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Lord Avebury: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, is he in a position to calculate how many temporary stopping places will be provided out of this money, and whether he will compare that with the 2,000 places which Pat Niner said had to be provided?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I regret that I do not have that statistic in this document. I shall certainly find out and let the noble Lord know. However, it is important to return to the point I made about the Pat Niner research: that the Government understand that the research is needed and will use this to develop a sustainable policy. With such a significant statistic as the one mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, it will be very difficult to ignore.

The ultimate answer to homelessness is to have an adequate number of authorised sites for gypsies and travellers in which to camp. We have gone some way to improve the situation through the gypsy site refurbishment grant. However, central Government can only go so far. We must therefore have the input and co-operation of local authorities in order to provide these sites for the gypsy and traveller community. That touches on an important point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, about the relationship between central and local government in this matter. That is an extremely interesting issue.

The Government continue to issue clear guidelines to local authorities of their need to provide both permanent and temporary site provision and to give gypsies and travellers, who either reside in or pass through their areas, proper sites to live in. Obviously these sites should have the basic amenities. Such provision would help reduce the level of unauthorised camping and encourage good practice and social inclusion by local authorities.

Until an adequate number of authorised sites are made available, gypsies and travellers have little choice but to camp in undesirable/unauthorised locations. So this problem is fully understood.

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I have been asked where the Government stand in regard to our new guidance on managing unauthorised camping. I am pleased to announce that the Government are on track to issue this document later in the summer. I would like to take this opportunity to assure noble Lords that the new guide is not just about local authorities and police services evicting gypsies and travellers from unauthorised sites, it is about understanding the causes of unauthorised camping and developing effective strategies and identifying proportionate responses to them. The guide has been informed by those agencies that have experience of unauthorised camping at the local level and includes the views of gypsy and traveller representative groups.

While the new guide is geared towards addressing the small number of disruptive and unsettling encampments that impede upon the lives of other gypsies, travellers and local residents, it will also set out good practice standards to enable local authorities—obviously that good practice is not needed in Essex—and police services to be more aware of the needs of gypsies and travellers.

The guide will strive to address the wider issues of unauthorised camping and adequate site provision, and the need for local authorities to put in place integrated, balanced and consistent policies and strategies. Local authorities, in implementing such policies, will have a better understanding of the gypsy and traveller way of life and the needs of the local community.

Before moving on to education, I would like to say a few words about homelessness legislation. As I have just two minutes left, they will be a very few words. The Government are committed to tackling homelessness. That is why we are taking forward a challenging new approach which focuses as much on the problems homeless people face as the places they live. This approach was set out in our March 2002 publication More Than A Roof.

One aspect of this is a strengthening of the homelessness safety net, including implementation of the homelessness provisions of the Homelessness Act. One of the most important provisions of the 2002 Act is the new requirement for local housing authorities to adopt a homelessness strategy based on a review of homelessness in their district. This must be a strategy for preventing homelessness and ensuring that accommodation and support are available for people who are homeless or likely to become homeless.

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So among other things they will need to take into account the needs of gypsies and travellers who are likely to become homeless in the district and include an analysis of whether existing site provision is adequate.

In the final minute I wish to move on to education. I am really sorry that I do not have more time. I agree with everyone who said that this is an absolutely crucial area. As we know, the Department for Education and Skills has, since 1997, continued to fund the Traveller Education Service. From April the grant was merged with other small grants to form the Vulnerable Children Grant, a funding increase from 3l million to 84 million, for which all LEAs are eligible. It is to support a coherent strategy for a range of locally identified vulnerable children including those from gypsy and traveller families.

There is a matter of good practice which has already been mentioned that all schools should be following. Many schools are doing that, particularly those with minority ethnic pupils, including gypsy travellers. All schools under the specific duties outlined in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 are required to have in place a written race equality policy. Schools are also required to have arrangements to assess the impact of their policies on pupils, parents and the staff with different racial backgrounds, including the gypsies, Roma and travellers of Irish heritage.

Resources are being allocated in one important area: better data on school registration, attendance and achievements of gypsy and traveller children. We are recognising the importance of collecting this data as the key to addressing school attendance issues. The DfES has invested 11.25 million for electronic registration systems in secondary schools with higher rates of unauthorised absence.

I conclude on education by stressing again that we feel, as do other noble Lords, that investment in education for the gypsy and traveller community is an absolutely key issue of the highest importance. I am sure that this Government are committed to interesting and exciting initiatives in this area.

I thank everyone who has taken part in this debate. I have found it extraordinarily interesting. I hope that some of what I have said will enable your Lordships to leave the Chamber encouraged that this Government are determined to help the disadvantaged people we have been talking about this evening.

        House adjourned at a quarter past nine o'clock.

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Official Report of the Grand Committee on the

Railways and Transport Safety Bill

(Second Day) Thursday, 5th June 2003.

The Committee met at a quarter before four of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Carter) in the Chair.]

Clause 77 [Professional staff on duty]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 33:

    Page 32, line 32, at end insert ", and

(d) a professional harbour master acting in accordance with his duties"

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 33, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 34. We touched on the issue briefly at Second Reading. Clause 77(1) states that the provision relates to a professional master of a ship, a pilot of a ship or a seaman while on duty.

If one compares that with those who are described for aviation functions in Clause 93(1) on page 40, one will see that there it is a much longer, more detailed list. Rightly, the Government believe that aviation needs to be more subscribed because it is more complicated. The list includes, for example, engineers, maintenance engineers and so on.

However, included in Clause 93 are air traffic controllers. At Second Reading, I suggested that harbour masters should be included, too. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said that it was a different job. Anyone who has been into a modern control room of a large harbour will know that it resembles an air traffic controllers' office. It has a similar function and is equally as complicated and computerised.

If we are to have restrictions on alcohol for masters of a ship, their pilots and seamen, at least we should ensure that those who are responsible for making sure that ships are going in the right direction, entering and leaving harbour and parking in harbours, if "parking" is the right word—I am sure that my noble friend will correct me if I have used the wrong nautical term—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: "Docking".

Viscount Astor: "Docking". Thank you. I had not realised that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, was such an accomplished sailor or that he had expertise in sailing vocabulary.

Amendment No. 34 is a probing amendment. I want to know whether small passenger vessels carrying people for a fee—be it four, five or six people—around

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a harbour are covered by the Bill. If not, should they be covered? If they are, I am unhappy with the Bill as it stands. This is a probing amendment. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: We on this side of the Committee are happy with these two amendments. However, Amendment No. 34 would benefit from a little expansion. There are usually two watchkeepers on board a vessel; one is on the bridge and the other is in the engine room. It is important that the engineering watchkeeper should also be free of drink.

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