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Lord Stallard: My Lords, does the Minister accept that those in the DSS are not the best people to evaluate the information which the noble Earl seeks? It is quite common knowledge outside this House among people who consider such matters, including people who are in the midst of crime or who are its victims, that disentitlement to benefit is high on the list of causes of crime, together with the effects of television and living on some of our housing estates. Those in the DSS are not the only people who should be evaluating such things. Indeed, in my view, the DSS is not the body which should do that. The Minister should be considering more scientific methods. Perhaps the police and the courts can help. Certainly, agencies other than the DSS should be involved.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, people become disentitled to benefit for a number of reasons. They may have found employment or they may have had employment while claiming benefit. They may have other income or their circumstances may change. Disentitlement to benefit takes a considerable number of forms. It includes people who do not, for example, take up the offers of YT places that are made to them. If such people become disentitled to benefit they have a way of re-entitling themselves to it; that is, by accepting the job prospects or YT prospects that are on offer.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, the Minister has indicated that he has a considerable amount of information on these matters from a number of sources and that the Government have made a number of judgments. Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will publish their judgments, supported by the necessary facts to which, apparently, they have unlimited access?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, for most of the past Session I have been not only publishing but explaining the Government's judgments on a range of Department of Social Security policies. We also produce statistics. One important statistic relating to 16 and 17 year-olds is that 72 per cent. of 16 and 17 year-olds in England are in full-time education today compared to only 49 per cent. in 1979.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, does not the Minister agree that the large amount of legislation we have had, which has resulted in reducing entitlement to benefit (the Jobseekers Allowance Act is the most recent example), will undoubtedly mean that more people will come off contributory benefit and go on to means-tested benefit? In view that, should we not know what happens to such people if they later become disentitled to means-tested benefit? Surely we should know the result of legislation which we pass in this House.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, as I have already explained, such things would be extremely difficult to quantify and research. Perhaps I may say also that anyone who becomes disentitled to, for example,

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the jobseekers allowance has become disentitled because of a deliberate decision that that person has taken—either not to take the jobs on offer or not to take the YT course on offer. It is not the Government or the taxpayer doing the disentitling, it is the people involved disentitling themselves by not obeying the entitlement criteria.

Earl Russell: My Lords, the Minister recently drew my attention to the Government's reply to the Social Security Select Committee of another place which says that it is a Treasury instruction to other departments that they should consider the cost to the DSS of their measures. Is it an instruction to the DSS that it should consider the cost to other departments of its measures? If so, is it obeying it? If it is not, why not?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, when in the DSS and elsewhere in government we are considering proposals for change we attempt, as well as we possibly can, to quantify the costs and savings which may arise from those changes. Indeed, in the course of the four pieces of legislation I have brought before your Lordships' House this year on a number of occasions—a great number of occasions some of your Lordships may feel—I have expanded on those costs and savings.


3.31 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.45 p.m. my noble friend Lady Blatch will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on prison security: the Learmont Report.

Liaison: Select Committee Report

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

If your Lordships agree to the Motion, the Committee of Selection will meet shortly to put forward members for the ad hoc Committee on Relations between Central and Local Government. Thereafter, a further Motion will be tabled to appoint the committee. I hope therefore that your Lordships will feel able to accede to the Motion.

Moved, That the Second Report from the Select Committee (HL Paper 89) be agreed to.—(Viscount Cranborne.)

Following is the report referred to:


    1. The Liaison Committee recommends that the proposed ad hoc Committee on Relations between Central and Local Government should have the following terms of reference:

    To consider the relationship between central government and local authorities in Great Britain; and, in particular, to consider—

    (1) the balance in that relationship between the powers exercised at central and local level;

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    (2) the effect of that relationship on local authorities' activities, particularly as regulator, service provider and community leader;

    (3) the need for regulation of local authorities as a means of ensuring appropriate standards of service and value for money, and the forms such regulation should take;

    (4) the financial relationship between central government and local authorities including the extent to which financial independence for local authorities is desirable and practicable.

    The Committee also recommends that the Committee on Relations between Central and Local Government should be invited to make its report to the House by the summer recess 1996.

    2. We also recommend that Lord Houghton of Sowerby's Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Bill should (if re-introduced) be referred to a Select Committee, which should report within three months of its appointment. Thereafter, we recommend that a further ad hoc Committee on the Public Service should be appointed, on which we will report further.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby: My Lords, I am very happy to support the Motion. Paragraph 2 of the Liaison Committee's report gives me great satisfaction, so I am well behind the report just for that purpose alone, although there are some other very ambitious projects within it.

All I need say, apart from expressing a word of thanks to all concerned for the favourable way in which they received my submissions, is that the procedural steps to be taken, which are referred to in paragraph 2, are already in hand. The timetable for them has already been fixed. I hope to get the Second Reading of the Bill over before Christmas, and thereafter the reference to the ad hoc committee mentioned in the report. I am very happy about that and I hope that the committee to be appointed immediately after Christmas can do a satisfactory job and finish its job. I am much obliged.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, with the permission of the House, I should like to pay tribute to the persistence of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. It gives me great pleasure to be able to move the Motion, if only because I think the way that he has reminded your Lordships of the importance of the subject—which he has brought before your Lordships many times—has been recognised by the Liaison Committee.

I should like just to remind your Lordships that the Home Affairs Select Committee of another place has now decided that it too would like to conduct an inquiry into the operation of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. There is a tradition in your Lordships' House—I believe that it has been observed in another place—that it is not always expedient for two similar inquiries to be conducted in both places simultaneously. I feel guidance of that kind is to be honoured, of course, purely in practical terms, and I should be perfectly happy, with your Lordships' permission, to be guided by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. If he would prefer this committee to continue, despite the inquiry which the committee in the other place is also conducting, I would be perfectly happy to see that happen. On the other hand, if he would prefer to withdraw it, I am equally happy. The respect with which the noble Lord is viewed in this House must make it his choice rather than mine.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Bill [h.l.]

3.35 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 7 [District court: jurisdiction and powers]:

The Lord Advocate (Lord Rodger of Earlsferry) moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 5, line 32, leave out ("not").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the amendment corrects an error in the consolidation. The amendment, and all the other amendments which I have to move this afternoon to this Bill, as well as to the Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, have been seen by the Lord Chairman of the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who has indicated that he considers that the amendments do not alter the character of the Bills as consolidation Bills. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 26 [Bail: circumstances where not available]:

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