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The noble Lord said: My Lords, this regulatory reform order is brought forward under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its purpose is to permit the Museum of London to operate a museum anywhere within the confines of Greater London, rather than within the limits of the City of London as the current law requires. That will make it legally possible for the Museum of London to merge with the Museum in Docklands, which is at West India Quay, outside the current geographical limit of the Museum of London's operation.
 
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The impetus behind the order came from concerns, expressed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, about the financial viability of the Museum in Docklands as an independent institution. The HLF, which invested £11.8 million in the project, considered that the museum's business plan and the management structure in place were inadequate to run the museum. It concluded that the Museum in Docklands would require the operational strength of the Museum of London in order to be successful. It was agreed that the best way to secure the financial position and long-term stability of the Museum in Docklands was for a merger to take place between it and the Museum of London. The governing bodies of both museums formally approved plans for a merger in March 2003.

We consulted extensively on the regulatory reform order. From the responses received, it was fully supported. The House will wish to note that the original cost savings calculated by the Museum of London to flow from the merger were overstated and have been revised. Estelle Morris has written to the chairmen of the Regulatory Reform Committees in each House to inform them of the revision. The Museum of London has assured my officials in writing that its funds are sufficient to take over and maintain the Museum in Docklands.

The order, if approved, will mean that the HLF's investment and a further £3.14 million invested by the London Docklands Development Corporation will have been saved, and the Museum in Docklands—a museum that has already opened and is having a positive impact in the local community—will be allowed to continue.

I thank the members of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for the way in which they responded to the unfortunate fact that we gave them inaccurate figures in the first place. I am glad that they have seen fit to agree that the order should go forward despite that original error. I am satisfied that the draft order is compatible with convention rights. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft regulatory reform order laid before the House on 6 May be approved [18th and 22nd Reports from the Regulatory Reform Committee].—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

Lord Sandberg: My Lords, what the Government are doing is obviously very sensible, but why was the museum confined to the City of London in the original agreement? It seems absurd.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, as the Minister said, the purpose of the draft order is to amend Section 4(1) and (2) of the Museum of London Act 1965 to allow the Museum of London to maintain and exhibit its collections within the limits of Greater London, rather than within the limits of the City of London as the current law requires. That will allow the Museum of London to merge with the Museum in Docklands, situated in the Docklands area of London at West India Quay.
 
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There is no question but that we on these Benches want to do all that we can to support the financial viability of the Museum in Docklands. We therefore welcome the order. I also join the Minister in thanking those who have allowed it to go forward, notwithstanding the error in the figures for the cost savings. I was given the revised cost savings and accompanying information this morning by the Minister in another place, Estelle Morris, for which I am grateful.

Viscount Falkland: My Lords, we on these Benches think the general purpose of the order entirely sensible. By introducing the order, the Government seem to have laid the foundations of the possibility of greater success, not only for the Museum of London but in the general area of museums. It makes perfect sense that the Museum of London and the Museum in Docklands together can increase the attraction of both museums.

The Minister mentioned the business plan and management structure of the Museum in Docklands. In the commercial world—in the private sector—on such projects when the business plan has proved unsuccessful in producing the results expected, there is always a temptation to cut down as many staff and overheads as one can to get the books straight. That is an approach based purely on accounts.

The Museum in Docklands is a very good idea, and with the proper talent and direction—one gets it so often in museums and galleries nowadays in Britain, I am happy to say—there is every possibility that it will be extremely successful. Indeed, I think that I am right in saying that it has already been nominated for a European museum of the year award. I am entirely optimistic about its income stream and that it will see a significant increase in years to come, not least because of the arrangements in the order.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am again grateful to noble Lords for the welcome that they have given to the order. I was asked why there was the original restriction to the City of London. The answer is that half the funding comes from the Corporation of London, which takes a share in the management and clearly had an interest in the museum being local to it. However, it is entirely content that the merger should take place and with the order for that purpose.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Carers (Equal Opportunities) Bill

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

The Bill carries the hopes, aspirations and prayers of millions. It is a simple Bill, yet one which can profoundly influence the lives of more than 6 million carers—people who have been shunted out of circulation into the confines of homes, sick bays and impoverished environments. There has been a scandalous, historic disregard of people
 
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whose lives revolve around giving themselves to others. Now the Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons by Hywel Francis and passed all its stages there, aims to change carers from neglected appendages to valued personalities, enjoying full human rights.

There is a roll of honour of politicians who have initiated legislation to help carers, which includes Malcolm Wicks and my noble friends Lord Carter, Lord Pendry and Lady Pitkeathley. Her special qualities are partly explained by her 10 years' experience as chief executive of the Carers National Association—although there is no simple explanation of why she is so very special. There is only one Lady Pitkeathley. The legislation with which they were associated was the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000. Those were valuable steps forward, but it was not until this Bill that we had proposals to help the carer as a whole person, rather than solely as a carer. This is the vital aspect of the Bill.

I wish to express my appreciation of Carers UK which has been exceptionally helpful with its expert knowledge and guidance throughout. But today the main honours go to Hywel Francis and his wife Mair, carers for over 16 years of their son Sam who had Down's Syndrome and who tragically died some seven years ago. Inspired by Sam, they associated themselves with the carers' cause and this fine Bill is the result of that. The hope has been expressed that it should become known as Sam's Bill and, given the all-party support that it has enjoyed, I am sure that all noble Lords would respect that wish and ensure that it soon becomes knows as Sam's Act.

I can think of no better memorial than an Act of Parliament which benefits 10 per cent of our population, some 6 million carers; an Act which enables carers to enjoy equal opportunities, denied to them at present; an Act which guarantees carers comprehensive information about their rights, denied to them at present; and an Act which enables carers fully to develop their lives and individuality, denied to them at present. These would be big gains for people who hitherto have been big losers. With such an Act on the statute book they could pursue their vital caring role while simultaneously exercising their rights and developing their training, employment, education and leisure, instead of merely being adjuncts to the disabled or old person. Of course the needs of the old and disabled person are of tremendous importance but the acknowledgement of that fact can and should go hand in hand with provisions for the carer as a whole person. There is no conflict. In fact, meeting the needs of carers contributes to making them better and happier carers. The two are complementary not contradictory.

I would like briefly to explain the main points about each clause. Clause 1 deals with one of the most basic and troublesome problems facing carers—lack of information. Carers are simply not receiving the help, guidance and assistance that they so desperately need, and the main reason is that they are unaware of what is available or what they are entitled to. That is an astonishing state of affairs. In the Commons debate on
 
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the Bill, the MP for Banbury, Tony Baldry, said that 98 per cent of typical carers in a typical local authority area told him that when social services did not have a clear statutory responsibility to assist, no one explained any of their rights to them. No one gave them information about taking a break. No one from social services told them how to look after a relative or friend coming out of hospital. No one offered to explain community care legislation to them. Carers rights were never explained to them. That is why I believe that social services need to be under a statutory obligation to do that.

Further evidence of the problem comes from Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, who said that,

People who are denied information about rights are effectively denied those rights. For the many people with the heavy responsibilities of caring for old, frail or disabled people, such a denial is devastating. The need for the Bill stems from the lamentable experience of millions of carers in England and Wales and the personal experience of Hywel and Mair Francis. It is time for action.

Clause 1 sets us on the way and I am confident that this and the other provisions of the Bill will transform this deplorable state of affairs. On the basic issue of information, Clause 1 would amend the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000. It would ensure that when a local authority is assessing a disabled adult or child it would have to inform the carer of their rights to an assessment of their needs. Although guidance indicates that carers should be informed of their rights, the Social Services Inspectorate report states that carers are not routinely offered an assessment. Clause 1 will ensure that they are.

Clause 2 would amend the same two Acts as Clause 1 and ensure that local authorities must amend their assessment procedures so that they incorporated issues of work, training, life-long learning and leisure. Thus we would see a transformation in the way carers are regarded—not before time, they would be seen as individuals rather than ciphers. Instead of simply "helping carers to care" this clause could help to signpost carers to new training courses and guide them back to work—and 80 per cent of carers are of working age. Some 80 per cent of carers would wish to return to work if they could, according to Carers UK. At present, assessments and provisions for carers are provided to enable them to care. The clause helps to change the ethos from assessing carers only on their ability to provide care, to perceiving them as people with full entitlements to a rounded life.

Clause 3, regarding carers' assessments, would also amend the two Acts mentioned previously and ensure that a specific local authority could request the help of any local authority, local education authority, or housing authority, to assist in the planning of carers' services. That would deal with the lack of joined-up policies and would secure co-operation for services to
 
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both the disabled person and the carer. It would prevent carers falling between half a dozen stools, thus replacing confusion with co-operation. Fewer things are worse than for a perplexed person to be shuffled from pillar to post by, say, social services and health organisations each not knowing what the others are doing. There is a powerful case for co-operation.

The other Clauses 4, 5 and 6 are standard ones and include the financial provision and short title. Altogether, the Bill, which has enjoyed cross-party support and has laudable aims combined with practical policies, will enrich the statute book and the lives of millions of carers. It has the support of over 300 national and local organisations and their hopes now rest with this House. I am sure they will not be disappointed.

If I may, I should like to add just one further comment. If the House sees fit to pass the Bill, it is vital that it should be fully implemented. We all know that some Acts lie dormant because they are moribund and ignored. As a warning example of what can happen, Tom Clarke, a longstanding friend of disabled people, complained in the House of Commons that an Act that he initiated as long ago as 1986—the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act—was only half implemented now. We want none of that nonsense with this measure. We want instant and continuous implementation. It would be incredible that someone doing so devoted a job as caring for a disadvantaged person should be denied the information about benefits or available support. That would be incredible and indefensible. But I trust that this Bill will be a vibrant piece of legislation which will indeed transform the lives of millions of hard pressed carers. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Ashley of Stoke.)


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