Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

As has been said, surprise has been expressed in many quarters that we have so many-more than 1,200-rights of entry. However, as noble Lords are aware, each individual power of entry is subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Any proposed new power of entry contained in a Bill or draft statutory instrument must complete the relevant parliamentary process. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, referred to the cluster munitions legislation and the Medicines Act and said that citizens may be accosted and surprised when someone knocks on their door and demands entry when they do not know who the person is and when he has no warrant.

We believe that the present position should remain and that each power of entry-here I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee-should be seen in the context of the offence or regulatory breach that it is intended to deal with. Adopting a uniform approach across all agencies would impact on their operational effectiveness and may prevent or reduce achieving the intended aim of the power. Setting down the operational processes in a single statute or laying out a common set of safeguards and protections would mean an inflexible approach. That does not make for good legislation because it would not recognise the wide range of offences or breaches that require a power of entry to ensure effective enforcement of the law.

There are problems and difficulties that need to be addressed and the community of interest is how we are seeking to do that. We are proposing that when any new or amending powers of entry are put before Parliament, the sponsoring department must comply with a code of practice that sets out consideration of what I believe meet many of the points raised. First, there is the justification for the powers, proportionality and impact of their use-a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. Secondly, there are the rights and safeguards of the owner or occupier of premises, which was referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott. Thirdly, there is consideration of the alternatives of using entry powers, which was implicit

15 Jan 2010 : Column 734

in many of the contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, made the valid point that it was not necessarily the powers of entry but how those powers are implemented by the persons authorised so to do. Fourthly, there are the important issues of guidance, training and the competency of those to whom powers would be granted. That is the best way of tackling the misuse of powers of entry. Fifthly, there is the issue of grievance, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, when people think that they have been mistreated. Whether it is a question of rudeness, lack of information or people overstepping the mark, the answer is to have a complaints procedure. Sixthly, there are the reporting and scrutiny mechanisms of the powers, and seventhly, communications and public access to the data.

Those seven conditions in the code of practice would require that the information is submitted in template format to Parliament when draft legislation is put before it. The template would be published alongside the Bill or draft statutory instrument. The code of practice would also require draft guidance-a draft copy of the notice of powers and rights and details of training requirements to be published at the same time.

We would maintain the central record of entry powers that is currently on the Home Office website. Any new or repealed powers would be added to or deleted from that list. We will shortly be launching a public consultation on how to raise awareness of existing powers and how the public can access their rights and what their expectations should be.

Parliament has long recognised the need for powers of entry. The volume of legislation granting such powers illustrates the importance attached to ensuring that laws made by Parliament can be enforced effectively and appropriately. But we need to ensure that part of that effectiveness includes powers that meet operational enforcement requirements and which provide for adequate levels of accountability. We believe that our proposed approach will achieve these important aims. We very much welcome the input of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, and others, in the proposed consultation process. Our objective is to have the code of practice template and new communications processes in place by the end of this summer.

I turn now to some of the points that were made and on which I wish to provide information. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, raised the question of the need for warrants. One reason why we think that the Bill's approach might not be the best way forward is that the determination of the need for a warrant is dependent on the reason why entry is required. In a powerful speech that went way beyond my knowledge of medicine and sports law, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, made a contribution that I am advised by the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, I should take seriously. I shall, and I will look at it in some detail. As the noble Lord outlined, the trafficking and supply of doping substances are covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act, and that is not a criminal offence at the moment. The introduction of the police into a matter of sporting rules rather than the being breached is difficult. The noble Lord referred to the new anti-doping

15 Jan 2010 : Column 735

body, UKAD, and we shall look at the information- sharing arrangements between law enforcement and UKAD before running headlong into any criminalisation. The noble Lord's contribution deserves a rather better response than that, so I shall look at it carefully in Hansard and let him have a more considered response.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about consultation with other agencies. We are consulting all agencies because existing powers will have to be scrutinised as well as those that are being introduced as legislation comes before your Lordships' House. Departments will be asked to set out a timeline when they can provide the information on powers, rights, guidance, training, reporting and scrutiny, which are the questions being asked of all bodies. That scrutiny will then be publicly available through their websites. It will be an opportunity for them to review whether they need to have powers of entry, or whether the powers that they already have need to be reduced or changed. That will give us an opportunity to move forward in the spirit of the noble Lord's proposed legislation.

There was a question on whether the schedule was up to date, so I can give noble Lords some statistics. At present, there are 1,208 powers contained in 295 statutes and 286 statutory instruments. To date, there are 1,230 powers contained in 311 statutes and 297 statutory instruments. Since 1997 Parliament has passed 79 Acts and 220 statutory instruments that contain references to powers of entry. It is a rather longer process than just the period since this Government came to office. To suggest, as the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, did, that this has been an issue of great significance in the past 12 years perhaps undermines the fact that it has gone on from 1983 onwards when the Mitchell review first identified it. I hope that in setting out the Government's position I have given heart to all those who are concerned about this issue.

Lord Campbell-Savours: Have my noble friend's officials in the department considered the views of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, on the role of local authorities in dealing with these matters?

Lord Brett: The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, made laudatory remarks about the co-operation of Home Office officials on this. That will continue as the consultation continues. While not giving a definitive answer to my noble friend, I think that we are travelling in the same direction and, I hope, at the same pace.

Lord Skelmersdale: I was not saying that previous Governments were not to blame for having inserted various powers of entry into various Acts of Parliament. I was suggesting that the situation has become more serious in the past 12 years and that these powers of entry have come thicker and faster.

Lord Brett: I have given the statistics and people can make their own judgments. The more important issue is to look at how often some of these powers are used. Powers on the statute book are often not used and although there seems to be a plethora, how often they have been used and their purposes are rather more relevant. The consultation that we are having with agencies and departments will help to reveal that and guide us into taking matters forward.

15 Jan 2010 : Column 736

12.19 pm

Lord Selsdon: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to your Lordships for having given the Bill such a good reception.

My father spent his life motor-racing and died at a young age. He always said, "You must never run out of petrol and you mustn't ever get stuck in the mud or snow". So in view of the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I thought I might take another five and a half hours of your Lordships' time. She asked whether there has been consultation. The work of the Home Office and other ministries has been pretty good. I would not normally, but I propose just to read the headings. Under each of the columns of the investigation which has already taken place before we have a wider consultation-and with me it is only a 35-year consultation period-the document states: "Statute, Purpose, Purpose of entry"; next, "Warrant: yes or no?"; next, "Category of person who many enter: PC or official, and level of authority"; "Other person permitted to enter"; "Threshold: To enter without warrant or make application for warrant"; "Type of premises"-and there are four different types of premises; "Times for entry: Any time", and other various times as well; "Other conditions", with a range of other conditions; "Notification to occupier required: Before entry, On entry, On leaving or None?"; "Other powers-e.g. Question persons present, examine records etc"; "Specific offence: to obstruct entry". That is just to start, and this document weighs quite a lot.

I would like to complain about the historic meanness of Her Majesty's Government. I was offered three copies of this great document-this magnum opus. I was then told that unfortunately, because it is in colour, I would have to pay 20p for each sheet other than the original copy. But never mind, it is on the website. The consultation period should be ongoing, but the most important thing now is to inform, and to inform ministries and the officials within those ministries of what their powers are, because many of them do not know; and then, in the consultative period, to inform every local authority and every body-every quango, ango and NDPB which is involved-that there is a consultative period and that one should ask for it.

I go back to the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. He had a great influence on me when, one day, he had his idea of promoting this House-because I had been told that you had to do everything through the House of Commons-and then we had the idea of Project Outreach. So I wondered whether we were allowed to communicate with people without going through the House of Commons. Previously I was told that if anyone wrote to you, you should pass it to the relevant Member in the House of Commons-because we did not have any writing paper and we had quill pens and ink, and it is impossible to get any ink in your Lordships' House now. So I thought that we should start our own consultative process from the House of Lords, which I shall be doing myself under Project Outreach with some bogus name; in fact I think I shall call myself the Undertaker. We will have a website and communicate with all people. I thought it would be reasonable that we should offer and declare that hereinafter in your

15 Jan 2010 : Column 737

Lordships' House we will offer to represent-as we are non-elected, with certain exceptions such as some of my colleagues and myself; the election process may be slightly doubtful but we have a certain legitimate claim-all elected people in the United Kingdom: Members of the House of Commons, local authority members and councillors, parish councillors and others. That is a total of 109,360 persons or personages.

So the consultation period will be as wide as possible and we will have a website-and also we should enjoy it. We want to make sure that the person has quiet enjoyment of his dwelling place, which I believe is one of the legal terms, and remove the fear and let it be known that everyone is on top of this.

Finally, I should just like to advise your Lordships that it is very important to have a starting handle. If you do get stuck in mud or snow you should always have a starting handle. The reverse gear in a car is the slowest gear. So you take the plugs out of your car, you put in the starting handle and you turn it in reverse gear, and you will get yourself out of any snow or any other mess. But on this particular project I do not have a reverse gear, so we will go on going forward.

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

Consumer Emissions (Climate Change) Bill [HL]

Main Bill Page
Copy of the Bill

Second Reading

12.25 pm

Moved By Lord Teverson

Lord Teverson: My Lords, the issue of carbon emissions has been a big topic of discussion both globally and within the House over the past few weeks and months as part of the whole debate on global warming and what the UK and Europe's contribution should be to solving the problem. In 2008 this House discussed and Parliament passed the Climate Change Act, on which the Government had all-party support. The Government were very proud of their leadership in making carbon targets and budgets legally accountable and this has indeed been seen internationally as an important bit of legislation. As we would expect, it has also very much concentrated on the carbon emissions created by the production reflected in the UK's gross domestic product. That is very much in line with the Kyoto process and the definition provided under the Rio agreement and Kyoto protocol. That definition excluded aviation and shipping-we will leave that aside for the moment-but included the carbon emissions produced by an economy as part of producing goods, services and various production processes.

So if electricity generation creates carbon emissions, those emissions will be counted, and other areas will be treated in a similar fashion. However, what is not often realised is that that is only one way of looking at carbon emissions within an economy. It is not necessarily the best way but it is an important way. However, there

15 Jan 2010 : Column 738

are other methods, one of which is what this Bill intends to introduce, relating to emissions caused by the consumption within an economy. Many would think that in terms of environmental responsibility, that is a much superior indication to production. I shall not go into the argument at great length about which is best; I am simply saying that we should also include consumption within our measurements and give it similar weighting in government action and targets.

What are carbon consumption emissions? Very simply, they are a national economy's emissions as traditionally measured. However, we then remove the emissions connected to our exported goods and services while including the emissions caused by our imports of consumer and industrial goods and services used within the UK economy. That is the difference. One of the main reasons why I am bringing the Bill forward is that not only is that an equally important way of looking at the issue; there is a significant difference between the two. I shall come on to that later.

Specifically, within the context of the Climate Change Act, the Bill gives equal weight to carbon consumption emissions and to production emissions. So in terms of responsibilities of government, one is now repeated for the other, particularly as regards setting targets and budgets, consultation and reporting back to Parliament.

This is a very simple, short Bill and one that I hope the Government will see as being an important move forward in this area. I stress that the Bill does not cover individual carbon consumption. There is no move towards personal carbon budgets, which is a whole different area that has been discussed in this House on a number of occasions. Neither does the Bill replace the traditional Kyoto-based ways of measuring carbon footprint that we have in the Climate Change Act. Why is this area important? The Government undertook research through Defra that looked at this whole area, and a report was produced in 2008. It has also been looked at by a number of international climate economists. Dieter Helm of Oxford University is an authority in this area. Both reports are highly persuasive. The Defra report considered the position in the United Kingdom in 2004 and came to the conclusion-I was surprised by the accuracy with which the figures can be worked out by academics-that the consumption emissions of the United Kingdom economy were some 37 per cent higher than our production emissions. Professor Dieter Helm, looking at the figures for 2003, and taking the trend from the 1990 baseline which is used in the Kyoto Protocol, saw that although United Kingdom production emissions decreased over that period by some 15 per cent in excess of our 12.5 per cent Kyoto target, as regards the consumption level, they have actually gone up by 19 to 20 per cent, and no doubt by even more.

That means that by just looking at our carbon footprint in the traditional way, we are highly underestimating what we as an economy and as a society are contributing towards global carbon pollution. The carbon consumption measures start to look at and account for areas such as offshoring. Why is there a big difference between trends of carbon consumption

15 Jan 2010 : Column 739

and carbon production? It is because British industry is more and more service-led and we offshore a lot of our dirty industry. Our imports increasingly come from developing countries, particularly China and India. Imports from China have a particularly high carbon content. Although we may pat ourselves on the back, as we often do, and certainly the Government do, in terms of our national performance, in reality we are living in a completely different manner in terms of the way that the planet can cope with our consumption in the United Kingdom. Neither of the various ways of looking at Britain's contribution to the fight against global warming is perfect. However, it is absolutely clear that we need to look at both and not just one. This Bill is about giving equality to both those measures. That is particularly important because I believe that this way of looking at carbon footprint will become more important internationally. Certainly, its profile has been raised considerably. I should like to see Britain lead in this area, as it has led in its climate change legislation, and this is one of the ways that we can do it.

I should be particularly interested to hear the Minister give us the Government's opinion on the divergence between the two figures and the two trends and to hear whether they will refer these matters to be considered in greater detail by their own Climate Change Committee. I should also be interested to hear their views on how they see the future of such indicators within the international context. I am glad to say that when the Defra report was published in 2008, the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn then said that,

That is an endorsement of this way of thinking and this move in terms of how we look at these issues, which I very much welcome.

Last month the Copenhagen accord was reached following the Cop 15 conference, which took place in Copenhagen and which we debated at great length yesterday. One of the areas of hope that came out of the lack of agreement or the light agreement that was reached at the conference, which we hope will be corrected in Mexico City at the end of this year, is that it gives an opportunity for new ways of looking at these issues, perhaps more equitable ones, particularly as between the developing and the developed world. I should like the United Kingdom be in the lead in looking at carbon consumption emissions as an important indicator in this area. I beg to move.

12.36 pm

Lord Puttnam: My Lords, I support the Bill, and most particularly the direction that it takes. It is not a step change but it is an important incremental development on the existing measure that this House put through a little over a year ago. I happen to believe that if we are to meet our eventual 2050 targets, we will have to embrace the concept of personal carbon budgets or personal carbon credits. Although I am not sure that I will live to see them, I have no doubt whatever that this House will pass a Bill at some point to make that a fact of all our lives.

15 Jan 2010 : Column 740

We had an excellent debate yesterday on Copenhagen. I think what the outcome at Copenhagen tells us is that a comparative failure at international level puts a lot more pressure on both the local and the individual commitment to carbon reduction. It also puts more pressure on the quality, transparency and accuracy of reporting. The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, has just referred to that. When you alter the criteria for success in a situation like this, you can change the outcome quite radically, and often for the better. Let me offer an example of this, which may sound a little odd although I do not think that it really is. The Olympic medal table will be much discussed in 2012. The present use of gold, silver and bronze as the sole criterion of national success is very manipulable. Noble Lords will remember that there was quite a hoo-hah between ourselves and the Australians over who came fourth in Beijing. The dispute is very simple in its origin: if you apply five points to a gold, three to a silver and one to a bronze, you get a different result than if you apply three, two and one. That is not a good place to be for the Olympics and it certainly would not be a good place for the collection of information on carbon savings. I have recommended the following to the IOC. It should look more closely at the personal best achieved by each competitor at the Olympic Games. In the end, what counts for an athlete is their personal best. You cannot ask for more from an athlete on the day than that they deliver a personal best. If you make an accounting of the personal bests, you might get a very different competitive table. You might well find that Costa Rica is the most successful country, or Honduras or Saudi Arabia. You would get a very different table. That would establish which nation was making the most progress in the field of athletics and it would be a very important and interesting indicator. That is why I think this Bill offers a direction in which we begin to unwind and look at things in a more radical, in one sense, but also more sensible way.

I wish to offer two examples of what is happening that illustrate why the direction the Bill takes is important. One is from schools and one from communities. Ofsted produced a report in May 2008, from which I shall cite just two lines. It states that,

Two years after the report was published, we find that secondary school teachers know nothing of the Sustainable Schools and the Eight Doorways agenda. Surely we need a form of reporting that makes it impossible for a school not to be able to announce-and, indeed, celebrate-its carbon savings. We do not have that at present.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page