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Lord Low of Dalston: My Lords, how do the Government intend to monitor the experiences of different impairment groups within Pathways to Work? For example, blind and partially sighted people have distinct needs which have to be met to enable them to access training, educational and other work-related opportunities. If the Government are to ensure that all disabled people get the individually tailored support that they need to move towards work, provision by private and voluntary sector providers delivering Pathways must be monitored by impairment group. If detailed impairment-specific monitoring does not take place, it is unclear how the Government will either identify whether all groups of disabled people are receiving the help and support they need or meet their commitment to tackling poor performance from contractors delivering Pathways programmes. The Government do not presently hold any statistics which show the outcomes for blind

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and partially sighted people who have been involved thus far in Pathways. What are the Government doing to remedy this situation?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, the noble Lord makes a very important point. The key issue about New Deal is that it is flexible. As the noble Lord has acknowledged, it will be provided in due course by a range of external providers. Monitoring can and will take place under the contractual terms because the contractual arrangements are fundamentally outcome-based. As the noble Lord suggests, we should seek to ensure that that monitoring is detailed and covers all the groups affected by the benefit.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, on miscellaneous occasions, the Minister is very fond of asking me for evidence, so perhaps I may be allowed to turn the tables. Does he have any evidence whatever to give him confidence that people requiring the extra help and support to work, which they will get on the employment and support allowance, will not instead be placed on jobseeker’s allowance, where that help is not available?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, we do not have the new assessment in yet. However, looking at the history of the programmes in place to date, we can see that Pathways to Work has helped more people back into employment and has contributed to fewer people being on incapacity benefit. Therefore, in practice, it is working now. There will be a legislative requirement, which, as the noble Lord will remember, we put in place in the Welfare Reform Act last year, to ensure that monitoring on this takes place on an annual basis over the first five years.

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: My Lords, what powers can the Government use to control private sector providers, through the Pathways to Work programme, if they fall down on their job of providing support and advice for disabled people?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, the powers would be in the contractual arrangements. Those contracts will be structured, as I said, to ensure that they are outcome-focused and that those providers undertake support for all in the group and not just cherry-pick those who are easiest to get back into work and to sustain in work. That contractual monitoring will be the process of holding those contractors to account.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that many people have been made incapable of work through prescribed tranquilisers and sleeping pills? Will he look into that and try to help such people who have memory loss and whose doctors do not review their prescribed drugs?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I do not have that point in my brief, but I shall certainly follow it up. What is important on this agenda, and on the wider agenda which was covered in Dame Carol Black’s report on the health of working-age people, is the

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engagement of GPs and encouraging them to understand that work can be good for people’s health. Their role may well be focused on helping people back into work rather than signing them off sick, as happens now. The crucial recommendation about seeking to convert the sick note to a fit note is part of that process.

EU: Lisbon Treaty

3.23 pm

Lord Elton asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, ratification of the Lisbon treaty is a matter for individual states to complete through their own national processes. In this country the proper place for debate and decision is Parliament. Votes in both Houses have rejected a referendum.

Lord Elton: My Lords, though my Question may seem to have been overtaken by events, the Answer certainly has not. Are the Government not aware—as virtually everyone else outside this building is—that the great majority of the British electorate did want the referendum which Parliament has now decided they shall not have? Are the Government not aware that regardless of whether there is a state of ignorance among the British public about the benefits that the treaty might confer on them, which the Government have allowed to develop, the great majority of that electorate also do not want the treaty which the Government say they must have? Is it surprising that Parliament and politicians are falling into contempt in this country? Can the Government not take the opportunity this afternoon to reverse that?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I accept what the noble Lord says about the British electorate wishing to have referendums, or referenda. On practically every question ever put to the British public on any subject, when asked if they would like a referendum on that subject, they have said that of course they would. I think that that is a measure of a healthy and thriving democracy. However, it is quite clear that Parliament must make its view known and take its decision. In both Houses, as I said, votes have been taken with the majority in favour of not having a referendum.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that when a question has been overtaken by events, the sensible thing to do is to withdraw it? As long as you persist with the question one can only presume that it is an exercise in either absurdity or mischief-making. Would it not be absurd to ask both Houses of Parliament, which have supported this Bill and opposed a referendum by big majorities, now to turn their parliamentary sovereignty on its head? Can

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she see any way in which that would show any respect to the people of Ireland while at the same time not showing serious disrespect to both Houses of Parliament?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, it is very important to respect the will of both Houses of Parliament; that is a fundamental part of our democracy and the rules that we have both in your Lordships’ House and in another place. I believe—this is an issue that has been raised many times in the course of our hours of deliberation—that we do respect our own parliamentary sovereignty and make our own decisions.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, is the Minister aware that public opinion polls show that the great majority of the British people, to quote the noble Lord, Lord Elton, are in favour of an extension to 42 days in detention—or indeed, as some would say, 420 days in detention—but that recent opinion polls also show that a great majority of the British people think that David Davis is absolutely right to resign his seat and campaign against it? Should we therefore be a little careful about forgetting that good democratic government is a dialogue between government, the politicians and the public and not simply following what public opinion says this week?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, the noble Lord makes an important point about trends and what happens within opinion polls. I have heard many politicians on all sides of your Lordships’ House condemn or condone opinion polls depending on what they say at any particular time. Of course the noble Lord is right: this is a dialogue. But it is absolutely clear to my mind that we have a parliamentary democracy and that parliamentarians have a responsibility to make their decisions. On this issue, they have.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, does the Leader of the House recall that the Conservative Party, despite its new affection for referenda, has in our lifetime introduced only one referendum? It was in 1961, on the closing of public houses in Wales on Sundays.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord is correct in what he says. Post all of our deliberations on this particular treaty, I would very much welcome your Lordships’ House having a really serious debate about the important issue of the role of referendums.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, does the Minister agree that while indeed it is right that we have a representative parliamentary democracy which must decide things, one of the reasons why so many people in this country are anxious about the Lisbon treaty is precisely that they see it leading eventually to an erosion of that parliamentary sovereignty?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, that may be what the British people have been led to believe, but it is clear to all of us who have had the privilege of studying the treaty in detail that that is not the case.

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One of the great advantages of the treaty is that national parliaments have a greater say than they have ever had before.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the noble Baroness said that whenever the people were asked whether they wanted a referendum the answer was always yes. But has she not, with the greatest of respect, missed the point? The point is that at the general election every party said that the public would have a referendum but now the Government that they will not.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Earl has missed the point. The point is that that promise was made on a constitution. This is not a constitution. This is a reforming treaty similar to the reforming treaties that noble Lords opposite brought through your Lordships’ House.

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, is it not significant that in the Dáil yesterday the Taoiseach specifically did not ask us to postpone our process and will not? Is it not also significant that all other Foreign Ministers on Monday at Luxembourg asked us to proceed with our process?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, in operating within a European Union, it is important that member states retain their sovereignty in making their own determinations on issues. We have talked long, and will talk later this afternoon, about the importance of respecting what the Irish people have decided. Equally, it is important that we continue our deliberations as this Parliament and come to our own conclusions.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the question asked of the Irish people was not the deceptively simple question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Elton? It was so complicated that not even a Lord Chancellor or Lord of Appeal in Ordinary could understand it without detailed examination.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I do not wish to comment on the Irish situation, but there is certainly a general issue about the questions that one asks in referendums and whether people are able to understand them and give a considered response. That is a broader question that, as I have already said, I would be keen for your Lordships’ House to debate.

European Union (Amendment) Bill

3.30 pm

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that she, having been informed of the purport of the European Union (Amendment) Bill, has consented to place her Prerogative and Interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

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Lord Howell of Guildford rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that this Bill be now read a third time, to leave out from “that” to the end and insert “, notwithstanding the normal practice of the House, this Bill be read a third time no earlier than Monday 20 October 2008 to allow—

(a) Parliament to consider the most appropriate response to the changed circumstances and uncertainties caused by the rejection of the Lisbon treaty in the Irish referendum; and

(b) any amendments to the Bill made necessary by those changed circumstances to be considered in detail by the House, if necessary on recommitment”.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have already touched this afternoon in our brief exchanges on the Lisbon treaty and the implications of events that took place over the weekend. I think it is right to say—I hope that it is not controversial—that most authorities recognise that the treaty of Lisbon is and has to be technically dead. It had to be ratified to become alive—to exist—by all 27 of the signatories to it, and one of those signatories has declared that it does not wish to do so and has rejected it. That is the technical position; I do not think it is widely disputed.

One has to be realistic—perhaps in this House it is particularly our duty to be realistic—and recognise that corpses can be resuscitated in certain circumstances and by certain ingenious devices. Anyone who has studied the commentaries in the chancelleries of Europe and in Brussels over the weekend will have heard some of those devices mentioned. One is that explanatory protocols should be somehow attached to the treaty that would not change the text but would make life easier for the Irish to review their situation. Another is that there should be political commitments by the other 26 member states that would again make special exceptions for the Irish and meet some of their obvious worries. There have also been some proposals about the so-called provisional application or disapplication of certain parts of the Lisbon treaty, which would not affect the treaty but somehow become internationally binding in law—our law as well as international law.

That is the position that we face. While the treaty text cannot be changed in any way and has been rejected by the people of the Republic of Ireland, some of the provisions and moves that I describe could take place. I do not know whether they will—none of us does—and we do not know whether they will succeed in keeping Ireland within the European Union, which I think is what most people want. What is crystal clear to me, and I hope to your Lordships, is that Parliament will need to take account of any changes in its legislation and in the Bill. My contention, which seems straightforward, is that the other place—the elected Chamber; we are not the elected Chamber—must be allowed some control in these matters.

That is why, even from the Government’s point of view, completing and signing off this Bill now with a brisk Third Reading would be extremely unwise. Far from pushing the Bill through, it could be argued that it is fortunate for the Government that we are just in time to save the situation and to give the Government and the other place, which is the elected Chamber, the

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chance to cope with a new situation and the new additions and adjustments that may occur and for which there are precedents.

In a just world we should be thanked for delaying the Third Reading, which is what I am proposing. I know, having been in politics for some time, that there is no gratitude in politics, so I do not expect any thanks whatever. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the prudent course is to wait a few months and see whether further amendments are called for—none of us knows—or whether the Bill is redundant and can be discarded because the treaty cannot be brought into force. This seems to me so obvious that I wondered—it may be pure self-delusion—whether we might have the benefit of the Liberal Democrats’ support for this democratic course. I have two quotes from the Liberal Democrat leadership to give me some hope, although I am the first to recognise that quotes fly off the Liberal Democrats in all directions like sparks from a catherine wheel and others may be found to contradict them.

First, the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesman said in the Commons that the Liberal Democrats,

Secondly, their leader, Mr Clegg, said on the “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday:

That seems pretty decisive and would indicate that the Liberal Democrats will give me some support, but I live in slender hopes. There is also some Liberal Democrat theory that Third Reading and Royal Assent, which will happen immediately, do not automatically mean ratification, but the Government have made it clear that once the Bill is through—if it gets through—the ratification will happen immediately. That is a distinction without a difference.

Either the treaty is truly dead, and no longer exists, in which case the next stage of Third Reading is pointless and a waste of all our time, or there will be some clever changes to help the Irish to stay on board. In the Government’s language, the treaty is not killed off entirely. In that case, it is our duty in your Lordships’ House to give the elected Chamber the chance to reflect on the new situation and accordingly suggest changes that will be necessary to our legislation. Either way, it is a deep misjudgment to hurry the Bill through its final stage and seal off further discussion of the new situation rather than carefully and prudently delay it until the situation is clearer and Parliament has had a chance to reassess.

Our bright and active Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, who is a very able young man, says that patience is needed in this situation. So it is; and that patience should begin with the Government and with the handling of the Bill. I therefore beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that this Bill be now read a third time, to leave out from “that” to the end and insert “, notwithstanding the normal practice of the House, this Bill be read a third time no earlier than Monday 20 October 2008 to allow—

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(a) Parliament to consider the most appropriate response to the changed circumstances and uncertainties caused by the rejection of the Lisbon treaty in the Irish referendum; and

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