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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not entirely agree with the noble Lords description of what the handbook takes into account. It is a rather large document650 pages, when I looked at itand something of a holy grail for the rail industrys investment
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Lord Berkeley: My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that at least one train operator has recorded a 16 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the past six months? The evidence is that that is because of the high price of oil and people are turning from road to rail. Given that the Governments forecasts of passenger traffic are still based on $57 a barrel for oil and it is now over $140, is it not time that the new forecasts took into account the much higher price of oil that most people believe is likely to be with us for a long time?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord makes a timely point but I think that the general industry view is that it is too soon to know whether higher fuel prices will encourage people to switch from road to rail. There is no real evidence so far. Road and rail journeys are not perfect substitutes and, in view of how commuter traffic works, individuals discouraged from driving their cars may not necessarily make the equivalent journey shift to rail. I recognise in part the statistics to which the noble Lord refers, but the latest quarterly edition of National Rail Trends reported a 4.4 per cent increase in passenger kilometres and a 4.8 per cent increase in passenger journeys this quarter compared with 2006-07.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, passenger rail usage is clearly linked to price. On regulated services the price of tickets will rise automatically with inflation, but incomes will not. Is this desirable or undesirable?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, fare elasticity clearly has a bearing on these things, but we have had a policy of ensuring that regulated fares increase over time by RPI plus 1 per cent. Some 50 per cent of fares on the networks are regulated and some 80 per cent are either regulated or discounted. That may account for the fact that in the past 10 years we have had a 40 per cent increase in the number of passengers travelling on the network and we project a further 30 per cent growth in the next 10 years. I would argue that that is a success story.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, given the very encouraging figures that my noble friend is giving for future demand for rail travel, will the Government give every support to Network Rail in its plans to build new high-speed lines to the north and also its proposals for electrification of more of the network?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord is obviously referring to recent comments by the Secretary of State about high speed. We are working with Network Rail to examine options for further
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Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, on these Benches we are deeply concerned that the change in circumstances affects the forecasting. For instance, the new railway station at Alloa in Scotland was forecast to have 12,000 passengers a month but the figure in the first month was actually 35,000. The forecast seemed to be totally awry. What are the Government going to do about this?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I will feed the noble Lords up-to-date information into our forecasts to make sure that they are timely and accurate. Apart from that, we keep a careful account of the projected increases, and the figures I gave earlier are a clear indication of our confidence in the projections to date. Of course we have to have flexibility. That is why we announced last year a £10 billion expenditure increase to take account of the capacity demands that we expect to see until 2014.
Lord Elton: My Lords, the noble Lord has already half answered my question. What processes are triggered when the handbook predicts traffic growth in excess of the capacity of the line to which it is applied?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the Government have to take account of these things and one of the reasons why we have had a successful rail strategy in the past few years is that we have anticipated some of that growth. We are delighted that more people are using the rail network now than at any time since 1946 and that the numbers are rising every year. We are planning for that growth and investing in new capacity and the public are clearly responding. They are increasingly using the rail network and see it as a safe, comfortable and environmentally friendly way of travelling about our great nation.
Lord Greaves: My Lords, have not the biggest increases in rail traffic in recent years occurred where services have increased, new rolling stock has been provided and there are more and better trains? In that respect, does the Minister understand that it will not increase so much on dead-end lines with dead-end services such as that between Preston and Colne in east Lancashire? In particular, do the Government support the reinstatement of the Todmorden curve to allow fast services from Burnley to Manchester?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord has an enviable record in making that case and I congratulate him. We are neither for nor against the reopening of lines. If an effective business case for particular lines can be made and supported and it is economical then there is a good case to reopen them. As he knows, I have my own sympathies in that direction. However, we have to marry that with the demands for increased capacity on the network as a whole. His point about increasing the quality of rolling stock is extremely good, as it will make using the trains a much more attractive option.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, the policy co-ordination and monitoring of the national promotion systems for sergeant, inspector and senior ranks in the police service are the responsibility of the National Policing Improvement Agency. The NPIA uses recognised selection techniques that are designed and delivered to identify police officers with the right skills and abilities for promotion, while being fair to all candidates irrespective of their background.
Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. There are at present two high-profile cases where dissatisfaction is expressed by Muslim police officers. Disquiet is expressed also by their trade association. I have been told that 20 police forces were unable to send answers to questionnaires submitted by the association and a think tank. I remind your Lordships House of the figures for BME officers: there is one chief constable and there are eight members of ACPO out of 300 and 32 superintendents out of 1,600. Something is not quite right. Will the Government consider asking all the police forces to complete the questionnaire and undertake a review of diversity, promotion of BME officers and their appointment to specialist departments?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Lord asked a number of questions. We need to make it absolutely clear that we are committed to a police serviceit is true of the military as wellthat reflects the society that it defends. That is crucial. It may not have achieved that exact percentage, but we are doing a huge number of things to make it happen and work. The Association of Muslim Police used a think tank, Demos, to send out questionnaires. The police were concerned about writing back to a think tank with details of Muslim officers in their forces, which I understand. Our officials are meeting the Association of Muslim Police this week to discuss that issue, and I know that the Home Secretary is keen to meet the association next week to talk it through, because it is important. The police service needs to reflect society, butmy goodnesswe have a good story to tell.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, serious allegations have been made against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner about racial discrimination. Similar allegations have been made against a senior civil servant in the Home Office and against the Metropolitan Police Authority. Would it not be appropriate to invite the Equality and Human Rights Commission to mount a formal investigation into policies on retention, recruitment and promotion of people from ethnic minorities in police forces?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I do not feel that such a thing is necessary. We have mechanisms in place for addressing these matters. As I have stated, the numbers are not absolutely right. For example, about 8 per cent of the Metropolitan Police is BMEthat is not enough. It is important that it reflects society. In New York, something like 45 per cent of the police force is made up of BME officers, which makes a huge difference on the streets. We have a number of mechanisms in place. During the past year, one in four police recruited came from a BME background. That is a huge change from three years ago. We have learnt our lessons and we are trying to do things. I do not think that another study or group looking into all of this would help. We need to concentrate on high-potential development schemes aimed at BME officers, the National Senior Careers Advisory Service and the positive action leadership programme. These are all good things and one has to work at it, because all of us in this House and in the nation realise how important it is. However, it does not happen overnight; it is difficult to achieve.
Baroness Warsi: My Lords, this is not only about fairness or quotas. Does the Minister accept that, in the interests of operational effectiveness, especially in counterterrorism, it is essential that Britains police forces reflect Britains diverse communities? How many officers currently engaged in counterterrorism activity are from Britains minority faith communities?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes an important point. Again, I refer back to New York, where there is amazing coverage that allows links in. Certainly, on counterterrorism, I would love to have more police officers and people in SO15 from ethnic-minority communities. I do not know the exact figure, but I will write to the noble Baroness. I could not but agree with the noble Baroness; it is absolutely crucial. We are working very hard at this, and we have to take into account the views of other people. I was interested to hear people talking about this on a radio chat show on my way here at lunchtime. Of course, other parts of the community have different views. We have to balance all those things and other perceptions. We have a good story to tell and we are working very hard at this, but we have to do better. If I were marking myself, I would say Do better. We are trying, and we will do so.
Lord Dear: My Lords, perhaps I may set the Question in a slightly wider context. Can the Minister outline, for the benefit of the House, the arrangements that exist for the development of leaders in the British police service, as opposed to the development of managers, which is rather different?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Lord has gone slightly beyond the scope of the Question. We are about to produce a Green Paper, which I hope will address this issue. We have talked about it on the Floor of the House before. As noble Lords can imagine, with my background I feel strongly that one needs leadership not only in the police, the military and other such areas, but in business. Sometimes we rather
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Baroness Howells of St Davids: My Lords, the Macpherson report clearly stated that there was institutional racism in the police force. One of its suggestions was that the police force should undertake awareness training. As I understand it, that has been dropped, especially among the senior officers who are responsible for promotion. Can the Minister comment on why that was left out?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, perhaps I may write to the noble Baroness on that point as I was not aware of it. I know, for example, that Doreen Lawrence is very closely involved with the NPIA on a number of developments and in making sure that we go in the right direction. I do not know the specifics, so I will have to write to the noble Baroness.
Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Members of the House who were present in Committee and on Report will be aware that the emphasis of some amendments was on the position, fears and concerns of consumers and whether those concerns were addressed in the Bill.
However, during Committee there was much discussion among trade unions about what some believed to be a lack of consideration of the workforces views.
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During the Bills passage there was much debate about ensuring that the new CQC has regard to users of health and social care services. There was support from all sides of the House for amendments to ensure that the new CQC must have regard to the views and experiences of people who use health and social care services and to their family and friends. My amendment would build on previous amendments to ensure that there is a similar reference in the Bill to the health and social care workforce. It aims to ensure that the CQC works closely with staff representatives and pays similar regard to their views and experience.
As we debated, under certain conditions a deterioration of care in a care home may be more likely, for example, when there is a change of ownership, a change of registered manager or an unexplained increase in staff turnover. Often, staff in these situations have vital knowledge about when and how these circumstances are likely to arise. Their experience should play a role in developing the range of triggers for additional inspection of care homes. It is important that a way is found to harness this knowledge and to provide a way in which the CQC can regularly take on board the advice of staff in developing its methodology. Amendment No. 1 would add a consideration to the list of matters to which the commission must have regard: the views expressed by staff employed in activities to which the commissions functions relate, and of trade unions and professional organisations representing them.
Amendment No. 11 to Schedule 1 would build on this by putting in place provisions to ensure that the views and experience of staff have a role in the centre of the commissions governance structures. Schedule 1 refers to the advisory committee that the CQC must appoint to provide advice and information to it. It specifies that the,
However, this amendment would explicitly require that a member of the workforce sit on the committee. In Committee we debated ways of achieving this important role for users. It is also important to put in place a process by which the commission is required to take on board the experience of the workforce. Ensuring staff representation on this advisory committee would enable them to have a role in the development of the commissions methodology for inspection and review, which is appropriate to maximise public protection. Those working with staff employed in health and social care would greatly welcome assurances from the Government about the way the CQC will be expected to use the expertise of the workforce to ensure the highest level of public protection.
I am well aware that the Government have had very little notice of this amendment and I recognise that my noble friend is in a somewhat difficult position in answering the issues that I raised. However, I would welcome any statement that she can make from the Dispatch Box to assure members of trade unions representing the workforce that their voice will be
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Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I very much appreciate the intention of my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours in tabling Amendments Nos. 1 and 11. In many ways, I wish that he had tabled them earlier in our proceedings, but I will do my best to be positive and to satisfy him. We want to ensure that the views of staff in organisations that provide or commission health and social care are properly represented in the new regulator.
We have discussed at length the importance of engaging and involving people who use services. I believe this is quite proper, given the concerns that the voice of the service user might otherwise not be heard. However, I would certainly not want to give the impression that the views of staff are not also important. We recognise the important contribution that staff in health and social care services make to the work of the Care Quality Commission. They are able to draw on their expert knowledge and experience and offer insight gained from working on the front line. Given that crucial insight and the importance of making sure that providers maintain proper working conditions, it has always been our intention for the Care Quality Commission to take account of the views of staff and their representative bodies.
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