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This debate has been a great occasion. I have very much enjoyed—as the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, suggested—being chivvied on a range of very important issues. I have listened very carefully to all the contributions made. My noble friends Lady Amos and Lord Griffiths of Burry Port brought to my mind a very important thing that we must all remember to do and that is to celebrate the success and the contribution of our young people in our society. They explained very eloquently the possibilities for communities to nurture and celebrate their young people. We should all do this and the Government should play their part in promoting this. I feel enormously encouraged by their words. I will make sure that when the department looks at plans to develop campaigns to change the perceptions of young people and to work with the children’s commissioners and other stakeholders, it will take note of their words and the example, in particular, of Hackney. To this end, we are also piloting celebration events across the country and looking at what role National Youth Week could play in celebrating the achievement of our young people.

We were all taken with the thoughts of the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, and my noble friend Lady McIntosh on the concept of linguistic deprivation. I have to declare an interest as someone who has for many years enjoyed listening to “Go4it” on the motorway

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back from Wales with my daughter on a Sunday night. The quality and contribution of children’s radio is something that I would be very proud to celebrate. The Government very much support the principle of high-quality children’s radio. We recognise the concern over provision. This has been raised by the independent regulator Ofcom and by the Government’s own interim Digital Britain report, as my noble friend asked. The BBC has a duty, as part of its charter, to provide educational content for children. However, noble Lords are aware that it is up to the BBC to determine how this is provided. I reassure my noble friend Lady Macintosh that we have a very strong commitment to the find your talent initiative. I am very happy to reiterate that and to take note of her comments on quality.

The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, drew attention to the Bercow review. The Government have committed £12 million to implement the recommendations made by the honourable Member for Buckingham. A further £40 million will support speaking and listening in the early years; we have heard about the Every Child a Talker programme today. Invitations for the commissioning of pathfinders he recommended went out in March. Subsequently, we issued a tender for an organisation to support the communication champion and the communication council.

The noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, talked about the importance of motherhood. I reassure her that the Government have a very strong commitment to the provision of quality childcare, particularly for children in areas of deprivation. As of March 2009, there were more than 1.3 million registered childcare places, more than double the figure in 1997. In 1997 there was one registered childcare place for every eight children; now there is one for four children under the age of eight. Taking into account turnover, at August 2008, more than 664,000 new Ofsted registered places have been created since 1997.

The noble Baroness, Lady Verma, asked about Sure Start children’s centres. These have been evaluated and recognised as being high achieving. We now have 3,000—we celebrated the opening of the 3,000thlast week. We expect to achieve 3,500 centres by 2010. That is, I believe, one in every community.

Many noble Lords talked about the importance of getting it right for children in custody. In particular, my noble friend Lady Massey, the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, talked to us most forcefully and eloquently on this subject. We will have further debates on the Bill. Of course, custody for under-18s is a last resort for only the most serious and persistent offenders to prevent offending in the community and to protect the public. The Government have developed a range of non-custodial sentences to deal with young offenders, and we are working hard to reduce the size of the population of young people in custody. I want to put it on the record that we are committed to improving the safety and welfare of all children and young people in custody, and I hear very clearly the noble Lord’s comments about the importance of accountability and responsibility. I look forward to working with him further on taking those thoughts forward.

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The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, spoke eloquently about the importance of getting family law right and about the changes to the legal aid system and its impact on children and families, and family lawyers. Child protection is the overriding priority and I am advised that our changes are about redirecting £4.4 million to ensure that some 3,500 child protection cases will receive funding, that there are more than 3,000 family legal aid barristers and that we are confident that their services will not be significantly affected. But I heard loudly her caution—I am very committed to working with family lawyers to make sure that we can make the system work in the best interests of children.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, talked about the work going on in CAFCASS. I note very carefully her commitment to put children at the centre of its work and to work with both parents and fathers. However, I am watching very carefully the trends in the level of care proceedings cases and we will be working with all those in the system to see how, as the noble Lord, Lord Laming, recommended, we can reduce delays in the system and deliver the best possible outcomes for children who are potentially to be taken into care.

Many noble Lords talked about looked-after children, including my noble friend Lady Massey, the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, and of course the noble Baroness, Lady Garden of Frognal. I absolutely agree that stability is one of the most fundamental issues and we need to ensure that looked-after children can experience stability in their care placements. We have, as the Select Committee recently pointed out, a very comprehensive Care Matters programme which is looking at every aspect of the care system to ensure that we can achieve the best possible outcomes for looked-after children. Yes, the outcomes for them are improving in terms of stability, educational outcomes and the number of young people who leave the care system going into jobs and suitable accommodation. However, this is far from anything like enough. Much more needs to be done, and we are committed to doing that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, talked about child trafficking. I will look at the report published today and we will take it extremely seriously. It is a very worrying issue and, like her, it concerns me deeply.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, talked about the importance of mental health services. We are issuing revised statutory guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked-after children. This talks about CAMHS and we will be involved in a consultation.

My noble friend Lady Uddin spoke about the impact of drugs and alcohol on families and children. We are extremely committed to tackling this. The family intervention projects that we promote are being significantly invested in and are creating some significant results. We hope that they can be more widely implemented across our communities.

However, my noble friend Lady Massey started this debate by talking about a report card. This is something that as a department we are very interested in looking at. When we talk about looking at the results from our

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schools and education system, I am very interested in how a report card could be used in the education system to take account of well-being. I hope that we will be able to debate that in the future.

As many people have asked: what do children think and have to say about their experiences? The department’s TellUs3 survey involving 150,000 children in England is a very sharp instrument for understanding what children think. It found that 69 per cent of young people say that they feel happy about life—sometimes we can have a glass that is half full. Some 90 per cent agreed that England is a good place to grow up in. Sadly, I am talking just about England, although I am sure that Wales and Scotland would reflect a similar experience. Despite all the changes that have occurred in society over recent decades, a recent poll conducted by the BBC suggests that three-quarters of British families are optimistic about the future; that is 24 per cent higher than when the same question was asked in 1964. It is worth bearing that context in mind when we debate support for the family, children and child well-being.

This House is very well aware that the Children’s Plan puts children and families at the centre of everything that the Government do. It is the first of its kind. The plan is underpinned by the general principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The plan aims to give every child the best chance in life and to make this country the best in the world to grow up in. As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, the plan is underpinned by the widely acclaimed Every Child Matters outcomes. These are about children being healthy, safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being, which has featured strongly in this debate. Those outcomes provide us with a means of measuring our progress towards that objective. It is important to remember that these aims reinforce each other. As my noble friend Lady Massey pointed out, it is about how all this meshes into improving the real experience of children. A child who is healthy is likely to do better at school; a child who enjoys life is likely to go on to make a positive contribution to the lives of others.

We do not achieve our aims unless we can create a new culture that puts the child or young person at the centre of the process—as the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, said as regards CAFCASS—and giving them more say about issues that affect them. Listening and responding to what they tell us is important. That in turn will require everyone providing services for children and families to work more collaboratively by sharing information and operating across professional boundaries. That is an essential theme of our approach. That is what we are aiming to empower the children’s workforce to do through our 2020 children’s workforce strategy, which is all about helping to create common language and a social work profession that is empowered, knows its role and contribution, and is not tied up in red tape, as the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, suggested. That is how we will deliver on the commitments to our communities that we made in the Children’s Plan.

That is the approach we are taking on children’s health, for example. Earlier this year we published the first ever children’s health strategy; Healthy Lives,

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Brighter Futures
, setting out the high-quality health services children and their families have a right to expect from birth through to the age of 19. We commissioned a review of child and adolescent mental health services, and have accepted the majority of the review’s recommendations. We are working on all of them, including individualised care packages for vulnerable children, which I know the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is very concerned about. We have also made £60 million available to fund a programme of targeted mental health services in schools. That is about taking a universal service and making the most of helping children and young people access special mental health services.

We are also working across Government to tackle obesity, which my noble friend Lady Billingham talked about and is one of the most pressing health concerns affecting young people. Since the publication of the Government’s £372 million Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy in January 2008, we have introduced tough food standards in primary schools, and we are extending them to secondary and special schools in the autumn. We have highlighted and tightened up regulations on broadcast advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar. But we cannot act on obesity simply by looking at what children eat. We also need to encourage them to be more active, so our action on obesity goes hand in hand with our action on play and sport. As we have already heard, the Children’s Plan announced the biggest ever investment in outdoor active play by the Government: £235 million over three years. I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, that we have achieved 500 new or refurbished play schemes. We are on target to achieve the plan’s results. That will allow every local authority to develop or improve play areas in line with local needs.

We have also improved opportunities for high-quality sport and PE within schools, with 90 per cent of five to 16 year-olds now doing two hours a week. I cannot comment on the daylight robbery that my noble friend Lady Billingham spoke about, but I agree that sport is key. I do not wish to stray out of my knowledge or expertise, but this debate will be continued in the House of Lords. As I have seen during my time here, it raises passions.

Everyone here will be familiar with the circumstances that led to the commissioning of the recent report by the noble Lord, Lord Laming, on safeguarding procedures. We are all extremely mindful of the tragedy and the tragic death of Baby Peter. We have promised to act swiftly to implement his recommendations. As the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, said, it is essential that all 58 recommendations are acted on swiftly, and we are committed to doing that.

One of the noble Lord’s most significant conclusions was that childcare professionals and everyone else with a safeguarding role must work more closely together if children are to be protected; again, the theme of my noble friend Lady Massey comes out across a number of issues. The noble Lord, Lord Laming, recommended that we have in place robust policies on which to build. He looked carefully at the policy foundation of Every Child Matters and recommended that there is a consensus among professionals and all those involved in safeguarding that the Every Child Matters reforms set the right

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direction. However, while there is excellent practice in many areas of the country, in others the picture is less good. We recognise that, which is why we have taken action.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, suggested, I am particularly glad to restate the Government’s commitment to reforming the social work profession. We agree that we must move further and faster in order to make arrangements in this country for protecting children and to make sure that they are the best in the world. It is perhaps in the area of economic well-being that the benefits of working across boundaries are most obvious. Money is not the cure for all ills, but families with inadequate financial resources are likely to find the normal challenges of raising children even harder. As my noble friend Lady Hollis said, as eloquently as ever, we have made a commitment to eradicating child poverty within a generation, a target that has not been dropped. I am proud that we can show real progress, but we have much more to do. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester made clear the challenges that we face.

The Child Poverty Unit is leading this work across Whitehall, and between 1998-99 and 2007-8, 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty. The measures announced in the 2007 Budget will lift a further 500,000 more children out of poverty. We will be receiving in this House a child poverty Bill, which I hope will make the ending of child poverty a goal of future UK Governments.

In the economic downturn, our priority is to support all families and to protect jobs. Significant additional support for lower income families has been announced over the past year, including lower VAT, and a further £25 tax cut for basic rate taxpayers. Those are contributions. Tax credits benefit around 6 million families and 10 million children. We have brought forward increases to child benefit, which is important to support all families across the UK.

In many ways you could argue children have never lived so well, but we must recognise that there is an enormous amount more to do. This has been an extremely important debate. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Massey for introducing it and for setting out her themes and making an important opportunity for the Government to receive some gentle chivvying, some important lessons and some contributions. I look forward to working with all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate to make sure that we can make this the best country in the world for children to grow up in.

2.35 pm

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I hope I will not again be the victim of technological problems. I was hoping that this microphone would deliver the test score, but it has not. As I expected, this debate has been brilliant and varied. We have had everything, including a bit of singing. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part for their many wise words and for their obvious practical experience of the issues. I could not possibly acknowledge all those contributions, but I will write to noble Lords afterwards.

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There has been great emphasis on vulnerable children and examples of success as well as of shortcomings. We should not forget that not all children are from chaotic backgrounds. We need to be concerned for all children. Those who have special needs clearly need special interventions. We have a duty to make sure that those interventions are fast and effective. We should also celebrate the achievements of our young people. I am glad that there has been an emphasis on language development, on creativity, including sport, on personal relationships, on equality including gender equality, and the experience of children in custody and in care. As I said earlier, the connections between services, systems and integration is vital, as is vision and commitment at a local level, which was well described by my noble friend Lady Amos.

I thank the Minister for her sympathetic response. The issues raised here today will not go away. The children’s lobby is persistent. Government commitment is well recognised but there is some way to go. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.



2.37 pm

Moved By Lord Pendry

Lord Pendry: My Lords, I am pleased to secure this debate at a time when there is so much doom and gloom around us. As I am the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tourism and was previously the shadow Minister for both sport and tourism for five years, I continue to have a major interest in the topic under discussion.

By now many people have felt the effects of the crunch, but I think that most people recognise that the situation has little to do with the management of the UK economy and that it is a global problem. However, the purpose of this debate is to lift some of the doom and gloom that lingers around us and instead highlight opportunities for growth in the tourism industry and its greater contribution to sustainable economic growth. As your Lordships know, tourism is no small industry. Last year it was worth £86 billion and constituted 8.7 per cent of the UK’s GDP—three times more than, say, the agricultural sector. It really does touch the parts that other industries do not reach. Every constituency, local authority, and region benefits from our visitor economy. The tourism industry creates jobs at all skill and wage levels. It regenerates communities, both urban and rural, and cannot be outsourced or transferred overseas.

In the 18th century we had vast agricultural, wool and linen industries. Now tourism is the only one that has grown. In the 20th century we had vast manufacturing industries, such as coal and steel. Now tourism is the only one not in decline and which has grown. In the

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past few decades we have seen our call centres, IT and technological industries grow here and then be outsourced overseas, but tourism remains here and grows here. With such a great legacy, it is no surprise that the tourism industry directly supports 1.4 million jobs and indirectly supports 2.7 million jobs, which is 8.5 per cent of the country's workforce.

That is not to say that tourism has been immune from the effects of the downturn. However, recent research by VisitBritain and Visit London shows that despite the gloom and doom, British residents still want to take a holiday, increasingly in the UK. After all, we have great attractions here: great heritage, history, theatre, sport and, increasingly, world-class restaurants. We have never been more affordable to our potential overseas visitors. It is pleasing to read some good news from some financial experts. Steve Johnson, deputy editor of the Financial Times, stated recently that the Budget will give a boost in the City at the expense of the rival markets of Luxembourg, Dublin and the Cayman Islands. Only last week, the Daily Telegraph offered 10 good reasons for being more cheerful. Also, at the beginning of the month, the Financial Times published a survey that suggested that consumer confidence and optimism was at its highest all year.

I urge the Government to capitalise on those sentiments, because domestic tourism accounts for 78 per cent of total UK tourism expenditure. The relative position of sterling against the world currencies means that this country represents better value than it has for years. We are 20 per cent less expensive for Americans than at this time last year and 37 per cent less expensive for Chinese and Japanese visitors.

Let us not forget tourism in other forms. The UK generates foreign earnings of about £1.5 billion from 500,000 students who study in this country. More importantly, there is strong evidence that previous students often return to the UK with friends and family, as tourists or on business. Travel business to the UK constitutes 24.5 per cent, or £9.1 billion of total overnight tourism expenditure. Many businesses have begun to promote eco-friendly practices through water conservation, energy-efficiency, water management, biodiversity and recycling campaigns. Major hotel companies have introduced low carbon initiatives, which the Carbon Trust has estimated will have reduced CO2 emissions by between 6 per cent and 19 per cent.

Those statistics are in themselves impressive, but the tourism industry as a whole could be in much better shape. It could create more jobs. It could deliver more revenue to the Exchequer from our overseas visitors. It could equip young people with skills and careers and generate more civic pride in more of our cities, as we had in Liverpool last year. If only the Government were to give it the support, the political and financial investment, that it deserves, we would be in a better state.

The British tourism framework review, launched in February, revealed that the Government could create real jobs in all parts of the country, increase revenues to the Exchequer and obtain the highest return on investment available. They could achieve all that in weeks, not months, by increasing investment immediately

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in the marketing of this country overseas. It must be remembered that VisitBritain was voted the best tourism board in the world by its peers and a panel of leading travel writers. It has representatives in 36 countries around the world and has expanded in India, China, eastern Europe and south-east Asia.

Past examples have shown that there is much to gain from government investment. A very good example comes from the campaign implemented by VisitBritain after the foot and mouth disease outbreak and the 9/11 attacks, which significantly decrease tourism in 2001. The campaign consisted of £20 million from Treasury reserve funding, match-funded by the industry to create a £40 million campaign in Europe and north America. Within a year, the campaign had generated 1 million additional visitors, who spent £500 million on goods and services in the United Kingdom. Those visitors maintained the jobs of about 12,000 British workers and returned an estimated £90 million straight to the Exchequer.

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