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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, by 2012 there will be a slight difference in transport links between Paris and London, and Cumbria and London. We intend that the benefits from the Olympic Games, from tourism and the cultural Olympiad, should be spread right across the United Kingdom. Strenuous efforts are being made to ensure that 2012 is a significant date for the whole nation not just London.

The Earl of Glasgow: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the British tourist deficit 10 years ago was £4 billion and has now fallen to £18 million? Is that not a good reason for the Government to take tourism even more seriously? Now is the perfect opportunity to appoint a senior Minister to be devoted solely to tourism.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I indicated, the Government have a good record on tourism and show their commitment to it as a priority. Whatever the department’s name and whoever its Ministers, its activities cannot bear fruit for the population of the United Kingdom without also embellishing the United Kingdom as a tourist Mecca for others.

Viscount Brookeborough: My Lords—

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, we must move on. We are into the 24th minute.

Olympic Games 2012: Security

11.28 am

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the Government are committed to supporting the police and other agencies in providing a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. The Home Secretary has appointed an experienced assistant commissioner to co-ordinate the development of the security arrangements for the Games. Planning and preparations are proceeding. Plans will change and develop over time in response to changes in the security situation. At present, there are no plans for an Act of Parliament specifically on Olympic security.

Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that response. Has a decision yet been made on the budget figure for the security provision? Will he confirm that the organisation that takes responsibility for overall security provision will have total control of, and accountability for, the budget?

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, Tessa Jowell announced on 15 March that the overall budget for the Olympics includes an allocation of some £600 million for wider security issues. The current allocation is subject to continuing oversight and scrutiny in the light of developing security assessments made by the Government and the Olympic Security Directorate.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said that a new Act of Parliament may be required to deal with security at the Olympics. It is not a question of simply waiting for the Olympics; what happens between now and then is very important. Is the Minister satisfied that existing legislation is adequate to deal with the security situation? If not, will he arrange cross-party consultation so that we can co-operate in trying to bring forward legislation that will bring the security question high up on the Government’s agenda?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his offer of co-operation on this matter. This is something in which we all have an investment. Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur has made it clear that, if the Metropolitan Police requires new legislation, that would be discussed with the Government and proposals would be brought forward. At this stage, the advice is that it does not think that we require additional legislation, but we need to keep these things under continuous review. As soon as views are made known on that, we will bring them forward and make announcements as appropriate to this House and another place.

Lord Jopling: My Lords, is the Minister aware that at the Athens Olympics NATO played a major part in securing the arrangements? Is he also aware that when I made inquiries of NATO within the past month about what discussions had gone on with regard to the 2012 London Olympics I was told that there had been no discussions or approaches whatever? Is this not a rather dilatory omission?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not know that it is a dilatory omission and I cannot agree with the noble Lord’s assessment. I am sure that at the appropriate stage, if the assistant commissioner thought that it was right to involve broader security forces, he would make that advice known and available to the Home Secretary. We keep these matters under review at all times. If it is appropriate to involve other forces or to go through NATO in the way that the noble Lord suggests, then we will.

Lord Henley: My Lords, the noble Lord mentioned the £600 million that has been announced by Tessa Jowell as an allocation for extra security measures. Will that money come from the general taxpayer, will it come from the council tax payers of London or will there be a further raid on the lottery fund?

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am sure that it is within the current allocation, which comes from several sources, as I am sure the noble Lord knows.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, will the Minister also commit this process to consider the needs of the local communities in which the Games are set? I am thinking of not only their security needs, but also the need in some of the youngest and most vibrant communities in our country for young people to have good access to the Games. Will these things be borne in mind?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate’s last point is important and it is part of the overall Olympic and Paralympic project. I cannot talk at great length about that, as it is not my field of expertise, but it is part of the process. The right reverend Prelate is right to draw attention to the importance of ensuring that the community in which the Olympic Games take place feels safe and secure, and part of the resilience programme will address that issue. I am sure that it is at the forefront of Tarique Ghaffur’s thinking.

Lord Mawhinney: My Lords, following the right reverend Prelate’s question, can the Minister tell us how much of the £600 million will be made available to local authorities for security issues that they deem important?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord a breakdown of the use of the £600 million. As I explained, that sum of money was announced only in March this year and Tarique Ghaffur is drawing up a detailed plan. Some of the thinking will have to address the security needs and interests and the policing needs of the local authorities. Careful liaison is going on with regard to that through the Mayor’s office and through contacts with the London boroughs.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, on the cost and so on of the Olympic Games, what preparations are there and what consultation has there been with, say, the Underground system in London to get those who are disabled in any way, particularly those involved with the Paralympics, to the Olympic sites?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, transportation is something for Transport for London to consider. I know that discussions are going on to ensure that there is maximum access to all the sites and locations where different parts of the Games will take place. Disabled access on the Tube system is an issue, as we all know. It is something that Transport for London, the Mayor’s office, the Olympic Board and the organising committees are taking fully into consideration.

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Business of the House: Debates Today

11.35 am

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, that the debate on the Motion in the name of Lord Leitch set down for today shall be limited to three hours and that in the name of Lord Pendry to two hours.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Gambling Act 2005 (Horserace Totalisator Board) Order 2007

Gambling Act 2005 (Amendment of Schedule 6) Order 2007

Gambling Act 2005 (Horserace Betting Levy) Order 2007

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2007

Community Order (Review by Specified Courts) Order 2007

Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (Amendment) Order 2007

Extradition Act 2003 (Amendment to Designations) Order 2007

Asylum (Designated States) Order 2007

Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007

Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Investigation of Protected Electronic Information, Code of Practice) Order 2007

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Acquisition and Disclosure of Communications Data, Code of Practice) Order 2007

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move, for the last time, the 12 Motions standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, that the orders and regulations be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motions agreed to.

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Pensions Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, that the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 11,

Schedule 2,Clauses 12 and 13,Schedule 3,Schedule 1,Clauses 14 and 15,Schedule 4,Clauses 16 and 17,Schedule 5,Clauses 18 to 32,Schedule 6,Clauses 33 to 38,Schedule 7,Clauses 39 to 42.—(Lord McKenzie of Luton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Skills Base

11.36 am

Lord Leitch rose to call attention to the development of the United Kingdom’s skills base; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is my privilege to move this Motion on skills and to speak on this auspicious first day of a new Prime Minister.

Two years ago I was asked by the Government to undertake an independent review of the UK’s long-term skill needs in order to,

The year 2020 was the focus of my review. But, before looking forward, let us look back. In the 19th century the UK had the natural resources, the labour force and the inspiration to lead the world into the Industrial Revolution. Today we are witnessing a different type of revolution. Developed countries simply cannot compete on natural resources and low labour costs. In the 21st century our natural resource is our people, and their potential is both untapped and vast. Skills will unlock that potential. There is a direct and irrefutable correlation between skills, productivity and employment. And employment heavily influences levels of social mobility, poverty, health and crime.

It is encouraging to see the progress made in the six months since the review ended. The Government recently announced they would soon publish their response to my review—the Leitch implementation plan. I am pleased that they decided to implement me rather than to execute me.

Let us look at where we are today. In many ways this is the best of times for the UK economy. We are the fifth largest economy in the world and now into a remarkable 59th quarter of continuous economic growth. Our employment rate is the highest in the G7,

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and there are 2.5 million more people in work than a decade ago. This is a strong position and proof that we do many things incredibly well.

Yet, despite these very real achievements, our productivity record remains an Achilles heel. We are distinctly average; and on key matters we are well behind France, Germany and the United States. Employment rates for disadvantaged groups have risen in recent years, but they are still far too low. Child poverty remains disturbingly high. Social mobility is poor. The correlation between parents’ income and that of their children is higher here than in many other countries. Today, the children of richer parents are six times more likely to go to university than children from poorer families.

As we all know, the global economy is changing rapidly, challenging UK competitiveness. Emerging economies are growing rapidly; mortality rates are improving dramatically; technology advances at a furious pace. The progress of China and India is both awesome and inexorable. China has become the workshop of the world and India the IT department of the world; they are so hungry to compete.

We face enormous challenges, but also brilliant opportunities. We cannot and should not try to protect our people from change. Instead, we must prepare people so that they can make the most of change. Skills are the way to do that. High skills are vital to leadership, management and innovation, key drivers of productivity and creators of wealth. Demand for high-level skills is rising at a rapid rate. Vocational skills are essential for the day-to-day delivery of output, but their value is so often underrated. The employment opportunities for the least skilled continue to decline. People lacking basic skills become increasingly isolated from the labour market—a lost generation.

How do UK skills stack up against that enormous challenge? Our skills base has suffered from long-standing failures in the education and training system going back more than 50 years. Recent years have seen big improvements. Standards in schools have risen. The number of adults qualified to degree level has increased significantly. The proportion of people with no qualifications has almost halved. That is very good progress. But other countries have sustained higher investment and achievement. We remain desperately weak by international standards. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, the UK ranks 17th in basic skills, 20th in intermediate skills and 11th in graduate skills, where we invest less than many of our competitors. Worryingly, 6 million adults across the UK lack functional literacy—the skills that they need to get by in life. More than 7 million adults lack functional numeracy—even the most basic skills, such as checking your change in a shop.

Where we are today is simply not good enough. It is not good enough for the millions who will lose their chance of work; it is not good enough for business, whose success is determined by productivity and innovation; and it is not good enough for society. Those who miss out on jobs are far more likely to live in poverty and in poor health. In every country that I visited during my review, the sense of urgency to

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improve skills was palpable. In the US, I heard it called a simmering crisis. Many countries are improving further and faster than us and often from a higher base. We are running just to stand still. We will remain trapped in a undistinguished mediocrity. We must raise our game.

It is critical that we develop an all-party and UK-wide consensus about our skill needs. What do we do? The starting point is to set up a compelling vision for the UK. I have recommended that the UK should become a world leader in skills by 2020, benchmarked against the upper quartile in the OECD. World-class skills will require very significant improvement at every level.

By 2020, we must help all working-age adults to reach basic standards of literacy and numeracy. We should forget the argument about whose fault it was and just get on with making things better. Adults should be given a second chance to achieve a level 2 qualification—the vocational equivalent of five GCSEs. At intermediate level, we should boost the number of apprentices to at least 500,000. In higher education, which is so vital to the creation of wealth, we need to increase the number of people at degree level to more than 40 per cent of adults.

We could spend all this debate talking about schools and unemployed young people. Both are incredibly important, but that will not be enough. Even if we solved youth unemployment and all schools were perfect, we would have to wait more than 30 years to fully benefit the UK workforce. Seventy per cent of the 2020 working-age population are already over the age of 16 today. The flow of young people into the workforce will actually reduce towards 2020; so solutions do not lie exclusively with helping those at school. That is why my focus was on upskilling and retraining adults.

Five principles must underpin the delivery of this world-class vision. First, responsibility must be shared. Employers, individuals and the Government must all increase their action and investment. We must invest more in skills. Employers and individuals should contribute the most where they gain the greatest returns, and the Government must target help where it is needed the most. Secondly, we must focus on economically valuable skills. Skills must benefit individuals through higher wages and businesses through improved productivity and bottom-line performance. Thirdly, skills must be demand-led. The skills system must genuinely meet the real needs of individuals and employers. Fourthly, the system must adapt and respond. No one can read minds or tell the future. We cannot accurately predict the future demand for particular skill types. The skills framework must react to future market needs. Finally, we need to build on existing structures, and to improve the performance of current complex structures through simplification, rationalisation, stronger performance management and clearer remits.

My recommendations included an employer-led commission for employment and skills to strengthen the voices of employers and advise government on progress towards 2020. I am particularly pleased that Sir Michael Rake has been appointed as the first chairman. He will bring a wealth of experience. I am

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also delighted that both the TUC and the CBI will play a full part in the commission. Sector skills councils should have a stronger role in articulating what employers need from the skills system, encouraging employers to participate and to invest more money in training at all levels. However, the performance of those councils has been patchy. Provided that they are reformed, relicensed and refocused, they will become a powerful employer voice.

In the past, we have tried too often to predict and provide the skills we will need from the top down. This is always done with the best of intentions, but central planning, no matter who does it, is not effective. We need a much more decentralised skills system. Consequently, the role of the Learning and Skills Council must change. It should be streamlined further so that FE colleges and other providers have more freedom to respond directly to the needs of employers and individuals. I am enthusiastic about the principles of the Train to Gain programme in England and apprenticeships throughout the UK. Both schemes should be dramatically expanded and extended to higher levels.

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