|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I normally expect advice on litigation problems from those with experience in the law, so I accept what the noble Lord has said in that there may be some difficulties. However, we do not anticipate great difficulties in this respect. The panel is conducting its affairs entirely
13 Dec 2006 : Column 1522
Lord Harrison: My Lords, while recognising the absolute need for independence of the panel in choosing the site of the first casino, would my noble friend nevertheless reacquaint himself with the regeneration needs of Blackpool? It is important for it to have a new lease of life and to have the casino placed there.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, all Ministers are well acquainted with the regeneration needs of various parts of the country, including Blackpool, but my noble friend will recognise that it would be premature of me to specify any one area for undue consideration at this time. In fact, that is not within my power and it would not be particularly fruitful, given that the independent panel will make its recommendation.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, as consideration is being given to protecting children from the effects of gambling, has any attempt been made to work out whether the costs of dealing with the numbers of problem gamblers that are anticipated as a result of what is planned will be more or less than the costs and benefits of setting up these casinos?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, that is an important question, which reflects our debates during the passage of the Gambling Bill. Both Houses would have passed that Bill only if we had been reassured that the issues of problem gambling had been properly addressed. I reassure the noble Baroness that these matters are very much to be balanced against the regeneration advantages of the casinos. The bidders are well aware of the provisions of the Gambling Act in that respect.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, a strong and balanced intellectual property system is in the interests of the UKs creative industries. The Government have committed to take forward those recommendations of the Gowers review for which we are responsible, including a package of measures to improve enforcement of copyright, giving Trading
13 Dec 2006 : Column 1523
The European Commission will be reviewing the matter. The Treasury has been driving the review, despite the fact that two other government departments are involved and the DCMS sponsors the creative industries. What plans does the DCMS have for a proper consultation on the recommendations of the Gowers report? Will it consult the public, who have a crucial interest, the creative industries and other interested parties?
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I answer for the Government, not any particular department, at the Dispatch Box. The term of protection for sound recordings and performance rights is harmonised at European level, as the noble Lord has recognised. As such, it is a matter for the European Commission. That is why the recommendation on the term is made to the Commission. I understand that the Commission plans to consider the issue of term in the forthcoming year as part of its programme of work, so at this stage it has made no recommendations to consider. The Gowers analysis will, however, inform UK participation in relevant European discussions and negotiations.
Lord Winston: My Lords, I declare an interest as the holder of a number of patents in a spin-out biotechnology company at Imperial College. Is the Minister aware that, on average, it costs about three times as much to apply for a patent in Europe as it does in the United States? Furthermore, translations into the respective languages are required. How soon can we expect the implementation of the Gowers reviews recommendation that the establishment of a single-Community patent should be expedited by negotiations in Europe?
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I am aware of those issues; they were covered in the Gowers review. The report is fresh off the press, and departments are considering it and formulating a detailed action plan to cover those areas for which the Government are responsible, including the point that my noble friend makes.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, the important Gowers review urges the Government to urge the Commission to amend Directive 2001/29/EC. One of the reviews recommendations is to allow an exception for creative, transformative or derivative works. Another is to deal with orphan works. I am looking, for example, at pages 68 to 71 of the report. Will the Government heed those recommendations and seek to put exceptions into the directive to benefit
13 Dec 2006 : Column 1524
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, for some time now the Government have recognised the problems experienced by anyone who wants to use a work whose rights holder cannot be identifiedan orphan work. One of the key problems is that permission is needed to make any copy of certain work. Across the spectrum of the creative industries, it is recognised that solving the problem of orphan works would be good for everyone involved. A solution would benefit all those involved in archiving and cataloguing; all those creators who use older works to create new value; those whose work is restored and may benefit from remuneration from a new source; and consumers. The Government take this issue seriously.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, there are 54 recommendations in the Gowers review. Some apply to the UK Government; some do not. Obviously, a range of departments are involved, and a whole load of processes will need to be followed to take those recommendations forward. Some will need primary legislation, some of them secondary legislation, and some will just need action within departments. Determining the proper process depends on which precise recommendation one is looking at. This Government have a strong record of consultation on legislation and secondary legislation, which will doubtless continue in this case.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, with the leave of the House, in a few moments we shall take the Statement on child maintenance, but I need to say a word about the timing of the debates thereafter. Two debates will come immediately after the Statement; first there is the Second Reading debate on the Further Education and Training Bill, and after that comes a European Union Committee report debate. There are a total of 38 speakers in those two debates. Obviously, we do not know when we put the business down how many people will sign up to speak. If the Back-Bench contributions to those two debatesI do not distinguish between themwere around eight minutes each, we would finish at around 11 pm.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to make provision about the energy rating of residential properties on the market; to make provision about energy efficiency and microgeneration; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
Moved, That Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Monday 18 December to allow the Consolidated Fund Bill to be taken through its remaining stages that day.(Baroness Amos.)
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The Statement is as follows:Mr Speaker, with permission, I should like to make a Statement on the future of the child maintenance system.The Child Support Agency was set up to tackle a failing system of court-administered child maintenance. Despite the best efforts of its staff, the CSA has, however, never properly fulfilled its mission, and its failings have been obvious and apparent for some time. That is why earlier this year I asked Sir David Henshaw to advise on a fundamental redesign of the child maintenance system. In July, we accepted
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement made not so long ago in another place. I am most grateful, too, for the short conversation that we had this morning. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has not been responsible for the CSA for very long but already he has been extremely active on its behalfor, perhaps I should say, on behalf of parents with care who are not receiving financial support for their children from the absent parent.
Alas, all the trials, tribulations and reforms that the agency has been through have not resolved the position of this failed organisation. We all know about the disastrous record of the CSA, and recent DWP quarterly reviews make sombre reading indeed. The most recent change has been the outsourcing of the investigative powers of the CSA. This is far from enough. I should be grateful, therefore, if the Minister
13 Dec 2006 : Column 1529
The new scheme has not proved to be working any better than the original one, and the initial administrative reforms suggested by Sir David Henshaw are clearly insufficient to make much of a difference. Were the Home Secretary suddenly to become the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, he would surely say that the CSA was not fit for purpose. The Minister will doubtless not use those words, but I agree that the only logical thing to do is to scrap it and start again.
Certainly, the best solution of all is for the separated parents to come to their own financial arrangements, so I agree that the new commission should come into play only when that does not happen. The state will know that only when it is told, so application by the parent with care is essential.
I understand that the White Paper proposes that the formula of 20, 15 and 10 per cent will remain in place, but the assessment will be made on last years gross income as recorded by Revenue and Customs. However, the problem remains of extracting the relevant money. It is suggested that bank accounts be accessed directly by the commission and/or that wages be withheld. I am sure that there will be a strong reaction to that, as we will have to be absolutely sure that the commission has made the right assessment in the first place. The history of the CSA does not give me any confidence that that will be so. Am I right that currently only the courts can authorise such action?
Many of the parents with care are on state benefits, and I should like to know how many there are in the current and expected caseload. As the average payment is currently around the £22 level and the Minister told me this morning that there is no disregard on old cases, that makes an enormous difference to parents income. I am therefore glad that this is to be extended to them.
However, I am afraid that I cannot be so complimentary on the subject of birth certificates. The noble Lord tells me that 7 per cent of parents do not have both parents names on the certificate. I do not think that many of the 7 per cent will want to have the fathers name on it and, anyway, what help will that be? Absent parents moveperhaps to a different county, abroad or whereverand I should not have thought that a name alone would be of much use in tracking them down. Whenreferring directly to the Statementwould it be unreasonable for both parents not to have their names on a birth certificate?
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|