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5.8 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Order, this day).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Order, this day).

Clause 7, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 8 to 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.

Third Reading

5.10 pm

Mr George Osborne: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I shall be brief. I want to thank the House for the two days of debate and for the scrutiny and entertainment that has been provided. We have discussed chocolate biscuits, Tupperware, secret treaties and what the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) said in 1971, the year in which I was born. I particularly want to thank various participants, such as the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), the hon. Member for Glasgow South

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West (Mr Davidson), who is not in his place, and my hon. Friends the Members for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) and for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg). They all showed a passionate interest in this subject and knew what they were talking about. They argued from different points of view but helped to enlighten the debate.

Of course, it is not just Ministers and the Chancellor who do the work on such proposed legislation. An official team at the Treasury have been working on it for more than a year and I want to thank them for their hard work. I thank the royal household for its engagement as well as Alan Reid, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, with whom I have been liaising throughout. We have got the balance right between providing the funds to allow the monarch and her family to do their official duties with dignity and the kind of support we would expect for our Head of State while at the same time providing checks and balances on how that money is spent and allowing Parliament to scrutinise those resources for the first time. I suspect that such scrutiny would have been unthinkable decades ago.

Many people have referred to the fact that in 1760 the arrangement was put in place whereby the revenues from the Crown Estate were handed over for the lifetime of the monarch in return for a parliamentary grant. I do not know whether the arrangements in the Bill will last for 250 years—that is probably a bit ambitious—but I hope they last for many years and decades to come. That might mean that the House will miss the entertaining debates we have had over two days, but it will also ensure that our monarchy is properly funded, that it is above the annual political fray and that it can get on with doing what it does so well: representing our country and being our Head of State.

5.12 pm

Ed Balls: I echo the Chancellor’s thanks to Members on both sides of the House for the way in which they have participated in the debate. In particular, I thank my hon. Friends for the way in which they have helped us play the Opposition’s proper role in scrutinising such legislation. There have been many historical references and when we look back to the last serious debate in Parliament, in 1971, we can see that the tone of those debates was very different from that of our debates today and a fortnight ago. That shows that there have been many changes since the early 1970s, including more pressure on and exposure for the monarchy, as well as an unprecedented degree of international exposure. The consensus on the role of the monarchy in our constitution and in our country is stronger now than it was during the previous debate, which has been shown by the speeches from both sides of the House as we have scrutinised the Bill. I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for being willing to brief us and to be involved in serious discussions that have led to changes in the Bill. The manuscript amendments that he was willing to table following our suggested amendments were welcome.

The change will lead to an unprecedented increase in the scrutiny of the royal household by the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and Parliament. As the Chancellor has said, that is a good thing in building further trust and support for the monarchy in our country. Obviously, I regret the fact that we did not manage to get agreement on our trigger

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mechanism if revenues from the Crown Estate rise rapidly in coming years, but there are measures, checks and balances to make sure that we can properly do our job as parliamentarians in ensuring that money is well spent but also that the monarchy is properly financed.

Let me conclude by saying it is of great regret that the—oh, he is still here. For a second, I feared that the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) had left and I wanted to thank him for his contributions to the debates. It is an open question whether the financial settlement for the Crown Estate that the Chancellor generously set out will make affordable the finest horses and the gold-gilt carriages that the hon. Gentleman called for in the debate a fortnight ago as befitting Her Majesty. However, I assure him that it will certainly be enough to pay for Bath Oliver biscuits with chocolate on the outside; there is no doubt about that. His contributions have been welcome. As I said, this has been an important debate about history as well as the future and it is good to have present an hon. Member who has a great grasp of that history. Indeed, some of us sometimes think he might have been there in 1760—more in style than in substance. We thank him and all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate. The job of scrutinising these matters now starts for Parliament and I thank the Chancellor for helping us to ensure that that will be done properly in the years to come.

5.16 pm

Tristram Hunt: In Committee, the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) said that the monarchy was a fragile institution, but I beg to differ. The monarchy has shown itself to be a very powerful and strong institution, lasting over the centuries. If the British state was beginning again, we probably would not start by creating a monarchy: it is irrational, inequitable, inherently sexist, myopic and averse to many of the principles of progressive politics and the social democratic future that we on the left hold dear. However, we are where we are and there is no enthusiasm for dismantling the monarchy.

Mr Davidson: Yes, there is.

Tristram Hunt: Among the public as a whole.

We in opposition should be brave and confident enough to think about some of the monarchy’s strengths, which is partly what the Bill is about ensuring. First, the monarchy gives a broader notion of citizenship. We on the left often get in a lather about being subjects rather than citizens and whether that holds back our politics, but the virtue of the monarchy is that it creates a notion of citizenship that is not necessarily linked to ethnicity. It is not a blood-and-soil notion of citizenship. The political scientist John Gray put it rather well when he wrote:

“The monarchical constitution we have today—a mix of antique survivals and postmodern soap opera—may be absurd, but it enables a diverse society to rub along without too much friction.”

It also points to a wonderful thing about Britain—that we have no purpose in the world, unlike the great republics of France, America or Italy, where there is an endpoint, or telos, to do with happiness or improving equality. Britain has no ultimate endpoint and monarchy is part of that.

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Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): My hon. Friend has demonstrated that he has a far superior knowledge of history than perhaps any other Member of the House who was not actually there during large sections of it. Does he agree that the histories of the United States and France are histories of violent revolution, whereas we have had a period of stable evolution, apart from a dark period in the 1650s and so on, largely because we have had a constitutional monarchy?

Tristram Hunt: I take my hon. Friend’s point, but we should not over-emphasise our Whiggish stability over the years. We often used to think of the 18th century as the age of equipoise and stability. In fact, underneath that monarchy, all sorts of revolutionary fervour was going on. The campaign of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) to have the Chartists properly recognised in the House hints at a slightly different history. It is a source of great sadness to many people that, although the House was rebuilt in the 1830s and ’40s, it took until mid-1890s for the statue of Cromwell to appear outside.

For all its narrow, Eurocentric and white family structure, the royal family also has a curious internationalist sensibility, for to understand the British royal family in the 19th and 20th centuries is to understand empire and the nature of Britain in the world. As we have heard today in respect of reforming the Act of Settlement, the monarch was also monarch of imperial nations across the world, then the British Commonwealth and then the Commonwealth. That points to the unique nature of Britain: its openness and sense of citizenship, which is, again, above and beyond blood and soil. Part of the strength of monarchy is that it speaks to the multicultural, multi-faith age in which we live. There is a curious modernity about the nature of monarchy, which, again, keeps its strength going.

The real virtue of the royal family today is the soft power embodied within it. We have heard, quite rightly, detailed discussions about £35 million or £37 million costs this afternoon, but the royal family as a brand vehicle for Britishness is worth huge sums more than £35 million or £37 million. The sums regained from the world’s media focus on London during the royal wedding recently were far in excess of its cost. Although our beloved former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, used to describe Britain as a young country, it is, in fact, a very old country.

Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con): I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman, but does he agree that we do not need a new, written constitution because we have gradually evolved as a country. Other countries look at us and at Parliament—the mother of all Parliaments—because we have been through a great, long history. We have managed to achieve something. We stand for things in the world. We stand for democracy, freedom of speech, common law and the rule of law, whereby this country has made the sort of decisions that it has over the past few days.

Tristram Hunt: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but he knows far better than I do that, of course, in the quote about the mother of Parliaments, John Bright was referring to the whole country, rather than to Parliament. The hon. Gentleman points to the

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dangers of a written constitution, although my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) would vehemently disagree and do so in quite some detail if pressed.

Part of our strength as an old country is connected to the royal family and monarchy, which has taken different forms over the years. We have in this country a natural resource in history. As other nations have oil and diamonds, we have the past, and we need to use it as a source of leverage in the world.

In addition to soft power, the royal family also brings hard currency. I am privileged to represent Stoke-on-Trent, where the Chancellor will soon visit many successful businesses in the area. Many ceramics companies in my constituency have enjoyed record profits on the back of the royal wedding. The profits of Bridgewater, Portmeirion and Hudson and Middleton show that the ceramics industry is booming on the back of the royal wedding.

According to VisitBritain spokesman, Paul Eastham,

“Our culture and heritage reputation is very strong around the world. At the heart of that lies monarchy.”

Many historians and I would disagree that the nature of Britain is innately bound up with monarchy, but we should not kid ourselves about the fact that, as the success of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Canada and California has shown, it brings remarkable attention to Britain. I was involved in constituency business in Australia at the time of the royal visit to Canada and California, but the media attention focused on that young couple—and another great global icon, Ms Kate Moss—from right around the world was remarkable.

There is a job to be done, and many members of the royal family do it very well. We come to the tricky question of financing it. I share my Front Benchers’ concerns about making sure that we have a proper vehicle to ensure that excessive profits and marked changes in the amount of money flowing to the royal family are properly looked after. I, too, still have questions about the shared ownership of assets when it comes to the royal family. I also share concerns about security costs. We in Stoke-on-Trent were greatly privileged to have a visit by the Earl of Wessex recently, but I have to say that I thought that the security costs and the entourage involved were not wholly necessary.

On timetabling, the move from seven to five years is quite right. When we return to government in the imminent future and return, hopefully, to four-year Parliaments, that period can go down to four years from five years, to reflect the length of a Parliament.

The Chancellor has come up with the least worst option for financing the royal family. As the hon. Member for Gainsborough suggested, the royal palaces are in real danger of decay. Many of them have not had the infrastructure investment that they demand, and demands on their fabric will grow. As part of the quid pro quo of the settlement, we need from the royal family further opening-up of some of the royal palaces, and we need to think more creatively about the art collection held by Her Majesty. We need to continue bearing down on costs, and we need the kind of public accountability and audit that the Bill brings to bear.

The Chancellor and shadow Chancellor spoke of the language of utility and satisfaction, in terms of the relationship between Parliament and monarchy, and this settlement sets us on that road.

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5.27 pm

Michael Ellis: I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt), who is clearly a royalist, and who is a founding member of the all-party parliamentary group on the Queen’s diamond jubilee, and I congratulate him on that.

It is easy to try to put a price on monarchy, as I think the hon. Gentleman was saying. Of course, to a certain extent, one has to do that, especially in such a debate as this, but the monarchy, personified so ably by our sovereign, is not bounded by monetary value; it is about honour, nobility of conduct, its historical nature, and an institution of which we can all be proud. If we look in some detail at the mischief that the Bill is trying to redress, the finances of the royal household, designed to support Her Majesty, are currently overly complex. There are no fewer than four grants, which are themselves hidebound and bureaucratic. They have a tendency to be inflexible in that if there is a depletion of one grant, there cannot be a transfer from the other grants to fill the gap. Consequently, the system clearly does not work. That, in and of itself, irrespective of one’s ideological views about monarchy as an institution, needs to be redressed.

However, it goes deeper than that, because the sums we are talking about—approximately £35 million—are, in governmental terms, de minimis. They are minuscule. I dare say that this area of expenditure is more scrutinised, deeply analysed and debated in various forums, including this House, than other areas of the public finances, where hundred of millions, or even billions, of pounds are spent, so there is no shortage of scrutiny whatsoever. It is clear that for the first time since the early 1970s Parliament is looking at a proper modernisation of the finances of the royal household and the monarchy.

Thomas Docherty: The hon. Gentleman refers to the level of scrutiny that the household finances receive, but this debate will last less than three hours. Does he not think that that is a flaw?

Michael Ellis: I think one can tell from the number of Members in the Chamber that the matter has been debated perfectly clearly.

The Crown Estate is the property of the sovereign and is in the right of the Crown. In the generations since George III’s accession in 1760, successive Governments have gone to the sovereign of the day and asked, “May we have the proceeds from the Crown Estate?” All sovereigns since, including George IV, William VI and so on, have signed away those rights. However, from a legal perspective, the fact that the application has been made and the request granted on each occasion perhaps indicates how the law would look at the matter. It seems clear to me that the revenue is surrendered to the Exchequer and that the legal implication of that act of surrender is that the revenue belongs to the Crown.

The sovereign grant is normally set as equal to 15% of the profit from the Crown Estate, as has already been alluded to. It could be argued that that is sufficient, but it is not over-generous, and no one could reasonably argue that it is disproportionate to the affairs of the Crown. If one takes the care to look at where Crown expenditure actually goes, one will see that much of it

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goes back to general public usage. For example, most of the communications allowance is spent on writing paper, stationery and clerical costs for responding to items of correspondence received by the royal household. With regard to entertainment costs, tens of thousands of British subjects receive hospitality at garden parties, for example, so costs are incurred in that way.

The royal palaces account for a huge part of royal expenditure. If we did not have a royal family, it is reasonably safe to assume that we would retain the palaces—one would hope that they would not be knocked down to build car parks—and consequently there would be museums that would need to be maintained, although no doubt few people would visit them. The roofs would still need to be fixed and leaks repaired, so the Exchequer would not save. When one takes the care to look at the expenditure, one will see that it is extremely modest and, as has been alluded to, extremely impressive savings have been made over the past couple of years.

The current system is inflexible, overly bureaucratic and has not been as transparent as it could have been. One cannot rationalise romance, and I take the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) and others that the institution of the monarchy is about more than just money, but one must bear in mind that although the monarchy is an emotionally unifying institution and, in my view, crucial to the success of this state, it is also susceptible to proper analysis of its finances, which is what the Bill will do. Consequently, I give it my full support.

5.35 pm

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): I have a series of concerns with the Bill. First, it creates an artificial link between the profits from an estate given up by the royal family in 1760 and an amount required to carry their official duties in the present day. My major concern is with the escalator process that is put in place, whereby the amount that is received each year will be the same as or greater than that of the previous financial year, either through the floor introduced in the Bill or because 15% of the Crown Estate’s profits is greater than the floor. I am disappointed that the Opposition amendment on that was defeated in Committee.

There are curious oddities in the Bill. Why is there a need to round up the Crown Estate’s profit to the nearest £100,000? Why round it upwards and not downwards? Why round it up at all? The profit of the Crown Estate is a red herring. There is no link between the successful organisation of the estate’s affairs and the amount received by the royal family. This is not a business arrangement. I recognise that there are arguments that the royal family should receive a lump sum and be able to transfer funds for better use. I also recognise the argument that the money provided is given for a specific purpose. However, if it is not being used for that purpose, on what grounds is that amount of funding being given?

As many Members have said, there should be a regular needs-based analysis of the royal family’s expenditure, with grants provided accordingly. Having said that, I like the idea of a reserve fund for money that is not used. This sounds like the end-of-year flexibility that the Welsh Government set up under Plaid Cymru a few years ago, only for the Treasury to steal back

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£400 million earlier in the year. I look forward to the day when the Treasury follows the same pursuit in taking back money allocated to the royal family.

The Crown Estate, which is a key part of the Bill, is owned by the state and administrated by commissioners. It owns large areas of land in Wales and claims the seabed and foreshore as part of its urban, rural and maritime portfolios. Yet last week’s annual report fails to provide a nation-by-nation or regional breakdown of the investments and profits of the Crown Estate. Figures for Scotland are provided on the website, but apparently no comparable figures for Wales are published. In the interests of transparency, we would like to see those figures published. In the interests of Wales, we would like to see responsibility for the Crown Estate in Wales transferred to the Welsh Government. This is our land and our seabed, and it should be used for investments that benefit the people of Wales.

Mel Stride: I feel that I must return to the status of the Crown Estate. Does not the hon. Gentleman accept that it is effectively owned by the institution of the monarchy and not by the state at all?

Jonathan Edwards: I do not agree. My belief is that the Crown Estate in Wales should now be devolved to the Welsh Government.

Profits are coming from the use and exploitation of these assets. Those profits, be they for renewable energy on land or sea, should be given to the people of Wales. Having control of the Crown Estate land and sea in Wales would give us the opportunity to be a world leader in renewable energy and to develop our economy accordingly. In the meantime, the Bill should not include reference to the Crown Estate and should instead provide a series of grants according to the needs of the royal family to undertake their duties. If we are to have one single sovereign grant that is not needs-based, then why not simply increase it by the consumer prices index, as that seems to be the Government’s preferred measure of inflation?

5.38 pm

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards). I agree with every single word of his speech.

These are delightful occasions. I am sorry that the hon. Member for the middle ages and North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) has left us, because he gave us another cameo performance today, although he did not give the same peroration. He would have been very much at home in the court of King Canute.

A couple of days ago, the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis) rather optimistically sent me a letter—addressed to me by my first name, although I do not really know him in any way—requesting a contribution for the new stained glass window. I am afraid that I had to send him a rather disappointing reply. He did persuade me to put down an early-day motion drawing attention to the fact that we are already fairly well supplied with statues, pictures and paintings of royalty in this place, but very badly off in those

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things for a range of people, such as the Tolpuddle martyrs, the Chartists and the suffragettes, who have contributed hugely to the strength of our democracy and transformed this country into the proud modern democracy that it is now.

Whenever royalty is discussed, the House becomes infantilised. It is worth mentioning again that because of our own decisions, which go back seven centuries, we are not allowed to criticise not only the monarch, but any member of her family. When an attempt was made to have a debate on the conduct of Prince Andrew on two occasions, I and other Members were gagged in saying anything about him that was not emetic, sycophantic drivel. We must understand that in this debate and many others, we are denied the opportunity as a free Parliament to discuss the personalities and behaviour of the entire royal family—not that I want to be critical tonight.

I tried to make a point in the earlier debate about the special need for the role of the Head of State. The point of the story that I told about Mrs Thatcher is that we need someone who is above politics to act when a Prime Minister gets out of control. There was a possibility in 1990 that Margaret Thatcher could have caused a general election and that Parliament, the Cabinet and the Conservative party would not have been able to stop her. However, the Queen could have stopped her and almost certainly would have done so given the Queen’s personality and status. It is questionable whether other Prime Ministers would have had that strength of character and whether possible other monarchs would have had that strength of character. I am thinking of the Queen’s uncle and the Queen’s successor, who suffers from an incontinence of interference in matters that are way outside what a monarch should be involved in.

Thomas Docherty: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Could you remind me whether it is appropriate for an hon. Member to make remarks that appear to be disparaging about a member of the royal household?

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): I have already had to remind Mr Flynn that when he is referring to the royal family, he should do so with dignity, as their status in this country behoves. I hope that he will refrain from disparaging remarks in the future.

Paul Flynn: That is a splendid illustration of the fact that we are infantilised and incapable of the freedom of expression that I would have if I was writing a blog, speaking on the radio or writing in a newspaper. This House and our role is diminished because of that. As an elected representative who has long been regarded by my constituents as a republican, I am denied the opportunity of speaking the truth as I see it.

Tristram Hunt: On my hon. Friend’s substantive point, does he not think that the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill will withdraw the capacity for such royal interference in elections?

Paul Flynn: I think that many advances have been very beneficial. One of the most important was the decision we took in 2003 to vote on whether we go to war. Some 230 Members voted against. Unlike my hon. Friend, I do not agree with many of the attributes that

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give us our national status in the world of being “wider still and wider”. Many people praise us for that because it means that we can punch above our weight. It also means that our soldiers have to die beyond our responsibilities. We have taken on an unreasonable share of the dying in Afghanistan and Iraq because of the elevated view we have of our status, which is a damaging view.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. We are going far wide of what we are here to speak on, which is the Third Reading of the Bill. Other Members wish to speak, so keep to the Bill, Mr Flynn.

Paul Flynn: The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) made a point about the Bill and about whether those at Buckingham palace listen to our debates. I assure him that they do. The last time I spoke on these issues, I had a call from Buckingham palace within an hour telling me that the information I had given about the heir to the throne’s income increasing by 50% in a year and his spending of taxpayers’ money increasing by 18% was absolutely accurate but could be misleading. So we are under that surveillance, I am happy to say.

I believe it is a complete myth to think that the Crown Estate is the property of the royal family, and it is a disingenuous view. In the Bill there is an attempt to refresh and replace that idea. I saw an interesting quote in the Financial Times from a Government source, who said:

“There is a major constitutional issue with appearing to say that”

the Queen

“owns all this stuff when she doesn’t”.

It is quite clear that the Crown Estate is the property of the country, and that the revenue should go to health, social security and the other issues before us.

I cannot understand why Members, particularly our own Front Benchers, having seen that the Bill was coming up—we have one every 250 years—are maximising the understandable current popularity of the royal family to ensure that it gets through and that there is a settlement that could be very expensive in future. If the Bill had been presented to the House at the time of Diana’s death, or another time when the royal family were very unpopular, the House would have given a very different view. Clearly this is a honeymoon time in which to introduce it.

I believe that, as has been suggested, a simple mechanism should have been adopted. As is the case for other taxpayers, such as recipients of income support and housing benefit, there could be a mechanism linked to inflation. I suggest again that it should be the same mechanism that decides on pensioners’ increases, which have sadly been reduced because of the change from the retail prices index to the consumer prices index. If that measure were introduced and the funding were divorced from the Crown Estate, it would work and it would seem fair. Would it not be marvellous if we demanded from the royal family the same freedom of information that is demanded of all the rest of us?

5.47 pm

Stephen Williams (Bristol West) (LD): I will be brief because I think a couple of other Members want to speak. As the Chancellor said earlier, today we are

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essentially altering arrangements that were first made at the time of the accession of George III in 1760. The most famous Member of Parliament for the old city of Bristol seat was Edmund Burke, and he coined the term “the fourth estate”—our dear friends, and indeed some enemies, in the press. Of course, they have had the wind of change blowing through them over the past hours and weeks. The second and third estates, of course, are ourselves in the Lords and Commons, and we have also experienced change, with more change to come. The first estate is the Crown itself, which is now receiving change. It is right that it should do so.

In particular, it is right that the Crown should be more open and transparent about its finances. I was delighted that the Chancellor confirmed that Buckingham palace itself would be open on more days of the year so that members of the public can see inside, whether they are going to garden parties or are paying visitors, who currently go in August. If they see the finest horses and the finest coaches, they can also see probably the finest art collection on the planet.

I agree with the sentiment expressed by several of my hon. Friends that we do not want to see a bicycling monarchy, but we do need a monarchy that is accessible and transparent to the public. That would also make it more enduring.

5.48 pm

Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): First, I want to apologise for not being here in the earlier part of the day. I was at the hospital all day having some nuclear medicine, they called it. It is a new-fangled thing, and I would warn anybody, if you have got a chance to avoid it, avoid it. They stick a drug in you, and you feel like you are dying. What they are trying to do is put your heart under so much pressure that they can see whether you can stand the anaesthetic for a hip replacement in the near future. That is where I have been, and I missed all these wonderful contributions on the Queen’s new allowance—her winter heating allowance, or whatever it is.

I remember well, way back in 1971, being joined by a lot of people in the House who were on the left wing at the time in voting against the Queen’s money. Quite a number of them are now in the House of Lords—[ Laughter. ] [Hon. Members: “Name them!] I can’t name all of them because I ain’t got time. They are all there. I remember that occasion very well because they were dining and wining on the fact that they had just voted against the Queen’s money, or the royal money.

I am here today—I just managed to get back in time for Third Reading. My view about the monarchy has been pretty much the same all my life. I remember in the pit village of Clay Cross, when I was a bit of kid during the second world war—or maybe just a bit before—kids on the street saying that the royal family had blue blood, but I just could not buy that. My inquiring mind prevented me from being like the rest of the lads on the street.

There is no doubt about it: the royal family were very popular in those days, notwithstanding King George VI not being able to speak properly on the radio. I heard all that, but notwithstanding, they were popular then, but there have been phases since when their popularity has waned, especially when Murdoch was the toast of the

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town—which he now ain’t. We have been slagging off Murdoch all week and telling him to sling his hook back to America and all the rest of it, but his papers had an influence. I am sure that there were times when Murdoch newspapers made a reasonable contribution to the talk about the dysfunctional royal family and all the rest of it, but I also believe that Charles himself made a contribution, because quite frankly, he is not liked. Those hon. Members who are royalists know in their hearts that they do not really want to see him be the king. When I take people from the women’s institute round the House of Commons and the House of Lords and show them the throne, they say, “Who sits in that other seat? I say, “Well, perhaps it’s Charles, but eventually, he’s gonna sit in the big seat.” They say, “Who will be in the other one?” and I say, “Camilla,” and they say, “No! We don’t want her!”

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. I am speaking now from this big seat. It would be very good, first, if the hon. Gentleman could at least refer to the royal family in a dignified manner, as has happened almost throughout the debate, and secondly, if we could get back to Third Reading. I know that for unavoidable reasons, the hon. Gentleman was unable to be here earlier, but I am sure he knows what the Bill says. Could he get back to it?

Mr Skinner: I know that the Bill is all about £35 million in the time of a recession. The truth is that people out there, notwithstanding what anybody else tells them and irrespective of this debate, will be saying, “Here we are. We’ve got a pay freeze, inflation’s going through the roof and energy prices are going up. Because of welfare reform, they’re cutting disability allowance. Three thousand blind and disabled people have marched through London for their money, and yet, on one given day, they are able to find the money for the royal family.”

So, to go back chronologically to my story about the royal family, I was a bit of a kid, but then I got elected to Clay Cross council. I do not know what happened, but when I became chairman of the council, I got a big package, which turned out to be an invite to the royal garden party. I looked at it, and found they had included a little diagonal cross to put in the car—of course, I hadn’t a car, a bank account or a telephone. I said to a mate of mine, “You’d never believe the bumf that they’ve sent—all these different things for the royal garden party.” He said, “What did you do with it?” and I said, “I chucked it in t’dustbin.” I said, “There were even a thing to put in your car.” He says, “What colour were it?”—[ Interruption. ] No! He was asking what colour the pass was, not the car. He had seen one before, because he had been to the races to Cheltenham and Ascot and seen it. He says, “Get that pass!” I said, “Well, it’s in the dustbin,” and he says, “We’ve not emptied Wheatcroft close yet.” So I got the pass out. I saw him after he had retired, and I said, “Ay up, Joe, did you ever use that pass?” “Use it?” he says, “It’s here in t’glove compartment. I’ve used it every year. I go straight into Royal Ascot, not just the royal enclosure.”

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. I let the hon. Gentleman finish the story because I wanted to hear the end, but it still has nothing to do with the Bill. May we please get back to the Bill?

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Mr Skinner: I am trying to explain that there are people out there who do not give a hoot about the royal family. The truth is that my old mate Joe, who has now passed on, wanted the pass, and that is how he felt about it. He wanted to be in the royal enclosure, unlike me. Obviously I did not go to the garden party—I have never been to one, although they tell me that Willie Hamilton did. I don’t know about that. I’ll tell you one thing though. Despite all the security, they are still using the same car passes now. So we have had the IRA, Islamic fundamentalism, 9/11, bombs on the underground and buses, and they are still using the same passes on the Mall—so they tell me.

Anyway, to get back to the Bill—[Hon. Members: “Yeah!”] I know they didn’t really like those stories anyway and we have only got a couple of minutes left. What I wanted to say is that I have always taken the view that the royal family cannot be regal and common at the same time. I thought when television came in they wanted to appear regal on the one hand but also to be like “Coronation Street” people on the other. So they got on the telly and they were playing those games and all the rest of it. I think that the Queen was badly advised. She should have kept control of them. If I had been on the advisers list, I would have told her that. But I wasn’t. I know that Charles wanted to meet me one day, and that Nicholas—well, whatever seat he stands for, he sits over there—who was a friend of Charles, said to me, “Charles wants to speak to you”. I said, “Why?” He said, “He thinks you’re very interesting.” I said, “Why, has he stopped talking to plants?” [Interruption.] It’s a friendly remark!

Anyway, I believe that at that time support waned quite remarkably. I think it is a bit higher now, but I still believe it is not the 90-odd per cent. that some people imagine it. It is more like 60:40. I do not accept either that the Queen does not have powers. I was here in 1974, during the strike and the “miners’ election”, when Heath said, “You either vote for me or you vote for the miners.” The truth is that Labour won a marginal victory. We had a tiny number of seats more than the Tories.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. This is going to come as a great disappointment to you, Mr Skinner, but you cannot talk this Bill out because at 6 o’clock, I am going to put the question. If you could now refer specifically to the Bill, we would be grateful.

Mr Skinner: I know I have talked out several Bills in the past, but I did it by moving a debate on the writ for the Brecon and Radnor by-election and the Richmond by-election and all the rest of it. But now you have stopped me doing it, Mr Deputy Speaker. What I have to say is that here we are at a time of welfare reform, inflation and all the rest of it, and suddenly, in one day, the House of Commons changes its whole attitude and says, “We’ve got enough money. The royal family need more to live on.” And what does it do? It votes for it. Well, if I can find another teller, I’ll be voting against. Thank you very much.

5.59 pm

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): I am not sure whether I have more trepidation when I follow the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob

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Rees-Mogg) or when I follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner). It is slightly ironic that we are having this debate in one of the royal palaces, and perhaps we should recognise the contribution that the royal household makes to the upkeep of some of the rather expensive parts of this building. It is probably worth reflecting on some of the more turbulent debates that the House has had with the royal family about their financing over the centuries—

6 pm

Debate interrupted (Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair ( Order, this day ), That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

Business without Debate

Draft financial services Bill (joint committee)

Motion made,

That this House concurs with the Lords Message of 21 June, that it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider the draft Financial Services Bill presented to both Houses on 16 June (Cm 8083).

That a Select Committee of six Members be appointed to join with the Committee appointed by the Lords to consider the draft Financial Services Bill presented to both Houses on 16 June (Cm 8083).

That the Committee should report on the draft Bill by 1 December 2011.

That the Committee shall have power—

(i) to send for persons, papers and records;

(ii) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House;

(iii) to report from time to time;

(iv) to appoint specialist advisers; and

(v) to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom.

That Mr Nicholas Brown, Mr David Laws, Mr Peter Lilley, David Mowat, Mr George Mudie and Mr David Ruffley be members of the Committee.—( James Duddridge.)

Hon. Members: Object.

sittings of the House (19 July) (No. 2)


That, on Tuesday 19 July, the House shall meet at 11.30 am and references to specific times in the Standing Orders of this House shall apply as if that day were a Wednesday.— ( James Duddridge.)

Business of the House (18 July)


That, at the sitting on Monday 18 July, the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of the proceedings on the Motions in the name of the Prime Minister relating to the appointment and pay of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England not later than one hour after their commencement; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; proceedings may continue after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.—( James Duddridge.)

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Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Land Registration

That the draft Land Registration (Network Access) (Amendment) Rules 2011, which were laid before this House on 7 June, be approved.—( James Duddridge.)

Question agreed to.

European Union Documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 119(11)),

Draft EU Budget

That this House takes note of European Union Documents No. 11779/11 and No. 11775/11 relating to the preparation of the EU Budget, and an unnumbered explanatory memorandum dated 27 May 2011 from HM Treasury on the Statement of Estimates of the Commission for 2012 (preparation of the 2012 Draft Budget); recalls the agreement at the October 2010 European Council that it is essential that the European Union budget and the forthcoming Multi-annual Financial Framework reflect the consolidation efforts being made by Member States to bring deficit and debt onto a more sustainable path; notes that in spite of this agreement the Commission’s proposal has come at a time of particular austerity in domestic budgets across the EU; agrees that the 4.9 per cent increase in payment appropriations proposed for 2012 by the Commission is therefore unacceptable; notes that UK contributions to the EU budget have also risen in recent years due to the 2005 decision to give away parts of the UK rebate; supports the Government’s objective to deliver the terms of the language secured by the Prime Minister’s December letter that the growth of European public spending must be consistent with the considerable efforts made by the Member States to bring their public spending under control and that action to curb budget growth in 2011 should be progressively stepped up in 2012; and so supports the Government in seeking significant savings to the Commission’s proposals across all headings and its strenuous efforts to limit the growth of payments to below inflation.—( James Duddridge.)

Question agreed to.

Privacy and injunctions (joint committee)


That this House concurs with the Lords Message of 27 June, that it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider privacy and injunctions, including:

(1) how the statutory and common law on privacy and the use of anonymity injunctions and super-injunctions has operated in practice;

(2) how best to strike the balance between privacy and freedom of expression, in particular how best to determine whether there is a public interest in material concerning people’s private and family life;

(3) issues relating to the enforcement of anonymity injunctions and superinjunctions, including the internet, cross-border jurisdiction within the United Kingdom, parliamentary privilege and the rule of law; and

(4) issues relating to media regulation in this context, including the role of the Press Complaints Commission and the Office of Communications (OFCOM);

That the Committee should report by 29 February 2012;

That a Select Committee of thirteen Members be appointed to join with the Committee appointed by the Lords;

That the Committee shall have power—

(i) to send for persons, papers and records;

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(ii) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House;

(iii) to report from time to time;

(iv) to appoint specialist advisers; and

(v) to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That Mr Ben Bradshaw, Mr Robert Buckland, Philip Davies, George Eustice, Paul Farrelly, Martin Horwood, Eric Joyce, Mr Elfyn Llwyd, Penny Mordaunt, Yasmin Qureshi, Ms Gisela Stuart, Mr John Whittingdale and Nadhim Zahawi be members of the Committee.—(James Duddridge.)


High Speed Rail

6.2 pm

Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con): I wish to present a petition.

The Petition of residents of South Northamptonshire and others,

Declares that the Petitioners are strongly opposed to the proposed High Speed Railway; declares that the Petitioners believe it to be a massive waste of money; declares that it will destroy miles of beautiful countryside, thousands of homes and villages; and further declares that there is no business case or environmental case for this railway and upgrading existing rail networks is a better alternative.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reconsider its support for the proposed High Speed Railway and support the upgrading of existing rail networks.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


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Early Intervention

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mr Vara.)

6.3 pm

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Early intervention not only requires no new net public expenditure, it is also the biggest deficit reduction programme that we have. If we implement it properly, it will produce results beyond the Chancellor’s wildest dreams. We need to change our default public expenditure culture, which is one of late intervention, to one of early intervention. Late intervention is expensive and not very effective. Early intervention, by contrast, is inexpensive and highly effective.

I shall give the House an example. Delivering the intensive health visiting service of the family nurse partnership to 115 teen mums and their babies in my constituency costs about the same as putting three 16-year-olds in a secure unit for a year—an average of two of whom, incidentally, will reoffend. Family nurse partnership services delivered in the first years of life can reduce the number of arrests at the age of 15 by 80%. So dealing with several hundred individuals and doing so effectively costs roughly the same amount as failing to deal effectively with three young people, 16-year-olds, later on in life.

Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con): The hon. Gentleman and I are in huge agreement on this subject. Does he agree that more than 80% of long-term prison inmates suffer from problems that stem back to early infant attachment?

Mr Allen: Indeed, and the costs are absolutely enormous and continuing. They continue through the generations, whereas one effective early intervention costs only for the one occasion, does not need to be repeated and proves to be very effective.

I make many recommendations in my recent report for Her Majesty’s Government, “Early intervention: Smart Investment, Massive Savings”. The ones I would particularly like to talk about tonight involve the Treasury. I ask the Minister for her first thoughts on these recommendations. I am very grateful for the assistance I received from the Chancellor, the whole Treasury team and, indeed, Treasury officials—and, above all, from the Minister herself. She helped me in various ways—although the faults in the report are entirely my own—to make the second report a practical and pragmatic programme of work rather than a flight of fancy.

There are no magic bullets. This is all about a practical, long-running and consistent effort to try to bring social and emotional capability to our babies, children and young people, which will repay us over and over again throughout the life cycle, as we avoid the costs associated with drink and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, a lifetime on welfare benefits, educational underachievement, and so on and so forth. That benefit can come from just a little bit of early investment.

The key relevant recommendations to the Treasury concern the comprehensive spending review; rebalancing central Government spending from late to early intervention; a Whitehall task and finish group, which I shall talk about; a serious proposal for departmental

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payments, introducing a payment-by-results system effectively across Whitehall; liberating our local authorities so that they can be our partners in pursuing early intervention policies; and using the 2012 Budget to incentivise early intervention investment. I propose to look at each of those in turn.

First, I have suggested that the Treasury consider theming the next CSR around early intervention. The usual cross-departmental effort that goes in ahead of every CSR should be directed at early intervention across all Departments. That includes the research programme and the evaluation, which should be used to assess what is being spent on early intervention by Departments, thus providing a baseline from which we can judge the costs, benefits and potential savings to taxpayers from early intervention policies and programmes.

This CSR preparation should also include commissioning long-range surveys, studies and longitudinal programmes so that we can add daily to the evidence base for early intervention and its role in saving massive amounts of taxpayers’ money from being captured by the long-term costs of failure. Above all, doing this in the CSR will symbolise the Government’s approach and the switch in philosophy to give strong signals to Departments throughout Whitehall and indeed in local areas. We will thus be demonstrating that we are moving from talking the talk to walking the walk.

I want to put on the record that it is evident from the discussions I have had with all parties and with all party leaders, including the Prime Minister, that there is a very strong desire to move—incrementally, admittedly—across this divide between our typical, traditional late intervention policies and early intervention. This is not just to save money; it will also help to make good many of the social failures that arise because we do not tackle problems early enough and let them get rooted before we start to invest money in them—often too little, too late.

The second issue is the rebalancing of funding in Departments. It is easy to demand big switches of financing from one place to another, but that is a pipe dream that we did not entertain in the report. What we did consider was the fact that we have spent billions of pounds, decade after decade, often with only marginal impacts on, in particular, the social and emotional capabilities of babies, children and young people, especially those in poorer areas and constituencies such as mine. We discussed how we might push back the spending and personnel juggernaut of late intervention, and start to invest, gently and incrementally, in early intervention.

A great deal of evidence was given to my inquiry. One of our proposals is a gentle shift—within departmental budgets, and involving no extra money—from late to early intervention. Following discussions with Departments, I propose—modestly, I hope—not a top-slicing of budgets to a pooled early intervention fund run by one Department or another, but a slow, incremental migration of funding, within existing budgets, from late to early intervention. I proposed that it should amount to just 1% a year, which is incredibly modest. It would be possible to move such spending slowly and relatively easily, and no additional spending by Departments would be required.

In education, for instance, an obvious way of using an existing function, organisation or budget head would be through the early intervention grant itself, which currently amounts to £2.2 billion. That would be a good

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home for the start of a transition from late to early intervention. Similarly, £55 billion is spent on children and children’s services in the United Kingdom. A minor adjustment, in percentage terms, made incrementally on an annual basis could begin to shift us from the costs of failure to investment in the success of our babies, children and young people.

The Department of Health, the Home Department and the Ministry of Justice already have machinery for such an incremental change. They run prevention programmes of various sorts, all of which could be steadily and progressively geared up. Such a reorientation of internal spending could also provide some of the resources needed to pay investors for the outcome-based contracts to which I referred in my report, and about which I shall say more later. It could be described as payment by results.

I also propose the establishment of a task and finish group. This may sound an internal, dry subject, but in preparing my report I discovered that although tremendous work is going on throughout Whitehall in different Departments, it is not always joined up; it does not always connect. People do not always know what the next Department is doing, for one reason or another. That is not a criticism of anyone working in those Departments or on those programmes—on the contrary, I was very impressed by the way in which all Departments set about their work—but it is a criticism of the fact that no Governments have co-ordinated such action to the level that I would like to see, a level that would add value if people all worked together.

I have suggested that the existing Cabinet Social Justice Committee should be given more teeth, and that it should have a task and finish group—perhaps with an independent chair, but that is a matter for Government to decide—which could offer an independent eye, and promote Government change via the Committee. Through consistency, long-termism and progress-chasing, it could achieve, through Whitehall, some of the important objectives and milestones that the Government may choose to set in the early intervention strategy that I proposed in my report.

Such a group should, as a matter of course, report to all party leaders to maintain what I hope is the helpful benchmark that has been set of establishing this as a non-party issue. I am delighted to pay tribute to those Members of all parties who have taken this issue so seriously, and the fact that the three main party leaders have kindly said good things about both the first and second reports underlines my belief that this is a non-party issue. Indeed, they have supplied quotes, expressing embarrassingly kind sentiments about the philosophy of early intervention, for the back page of each of the reports. What we now need to do is make a practical proposition, and I hope we can put into effect my recommendation of establishing an effective task and finish group.

Another Treasury-oriented recommendation is our proposal about the Treasury, Departments and local areas introducing a proper payments-by-results system, so that benefits can accrue to central and local government for investing in the right package of policies and getting external investors interested in this field. Central Government need to play a role in co-commissioning, or co-paying for, the outcomes set by local areas. Her Majesty’s Treasury and other Departments would therefore

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need to work at putting in place methods of accounting to ensure that future payments based on successful local outcomes are honoured. It is obviously a matter of great concern that local authorities feel, rightly or wrongly, that if they are successful they will be penalised by the withdrawal of other grants or financial assistance. When drawing up the contracts and talking to local authorities about this issue, we need to make it clear that their payments will be honoured when they reach the endgame of the payment-by-results exercise.

In my report I have outlined a number of areas where local authorities have an important role to play. I do not have time to go into them now, but one that would bear examination is the possibility of looking again at issuing a capitalisation directive to councils that will perhaps allow up to £500 million of early intervention spending to be capitalised, provided that it is funded through the local bond market. If one accepts, as the Government and the main political parties now seem to, that early intervention represents an essential investment in human capital for future generations, there is a strong case for allowing local authorities to finance that by using money in the same way as they would to finance a bridge or a building.

The final recommendation that the Treasury may want to think about now that my report is in the public domain is to do with the 2012 Budget and whether the Treasury can assess properly the possibilities of incentivising early intervention investment. It was clear from my review that tax incentives would be a popular and effective way of incentivising early intervention and social investment more generally. The possibility of creating a market in social investment and social finance is a prize indeed, and if we manage to create a social finance market within, perhaps, 10 years, that will be a measure of our success.

Of course everyone would like to have an incentive. I did not see it as my role to provide a set of demands to which Government had to say yes or no. However, I would like there to be a serious exercise before the Budget, so that the Government examine all possible ways of sucking into early intervention investment philanthropic, ethical business and retail investors and wholesale investors. That would be extremely helpful. I will say no more than let us learn from the creativity in other countries, such as tax credits in the Netherlands and Australia, and money to contribute to social impact bond payments in the USA. The US President has introduced rule changes so that money can be committed over longer periods than is commonplace in public contracts.

In conclusion, the Treasury often says, rightly, that having less money can drive us all to be more creative and to challenge the old ways and the old rules. One of the threads in the report is that this should apply equally to Government thinking, and to Treasury thinking in particular. Money is scarce, so ideas on how better to spend existing public funds should be encouraged and new sources of funding should be incentivised. Due diligence, which is commonplace in the private sector, should now be used at all levels of government to question the comparative costs of wasteful, late intervention versus early intervention alternatives. Levels of savings to be achieved should be an integral part of all public

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investment calculations. Short-term cuts that jeopardise massive long-term returns should, of course, be avoided. Rules and methods of working established in a different era, in a different public expenditure environment, need to be reviewed.

If we can do that, and if our friends in the Treasury can take some of these proposals seriously—as I know they would, as they made a strong contribution to my review—we will be on the verge of changing the spending culture in our country, moving from wasteful, expensive spending when problems are deep-seated to pre-emptive and preventive spending to help babies, children and young people develop the social and emotional capability that will see them realising their potential in the same way as we want to see our children realising theirs. This is an important field. In many ways, it is a slow burner, not one that heralds dramatic change. This is a field in which there must be a serious commitment to change public policy on behalf of all parties. If we do that, not only will the benefits to those children be immense, but the repayments to the taxpayer will be massive.

6.22 pm

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Justine Greening): There are a number of Adjournment debates that I might have a chance to respond to as a Treasury Minister, but of all of them, this is probably the one in which I would be most keen to participate. The hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) has done a great deal of work in an area that for many years was debated on moral grounds—“What’s the right thing to do?” That was absolutely right, but his contribution has been to say why it is in everybody’s interest to address these issues and, in particular, to focus on early intervention. That work will have longevity in this place and beyond. Indeed, I think that I speak for Members across the House when I pay tribute to the work that he has done, not just in contributing to this Government’s policy, but in the years prior to that.

The hon. Gentleman talked about some of the recommendations in the recent, second—and final—report on his review of early intervention. As he knows, we are still looking at those recommendations. I shall not pre-empt the conclusion, but I want to emphasise one thing. He said that he hoped that Ministers would take those recommendations seriously, and I can absolutely assure him that we do. In the time left, I shall try to respond to as many of his points as possible, but I have no doubt that in the weeks, months and perhaps even years to come, we will continue to debate these issues both inside this Chamber and outside it.

I agree that the case for investment in preventive services is clear. As the hon. Gentleman set out in his speech and in his review of early intervention, there is a clear argument. That argument shows that the more that we can do in government and the more that those working with children can do to intervene earlier, the more likely children are both to reach their full potential, as he said, and to develop well both socially and emotionally. Not only are the costs of not doing so significant for them as developing people, but there are financial costs for the rest of society, as he pointed out, including in local communities. So the costs of not tackling these issues are significant and they do contribute to an ongoing negative cycle.

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The hon. Gentleman discussed just some of the examples in this area. Let us consider that of children on the edge of care. A three-year study of multi-systemic therapy at the Brandon centre in Camden, which he is probably aware of, has shown that cost savings ranged between £1,200 and £8,900 per family intervention, in addition to there being a reduced risk of offending and family conflict. Data from 10 of those multi-systemic therapy pilots for children on the edge of care or custody indicate that, by the end of the intervention, custody or care was avoided for 90% of children who had been at risk of those outcomes. Of course, children who avoid care are more likely to succeed academically, and are therefore more likely to earn more and lead more fulfilling lives. That is just one example of how powerful early intervention approaches can be.

I want to discuss public spending, because the hon. Gentleman talked about the next spending review being based on the theme of early intervention and said that, in preparation for this, the balance of central Government spending should be shifted by 1% per year from late to early intervention. One of the things that I want to say to him is that in the year and a bit that I have spent as a Treasury Minister I have found that the key to this is something that may seem boring but actually becomes incredibly important. He talked about the need for an evidence base, and I think that he has created that with the work that he has done, as has some of the work carried out in other countries. One of the challenges for the Government is to ensure that we have a good internal evidence base on where our money is being spent.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the children and families taskforce that was set up by the Prime Minister, which informed some of our spending review. One of the exercises involved looking at where the portfolio mix of spend currently is, for example, on early years provision. That was not perhaps as easy a task for us as it ought to have been. One of the key things that the Treasury is now doing is progressing what seemed like mundane “accountantesque” projects, such as putting in place a chart of accounts and upgrading the Combined Online Information System—COINS—database so that it is actually one that we can use to analyse data. The “themes” that the hon. Gentleman describes are part of a broader challenge the Government face in understanding where the money is going; we need to understand our normal items of spend and the aim of them. That will give us a chance better to join up the oversight across spending as it happens in different Departments.

I talked about the Prime Minister’s children and families taskforce and in the 2010 spending review we did allocate significant resources to support early intervention. The hon. Gentleman talked about the value of the family nurse partnership programme. We are recruiting 4,200 health visitors and expanding that programme. Of course we have also established the early intervention grant. In doing so, we intend to signal the importance of this agenda that we all care about so much. We have committed to maintain a network of Sure Start children’s centres and, as he knows, to expand the free early education entitlement to disadvantaged two-year-olds. We are also putting in place other measures such as the fairness premium. I hope that we will be able, perhaps in a more sophisticated

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way, to understand where Government spending is going in relation to early intervention and some of the complex aspects of early intervention. I hope that the projects that we now have running across government should give us a much better chance of doing that as we approach the next spending review. As the hon. Gentleman proposes, we will continue to push on that within the Treasury and across government to make sure that we do understand the costs and benefits of different policies and programmes, both individually and collectively.

One thing that he referred to less in his speech, but which is important, is coming out of the work on early years and that is the need to continue investment. Once initial investments are made, they should be followed up with the individual.

I know that I am going to run out of time, but I want to mention community budgeting and the need to consider budgets from the perspective of the individual who receives the services rather than constantly considering them in silos. We want to address that.

The hon. Gentleman talked briefly about tax measures and he is right to flag up that we should not lose sight of the fact that much of the early intervention agenda has involved money transfers. For us, one challenge is considering how that money is invested, whether we have alternatives and how some of the services and programmes he talks about stack up in terms of value for money for the public and those who receive them when set against some of the more traditional methods we have used, such as income transfers between families, the Government and individuals.

The agenda is very exciting and I know that the Government will have the chance to respond to the hon. Gentleman’s second report. I look forward to taking forward some of his suggestions and developing them.

Mr Allen: Does the hon. Lady realise that she might have three more minutes and that the debate does not need to stop at 6.30pm? I know she has further notes prepared.

Justine Greening: I did not realise that. I am delighted because it means I will be able to get through a few more of the comments I wanted to make.

As I mentioned briefly, the agenda is not just about money but about the quality of public services delivered on the ground. The hon. Gentleman talked about joined-up government and we must focus more on that. Community budgeting will help as will stopping ring-fencing at local authority level, but there are broader challenges in how we knit together national and local government policy at that local level. The work he is doing could feed into some of those thoughts.

Just the other week, on 11 July, we published our “Open Public Services” White Paper, which set out the Government’s vision for excellent services. The principles that we have set out of choice, decentralisation, diversity, fair access and accountability will start to open up local authorities’ ability to deliver services more innovatively. The contribution to this agenda made by the charities and organisations we all come across—perhaps the hon. Gentleman more than other Members—will be better able to be made with a more open approach to public service delivery than we have perhaps had in the past.

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I also want to talk briefly about a couple of other aspects. The hon. Gentleman talked about the independent foundation he wants to set up and we very much welcome that as it can play an important role in this whole process. He also mentioned the use of innovative financing mechanisms and he was absolutely right. Again, that is one of those boring but important aspects of the agenda. We need to unlock Government financing so that it

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does not hinder the right projects. He also mentioned payment by results, which is one thing on which we are keen to push ahead across government.

I can see that I have now run out of time—

6.33 pm

House adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 9(7)).