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Welfare Reform Bill

Third Reading (Continued)

5.32 pm

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, before we proceed with Third Reading, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Freud, and to the House, for so rudely interrupting him on the matter of affirmative instruments. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, who unfortunately is not here, for putting matters right. I offer my sincere apologies.

Clause 15 : Work-focused interview requirement

Amendment 2 not moved.

Clause 32 : Power to make supplementary and consequential provision etc

Amendment 3

Moved by Lord Freud

3: Clause 32, page 15, line 34, leave out subsection (3)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My Lords, on 22 December last year, the Scottish Parliament voted on a legislative consent Motion to the Bill. Legislative consent was given in relation to several provisions. However, the Scottish Parliament did not give consent in respect of the provisions of the Bill that give Scottish

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1483

Ministers the power to make consequential, supplementary, incidental or transitional provisions by regulation in relation to universal credit and the personal independence payment. I indicated on Report that I intended to bring forward these amendments, removing the relevant provisions from the Bill, to ensure that the UK Government adhere to the principles of the Sewel convention. As social security is a reserved matter, it will not have an impact on the introduction of universal credit or the personal independence payment. Scottish Ministers will still need to make changes to legislation within the competence of the Scottish Parliament-for example, to add references to these benefits to legislation for housing, health and education, and to remove references to existing benefits that will be abolished in due course. Where necessary, they will do this through a Bill in the Scottish Parliament instead of through regulations. I beg to move.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I do not believe that we have a problem with the amendments in this group, but perhaps the noble Lord will clarify something. If we are removing the power of Scottish Ministers to deal with consequential amendments, where does the power lie-or is the Minister saying that there is no need for the power?

Lord Freud: No, my Lords, I am saying the opposite. The Scottish Parliament has decided that it wants to make the consequential amendments and not rely on us making them. If Scottish Ministers want to do it that way round, that is a matter for them. We were trying to make life more convenient for them.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: I am grateful to the noble Lord. Obviously we support the amendment.

Amendment 3 agreed.

Clause 40 : Interpretation of Part 1

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen): My Lords, before we move on to Amendment 4, I shall inform noble Lords that there has been an error in the printing of the amendment. It should read:

"Page 18, line 40, leave out 'work has such meaning as may be prescribed' and insert 'work', 'better paid work' and 'more paid work' shall have such meaning as may be prescribed in regulations subject to the affirmative resolution procedure".

Amendment 4

Moved by Lord McKenzie of Luton

4: Clause 40, page 18, line 40, leave out "work has such meaning as may be prescribed" and insert ""better paid work" and "more paid work" shall have such meaning as may be prescribed in regulations subject to the affirmative resolution procedure"

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, one issue that lacks clarity at present concerns "work", "better paid work" and "more work". We are using the opportunity

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of Third Reading to elicit further information on this important matter. The amendment seeks to ensure that not only "work" must be defined for the purposes of universal credit, but that there should be clarity on "more paid work" and "better paid work", and on how the requirements would be applied. The definition of work is relevant to the current benefit system as well as to universal credit. It is relevant for the application of the benefit cap-or cliff edge-on one side of which one is free and, on the other, one is within its grasp. For the benefit cap, we know that initially receipt of working tax credit will be sufficient to take somebody out of its grasp. Perhaps the Minister will say whether there is any further news on what the threshold for work will be in these circumstances in the world of universal credit.

The amendment is principally focused on getting an update on how in-work conditionality will work. It is some three months since we debated this in Committee, when the development of how things would work in practice was pretty sketchy. What appeared to be settled was that in-work conditionality would cease when somebody was earning the equivalent of 35 hours at the national minimum wage: approximately £11,000. The threshold for a couple may be double that of an individual, and the threshold for a lone parent may be lower. It is accepted that having a universal benefit that removes the distinction between in-work and out-of-work benefits raises the issue of in-work conditionality. Universal credit claimants will have an entitlement regardless of the hours they work, up to a limit. Before we leave the Bill, or it leaves us, we seek an update on the latest thinking. Presumably, for universal credit to be effective, this is not an optional extra.

On 26 October in Grand Committee, the noble Lord told us that there were a range of complicated issues to work through. He said:

"Critically, we will need to build our understanding of what can help claimants progress-when we should require claimants to look for more work and what role other interventions, such as skills assessments or careers advice sessions, can play ... We are not rushing in here ... We recognise that we need to tread carefully in this new area".-[Official Report, 26/10/11. cols. GC295-96.]

That was fine, but is there any progress to report? My noble friend Lady Drake put the issue very succinctly in the Committee debate. She referred to the significant discretion that the Government would have under the new arrangements: a discretion that would potentially impact on a sizeable section of the workforce and on existing in-work relationships, and would require Jobcentre Plus or outside providers to engage with a large number of companies.

In Committee there was vagueness also in respect of the roles of Jobcentre Plus staff and external providers, and on issues of capacity. In particular, there was no clarity on how this would fit in with the work programme. We know that remuneration for providers under the work programme will come in three ways: an attachment payment, a job outcome payment and a sustainment payment. The latter will be the biggest element of the fees in each of the eight claimant groups. How will in-work conditionality interrelate with the work programme? Will sustainable payments be due only when providers have not only helped somebody into work and sustained them in work, but sustained them

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in work at a level that meets the requirements of in-work conditionality? Presumably this was not effectively factored into contract negotiations ab initio because of the vagueness around these concepts. Do the work outcomes for which providers are paid align with the in-work conditionality that is proposed, and include the claimant commitment on a case-by-case basis?

In Committee, there was a hint that in-work conditionality might be applied only when somebody has left the work programme. The Minister said:

"Once claimants have left the work programme, we could then look to continue working with them to help them progress".-[Official Report, 26/10/11; cols. GC 295-96.]

There was also a hint that there might be a future work programme to which individuals would migrate. What is happening on that? If one is to be developed, can we be assured that the lessons of the first work programme and the comments of the National Audit Office are taken fully into account, especially on compiling a business case before a decision is taken to proceed and on going live before the IT is in place?

The definition of "work" and, especially, new issues around "more paid work" and "better paid work" are important to how universal credit is to operate. This is an opportunity to provide up-to-date information to noble Lords at this last stage of our deliberations. I invite the Minister to do so. I beg to move.

Lord Freud: My Lords, before I start on the specific matter, I shall take a short period to thank the noble Countess, Lady Mar, for her remarks a few minutes ago which I appreciate.

This amendment relates to the definitions of "better paid work" and "more paid work" and would require the regulations to be subject to the affirmative procedure. The first point I want to make is that it is not necessary to define these terms. They have their natural meaning: working for more hours, increasing your pay and so on. To that extent, we cannot accept the amendment, but I understand that it is a way of looking for information and I am very happy to have the opportunity to provide it.

These phrases are important. Their inclusion in Clauses 15 to 18 allows us to impose work-related requirements on claimants who are already in work. We are currently able to impose requirements on existing JSA claimants who are in some work and we need to retain this capability. Obviously, we are interested in doing more and extending conditionality to claimants who are in relatively substantive levels of work but who are nevertheless capable of working more. A conditionality regime can play an important role in encouraging such claimants to progress towards more self-sufficiency and to raise their standard of living and general status. Clearly, I understand noble Lords' concerns about the extension of conditionality in this way. It is new and it is a difficult area. I also understand the way that noble Lords want to stay in touch with developments as they progress, so let me reiterate and perhaps expand on the remarks I made on Report.

At the launch of universal credit, we will not be imposing conditionality on claimants in substantive employment. In other words, there will be no conditionality for claimants with income or earnings

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which would, broadly speaking, have taken them over the cut-off point for current out-of-work benefits. We will retain our emphasis on those claimants who would be eligible for JSA, ESA or income support now. The existing system, in that sense, will continue.

As a general point about how we are going to introduce universal credit, we are trying to be incremental and to lock in gradually the opportunities that it represents. Before we extend conditionality to claimants with earnings above this level, we will run pilots. We want to gather views on the approaches that could be taken in these pilots and we will therefore be consulting widely. Depending on the design, we expect such pilots to require regulations. They will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and therefore to debate in Parliament. I think we have had enough discussion about what that means. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, on that point. I have committed to publishing details of any pilots, to monitoring the results of the pilots, in particular, the outcomes for claimants, and to making those results available for scrutiny. We will reflect on this before adopting any national approach. I remind noble Lords that we considered and passed an amendment that I tabled earlier to allow us to test every aspect of universal credit to see how it would change. This is clearly one area where we could do a lot of testing about how different things work.

5.45 pm

Picking up the point on the relationship with the work programme, if we look at the timetable of the introduction and at what we are doing, noble Lords who can picture calendars years in advance will see that there is a point at which we are going to go to round two of the work programme, which works rather neatly with the timing of bringing in some of the results and outcomes. One of the options we will have at that stage is to look at encouraging work programme providers in a much more sophisticated way not just to get people into work and keep them in work, which are the main criteria today, but to get them into work and to progress in work. That is attractive as an option to be explored because we will start to pull together even more than we are now the work first strategies, which have been the historic drive of the DWP, and the training and upskilling strategies, which in the past have been far too separate. If we have a progression target, we will start to pull in training in a tougher way. It is beginning to be pulled together with the effort to keep people in work, but noble Lords will know that one of my ambitions is to pull those two aspects much closer together through the structures. That is one of the things that I will be looking at very closely as we look at designing these pilots.

I hope that what I am saying is interesting and reassuring. We are giving a clear undertaking that we will proceed carefully, consult widely and make our proposals open for scrutiny. On that basis, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his interesting amendment.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Before the noble Lord sits down, I thank him for that full response, but can he deal with the point about whether there has been any development of the definition of work for the operation of the cap in universal credit?

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Lord Freud: No, my Lords, I am not aware that we have locked that down at this time. It is an issue that we are going to have to address when we lock down universal credit. I cannot update the noble Lord on that matter.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I am grateful for the update that we have had. I guess that we just look forward to further developments on those issues. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 4 withdrawn.

Clause 43 : Regulations: procedure

Amendments 5 and 6

Moved by Lord Freud

5: Clause 43, page 20, line 21, leave out from "Regulations" to "are" in line 22 and insert "under this Part"

6: Clause 43, page 21, line 19, leave out subsection (8)

Amendments 5 and 6 agreed.

Clause 46 : Sanctions

Amendment 7

Moved by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

7: Clause 46, page 25, line 7, at end insert-

"(c) the grounds on which such sanctions may be terminated, prior to the period specified in paragraph (b), including the compliance of the claimant to such conditions as may be imposed."

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, this amendment seeks clarification on the issue of what the Minister called "the prodigal son" when he referred to it in earlier discussions. I think that takes government paternalism perhaps a little too far. It relates to the situation of a jobseeker who has received a three-year sanction for a failure to comply with the requirements imposed by this legislation and the circumstances in which that sanction may be removed. This is important because in order to change behaviour, which we know is one of the great motivators behind the Bill, there really must be some carrots as well as sticks.

The three-year sanction is the stick, but the carrot has to be that people who start co-operating and fulfilling the work-search conditions should be able to work towards lifting that sanction. Their behaviour may well change because something in their own life has changed-the death of a parent they were looking after; the birth of a child; a marriage or a break-up; dealing with their own substance misuse; or simply, maybe late in life, growing up-or it may change as a result of the three-year sanction. For whatever reason, it must be possible for the sanction to be lifted, and this amendment requires that the grounds on which the sanction could be lifted should, first, be prescribed in regulations and, secondly, should include the claimant's compliance with the work-search conditions.

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On Report, the Minister told us that he had accepted this principle on ending the sanction and we very much welcomed his words on that. He said that it was,

However, he also said that the department had decided that the proof of the prodigal son's return was to be in work for six months. Of course, it partly depends on the definition of work, to which my noble friend has just alluded-going for just one hour a week is probably not what the Minister had in mind-so regulations will have to deal with that. Whatever the definition is going to be, we think it means that at that point the sanction will be removed. However, without our amendment, we are not absolutely clear that the three-year sanction can be lifted before the three years are up. It appeared so from the Minister's words at Report but perhaps he could clarify that the Bill allows not just for a lower sanction to be set at the beginning but for the lifting of a sanction before its end. Clause 27(5)(a) allows for the lifting of the other sanctions but the Bill appears to be silent on the lifting of these higher sanctions.

However, assuming that the Bill does allow for such higher-level sanctions to be ended early, we nevertheless do not believe that having to be in work for a full six months is the right hurdle. First, it gives very little incentive for the claimant to engage with the jobcentre and to meet the conditions set, which would help that person to find employment through all that will be offered by Jobcentre Plus or other providers. Secondly, it would mean that the possibility of having the sanction lifted will depend not only on factors within the claimant's own control, such as looking for work, but on factors well outside his or her control such as local and indeed national economic conditions.

I do not need to remind the House that there are 5.8 unemployed people looking for every job. A claimant who happens to be one of the 4.8 unlucky ones who, despite everything they do to try to find a job, cannot get work-perhaps because they live in Merthyr Tydfil, which I think was the example given on Report-will continue to receive a sanction through no fault of their own. This turns the sanctions regime into a punishment for previous failures rather than a useful tool to encourage engagement with the jobcentre and the work programme providers.

Our amendment leaves the exact formula for compliance open to regulations, as we know the noble Lord will listen to arguments made in the drawing-up of those, and it will give the Minister and his department a chance to think through the best way to ensure that the sanctions regime provides suitable incentives to engage with the system rather than cutting people off altogether. One obvious suggestion might be to lift the sanction after a period of compliance with the work-search conditions, but the detail could be left to the department as it also struggles with the definition of work.

Without our amendment, the Bill risks driving people further from the labour market rather than moving them towards work by engaging with the process and fulfilling the work-search criteria. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will be able to accept the amendment. I beg to move.

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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I strongly support the amendment moved by my noble friend. Throughout Committee and Report, the Minister has regularly made clear that he is concerned to make work pay and attractive, and to get behavioural change. I do not think that we on this side disagree with him at all on this. However, it subverts the value, virtue and continuity of behavioural change if sanctions that were applied before that behavioural change had taken place continue. Therefore, he is effectively defeating his own policy.

I was trying to think of an example. On page 33 of the Bill, proposed new Section 6J, "Higher-level sanctions", which my noble friend referred to, says in subsection (2)(a) that a failure is sanctionable if a claimant,

A couple of weeks ago we had the story of a young woman, a graduate, who had been doing voluntary work in a local museum and was hoping that this would count as appropriate work experience to lead her to a job in that field. The work requirement placement that the local office came up with was that she should do a fortnight in Poundland, filling shelves, even though she had substantive previous retail experience; in other words, it was a very misguided imposition by the decision-makers in the local benefit office-from the outside, it looked as if she was much better off where she was. If she had refused that placement in Poundland, she would have fallen foul of 6J(2)(a) and she could have had three years' worth of sanctions imposed on her, even if she had subsequently accepted a further placement, which would have been-in her view, and most people's views-more realistic.

The Minister is stuck with the position that she would have been pulled out of something appropriate to do something less appropriate on the decision of a local decision-maker, and had she resisted that she could have been subjected to sanctions that would have continued for three years, even if she had made it clear that she was willing to accept further and more appropriate work placements that would help her with her career. It must be sensible for the Government to have a way back for people who have resisted-for good reason or bad-an original work placement offer but then go on to respect that imposition, whether appropriate or not. If there is no way back, how can the Minister expect people to respect that law?

Lord Skelmersdale: Perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, could turn over to page 34 of the Bill. New Section 6J(7)(c) talks about,

That sounds like exactly the sort of principle that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, has enunciated in moving this amendment. I that hope my noble friend will be able to confirm that.

6 pm

Lord Freud: My Lords, let me cut straight to the chase. We have the powers in regulation to do whatever we or any future Government want to do to raise

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sanctions, so I can provide reassurance to that extent. I will go into a little detail about our plans and what we intend to do, but first I pay tribute to noble Lords because some really interesting and useful ideas were expressed in Committee that we took on board, although I do not think that we took them on board quite as much as some noble Lords would want. We moved a long way and thought about this again more specifically, so I thank noble Lords a lot for that.

We are trying to create a sanctions regime to provide at one level-probably the most important-a deterrent against behaviour that damages a claimant's and indeed others' employment prospects. Ending sanctions when a claimant complies with requirements can clearly play a role in incentivising sanctioned claimants to do the right thing. That is why we are moving in the direction of open-ended sanctions for lower-level failures, such as the failure to participate in training or to attend work-focused interviews. In essence, these sanctions apply only until the claimant re-complies, with a short fixed period of a week or a few weeks.

This amendment is about the higher-level sanctions: sanctions imposed for failing to comply with the most important requirements. These are employment-related failures, such as the failure to apply for a job when specifically asked to do so, the failure to accept a job offer, or the failure to leave employment voluntarily. By failing to do these things for no good reason, a claimant is fundamentally breaking the agreement that sits at the heart of jobseeker's allowance: that they do everything possible to find work in order to be able to support themselves. That is why we believe it is vital that there are clear consequences for such failures. Fixed, substantive sanctions reinforce the message that these requirements absolutely must be met.

As I said on Report, we propose to wipe the slate clean by terminating any outstanding sanctions once a claimant has moved into employment for six months, but we believe that going further and ending these critical sanctions after a few weeks or months of compliance would undermine the clarity of our message and the effectiveness of the sanctions regime. It is worth noting that in the current system sanctions can be imposed for up to six months and are typically not lifted at all on re-compliance.

As I said at the beginning of this debate, we have the powers to end sanctions following re-compliance-we have defined the levels of re-compliance-so if, after a period of live running, we or future Governments wish to change the position, we have the powers to do so. Indeed, this is one area in which it might be very interesting to do some piloting work on how incentives and deterrents actually work.

Just to be techie about this, the powers that I mentioned are in this Bill and in the Jobseekers Act 1995. Clause 19(4)(b) provides a broad regulation-making power to set the duration of a sanction. Existing Section 36 of the Jobseekers Act allows for any regulations made under that Act to be subject to particular exceptions. I am not absolutely surprised that no one could piece that together.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: I thank the Minister for the techie stuff, but what happens to someone who has been subject to a sanction, goes into paid work,

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through no fault of their own loses that job before the six months is up, then assiduously looks for work daily, just as they are supposed to do?

Lord Freud: My Lords, under this construct, they will have to do the six months to wipe off the sanctions. Let us not forget that the sanctions that we are talking about do not involve the full amount of support but the equivalent of the JSA-£63-odd. There will be a very strong incentive on that person to take absolutely anything to fill in the rest of the time.

As I said, this is a very interesting area of deterrence and compliance and how we influence behaviour, which is exactly why I wanted to have the powers to pilot all these things. This is our starting point. Noble Lords have influenced us into making the lift at the six-month level, and it is clearly our best view today on what the reasonable balance is. No one can know yet as we have not done the live testing, but we will do it and we will be able to look at this and get the balance absolutely right. It might need to be milder, it might need to be tougher, but noble Lords will appreciate that if we pilot and test and look at these things in the way that I am describing, we will start to get answers on what works and move away from some of the rather more excited commentary and pressures from some of the media in this area. It could be of great interest to noble Lords if we start to move this into a social science area where we know the answer as opposed to an area where everyone has an opinion.

With those thoughts, I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, I thank the Minister for passing the test on the regulations-obviously I knew; I was just testing him-and finding that out, which I had obviously failed to do.

As I said earlier, we welcome the fact that the Government have undoubtedly accepted that the three-year sanctions need to be lifted in certain circumstances. However, questions remain, some of which could be dealt with in regulations. For example, people need to know what the carrot is and what they have to do to get sanctions lifted. There is still the problem of defining work, particularly for someone who has childcare responsibilities and the job offer simply does not fit in with their responsibilities.

I am sure the Minister did not mean this, but I also worry about the idea of an incentive to take anything that is offered. Would that not allow certain rogue employers to exploit people on benefits because they know that if there are sanctions they can offer pretty thankless and underpaid jobs? Similarly, I also worry about people leaving a job. There is the problem of the strength of an employer, but those worries are by the by. The biggest thing to say about this is that the idea that you have to get a job to come off sanctions, even if you live in an area where there are simply no jobs available, remains a problem. However, I welcome the Minister's commitment to pilot and test this. If it proved to be a big stumbling block, I assume that he could come back with regulations to allow for that. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment 7 withdrawn.

Clause 70 : Housing benefit: determination of appropriate maximum

Amendment 8

Moved by Lord Best

8: Clause 70, page 54, line 6, at end insert-

"( ) After subsection (7) insert-

"(7A) In relation to a dwelling of which the landlord is a local housing authority or a registered provider of social housing, and no alternative accommodation (as defined in regulations to be made under this section, and provided by any such provider) is available, regulations under this section shall not permit the AMHB to be less than the actual amount of the liability in a case where a household has no more than one spare bedroom.""

Lord Best: My Lords, Amendment 8 gives effect to an amendment which was in my name on Report and to an amendment to my amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie of Luton, at that stage. These amendments, which addressed the cuts to housing benefit and universal credit for those deemed to have a spare room, were declared to be consequential amendments to two earlier amendments approved by your Lordships on 14 December and now incorporated in Clause 11.

However, the consequential amendments were not moved formally. They should have been. I fear that the complexities of consequential amendments and of amendments to amendments meant that this amendment is now required. With apologies, I beg to move the amendment formally.

Lord Freud: My Lords, I accept that Amendment 8 from the noble Lord, Lord Best, is a duplicate of previous Amendments 49 and 49A, which related to Clause 68 and should have been formally moved during Report stage. We find the veil and draw it as to why they were not. The Government acknowledge that it was the view of the House, following the vote on the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Best, on 14 December, to have those amendments made. Essentially Amendment 8, which is a duplicate of Amendments 49 and 49A, would mean that a reduction is not possible where the tenant has no more than one spare bedroom unless suitable alternative accommodation, which is to be defined in regulations, provided by a local housing authority or registered provider of social housing is available. I am clear that to complete that picture Amendments 49 and 49A should also have been made.

The Government regret that the House reached such a conclusion on the social sector size criteria. While I do not intend to oppose these amendments now, I should make it clear to this House that this is not an indication that the Government agree with the overall principle of the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Best. It is now for another place to consider this when the Bill returns there.

Amendment 8 agreed.

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Clause 93 : Power to make supplementary and consequential provision

Amendments 9 and 10

Moved by Lord Freud

9: Clause 93, page 62, line 21, leave out "The Secretary of State may by regulations" and insert "Regulations may"

10: Clause 93, page 62, line 24, leave out subsections (2) and (3)

Amendments 9 and 10 agreed.

Clause 95 : Regulations

Amendments 11 to 13

Moved by Lord Freud

11: Clause 95, page 63, line 8, leave out "unless otherwise provided"

12: Clause 95, page 63, line 21, leave out from "Regulations" to "are" and insert "under this Part"

13: Clause 95, page 63, line 34, leave out subsection (8)

Amendments 11 to 13 agreed.

Clause 146 : UK child poverty strategies

Amendment 14

Moved by Lord McKenzie of Luton

14: Clause 146, page 109, line 4, at end insert-

"( ) Nothing in subsections (1) to (5) have the effect of changing the requirement in the Child Poverty Act 2010 for the Secretary of State to publish and lay before Parliament a UK Child Poverty Strategy and to describe the progress that he considers necessary-

(a) to meet each of the targets in sections 3 to 6 of that Act in order to reach these targets by the end of the target year; and

(b) the progress he intends to make in the period covered by the Strategy to ensure that so far as possible children do not experience socio-economic disadvantage."

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, Amendment 14 seeks further clarification about the purpose of the changes that the Government introduced to the Child Poverty Act on Report. These altered the description of what the Government would do to achieve the target to end child poverty by 2020, as set out in the Act, from making progress to taking measures. Having reviewed the text after Report stage, we are concerned that this alters the substance of the Act to require the Government's child poverty strategy only to set out what they propose to do rather than the progress they intend to make; that is, to remove the duty on the Government to make progress towards the targets.

The amendment was laid at the end of our deliberations and proceedings on the last day of Report. We probed this a little on Report, when the Minister reassured me that the amendment was intended to clarify the Child Poverty Act and not to change the substance or to affect the law. Stephen Timms, the Minister responsible for that Act in the Commons at the time, stated that "Clause 8", which has subsequently become Section 9,

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Will the Minister confirm that this is the function that the strategies will still play; that is, that they will both set out the progress that the Government intend to make and the progress needed to meet the 2020 target?

Our amendment would ensure that this substance of the original Child Poverty Act would remain the substance of the current version. If the Minister does not feel able to accept it, will he describe for us the difference between what he proposes should now be in the Act and the original version, so that we can have a second chance to assess the merits of each? I beg to move.

6.15 pm

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, I support the amendment. It is important that there has not been a change in meaning. I know that the Government have their doubts about targets and so forth but they are very important in terms of accountability. I talked a lot last week about accountability in relation to the Social Fund. This is accountability in terms of organisations which are very concerned about what is happening as regards child poverty and enabling them to know what progress the Government are making and are intending to make. I know that certain voluntary organisations are very concerned about child poverty and that there has been a slight shifting here in meaning that could make their job that much harder.

Lord Freud: My Lords, Amendment 14 is designed to place a caveat on the amendment to Section 9 of the Child Poverty Act which is already included in the Welfare Reform Bill. As I discussed on Report last week, the amendment to Section 9 is a clarification which confirms the Government's existing understanding that the requirement in Section 9(7) of the Child Poverty Act for a UK strategy to describe progress can be met with a description of progress in narrative or policy terms, rather than in numerical or statistical terms.

This amendment appears to seek clarification that the changes already agreed by the House will not undermine three requirements on the Secretary of State which are included in Section 9 of the Child Poverty Act; namely, first, that he must publish and lay before Parliament a child poverty strategy; secondly, that he must describe in that strategy the progress that he considers necessary to meet the four child poverty targets by the target year of 2020-21; and, thirdly, that he must describe in that strategy the progress he intends to make over the period of the strategy to reduce socioeconomic disadvantage as far as possible.

I can state clearly on the record that our amendment to Section 9 is not designed to remove the requirement on the Secretary of State to do any of those things. The Secretary of State will continue to have a duty to produce a strategy every three years which sets out the measures that will be taken, and the progress that needs to be achieved, in that period in order to meet the targets by the target year and reduce socioeconomic

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disadvantage as far as possible. The purpose of our amendment to Section 9 is not to change the substance or effect of the law. The amendments simply clarify how progress can be described-in particular, that it can be described in policy or narrative terms rather than statistical or numerical terms if the Secretary of State so wishes.

I discussed on Report the reasons why we think that this clarification is important. We believe that a requirement to set out the progress required in statistical terms is equivalent to a requirement for interim targets on child poverty towards the 2020 target. Interim targets incentivise the short-term, income-transfer approach that we have seen in the past. That approach has not worked and completely fails to address the underlying problems. This can lead therefore to small amounts of money being given to families just to lift them over the poverty line.

The Government remain committed to eradicating child poverty and improving social mobility. We do not believe, however, that the right way to achieve these aims is by using income transfers to move people above an arbitrary line, so we must focus on tackling the root causes of poverty and changing behaviour. In the long term, those with the lowest level of income can only improve their life chances by keeping pace with those at the top. This is why we must take long-term sustainable measures to improve skills, abilities and aspirations. An income-transfer approach does not work because it is unsustainable and does not deal with or address the underlying causes of long-term deprivation. We will continue to monitor progress through the annual publication of the Household Below Average Income Statistics, the beloved HBAI. However, we think it is very important to clarify that the law does not require the child poverty strategies to set out interim income targets. It is because of this that we cannot accept the amendment. By reintroducing the wording of the original Child Poverty Act, in effect it would remove the clarification that we introduced using the amendment to Section 9.

I emphasise that we remain fully committed to eradicating child poverty, and that amendment does not alter current government policy. We will continue to be required to produce a strategy every three years which sets out the measures that will be taken and the progress that needs to be achieved over the period. This amendment is unnecessary and unhelpful. The requirements it seeks to place on the Secretary of State already exist. All it will do is reintroduce lack of clarity regarding how progress is to be described, and I therefore urge the noble Lord to withdraw it.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: From what the noble Lord has just said, it seems that what the Government did on Report sought to change the import of what is set out in the Child Poverty Act. If it removes what the noble Lord thought might be the need to have interim targets along the way, surely that is a change, otherwise what is the clarification about? Part of the strategy is to hit some very clear targets by the end of 2020, and I presume the noble Lord is not seeking to change that requirement, but what is it about the current wording that has been changed? I am sorry that I am not being

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very clear on this, but the Minister has said that there is no change and it is all the same as before and this is just a clarification. However, I thought he said when explaining it that it obviated the prospect of having to put in interim targets when the strategy is developed along the way towards 2020. If that is the case and the requirement for those interim targets is removed, that is a change. It may be that that is what the Minister and the Government want, but it is a change. If it is not a change, can the Minister have another go at explaining why not?

Lord Freud: My Lords, what I hoped that I had explained, although I failed to do so adequately, was this. As currently written, the Act is somewhat ambiguous. We and, I imagine, the previous Government have always interpreted this as needing to describe the progress we are making in policy terms in a way that does not require interim targets because such targets, when set every year, become absolutely tyrannical. They are particularly tyrannical when you are trying to change people's lives and behaviours in a fundamental way. If you are worrying about interim targets every year, your efforts are undermined. This is a clarification to make it crystal clear that our understanding of the Act, and to be honest what I think was the previous Government's understanding of the Act-the noble Lord and I spent many happy hours going over every word of it, although I am still not sure that I understand the word "socioeconomic" in it, but let us put that to one side-is that we can progress in the way we think is best, which is pursuing fundamental change for people, without the tyranny of interim targets. The previous Government did not want them and we do not want them. We want to be able to describe our progress towards the main target. I hope that the noble Lord will agree that that is the desirable way to go with this.

It is not an easy thing to do. Dealing with child poverty is really tough. The noble Lord knows it and I know it, as do we all. Let us not mess about with it, but try to do the fundamentals, and this is what we need for that. We need to be absolutely clear that this approach will work.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, it is a pity that this came up at the end of the Report stage and that we do not have another chance to review the record. I am minded not to press the matter this evening, but frankly I am not sure whether colleagues in another place or we in another situation might not wish to re-engage on the issue. The key issue along the way is what the Government will be prepared to commit to and how progress towards the 2020 objective is going to be measured. That, to my mind, is what is missing from what we have just heard from the Minister. However, I do not think it would be productive to test the opinion of the House on what is quite a narrow debate, so we must try to find another way of clarifying this. I accept the assurance given by the Minister. He has put it clearly on the record that this is not meant to change the law or the duty on the Government, and it is not meant to change the obligation that the Government have. On that basis, I will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 14 withdrawn.

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1497

Schedule 1 : Universal credit: supplementary regulation-making powers

Amendment 15

Moved by Lord Freud

15: Schedule 1, page 113, line 3, at end insert-

"Work-related requirements

6A Regulations may provide that a claimant who-

(a) has a right to reside in the United Kingdom under the EU Treaties, and

(b) would otherwise fall within section 19, 20 or 21,

is to be treated as not falling within that section."

Lord Freud: My Lords, we have brought forward this amendment to ensure that where we have an obligation under EU treaties to allow the free movement of workers, those who have a right to reside here under EU treaties, particularly as jobseekers, may be subject to the full work-related conditionality requirements of universal credit. This amendment enables us to make regulations so that EU migrants cannot fall into groups which are not subject to the work search and work availability requirements. We must meet the UK's obligations under EU law while ensuring that, when people come here, they do not take inappropriate advantage of our benefit system. We must maintain protections against non-active migrants who travel for the purpose of accessing state support.

We have always maintained that non-active migrants who want to come to the UK should be self-sufficient, and EU law supports this. The amendment will allow us to make sure that jobseekers who exercise their EU treaty right to come to the UK are in fact searching and available for work, as is the case now. I beg to move.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, we support the thrust of this amendment. Perhaps I may ask one question. We had a helpful briefing note from the Box which reads as follows: "This amendment therefore is designed through this regulation-making power to enable the Secretary of State, so far as possible within the unified structure of universal credit, to maintain the current position in relation to the obligation placed on EU jobseekers". The phrase "so far as possible" seems to be a qualification on what the Government are seeking to achieve here, and I wonder if the Minister might just expand on what that qualification amounts to.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: While the Minister is being helpful, perhaps I may seek the indulgence of the House for just a moment. I want to apologise for not having been able to get in to move my amendment because of the crowds leaving the Chamber after the EU Council Statement, but I want to thank the Minister for the telephone conversation I had with him earlier today when he agreed to work with me and with others on monitoring very closely the changes to the work capability assessment for cancer patients.

6.30 pm

Lord German: I do not know whether this is the right place in the debate in which to do it because it is the first time that I have had the opportunity, but I

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want to place on record our thanks to the Bill team and my noble friend the Minister for the way in which they have handled the Bill all the way through. The way in which access to civil servants has been granted and the openness with which the Minister has provided information has been a revelation. I am most grateful, as I am sure are my colleagues on these Benches.

Lord Wigley: My Lords, since this opportunity is being taken to say thank you, perhaps I may from our Benches-I am sure that others will want to do likewise-thank the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, for the courteous and happy way in which they have handled the Bill. The Minister has always had a smile on his face despite the fact that there have been occasions when I am sure he felt otherwise. He has always been eager and helpful in responding to inquiries. There is a danger that he will become known in the House as "the latter-day Lord Newton"; in other words, the person who the disability lobby knows is really on its side but whose hands are sometimes tied. There can be worse tributes than that. We are very grateful for all the time and consideration that he has given during the past few weeks.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Before the Minister answers the question that I posed earlier, perhaps I may take the opportunity to add our thanks. The Minister's enthusiasm for universal credit and his commitment to evidence-based policy have been evident to all of us. He has borne a very heavy load in bringing the Bill through your Lordships' House and has done so, as has just been said, with good humour throughout our proceedings. The fact that noble Lords have sought to beg to differ on a number of provisions does not lessen our respect for him or for the determination that he brings to his role. He has of course been ably supported by the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, and other colleagues. Our thanks go also to the Bill team for their extensive briefings and provision of information, and the helpful way in which they have engaged. I have seen the operation of a Bill team as a Minister and am aware that we see just part of a huge operation which underpins the calm presence that we see in the Box. The scope, the size and the innovative context of the Bill will have added to this challenge. Of course, I thank my team on these Benches for their expertise, passion and support. As I have said previously, I would not have wished to face such a battery when I was a Minister.

The important changes that we have made to the Bill do not belong to us; they are the result of the voices, votes, knowledge, experience and compassion on all Benches in your Lordships' House. I have no doubt that what we send back to the other place is a much better Bill but also one which does not fundamentally undermine universal credit. It remains to be seen what returns in due course. Thus far, I have no doubt that your Lordships' House has done its job in holding the Government to account. What we are dealing with in this Bill touches the lives of millions, including many of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our country. Our duty to them is not yet concluded.

Lord Freud: My Lords, before I say a few words of my own, I have to admit that the very last question from the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, was a tribute to

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him. It is quite difficult to answer; it is in a tricky area. We are pretty confident that we can maintain the position whereby it is only EU jobseekers whom we have to support and not others. As the noble Lord will know, we are moving from providing particular support in JSA to providing general support. That is where the protection is. We are hopeful that, by and large, we can maintain it, but there may be some shadowing of that position.

It is a shame that the crowds trying to get out of our deliberations earlier on slowed down the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan. I can clarify that we had a useful conversation on monitoring cancer patients and I said that the statistics which come out quarterly would become national statistics. I committed to look at what they would show in order to assess how the face-to-face process and other issues were dealt with. She very kindly said that she would help me with that after the consultation. Although we did not debate it, the position is now sufficiently clear on the record.

I do not think that we have seen the last of this Bill, but we have passed a significant point at Third Reading. Perhaps I may use this opportunity to place on record my thanks to noble Lords right around the House for the way in which they have been so constructive, have thought through the issues and been absolutely on the point. I have seen in other Bills a lot of grabbing of the wrong end of the stick and waving it about vigorously, but we have not had that here. Our deliberations have been outstanding. I shall not name all the contributors because it would take all evening-and I would forget someone, which would be invidious.

I was going to say how pleased I was that we had got universal credit through unchanged, but I cannot say that any more. Had it not been for today, we would have had it through. I know that what we are trying to do with universal credit has been understood. The complexity of universal credit is such that, if noble Lords had not appreciated it, it could have been cut to shreds and rendered completely unworkable and basically a disaster. I really appreciate the fact that it has not happened, except on one occasion.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It has not happened.

Lord Freud: This is my speech.

I need to thank my noble friend Lady Garden for her support on the Front Bench, and my noble friend Lord De Mauley for his proficiency in covering a number of clauses. He drew one of the short straws, but he did it manfully.

I need to thank also the Bill team-a few of them are in the Box-who have been absolutely stunning in supporting me all the way through. As some of your Lordships have said, they have supported a lot of noble Lords in this process. The access and one-to-one contact that they offered were probably why the wrong end of the stick was not waggled quite so vigorously as it could have been. I hope that the whole House will join me in thanking them for their phenomenal support.

Amendment 15 agreed.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1500

Protection of Freedoms Bill

Protection of Freedoms Bill
20th Report from the Constitution Committee


6.40 pm

Clause 1 : Destruction of fingerprints and DNA profiles

Amendment 1

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

1: Clause 1, page 2, line 6, after "police" insert-

"(iii) taken from a person detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983,"

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, in moving Amendment 1, I will speak also to Amendment 2. Amendment 3 is also in this group and is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. This amendment refers to Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, which allows for the detention, in a place of safety, of someone found in a public place apparently,

Black Mental Health UK, together with Big Brother Watch and GeneWatch UK, brought concerns to me and other noble Lords about the taking of DNA samples and fingerprints in the circumstances covered by Section 136 that I have just described. The people concerned have been detained in a place of safety; they have not been arrested. They are at a point of crisis in their lives, and the organisations pointed out that the intimate process of taking DNA samples might cause further trauma to an individual who is at his most vulnerable, as I am sure your Lordships will understand.

They wrote to the Minister who is the policy lead on DNA, who replied, referring to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and explaining that an individual detained under Section 136 is not arrested and so there is no power for DNA samples or fingerprints to be taken; and, if they are taken, that is unlawful. The new Section 63D(2)(a), which would be introduced by Clause 1 of this Bill, requires their destruction. My initial reading of the letter from Black Mental Health UK and the reply from the Minister made me think that the concern was about the impact of taking the sample, and that what was needed was a more careful observation of the restriction-in other words, that samples should not be taken when it is unlawful, and that this might be emphasised in the relevant code of practice or guidance.

However, when I looked at the proposed new Section 63D(1), I wondered whether this situation actually fell within it, and therefore within Section 63D(2), which requires destruction of the samples. Looking at the provisions at the top of page 2, we are talking here about fingerprints or DNA,


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There is no power to take samples or fingerprints and nor are they taken with consent. Hence, my amendments would bring within Section 63D(1) samples and fingerprints taken from a person who is detained under this section of the Mental Health Act.

Earlier in the week, at about the same time that the Minister replied to Black Mental Health UK, I saw that there was a Written Answer to two Questions, I think, from the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley. I have been in touch with him today. He wishes he could be here but is not very well today, and so I am begging his support in absentia. He knows I am going to do that and he has not asked me not to-indeed, he says that he supports these amendments. I beg to move.

6.45 pm

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I speak to Amendment 3, which stands in my name. Perhaps at this stage I can apologise to the House for not being present during proceedings in Committee, as I was back and forth to and from hospital over a six-week period and was therefore unable to attend apart from a brief debate when DNA was being discussed. I set out my position on two amendments-including the one I will be moving later-on 29 November, when I made clear I was in favour of a voluntary national DNA database. I also apologise because Amendment 3, which I wrote in November, is slightly in error. Instead of it beginning with the words,

it should actually have read "and only". That is my fault.

My amendment would require the authorities to obtain the permission of the DNA sample donor prior to the removal of his or her profile from the database, but does not totally compromise the Government's intention to introduce their proposed changes. At first glimpse, the House might find it difficult to imagine circumstances in which a donor would resist removal of his or her profile. Furthermore, the House might wish to consider in what circumstances creating this new obstacle might benefit the state.

So why would a donor resist removal, and in what circumstances? A donor may wish to ensure that he or she is ruled out of a police inquiry through a simple DNA data mismatch during an investigation. The donor might feel that by allowing the retention of their profile, they were freeing themselves of suspicion during the police investigation. They may well have personal or particular family reasons for doing so. One has to place oneself in the mind of a person who has been accused of a crime and wants to be free of a potential accusation, or even show that he or she is not involved in criminal activity or is even going straight. It might help that person's resolve. Some former criminals, even those involved in minor offences, feel that they are constantly under suspicion. This proposal is a psychological aid to rehabilitation.

So what possible benefits could there be to the state? I will not pray in aid the general arguments for the retention of DNA in the fight against crime. That is all well documented. However, there is a reasonable discussion to be had about whether, in the absence of DNA information following its removal, at least some

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residual information should be held on former donors. It was argued repeatedly in Committee that the proposed retention period was too short in the case of serious cases of rape and other crimes of violence. The Government's response was the two-year possible extension period.

However, there are surely circumstances in which the state, while not retaining the DNA information, has an interest in at least knowing the whereabouts of a person who has previously been charged with a serious criminal offence. Let us not forget that "beyond reasonable doubt" is a high hurdle. Criminals who are successfully prosecuted often drop off the radar, as do those who are not successfully prosecuted. They move on in the process of seeking to cover their tracks. If DNA information is to be lost, the police should at least have the opportunity of retaining some point of contact, or knowledge of the whereabouts of former donors. Some who have been charged with offences will either surface at a contact address to request removal of the DNA data, to avoid detection in the future, or will steer clear of requesting removal, so as to avoid revealing their whereabouts. This may well happen in the case of people who have moved abroad, outside of what they believe to be UK jurisdiction. However, there will of course be those who have surfaced to request the removal of DNA data as a matter of principle. I fully recognise that these are complicated arguments; I suppose that they relate more to criminal psychology than to any empirical evidence that I am able to offer. But I merely ask the House to consider this as a proposition, perhaps for future legislation, since it is a little late at this stage

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My Lords, I hope that I can deal with these two cases relatively briefly. My noble friend Lady Hamwee has brought before the House again the issue of those detained by the police and taken to a police station as a place of safety under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. My noble friend outlined what that did, but it might help if I briefly outline my understanding.

If a person in a public place appears to be suffering from a mental disorder and in need of immediate care or control, Section 136 of the Mental Health Act allows a police officer to remove that person to a place of safety if the officer thinks it necessary to do so in the interests of that person's protection or that of other people. I should make it clear that persons detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act-my noble friend emphasised this-are not arrested. That is a very important point that we all have to remember. It is an entirely separate regime, focused on the protection of the detained individual rather than the wider public. The powers to take DNA and fingerprints in Part 5 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 apply only to those individuals arrested for a recordable offence. If a person was arrested for a non-recordable offence, such as speeding, or if they were not arrested at all but detained under the provisions that we are talking about, as is the case under Section 136, the powers simply would not apply.

If the police were to take biometrics in these circumstances, it would be not only an error on the part of the police but in fact unlawful. Under new

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Section 63D(2)(a) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, as inserted by Clause 1 of this Bill, if it should get on the statute book, all police officers would be under an obligation to delete material taken in this way. Therefore, I can say to my noble friend that Amendments 1 and 2 are unnecessary in that respect. She shakes her head, but I can assure her that, because the person had not been arrested, that would be the case. Taking biometrics from a person detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act is already unlawful.

The police are guided in the way that they take DNA and fingerprints by the PACE code of practice D, which deals with issues of identification of persons by police officers more generally. We will need to update code D in the light of the passage of this Bill and before it comes into force. I am happy to say to the House that we will include in that revision of the code a paragraph to make it quite clear that taking biometrics from those detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act is unlawful.

The Earl of Erroll: Just to clarify, if the police inadvertently, even despite the new code, were to take such a sample unlawfully, presumably it would just be destroyed once they realised that they had made the mistake. There would not have to be any other rigmarole.

Lord Henley: My understanding is that it would be unlawful and that therefore they would destroy what they had taken. I can give that assurance to the noble Earl.

Lord Harris of Haringey: To clarify further, presumably part of the difficulty here is that this is an inadvertent error by the police, because they have taken somebody under Section 136 to a place of safety which in this instance has turned out to be a cell in a police station. Is not the real problem here, and the reason why, presumably, custody officers have then made this mistake, that there is an inadequate supply of places of safety in more appropriate accommodation? That is a fundamental issue. If the Government were to address that, the chance of this arising would become far less.

Lord Henley: If I may say so, that is another question. I accept the fact that it might be better if there were other places that they could take the individual to, but the important point is that they have taken that person to that cell. They have then done something wrong by taking his or her DNA in whatever form. That would be unlawful-that is what I am trying to make clear-and I hope that the noble Lord will accept that point.

I turn now to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, and welcome him back. I had not actually noticed that he was absent from the Committee stage of the Bill, because I seem to remember that we dealt with some of these things-but perhaps it is just a fantasy that I remember us addressing these matters. I certainly remember that we had considerable discussion on these matters.

I appreciate that the noble Lord feels that he has misdrafted his amendment and would like it to read "and only" instead of "or". We are at Report stage, so

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it is possibly too late to fix these things, but I suspect that it is to some extent a probing amendment. If the noble Lord remembers, we had some quite spirited discussion in Committee of what the appropriate period should be, and I dare say that we will have another one when we discuss Amendment 4, which the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, will be moving. Amendment 3 does not define that period. If one assumes that the appropriate period would be the relevant period set out in the various provisions of the Bill, I would say to the noble Lord that subsection (3) of new Section 63D of PACE, as inserted by Clause 1, already does this. Subsection (3) says that in,

in other words, except in the circumstances already provided for in subsection (2), which are where the arrest or the taking of biometrics were unlawful,

We have a general presumption that material must be destroyed unless the Bill explicitly permits its retention. I will come back to retention on that later amendment from the noble Baroness and later amendments from the noble Lord. But it must be destroyed unless the Bill explicitly permits its retention, either for a fixed period, such as for a person charged with a qualifying offence but not convicted, or for an indefinite period for those with convictions.

I hope that with that explanation my noble friend will feel able to withdraw her amendment and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, will not press his amendment. I appreciate that we will discuss these matters in further detail on some later amendments.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I do not think that we will have an opportunity to come back to mine. Of course, I am glad that the Minister and I are focused on the same outcome-the destruction of the material. My concern is that the answer to the Parliamentary Questions and the letter from the Minister rely on the new Section 63D(2) of PACE. However, as I had hoped I had explained, I do not think that it applies. The new section starts "This section applies to" and then in paragraphs (a) and (b) sets out what it applies to. My concern is that material taken when the person is not arrested, as the Minister has made clear, and has not given consent would not fall within this and therefore the provision for destruction in new Section 63D(2) would not apply.

I am glad to hear what the Minister says about the code and I am of course not going to press the amendment today. But my concern was that, by relying on a section that in my view does not apply-I do not think that we have quite bottomed it out-there might be resistance to destruction, which the Minister has said that the code will make quite clear is required. Although not within the context of the Bill, perhaps this is something that he and I might have a further word on outside the Chamber because we are clearly aiming at exactly the same outcome. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Amendments 2 and 3 not moved.

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1505

Clause 3 : Persons arrested for or charged with a qualifying offence

7 pm

Amendment 4

Moved by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

4: Clause 40, page 18, line 40, leave out "work has such meaning as may be prescribed" and insert ""better paid work" and "more paid work" shall have such meaning as may be prescribed in regulations subject to the affirmative resolution procedure"

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, Amendment 4 would seek to instate a more proportionate limit of six years for the retention of DNA and fingerprint data for those arrested and/or charged with a qualifying offence such as rape or serious assault. We return to the difficult balance to be struck between protecting people's freedom from police and government interference and protecting their freedom not to become victims of interference or violence from criminals or terrorists. As was mentioned in our debate in Committee, there is no more important series of cases involving DNA evidence than serious sexual crimes, rape and other offences against women, which cause huge anxiety, shame and sorrow for the victims. That fact is one of the major catalysts for the amendments before us.

The six-year limit proposed by my Government was based on Home Office analysis and reflected a proportionate response to the European Court of Human Rights ruling that the blanket retention of DNA violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In Committee I cited the 23,000 criminals a year who go on to commit further offences, and who will not be covered by the Government's proposed three-year retention limit. I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, who is not in his place, whether that figure included minor offences. I confirm that it does, but also that each year 6,000 of those individuals will go on to commit serious crimes including rape and other sexual offences, murder and manslaughter. This analysis comes from the House of Commons Library and from Home Office research given to the Minister, Mr James Brokenshire, in July 2010. I think that the research was buried for some time.

As noble Lords will know, the three-year limit for the retention of DNA comes from the Scottish model, which was based on no real analysis of the risk to public security. The coalition Government made a commitment to the three-year limit based on no new evidence, simply a judgment that this was the appropriate balance between privacy and public safety. The Opposition fundamentally disagree with this judgment. When it comes to offences such as rape and serious assault, we believe that the balance should be in favour of protecting the public and that a more cautious, evidence-based limit should be set.

I was particularly struck by the speech in Committee of the noble Baroness, Lady O'Neill of Bengarve, about the reality of what is stored, and how it is stored, on the National DNA Database, because this reaches the heart of the issue about the invasion of privacy. She said:

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"The information that is retained from a genetic profile for the purposes of the forensic database is not revealing information, such as susceptibility to disease or other genetic factors. It is a selection of the DNA evidence that used to be referred to as 'junk DNA', which is not known to code for any personally sensitive feature of persons. In that respect it is what in other aspects of privacy legislation is called an identifier. That suggests that in some ways it is less personal than a photograph of someone's face".-[Official Report, 29/11/11; col. 145.]

I recognise that how far the state should keep sensitive information on its citizens is a sensitive and highly important issue. However, I believe that the noble Baroness's detailed explanation about the data on individuals and how those data are actually held removes many of the core concerns voiced about the retention of biometric information. If more citizens understood that they would be willing to cede this tiny amount of personal privacy in exchange for the arrest and conviction of murderers or rapists.

The Government have recognised that there will be situations when there is a clear need to retain an individual's DNA beyond the three-year limit. That is why new Section 63F, "Retention of section 63D material: persons arrested for or charged with a qualifying offence", contains a provision for allowing police officers to apply for a two-year extension to the limit. However, we have serious concerns about transferring the burden of responsibility for these decisions to the police. It would seem that the Government are abdicating responsibility for the adverse consequences that may result from their decision to set a limit of three years.

We know that in practice such a safeguard does not work. In evidence given to the Public Bill Committee, ACPO stated that the Scottish system on which this is based has not led to a single application for an extension,

More fundamentally, the thrust of these provisions is to pass the burden of responsibility for these decisions over to the police. The Government, as I said, are abdicating responsibility for the impact on public safety that may result from their decision to limit the retention period to three years, by suggesting that it is up to the police to decide whether the three-year limit or a five-year limit is more appropriate for each individual who is on the DNA database for a serious offence.

Passing that responsibility on to the police would be wrong on any occasion but it is wholly wrong to do so in these straitened times when intense burdens are placed on the police as a consequence of the cuts. The Government are taking a huge and very risky step in the Bill by reducing to three years the limit for which DNA and fingerprint data are retained for those arrested and/or charged with a qualifying offence such as rape or serious assault. Any such move should-indeed, must-be accompanied by robust evidence, but I do not believe that the evidence is there. I ask the Minister to think again.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I wonder whether I might speak briefly as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, because Members of

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the House will have the benefit of our report on the Bill, which is in the Printed Paper Office. In that report the committee-which is of course all-party, and beyond party-expressed the view that the scheme in the Bill is more proportionate and more likely than the previous regime under the Crime and Security Act 2010 to pass muster with the Marper judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

I am not going to bore the House by referring in detail to what the report says, as it explains the issues very briefly and clearly. However, one matter that we expressed concern about, which I think is relevant, is that the committee said that it could not,

without fuller information, including statistics on the operation of the National DNA Database, and asked the Government,

Paragraph 8 of the report states that,

As for the three-year versus the six-year period, with a renewal of two years, the committee commended and welcomed that as a,

and so on.

The noble Baroness makes the point that Parliament should set a six-year term rather than having a three-year term renewed on application under the Bill. It seems no more rational or sensible to adopt a six-year period than to have a discretionary ability to increase for a further two years for a cause, as experience shows, but it is a matter of judgment about the better approach that one adopts. I say simply that the Government have the support of the committee itself in its report.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, I support my noble friend Lady Royall. I do so even though I am not entirely in agreement with her, simply because in my view six years is too short. I think that we should go further. This is not the time or the place to argue the whole case, but I want to place on record my total opposition to those who say, on libertarian grounds, that we should not keep DNA because it affects people's privacy. I think of the people over the years who have been caught because DNA has been kept for 10, 15 or 20 years, sometimes not for a specific offence but because it was standard practice to take a DNA profile. I regret very much that we are going to the extent of saying that we should keep DNA only for three years, with all the qualifications that there are around that.

Technology has improved over the years, not least in the storage of DNA samples. We have seen a case recently, which is probably sub judice because it is now in appeal, where a tiny fleck of blood was found on someone's shirt but that was enough to lead to a conviction. As I say, one defendant is appealing so I shall say no more on that.

With that one reservation, I give my noble friend my full support on this. If it comes to a vote then I shall certainly vote with her, but I think that even six

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years is too short. We are going far too far on the basis that people's privacy is more important than the conviction of someone for a serious offence.

Lord Dear: My Lords, I have a good deal of sympathy with the view that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, has just expressed; it is a view that one hears frequently when talking to, as it were, the man on the Clapham omnibus. I rise neither to support nor to oppose the amendment at this stage. I have not checked with ACPO to see whether it would prefer a lift from three years to six, but in a straw poll it would probably agree that six years would be a help. However, it is incumbent on me to point out that ACPO has already expressed the view that it is comfortable with three years, following the Scottish model, and the ability to go further.

I wait to hear what the Minister says, but the nub of this is the question of balance and proportionality. It is necessary to follow to a large extent the judgment in Marper, which we all remember and which started this debate in the first place. What the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, has said is very pertinent; I drift very much towards his point of view. Still, I would like to hear what the Minister says, particularly on the question of balance, proportionality and how that affects the Marper judgment.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, on the same point about the balance of proportionality, I am assuming that this clause is based on a detailed and careful analysis of the evidence, so perhaps the Minister could share with the House the numbers of people who are affected in terms of their DNA samples being removed and destroyed. Over the past few years, how many individuals whose DNA would now have been removed from the database would not have been brought before the court for offences that have either subsequently come to light or where their DNA has subsequently been matched? It is incumbent on the department to place this evidence before us. That would deal with the concerns raised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

If in fact there is no evidence and a judgment has simply been made that three years is better than for ever, but there is no reason why it should be three years instead of five, six, seven or two, that is not a sound basis for making an extremely important decision, not least for the sanity of the victims of serious crime where the perpetrator might otherwise be convicted. It is a very unwise position for this House to be making that judgment without an understanding of the evidence.

7.15 pm

The proposal to ask the police to make a recommendation to extend for a further two years is a strange one. I can conceive that the Government do not particularly want to get themselves on this hook, but if the expectation is that the police will simply refer all such cases and say that they should be extended by two years to five, then that would be a way of doing it. No doubt that would salve a few people's consciences and mean that fewer would escape conviction than would otherwise be the case.

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I cannot believe that that is the intention of the legislation, in which case what are the arguments to be used in determining whether to make that extension from three years to five, and who is to make those judgments? Is it simply going to be on the say-so of an individual police officer? How will that be subject to challenge? Say that an individual who is arrested but not charged is told, "Your DNA is being held for three years", but then after three years the police come forward and say, "We are seeking an extension of this period to five years". Is that not a statement by the police that, "We believed you were guilty all along,"? and is there not stigma associated with that? Surely that is not a proper way of managing these things. Perhaps we could have a hard and fast rule that is based on hard evidence.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I do not want to detain the House longer than a few moments. I reiterate what I said in my brief intervention when we last discussed this matter. I simply cannot understand how we could allow the complete disconnect on this issue between the Government and what people think outside the House. When I talk to my colleagues and friends outside politics about this issue, there is universal support for our position. I know one person who is in favour of the Government's position. Many of my friends who are Conservative supporters just do not believe that the Government are taking this action. I cannot understand how we allow ourselves to slip into a position where this disconnect can develop. Even during the course of this debate, why are Government-supporting Peers, who know what their own supporters are saying on this issue, not objecting more or even privately making representations to the Government on the need to avoid going down this route? What happens when cases begin to surface, as inevitably they will, of people who have committed crimes who could have been picked up in the event that their DNA had been retained?

The Joint Committee on Human rights has obviously expressed a reservation, which I perfectly understand. Effectively it is saying, as my noble friend did, "Where is the evidence?". I do not believe that there is any evidence that is worthy of this kind of debate. The Government are making a major mistake in proceeding on this basis and, as I say, they are aggravating the disconnect between the people and Parliament.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: Before the noble Lord sits down, he wants evidence, but would he agree with me that what the public may or may not think on the matter is not evidence-it is evidence only of public opinion? We should be careful in deciding questions of rights and freedoms in adopting what might be called a populist approach.

Lord Campbell-Savours: The public's perception of freedom in this debate is that they will be free of crime, or at least freer, in the event that more DNA was to be retained. That is the general attitude of the public as I understand it. They want freedom, but they believe that freedom comes with the retention of DNA.

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Baroness Hamwee: The noble Baroness has referred to the figures that she gave us at the previous stage. She said that 23,000 criminals a year would no longer be on the database who could commit 6,000 further crimes. She has answered the point of my noble friend Lord Phillips and confirmed that these include minor offences. Rereading Hansard, I was not clear whether the 23,000 were those within years four to six, because some of the cases mentioned in the debate related to crimes where there had been more than a six-year period.

As noble Lords said on the previous occasion we discussed this matter, it is not entirely black and white. As we discussed in Committee, if one asked a random group of the public about this, most would want a longer period of retention. That is possibly correlated with those who watch entertaining but unrealistic television dramas; I know that I am affected by these things. We all know that if you asked the same group of people about capital punishment, you would probably get a very hard-line answer, which is why most of us try to avoid asking that question.

My noble friend Lord Phillips said that though we would all agree that a society with a full range of surveillance would be a different society, few of us would be able to articulate why that was so. I have to say that I am among the less articulate on this. I do not think anyone could say that what the Government have proposed is in any way a casual approach to retention or one which completely reverses the current approach. Indeed, it is a pity that what is proposed in the Bill is so hedged about with conditions that this is not so very different a piece of legislation. I agree that, of course, we should not be casual about crime and the prevention or detection of crime. Similarly, we should not be so cautious that we are casual about privacy, our culture and the intervention of the state in our privacy. The noble Baroness said in Committee that,

on the one hand and the delivery of justice and the protection of citizens on the other. I also acknowledge the fineness of that line but I think that I am on the other side of it from her.

Lord Henley: My Lords, as always, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill for his assistance and advice in relation to what the Joint Committee on Human Rights feels about this issue. I am also grateful to my noble friend Lady Hamwee for what she had to say. Certainly, we will do what we can to provide better evidence of the use of DNA in convicting criminals as and when we can. However, I refer the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Hughes of Woodside, and possibly even the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, to the figures. These are some of the figures that we have; obviously, more will become available. Since 2001, more than 4 million people have been added to the DNA database, yet despite that the number of DNA detections has fallen from 33,000 to just over 26,000 in 2009-10. There has been a vast growth in the hoarding of people's DNA but a decline in the number of convictions. That is an important thing to remember as we look at this amendment.

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I also give an assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, who was worried that material taken from crime scenes would be lost. That is not the case. Material taken from crime scenes will still be taken; we are talking about material that is taken from individuals, whether criminals or not. That is a very different matter. My noble friend Lady Hamwee addressed a point of disagreement about whose DNA you should keep and for how long. We know that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, feels that there should be a national database containing everyone's data. He would like to start with a voluntary database on which we can all put our DNA. We will discuss that when we reach his amendment. That might be hunky-dory and all that but it is not what we want, nor do we think that we should pursue a compulsory line in that regard.

I have explained what evidence we have. That is something we will look at but I also think we ought to look at other matters which influence this decision. The first thing to point out to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, is that they would replace the Government's provisions, which meet our coalition commitment to adopt the protections of the Scottish model. She says that that model was agreed without any analysis whatever. I have given some figures and we will provide some more in due course but we will also look at the remarks of Mr Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, at Committee stage on this Bill in another place. We will also look at what the ECHR had to say with regard to the Marper case referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Dear. I was very grateful to him for his intervention, particularly as he stressed the important point of this being a question of balance. My noble friend Lady Hamwee also stressed that point.

I believe that the party opposite is persisting in its approach to keep the DNA and fingerprints of innocent people for many years, no matter how little evidence was ever uncovered, and to keep huge numbers of individuals' DNA and fingerprints on the national databases just in case they go on to commit crime in the future. That is not something with which we can agree. The party opposite pays scant regard to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the S and Marper case, which noted with approval the system which has been in place in Scotland for some years. I remind your Lordships that the Scottish system, seemingly endorsed by the European court and on which we have modelled the proposals in the Bill before us today, was put in place by the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, which was presented to the Scottish Parliament by the then Labour Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson. I do not think that the Labour Party is in power in Scotland at the moment.

Noble Lords opposite contend that our proposals are in some way a charter for dangerous criminals such as rapists which will allow dangerous individuals to roam the streets, committing serious offences with no way of tracking them down. The contention that every individual suspected of rape or any other serious offence will instantly come off the database as a result of these proposals is just not true. As we have discussed previously and at some length, those charged with a

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qualifying offence, including rape, will have their DNA held for three years, and the police will be able to apply to the courts to extend that by a further two years. The police will do that and that is similar to what is happening in Scotland. Those arrested for a qualifying offence but not charged-oh! I was wondering whether the noble Lord wished to intervene but he is obviously addressing his Front Bench.

Lord Campbell-Savours: If I recall correctly, my noble friend on the Front Bench said that there had been no extensions whatever in Scotland and no use of the two-year extension. Is that true? If it is true, on what basis can it be argued that it is going to happen here?

Lord Henley: I am saying that it is available to the police should that be necessary. That is the important point to get over to the noble Lord. I do not know what the figures are for Scotland. I am not responsible for Scotland. It is another Administration in charge of their-

Lord Campbell-Savours: In other words, the Government are proposing an extension of two years for England and Wales. That system already exists in Scotland but the Government do not even know what has happened in Scotland in terms of the use of the two years. Is that correct?

Lord Henley: My Lords, that provision will be available here; it is available there. That is the important point. The police will have the ability to apply to the courts. Those arrested for a qualifying offence but not charged, where the victim is vulnerable, will also have their DNA held for three years, subject to the approval of the new independent commissioner. The noble Lord may not like that but that is the case.

Lord Harris of Haringey: The Minister said that an application, which has not, or may not have been exercised in Scotland, could be made when the police consider it necessary. Could he define what he thinks would be necessary under such circumstances?

7.30 pm

Lord Henley: I noticed the intervention made by the noble Lord earlier on that point. It would be for the police to decide whether they consider it necessary. I would not want to go any further than that at this stage. They will have to do that. These are matters that will be subject to review by the independent commissioner, which is another safeguard. I know that the noble Lord is not very keen on such safeguards, but I think they are very important.

Across the entire coalition Government we took the view, during the passage of the Crime and Security Bill and in advanced proposals on this Bill, that the correct approach is to ensure that those convicted in the past of serious offences have their DNA added to the database, while those arrested for, but not convicted of, more minor offences should not have their biometrics held beyond the end of the investigation. That is why

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we encouraged the police to complete Operation Sheen, which the noble Lord might have come across, which identified more than 300 subjects in prison custody who had been convicted of murder, manslaughter or any sex offence but who did not appear to have had their DNA profile recorded on the national database. That operation has been completed recently and has resulted in an additional 376 such individuals having their DNA taken and uploaded on to the database.

Having completed that work, using the provisions of the Crime and Security Act which were agreed in the final days of the previous Government, the police service has embarked on a further operation, Operation Nutmeg, which seeks to chase and sample those with similar convictions who are now in the community. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said at Third Reading of this Bill in the House of Commons:

"In June last year, we started a programme to identify individuals in the community who have previously been convicted of either a sexual offence or homicide, and whom the last Government failed to place on the DNA database. That process has so far identified more than 13,000 people whose identities have been passed to local police forces, and we are now working with the police to find the individuals and obtain samples".-[Official Report, Commons, 11/10/11; col. 282.]

I believe that that sets out why we are doing this and why we are getting it right. I also believe the analysis which has been looked at by many independent experts who have considered it closely and, as my right honourable friend the Minister for crime and security said in the House of Commons Public Bill Committee,

that is, the evidence presented by the previous Government-

I turn finally to the remarks of the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee as I think they are apposite and they are remarks on which the noble Baroness might wish to reflect. In his contribution at the Report stage of the Crime and Security Bill in the House of Commons, the right honourable Member said,

"There were differences among those of us on the Select Committee on how long the period should be, but we came to the conclusion"-

this is again to stress the balance-

The right honourable gentleman went on to say that on the Select Committee,

Again I go back to what I said at previous stages of the Bill, that these are questions of balance. We think that we have the balance right; the European Court of Human Rights seems to think that we are getting the balance right; and the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee thinks that that is the case. Three years with the possibility of an extension seems to me to be

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about right and we think that six years is too long. I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have participated in this brief debate and for the information provided by the Minister. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Lester, that I have huge respect for the work of the Joint Committee on Human Rights but, on this occasion, I do not agree with its conclusions wholeheartedly. I noticed that other noble Lords have noted, as the noble Lord said himself, that the Committee was asking for better recording in future and for more evidence, in effect. It has become apparent during the debate that the coalition Government are now moving towards three years but are saying that, although they want three years, in some cases five years is more appropriate. They are, as many noble Lords would agree, putting that burden on the police.

In my earlier speech, I mentioned that ACPO had said that not one single application for an extension had been made in Scotland. That is very relevant to our deliberations this evening. I completely agree with all noble Lords who have spoken that this is a matter of balance and of which side of the line one comes down on. On these Benches, I think everyone comes down on the side of wishing to preserve people's freedom to live, protected from crime, rather than having more protection for people's privacy. We believe that the citizens of this country would prefer that. We are worried that in future-

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: Does the noble Baroness accept that this is not a "rather than" situation? She keeps using the phrase "rather than". Of course we all want to protect ourselves against disorder and crime, but it is not a question of "rather than" but of balance. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has been looking at Marper and at the evidence and as an all-party and beyond-party committee it came to the conclusion that the balance was correct. Does the noble Baroness accept that it is a question of balance?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: I accept that it is a question of balance, as I have said on numerous occasions. However, I believe that it is also a question of "rather than". We believe that, rather than people's privacy being the be-all and end-all in this argument, it is more important to retain DNA for a longer period. I see people nodding against me, if you see what I mean. I do not expect all noble Lords to agree with me but on this question of balance we come down on the protection of individuals rather than on the privacy of individuals. That is where we are.

I do not intend to move to a vote but I would be grateful if the noble Lord could come back to me with some more information which I may wish to pursue at Third Reading in relation to the three years and the five years. If this is a key plank within the arguments put forward by the Minister, as I believe it to be, it is very relevant that in Scotland it has not been used on a single occasion. I would like to know why the police in Scotland have not felt able to use this or have not felt it

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necessary to use it. I would be grateful if the Minister could bring back further information before Third Reading.

Lord Henley: My Lords, we are on Report so I intervene with some disquiet merely to say that I do not think that I can add anything to what I have said. I, and other colleagues on these Benches, have been saying that we have to get these things right for a matter of balance. This is also a matter that has been reflected on by the European Court of Human Rights and by our own Joint Committee on Human Rights. They think that three years is about right. We also feel that there should be the ability to extend that in certain cases. I leave it at that.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, of course I recognise what the European Court of Human Rights said, but my Government, when they came to the view that the period should be six years, believed that it was compliant with the ruling of the ECHR. I was not suggesting that the Minister was going to agree with me; I was asking him to come back with further evidence of the situation in Scotland. There must be some facts and figures. The facts relating to Scotland that I have put before the House have been questioned, and I would like more facts about the situation in Scotland. I would like to know whether it is indeed the case that the police have not asked for an extension from three to five years.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may say to the noble Baroness that asking whether the police have or have not sought extensions is one matter, but asking why not seems to be asking the Minister to prove a negative. I thought, not just now but a few moments ago, she was asking the Minister to explain why not.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, forgive me if I misled the House. I did not mean to ask why not; I wished to know whether or not the police had asked for an extension. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 4 withdrawn.

Amendment 5 not moved.

Amendment 6

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

6: Clause 3, page 5, line 26, leave out from "adult"" to end of line 27 and insert "means a person aged 18 or over whose ability to protect himself or herself from violence, abuse or neglect is significantly impaired through physical or mental disability or illness, through old age or otherwise,"

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I withdrew a similar amendment in Committee in order to take more time to consider carefully the concerns expressed by noble Lords. Having done so, I am confident about introducing this amendment.

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Among other things, Clause 3 sets out the rules governing the retention of the DNA profile of a person arrested for a serious offence but not charged with that offence. In such cases, the police can apply to the biometrics commissioner to retain the DNA in certain circumstances, including where the alleged victim of the offence was a vulnerable adult. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said at Second Reading in another place:

"We must protect the most vulnerable in society, so when the victim of the alleged offence is under 18, vulnerable or in a close personal relationship with the arrested person the expectation is that the police will apply to the commissioner for retention".-[Official Report, Commons, 1/3/11; col. 207.]

Amendment 6 seeks to replace the definition of "vulnerable adult" as used in this context.

Currently, Clause 3 defines a vulnerable adult by reference to Section 60(1) of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. However, as we will see when we consider Part 5, Clauses 65 and 66 seek to amend the definition of a vulnerable adult in the 2006 Act to mean any person over the age of 18 in receipt of a regulated activity-for example, health or personal care. The changes made by these clauses to the definitions of vulnerable adult and regulated activity put the emphasis on the activity and the person carrying out that activity. The Bill no longer attempts to define vulnerability or label a person as a vulnerable adult. As a result, the definition in the SVGA is not relevant in the context of Clause 3.

Perhaps I may explain further. Clause 3, which we are discussing, is about protecting victims of crime. Clauses 65 and 66 are about protecting those necessarily in receipt of personal care or who rely on the support or contact of others. They are two separate things. The amendment therefore draws on the definition in Section 5(6) of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, which defines a vulnerable adult as,

The reason why the amendment inserts the definition in full in new Section 63G(10) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, rather than merely referring to the 2004 Act, is that our definition refers to persons aged 18 or over, given that the definitions in new Section 63G(2), as inserted by Clause 3, already include all those under the age of 18. For the purposes of protecting those who are truly vulnerable, we believe that this definition is far more apposite. It will cover and protect more people.

7.45 pm

The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, asked in Committee for an assurance that the new definition will include victims in women's refuges and sheltered housing. This is an important matter that I wanted to be sure of myself. I can say clearly that such victims will be covered by Clause 3, but not by this definition of a vulnerable adult. It may assist the House if I put on the record what I said when I wrote to her following Committee.

I can confirm that those individuals-more often than not women-who have had to seek refuge from an abusive partner would not be included in this

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definition, or indeed the definition currently in the Bill. They would, however, be caught in another limb of new Section 63G(2), as inserted by Clause 3, in that they would be "associated" with the suspect, as defined in Section 62 of the Family Law Act 1996. That definition includes those who are or have been spouses, partners, cohabitants and so on, or who parent the same child, among other similar categories. To be absolutely clear, such people are already covered by the Bill. I hope that that reassures the noble Baroness and any of your Lordships who may have had similar concerns after reading the record of the debate in Committee.

The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, also raised the issue of rape victims in general terms when we debated this amendment in Committee. Rape in general terms is not covered by the amendment as regards the definition of vulnerable adults, but I want to address the concerns raised in Committee. DNA, as we have already discussed, is of particular use in stranger-rape cases and is of minimal use in cases where the attacker is known to the victim. In these latter cases, the trial is more likely to turn on issues of consent than on the identification of the offender. In all rape cases, DNA recovered from the victim as evidence or crime scene material will continue to be retained indefinitely. Nothing whatever changes in that regard. In stranger-rape cases where a suspect is identified but it subsequently proves impossible to bring charges, the suspect's DNA profile and fingerprints will be able to be retained, subject to the consent of the biometrics commissioner, in the following circumstances that are set out in the Bill: where the victim is under 18 as described in new Section 63G(2)(a) of PACE; where the victim is defined as a vulnerable adult, as I have described this evening; and where the victim or attacker is,

In addition, where an attack was of particular ferocity or there were other aggravating factors, the police could make an application to the biometrics commissioner under new Section 63G(3)(b), on the grounds that retention was necessary to assist in the prevention or detection of crime.

As my noble friend the Minister has said, the Bill strikes the right balance between protecting citizens from crime and affording the law-abiding their liberty. This amendment seeks to protect the most vulnerable in particular. We are importing a definition from another piece of criminal justice legislation dealing with the protection of the vulnerable that we believe is more suitable for the purposes of Clause 3 than the revised definition in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act.

I hope that I have been able to address the concerns raised previously by noble Lords and I commend the amendment to the House. I beg to move.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for the explanation this evening and for the letter that she kindly sent me following Committee. These are complex issues. I hope that she will forgive me if I am asking questions that she has already answered. Essentially, to introduce a new definition of "vulnerable" complicates the issue in many ways.

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Although I hear what she says-that this definition is imported from another criminal justice Act-it is not the tried and tested definition of "vulnerable" and it would be far easier if people knew exactly where they stood.

I still have serious concerns about the appropriateness of the new definition. As the noble Baroness said in Committee, I disagreed with the restrictions that the Government placed on the retention of DNA data from those arrested for but not charged with a serious offence. That is a misleading distinction which has serious consequences for victims of crime with historically low charge rates, such as rape. As stated in the letter, the Government recognise that vulnerable members of society should be given special protection in such situations, and new Section 63G aims to provide for the retention of DNA data for those arrested for offences against victims deemed to be vulnerable adults.

At Second Reading in the Commons, the Home Secretary, the right honourable Theresa May, stated, on the conditions where new Section 63F(5) would apply:

"I would expect that application to be made in certain circumstances, such as when the victim has been vulnerable, which may mean there is very good evidence that the individual concerned has committed a crime but the victim is not able or not willing to come forward and see that case through".-[Official Report, Commons, 1/3/11; col. 206.]

However, the Government's proposed amendment to the definition of vulnerable adult recognises only those individuals who are subject to mental or physical impairment as being particularly vulnerable to problems in bringing forward a charge of providing evidence.

In particular, the new definition requires that an individual's ability to protect himself or herself from violence, abuse or neglect is significantly impaired. The definition, particularly with the addition of the qualification "significantly", adds a large element of discretion, leaving judgment of the vulnerability of the victim up to the discretion of the officer dealing with the case. I am concerned that such a definition is open to wide interpretation, which may mean that vulnerable adults are not given sufficient protection under the Bill.

An individual's circumstances are a key indicator of their vulnerability, as is recognised by the definition used under Section 60(1) of the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which lists a number of different circumstances in which an adult should be classed as vulnerable. The proposed new definition also neglects the fact that the type of offence will often determine the particular vulnerability of the individual and lead to problems which may account for the lack of any charge being made.

I note that the noble Baroness says that women who have been subjected to violence are covered under a different clause, although they are not covered by the definition of "vulnerable". I am glad that that is the case, but it is complicated. They cannot read the Bill and see that they are covered as being vulnerable.

I will not press the amendment to a vote, but there are still questions to be answered. I do not expect the noble Baroness to answer me this evening, but if we

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could have further discussion about this to sort out some of my remaining concerns I would be extremely grateful.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: On the change of definition of vulnerable adult, as I tried to explain in moving the amendment, it is important that we do not use the definition applied later in the Bill in the context of victims. If we did, we would be at risk of creating the opposite situation from what the noble Baroness wants. Later in the Bill, the definition of "vulnerable adult", as amended, is intended to define people's vulnerability in terms of the activity in which a person may have to engage with them. As I said, whether it is personal care or whether someone is required to be in close proximity to someone else, we want to define vulnerability as far as whether someone should have the right to access the person.

In this part of the Bill, we are focusing on victims of crime. The fact that we are using a definition that already exists-it predates the definition that the Bill amends later-seems to me a simpler way forward. It is clear which people it is intended to protect. The definition states that it,

I understand the noble Baroness's point about the use of "significantly" and whether or not the definition excludes some people whom she thinks might be captured by the other definition. I disagree. Under the other definition, which is dictated by the nature of the care that people receive, some people who are old may not be in receipt of any specific care that would define them as vulnerable. The fact that they are old would suggest that they are vulnerable in this context, so this definition would capture more people. Also, "otherwise", at the end of the definition, means that there is discretion for the police in considering who is vulnerable. I would expect the new DNA strategy board to offer guidance to the police on how to consider the definition of vulnerability when they make their application to the biometrics commissioner.

One thing behind the noble Baroness's concern, which I share, is that in the context of a crime such as rape, and violent crime against somebody, the impact of the crime might make somebody vulnerable. The definition taken from the Domestic Crime, Violence and Victims Act already suggests what the police might consider under the definition of "vulnerable".

I understand where the noble Baroness is coming from. I was very careful to consider the issues that she raised in Committee and I wanted to explore them with officials in great detail before bringing the amendment back to your Lordships today. However, I am as convinced as I can be that this is a clear safeguard. Women in refuges or secure housing are clearly caught by the other limb of the Bill, meaning that they would have been in a refuge centre because somebody known to them had been violent towards them. That is clearly covered by the other part of the Bill and would mean that, if it was anybody known to the victim, that would allow the police to apply for that DNA to be retained.

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I am clear that the wording is sufficiently comprehensive to cover what we are trying to achieve, which I outlined in moving the amendment, and at the same time to protect those who are most vulnerable. I shall of course be willing to discuss further with the noble Baroness outside the Chamber any of her concerns, but I felt that it was appropriate for me to move this amendment.

8 pm

Baroness Hamwee: The noble Baroness pointed to the words "or otherwise" at the end of the amendment. I may not have been paying sufficient attention to the argument, in which case I apologise, but if this matter is considered further perhaps she would take on board that within this definition the impairment is through only physical or mental disability or illness, and that the last five words are a description of what might cause the physical or mental disability or illness. Therefore, one cannot read "or otherwise" as extending the impairment. I repeat: the impairment is only through disability or illness. As I listened to the noble Baroness, I thought that she was asking us to read "or otherwise" as adding to "disability or illness", which I do not think it does.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am sorry if I in any way misled your Lordships. In her definition of those final five words-particularly the use of "otherwise"-the noble Baroness is correct. I was seeking to make it clear that impairment through physical or mental disability could be due to old age or otherwise. I am not trying to introduce something new; I am saying that it is possible for the impairment to be not just limited to old age. I hope that I am making myself clear; it does get rather complicated. However, in simple terms, I think that the noble Baroness is right.

Amendment 6 agreed.

Clause 14 : Destruction of samples

Amendment 7

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

7: Clause 14, page 10, line 36, at end insert-

"(5A) The responsible chief officer of police may apply to a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) for an order to retain a sample to which this section applies beyond the date on which the sample would otherwise be required to be destroyed by virtue of subsection (4) or (5) if-

(a) the sample was taken from a person in connection with the investigation of a qualifying offence, and

(b) the responsible chief officer of police considers that the condition in subsection (5B) is met.

(5B) The condition is that, having regard to the nature and complexity of other material that is evidence in relation to the offence, the sample is likely to be needed in any proceedings for the offence for the purposes of-

(a) disclosure to, or use by, a defendant, or

(b) responding to any challenge by a defendant in respect of the admissibility of material that is evidence on which the prosecution proposes to rely.

(5C) An application under subsection (5A) must be made before the date on which the sample would otherwise be required to be destroyed by virtue of subsection (4) or (5).

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1521

(5D) If, on an application made by the responsible chief officer of police under subsection (5A), the District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) is satisfied that the condition in subsection (5B) is met, the District Judge may make an order under this subsection which-

(a) allows the sample to be retained for a period of 12 months beginning with the date on which the sample would otherwise be required to be destroyed by virtue of subsection (4) or (5), and

(b) may be renewed (on one or more occasions) for a further period of not more than 12 months from the end of the period when the order would otherwise cease to have effect.

(5E) An application for an order under subsection (5D) (other than an application for renewal)-

(a) may be made without notice of the application having been given to the person from whom the sample was taken, and

(b) may be heard and determined in private in the absence of that person.

(5F) A sample retained by virtue of an order under subsection (5D) must not be used other than for the purposes of any proceedings for the offence in connection with which the sample was taken.

(5G) A sample that ceases to be retained by virtue of an order under subsection (5D) must be destroyed."

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, as we have previously discussed, the Bill creates a general rule that all individual samples will be destroyed within six months of being taken. This represents a significant step in protecting the civil liberties of those whose DNA is taken in the course of a criminal investigation, as it ensures that the particularly sensitive genetic material, which is generally not needed for identification purposes, is destroyed at the earliest opportunity.

However, as we have proceeded with our consideration of how to implement the provisions of the Bill, prosecutors at the Crown Prosecution Service have made representations to us that, in a limited number of cases each year, it would in fact be necessary to retain the individual samples in order to deal with any subsequent challenge by the defence to the comparison made between the DNA of the individual and that found at the crime scene.

Prosecutors are concerned that, if they are not able to retain samples in these cases, they might be unable to withstand such a challenge and acquittals on technical grounds might result. An example of the type of case where such an issue might arise could be where the crime scene stain contained a mixture of, for example, the blood of both a murder victim and their attacker, and possibly a third person, such as an innocent housemate of the victim. In such a sample, the quantity of material from the victim is likely far to exceed that from the attacker and the innocent third party but, without retaining the reference samples from all three individuals, the chemistry and analysis used to derive the three individual profiles, and thus to make a match to the suspect, might be open to challenge in court.

Amendment 7 would therefore insert into Clause 14 a mechanism to enable the police, very early in a case before any samples had been destroyed, to make an application to the local magistrates' court to retain all the individual samples in a case for a period of 12 months. That should be long enough in the majority of cases to identify a suspect and complete the pre-trial disclosure

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1522

process, as part of which it would be established whether the defence intended to mount a challenge to the derivation of DNA profiles and/or matches. If not, the material would be destroyed at that point.

If a suspect had not been identified at the 12-month point, or if the derivation of the profiles and/or matches was still in dispute, the police would be able to apply to the courts to retain the material for a further 12 months, with further such applications available until either the case was concluded or there was no need to retain it any longer. If at that stage a suspect had been identified and criminal proceedings were under way, Section 66 of the Courts Act 2003 would allow the trial judge to deal with the application to continue to retain the samples.

I emphasise to your Lordships that we anticipate this procedure being used in only a handful of cases each year, all of which must be serious crimes on the qualifying offences list. While biological samples will be retained following a successful application, those samples will be able to be used only in the case for which they are taken and no extra profiles will be retained on the National DNA Database.

Given that the concerns of prosecutors would also apply in respect of the prosecution of those arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000, we are making similar provision in Part 1 of Schedule 1.

I turn briefly to the other amendments in this group. Amendment 8 to Clause 17 is technical and confirms that material taken under the regimes in the International Criminal Court Act and the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act is not subject to the rules in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act but to the rules in those Acts.

The amendments to Clause 18 make it clear that, in respect of a DNA profile, the responsible chief officer is the one whose force took the original sample rather than the one in whose force area the forensic science laboratory is located, while Amendment 14 to Clause 21 removes the definition of the phrase "law enforcement authority", which is not used elsewhere in that clause.

Finally, I take this opportunity to give notice to the House that we are considering whether it would be helpful to clarify further the scope of the regime for the retention and destruction of material under Section 18 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. If we conclude that further clarification would be helpful, I propose to bring forward further amendments to Schedule 1 to the Bill at Third Reading. Naturally, I will give noble Lords proper notice of any such amendments, should they prove to be necessary.

I should have said at the beginning that, in moving Amendment 7, I was speaking also to Amendments 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Lord Rosser: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that explanation of the reasoning behind these amendments. I want to raise a question about a particular part of the amendment rather than to make any point in opposition to the amendments.

The amendments in this group appear to require the application to be made before a district judge in the magistrates' court. Will the noble Baroness confirm what appears to be the case; namely, that an application

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1523

could not be made before lay magistrates in the same court? I may be wrong, but if that assumption is right, will the Minister say why this is the case on this issue, since it does not relate, for example, to terrorist activity or threats to national security? As I understand it, the issue simply concerns the case for retention. Is it because there is an existing statute that already provides for this approach? Is it because it is considered that such applications will normally involve complex issues of law? Is it envisaged that such applications will normally be lengthy hearings lasting more than one day? Is it because lay magistrates do not want this responsibility? Is it a lack of confidence in lay magistrates? Or does the reference to "district judge" include lay magistrates? That may possibly be the explanation.

Will the Minister also say whether there is a district judge sitting at every magistrates' court at which such an application might most conveniently be made; whether it is envisaged that a district judge will hear such applications on occasions outside court sitting hours, away from the court; and what will happen if the district judge who is down to hear the application is off sick on the day fixed for the hearing and, as is often the case, no other district judge is sitting at that magistrates' court? Will the date for hearing the application have to be rearranged, or in those circumstances would arrangements be made for the application to be heard by a Bench of lay magistrates already sitting that day at the court in question? To cover myself, perhaps I should declare that I am a lay magistrate-but I am not asking these questions in order to tout for additional business.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I will speak briefly on one aspect of the amendment that might be of interest to the noble Lord, in the hope that further advice might wing its way to me. It may be that the specification of a district judge might relate to the fact that the application by the police in the first instance would be ex parte. That may be why the application needs to be made to a district judge rather than to a lay magistrate. I can now confirm that the application will be only to a district judge, not to a lay magistrate, because it is an exception to a general principle requiring discretion, and is not to be used routinely. If no district judge is available, the application could be heard by a circuit judge if one is available. If after that explanation the noble Lord feels that I have not answered all his questions, I will follow up in writing.

Amendment 7 agreed.

Clause 17 : Exclusions for certain regimes

Amendment 8

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

8: Clause 17, page 12, line 20, at end insert-

"(2A) Sections 63D to 63T do not apply to material to which paragraph 8 of Schedule 4 to the International Criminal Court Act 2001 (requirement to destroy material) applies.

(2B) Sections 63D to 63T do not apply to material to which paragraph 6 of Schedule 6 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (requirement to destroy material) applies."

Amendment 8 agreed.

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1524

Clause 18 : Interpretation and minor amendments of PACE

Amendments 9 and 10

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

9: Clause 18, page 13, line 2, leave out from "to" to "63R" in line 4 and insert "material to which section 63D or"

10: Clause 18, page 13, line 6, leave out "or derived"

Amendments 9 and 10 agreed.

Schedule 1 : Amendments of regimes other than PACE

Amendments 11 to 13

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

11: Schedule 1, page 110, line 17, at end insert-

"(5A) The responsible chief officer of police may apply to a relevant court for an order to retain a sample to which this paragraph applies beyond the date on which the sample would otherwise be required to be destroyed by virtue of sub-paragraph (4) or (5) if-

(a) the sample was taken from a person detained under section 41 in connection with the investigation of a qualifying offence, and

(b) the responsible chief officer of police considers that the condition in sub-paragraph (5B) is met.

(5B) The condition is that, having regard to the nature and complexity of other material that is evidence in relation to the offence, the sample is likely to be needed in any proceedings for the offence for the purposes of-

(a) disclosure to, or use by, a defendant, or

(b) responding to any challenge by a defendant in respect of the admissibility of material that is evidence on which the prosecution proposes to rely.

(5C) An application under sub-paragraph (5A) must be made before the date on which the sample would otherwise be required to be destroyed by virtue of sub-paragraph (4) or (5).

(5D) If, on an application made by the responsible chief officer of police under sub-paragraph (5A), the relevant court is satisfied that the condition in sub-paragraph (5B) is met, it may make an order under this sub-paragraph which-

(a) allows the sample to be retained for a period of 12 months beginning with the date on which the sample would otherwise be required to be destroyed by virtue of sub-paragraph (4) or (5), and

(b) may be renewed (on one or more occasions) for a further period of not more than 12 months from the end of the period when the order would otherwise cease to have effect.

(5E) An application for an order under sub-paragraph (5D) (other than an application for renewal)-

(a) may be made without notice of the application having been given to the person from whom the sample was taken, and

(b) may be heard and determined in private in the absence of that person.

(5F) In Scotland, an application for an order under sub-paragraph (5D) (including an application for renewal) is to be made by summary application.

(5G) A sample retained by virtue of an order under sub-paragraph (5D) must not be used other than for the purposes of any proceedings for the offence in connection with which the sample was taken.

(5H) A sample that ceases to be retained by virtue of an order under sub-paragraph (5D) must be destroyed."

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1525

12: Schedule 1, page 110, leave out lines 23 and 24 and insert-

"(7) In this paragraph-

"ancillary offence", in relation to an offence for the time being listed in section 41(1) of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, means-

(a) aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of the offence, or

(b) inciting, attempting or conspiring to commit the offence;

"qualifying offence"-

(a) in relation to the investigation of an offence committed in England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 65A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984,

(b) in relation to the investigation of an offence committed in Scotland, means a relevant offence, an offence for the time being listed in section 41(1) of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 or an ancillary offence to an offence so listed, and

(c) in relation to the investigation of an offence committed in Northern Ireland, has the meaning given by Article 53A of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (S.I. 1989/1341 (N.I. 12));

"relevant court" means-

(a) in England and Wales, a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts),

(b) in Scotland, the sheriff-

(i) in whose sheriffdom the person to whom the sample relates resides,

(ii) in whose sheriffdom that person is believed by the responsible chief officer of police to be, or

(iii) to whose sheriffdom that person is believed by the responsible chief officer of police to be intending to come; and

(c) in Northern Ireland, a district judge (magistrates' court) in Northern Ireland;

"relevant offence" has the same meaning as in section 19A of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995;

"a relevant search" has the meaning given by paragraph 20A(6)."

13: Schedule 1, page 111, line 20, at end insert-

"20HA Paragraphs 20A to 20F and 20H do not apply to paragraph 20A material relating to a person detained under section 41 which is, or may become, disclosable under-

(a) the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996, or

(b) a code of practice prepared under section 23 of that Act and in operation by virtue of an order under section 25 of that Act."

Amendments 11 to 13 agreed.

Clause 21 : Reports by Commissioner

Amendment 14

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

14: Clause 21, page 16, line 31, leave out subsection (6)

Amendment 14 agreed.

8.15 pm

Clause 24 : National DNA Database Strategy Board

Amendment 15

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

15: Schedule 1, page 113, line 3, at end insert-

"Work-related requirements

6A Regulations may provide that a claimant who-

(a) has a right to reside in the United Kingdom under the EU Treaties, and

(b) would otherwise fall within section 19, 20 or 21,

is to be treated as not falling within that section."

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1526

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, Amendment 15 deals with membership of the National DNA Database Strategy Board. In Committee, I moved an amendment requiring rules about the composition of the board to be included as part of the governance arrangements. The Minister reassured me that the Government's rules would include full membership of the board. She said that an independent element in the form of representation from the Information Commissioner's Office and the National DNA Database Ethics Group would be included. She also said that she would be happy to receive suggestions to strengthen the independent element. This is such a suggestion.

My point in that debate and now is that an independent element need not be, and possibly should not be, a member of the board in a representative capacity. Noble Lords will all have experience of boards to which independent members bring exactly that: independence. They come as individuals with not only independence but judgment, experience of the wider world and so on. If they are representatives of other organisations, they have a rather different role to play. My reason for moving the amendment again is not just to respond to the invitation issued in Committee but to ask the Government to bear this in mind and not exclude the desirability of having true independence involved in the governance of the board. I beg to move.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for her explanation in moving her amendment. The first thing I will make clear to her is that we are not averse to including on the National DNA Database Strategy Board someone who is wholly independent in the sense that they have no direct or indirect interest in this field and, as such, can exercise a role akin to that of a non-executive director, as my noble friend explained and illustrated. All I can do at this time is restate what I said in Committee: namely, as she acknowledged, that the governance rules that must be published under the new Section 63AB(6) of PACE will include the full membership of the board, and that membership will continue to include an independent element in the form of representation from the Information Commissioner's Office, the National DNA Database Ethics Group and the Forensic Science Regulator. We do not consider it necessary to specify the membership of the board in the Bill or at this time to specify what my right honourable friend the Home Secretary might include in the governance when it is decided and published, but I am sure that in reviewing the membership of the board she will consider the points that have been made by my noble friend. I think she will want to ensure that we are not so specific in those governance rules that they prevent us changing any of the independent elements of the membership of that board in future, when different organisations might be associated with DNA.

I hope that my explanations have given my noble friend the assurance she needs that we understand the importance of an independent element in the board and that we want to retain flexibility for the future in the make-up of the board. However, we will certainly take into account the points she has made.

31 Jan 2012 : Column 1527

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I do not require the detail now; that would not be sensible. My point is to ensure that the door is not closed to prospective independent members who are not representative of or members of related and connected organisations. The Minister said that the Government are not averse to that, and I am glad that the door will be open and that the point is, I hope, taken. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 15 withdrawn.

Amendment 16

Moved by Lord Campbell-Savours

16: Clause 24, page 18, line 14, at end insert-

"(10) The Secretary of State may by regulation introduce a statutory framework for the establishment of a Voluntary National DNA database.

(11) The National DNA Database Strategy Board shall, within a period of 12 months of commencement, report to the Secretary of State with recommendations on the establishment of a Voluntary National DNA database.

(12) The report on the establishment of a Voluntary National DNA database shall include the following-

(a) advice on options for the funding (both public and private) of the DNA database;

(b) advice on proposals for the charging of individuals for the taking and retention of sample DNA;

(c) advice on the security arrangements governing the retention of DNA samples;

(d) advice on the categorising of donors from whom DNA samples have been taken and from which a DNA profile has been derived;

(e) advice on the arrangements for the transfer of donor identification between categories;

(f) advice on requests for removal of individual DNA profiles from the database;

(g) advice on access by a responsible police officer to DNA profile information on the database; and

(h) advice as to which statutory organisation and in what circumstances access to DNA profile information shall be given."

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, this amendment is my modest attempt to secure the introduction of a voluntary national DNA database. I suppose I could have introduced the amendment under the voluntary donation provisions in Clause 10; however, on reflection I decided to graft the responsibility for working up the arrangements for establishing such a scheme on to the functions of the National DNA Database Strategy Board. If the amendment appears clumsy, it is because I am not a lawyer.

During the course of a somewhat flippant area of debate in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Henley, with a smile on his face, suggested that a special database should be set up for voluntary donors. I think he called it the Baroness Royall database.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: He did.

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