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Frankly, I do not understand the point about reporting. Every inspection will be reported upon under the government amendment. It is left to the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice to choose whether to publish single reports or three or four reports in the same week. We should leave that to the professional in charge. Why should we be so prescriptive? I repeat that we are discussing voluntary bodies. I understand the underlying argument and the suspicions regarding people who run such bodies, but those people are responsible for the governance and can voluntarily say, “We would like to be accredited and therefore enter the inspection regime”. If that is the case, they will be inspected. Therefore, one cannot compare that arrangement with that for the other bodies mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Trimble. The government amendment gives the chief inspector power to inspect. We are leaving that up to the inspector. He will report, he can make unannounced inspections, reports will be published and everyone will be able to see what is going on.

Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, perhaps I may clear up one matter. When I said that I was “taken in”, I was not accusing the Minister. I was remarking on my gullibility. I have the utmost respect for him, but my frame of mind was such that I was easily hypnotised by his tremendous powers.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the noble Lord is an old softie and I withdraw any criticism of him; it was just the way he started his speech.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, can the Minister say whether, in situations in which a duty is placed on the chief inspector, there is any implication regarding the number of inspections or anything of that sort that would be elided by the discretionary “may” in the amendment?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not think that that is the case. I gave an example of the inspector reporting on four schemes which would come under the same umbrella, but there is no limit to the number; it is up to the chief inspector. There is no question but that each inspection will be reported on. The question is whether the reports are made singly or whether the inspector chooses to make a report containing the results of more than one inspection. We leave that to the inspector. I do not think that there is any argument that, by implication, inspections will be made and then reports will gather dust for months because someone says that more than one must be put together. That is not the intention at all.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, I am sorry; that is not the point that I was concerned with. I accept entirely the point about reports being made once inspections are carried out, but I was interested to know whether the duty imposed on the chief inspector to inspect some of the criminal justice agencies, to which the noble Lord referred, implies that they should be inspected at a particular interval or anything of that sort. That seems to be the Minister’s argument against a duty being placed on the chief inspector to inspect these schemes once accredited. We are talking about inspections being made not before the schemes are accredited but once they are accredited, and my noble friend wishes to make it a duty on the chief inspector to inspect.

I understood and followed perfectly the noble Lord’s introduction and I hope that I was not particularly taken in—I certainly would not have expected to be. I understood him to say that, because a duty would be imposed by my noble friend’s original amendment, that would imply a need for the chief inspector to inspect these organisations at particular intervals and would thus limit his discretion. I should have thought that the discretion afforded by the government amendment would allow the chief inspector not to inspect a particular accredited organisation if he thought that the right thing to do, whereas the argument seemed to be that the duty implied a particularly inflexible timescale in relation to inspections.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I am sorry; I misunderstood the noble and learned Lord. In this respect, the noble Lord’s amendment to the government amendment would create a statutory duty on the inspector to regularly inspect all schemes. My interpretation of that is that all schemes would have to be inspected at the same interval; otherwise, the inspector would be vulnerable to legal challenge. If, while diligently carrying out his work, he decided, as a risk base, that some schemes needed to be inspected more frequently than others—that is the important point—then, under the amendment, he would be constrained to report on all schemes with the same regularity. We think that, frankly, that is a step too far.

There is no question but that all the schemes will be inspected. They will be pre-inspected for accreditation and thereafter they will be regularly inspected at the chief inspector’s discretion and each inspection will be reported on. We are simply saying that the inspector should have the discretion to inspect some organisations more frequently than others, based on whether there is a complaint, whether risks are found or whether the people running them change. The inspector has the power to carry out those inspections unannounced. We are saying that the inspector should not be required, as implied in the amendment, to inspect all the schemes that have been accredited with the same regularity. The lawyers are having a field day today and I am just piggy in the middle but my advice is that, if the inspector does not do that, he will be vulnerable to legal challenge because he will not be carrying out inspections with the same regularity, and we think that that would be unreasonable.

3.30 pm

Lord Trimble: My Lords, following on from the debate about the word “regularly”, I think that the Minister has given a very inflexible and rather unusual interpretation of it. Going by normal usage of the word, I do not think that there would in any way be the degree of inflexibility that he complains about. Even if he is still worried about that, he might like to turn his attention to Section 47 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, which is the legal framework that the Minister in another place, Mr Goggins, said would be assimilated under his amendment for the inspection of community restorative justice schemes. Section 47 says:

there is that word “must” again—

The phrase “prepare a programme” clearly indicates not the inflexible regularity that the Minister thinks of, but a regularity that can be tempered with regard to what is being inspected and the appropriate circumstances for it. I do not think that the word “regularly” carries the weight that the Minister attaches to it.

Furthermore, the 2002 Act makes it clear that the inspector can draw up a programme. If that section were to apply to the inspections under the criminal justice scheme, there would be no difficulty. I am not sure whether it does or does not at the moment, because it is not clear to what extent the general provisions of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, which regulate the actions of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate and other matters, will also apply to the actions of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate with regard to inspection of community restorative justice schemes. In any event, the Minister’s point is not well taken.

I have some sympathy with what the Minister says about the publication of reports. My concern when I saw the phrase “from time to time” was—and the Minister made the point precisely—that the Northern Ireland Office, which for various reasons is sometimes suspected of having too much tenderness towards the concerns and needs of paramilitaries and not enough concern for the safety and rights of citizens, might be tempted to let some embarrassing reports lie gathering dust for a long time. If that concern can be met in other ways, I shall not stand in the way.

I want a clear duty to be placed on the Criminal Justice Inspectorate with regard to the carrying out of inspections of accredited schemes. That is important because, as I said when proposing the new clause, it will greatly strengthen the hands of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate. That is the only safeguard that we have with regard to these novel adventures, which we know carry risks. It is for that reason and because I am not satisfied with the—

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the noble Lord can do as he pleases with his amendments and seek the opinion of the House, but I am duty bound to put on the record the position of Ministers in the other place. Section 47 does not provide for regular inspections. Therefore, we do not think that the two can be compared. The Minister in the other place said—the noble Lord referred to this—that they had tried to use the framework for what the inspector does in that respect and to transfer that over as far as possible to the framework of an inspection process of what are voluntary, not statutory, bodies.

Section 47 speaks of a planned programme of inspection under Section 46, but the point is that the inspections in this case are in response to the applications from the bodies. We are not dealing with like situations. Parliamentary counsel tried to make an understandable framework, but we are dealing with bodies that, in effect, will not be inspected unless they request it. That is the position, so we are not comparing like with like.

Lord Trimble: My Lords, I am sorry to say that the Minister’s first point is untenable. To say that there is a duty on the inspector to report and to draw up a programme for inspections, but that there is no regularity, is untenable.

On the Minister’s second point—I am glad that he mentioned this, because I forgot to deal with it in my earlier comments—the voluntary issue is a red herring. Yes, the schemes are drawn up not by employees of the state but by other groups, but these bodies come to seek accreditation. There would be absolutely no difficulty in saying to those bodies that they must agree to regular inspections as a condition of the accreditation. I do not see that the voluntary character, in so far as there is a voluntary character, affects the issue at all. If they come seeking accreditation, they can be required—as the guidelines require them—to be inspected before they get accreditation. I do not have the guidelines to hand, but it is implicit in them that there should be inspections after accreditation, so the Minister’s point on that is also bogus. That being the case, I have no option, particularly in view of the support offered to me in various places, other than to test the opinion of the House.

3.35 pm

On Question, Whether the said Motion (No. A1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 109; Not-Contents, 122.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Cobbold, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cotter, L.
Crickhowell, L.
De Mauley, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dykes, L.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erroll, E.
Ezra, L.
Freeman, L.
Fritchie, B.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
James of Blackheath, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lindsay, E.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
McAlpine of West Green, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
McNally, L.
Mar, C.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Palmer, L.
Ramsbotham, L.
Redesdale, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Needham Market, B. [Teller]
Seccombe, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tanlaw, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Tonge, B.
Tordoff, L.
Trimble, L. [Teller]
Tyler, L.
Vallance of Tummel, L.
Verma, B.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Warnock, B.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Windlesham, L.


Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B. [Lord President.]
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Best, L.
Borrie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Bradley, L.
Brookman, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chester, Bp.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Davidson of Glen Clova, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Desai, L.
Drayson, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Ford, B.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Giddens, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haworth, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kerr of Kinlochard, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Laming, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Marsh, L.
Maxton, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Moser, L.
Murphy, B.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Pendry, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Puttnam, L.
Quin, B.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Strabolgi, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Winchester, Bp.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

On Question, Motion A agreed to.


3.47 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My Lords, with permission, I should like to repeat a Statement made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State on the planning system. The Statement is as follows:

“With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the planning system.“This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, one of the great civilising reforms of Attlee’s Government. That Act laid the framework for a planning system that has helped to create thriving towns, protect our most beautiful countryside, and ensure green spaces around our cities. Its adaptability has been key to years of success: further reform will help ensure its success for the future.“Today, we face significant and growing challenges that could not have been imagined 60 years ago: from climate change and globalisation to energy security in an uncertain world. If we are to meet these challenges successfully, planning must be part of the solution. In its current form, it is simply not up to the task. “Both Kate Barker, in her review of land use planning, and Sir Rod Eddington, in his review of transport infrastructure, have highlighted the shortcomings of the planning system. First, an inaccessible and sometimes baffling system makes it hard for people to have their say on issues which can have a big impact on their quality of life. Too often it favours the well resourced over the less well-off. “Secondly, decision-making can be painfully slow, causing costs and prolonged uncertainty that are in no one’s interests—not those of individuals, communities or developers. Thirdly, where good and necessary development is held up, it can mean society missing out on the reliable transport, secure energy, clean water or public amenities that we all need.“The costs of not acting are clear, and will only grow more acute in future: energy shortages, mounting congestion, loss of jobs and a worse quality of life. Indeed, an effective planning system is vital for delivering government policy across a wide range of areas. “The White Paper that I am publishing today sets out a series of proposals to meet the challenges of the future and continue to reform the town and country planning system. The White Paper represents the result of close working across Government. I am presenting it to Parliament today together with my right honourable friends the Trade and Industry Secretary, the Transport Secretary and the Environment Secretary.“Let me first address the proposals on how we take decisions about major infrastructure, such as transport, environmental, waste or energy projects—everything from roads to reservoirs, to power plants and wind farms. “The system for taking these decisions has grown up piecemeal over decades, with complex, unwieldy and overlapping rules. Some developments have to get approval under a number of different pieces of legislation, and make numerous separate applications. We need a simpler system to respond to the challenges that we face. The White Paper will ensure that decisions are taken in a way that is transparent and timely, and that achieves the right balance of interests. “There are three key elements to our proposed new procedures for national infrastructure projects. First, Ministers will issue national policy statements about the infrastructure that the country needs for the next 10 to 25 years. Those statements will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and intense public debate, making sure that people have early input into the formulation of the policy, rather than rehearsing the same arguments over and over in different local inquiries.“Secondly, we are replacing the numerous and sometimes overlapping ‘consent regimes’ for major infrastructure projects with a single system. This will provide a far clearer and more accessible application process than at present.“Thirdly, we propose to create a new, independent infrastructure planning commission. This will bring together experts from key sectors, including planners, lawyers, environmentalists and communities. Guided by the national policy statements, the commission will oversee the planning inquiry process on specific major developments and take the final decisions on whether they should go ahead. It will listen closely to local concerns, and where it approves an application, it will be able to specify measures to mitigate the impact on a local area. It will be accountable to Ministers and to Parliament for its performance. We believe it will bring greater objectivity, transparency and accountability to the decision-making process.“Some interest groups promote a false choice between speed and public engagement. Our reforms will achieve both, providing opportunities for better public engagement at every step in the process. There will be public engagement in the formulation of the national policy statements, at the scheme development stage, and during the inquiry process. We are backing this up with a new legal duty for developers to consult the public. Consultation must not be a box-ticking process, but a genuine opportunity for local people to have their say in shaping the places where they live. In addition to this, we are increasing resources for bodies such as Planning Aid, helping more communities and individuals to get access to free professional planning advice. “As well as new procedures for major infrastructure projects, the White Paper outlines measures to improve the town and country planning system. Kate Barker’s report recognised the progress that had been made in recent years to speed up the system and make it more effective. But it also stressed the need to reform further for greater flexibility, responsiveness and efficiency. Our White Paper responds to these recommendations. “Our aim is to create a level playing field that better integrates economic, social and environmental objectives. We will do this by building on the success of the plan-led system, with sustainability at its heart. New planning policy statements on economic development and climate change will clarify the national policy on these vital issues. We will also streamline our planning policy documents to devolve where appropriate to local decision-makers. “We will continue to promote prosperous and thriving town centres. Our ‘town centre first’ policy has been a real success, with over two-fifths of retail development now in town centres, compared with just a quarter in 1994. It will remain in place, but there is scope for it to be more effective still. The current ‘needs test’ can sometimes be a blunt instrument. In future, we will require a better assessment of how new developments will affect town centres, including the impact on high streets and local shops. Development outside the town centre should not go ahead where it will have a detrimental impact on the town centre. We are also reaffirming our commitment to the fundamentals of green belt policy. It has served us well for 60 years, and will continue to do so in the future. “It is vital that planning plays its part in tackling climate change. We will make it easier for householders to reduce their fuel bills and carbon footprint by installing small-scale renewable technologies such as solar panels. In addition, building on the progress made on new homes, my honourable friend the Minister for Housing will work with industry to deliver a significant reduction in carbon emissions from new offices and shops.“We are strengthening the role of local government in planning. We want to enable local authorities to use planning increasingly effectively as a tool to achieve their vision for their area. We will continue to work with partners, including the Local Government Association and the planning profession, to improve performance. With this growing local expertise we aim to devolve further decision-making to local communities and to reduce the number of town and country planning cases called in by the Secretary of State. “Our reforms will make town and country planning applications more efficient. We will make it easier for people to make minor improvements to their homes, such as building conservatories or small extensions, while continuing to protect the interests of neighbours and local communities. This will enable councils to focus resources on the genuinely difficult cases. We will both simplify planning applications and speed up the appeals system. “Our reforms will be good for citizens, who will have greater opportunities to have their say at every stage in the process, and the chance to make minor improvements to their homes more easily. Our reforms will be good for communities—supporting sustainable and vibrant town centres, and helping to create safe and healthy places to live. “Our reforms will be good for business, with greater certainty about the national policy framework to encourage investment and faster decisions on developments. Our reforms will be good for the country, with better access to reliable transport, secure energy, clean water supplies and better local amenities. Finally, our reforms will put climate change and sustainable development where they belong—right at the heart of the planning system. “Our proposals build on Attlee’s legacy and give us a planning system fit for the 21st century. I commend this White Paper to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.56 pm

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for making the Statement. I would have found it easier to respond if I had had sight of it more than a quarter of an hour before I came into the Chamber. None the less, it is clearly important. It builds on the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, part of which was left in abeyance. Most of the Statement is about major planning infrastructure and involvement with that.

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