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Lord Rooker: My Lords, no, I have not changed my mind. The work of the Environment Agency and other related organisations is actually based on risk. They have analysed the country; they look after some 40,000-odd miles of riverbank with huge capital programmes and are putting their efforts where the risk is greatest. It is true in some urban areas that surface water is the greatest problem, which relates to there being too much tarmac and not enough concern being given at those urban levels. That is not really the work of the Environment Agency. Some areas are classed as low-risk and, therefore, these days the agency may not do as much work there as it used to do—as in the case raised by the noble Lord who asked the Question, and he knows why that is so.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, would the Minister not agree that the key to reducing flood risk was in the proper engineering and maintenance of watercourses? If that is the case, what funds have the Government made available for that task and are they considered adequate by the agencies and authorities concerned?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, to the best of my knowledge, yes. As is known, capital expenditure has been doubled in the past 10 years to £650 million in 2008-09 and will go up to £800 million in 2010-11. I am reliably informed that if it was £1 billion, the authorities could not spend it next year; there is a programme for this activity. We have the interim report of Sir Michael Pitt following the lessons learned from the floods last year. Later this summer there will be a final report. We have accepted all the recommendations—there is no argument about that. There is more work to be done, and there is no doubt that an increase in capital expenditure on flood defences is needed.

Licensing: Live Music

3.28 pm

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the survey was commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to assess live music provision in 2007 in venues whose primary activity was not the staging of live music. While the survey suggested that there had been a fall in live music in such venues since 2004, it found that the Licensing Act was not a major factor. Nevertheless, the Government are looking at how the regime might be adjusted to encourage more live music by, for example, allowing licensing authorities more discretion over exemptions for low-risk music events. We expect to issue a full public consultation later this year.

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Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. The fact is that, despite what the Government said during the passage of the Licensing Act—that there would be an explosion of live music—there has, as he said, been an overall decrease, of 5 per cent, in live music performed in venues across England and Wales. While the Government have said that they are looking at proposals to rectify this sad state of affairs, could he be specific about what they are?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I indicated, we are consulting on ways in which we can reduce burdens in certain areas. I emphasise to the House that the drop in live music is not great. Some had predicted that the Licensing Act would have a very significant effect and it clearly has not. A very substantial proportion of those venues that do not put on live music actually have licences. What is reflected is the response of pubs and restaurants more to the market than to the obligations under the Licensing Act.

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, over 100 years ago, a landlord, without an entertainment licence, could lawfully keep a piano for the amusement of his customers. Today, he could be fined £20,000 and sent to jail for six months. Does the Minister really believe that the Licensing Act and its criminalisation of thousands of innocuous and historically exempt gigs is an effective regime for the 21st century?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Lord produces a wonderfully extreme illustration of the Licensing Act. Of course, such condign punishments would be directed at major venues that had produced a huge public nuisance and caused widespread dismay. The pub piano scarcely falls into that category. I assure him that in the consultation that the noble Baroness urges us to undertake, we want to ensure that it is exactly the piano in the pub corner and so on that is outwith the licensing obligations.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, as this consultation goes forward, will my noble friend ensure that particular attention is paid to the impact of the Licensing Act—and, indeed, other influences—on small, informal venues that are used by young artists, particularly young classical artists, early in their career? They are very dependent on venues such as churches and small halls being available. It is most important that the Act has no adverse impact on those venues, whether advertently or inadvertently.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, that point is well made by my noble friend. In response to this survey, my right honourable friend in the other place, James Purnell, the Secretary of State, announced that he is making £500,000 available over two years towards setting up pilot, professionally equipped, community rehearsal spaces for young people. This is an area of concern and we are addressing that. There are areas where some unexpected consequences or developments in the past four years need to be attended to. We will use the consultation to address the kind of issue raised by my noble friend and others.

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Lord McNally: My Lords, instead of reinventing the wheel, can I suggest to the Minister that he reads the Committee stage of the Bill that led to this Act, where he will find speeches by the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, and my noble friend Lord Redesdale? They warned of exactly this problem but faced a wall of complacency from the then Minister, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, which is mirrored by the Minister’s complacency today.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, my noble friend Lord McIntosh expressed the same degree of confidence in advance of the Act that I am able to express today; namely, that those who foresaw that the Licensing Act would have a devastating effect on live music have been proved wrong. I would be the last to suggest that the two contributors to our useful debates identified by the noble Lord were in that category, but there were foretellings of doom that have just not been fulfilled in the developments since the Act.

Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill

3.35 pm

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 it be an instruction to the Grand Committee to which the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clause 1

Schedule 1Clauses 2 to 12Schedules 2 and 3Clauses 13 to 16Schedule 4Clauses 17 and 18Schedule 5Clauses 19 to 41Schedule 6Clauses 42 to 54Schedule 7Clause 55Schedule 8Clauses 56 to 60.—(Lord McKenzie of Luton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Climate Change Bill [HL]

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD SPEAKER in the Chair.]

Clause 19 [Targeted greenhouse gases]:

[Amendment No. 100 not moved.]

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach moved Amendment No. 101:

(a) a recommendation to make an order under this section is made by the Committee on Climate Change;(b) the recommendation is approved by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament;and it must be exercised as soon as practicable after a recommendation is so approved.

The noble Lord said: Yesterday evening we talked about other greenhouse gases and we are now about to consider other aspects of the same issue. Amendment No. 101 is grouped with Amendments Nos. 102 and 106, to which I shall speak. This is an instance of once again seeking to increase the oversight of the Committee on Climate Change. As the Bill stands, the Secretary of State can, by order, change the meaning of a target greenhouse gas if he has consulted the national authorities and taken into account advice from the Committee on Climate Change.

The amendment would extend the power of that committee by subjecting a change to the meaning of “targeted greenhouse gas” to the approval of the committee and a resolution in Parliament. The reason for subjecting this change to the approval of the committee is simply that this is an important issue and a matter of science. Indeed, that the committee will have the appropriate expertise for these sorts of decisions was noted last night by the Minister. In yesterday’s debate there was some discussion about politicising the committee by giving it too much power, but I hope noble Lords will agree that, in this instance, that is not the case. The definition of which greenhouse gases are dangerous enough to the environment to be targeted as necessary for reduction surely is a wholly scientific matter.

In yesterday’s debate the Minister told the Committee that the Government “may”—which he said meant “will”—bring forward amendments on the nature of the basket of greenhouse gases and on whether to augment the scope of the gases that are included in a budget period that has already begun. However, our concern is more with the mechanism that will be in place in the future for changing the targeted greenhouse gases. There are advantages in giving this over to independent approval. As the Minister mentioned yesterday, the reason for not allowing changes to the targeted greenhouse gases to affect a budget period that has already commenced was to give certainty to the relevant sectors of the economy. Giving the Committee for Climate Change final approval might go some way to achieving this goal by increasing the credibility of adjustments to the targeted gases. We feel that it is not enough for the Secretary of State simply to seek advice on what gases should be deemed targeted greenhouse gases, but that he should also seek the approval of experts on these matters. We hope that the Government will consider that there needs to be a more robust mechanism for

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future changes to the targeted gases when they bring forward their amendments on this issue.

The second part of the amendment, which makes this subject to the approval of Parliament, is once again a matter of increasing transparency, something on which the whole Committee is agreed. The modification of what gases are to be targeted could have a very widespread impact indeed—potentially on entire sectors of the economy or sections of the population. We feel that it is thus an important enough issue to have it presented to and passed through Parliament before further changes are made. I beg to move.

Lord Teverson: From these Benches, I certainly support this approach in principle in this instance. Our own view, as we debated yesterday, is that the Government should bite the bullet now and include all the Kyoto-listed greenhouse gases. That remains our point of principle and belief. Having said that, I fully accept that there may in future be other gases that are internationally designated or are particularly important to the UK economy. We would certainly welcome this extra degree of accountability and transparency in this area.

The Earl of Onslow: Presumably the targeted gases will have to be internationally scientifically agreed, will they not? There is no point in the United Kingdom saying “This gas must be targeted”—not being a chemist I cannot even name one gas, except CO2—when nobody else does it at all.

Lord Rooker: I welcome the noble Earl back to our debates. If he looks at Clause 64, he will see listed the six Kyoto gases we are talking about. There is no dispute about the particular gases.

The effect of Amendment No. 101 would be that the Secretary of State could designate other greenhouse gases as targeted gases only following a recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change. Amendment No. 106 would mean that the Secretary of State would be able to define the base year for any greenhouse gas designated as a targeted gas under Clause 19 only following a recommendation of the committee. The effect of the amendments would be that the Government would have no discretionary powers; they would have to follow the committee. We have now discussed on at least four or five occasions the principle of why the committee should not be an executive body and why it is therefore unnecessary to seek parliamentary approval again where we have already made provision for orders to be made through the affirmative resolution procedure. It would not be useful for me to cover exactly the same ground, other than to say that the points which have already been made apply. That is why we do not accept the amendments.

We are, as before, genuinely willing to consider how we can improve the transparency of the whole process. We will shortly come to Amendment No. 105 on Clause 20. That will give us a chance to debate how these powers may be used. I can honestly say that I will have a more useful answer on Amendment No. 105 than the one I have just given.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am tempted to move on quickly. I await with bated breath the Minister’s further contributions. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 102 not moved.]

Earl Cathcart moved Amendment No. 103:

The noble Earl said: This is a probing amendment. Clause 19, “Targeted greenhouse gases”, defines, for the whole of Part 1, the meaning of a targeted greenhouse gas. It also implies that the Secretary of State has a duty to add to the list of targeted gases. It does not, however, say that he must do this, or even that he may do this. Nor does it indicate the circumstances in which such a decision will be taken, other than that he must consult the other national authorities and obtain the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

The implication is that if the Secretary of State is too busy—or, dare I say it, lazy or unconcerned—to add gases such as methane to carbon dioxide on the targeted list, he does not have to. Moreover, if he does not raise the subject with the national authorities and the committee they, apparently, have no powers to raise it with him. In such circumstances, what amendments to the provisions of the Bill could possibly be required as a matter of expediency, and in what circumstances might expediency be considered relevant by the Secretary of State? I beg to move.

3.45 pm

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I have one supplementary question to ask, following on from my noble friend Lord Cathcart. The Oxford English Dictionarygives three definitions of “expedient”. The first is, “‘expeditious’ or ‘speedy’”; the second is “Conducive to advantage in general, or to a definite purpose; fit, proper or suitable to the purposes of the case”; and the third, in a depreciative sense, is, “‘Useful’ or ‘politic’ as opposed to ‘just’ or ‘right’”. I quote in particular an example given in the OED of a predecessor of mine as Member of Parliament for Westminster, John Stuart Mill, who said:

I realise that in Humpty Dumpty’s view, the words could mean anything one chose them to mean, but which particular interpretation do the Government have in mind?

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I have yet to be compared to Humpty Dumpty in this House, but there is a first time for everything. I very much hope that I can offer Members of the Committee reassurance on this probing amendment, which I am sure is helpful. I thank the noble Earl for tabling it and allowing us to have this mini discussion.

Clause 19(3) allows the Secretary of State to make any consequential amendments to the Act as may be necessary or expedient as a result of including further

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greenhouse gases within the UK’s targets and budgets. However, the ability to make consequential changes to the Act is already extremely limited. Any amendment would have to be genuinely consequential to the inclusion of other greenhouse gases. It could not be used to do anything unrelated. I appreciate that it is important to put that on the record now. For example, the power would not allow the Secretary of State to amend the level of the 2050 target or the level of carbon budgets, as specific arrangements are set out in other parts of the Bill for those actions. In addition, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee considered the provisions of the Bill and did not raise any particular concerns about this power.

I turn to the question regarding the Oxford English Dictionary definitions of “expedient”. As far as I am aware, we are working on the third definition of the word, seeing it as useful, or just or right. If on reflection, having read the discussion and taken further advice, I need to come back to the noble Lord with a more specific definition, I will undertake to do that as soon as possible before the next stage of the Bill.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: Before my noble friend rises to respond, I have to say that I am mildly surprised by the Minister’s answer. However, I look forward to her further investigations.

Earl Cathcart: I thank my noble friend Lord Brooke for the three useful definitions which emphasise my point. I also thank the Minister for her explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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