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12 Oct 2010 : Column 43WH—continued

A clearer definition would help with the following matter. The debate about human trafficking has been dogged by the absence of clear estimates of the numbers involved, and many hon. Members have raised that this morning. In 2003, the Home Office estimated the number of victims to be more than 4,000 but, in 2008-09, the Select Committee on Home Affairs claimed there were more than 5,000. The Association of Chief Police Officers
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came up with the figure of 2,600 for the number of trafficked victims, and I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham has expressed strong views about that particular figure.

The absence of a clear estimate of the numbers involved was a concern of the Home Affairs Committee, and the previous Labour Government offered to do some work to get a more reliable figure. I ask the Minister whether that exercise is still under way. Do the Government recognise not only that it would be helpful to have a clear definition, but that, if we knew the numbers involved, that would allow a comparison to be made across the EU ?

Article 14 of the draft directive refers to the protection of children who are victims and calls for judicial authorities to appoint a special representative for child victims. The UK does not comply with that. The hon. Member for Wellingborough raised that issue and if we were to accept the directive and opt in, that would help his position.

Article 9 of the directive concerns extraterritorial jurisdiction. Criminals and victims may be in different countries at the time of the investigation-I think my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk mentioned this issue-and article 9 would help British authorities to protect not only their own citizens, but other EU citizens. The position seems to be confused. Do we comply or do we not comply? Even if we reach the bar and do comply, surely the point is to work with other countries-not only to reach the bar but to go beyond it, as the hon. Member for Wellingborough mentioned.

ECPAT-End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes-rightly says

The Government say that they are working to shape the EU directive. We have experience in the United Kingdom of working on projects such as Operation Golf, where we led from the front. Having helped to shape the final document, why would we wish to step back from the directive? Is it because it is European? Is it because there is a hangover from the Lisbon treaty deliberations? Are the Government over-sensitive to criticisms on Conservative websites that they are giving away powers faster than the previous Labour Government? Is it because it would cost money? If that is the case, how much do the Home Office think it will cost? ECPAT says costs would be minimal. Is that true? Has a cost-benefit analysis been done?

The Government are in danger of getting this wrong and of compounding a catalogue of errors of poor judgment. There has been confusion over anonymity for rape victims and over domestic violence protection orders, which were designed to protect victims, not perpetrators. In addition, the multi-agency risk assessment conferences are now under review, as is the use of independent domestic violence advisers. Chillingly, there has also been the fallout that led to the resignation of Jim Gamble as chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, who I understand is giving evidence this morning to the Home Affairs Committee. I want to put on the record the appreciation
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that I think exists across the House for the invaluable work that he and his team did in protecting children. We support his view that to do its job even more effectively, CEOP needs more, not less independence.

When Sara Payne, Shy Keenan and Fiona Crook say that what has happened is a devastating blow for UK child protection, we ought to listen, because if we do not, the Government will be in danger of throwing away in five months progress that was built up over five years with regard to child victims. The Government need to listen to the concerns rightly raised today about the EU directive on human trafficking. I look forward to hearing the Minister clarify exactly what the Government's position is on that directive-do we comply or do we not comply?

12.19 pm

The Minister for Immigration (Damian Green): I join other hon. Members in congratulating the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) not just on securing the debate, but on having a rise so meteoric that it is faster than my excellent officials can keep up with. My brief invites me to congratulate her on her election to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and already in the few days since it was drafted she has gone on to greater things. At this rate of progress, she will be Leader of the Opposition by Christmas. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana R. Johnson) on her elevation to the Opposition Home Office team-I am sure that she will have many happy years there.

I join other Members in congratulating, and expressing their admiration for, my old friend, Anthony Steen, who helped to set up the all-party group on human trafficking. Work on tackling human trafficking is now being carried on by my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), Clare Short, Baroness Butler-Sloss and many others.

The debate has raised many issues, and I will try to deal with as many as possible. I am conscious that I have only 10 minutes, but I suspect that we will reconvene in two days' time for the debate on anti-slavery day. I will pick up first on two important contributions that were slightly out of the mainstream but seem important. First, my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) noted that victims of trafficking are found everywhere and that it is not just an inner-city or big-city phenomenon. I think that that is right. Secondly, the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) said that it is a question not just of what we do in Britain, or even in Europe-I will address the European issue shortly-but of what we can do around the world, which is a good point, and one that infuses the thinking that I propose to bring to this important matter as a Minister.

The Government take seriously our responsibility to fight human trafficking and forced prostitution. On the points made about enforcement, the UK Human Trafficking Centre and on what is happening to SOCA, our response to trafficking will be enhanced and strengthened by the establishment of the national crime agency, which, with its border policing responsibilities, will help to combat organised crime more effectively. That is our aim for the national crime agency, which will be set up by legislation in the coming months.

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There is no difference between any of us on this issue: human trafficking and forced prostitution are appalling crimes in which people are treated as commodities and exploited for profit. The Government take a comprehensive approach, combining a determination to tackle the criminals behind the trade with a commitment to support victims. That approach provides the framework with which we can ensure the necessary joined-up activities, through work across Government with law enforcement agencies and in conjunction with the voluntary sector, which plays such an important role in the care of victims, as many Members have said. We need to take further strides towards tackling that menace. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey) for her thoughts on Operation Paladin and Operation Newbridge. She is right that they have both been successful and useful, and I am grateful for her thoughts on what should happen on that.

On enforcement, legislation is in place that outlaws trafficking of all kinds, and relatively new legislation makes it an offence to pay for sexual services with someone who has been subject to exploitative conduct of any kind. That legislative framework needs to be helped by robust policing and a wider law enforcement response to trafficking and forced prostitution. Improving our knowledge and understanding of the situation is a key component of ensuring that we have that effective law enforcement response.

Several Members mentioned the number of victims and what might be the most credible number. I think that the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr MacShane) and to some extent the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North are being unfair to the ACPO study, which provides the latest and most accurate number we have. It is sensible to proceed on the basis that, although it is obviously a difficult figure to compute with absolute accuracy, that is the best and most up-to-date information that we have, so I think that we should work on that number. That study shows that there are 2,600 victims, which shows the need for effective enforcement work. Police forces have been supported in that work by the UK Human Trafficking Centre, which deals with trafficking as a high priority under SOCA, which had trafficking as its second priority, and further work will be done under the national crime agency.

In London, the Metropolitan police service is leading on combating human trafficking gangs and on disrupting prostitution, particularly in the five Olympic boroughs during the build-up to London 2012. The Met is effective in that in many ways. I am happy to say that this morning 17 children were safeguarded as part of a major joint operation by the Metropolitan police, Redbridge council and the NHS in that borough. The children have been taken to a specially set up assessment centre. We believe that they are victims of a Romanian-based gang of child traffickers. Six people have been arrested. That is extremely welcome news and a good example of the work that is being done in London and obviously will continue to be done in the run-up to 2012.

We of course recognise the point made about the European dimension; that trafficking is essentially a cross-border crime. Accordingly, we must ensure that there is sufficient international co-operation between Government and law enforcement agencies.
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The Government remain committed to working with our international partners in the European Union and the wider world.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North said that she was confused about our response to the EU directive on trafficking. I will ease her confusion. I have heard from Members from both sides of the House that our decision not to opt in at the outset of the EU directive on trafficking has raised anxieties among some of them. We did not opt in at the outset, but we have the capacity to review that position once the directive is finally agreed, and that is what we will do. We have a strong record in the fight against trafficking and are compliant both in legislation and in practice with most of what is required by the draft directive. It contains no operational co-operation measures-I think this was the point that the right hon. Member for Rotherham was trying to get at-through which the UK would benefit. Although it might improve the way other EU states combat trafficking, it would make little difference to the way the UK does so. By opting out and reviewing our position when the directive is agreed, we can choose to benefit from a directive that is helpful but avoid being bound by measures that are against our interests.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk talked about extra-territorial jurisdiction. Of course, we already have extra-territorial jurisdiction in a number of serious offences, such as child sexual exploitation. We will continue to play an active role in helping to improve EU-wide efforts at combating trafficking by working constructively with our European partners. As a practical example, we have contributed to the Stockholm programme, which contains a commitment to fight trafficking as an EU priority until 2014.

We are also involved in a number of initiatives focused specifically on trafficking, such as improving data and sharing best practice. The important co-operation between British law enforcement agencies and European partners, including Europol and Frontex, will continue unaffected. Therefore, if any Opposition Members were worried
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that our attitude to this would be in some way infused with any kind of ideological anti-Europeanism, I can set their minds at rest; there will be none of that in this field-[Interruption.]

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. Would the right hon. Member for Rotherham please listen to the Minister?

Damian Green: I appreciate that convincing the right hon. Gentleman might be difficult, but it is nevertheless the case.

The effectiveness of the police and law enforcement agencies was mentioned. Each of the UK's 55 police forces now has an investigator trained to deal with human trafficking operations. The hon. Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) rightly mentioned the importance of prosecutions. There have been 140 convictions for trafficking under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and 10 convictions for labour trafficking. I agree that those are not big numbers, but some traffickers may not be charged with the specific offence of trafficking, depending on the facts of the case. I suspect that we all agree that it is better to get some sort of prosecution to get them out of their criminal businesses than to have none. Some of them have been convicted for a range of serious charges, including rape and brothel management.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough mentioned the idea of child guardians. Local authorities already have a statutory duty to ensure that they safeguard and promote the welfare of all children, and each child is allocated an independent reviewing officer who is responsible for regularly chairing reviews of their care plans. I am very aware of the problem of children going missing from local authority care and welcome the work by the London borough of Hillingdon and Hertfordshire county council, both of which have taken some practical and effective measures to try to minimise what has been a long-running problem. I have highlighted what the UK has achieved so far, but-

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. We must move on to the next debate.

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Tourette Syndrome

12.30 am

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, Mrs Main. I am pleased to have this opportunity to raise the important issue of Government policy on Tourette syndrome. I believe that this is the first time it has been discussed in this Chamber.

Most people understandably have little or no knowledge of TS, and what knowledge they do have is coloured by media reports which are either simplistic or exaggerated. The charity Tourettes Action achieved its highest profile and biggest income boost in 2006, when Tourette sufferer Pete Bennett was declared the winner of the seventh series of "Big Brother", but even that was not without controversy: some commentators accused the show's producers of exploiting Mr Bennett's condition to boost ratings in a voyeuristic fashion.

What are the facts about this much misunderstood condition? Put simply, it is a chronic, inherited neuro- developmental disorder characterised by uncontrollable sounds and movements which are called tics. It affects about one in 100 schoolchildren, most of whom are undiagnosed. Tourette syndrome does not affect IQ, but people with the condition do exhibit co-morbidities such as obsessive compulsive disorder, insomnia, depression and autistic spectrum disorders. There is no cure for TS, but tics wax and wane and can change in their nature and severity over time. Despite what many people believe, not all sufferers have coprolalia, which is involuntary swearing or the utterances of obscene words-90% do not have it.

People with TS face many challenges, such as the physical discomfort and aches and pains caused by their tics: 87% of people with TS who participated in a Tourettes Action survey in 2008 answered "yes" to the question, "Do your tics ever cause you pain?" and 66% of children with TS are bothered by aches and pains and physical discomfort. Repeated movements and injuries resulting from tics cause pain, and sometimes children's impulses are dangerous to themselves.

People with TS also suffer higher rates of unemployment as adults. According to a recent academic study, unemployment rates for people with TS are two to three times higher than those for the whole UK population. A study of the health economic burden of a cohort of adult hospital patients with TS in Germany over a three-month period showed that disease severity has no influence on costs. Additional TS-specific costs totalled €3,404 per patient. The cost was based on calculating direct medical costs, out-patient care costs, drug costs, ancillary treatment costs and indirect medical costs. Direct costs constituted about 18% of the total, while indirect costs comprised 81% of the total. Drug treatments constituted approximately 7% of the total costs and 36% of the total direct costs. Using those figures for adult patients with TS in the UK would correlate to costs of some £1.5 billion a year. Obvious provisos are that health economics estimations may not transfer well from country to country and, just as importantly, the experience of patients seen in a particular clinic cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the number of adults as a whole who are believed to have TS, as many do not receive specialist medical care.

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Since preventive therapies are not in sight, possibilities for direct cost reduction are improbable. Nevertheless, a better integration of patients with TS in the working environment has the potential not only to improve patients' quality of life but substantially to reduce indirect costs, yet wide access to clinical psychology services and specialised habit reversal therapy is not available due to a lack of funding and trained professionals.

A Swedish study of juveniles sentenced for serious offences revealed that 2% had TS, which is double the 1% prevalence figure among schoolchildren up to 18 years old. That could be the tip of the iceberg, as most crimes committed by TS offenders are more likely to be minor offences. TS on its own rarely leads to criminal behaviour, but patients with TS who have behavioural co-morbidities are at risk of being involved with the legal system. Symptoms of TS such as jerking and shouting out could be thought to be antisocial or alcohol-related and waste police time, as well as being embarrassing for the individual.

Likewise, people with TS often have to bear social ostracism, which manifests itself in ridicule, bullying and social exclusion from an early age. Sixty-two per cent. of children with Tourette's withhold themselves from taking part in social activities because of TS-related problems. Children and young people in particular suffer a generally worse quality of life than healthy young people without TS across all the following areas: psychosocial health, emotional functioning, social functioning and school functioning. Similarly, the burden for parents and carers is significantly higher than it is even for parents of children with other chronic disorders such as asthma, according to a 2003 research paper produced by the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry entitled "Psychological Morbidity and Caregiver Burden in Parents of Children With Tourette's Disorder and Psychiatric Comorbidity".

Above all, education is a major problem for children with TS. Attention and concentration problems are common, and tics are easily misinterpreted as deliberately naughty behaviour by untrained teachers, who are rarely aware of strategies for managing TS in the classroom, or who do not understand that tics can be suppressed and children are often more focused on that than on learning. Tics, which peak in severity at around 10 to 12 years old, can typically be worse at home than at school, and children find homework tough as they are often exhausted by the effort of disguising or suppressing their tics in company. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published an article last year which stated that 59% of children with TS have some sort of educational problem that needs support or special education.

The aim of this debate is to develop at least rudimentary cross-departmental working between the Department for Education and the Department of Health, and a commitment to work towards a strategy for Tourette syndrome focused on a few key areas. The first is increased access to services. TS crosses traditional public service boundaries such as physical health, mental health, education and social welfare. That is a challenge for local service providers, who should ensure that individuals do not fall between service gaps. In reality, however, the challenge often falls on the individual with TS or their family.

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Access to psychological therapy is particularly difficult for most people with TS. For example, a member of Tourettes Action has waited more than 16 months for a decision on whether she can get habit reversal therapy. Provision of specialised services is sparse throughout the country; that is a second barrier, in addition to the stretched state of psychology services generally. She finds herself caught between various NHS bodies that are reluctant to allow resources to be used for her, and seemingly reluctant, up to chief executive level, to communicate with her in a transparent manner.

That experience is not unique, but more common is the simple lack of use of psychological treatment for TS, although there is a strong evidence base for its efficacy. Such treatments have been proven to be about as effective as drugs in reducing tic severity, but without side effects. Psychological services need to be provided on the basis of evidence in the same way that medical or surgical treatments are expected to be. This is an issue of both funding and professional awareness and training.

That brings me to the awareness of TS by those who work in primary care-the so-called gatekeepers of diagnosis. Commonly, tics will not be observed during a visit to the doctor. They are often suppressible, especially in the general practitioner's office. Some children will substitute more apparent tics with less apparent ones in the clinical setting, or will wait until they are not being observed to release tics. Others may disguise tics as seemingly purposeful movements such as brushing hair out of the face in concert with head jerking.

Half of the people participating in the Tourettes Action survey, "Evaluation of use of Consultants' List", in 2009 did not receive a referral to a specialist or a consultant. Old-fashioned notions of "habits" from which a child will recover, although appropriate to commonly seen transient tic disorders, are sometimes applied inappropriately to children with full-blown Tourette's, who need further medical attention. Although clinical expertise is not expected of general practitioners, in practice people in primary care are undoubtedly suffering from a lack of awareness.

That brings me to national recognition of the need for consistent specialist services. The Department of Health has not yet perceived Tourette syndrome as an area meriting consideration. There are no National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines or other measures commanding the attention of commissioners, which means, effectively, that they do not feel the need to recognise the condition as a distinct issue. Consequently, patients receive different support in different regions, essentially based on the interest or otherwise of local clinicians.

Tourettes Action holds a list of only 44 consultants in the whole of the United Kingdom who have a special interest in seeing people with TS. Those consultants are a mixture of child and adult psychiatrists, neurologists and paediatricians. The list is much in demand by patients and families and has been cultivated over many years. To reduce the problems of a delayed diagnosis and treatment, it would be beneficial if that expertise were spread more widely. A possible strategy would be for a NICE appraisal of treatment options, including psychological therapies, to give support to less-experienced clinicians and to exert top-down pressure on local secondary
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care services to provide a suitable standard of expertise and provision. Local professionals are key figures, but currently local engagement is patchy.

Better transition from child to adult services is crucial. We need to ensure that appropriate support and services are available after a child turns 18. Tourettes Action receives helpline calls from young people with TS who have become addicted to alcohol and drugs, which they use to self-medicate their symptoms. Those young people have been discharged from children's services with no ongoing support.

TS-specific support in schools is vital. Children with TS have to live with the consequences of their education. If they are not given the right support in school to which all children are entitled, they are at high risk of ending up facing unemployment and social exclusion. Special educational needs teachers are currently not given any specific training on Tourette syndrome, even though TS prevalence in SEN classes is high. Under current legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, schools are obliged to make reasonable adjustments, which could mean measures as simple as exit cards or extra time for examinations, or as demanding as extra staffing. Some children are fortunate to already receive a high standard of support in the education system but many, sadly, do not.

Tourette syndrome has hitherto been treated as a subject of risqué jokes and ribaldry, but for the children and young people afflicted by the condition, who are fearful of its effects on themselves and of the understandable fear and ignorance of strangers, it really is no laughing matter. They, too, deserve a hearing from our policy makers. I hope that the Minister, who has a strong record in his parliamentary career of intervening in cases involving vulnerable people, will reassure us today that there is at least a commitment to develop a policy on the condition, not least because a coherent strategy across government will not only save taxpayers' money in the long run, but will help to relieve TS sufferers and their families of a lonely burden that they have carried for too long.

12.44 pm

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Paul Burstow): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson)on securing this debate and on bringing the attention of the House to a rare and poorly understood condition. He has done a good job of outlining the scope, scale and cost of the condition and the personal impact that it has on many children and their families.

I will set out some of the changes that the Government are making in the NHS that we think will have a significant impact on and will benefit people with Tourette's. My hon. Friend talked about education, which I will briefly mention, too, particularly in the context of the difficulties that can be faced by children suffering from the condition, which can be, as he said, misinterpreted by teachers. He is right to describe the sheer feeling of exhaustion in children who are trying to suppress and hide the condition. Socially and emotionally, Tourette's can lead to ridicule and bullying and can often cause difficulties in forming relationships. Although some children grow out of the condition, it is a barrier in many ways, particularly to employment in later life. We
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need to ensure that we have a psychosocial-physical approach: we need to look at the whole person when designing services around the needs of individuals and their families.

My hon. Friend is right to mention stigma: that is a big challenge that we have to tackle. Today's debate is a helpful starting point. I welcome his demolishing some of the myths that surround Tourettes syndrome, most notably his confirming that, despite the popular caricature, involuntarily swearing is only present in a tiny minority of cases.

I join my hon. Friend in commending the work of Tourettes Action, which is doing excellent work to build awareness and skills in health and children's services. As he says, that work demonstrates that better awareness, timely diagnosis and good access to specialist care are critical in improving people's quality of life. Of course, early detection makes it less likely that the child gets blamed for what might otherwise be mistaken for bad behaviour. Indeed, the condition is stress-sensitive and the relief a child can get from teachers and their classmates understanding their condition can actually improve their symptoms.

The NHS has not always got diagnosis right. My hon. Friend is right to mention the range of services that are provided and their patchiness. The Government have to grapple with that inheritance and ensure that we build on those services and improve them significantly in the coming years. It is clear that young people and children affected by Tourette's have not always had the right support and services. We need to get better at identifying the condition, referring children to specialists and providing the long-term, integrated support needed to reduce the wider effects. I cannot promise a dedicated strategy specifically for this condition, and I do not think that that is what my hon. Friend is asking for, but I am keen to see that the issues he raised are properly fed into our future plans for the NHS, particularly into developing our thinking on child mental health. In addition to the reassurances that I hope I can give in the time left, I will ask officials to meet Tourettes Action and my hon. Friend to continue this conversation and discuss in more detail the issues he has raised. This debate is not the end of the discussion, but just the beginning of a process leading to the sort of improvements that he has been talking about.

The proposals for the NHS set out in our White Paper give us a powerful opportunity to improve the care and support received by children with Tourette's. First, patients will have much greater power in the reformed system. We want to give people more information about services, more choice about their treatments and more influence over how health care is shaped in their community. Local health watch organisations will ensure that views and feedback from patients and carers feed into future decisions about shaping local health and social care. By devolving responsibility for commissioning to GP consortiums, decision making will be closer to patients and more responsive to their individual needs. Of course, we have to ensure that GP commissioners are ready and have the skills and awareness that they need to take these decisions. The NHS commissioning board will work with a range of expert organisations to ensure that GP leaders get the right support. There are
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certainly opportunities for Tourettes Action to contribute to developing family doctors' understanding of the condition and how to commission for it effectively.

Secondly, there will be a much bigger role for local government in promoting integration and partnership working between the NHS, social care, public health and other local services and strategies. In particular, local government will take on the function of joining up the commissioning of local NHS services, social care and health improvement, and providing greater local democratic accountability for the community.

My hon. Friend mentioned identification and planning of care for children with Tourette's. Under our plans, councils will ensure that GP consortiums and their local partners work together on joint strategic needs assessments for local populations, looking not just at who is on the patient list, but at the wider needs of the population in the locality. That will mean that councils and health organisations will become much better at identifying children's needs, and putting the services in place to meet them. Our proposals for health and well-being boards will provide a place where children's services, health services, social care and other agencies may come together to ensure that we are better at planning services and dealing with some of the issues that my hon. Friend mentioned.

The third key point is that the new NHS will focus on outcomes, not on processes. The trouble with a top-down and target-driven system is that it creates a culture in which, as my hon. Friend said, what gets measured gets done. If it is not measured, it seems to be neglected. He described perfectly what we have seen and how services have developed over several years. Our proposals will create a level playing field in the NHS between mental and physical health, and will encourage a much more constructive relationship between health and other public services. That is important, and my hon. Friend rightly said that we must ensure that we do not treat mental health services as a poor relation of the NHS. The Government are determined to ensure that that does not happen.

Health services will be judged and, increasingly, paid not just according to the number of procedures or consultations that they carry out, but on the value that they bring to patients' health and their wider life-my hon. Friend made that point well. That will be a powerful catalyst for bringing services much closer together around the needs of the individual. A child with Tourette syndrome often has multiple and complex needs, as he said. More often than not, they will also have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder or depression. They may be seen by a range of health care professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists and so on. An outcomes-based approach will ensure that all professionals are geared to work together to achieve the best results for the child. Our proposals will be a potent catalyst for change and improvement in this area.

Fourthly and finally, we are in the process of developing a new mental health strategy, which will be cross-governmental and will examine how to support people's emotional well-being and mental health at all ages and across all services, not just health. One of my criticisms of the "New Horizons" mental health strategy was that it did not do enough to tackle discrimination and stigma. We are determined to make sure that in a more
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public health-oriented mental health strategy, we begin to address those issues more effectively. That must certainly be the case for Tourette's.

Mr Jackson: I am grateful for the Minister's positive response. Will he undertake to share the results of the wider review of mental health and Tourette syndrome with his colleagues in the Department for Education? An holistic approach is incredibly important, as is the close working relationship between specialist psychology and mental health services. Local education authorities are particularly important in ensuring that children's educational attainment is the best possible.

Paul Burstow: I certainly undertake to ensure that the Minister of State, Department for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), who has responsibilities in this area, reads this debate. We recently met the National Advisory Council for Children's Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing, and we are discussing its thoughts on how to move forward and to ensure that child and adolescent mental health services are properly reflected in the new mental health strategy that we are developing. That is an issue for further discussion. I have made it clear that I want mental health to achieve parity with physical health in NHS thinking about care. I also want to ensure that CAMHS are not overshadowed by adult mental health services, which should help to drive up the quality of care for children with Tourette's.

My hon. Friend talked about transitions, which are important. We so often get the transition from children's services to adult services wrong. I agree that that continues to be a serious weakness and that child and adult mental health services do not work seamlessly together. That was identified as an area requiring improvement by an independent review in 2008 and in the report of the National Advisory Council for Children's Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing, "One Year On", which was published in March. One difficulty is that not all child mental health services are replicated in adult mental health provision, and my hon. Friend described some of the services that are rarely available for children. The new commissioning arrangements, particularly the new role for local government, with an outcomes-based
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approach, give a new impetus to developing better transition services. We must get that right for children, regardless of their condition.

We are also working with the royal colleges and others to promote higher standards of education and training throughout the clinical community. My hon. Friend rightly focused on that, and I welcome the fact that a network of psychologists and other therapists is being established to work with people with Tourette's. That is a powerful way of moving the agenda forward. I understand that the network hopes to establish a specialist training workshop, led by experts in behavioural treatment for tics, during 2011. I commend that work and look forward to hearing the results.

My hon. Friend mentioned the role of schools and the need to collaborate across Government. I do not have ministerial responsibility for this area, but I draw his attention to the Green Paper on special educational needs and disabilities that the Minister of State, Department for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central, is preparing. The aim is to make the system work better for parents, so that they do not have to battle to obtain the necessary support for their children. A call for evidence was launched last month and is due to close this Friday 15 October. If it has not done so, I hope that Tourettes Action will contribute its views. I am sure that this debate will also be a useful contribution.

I thank my hon. Friend for introducing this important debate. He raised some points that are important not just for children with Tourette's, but for children with a wide range of neurological and mental health problems. Our White Paper provides the chance to refocus the NHS on achieving better results for them all. The outcomes framework will be a central driver for improvement and will ensure that the NHS treats the person, not just the disease, but meeting people's needs effectively depends on good partnerships with groups such as Tourettes Action to give us the expert knowledge that we need about rare conditions. I am keen to have a strong dialogue with the voluntary sector, and indeed the White Paper is all about opening doors to organisations such as Tourettes Action. I hope that the group's first step will be to take the opportunity to meet my officials and to respond to the call for evidence by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department for Education. I hope that by working together in that way, we can do much better than the legacy that we inherited from the past.

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Offshore Wind Infrastructure Competition

1 pm

Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab): I am delighted to conduct this debate because I think that it relates to a real and important part of our future. We are on the cusp of a revolution in our energy supplies-a green energy revolution that will surpass anything that we have seen so far by several orders of magnitude. It will primarily involve the manufacture, assembly, deployment and servicing of offshore wind energy, harvesting the wind around our coasts-and sometimes as far as 200 km away from them-so that by 2020, 20% of our electricity needs will be supplied from renewable sources.

We have passed some milestones along the way. Over the past six years, Britain's offshore wind capacity has steadily increased, and 350 turbines have been installed offshore, collectively providing over 1 GW of installed capacity. During that period, one new turbine was installed every 11 days, and Britain is now the world leader in installed offshore wind. Over the next 10 years, that rate of installation will need to increase twentyfold. With the commitments outstanding from round 2 licensing competitions for UK coastal waters, and the recent allocation of blocks in round 3, about 6,400 turbines are projected to be installed at a rate of roughly one a day from now until 2016, with up to 2.5 a day between 2016 and 2020. As a result, there will be 30 GW of installed capacity offshore, which will come in part from deeper sea installations with larger turbines of up to 10 MW output per turbine at full capacity. Just four of those turbines, for example, could power all the homes in my constituency.

This is an enormous and ambitious challenge, but it is not just paper talk. The sites have been allocated, the companies developing them have been recruited, and the planning and finance is under way. It is not a matter of controversy between the parties; the process was started by the last Government, and it is set to continue under this one. The coalition agreement explicitly states:

If, as is widely stated, there is a determination to come out of the recession through green growth and investment, surely this programme is the epitome of such action. It will see the investment of perhaps £120 billion and the creation of over 55,000 jobs-perhaps 70,000 if substantial elements of the revolution are fabricated and sourced from the UK.

Will it really happen? In my view, it has to happen if we are to come anywhere near to keeping pace with targets on decarbonising our energy supply and, in terms of energy security, sourcing for ever and at no additional fuel cost energy that is securely delivered to the UK from the UK. It is good to see that the commitment is there and that the legal and administrative structures to guarantee deployment are in place. The renewable obligation to underpin the financing of this enormous roll-out is now guaranteed beyond the round 3 competition completion date, with the calm waters of investment security lapping around the turbines as they go up.

Unusually, the doubts come from a different angle. They are not due to politicians falling out with each other and devising contradictory schemes that destroy
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confidence, or because of a lack of technical know-how. They are not due to the debilitating morass of legal minefields, but are simply a question of how we as a country assemble the resources to build and maintain such an undertaking over the period in which we have to do it. In the face of international demands on resources, we will not be able to rely on others to come in and do it for us.

As has been observed, this programme will put other engineering feats such as the Thames barrier and the channel tunnel into the shade. It will require an efficient supply chain consisting of turbine blades, foundations and concrete towers, gear boxes for the turbines, 7,500 km of underwater high-voltage cable, the commissioning and use of vessels to transport, deploy and service the turbines, and the port estate that can serve to assemble, deliver and service those wind farms on which we will depend. If the supply chain is effective, it will produce jobs for the UK along its length and, if sited securely, much of the manufacturing and finishing of the supply chain components will be located in the UK.

If we do not tackle the problems and grasp the opportunities of that supply chain, and if we do not have the ambition to meet its challenges, one of two outcomes will be inevitable. We will either fail to deploy anything like the number of turbines that we need to supply the 20% of electricity from renewables to which we are committed, or we might get close to our target but find that the good offices of others step into the breach that we leave. Consider for a moment the construction of the largest present offshore wind farm in the world, the London Array. It was undertaken by overseas companies, using components for the turbines that were overwhelmingly sourced overseas, and managed and serviced not from this side of the channel but from Dunkirk.

We must get that supply chain fit for its purpose, sound and able to deliver on the ambitions that we have set for it. We have the facilities; there are some 200 ports around the coast of Britain and there is far more land and developed quayside than almost anywhere else in the world. Just as we turned around ports and port estates to assemble drilling rigs, receive and deploy pipelines, and service and supply production platforms during the last North sea energy revolution, so must we do it again in the new, green energy revolution.

Most of the investment for that enterprise will come from the private sector, but it must be primed so that the redirection of the ports that will play key roles in the supply chain gets securely under way. Once it is underway, there will be a great added-value outcome with clusters of manufacturing, servicing, component assembly and cable laying that will support the wind farms as they grow.

Industry estimates suggest that to complete the deployment of those 6,400 turbines by 2020, and to secure further development over the following decades, about five offshore wind turbine plants, five plants producing foundations and 13 cable factories need to be built in the UK, alongside and probably in the vicinity of those ports, scoping out the capacity to put all that manufacture to good use.

That was essentially the intention of the offshore wind infrastructure competition: to bring along that tremendous value-added outcome in the wake of some relatively modest pump-priming, in this instance some £60 million.

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Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that any action by the Government to deny funding support for this industry and competition would fly in the face of the declaration made by the Prime Minister that his would be the greenest Government ever? Such an action would damage the prospects for tens of thousands of jobs in constituencies such as mine that have the expertise to execute massive contracts, and it would chase potential developers to European coastline areas where they could win big business equally well.

Dr Whitehead: My hon. Friend anticipates some of the comments that I am going to make shortly. It is right to say that not only do we need the Government to be the greenest ever in terms of their ambitions, but that to will the ends yet deny the means of arriving at those outcomes would be difficult to countenance.

The offshore wind infrastructure competition was first announced on 24 March this year. It was described in the following words:

Remarkably, on the back of that announcement, tectonic plates did begin to move. A day later, GE Energy announced that it intended to invest £90 million on turbine manufacture in the UK. Less than a week later, Siemens announced that it intended to invest more than £80 million in UK-based offshore wind turbine production. When we add to that Clipper turbines siting a 70-feet blade manufacturing plant on the Tyne, Burntisland Fabrications announcing two new factories building underwater jacket substructures in Fife, and Welcon producing 100-metre towers in Campbeltown, the surge in the direction of UK-based manufacturing and support seems to be under way if-I do not think that this is overstating matters-that priming process remains in place.

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for securing the debate. I share his enthusiasm for wind energy-offshore renewable energy-and ensuring that we make the most of the opportunity that it has presented to us for our industry and for securing manufacturing in the UK. To my mind, we need to be adopting a three-pronged approach-

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. May I gently remind the hon. Gentleman that this is a very short debate and he is supposed to make a brief intervention?

Peter Aldous: Thank you, Mrs Main. I was referring to the green investment bank, developing the skills base and Government-does the hon. Gentleman agree that Government acting as a catalyst to attract that investment is vital?

Dr Whitehead: I agree that Government acting as a catalyst-I mentioned pump-priming-is vital, not by providing underwriting and a subsidy for ever, but by priming the process whereby, precisely as the hon.
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Gentleman mentioned, manufacturing brings about the added value that I am certain will be part of the process in a relatively short time.

It is important that the pump-priming process remains in place, giving the manufacturers confidence that there is a future for them in the UK and that the plans for getting the supply chain in the UK right for wind are serious. However, the announcement of the competition, archived on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website, has, subsequent to its initial appearance, had this message affixed to it:

That is it, in a nutshell. Will the competition now proceed? My view is that for all the reasons that I have outlined, it is imperative that it does. Cancellation or even a delay of the competition would seriously hamper the development of the infrastructure necessary to make what all sides are committed to, start to work in practice.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the funding is cut, that will show that the coalition Government have little or no real understanding of the returns to the economy and the environment from maintaining investor confidence in green initiatives such as offshore wind infrastructure, and that their savage spending cuts are causing uncertainty for people living near ports such as Newhaven, just up the coast from my constituency? Does he share-

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. May I ask the hon. Lady to keep her remarks brief?

Dr Whitehead: I thank the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) for her intervention. I am trying my best to be as nice as possible today in ensuring that the points that I think are essential with regard to the future of the competition are placed squarely on the table. However, it is correct that each of the different competitions, incentives and devices all add up to the question whether the present Government are serious about a green agenda; or are they prepared to will the ends but not the means as far as that agenda is concerned? That is a very important consideration in respect of all the issues that we are discussing.

Let us say that the competition is cancelled. It takes more time to re-establish those links and that confidence, once broken, than it does to establish them in the first place; and it is fair to say that as far as North sea wind is concerned, we do not have time to throw away.

Of course, I am aware, as everyone else is in the Room, that hard decisions about the future of public money and investments await us; and I am not one who will rush to the defence of every existing commitment regardless of its intrinsic merit. However, there is a clear distinction between those investments that work within themselves and those investments that work beyond themselves, and this one, as I have shown, will, I hope, work far beyond itself in terms of value added on money invested.

However, there is another factor at work. That relates to the very nature of round 3 itself. Round 3 is one of many stages in licensing processes of various kinds that have gone on in the North sea over the years. Those licensing competitions, under the auspices of the Crown Estate-the owner of the seabed around the British
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isles-are not charitable auctions. They raise money permanently from the licences that are issued. In the case of the Crown Estate, the money, after investment decisions have been looked after, goes directly back to the Treasury. That is what is required of the Crown Estate by statute.

In this context, it is instructive to consider the sort of sums that we are discussing. The Crown Estate altogether has contributed some £1.8 billion to the Treasury over the past decade. Last year alone, £46 million came the Treasury's way from the Crown Estate as a result of its overall seabed activity. In its 2010 annual report, it stated:

In other words, a good proportion of the £60 million for the infrastructure competition comes back to the Treasury through the licensing arrangements on the seabed that are a sine qua non of all the rest of the activity.

This is not a trivial point: we can say with certainty that the offshore renewables industry is providing, up front and as a sign of its intent, substantial sums of money before a single watt of power has emerged from its round 3 investments. Therefore, the investment by Government of that £60 million in port infrastructure can perhaps best be seen as a contribution in kind that jointly will unleash the value added outcome of £1.2 billion in investment as the licences reach maturity. We are talking, in the offshore wind infrastructure competition, not of a quango to cull, but of a world to win. I hope that the Minister, who I know cares deeply about these matters and has stoutly supported the development of offshore wind through its many vicissitudes, will be able to confirm that that is his view also, and that the little notice on the top of the announcement of the competition is shortly due for removal.

1.17 pm

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Charles Hendry): It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Main, and to do so on the subject of renewable energy, which I know is also close to your heart. I congratulate the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) on securing the debate and on introducing it in such a constructive and thoughtful way. I am grateful to him and other hon. Members for the way in which they have taken part in the debate, which has enabled it to be constructive and positive.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we are on the edge of a green energy revolution, and that time is not on our side. I agree also with my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) that the Government have to be a catalyst to making the green energy revolution happen. The potential is simply enormous and we are completely dedicated to making it happen.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that this would be the greenest Government ever. He said that on his second day in office and it goes to the heart of everything that we are doing as an Administration. Our ambitions are clear. We want Britain to be a global
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leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy and we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree with me that the future of the UK's energy supply must be secure, flexible and low carbon. It is not one against the other; all three elements must be part of the way forward. We envisage a mix of low-carbon generation that will be made up of new nuclear-the hon. Gentleman and I may part company on that one-coal with carbon capture, and renewable sources. We also envisage a substantial element of energy efficiency, as the cheapest energy of all is the energy that we do not use in the first place.

However, in moving to a low-carbon energy system, I am well aware that there are serious challenges ahead. Some of them arise because this change comes at a point in the cycle when we need radically to upgrade and update our energy infrastructure in any case. Ofgem and Ernst and Young have calculated that over the next 10 to 15 years, some £200 billion of new investment is needed in new generation, transmission and distribution systems.

Renewable energy is set to be a major part of our future energy supply and will consist of a wide range of technologies, some of which are well established, such as onshore wind, and some of which are emerging still, such as wave and tidal energy. However, it is clear that there is an important role for offshore wind in the UK's energy future, and all of us taking part in the debate are united on that. The UK is a windy place-we have 40% of Europe's wind resource, and a lot of land and a great deal of sea bed available for generation. Wind is a low-carbon energy source, which means it will play a major role in tackling climate change. As the hon. Gentleman said, it is also a domestic energy source, which means that it will make a vital contribution to our energy security as well.

Offshore wind is quickly making the jump from being an emerging technology to being a major part of the UK's electricity supply. I am sure that many Members welcomed the formal opening of Thanet offshore wind farm three weeks ago by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. With a hundred turbines, it is the largest operational offshore wind farm in the world, and a clear sign of the UK's determination to develop this huge natural resource with which we are blessed. I agree with the hon. Gentleman: we are carrying forward work started under the previous Administration and seeking to build on it.

It is clear that the sector recognises how committed to deployment we are, and many companies are starting to gain access to this new and long-term market. The message is clear: if you want to be in the offshore wind market you need to move quickly, and the UK is the place to be. We will certainly learn the lessons from the past; we have seen too much supply chain activity going overseas. We do not want to look back in a few years' time and see a most remarkable roll-out of such technologies, but with too many jobs and much of the investment having gone to other countries.

An important supply chain is already developing. Mabey Bridge in Monmouthshire and Welcon Towers in Argyll are making the towers that support the turbines.
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David Brown in Huddersfield is making the large gearboxes. Tees Alliance Group and Burntisland Fabrication, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, are making the foundation components. Harland and Wolff is being transformed into a centre for offshore wind and renewable technologies. Granada Material Handling in Manchester recently won a contract to supply 176 cranes for the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm. Prysmian Cables & Systems in Wrexham won a £15 million cabling contract for the Gwynt y Môr wind farm. Some key investments are coming through. We are already exporting key components-these are not just exercises for the domestic market-for example, Burntisland Fabrication has supplied foundations not only for the Greater Gabbard project off the Thames estuary, but for the German Alpha Ventus offshore wind project.

Although I note the enthusiasm of the hon. Gentleman for offshore wind manufacturing, I must be clear that I will not be announcing the outcome of the spending review. It may be tempting for me to do so but it would obviously be a bad career move to take the Chancellor's thunder. We understand the issues that the hon. Gentleman and many others have raised, and the importance that they attach to the infrastructure project. We will be providing clarity on that and ensuring that the website message can be changed in the near future.

As the hon. Gentleman notes, the rapid deployment we need will pose a real challenge to the supply chain. The levels of deployment we are likely to see in the UK and Europe are far in excess of current production capacity, and rapid scaling up will be needed. There is no doubt that that offers potential for significant employment and economic benefits to the UK, as well as the opportunity to create a broad manufacturing base in a high-value-added sector, which really needs to be close by in Europe-partly due to the sheer size of the turbines-and I intend for it to be in the UK. Turbines used offshore are larger and have to be even more reliable than onshore ones. They have deep foundations and need undersea cabling, and their size means that they are harder to transport, and, realistically, a lot of the production has to be local to the market-and the UK is the market. We are already No. 1 in the world for offshore wind deployment, and, under all realistic scenarios, we will keep that position all the way to 2020 and beyond.

Until very recently, the production of offshore turbines was a niche market, but that is about to change. The industry is at an early stage of development, but is set for huge growth. The UK is well placed to make the most of it, and the Government intend to achieve that. We have a strong research and development capability, and some excellent engineering, technology and manufacturing opportunities. Our experience in the aerospace and engineering sectors, coupled with several decades of work developing the North sea oil and gas resource, and working in the very hazardous conditions there, means we have a pool of talent and experience to bring to this new sector. In short, we have a skilled work force and some excellent companies that are ready to diversify into this new market. It is an innovative sector, in which the technologies used are still evolving and improving, and innovative companies have the potential to be very successful in the supply chain.

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I was pleased that back in July we were able to announce the first round of grants since the Budget for developing new-generation offshore wind technology, shortly after the coalition came to power. That emphasises the way in which we are keen to stimulate activity in the sector. To cite a few examples: JDR Cable Systems is working to develop high voltage export and array cables for distribution of power from next generation, multi-megawatt turbines; South Boats will look at the modular design of offshore wind farm support vessels; and Converteam will develop large-scale direct current conversion technology. The grants indicate the sheer breadth of the supply chain opportunities in the sector and the Government's determination to move forward.

Deployment of offshore wind could require an investment of over a hundred billion pounds over the next decade. If we are to see that huge sum invested by the sector, one thing is clear: we also need to do everything we can to ensure that developers, investors and manufacturers have confidence in the market. They must see us as the most attractive place in the world to invest. We have tackled some of the barriers that have, until recently, held the industry back, for example, taking forward the work on planning and providing a stable regulatory environment to ensure swift consenting decisions. Ministers will decide major infrastructure projects within one year, in accordance with the clear policy framework provided by national policy statements. That will help to secure the confidence of investors by removing concerns about delay. There has been progress, and we are determined to move forward quickly.

The Crown Estate recently had a successful leasing round, with strong interest from developers, and it is also undertaking enabling actions, including aerial bird surveys and marine mammal research, to de-risk and accelerate development within round 3. My department has completed a strategic environmental assessment. We are ahead of the game on that aspect of marine spatial planning, and taking a proactive stance on the use of assessments as a means of striking a balance among promoting offshore energy resources, effective environmental protection and other uses of the sea.

I am aware that we need a form of financial support that works for offshore renewables. We will set out our proposals for reforming the electricity market later in the year, but we are clear that we will not change the ground rules for renewables obligations for existing investments-we are not taking a retrospective approach to that work. We are committed to securing a significant increase in investment in renewables, so that we can meet the legally binding requirement for the European Union energy target in 2020 and our other long-term decarbonisation objectives.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney said, we are also planning to create a green investment bank to deliver financial interventions that address market failures specific to green investment needs, thereby supporting growth and environmental objectives. I chair the offshore wind developers' forum, which brings together people keen to invest in the industry. Our approach is to look systematically at all potential barriers to investment, and ensure that we address them and move them on.

We are looking at how we can put in place the regime that will be most attractive to investment in offshore transmission. We consider that it will deliver cheaper and timelier offshore grid connections, encourage innovation
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through competition, and enable new entrants to compete in the market. Ofgem is taking forward much of the work; the first tenders for transitional-in other words, already constructed-assets were signed in summer 2009, and full implementation of the transitional regime followed in July.

I hope that I have been able to show that, on a range of fronts, we are taking forward the measures that will make this country attractive to investors in the offshore wind sector. We are in no doubt about its potential in terms of our energy security and moving to a low-carbon economy. We are equally in no doubt about the contribution that it can make towards the development of green jobs in Britain and to revitalising some of our port infrastructure. The hon. Gentleman will have to be patient for a little longer for the details of how we intend to take that forward. I hope that I have reassured him and other hon. Members of our absolute commitment to making Britain a world leader in this area.

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Rights of Victims and Families

1.30 pm

Esther McVey (Wirral West) (Con): I start by welcoming everybody to what I hope will be a constructive and informative debate. As the title suggests, its main purpose is to discuss the rights of victims and their families in the judicial system. I want to look at that especially, although not exclusively, in the context of violent and serious crimes such as murder and manslaughter.

Let me begin by familiarising everyone with the current support for victims, before presenting some facts and case studies to highlight the problems in the judicial system. In a written answer, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), explained that, under the current system,

He continued, noting that the Ministry of Justice

The National Victims Service would support the details that I have just read out. It highlights the fact that support for victims has dramatically improved in recent years and that crime levels are at their lowest since the war. The British crime survey has reported that all crime rates are falling and have been in steady decline since 2002. It also tells us that there has been an overall reduction in violent crime, and the number of violent incidents has fallen by half since 1995. Those statistics are certainly encouraging, and I welcome the recent announcement by the Ministry of Justice that it intends to get prisoners to work, with some of their earnings being set aside for victims of crime.

There are, however, two sides to every story. Jean Taylor, whose name I have mentioned before in the House of Commons in reference to victims of crime, is a courageous lady. She established the Merseyside charity Families Fighting For Justice, which is now spreading across the country at a rapid pace and becoming a national charity because her words ring true and resonate with people countrywide. This is what she has said:

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Unfortunately, those feelings are echoed elsewhere. Discussing its 2009 report "Order in the Courts: Restoring trust through local justice", the Centre for Social Justice states:

What the facts do not illustrate are the failings of the current judicial system. The criminal justice system needs better to take into account some of the impacts that current procedures have on victims and their families. Such procedures include lenient sentencing for a guilty plea, lesser sentences for manslaughter, life not meaning life and the right to appeal, when some appeals are malicious. We should also consider some of the very real situations that I am about to explain, which demonstrate why victims' families find themselves in a lesser position than perpetrators.

Perhaps hon. Members can imagine for a moment being a member of a victim's family. There is a knock on the door, usually in the middle to the night, to say that their child has been murdered. The family are left dealing with the shock and grieving the sudden and tragic death of a loved one. They then have to arrange the burial while attending court.

There are stark differences between the treatment of the perpetrators and the victims and their families. The victims I have met, and who I know all too well, have to travel to court by bus, whereas the murderers are driven to and from court and are protected. Once in court, the perpetrator's family is given a room in the court away from the media and the victim's family. However, the victim's family is frequently left to sit in corridors.

Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. I know that she feels particularly strongly about this issue, and she has raised some important issues. Far too often, particularly in youth courts, which are closed courts, victims and their families are wrongly excluded from attending the public gallery to watch the proceedings. There are also issues about access to the new virtual courts. I hope that we can ensure that access to courts is improved for those victims and families who wish to watch the proceedings, as in the cases that my hon. Friend outlined.

Esther McVey: My hon. Friend raises some pertinent points, and he is very experienced in this area, having spent 20 years working in the justice system.

To continue the list of differences, the perpetrator is provided with medical and professional psychiatric help, whereas victims and their families must go on a lengthy national health service waiting list just to see a counsellor. If a murderer dies in prison, his family will get up to £3,000 to bury the body, while victims get a tiny percentage of that and have to wait many months to be paid.

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing a debate on such an important and emotive topic. Judges currently
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have access to victim impact statements before passing sentences. Does that adequately reflect the impact on victims and their families in the judicial system?

Esther McVey: It goes some way, but many of the thousands of victims who have linked up across the country tell me that it does not go all the way. Again, more needs to be done.

All the differences that I have outlined are plain wrong. The inequality in the system is wrong and so, too, is the message that it sends to society and the local community where many of the victims and perpetrators live side by side in adjacent streets.

Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con): May I add to that on behalf of a constituent whose daughter was murdered? The family were forced to wait to bury their daughter while the defence team went through two post mortems over a very long period, with all the delays involved in finding legal aid. Surely it would be better in the case of murder to have two post mortems in the first place so that there could be no doubt about the cause of death.

Esther McVey: My hon. Friend raises a point that is made time and again: the pain and suffering caused to people when there must be a further autopsy on a body-once, twice or three times. In those instances it is felt that the perpetrators of the crime get a better deal, and the victims' families are often left without adequate help and support. Such help and support are vital to enable them to come to terms with the horrific crimes, the loss of loved ones and the complicated, drawn-out and distressing process that follows.

The impact can be felt in many areas. It can be financial, as family members may need breaks from employment so that they can recover. Some need extensive medical treatment, and some have to repair damage to homes and property as well. For others the cost is emotional. Many victims suffer from anxiety, the threat of victimisation, and deteriorating mental health. For some the cost is physical. Many people in society, including me, question the leniency shown towards the perpetrators of crime, which is juxtaposed to the psychological and financial cost that the victims and families must deal with. Jean Taylor will tell you that Governments have failed to do their job of supporting victims of crime and their families.

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. May I gently remind the hon. Lady that when she says "you" she is referring to the occupant of the Chair.

Esther McVey: I apologise, Mrs Main.

It is often charities and voluntary organisations that provide help and support to victims-often with no funding.

So far I have discussed procedural inequalities that need to be addressed, but I want to move now to consider policy areas. As times change, so must laws, to reflect the society and times we live in. I fully appreciate the delicate balance of laws, and the process of cause and effect involved in every situation when changes are made to them, but I do not believe that fear of upsetting the balance is reason not to change them. To the contrary, I believe that our society, with the increase in gang
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culture and antisocial behaviour, needs law that reflects our times and the changes that have come about. I have three examples.

First, when the body of a murder victim is not discovered, despite a guilty plea, and the perpetrator never reveals its location, the family are deprived of a proper funeral, which leaves them unable to grieve properly; or they are left with the prospect of being confronted with the finding of the body in the future. I know that very few suspects have been convicted of murder in the absence of a body, but some have, and have never revealed where the body is. Would it be possible to charge someone with an extra offence of non-disclosure of the whereabouts of the body? Otherwise the coroner is deprived of the opportunity to do his job properly, and the family are deprived of the opportunity to mourn the loss of a loved one.

Secondly, a person who has been found guilty of a crime can be given the option to appeal against conviction or against the length of sentence, although the grounds for appeal may be arguable. I recognise that the appeal process is an important part of the judicial system, but I do not believe that victims' rights in that situation are given enough consideration. Not only do they go through a distressing, lengthy process; they may go through a second. I wonder whether we could have a law of malicious appeal, to extend the sentence for people who have been found undeniably guilty and who raise an appeal that will fail, to focus the mind of anyone who brings such an appeal. Thus real appeals would go forward, but appeals that would not be deemed so would not.

Thirdly, there are cases when a gang has killed a person-and I want to refer to Andrew Jones, the young boy murdered by a group of teenagers, none of whom has ever been sentenced. I want law makers to think seriously about increasing the use of joint enterprise sentences, by which a group could be sentenced, rather than all walking free. The law exists, and could be extended. At the same time, there is a need for education in schools on joint enterprise, and a clear understanding that, should anyone participate in crime in a gang, with the intention to act as a gang, those involved would be sentenced as a gang and held responsible for their joint actions. I appreciate that we do not want miscarriages of justice, but the law needs to be modernised to accommodate the culture and climate in which we live.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. She talked briefly about the role of education. Does she agree that there is a broader issue about how young people interact with the criminal justice system? In my previous profession I saw many young people come into contact with the system at a young age, but they ended up on a kind of rollercoaster or in a revolving door, as nothing was ever done, so their behaviour got progressively worse.

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. Will the hon. Gentleman keep his remarks brief, as this is a half-hour debate and I am sure that the Minister wants to respond.

Andrew Percy: Of course; thank you, Mrs Main.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we need closer working between schools and the judicial process, to get the messages out to young people properly?

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Esther McVey: I thank my hon. Friend and entirely believe that that is the case. There is a need for education about responsibilities and the consequences of actions. Something that is frequently highlighted is the fact that the kids of the street know their rights but do not take care of their responsibilities to themselves or their community. We need to tell them that brutal, marauding gangs will not go unpunished. A clear message needs to go out that silence and non-co-operation, so that an ultimate perpetrator cannot be found, will not preclude a conviction.

So why are we here today? I acknowledge the current support systems, but the Government can and should do more to help the victims of crime, and their families. The effect of a loved one dying can be devastating for a family. It can be worse if the person's life is taken suddenly, by a member of the public, who might be known to the family and live close by. It can be made much worse when the convicted prisoner is released from prison early, or when they can appeal against the court's decision, or plead guilty for a lenient sentence. Not only do victims' families go through an ordeal in coming to terms with their bereavement; they are often let down by the judicial system, which adds further to their pain and suffering. A life has still been taken, and a sentence should reflect that, guilty plea or no guilty plea.

The British crime survey reports that provisional data show that police recorded 615 incidents of homicide in 2009-10, and 588 attempted murders, which is a 2% increase on the previous year's figures. According to the figures I read out earlier, provided by the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon, the amount allocated to fund third sector services for families bereaved by homicide is £270,000. If that sum is divided by the number of homicides for 2009-10 it gives £439.02 for each family. If that is divided between an average family of four, it means each member would get just £109 for the loss of a loved one. That is without the extended family. That seems a very small sum of money, especially as many family members need time to come to terms with the loss. It is no wonder that the British crime survey found that only 59.4% of people thought that the criminal justice system was, as a whole, fair. Even more worrying is the fact that only 40.7% believed that the criminal justice system as a whole was effective.

The perpetrators of crime should not be allowed to get away with those procedural differences and to capitalise on policy differences. We need a law that reflects the society we live in today.

1.49 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Crispin Blunt): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey) on securing this debate. I am well aware of the valuable work that she has done on the rights of the families of victims of crime. The matter is complex and difficult to cover in debate, and my hon. Friend was extremely generous in giving way. Some interesting points were raised during those interventions, and I shall pick up on those before coming to the substance of my reply.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson) made an interesting point about the families of victims in youth courts. We are looking for a much
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more restorative system, and it would seem rather peculiar if we were to exclude victims from the resulting court process. We shall certainly want to consider that idea. My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti) spoke about victim impact statements and I shall return to that point in the main part of my remarks. I note the sensible suggestion by my hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom) about a requirement for two post-mortems immediately. It is certainly one that we will ask to be examined.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice made considerable time available to meet my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West and Families Fighting for Justice, the support group from her constituency to which she referred. Mrs Jean Taylor followed up that meeting in a letter to my right hon. Friend, which covered personal suggestions from members of that group. I do not have time to refer to all those letters, but I shall read an extract from a letter from A. Williams, who said:

In that suggestion, there are some important principles about restoration from offenders to victims-ones that my hon. Friend will have heard in the Justice Secretary's speech at the Conservative party conference. We are actively exploring them, which I hope will bring some comfort to the members of Families Fighting for Justice.

Crime can have a devastating impact, not only on the victim but on the victim's family and loved ones. Support is given to the families when the crime has been extremely serious-when a victim has died, or when the victim is young or vulnerable. I give my deepest sympathies to those who have suffered such a bereavement, or who have been through the trauma of caring for a vulnerable victim of crime. It is in such terrible cases that the families play their largest role in the criminal justice system, and it is in precisely those cases that guidance, participation, and practical and emotional support are most vital.

The Government are committed to placing victims and their families at the front and at the centre of the criminal justice system. We are committed to ensuring that criminal justice agencies work to help families through the process; we are committed to providing families with a voice in the criminal justice system; and we are committed to providing them with the support and help that they need to deal with the consequences of crime.

Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) (LD): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr Blunt: I shall not give way, if my hon. Friend will forgive me, as I am short of time.

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To those who have never had dealings with it, the criminal justice system can seem daunting. That is especially true for victims and their families, as they are already suffering the emotional distress of crime. Dealing with the various agencies-the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and probation-can seem confusing, but we have been working hard to ensure that the system provides the families of victims with the support that they need. A number of schemes have been designed to help guide victims and their families through the process, from the pre-charge and police investigation stage, through sentencing to the parole and release of the offender. Considerable support is available from witness care units, family liaison officers and the victim liaison scheme.

Witness care units are the result of collaboration between the police and the CPS. They provide dedicated teams in each area, and their function is to keep victims and witnesses-and in serious cases, their families-updated on the criminal proceedings. They are staffed by police and CPS officials, and work closely with both agencies. Witness care units serve as a single point of contact from the charging of the suspect to the conclusion of the trial. They are responsible for ensuring that victims know whether they must attend court; they inform victims if there are any changes in proceedings; and they are the first port of call for victims and their families if they have specific questions. Witness care units deal with the vast majority of cases that progress past the decision to charge.

In more serious cases, such as homicide or sexual violence, or if the victim is under 18, the police will often assign a specialist family liaison officer. That person is a specially trained police officer, who acts as a single point of contact for bereaved families. That officer will be on call to answer questions, to explain the process and to support the family until the trial, providing dedicated, one-to-one support.

We are well aware, however, that the needs of victims and their families do not disappear the moment that a judge hands down a sentence. Families of homicide victims or vulnerable victims often want to be kept updated with the progress of the offender's sentence. They want to know whether the person who has caused such distress is awaiting parole, or being released on licence. The victim liaison service provides victims with a means of being kept informed as the offender's sentence progresses, and of opportunities to make representations on issues relating to their safety in the event of the prisoner being released.

The victim liaison service is the responsibility of local probation trusts, which have a statutory duty to identify and contact the victims of offenders convicted of violent or sexual offences who are sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more, and the victims of certain mentally disordered offenders. Victims who want to be part of the scheme are allocated a dedicated, specially trained victim liaison officer. That officer listens to victims' concerns, and may be able to provide information on other local services. If victims take up the service, they will be told about the offender's sentence and what it means, and updated on key developments in the sentence such as if an offender is moved to an open prison or released. When an offender is coming to the end of the sentence, the victim or the victim's family can raise any concerns about the release; they can also
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request licence conditions, such as those forbidding the offender to contact them or enter the area where they live.

On giving the families a voice, it is important not only to help families through the process and keep them informed but to give them the opportunity to become involved if they wish. This country has a system of common law that pits the accused against the state. Unlike in some civil law systems, in ours victims and their families are not automatically a party to a criminal trial. Here, the state brings the charges, the state prosecutes the accused and the state ensures that the sentence is carried out. However, it does not mean a victim or the family should be excluded from the process. We should operate a system under which we do things with victims, not to them.

When courts are considering sentencing, victims and their families should be heard, and the often terrible consequences of the crime upon families should be considered. To that end, families are able to make a victim personal statement. That statement was first piloted in 1996, and has since been implemented nationally. It works like a witness statement, and is usually collected by the police. It provides the victims or, in the case of homicide, the victim's family, with an opportunity to describe to the court the impact of the crime upon their lives. Seriousness has two components-harm and culpability-and if the personal statement shows that significant harm was caused to the victim, the sentencer can decide on a higher level of seriousness.

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Esther McVey: I know that we are in the closing minutes of this debate, but may I ask that the procedural and policy changes mentioned today are considered in your review of the justice system?

Mrs Anne Main (in the Chair): Order. I remind the hon. Lady that it is not my review of the criminal justice system but the Minister's.

Mr Blunt: I am grateful, Mrs Main, for that clarification. My hon. Friend is aware that because of her generosity in taking interventions I shall not be able to finish my prepared remarks. However, I shall consider carefully what she has said. Indeed, she has repeated here the points that she made directly to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, so they are already included in the process and are being considered.

I was going to speak about Victim Support's homicide service, an important development that began in April this year. We hope that it will provide a high-quality service that reflects the wishes and needs of the bereaved. We are reviewing the services currently available to witnesses, victims and their families in the criminal justice system. As part of our commitment to restorative justice, and to the big society, we want to ensure that victims are a focus not an afterthought.

2 pm

Sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10 (11)).

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