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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, there is no question but that we expect government departments to be good employers for disabled people. The recommendation that we followed was contained in the life chances report issued by the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit. More money is now being made available from the Access to Work scheme for small businesses. It is right to expect that government departments will take on responsibility. There is no reason whatsoever to doubt that they will do so and that disabled people will benefit from it.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, the concern of the disabled lobby is that there may be a disincentive to the government departments to continue employing people for whom they have to make this extra payment. How many payments have the Ministers department shed and passed on to government departments? How many were claiming? Is there a breakdown according to each government department? These figures would be extremely valuable in assessing the future position and seeing whether there has been a disincentive.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, there is no question of a transfer to other government departments, because the money released will be used to finance more schemes for small businesses. It is quite within the capacity and baseline funding allocations of those government departments to fund schemes from now on. I have a provisional breakdown of the numbers involved per government department, which I am happy to place in the Library and send to the noble Baroness. Overall we think that there are about 239 posts, but they are provisional.
It is worth making the point that there has been a huge expansion in the resource for this excellent scheme, from £14 million in 1997-98 to £62 million in 2006-07. The Government are right behind the scheme.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, that is a very important question. It goes back to the point raised by my noble friendthat if we are to increase the number of people coming off incapacity benefit into work, it is essential that employers ensure that posts are offered. As part of taking that work forward, we shall keep a close watch on what is happening within small employers. But I have no doubt that in the context of welfare reform and the new provisions in disability discrimination legislation that came in last yearin terms of public authorities, they are due to come in in a few weeks timethere will be greater provision for these programmes in future.
Lord Addington: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, whatever happens with this schemewhichever way is most efficient when the money is moved aroundwe shall not know unless we have
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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I hope that it is not a best kept secret. As part of the arrangements for transferring responsibility, officials in Jobcentre Plus have been in close contact with other government departments to ensure that the changeover will be as smooth as possible. Of course, we shall keep this under review; the responsibilities of each government department under the Disability Discrimination Act will in any case ensure that the matter is monitored. If there are found to be problems, I shall be absolutely determined to ensure that my department looks into them.
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Ashley for raising this important issue. Will any central government funding strategies be put in place specifically to counter disincentives to employing disabled people and to incentivise departments of state that are capable of doing very much more?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: No, my Lords. We have increased the overall funding to the Access to Work programme to £62 million for 2006-07, which is a huge increase. I do not believe that central government departments need additional funding. They should be quite able to take on this responsibility within their own baseline expenditure.
Lord Swinfen: My Lords, the Minister gave a long answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, but did not actually answer her question. How is the information to be gathered from small and medium-sized businesses?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I said that as part of taking forward the welfare reform programme we would keep under review the progress made in relation to the employment of disabled people by small businesses. A variety of methods will be used. It is impossible to give the methodology in great detail. Because of the importance of small businesses taking on responsibility in relation to disabled people and employing them, it will be vital for the success of the welfare reform strategy.
Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, one trade union described this change of policy as devastating. That trade union believes that local management will not be prepared to pay for very severely disabled people. How does my noble friend respond to that?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I do not think that it will be devastating. We have already been in contact with each government department, and I do not think that there will be problems. I assure my noble friend that if there are problems such as he identified, my department will be very quick to
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, we have recommended approval for licences to these destinations. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national export licensing criteria and prevailing circumstances at the time of application, including the human rights situation and the existence of tensions or armed conflicts in the recipient country. A licence will not be issued if it is considered inconsistent with the criteria. Details of all export licences granted to all destinations are available in the quarterly and annual reports on strategic export controls.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, the Government deserve congratulations on securing a UN resolution in favour of an arms trade treaty, but what will be done in the short term to prevent British exports from reaching the wrong hands whether by brokering, lack of end-use control or other forms of abuse? How do the Government account for the granting of export licences to China in 2005 for nearly £70 million worth of armaments, given that at that time an EU arms embargo was in force? Surely that must be a breach of criteria.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, the Government believe strongly that the assessment of any proposed export should be made at the time of applicationthat is, before the export goes aheadand that that is the best way to ensure that exports are not diverted or misused. That is the system that has been used and it has been found to be pretty robust. Plainly, we would intervene if we learnt that any of its terms were broken. I understand the point that the noble Lord makes about exports to China, but in that year exports to that country were refused under the criteria on 13 occasions. It is my belief that the criteria are robust, otherwise there would not have been those exclusions.
Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, while I accept that the Government have taken a commendable international lead on this matter, will my noble friend confirm that over the past 12 months some £4.5 million worth of armoured military vehicles and communications equipment have been licensed for
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Lord Triesman: My Lords, I paid a visit to Colombia recently and saw the use that is made of the equipment that we have provided. It is used in two forms: in demining exercises and in the attempt to control the movement of narcotics. I went on exercises for both those functions. The use of that equipment to remove mineswhich was discussed only a few moments ago in your Lordships Houseand to attempt to stop the pervasive flow of narcotics is absolutely right and in this countrys interests.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, has the Minister noticed that, in addition to the list of countries given by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, his own departments human rights report lists exports going to Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe? Does he agree that those are undesirable clients by any standard? If the initiative at the UN on an international arms trade treaty mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is to go forward, will the Minister reassure us that it will enable us to filter out some of these unpleasant destinations?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, it would certainly be highly desirable to filter out those kinds of destination; I have no disagreement with that at all. I would want the treaty to make a very real difference and to stop the irresponsible movement of arms globally. It is clear that the flow of small arms is one of the major factors fuelling the disastrous regional wars in parts of the world, the ones in Africa being those with which I am most familiar.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, what proportion of cluster munitions used by British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were manufactured in this country and what proportion were imported from elsewhere?
Lord Avebury: My Lords, is this not perverse? The set of eight criteria that the Minister mentioned in his initial Answer appears to severely constrain the export of arms to the countries mentioned in the Question. At the same time, however, we are paying 500 civil servants a sum of £15 million per year to promote arms exports and to bend the rules wherever they can. Then, after sales have been achieved through the benefit of corrupt payments to people in the recipient countries, we pay expensive lawyers in the Serious Fraud Office to prosecute wherever they can.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, the development, manufacture and export of arms are a perfectly legitimate part of the United Kingdoms manufacturing and export industries.
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Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, would my noble friend confirm that, contrary to the impression given by some of the noble Lords opposite, the present Government have tightened up the criteria for the export of arms? While I completely understand the Question from the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, it is a bit hypocritical coming from a Conservative spokesman, even one as nice as the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I wholly agree. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, is very niceI may have damaged him fatally by saying so. The primary legislation was introduced by this Government under the Export Control Act 2002. The EU consolidated arrangements for national export licensing criteria work under that rubric. We have better control than we have ever had before. I suspect that that is welcomed by all those who do not want to see the wrong arms in the wrong hands for the wrong purposes.
Moved, That, if a Crossrail Bill is brought from the House of Commons in the next Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session or in the Session 2004-05, shall be deemed to have been complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session.(Lord Davies of Oldham.)
Lord Grocott: My Lords, before we begin on the Armed Forces Bill, it might be helpful if I indicate how I think things might proceed later today. The Order Paper states that we are expecting a message from the Commons on the NHS Redress Bill. The Commons are scheduled to finish their consideration
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The noble Lord said: My Lords, as I said on Report, I have some sympathy with the concerns of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, about the complexity of the drafting of the offence of desertion. I said that I would have one last look at this, with a view to simplification. I hope that these amendments make the clause simpler and more comprehensible to the layman. In that respect, at least, I hope that it achieves what the noble and gallant Lord and others have been seeking. The amendments do not, however, alter the fact that we have made this offence much narrower than in the current service discipline Acts. It may be best if I explain the effect of the amendments.
We have not altered what comes within the definition of active service but, I repeat, this is much narrower than in the current Acts. On the meaning of active service, I make it clear that it covers peacekeeping operations. Where there is armed opposition, it would be covered under subsection (3)(a) operations against an enemy. Subsection (3)(b) would cover peacekeeping where there is no enemy.
Secondly, we have removed subsection (5). The outcome is that there are two ways to commit the offence of desertion: to go absent without leave with the intention of remaining permanently absent, for which the maximum penalty can be two years imprisonment; or to go absent without leave to avoid a period of active service, for which the maximum penalty is life.
The clause is better. It will allow servicemen fully to understand what amounts to desertion and, importantly, which type of desertion will attract the more serious maximum penalty. I pay tribute to the noble and gallant Lord for his persistence in this matter and I urge noble Lords to accept the amendment. I beg to move.
Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, the Minister has said that he believes that the wording of the clause is now better. I entirely agree and I thank him very much for the co-operative and extensive trouble that he has taken to ensure that we get an agreement on this particular and important clause.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, we also support the amendments. I thank the Minister for taking on board all the points that have been made on all sides of the House, not least by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig.
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