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Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, is not the Minister right to lay the emphasis on informed choices? Is this not an industry where there is a strong case for regulation? It has a pretty large turnover

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in this country. It is selling quantities of food supplements to consumers who are often not knowledgeable about what they are consuming, with minimal advice about appropriate amounts to take and what can safely be consumed in combination with whatever else. Is it not right that better advice should be available to consumers about the quality and quantity of health supplements?

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the way that the Food Standards Agency has approached this is to seek views from all stakeholders to ensure that both the information that is provided on the supplements and the information that people have about their diet is sufficient to allow people to make informed choices.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, is it not the case that the Government have been outvoted on this matter in Brussels? Does the Minister think that the British people would have voted to stay in what they were assured was a common market in 1975 if they had thought that it would land us in this sort of dictatorship? What has happened to subsidiarity? Surely, if ever there was a case for subsidiarity, it must be food supplements.

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, there are two points about the food regulatory regime in Europe. First, it is about the safety of consumers across Europe. Secondly, it provides a level playing-field for UK industry. The UK has probably the most sophisticated and active industry in this area, which wants to trade across Europe. I am sure the noble Lord would not wish to stop it from doing so.

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, following the recent announcement by the Food Standards Agency on folic acid levels, will the Minister agree that the Government should liaise more closely with the industry and other stakeholders before setting a “one level for all” cap on folic acid and other food supplements, the need for which will inevitably vary from person to person?

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I will have to get back to the noble Lord about that. My brief does not cover folic acid. I apologise.


3.01 pm

Baroness Warsi asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My Lords, the citizenship survey helps to inform all our policies concerned with promoting community cohesion and engagement. We will continue to extend our programme of work to promote community

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cohesion, not least through our work on equalities, the Community Empowerment Action Plan and the Volunteering for All programme.

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her kind response. This survey clearly shows that there is a general level of unease in Britain around citizenship, especially among our young, who are less integrated than their parents. As the Minister is aware, 56 per cent of those surveyed believed that there is more racial discrimination in Britain today than there was five years ago. Can she explain how the Preventing Violent Extremism programme, funded to the tune of £70 million by her department, is helping to ease these tensions? What positive impact, if any, is that programme having on community cohesion?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I take issue with the noble Baroness: the fact that 56 per cent of people feel that racial prejudice is increasing is not necessarily not positive. The report of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion actually said that we should perhaps be a bit more positive about what we are seeing because of the range of impressive activities going on. The mood of pessimism held by some is not justified.

It is extremely important that we capture the hearts and minds of young people, and that is what the Winning Hearts and Minds programme is very much about. The £70 million that we are using includes, for example, £45 million for forms of support for local authorities to develop the sorts of programmes that both build the capacity of community organisations and enable young people to get together to develop trust and knowledge of each other and then to build the social bridges that we all want to see.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I have been privileged enough to participate in a number of citizenship ceremonies, and I believe that they ought to uphold the values that we have in the country. However, does the survey take into account exit interviews with people who are already qualified for citizenship in order to see how their perception of such ceremonies could help to shape “Britishness” as announced by the Prime Minister?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, that is a very good question. I do not have the answer, so I will have to write to the noble Lord. But perhaps I may confirm what he said. Some of the most encouraging statistics are that 82 per cent of people believe that they live in a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together and 84 per cent feel they belong “very strongly” to Britain. Comparing the response of the white population to that of the BME population, one also sees a far lower perception of racial prejudice, with 70 per cent of our BME population feeling that they have not experienced racial prejudice.

Lord Patel of Bradford: My Lords, I should like to raise two more points from the survey. First, overall, race was the most frequently specified reason why people from minority ethnic groups—20 per cent of

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them—felt they had been turned down for a job in the last five years. Secondly, 23 per cent of all people felt unfairly treated in the workplace because of their gender. In view of those findings, can the Minister say what the Government are doing to combat the lack of employment opportunities for black and minority ethnic women?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I think we all agree that the role of women from BME communities is critical in building stronger communities, but those women will be able to do that only if they can access good employment opportunities. One of the most positive options for them is the social enterprise movement, and I am pleased to say that we in the DCLG are providing pilot training materials specifically to help BME women to develop that option. We have also set up the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group, whose members will advise the Secretary of State and act as ambassadors for Muslim women, helping to develop role models and leadership models, which are extremely important.

I take this opportunity to say how much we welcome the appointment of my noble friend Lord Patel as the adviser to the Secretary of State on preventing violent extremism in gender. No one in this country has greater or more practical experience of what it takes to reach into communities and help them to develop confidence.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, does the Minister agree that particularly impressive is the amount of informal volunteering by the population? Does she have any figures relating to volunteering by men over a period of years? Although I notice that there is a gap in the amount of volunteering done by men and women, the numbers are quite close, and it would be good to know whether there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of volunteering by men as well as by women.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I do not have a breakdown of the figures relating to gender and I do not know whether such figures exist. My instinct tells me that more women than men tend to volunteer, but the really good news is that volunteering remains high, with 73 per cent of all adults having volunteered in the past 12 months. The challenge is to get people who volunteer to stick with it and sustain their volunteering commitment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, the Minister’s honourable and right honourable friends in another place rightly deny that there is any link between cohesion in society and the number of migrants. That is a statement of the blazingly obvious. However, would the noble Baroness concede that, had we had rather fewer migrants, we might also have had fewer problems?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I do not concede that. I think that what we get from migration outweighs the stresses and strains that are inevitably put on certain local authorities, for which we provide

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funding to enable them to cope. We get a great deal in terms of our prosperity and wealth. What struck the Commission on Integration and Cohesion was the “impressive range”, to quote its words, of the activity across our communities to promote better relationships between ethnic and racial groups.

Baroness Howells of St Davids: My Lords, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that community cohesion is properly active among those with mental health problems, both inside and outside the prison system?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, that is a very important question because people with mental health problems are often marginalised in different ways, and the BME communities have disproportionate representation in the mental health services. It is impressive that we now have the Delivering Race Equality action plan, which is a five-year plan for tackling the wide range of factors that lead to inequalities. I shall not go into the details but there are 70 specific actions, and my noble friend may know, for example, that we now have well over 200 community development workers in post nationally and are well on our way to reaching the targets there. We have new training models and 40 more engagement projects are funded to help to deal with these issues. We are making a big effort, including of course in relation to people in prison.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth: My Lords—

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, the 30 minutes are up.

Sunday Trading (Horticulture) Bill [HL]

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to amend the Sunday Trading Act 1994 in connection with the sale of horticultural supplies. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Bill read a first time, and ordered to be printed.

Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

3.09 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): 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 153 [Interim violent offender orders]:

[Amendment No. 156 not moved.]

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[Amendments Nos. 157 to 159 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 153 agreed to.

Clauses 154 to 169 agreed to.

Schedule 30 [Closure orders: premises associated with persistent disorder or nuisance]:

[Amendment No. 160 not moved.]

Lord Thomas of Gresford moved Amendment No. 161:

“(d) the making of the order is not a disproportionate response to the disorder or nuisance caused;(e) the making of the order will not cause unnecessary hardship or suffering to the families of those against who the order is made;(f) appropriate steps have previously been taken to address the disorder or nuisance without success.”

The noble Lord said: At least I am here. We are aware of the considerable disruptions to the transport system caused by the weather and, knowing the noble Lord, Lord Judd, as I do, I have no doubt that those are the reason why he is not here to move his important amendments. Originally, my task was to follow what he had to say on Amendment No. 160. However, I shall deal with Amendments Nos. 161 and 162.

Part 10 of the Bill is the latest in a long line of initiatives designed to deliver the Government’s respect agenda. Schedule 30 deals with a proposal to extend existing powers to close down properties used for the sale of drugs and to cover properties where there is a problem with anti-social behaviour. There is a considerable distinction between closure for antisocial behaviour and closure because of drug-related property difficulties. Drug-related closures are much more likely to concern properties that are used primarily for the sale of drugs and where there are no settled residents. On the other hand, anti-social behaviour closures are much more likely to affect properties that are used as the main family residence.

According to the Government’s original consultation on this matter, the closure notices were designed to prevent activities that in themselves are not unlawful. I made that point strongly last week on the problem with anti-social behaviour orders: they create an individual’s personal criminal code in that the individual may be committing a criminal offence for doing something that for the rest of the population is not criminal. In this connection, one can imagine that an anti-social behaviour order could be made in relation to a property on the basis that people frequently enter and leave the property. There are late-night visitors, which is a nuisance to people in the street. That is solved by an anti-social behaviour order, which, if it does not work against the individual, will be translated by these proposals into the closure of what may well be somebody’s home.

A closure notice may be authorised by a police superintendent. All that he needs are grounds for believing that there is a problem with anti-social behaviour. Once such a notice is issued, a person who does not own or live in the premises is committing an

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offence if he remains contrary to the notice pending an application for a full closure order. The police superintendent acts on belief, but that can have a serious effect on the individual. Within 48 hours of the notice being issued, a court must hear an application for the closure order and, if granted, the property is closed down for three months, which can be extended to six months in exceptional circumstances. Return to the premises subject to the order within its operation period will be a criminal offence.

3.15 pm

Drug-related closure orders—the existing closure orders—appear to be having unfortunate consequences. The problem arising under the existing legislation is called “cuckooing”—displacing drug dealers from the premises from which they have been operating into other properties. The Guardian in November 2006 said of these drug-related closures that drug dealers,

The existing drug-related orders do not end the problem; they may simply displace it.

When the Government consulted on these new anti-social behaviour closure orders, they said that the orders would be considered only as a last resort and would require multi-agency involvement. They also said that the safety of the young and the vulnerable would not be compromised, with the implication that the court would not have the power to make an order unless it was satisfied that proper arrangements were in place to protect their interests. That was in the consultation but it is not in the Bill; there is no safeguard. If an entire family is displaced from its home, proper support arrangements have to be in place. We have therefore tabled amendments to put into the Bill solutions to the problem that I have outlined.

Amendment No. 161 refers to the necessity that,

In other words, the court should not close down premises if the complaint is from the neighbours that too many people are coming to and fro or that an undesirable business is being carried on there. The second condition is that,

The court will have to be satisfied that arrangements are in hand for the vulnerable to be looked after if their home is taken from them. Finally, the amendment requires that,

We do not feel that it is right that the order should be made straightaway. There should at least be an attempt to solve the problem that is the subject matter of the closure order and such attempts should be clearly explained and put before the court when the closure order is applied for. Consequently, we also make express in Amendment No.162 this provision:

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I hope that Members of the Committee will see that these amendments are not necessarily against the whole idea of closure notices, but we believe that there must be the safeguards that the Government promised in their consultation paper. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: In starting my role on the Bill, I declare a couple of interests, which I hope will suffice for the next parts. I am a member of the Magistrates’ Association and a magistrate. I am also a non-executive director of the only academic health science NHS trust. I hope that I need not do any of that again.

I have some sympathy with the amendments. The additional problems that can be generated through these closure orders are likely to fall back on to a local authority: if people are made homeless as a result of the closure order, the local authority will almost certainly have to find accommodation for those involved and provide support for anybody who has been removed from what is ostensibly their home.

The drug-related offences have caused an enormous amount of difficulty. The closure orders and the ability to close accommodation where drug offences have been taking place have, I know, been enormously helpful. These are serious problems, but I am just a bit concerned about what level of offence is being caused before any consideration would be given to a closure order. Are we talking about persistent noise? Are we talking about rampaging youths? Are we talking about harassment of the neighbours? What level will have to be dealt with before the police are able to take action? How long will the problem have to go on for before an offence is caused?

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