|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
I, too, hope that there will be many opportunities to debate this. I do not propose that we have a debate in your Lordships House but it is important that individual communities debate this. That is why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is looking at involving Muslim women in particular in certain areas and, more generally, at communities to support the network of those who are able to help us to work out a preventive strategy.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I welcome this timely and balanced Statement. In particular, I am delighted that so many of the issues raised in the work that I led in relation to the Metropolitan Police Authorityit involved consulting Londoners over a yearhave been addressed in it. I also welcome the emphasis on the prevention of violent extremism; that is why it is so important to balance extra measures on security with measures that will reach into the different communities around the United Kingdom. Did the review look at the issues around the electronic security of the critical national infrastructure in view of, for example, evidence of state-sponsored cyber-attacks on a number of countries and of the very high technological and IT knowledge of some of those who have been arrested in respect of terrorist matters in this country? Is my noble friend satisfied that the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructurewhich I understand is not a statutory bodyhas sufficient powers to require that those organisations that constitute our national infrastructure are properly protected electronically against cyber-attack?
Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, I congratulate the Government on the Statement, which seems to be the product of a great deal of creative and imaginative thought. However, I underline the fact that there seems to be an unanswerable case to what might be described as international collective security in this matter. Although a terrorist attack may ostensibly be aimed at a particular religious or cultural group, any such attack is essentially an attack on humanity as a whole and on the very concept of a sovereign state.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lords welcome to the Statement. Of course it is true that we must think about this nationally and internationally and consider the implications of what is being done by terrorists all over the world. We need to work with other states to prevent terrorism arising and deal with it properly if, sadly, it does.
About five years ago, after the disturbances in various northern townsBurnley, Oldham, Bradford and so onvarious reports, from Ted Cantle and others, identified the problem of parallel communities: of different communities living apart. It is the general view of people in many of these towns that the situation in the past five years has not improved; there is a value judgment that people have grown more apart rather than more together. There is a concern that focusing on Muslim communities as such, as opposed to different ethnic communities in their wider diversity, is not really tackling the problem. Do the Government agree that funding streams that cater for local projects that bring people together at street level, at community level and at the individual personal level should have a higher priority than they do?
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I agree completely with the noble Lord, Lord Greaves. I remember very well the work that Ted Cantle did and I also pay tribute to him. It was important to look at how communities were growing up in some of our cities and the parallel nature of that, as the noble Lord described it. As part of the work that is going on in that regard, we will need to find ways of bringing people together at street level, community level or local authority level and so on. I was merely pointing out that we need to be aware of certain issues for members of the different Muslim communities in particular. It is right and proper that the Secretary of State considers that and talks to that community as well in the light of the events of the past year.
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, does the Leader of the House recognise that a real gap in our security at present is that no routine monitoring of people leaving the United Kingdom takes place? Has she noticed that paragraph 4.25 of the noble Lords paper says that,
Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, we have increased screening procedures for those employed in the private sector who have the ability to go airsidesuch as cleaners on airplanes, baggage handlers and so onbut, in the light of the recently well publicised case of an extremist woman who worked in a shop at an airport, is the noble Baroness satisfied that the screening procedures for such employees are sufficiently watertight? Finally, in view of the vast sums now being given to the Muslim community, will she be aware of the need for certain caution that those of other faith communities, such as the Christian community and others, might be just a little jealous?
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, it is very important to recognise that, try as we might, we can never guarantee a 100 per cent success rate in a screening process. Certainly, procedures have been reviewed, and are kept under review, to ensure that we recognise, identify and work through problems that have arisen or might arise in the future. However, I make that caveat. It is very important that we do not end up with jealousies but with a thriving, vibrant community within this country that recognises its diversity and celebrates it.
Viscount Slim: My Lords, I declare an interest in the security industry and I very much welcome a lot of what is in the Statement. There will be an opportunity for good security companies to assist the Government in their plans. One small point that bothers me concerns the immigration numbers for those who should be returned to their country4,000, I think the noble Baroness said. I am sure that unwanted immigrants should be returned to their countries but it is almost as though the Government are afraid of doing so. How many have been returned lately, and what plans are there to get rid of those 4,000 from this country?
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I do not have with me the exact figure for those who have been returned. I think that the Statement made some reference to it but I will ensure that the information is available to noble Lords. Of course, the figure changes as people return. When I was involved in asylum and immigration legislation in your Lordships House, one issue that I was aware of was knowing where people
14 Nov 2007 : Column 495
Lord Grocott: My Lords, before we resume the debate on the Queens Speech, perhaps I may say that if we are to rise by the recommended time of 10 oclock, the timing today for Back-Bench speeches is 10 minutes.
Most Gracious SovereignWe, Your Majestys most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): My Lords, globalisation presents challenges but also opportunities for all developed economies. With our open economy, macroeconomic stability, our value-added, innovative way of making things and providing services, the UK is not only made for globalisation but is poised in so many ways to face up to its challenges more successfully than any of our rival nations in the developed world.
The Government are determined to make full use of this backdrop and help ensure business success in an increasingly competitive global economy. The domestic stability delivered by the Governments macroeconomic framework has put this country in a strong position to respond to the global economic challenges of the next decade. This stability is so often now taken for granted, but no part of UK society should bank on it complacently. So much of what has to be done in the United Kingdom and so much of our countrys ability to absorb economic shocks that originate elsewhere in the world depend on it.
Over the past 10 years, the UK has enjoyed greater stability in terms of GDP growth and inflation than at any time in the past 70 years. That, plus our flexible labour market and our internationally competitive regulatory environment, have created the conditions businesses need to make successful long-term investments. It has made sure that Britain continues to be a good placeindeed, one of the best placesto do business. Whatever certain interests with other agendas may say, it is no coincidence that we have the most flexible
14 Nov 2007 : Column 496
Governments do not create wealth, regardless of what some may think or say, but successful Governments create the right framework to allow business to create wealth. We are determined to focus increasingly on ensuring that business has the right environment and support to thrive and prosper here in the UK and internationally. It is business that creates the wealth and pays the tax, or employs the people who pay the tax that pays for good people in our public sector who pay the taxall helping to fund our schools and hospitals. Thriving business means a thriving Britain.
That is at the heart of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reforms work and also that of UK Trade & Investment, which I am privileged to lead. UKTI champions UK business abroad and also ensures that we remain the number one location in Europe for inward investment, and number two in the world. We know that large stocks of inward and outward investment put the UK in an excellent position to take advantage of global trade, and to benefit rapidly from new ideas, new management techniques and new production methods.
If you want to build a global business, come to the United Kingdom. Bring your talent, your capital, your enterprise. Bring your family. Work hard and live in peace, regardless of the colour of your skin or the God you worship. Help make Great Britain greaterand make yourself a few bob along the way.
In so many sectors we lead the world, or are among the very best. In our financial services sector we must jealously guard our global pre-eminence; we must not be complacent. We must do all we can to continue to be the location of choice over New York, Frankfurt or Tokyo. We must never let up.
Our defence manufacturing sector is world-class and we must do all we can to support this major employer, major provider of taxation and major exporter. The facts speak for themselves. More than 300,000 people are employed every day in defence manufacturing in Britain. That means that more than 1 million family members all over the country depend on defence manufacturing. It has exports of £4.7 billion1.3 per cent of total UK exportswith a worldwide reputation for good partnering, good quality and good experience, arming the best Navy, Army and Air Force on the planet. The Government are committed to giving it fulsome support from all relevant departments.
In creative industries, from textile design to advertising, from music and film-making to web design and computer games, from architecture to consultant engineering, hundreds of thousands of small businesses, as well as globally recognised major brands, give meaning to a true value-added, innovative 21st-century economy. It is happening here in our country every day.
The mandate for UKTI and BERR from my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is to be a strong voice for business across Whitehall, and we are committed to making this a reality, helping to increase economic growth, business competitiveness and wealth creation. We need to keep renewing and
14 Nov 2007 : Column 497
I was pleased to attend the first meeting of the Business Council for Britain, which provides the opportunity to bring highly experienced business minds into a new dialogue with government. The groups first meeting discussed a range of issues: globalisation, open markets, human capital, the need for a critical mass of employers to engage on adult skills, climate change and energy security. I am confident that the Business Council will make a real impact in shaping the policy agenda. A key challenge, and often the biggest complaint from businesses, will be addressing concerns about red tape. Through specific responsibility for cross-government regulatory reformindeed, BERRs name constantly bears witness to thisthe Prime Minister has given us the levers for addressing the concerns that businesses are raising. We have also set out a series of measures that will take us closer to our goal of reducingyes, reducingthe overall burden of regulation in our economy.
The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review underlies the Governments commitment to business and enterprise with a budget for BERR of £3.2 billion by 2010. CSR07 provides UKTI with a programme budget of £89 million by 2010. Drawing on resources from both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and BERR, UKTIs total budget will be £256 million by 2010-11. That settlement provides BERR with the resources needed to fund priorities such as the promotion of enterprise, the development of new energy and energy- efficiency technologies and nuclear decommissioning. It also leaves us well positioned to fulfil our mandate to be the voice for business in government.
Energy is a key priority for business, both as a producer and a consumer of energy. Prices and security of supply are rightly key concerns, but business is also keen to engage on the climate change agenda, both in terms of promoting cost-effective measures to reduce emissions from energy, and to exploit opportunities for UK business in the shift to a low-carbon economy. I believe that the next Bill Gates will be making his or her money from delivering easily understood technological solutions to the challenges of climate change, riding the wave of public buy-in just as that guy from Seattle did with IT some 30 years ago. Wouldnt it be brilliant if that person was a Brit, or came from anywhere in the world but did it in Britain?
We are committed to ensuring the reliable supply and efficient use of clean, competitively priced energy for the UK economy. That commitment to renewable energy was underlined again last week with the go-ahead for the Walney Wind Farm, off Cumbria. The worlds largest offshore wind project, the London Array, will also now receive its final consent. Our actions should speak louder than our words. The UK, along with Denmark, is leading the world in the development of offshore wind power. To build further on our energy commitments, the Energy Bill will
14 Nov 2007 : Column 498
The Energy Bill should be viewed as part of a package of legislation being taken forward in this parliamentary Session. Taken together, the Energy Bill, the Climate Change Bill and the Planning Reform Bill will give the UK a coherent, fit-for-purpose legislative framework. This will ensure that UK policy is designed from its very outset to deliver our long-term objectives to tackle climate change and enable the timely private sector investment in new energy infrastructure, including a broad range of low-carbon electricity generation sources, necessary to ensure secure, sustainable energy supplies.
The Energy Bill will facilitate private sector investment in carbon capture and storage projects, a technology which has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel generation by up to 90 per cent, and will strengthen the renewables obligation to drive greater and more rapid deployment of renewables in the UK and support less developed renewable energy technologies, such as offshore wind. A broader set of investment options will help encourage a diverse, more secure supply of electricity while at the same time reducing our carbon dioxide emissions. This will help the UK make further progress towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050 relative to 1990 levels.
We also need to ensure that the UKs legislative framework reflects the UKs growing dependence on gas imports as North Sea gas production declines. The Bill will therefore bring forward proposals to simplify the consenting regime for offshore gas supply infrastructure, enabling important new private sector investment in offshore gas storage and offshore unloading of liquefied natural gas. If the Government decide that, following their detailed and appropriate recent consultation, it is in the public interest to allow private sector investment in new nuclear power stations, the Bill will create a framework that will help to protect the taxpayer by requiring owners or operators of new nuclear power stations to make financial provisions to cover the full decommissioning costs and their full share of waste management costs. The Governments energy policy addresses the need to tackle climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions both within the UK and abroad. We cannot escape the fact that we are becoming increasingly dependent on imported fuel, but we can and we must ensure that we have secure, clean and affordable energy for use by future generations. Is it vital? Yes. Is it achievable? For sure.
The Employment Bill will increase protection for vulnerable workers and lighten the load for law-abiding businesses. The Government are committed to ensuring that employees rights are safeguarded and that employers understand and abide by their responsibilities within a system which offers flexibility and fairness. The Bill will simplify and clarify key aspects of employment law and build a stronger enforcement regime in both the private and public sectors. It will repeal the statutory workplace dispute
14 Nov 2007 : Column 499
The Bill will also clarify and strengthen the enforcement framework for the national minimum wage and employment agency standards. The new framework will promote compliance and help ensure a level playing field for law-abiding businesses. It is often said by those whose vested interest overpowers their acknowledgement of the facts that I opposed the introduction of the national minimum wage. I would like to remind noble Lords that I was still in private practice in Birmingham when the minimum wage was introduced. Indeed, had I been asked for my opinion at that time, and I was not, I would have supported its introduction with the caveat that its long-term success would depend on the rate at which it was set and to which it was subsequently increased, and the method of compliance.
The minimum wage has been a success because it has not adversely affected inflation or employment, yet it has made a real difference to the lives of so many. It is important that employees feel, and are, fairly remunerated for their efforts. It makes for a more productive workforce.
While on the subject of the workplace, I want to say that I was also struck recently by the excellent examples of partnership working between unions and employers in the private sector around the area that is near to my heart: skills.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|