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We have an external reference group comprising people with autism, family, carers and health and social care professionals involved in the front-line delivery of services. We will work closely with the group over the next few months as we develop firm proposals for the final strategy, and we are running a series of consultation events and opportunities so that we can involve many more people, especially those whose voices are less often heard.

The publication of the strategy will be only the first step. We will not simply put it into the public domain and then leave local authorities and the NHS to get on with it. I am pleased to tell the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, that the strategy will be supported by a delivery plan. We will establish clear leadership for delivery of the strategy at national, regional and local level, learning from the model set out in the Valuing People Now strategy for people with learning disabilities, which has proved to be successful in delivering and implementing that strategy.

To give teeth to delivery, we will consult on and produce detailed guidance to set out what the NHS and local authorities need to do to achieve the changes that we expect to see described in the strategy. This guidance will be put on a statutory footing for both local authorities and NHS bodies. Again, we are happy to be tied to a clear date by which that guidance will be published. Some might feel that nine months between the final publication deadlines for the strategy and the supporting guidance is rather a long time, but until we have completed the consultation on the strategy and are more certain about what the priorities for action are going to be, we cannot start working up meaningful guidance in detail.

As we are going to place an obligation on the NHS and local authorities to act in accordance with the guidance, we must allow time to consult them so that we do not set requirements that it is impossible for them to meet in practice. We may well be able to issue the guidance considerably earlier than the end of 2010, but we have taken the prudent step of ensuring that we have sufficient time to do the job properly.

With the Bill we have made a firm commitment on the key issues that the guidance will need to cover: the provision of diagnostic services, information-gathering, needs assessment, the strategic planning of services, transition planning, workforce training and local leadership.

We have already moved forward significantly on our commitment to deliver improvements for adults with autism. On 2 April the Government published guidance for commissioners aimed at the NHS and

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local authorities. This sets out good practice for the strategic planning of health and care services to meet the needs of adults with autism.

We are commissioning a study on the prevalence of autism in adults-I will come back to that issue in a moment-and a Public Health Observatory to further improve the data and knowledge in this area. We acknowledge that data are a major issue. We will address issues relating to the collection of data on adults with autism by engaging with local communities, voluntary sector experts and carers to work out how to overcome problems with collecting information locally.

Joint strategic needs assessments are a key mechanism for commissioners to understand the needs of local people. Information included in JSNAs about people with autism is critical to ensuring that better services are planned and commissioned locally. The work we are taking forward, including publishing guidance and sharing good practice, will help to improve the information that local services can access to inform commissioning decisions.

My noble friend has explained the Government's proposals for children. I add that supporting children and young people with autism is an important part of the work we are engaged in through the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme. Supporting young people as they move into adulthood is perhaps the area of greatest interest and concern. That is why we established the £19 million Transition Support programme and why we have listed transition as one of the issues that guidance to support the autism strategy must cover.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism's latest report, published last week, fits well with the existing research on young people with autism and with the larger body of research on disabled young people and transition. It highlights some key features of what should be available in good transition support, and I can confirm that these are the issues that our forthcoming research study on autism and transitions will explore. I expect that the study will begin in November this year and end in January 2012. I am sorry that, due to procurement rules around confidentiality, I am unable to give further details now; as soon as it is possible to give further information, I will certainly do so.

I shall respond to some of the points made by noble Lords, particularly the noble Baronesses, Lady Tonge and Lady Verma. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, for her remarks and compliments. I always do my best to respond to the issues raised in your Lordships' House, and I will continue to do so.

Both noble Baronesses asked why so few JSNAs cover autism. We accept that this is a problem, which is why we are publishing the good practice guidance. It will set out what a good JSNA looks like so that people do not fall through the net. We have not to date collected the data on the numbers of leads and named leads for autism, but I think I shall take that point back to the department and ask why that is not possible, as it seems to be a suggestion that we should pursue.

Both noble Baronesses asked about jobcentres and trained staff. The DWP is committed to ensuring proper training, but I will again pass that question to

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my noble friend there to see if I can put on the record specific details about how that is achieved, and I will write to noble Lords with the answers.

The noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, asked about the delays in announcing the prevalence research. In May 2008, we announced prevalence study as a key element in developing our autism strategy but, having initially pursued a single tender for this research, our procurement rules meant that that option could not be pursued. So that has led to a delay, for which I apologise. However, we remain committed to ensuring that the study starts this year and once it reports, we will have a better picture of the numbers of adults with autism. This research will aim to inform strategic planning at central and local level.

The noble Baroness asked what we are doing to ensure that health and social services share resources to support people with autism. Many people with autism who use learning disability services already benefit from pooled budget arrangements. Some 83 per cent of local authorities have a formal arrangement for a pooled budget with the NHS for services for learning-disabled people aged 18 to 64. I do not pretend that these always work perfectly, but the existing legislation makes provision for local authorities and the NHS to make use of pooled budgets, and we certainly encourage them to do so.

As usual, the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, set me many exam questions. I will endeavour to answer some, but if I cannot answer them all, I will write with the answers. The noble Baroness asked whether statutory guidance will specify that JSNAs must cover autism and that assessments should be done only by properly trained staff. We cannot pre-empt the consultation on guidance but we would expect it to address this area.

I think that I have already addressed the noble Baroness's question about how we expect JSNAs to function. I also think that I have addressed the issue of the National Autistic Society's briefing, how we are working with it, and the fact that it is an integral part of the consultation process.

I can confirm that we are very keen to get the views of people who are less often heard. We are using targeted discussions and e-forum one-to-one questionnaires. We are using voluntary organisations, the health service at local level and are carrying out written and e-mail approaches in groups and workshops.

I think that I have addressed the question of getting Royal Assent before the Summer Recess. The recommended minimum intervals between stages of the Bill mean that this cannot be done, but that does not mean that work is not moving forward.

The noble Baroness asked why the strategy and the guidance could not be published at the same time. I have already explained that we cannot begin to develop the guidance before the strategy is written. Until we know what the autism strategy will say, we should not publish the guidance. This is a no-win situation: of course we want to implement this but we need to make sure that we get it right.

We have made it very clear that training is a key area for public service professionals in our autism strategy. On monitoring progress, it is too early to say

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what indicators would trigger a review when we have not actually written the strategy yet, but once we have finalised it and highlighted the outcomes of key actions at national, local and regional level that we want to see delivered, then we will set in place arrangements for reporting and evaluation, which will be part of the strategy.

The noble Baroness asked about named individuals in the Department of Health who have responsibility for successful implementation. We agree that leadership at all levels is very important for the delivery of this strategy. We have a specialist adviser on autism, and have had since 2007. Our current adviser, Elaine Hill, leads on developing the cross-government strategy and is working to ensure that the strategy consultation reflects the views of stakeholders not only in the wider world but also across government.

I am pleased to give the Government's support for the Bill. I hope that the House will agree that, along with the action that is now under way, it will deliver real improvements to the lives of people with autism and their families.

11.45 am

Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken. Their wisdom, experience and commitment have been apparent in their contributions. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Freud, whose maiden speech managed to be moving, elegant and robust. We look forward to many more contributions from him.

I thank my noble friend the Minister as well. Her efficiency and caring have been acknowledged here today, and that has been more than apparent in her reply and the impressive way in which she has dealt with all the questions. I, too, am disappointed that there will be a delay in getting this Bill on to the statute book. I wish we could get Royal Assent today. None the less, I am reassured that work will continue apace, even though, for us, there will be a certain amount of delay.

In Herefordshire, where I live, I have been helping a family with an adult autistic son and watching the struggle that they have had to understand a system which may be more familiar to many of us but is not to them, all the time coping with their son's behaviour, his distress, and the distress it causes them. When I see them tomorrow, I shall be a little more hopeful about his future. I thank all noble Lords.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill

Second Reading

11.47 am

Moved By Lord Janner of Braunstone

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Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, I am delighted to introduce this Bill. I declare an interest: my entire family, alas, in Latvia and Lithuania-every one of them-was murdered by the Nazis and had all their possessions stolen by their killers. So, sadly, I understand very well the need for survivors and their descendants to be able to reclaim at least some of what they lost and had stolen.

Last month, as chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, I joined our Government's delegation at the Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague. It underlined the urgent need for restitution of a range of assets for families of the victims of the Holocaust, a process which began with the Nazi Gold Conference here in London in 1997. Our excellent head of delegation in Prague, Susan Hyland, referred in her statement to the conference to the passage of this Bill and to the Government's support for it, support which is hugely appreciated. Indeed, the need to ensure that this kind of legislation is passed across Europe is the key reason why we were in Prague.

The Bill provides a mechanism for the return to their rightful owners of cultural objects held in national collections, objects which were looted during the Nazi period from 1933 to 1945. It gives trustees of national museums the same power to return an object as that held by governing bodies of other public museums, so will correct an anomaly in relation to national collections, which are currently prevented by law from deaccessioning.

I both commend and am grateful to my friend Andrew Dismore, Member of Parliament, for his hard work in introducing this Private Member's Bill in the House of Commons and getting it through. He has campaigned on this issue for many years; indeed, we worked with others back in 2000 to set up the Spoliation Advisory Panel. I remember arguing the case for settling the very first claim, for a painting now in the possession of the Tate Gallery, "A View of Hampton Court Palace" by Jan Griffier the Elder. I helped those who set the panel's terms of reference and remain entirely supportive of its continuingly important work.

As I have said, the Government's support for the Bill is welcome and much appreciated. I especially thank the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Barbara Follett, and her officials for their commitment to the legislation. I know that the Government have long made clear their agreement in principle to legislate and that they had hoped to change the law with a heritage protection Bill, which unfortunately was not in the Queen's Speech. I thank also the Under-Secretary of State's predecessor, Margaret Hodge, for her efforts when we met and corresponded about this, and I thank all our political parties for their support for the legislation. Anne Webber, from the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, and Jon Benjamin, from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, deserve special praise for lending their considerable expertise, and for working so hard over so many years to help us to pass the Bill.

Two conditions must be satisfied for there to be deaccession. First, the spoliation panel must recommend that the object be returned and, secondly, the Secretary of State, and Scottish Ministers in the case of Scottish museums, must approve the recommendations. In the event that these conditions are met, the national museums'

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trustees then have a discretionary power whether to return the object. So it is clear that there must be consensus for there to be restitution; the Bill cannot operate where there is any disagreement.

The Bill applies only to a finite list of institutions, outlined in Clause 1, and is applicable only to the Nazi era. As Andrew Dismore said:

"It is not a Trojan horse for any other art works or cultural items".-[Official Report, Commons, 26/6/09; col. 1043.]

Clause 4 ensures that the legislation ceases to have effect after 10 years, to give sufficient time for claimants to come forward while giving the necessary long-term certainty to our national collections. It is estimated that there may be anything up to 20 looted items in our museums.

It is clear that the law as it stands is leading to unjust and unfair outcomes, and two cases, both heard by the spoliation panel in 2008, demonstrate why. A claim was made for two pieces of porcelain from a Viennese collection, one in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the other in the British Museum. The former was restituted, but the panel believed that it could not recommend restitution of the second piece, because it was said that there was no sign that the Government were going to change the law. It therefore awarded-happily-an ex gratia payment.

This vital and, I hope and believe, uncontroversial Bill prevents similar inconsistencies and allows at least some survivors and their families finally to recover what they have lost. I was delighted that the Bill received all-party support in the House of Commons; I hope that it will receive the same united support in this House. It provides a clear, narrowly defined and consensus-oriented proposition, with appropriate safeguards, for deaccession from national collections. I wholeheartedly commend it to the House. I beg to move.

11.55 am

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I am delighted to speak in support of this Bill and I congratulate my noble friend on bringing it before us today-the day of his birthday lunch. As he has said, this is a simple Bill to enable trustees to return cultural objects looted by the Nazis to their rightful owners. Quite rightly, safeguards are built in and it still leaves intact the rights and responsibilities of trustees and directors to look after the cultural objects under their supervision and control.

It would have been quite easy to do nothing. After all, these events occurred some 70 years ago and the objects are few in number. It says something about the values of our Government and our country that we are taking action to right a wrong and to correct an injustice that occurred some time ago. However, the need for the Bill has been apparent for some time. Had it appeared earlier, other countries could not have used our delay as an excuse for their inaction. But it is now on its way in a dignified and trusting manner, which does not involve lawyers and all their costly and lengthy adversarial arguments but relies on the good sense and discretion of those who make up the spoliation panel. As my noble friend said, they have worked hard and conscientiously for some years. I, too, would like to place on record my thanks for, and congratulations on, their work.

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My noble friend will remember that this was the way in which the Government righted another wrong 10 years ago. He will remember that, 10 years ago, I announced from that Dispatch Box the enemy property payment scheme, which appointed a similar independent panel under the chairmanship of my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell to adjudicate on claims for compensation to victims of Nazi persecution whose property was confiscated by the British Government during the Second World War under the trading with the enemy legislation. Many of the claimants were of course Jews fleeing persecution.

My noble friend has indicated that there are few objects relating to the Bill; the number 20 has been mentioned in another place. When the enemy property payment scheme was announced, there appeared to be few possible claimants then, but the existence of the scheme and the attendant publicity stimulated and encouraged others to come forward, many with modest but justified claims, and not only for money-one was for a gold cigarette case, another for small items of jewellery sent through the post. I hope that the same will happen again and that this Bill will encourage more people with justified claims to come forward. Perhaps they have not come forward earlier because the objects are modest, but those objects may well have family or sentimental value to them and their descendants.

I say now as I said 10 years ago how much I welcome the low-key and dignified manner in which these wrongs are being put right. Some of the objects were taken because the owners were Jewish. Dealing with the return of these cultural objects in a high-profile manner would only add to the feeling that all Jews are victims. That is why I approve not only of the Bill but also of the manner in which it will work. Perhaps I should declare that I myself am an immigrant. One thing that immigrants do not want to pass on to their children is the feeling that we are victims owed something by society. On the contrary, we want them to feel fortunate that they have an opportunity to contribute to life and society in this country. The Chief Rabbi made exactly the same point in his latest book. So we must make certain that the return of these objects does not further the victim culture.

The Nazis took many objects of Jewish culture and banned works of Jewish composers and writers. They even banned the music of Mendelssohn. The intention was to erase the Jewish cultural presence. In this intention, they did not succeed. The rich heritage of Jewish culture and the effect of the Jewish presence on European culture continue. For the past 10 years, the European Association for Jewish Culture has awarded over 100 grants to European artists, writers and composers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who have created new works based on the European Jewish cultural experience. The association is to be congratulated on its work in adding new works to a rich heritage. This has always seemed to me a more positive response to attacks on Jewish culture.

As my noble friend said, there is still lots to do, but this is a welcome step in the right direction. I thank all those who have worked on this Bill for their hard work and endeavour and I wish it a quick passage through your Lordships' House. I support the Bill.

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12.01 pm

Baroness Warnock: My Lords, I very much welcome this Bill and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Janner, on bringing it forward. I declare an interest as a member of the Spoliation Advisory Panel, since it was first set up by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, under the extremely able chairmanship of Sir David Hirst, to whom I pay warm tribute. He has worked extraordinarily hard with the other members of the panel, but the burden of the work has largely fallen on him.

The terms of reference of the panel are as narrow as the terms of reference of the Bill. The concern of the panel has been extremely limited; it has been to recommend a fair solution to cases in which cultural objects were looted, stolen or disposed of by forced sale in the Nazi era-that is, between the beginning of 1933 and the end of 1945. The panel has examined nine cases that have been referred to it voluntarily since it was set up. In three of these, the preferred solution would have been restoration of the objects to their rightful owners, but in two cases out of the three this was not possible because of the law against deacquisitioning that governed the national museums of England and Scotland. The law does not cover any museums in Wales or Northern Ireland.

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