minister expect to introduce the regulations, which will be subject to an affirmative resolution? When that happens, will there be a free vote on both sides of the House, which is exactly what should happen? We can certainly confirm that if we come into power, we will allow a free vote on all the smoking regulations. There will have to be an affirmative resolution, and let us hope that there is a free vote for the whole House.
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