Frankly, the teachers of this country are not being led. The Secretary of State believes that he has got it right, but he has to understand that no improvements to education in Britain will occur unless the teaching profession goes with him. That takes time, affection, understanding and time spent with the profession. That simply is not happening.

A very influential report, entitled An Avalanche is Coming, came out a month ago. To my absolute delight, it quoted me on the cover. I spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology exactly a year ago and said that,

“by my reading, should we fail to radically change our approach to education, the same cohort we’re attempting to ‘protect’ could find their entire future is scuttled by our timidity”—

and, I would add, by our lack of courage and our lack of imagination.

Unless we get education right, irrespective of cost, everything else we do in this Chamber will fail. That is one certainty. We have to get it right, and to get it right requires leadership. At present that leadership, for the teachers of this country, is not forthcoming.

5.29 pm

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I, too, start by congratulating our maiden speakers on three superb speeches. Today’s debate, focusing in part on health, education and welfare, is a chance to welcome warmly a number of key elements in the Queen’s Speech and the forthcoming legislative programme: the Care Bill, the Pensions Bill, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

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Bill and the carryover of the Children and Families Bill, which, as we have been reminded, contains the biggest overhaul of the SEN system in 30 years. On the other hand, in the health context, I very much hope that legislation for plain standardised packaging for tobacco products is not being kicked into the long grass despite clear evidence that it would have the desired impact.

I heard the negative commentary of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, on the Queen’s Speech, but I do not think that Peter Oborne of the Telegraph is a notable supporter of the coalition and we should take notice when he described the Queen’s Speech as “sharp, dynamic and purposeful” and,

“a serious programme for government”.

Today, I want to speak about the issues affecting the creative and cultural industries and the tourism industry, which will need to be tackled by the DCMS, the Treasury and the Business Department if they are to fulfil their potential in growing our economy. The recent CEBR report for the Arts Council, mentioned in the lyrical maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, on the economic impact of the arts and culture, strongly emphasised the link between the two sectors, with 42% of all tourism expenditure involving cultural engagement. In the case of both sectors, it is crucial to build on the Olympic legacy. Is it not a real tribute that Channel 4 won the BAFTA television award for sport and live events for its coverage of last year’s Paralympic Games?

As another aside on the Olympic legacy, rather less positive, there is now, after a long delay, a supplier recognition scheme in place, whereby, in general, suppliers are allowed to promote their work for the Olympics. Yet there are still areas, nine months after the event, not covered by the scheme. Many companies selling products such as lighting and audio-visual equipment are not able to publicise their involvement with London 2012. The value of the Olympic legacy for these businesses is being completely lost, and this is disgraceful.

Many of us have been impressed by the post-Olympics GREAT promotional campaign overseas, which has highlighted our creative and cultural sector for visitors. We are beginning to see real strategic co-operation between UKTI, VisitBritain, the Arts Council and the British Council, which is extremely welcome, but we need to do more to co-operate in squeezing out every bit of resource. The Australian tourism marketing budget in China, for example, is £13 million, while ours is a mere £1 million. It is extraordinary to consider that the impact of these two sectors—tourism and hospitality and the creative industries—sponsored by the DCMS, taken together and calculated by Oxford Economics and Nesta, amounts to some 20% of our GDP, delivers more than 5 million jobs and offers the strongest prospects of growth in employment over the coming years.

In this context, I want to mention the recent speech by my right honourable friend the Culture Secretary at the British Museum. I did not take it as a demonstration of some kind of Gradgrind utilitarian approach to the arts and culture. She was not insisting that all arts activity needs to be monetised. I took it as an understandably plaintive cry for support in her battle

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with the Treasury in its demand for more cuts in the service of deficit reduction. With perfect timing, we have had the CEBR report commissioned by the Arts Council on the contribution of the arts and culture, which makes it clear that, quite apart from their intrinsic value, they are very good value for money. Public funding of the arts can, in particular, help to diminish the economic risk of developing new productions, which can then go onto global success. Take the productions of the National Theatre’s “War Horse” and “Matilda” from the RSC, for example.

The Korean fashion entrepreneur Sung-Joo Kim, in an inspirational speech to an all-party group here in the Lords a couple of weeks ago, talked vividly of Britain’s future as a creative brain centre, in terms of our creative skills, allied to our archive, museum and gallery resources—now, of course, including the BBC’s Digital Public Space. There is no doubt that our future lies with our imagination, creativity and invention. We are pre-eminent in so many creative areas; the UK has the largest cultural economy in Europe, and the creative and cultural industries represent one of our economy’s greatest success stories. It was great to hear yesterday, for example, that the new “Star Wars” film will be made in the UK.

The Olympics showcased the social and economic value of intellectual property to the UK. We need to realise that our creativity, ideas and intellectual capital will increasingly drive our future prosperity. The recent Nesta Manifesto for the Creative Economy had some good recommendations, especially on the need for better measurement of the creative economy and the need to recognise and understand the economic connections between the arts and creative industries. However, at the end of the day the same old message is being delivered, as it was in the Hargreaves report, that copyright is an impediment to innovation and growth. Indeed, the Nesta report claims that term extension to copyright has weakened the ability of UK business to innovate; it equates copyright with regulation. This kind of attitude is spilling over into dealings with the EU. During a recent trip to Brussels, members of the All-Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group were greatly concerned by the apparent stance of the UK Government in appearing to support those in the Commission, notably DG Connect, which wishes to weaken copyright protection by the introduction of yet further exceptions beyond those contained in the current directive on copyright in the information society, such as over user-generated content. This is extraordinary, given the importance to our economy of the creative industries. It was a delight, therefore, to see the recent piece from the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury, on Music Tank, forcefully arguing the contrary.

I know that my noble friend Lord Younger intends to be a strong advocate for the value of intellectual property, but we need clear and concrete signals that the role of intellectual property as the foundation of our creative industries is appreciated by government. A vital step would be the implementation of the Digital Economy Act. If the Government are serious about the health of our creative sector, it seems extraordinary that we are still waiting for the issue of sharing of costs relating to notifications and appeals

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against the initial obligations code to be resolved by the Treasury three years after the passing of the Act. Nor has the DEA been activated in respect of public lending rights to on-site loans of audio books, e-books and so on.

Another strong signal needed from government is one in support of the creation of the copyright hub, which is a major initiative designed to streamline copyright licensing across the industry. I welcome the Government’s decision to give modest funding support to the development of the copyright hub, which will ensure that it comes into operation earlier than anticipated. I am delighted that, after a terrific campaign by the PRS and the music industry with support from government, the Global Repertoire Database has recently announced that it is locating its global headquarters in London. That is a triumph.

Also on the subject of intellectual property, I want to welcome the Intellectual Property Bill, which is focused on design rights and the introduction of the Unified Patent Court, which we will debate in more detail next week. We certainly need to consider extending the ambit of that to unregistered design and consider other aspects of it, such as providing for public lending right to cover remote e-lending, as recommended by the Sieghart report. I also welcome the consumer rights Bill.

Yesterday, my noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter made powerful points in her speech on two issues that impact heavily on the creative industries: education and skills and finance. I warmly support what she said, particularly over the necessity of implementing Darren Henley’s cultural education recommendations and in taking forward the Creative Industries Council’s recommendations on financing creative industries. I am pleasantly surprised to find that Creative England is now recognised to be playing a very important role.

I have very little time left to me, but I want to mention the enormous advantages that the UK has in its attractions for visiting tourists—yet it is often seen as the Cinderella sector. I hope that the Culture Secretary will, as recommended by industry representatives, agree to form across industry a hospitality and tourism council along the lines of the Creative Industries Council, to include government and industry leaders, jointly chaired by the Culture and Business Secretaries. Those two sectors are of huge significance to our future prosperity. I hope that the Government will take the necessary action so that the opportunities presented can be seized by all concerned.

5.39 pm

Lord Pendry: My Lords, I concur with all those who found the three maiden speakers inspiring. I also found their speeches entertaining. I am sure that we will hear much more from them in the future.

The gracious Speech contains little of any major consequence in the area of social health provision other than on the important issue of carers and the welcome introduction of a Care Bill. As one who brought into law an Act of Parliament on carers—namely the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000—I was disappointed that more progress was not promised for carers in the future. However, I hope that this Bill will

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be strengthened following Second Reading. My Act is one of only three Acts for carers ever to be introduced in the UK. All three were the result of the Private Member’s Bills ballot in another place, and, incidentally, the other two were also introduced by Labour MPs. As for the coming Care Bill, although I welcome any move in the direction of assisting carers, I also endorse the fears which my noble friend Lady Royall expressed about the money to give carers a better deal not being available if the Government’s record to date on giving our social services adequate provision is any guide. It will no doubt fall on local authorities, which are already facing budgetary cuts, to pick up the tab.

I turn to another area which was omitted from the gracious Speech: the very real and growing problem of obesity within our society, especially among our youngsters. I was prompted to speak on this subject today after cutting the ribbon to open a new state-of- the-art clubhouse in Bispham, near Blackpool, some three weeks ago. I was ably assisted by Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North. It was so heartening to see so many youngsters—some 100 or more—dressed in their football attire, wishing that the speeches would end so that they could expend their energies in a constructive and sensible way, putting aside their video and computer games and the like. The facility that was opened contained superb dressing rooms, showers and canteen facilities and was brought about by funding from the Football Foundation. It was so good to see those youngsters enjoying their sport in an environment that many of us, certainly myself, would have wished for and envied in our younger days.

The Football Foundation, of which I am president, is the UK’s largest sports charity and is a partnership composed of the Football Association, the Premier League and the Government. Since its inception 13 years ago, the Football Foundation has produced more than 1,600 grass-roots facility projects with £324 million-worth of investment generously provided by the funding partners. This initial stake from the foundation has attracted an additional £418 million of partnership funding to grass-roots sport from local businesses, housing developers, the projects’ own fundraising and other sources.

We will be losing a major weapon in the fight to tackle obesity if we do not endorse and expand those developments. It cannot be a coincidence that we are the most obese nation in western Europe and that we also have the worst public sports facilities in western Europe. The foundation is doing excellent work on producing better sports facilities but the job is so colossal that its funding can reach only a very small percentage of the tens of thousands of pitches across the country. This investment in the grass-roots sports infrastructure helps to improve not just the health of the population but the health of the economy as well. When a local football club, council or school builds a new changing pavilion or playing surface, it also provides important jobs for architects, builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and more. Later this month, the Football Foundation will release some striking research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research that shows the benefits to the UK economy, in terms

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of jobs, contribution to GDP and growth, that result from its investment. I urge noble Lords to read the report when it comes out shortly. It makes sense for the health of our sports, our people and our economy to take note of the CEBR’s recommendations.

On top of that research, I would also like to highlight the findings of Nuffield Health’s new report, 12 Minutes More, which illustrate the significant savings that accrue to the National Health Service, to the Government and to individuals when the population increases its levels of physical activity. The research highlights that the average person does well below the recommended level of exercise, exercising on only four days per month. However, if the average person did just 12 minutes more physical activity per day then they would reach the target level of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. The report goes on to spell out the health benefits for individuals of doing these exercises. Those benefits include a 6% lower risk of developing mental health problems; 6% lower cholesterol levels; a 4% lower risk of high blood pressure; a 7% lower likelihood of being obese; and cutting the risk of developing lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and CVD. Nuffield Health argues that if the obese were to get active, it could immediately save the National Health Service £360 million as well as avoid £6.3 billion in further NHS costs, in welfare payments and in loss of earnings.

Much more could be said about the problems of obesity. I hope that during the passage of the Care Bill, the Second Reading of which we will soon debate, there will be an opportunity to raise the compelling reasons why the Government should take positive action in this important area.

5.47 pm

Baroness Greengross: My Lords, as a member of the scrutiny committee on the Bill, I welcome the inclusion of the Care Bill in the gracious Speech. The fact that the Bill was published so quickly afterwards gives me confidence that at last we will see some long overdue progress made in improving the well-being of some of the most vulnerable among us, particularly disabled and older people.

I also welcome yesterday’s announcement of the first ever system-wide shared commitment in which 12 national health and care leaders have indicated how they will help local areas to integrate services. I hope that will include housing and prevent the most vulnerable among us being passed around health and care systems in the future. I have also heard that the Government plan to launch a review into all aspects of later life care, which is very welcome. However, without being too cynical, we have had lots of reviews over the past 20 years or so and none of them has resolved the key problem that there is not enough money in the system to provide even a basic level of acceptable quality care, as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has confirmed.

Regarding the Care Bill, can the noble Earl tell us when the new care funding eligibility criteria framework will be published? In the new framework it is most important that having moderate care needs is recognised as being relevant and appropriate for initiating the

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provision of preventive services. The care Bill mandates that a local authority has to exercise its functions with a view to ensuring the integration of care and support provision with health provision and health-related provision. Does the noble Earl agree that encouraging local authorities to lengthen their budget cycles to at least four years would encourage the necessary investment in prevention and intervention in year one? That will pay back only later, with delayed and reduced care needs and costs, and perhaps compressed morbidity.

The annual report from the Prime Minister’s “challenge on dementia” is also due soon. Then we will learn how much progress is being made on making the quality of care as important as the quality of treatment. The prevalence of dementia is growing, and there is often a need for its management to be part of public health responsibility. It should include well-being, the design of the built environment and preventive care. If we are to get dementia-friendly communities, all those aspects need to be looked at. Public health inclusion would be welcome.

I support the view of Macmillan Cancer Care that, at the end of life, social care should be free and appropriate. People dread being in an inappropriate care setting, with a loss of dignity and respect as their final days approach. I get so many heartfelt pleas from the family and friends of people in care, both young and old, about the difficulties they have in finding out who is responsible for their care and, above all, how they can make a complaint. I know that the new clinical reference groups are supposed to meet regularly with patient representative groups but it is most important that dementia and end-of-life care are not forgotten.

On the new CCGs, I am concerned that in some localities, with their smaller management teams, they will not have the resources to fulfil their twin responsibilities of transactional management—such as A&E, NHS 111, contract negotiation and so forth—and the transformational relationship management, in areas like long-term improvement in dementia and end-of-life care, that they need to take on board; and that a disconnect may develop in terms of accountability for both these important areas.

We are seeing increasing costly bed-blocking as older people wait for care home places and clog up acute hospitals. I hope this can be dealt with, but Age UK has today reported that many patients have a 30-day wait to leave hospital. This is totally unacceptable. We need to look across the board at many types of initiatives and bring them together to solve some of these problems. Perhaps, in the end, innovation will be the key. Could we not look, for example, in quality and provision of services, at something like the “patient hotel”-type concept which is de rigueur in Scandinavia? I stress that I see this as an extension of NHS-provided services, and not privatisation.

In another initiative, the think tank with which I am involved, the International Longevity Centre, is coming forward in the next few weeks with a proposal for a more affordable savings product which might appeal to people of modest means who would not normally be able to afford an insurance product, and about whom the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has understandable concerns.

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Perhaps we could think more broadly about how we organise our services. For example, perhaps it would make sense if the social care elements of the DWP were merged with the Department of Health—a bit like the old DHSS but with the pension element hived off to employment. We look across the board at all sorts of ideas. Obviously, the DCLG would have to be involved because of local authority care-funding responsibilities. I believe that the current cross-departmental arrangements for the oversight of care funding and provision are one of the main reasons for the lack of joined-up thinking that we see all the time. It seems impossible to bridge these divides, so why not move some of them together and see if that works better? It is only by people with differing skills and sectoral responsibilities coming together that we can benefit from the necessary transformational plans to meet the needs of our ageing population in the years to come.

5.55 pm

Lord Prescott: My Lords, I offer my congratulations to the three excellent maiden speakers today, who very much reflected their personal experiences, which will clearly be to the advantage of future debates in this House.

I will also make a contribution arising from my personal experiences of press regulation, the setting-up of a royal charter and the Leveson proposals. I agree with the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, earlier and his criticism of how long the process has taken and the opposition of the press to any form of change. This was reflected in an excellent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, on the first day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech. Both noble Lords expressed the view that the media were not prepared to co-operate in the way they believed the media should. There has now been such a long debate.

As a privy counsellor, I confess that I think that the role of the royal charter and of privy counsellors is at the heart of what we have to discuss today. There seems to be a general belief that somehow the Privy Council and the royal charter should not be involved in political controversy: that whatever they recommend to the Crown, the Crown will accept. However, that will not be the proposal now as we have two royal charters. Decisions have to be taken, and they have to be taken by the Privy Council.

I am not sure how this practice will work. I do not suppose that I will be one of the selected few sent to discuss the whole business of press regulation with the Queen. I presume the Cabinet will appoint the people who will sit on the Privy Council. That happened under the previous Administration; it is the normal process. However, it raises the very interesting point about whether they have a political view in making a decision on the different royal charters before us—another issue that I shall address.

My concern has been very much increased by the virulent opposition, referred to in earlier speeches, of the press. They do not accept that others can have a different view. They use the power of the media to attack anyone who holds a different view from them. That is totally unacceptable, quite apart from the

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other activities for which over 100 journalists have been arrested, the top press management being accused of conspiracy and all sorts of crimes and illegal acts. Let the courts decide how they will deal with that, but this does not sound to me like a press that has been reformed by their experience. They somehow do not believe that there needs to be any change. Indeed, the press’s royal charter is exactly what they want: to remain as they are. What they object to, quite clearly, is any statutory framework.

I am a bit curious about that. Since I have been in this House—and it has only been a short time—I have seen the press coming here asking for statutory privileges to protect them from damages and against legal aid. They require the law for that, and we have gone along with them, as much as we might have disagreed. They are therefore not necessarily against statutory frameworks in principle. Indeed, it is curious to note that they co-operated in Ireland where they own papers and where there is government control in a way: a Minister who decides who is on the regulatory body for press freedom. The press have signed up for that. How can they believe that it is all right in Ireland but not over here? They are the same papers, with the editors taking the decisions. All this business about them not accepting a statutory framework is nonsense.

The Defamation Act 2013 strengthens the press’s position because they want their damages reduced. They do not like having to pay a lot of money for offences that have been committed. We have made it better for them. We have made legal aid better for them, so that people cannot easily get legal aid to seek justice in the courts. All these things we have done for our media. They are not against a statutory framework; they do not like the idea of a statutory framework which they think would disadvantage them. They want to be able to judge what is in the public interest and what is right. Indeed, they even challenge the judges when they make a judgment on human rights. They say that it is the job of the editors to make decisions about public interest. I am bound to say that the record does not show that they are very fair about that.

When we get down to it, the Defamation Act and the latest changes, brought about by actions in this House, make it clear that there will be more accountability and that the damages that we are talking about will now apply to the press, whether they welcome the regulation or not. We have actually brought in a statutory framework, so for all the talk about there not being a statutory framework, we can say that we have one which the House has passed. It will apply whether the press join the royal charter or not. It is therefore nonsense to talk about there being no statutory framework. That is just part of the smoke that is being thrown up by them.

I am no fan of royal charters. Frankly, you cannot, as a democrat—I say that sitting in this place, but let me leave that aside—believe in a royal charter because it overrules and bypasses Parliament. However, another change that we have now made, which I welcome, is that if there is to be any change to a future royal charter, the agreement of two-thirds of this House and the other place is needed. That means that more

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political accountability has now been put on the royal charters. It is not privy counsellors getting together, having a little chat, passing a note to the Queen and then saying, “That’s the law”. No, we are now going to have a say and we therefore have extended political accountability, which should be welcome. Again, the framework is involved.

Now that there are two different concepts, two different royal charters, someone has to make a decision. Does anyone believe that that will not be politically controversial? There is the charter produced by the press, which is clearly different, certainly as regards a statutory framework, from the other one produced by this Parliament. This Parliament has decided overwhelmingly that it wants a statutory underpinning. It does not like to say that it is statutory because that is like forcing something on the press. However, if you leave the language aside, we have indeed established a statutory framework.

Therefore, when the council meets, it will consider which charter it wants to accept. Two charters means that a decision has to be taken. I assume that whoever the privy counsellors are they will include members of the Government. Even the Secretary of State for Culture must be involved in that process. Is that Secretary of State likely to vote for the press charter? I hope not, but if that happened that would be defying what Parliament had agreed, would it not? Why would the council judge the press one first? Because the press nipped in quickly and got that position. Now the council has to make a decision. That will be political, whatever we say about it. Even if you ignore the press charter, will the press believe that you have been fair? Will Parliament’s charter be accepted? Even if the Queen had to decide on these matters, and one does not want to put her in that position, would she then say, “I do not support the parliamentary one”, given the overwhelming majority? I do not think so. It would certainly be politically controversial.

In conclusion, my concern is the actions of the press themselves. They are still showing their bitter opposition. Remember that their proposal does not come from a majority. Not all the papers have agreed to it. Only the very people who have committed all the offences have got together and do not want to be stopped. They want to keep things in their present form. What are they doing? They are already threatening that if their charter is not accepted, they will continue to oppose the other charter. That would be politically controversial. They also propose to take the matter to a judicial inquiry. They are, as I understand it, going to take on the Crown in the courts against our proposal. That is very interesting.

What really gets under my skin is that the papers and editors have campaigned, day after day, to get rid of the European Convention on Human Rights. Now they are going to go to the European Court of Human Rights citing Article 10 on the freedom of information and the protection of private rights. I do not suppose that they will use Section 2, only Section 1.

I say to the Government: have you thought of a plan B? Perhaps I should not say “plan B” because they do not like it. We have to face up to our obligation, which is to carry out what Parliament decided. That

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means that the only alternative is statutory legislation. We should be absolutely clear about that. Giving in again is exactly what we have always done on press regulation—give in, give in, give in. Politicians go for delay. As they get near an election, they get nervous about what papers are going to do. We should not let them do the same thing. Now is the time for change. Now is the time to pass what Parliament has decided and to say to the media, as is the case for every other organisation in this country, “You have some responsibility under a regulated framework”.

6.05 pm

Lord Donoughue: My Lords, I agree with every rapid word from my noble friend Lord Prescott, but I wish to focus on the energy section of this debate, bearing in mind the threat of a new Energy Bill. I will concentrate on the Government’s decarbonisation agenda, pursued with little concern for the competitiveness of our economy and with its accompanying pressure to prevent the exploitation of our rich shale gas reserves, which threatens to produce a serious energy crisis in this country.

Last week, a global warming campaigner from this House denounced those who question green orthodoxy as, revealingly, the “forces of darkness”. I say revealingly because the language is religious or religiose. Much of this debate is conducted in those terms. The greens claim the high moral ground, pursuing the virtue of—ambitiously, I must say—saving the planet. “The end of the world is nigh”, they say. Those of us who question them are evil sinners.

Perhaps with the decline of Christianity and the fall of Marxism, our chattering classes need a new faith. As a Roman Catholic, I respect faith but I am aware of its scientific limitations. I have always—including when I was my party’s spokesman here on energy—supported a healthy environment, limiting pollution and using energy efficiently. At first, I accepted unquestioningly, as was wrongly claimed, that there was a unanimous consensus among scientists supporting the global warming case and that only a tiny lunatic minority questioned it. But then I found a serious number of questioners, including scientists, on the internet and in this House, although many spoke in hushed tones for fear of denunciation as deniers—like neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust. Nasty that. Now the polls show that at least half the nation is sceptical. Even media commentators have started to question, although not of course the BBC, which is still a propaganda branch of the green faith. The Met Office also remains true to the faith that the planet will boil, forecasting mild winters and barbecue summers, which never appear.

The basic facts on global warming are that the planet has recently been in a warming phase and since 1880 has warmed 0.8% of 1 degree. However, in the past 16 years, there has been no further warming, and the Met Office forecasts that the globe will not warm further in the next five years. Beyond that, the warming trend may resume. We do not know. The strict link between carbon emissions and the degree of global warming has been questioned, given that emissions still increase while temperatures do not, and atmospheric carbon levels were much higher in the last ice age. We need better evidence.

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The problem is that our Government are committed to spending scores of billions of pounds on policies that assume that the alarmist beliefs are already proven facts. Those policies involve a massive switch to uneconomic renewable energy. The costs threaten to make some of our industry uncompetitive and fall disproportionately on the poor, and the number of those in fuel poverty has reached new peaks. Nearly 20% of recent energy price increases come from green imposts.

The massive investment in wind power, despite producing barely 5% of our electricity generation, is a particular folly. Environmentally, wind turbines can have many negative effects, as set out in DECC’s 2010 appraisal. Financially, they are a disaster. The cost of subsidies and integrating them into the grid—ultimately borne by consumers—will reach £5 billion a year by 2020 and by 2030 will have doubled again, totalling well over £50 billion.

Onshore wind costs double and offshore wind costs treble the cost of a combined cycle gas plant. This huge cost is because of their inefficiency. They often do not work in very cold, windless weather. In the severe cold spells of 2010 and 2011, they at times contributed less than 0.5% of Britain’s power. They need some 80% of back-up capacity from the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace. So wind does not replace fossil fuels; it embeds the need for them and drives up the price of power generally.

A further burden imposed on our society, and especially on the poor, by the green agenda has been the obstacles put in the way of developing our rich reserves of shale gas, estimated to meet our needs for the next 150 years. This abundance, as the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, said in his excellent maiden speech, could help to generate huge tax revenues and to rebalance the economy by boosting manufacturing, especially with jobs in the north.

We should note that in the United States shale has provided tens of thousands of new jobs and reduced gas prices by two-thirds, while the green jobs bonanza has proved a mirage. In the States it has created only 2,800 jobs at a cost of nearly $12 million a job. The prospect for green jobs may be just as thin here, with most windmills built abroad.

So why is the shale revolution not happening here? It is mainly because of ideological hostility to shale exhibited by greens in DECC and especially by Liberal Democrat Ministers. Scaremongering about shale fracking, alleged to cause so-called earthquakes and water contamination, was well publicised in the media—less so the later inquiries by the Geological Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, which showed that fracking has never caused any human or structural harm and will not do so if conducted, as it must be, according to established safety and environmental rules. Yet the alarmists continue their opposition. They do not want safe shale; they want no shale. This is economic madness.

What should be done? My own Labour Party is rightly attached to environmental values and should continue so, but in a balanced way and not with excessive green faith and global warming ideology. It should remember our historic concern for jobs and

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not damage the competitiveness of the economy, and it should show concern for poor people freezing in winter with rocketing energy bills. Labour should be wary of elitist green policies which pay rich Scottish and Welsh landowners and big corporations billions, derived from green taxes on ordinary people in tower blocks in Glasgow, to rent out their estates for wind farms. This could involve the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich since the 18th century enclosures. It is not clear to me that it should be a central Labour policy.

As for the Government, the Prime Minister should remove Liberal Democrat Ministers of extreme faith from the energy department. Right now, he should ensure that the Energy Bill meets Britain’s critical energy needs and stop littering our countryside with a blight of windmills.

Finally, for the wider issues of climate change, the importance of which I do not deny but the causes of which are not scientifically clear, we should monitor climate developments in a measured and non-ideological way. We should react on proven evidence, not on hysterical alarmism and not by assuming that Britain, with barely 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, should lead some imperial moral mission to save the planet, and certainly not by damaging our economy and the living standards of our people. That is not the responsibility of any sensible and mature Government.

6.14 pm

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, as I develop my own arguments, the House will understand why I took so much pleasure in listening to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue.

The gracious Speech informs us that the first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness and that the Government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth, with legislation to update energy infrastructure. With those central themes in the gracious Speech, it is unhelpful that we find ourselves debating energy alongside health, agriculture, culture and education. My noble friend Lord Deighton, opening yesterday’s economic debate, made no mention of energy, despite the fact that he has a key role in the nuclear negotiations with EDF and that having the right energy policy is a fundamental requirement for economic competitiveness, a fact acknowledged by my noble friend Lord Freud opening today’s debate.

One commentator recently wrote:

“British energy policy is once more on the move. In 2006, the then Labour government set up an energy review, which was a much needed, comprehensive overhaul of policy. Now, seven years later, the Energy Bill … is inching its way through the legislative process”.

If a review of an equally fundamental matter of wartime policy had been started in 1939, it would have been inching its way forward in 1946, long after the war was over.

During the debate on the previous gracious Speech, which followed on the publication of the Science and Technology Select Committee’s report in 2011 on nuclear research, I quoted our conclusion:

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“A fundamental change in the Government’s approach to nuclear R&D is needed now to address the complacency which permeates their vision of how the UK’s energy needs will be met in the future”.

I acknowledged that the Government’s response, accepting almost all our recommendations, appeared to represent a fundamental change in approach. I welcomed the change but expressed serious concern about energy policy and the possibility of an acute energy security crisis.

Since then, the Government have published the Nuclear Industrial Strategy: The UKs Nuclear Future, which attempts to offer reassurance. It states:

“New nuclear power is essential to meeting the Government’s objective of delivering a secure, sustainable and low-carbon energy future”.

Most of the initiatives that the Select Committee proposed have at least been started but the crucial decisions are still to be taken. We have to stop inching forward. Decisive moves are required urgently, as my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding emphasised. Before the Summer Recess we need to have an Energy Act and well before then the conclusion of the negotiations with EDF, although, because of the calamitous way that these matters have been handled by DECC, the outcome may be a 40-year burden on consumers of a high price negotiated with a company whose financial ability to deliver is in doubt. It is hard to be optimistic about other nuclear plant decisions involving Wylfa and Oldbury.

Those negotiations are being conducted in a world where energy economics have been transformed by the shale gas revolution. During the debate on the Select Committee report, I spoke about the importance of that revolution. The chairman of the Select Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, sharply observed that without carbon capture and storage there was enough shale gas to,

“fry us all many times over. So shale gas has to go with CCS, which is an unproven technology, whereas nuclear is a tried and tested technology. We must therefore not relinquish our commitment to nuclear because of the hope of shale gas with CCS, unless we are prepared to fry”.—[

Official Report

, 16/06/12; GC 228.]

I am as committed to the need for nuclear as is the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, but I believe that on this point his analysis was flawed. All the evidence is that the replacement of coal by shale gas, without CCS at present, is already making a very substantial contribution to reducing carbon impacts in the United States.

Furthermore, we need competitive economies if we are to finance the technological advances that are likely to make the greatest contribution to the reduction of the threat posed by global warming. It is folly to waste our limited resources on forms of renewable energy that are never going to make more than a miniscule contribution. The madness of continuing to encourage the construction of high-cost, onshore wind farms that devastate the landscape should be self evident but, sadly, the madness persists. There are plans to ignore public opinion and to do immense damage to a great area of mid-Wales and adjoining parts of Shropshire, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley of Knighton, in a splendid maiden speech, while in north Norfolk a giant wind turbine has been approved by a planning inspector

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against the wishes of local people, their elected representatives and English Heritage. So much for localism.

In his maiden speech, my noble friend Lord Ridley made the superb contribution that those of us who have followed his career have come to expect. He spoke of the importance of making energy affordable. In a recent article, he made the point that cheap energy is the surest way to encourage economic growth and emphasised that,

“if we do not treat the shale gas revolution as a huge opportunity for Britain, then it will become a dire threat to our economy: if we do not dash for cheap gas, we will lose much of what’s left of our manufacturing to countries that do”.

He is right.

Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford and a fellow in economics at New College, suggests that the energy debate is stuck in a rut. Policy-makers are arguing about a narrow set of existing technologies while all around them the world is changing. He urges fresh thought about possible technological advances. He writes:

“Some are like fracking—already largely in place, but needing a push. This category includes battery storage and smart grids and meters. We have within our grasp the ability to store electricity and to make the demand side active rather than passive … current renewables like wind turbines, rooftop solar and biomass stand no serious chance of making much difference to decarbonisation”.

He concludes that we must reverse the dash for coal and that only gas can do this at the global level over the next couple of decades. He presses the need for a long-term stable and rising price—a carbon tax, reinforcing investment for research to develop the future renewables: next-generation solar, geothermal, gravity and nuclear. After hearing my noble friend Lord Ridley, I am sure that he would have added gasification of coal to the list.

On 22 May, the EU summit is to discuss key aspects of energy policy aimed at boosting growth, productivity and employment. Recently, the employers group, BusinessEurope, has called on the Commission radically to shift the EU’s energy policy towards cost competitiveness and security of supply. The head of one of the world’s largest chemical groups has warned that the energy costs should be ranked alongside the eurozone crisis as the most urgent problem confronting industry. As German energy policy has taken an even more disastrous turn than our own, he is surely right.

The British Government must, at the very least, ensure that the Commission does not put last minute blocks in the way of our own vital decisions on energy. Surely, as Dieter Helm’s comments imply, there is room for a switch in the EU’s energy policy that both improves competitiveness and is more sensible in terms of climate change mitigation. Here in Britain we really have to get out of the rut. It needs more than a shove. Yesterday, my noble friend Lord Deighton said that the new transport infrastructure was needed now. The need for the new energy structure is even more urgent. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has been dragging its feet. Its attitude has been negative and even obstructionist, particularly in seeking to discover the real potential of our shale resources and in combating the scaremongering tactics of opponents

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on so many energy initiatives, a point well made by my noble friend Lord Jenkin earlier today.

There is now the need for decisive action both by the departments directly involved—BIS and DECC—and by the Prime Minister and Chancellor who must take whatever steps are needed to ensure that we do not miss the opportunity that shale gas and nuclear provide to get the British economy moving again.

6.24 pm

Baroness Billingham: My Lords, last year at this time we waited with great anticipation the start of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. There was so much promise and the Games exceeded the nation’s wildest dreams. They were a triumph. Now, some eight months after the Games, the gracious Speech has absolutely no mention of sport and how the pledge to create a new generation of sports men and women is to be achieved. It is a huge lost opportunity for the Government to build on past achievements and echo the nation’s call for a better sporting Britain. It demands fairer sport for everyone, irrespective of ability and of every background. And I mean everyone, not just the favoured few of the 6% who attend independent schools but the 94% of our children who are in state schools.

The discrepancy between state and independent schools in sport is absolutely disgraceful. No wonder the majority of medal winners at the Olympics were privately educated people. In all fairness, the two most distinguished Olympians on the coalition Benches in this House have been outstanding critics of the Government’s failure to put grassroots sport into primary schools. If the noble Lords, Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan, cannot persuade the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, to change course, it is clear that proper change will not happen, although he has been forced into minor U-turns as a result of national pressure.

So, what prospect is there of the promised sporting legacy? I have looked back over the past two years to see whether there are any glimpses of hope but, sadly, there are none. It has been a story of destruction and failure to build on the improvements built by the previous Government. We were genuinely making ground, as opposed to this Government which are losing ground. The facts are stark. The number of people aged 16 and over active in sport has gone down for the first time since we won the bid in 2005, if we can remember that time. Michael Gove has singlehandedly wrecked state school sport, demolishing school sport partnerships which proved so successful in bringing qualified staff into schools as well as acting as a bridge between schools and clubs and community. The Government removed the crucial protection of ring-fenced funding for physical education in state schools, only partially reinstating it following a huge public outcry. Michael Gove also removed the minimum two hours target for sport and physical education in state schools.

A new formula for school sport was announced. Competitive sport was to be the panacea. Where on earth have these people been? For some it might be good and acceptable but for others it is the ultimate turnoff: 45% of girls surveyed by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation said that sport was too

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competitive for them and that they preferred individual disciplines, which perhaps I may say provided vigorous exercise such as dance, gymnastics and much else.

Even the ability to play sport has been reduced. Formerly, the minimum requirement for playing-field space was set according to the number of pupils in the school. Now the requirement is for schools to provide “adequate sport space”, whatever that might be deemed to mean. Not only are the Government reneging on the pledge to create a new sporting nation, they are ignoring, as others have said today, all the health benefits that sport can provide, especially at the grassroots level. Good practice when learnt young can carry on throughout life and, as has already been said, obesity continues unchallenged in our schools. More savage cuts to sport came through the decision to end swimming for the under-16s and for the over-60s. At the same time, the Government cut crucial funding to national sporting bodies such as Sport England and UK Sport, which have had a 33% and 28% reduction respectively. These are the very people who enable grass roots and community sport to take place.

National governing bodies have also been hit. Their budget has been cut by 15%. These are the bodies responsible for introducing their sport to the widest possible audience, including cricket, rugby, gymnastics—in fact there are 46 bodies doing sterling work. However, this is clearly not appreciated by the Government.

This dismal catalogue of the Government’s failure—which will be felt for generations to come—is not the end of the story. Where are their positive ideas, the innovations that will produce better use of existing facilities, equal opportunities and willing and competent volunteers who want to help sport in so many ways? The Olympics and Paralympics showed the nation the stunning contribution made by volunteers. This is not new. Generations of parents and volunteers have been running our clubs, coaching, painting the changing rooms and a host of other activities. Without them our clubs would cease to exist. What we saw last year was a new layer of volunteers wanting to be involved, perhaps for the first time.

What incentives and new areas have the Government created? Simply none. I have spoken before in this Chamber about Tennis for Free, a charity which uses fully qualified volunteers as coaches on public courts in our parks, which exist in virtually every town and village. No charges are made for those who take part and it is incredibly successful. Youngsters who may never be able to join a club flourish in this scheme. The model is hugely successful. What happens in tennis could easily be replicated in a host of other sports. Public parks should be the centre of people’s sport and, with minimal government support, this could and should happen.

Most of our sports clubs are members clubs run by volunteers. However, despite the crucial part they play they have been badly let down by planning regulations. If clubs are to flourish they must be able to improve, for instance, floodlights, club facilities and playing surfaces. They are frequently thwarted by the objections of neighbours—we call them nimbys—and their applications, despite being recommended by planning

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officers, are often turned down. Minor changes to planning guidance would prevent this happening and should be a part of the Government’s plans for the future.

There is still far too little dual use for schools and colleges to open up their facilities, and yet this, too, does not appear in the Government’s programme. These are just a few of the measures that the Government could adopt to help us fulfil the legacy as promised, but all we have from them is negative and reactionary thoughts.

In conclusion, I remind noble Lords that there was, of course, one honourable mention of sport on the day of the Queen’s Speech: the announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. He, I am sure, would understand and agree with all the charges that I have made against the Government today, but then he is not one of them, he is one of us.

6.33 pm

Baroness Barker: My Lords, I declare my interests listed in the register. I, too, congratulate the noble Lords who have made such wonderful maiden speeches today.

The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, in welcoming a maiden speech, resorted to talking about music. I will, too, because Queen’s Speeches, which are debated over several days, with different subjects weaving in and out, always bring to mind Eric Morecambe’s great sketch with André Previn and the moment where he squares up to him and says, “I am playing the right notes but not necessarily in the right order”. That is quite often how these Queen’s Speech debates appear to me.

In times of social hardship and economic uncertainty there are two common political reactions. The first is retrenchment, a harkening back to a previous golden age when things were much more certain. Quite often it involves the scapegoating of minorities and different people. It is a populist strategy but very divisive. The second reaction, which is much more difficult, is to maintain an inclusive world view and to use it to build social cohesion and find new solutions to problems. It is much more difficult but it is what responsible politicians should do.

The gracious Speech should be judged against those criteria and the extent to which they are fulfilled. In his speech last Thursday, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter spoke movingly about the extent to which the Church, the Government and the voluntary sector have a duty to strengthen people’s sense of community, place and identity during times of uncertainty. He is absolutely right.

I always end up speaking on this day during the Queen’s Speech debate and I always think about it as being stuck in the big spending departments. However, today we need to take a radically different approach. I have spent some time reading a number of works by futurologists who have been looking at the future of work. The other week I came across some interesting arguments by two futurologists, Pearson and Maloney, who said:

“As computers get more intelligent, the work that will take over will require human skills like leadership, motivation and compassion”.

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As machines manufacture things much more easily, the future of work will change. The important work in the future will be the work that cannot be done by computers. In their list of future jobs they have some interesting examples: vertical farmers; climate controllers, who manage and modify weather patterns; and nano-medics, who create small implants for health monitoring. Also in their list are home carers, who help care for elderly people in their homes.

The future of social care as a stimulant to employment is extremely important and is a different way of looking at the issue. We need to think radically about the future of communities. There are many communities in this country where, now and in the future, health and social care will be the main form of employment. I ask the Minister: does the commitment the Government made in July 2010 to extend social enterprise within health remain, and what progress has been made on it? In some communities, by using legislation such as the social value Act, the extent to which we can create employment around care will be important.

As to the Care Bill, I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, with some depression. We have come so far together and got so near to building a consensus around what we think should be the future architecture for social care in this country. We now have a Bill that addresses problems that have been outstanding and addressed in every debate on the Queen’s Speech in which I have taken part in this place since 1999. I agree with him that the questions of eligibility and resources are critical. We will never have enough resources to address all the needs that there are but we can, by using this Bill, move a long way towards removing a number of the structural problems that have bedevilled the integration of health and social care for all our lifetimes. It is important that we do that in future to provide services of an acceptable quality and to cut down on some of the inefficiencies, which we know are costly. We must have a social care system that can integrate more easily with health and housing. I hope that the noble Lord and the Opposition will stay with the process of seeing the Care Bill through—at least until the point when we debate eligibility, which I understand is due to be in late June. I think that a lot of people who are involved with voluntary organisations, and among the general public, would not appreciate it if the Opposition were to give up on this process now.

I want to address one more health matter and talk briefly about the immigration Bill. I do not know on what basis the Ministry of Justice put together this legislation but I hope it has looked at the evidence of Médecins sans Frontières, which runs a project in London and produced a report in 2008. The organisation sees people from all over the world and noted that their needs are broadly reflective of the conditions seen among the general public. Less than a third required prescriptions. Indeed, the majority just needed help to access primary care or, rather worryingly, antenatal care. They were not turning up in this country asking for expensive surgical procedures to be done for free on the NHS. When we look at this issue, by all means let us ensure that the NHS is not being taken for granted by people who should not be accessing it, but let us not deny healthcare to pregnant women,

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those who have survived torture, or those who may have communicable diseases. Frankly, that is inhumane and presents a threat to our public health system. We would not be doing our fellow citizens a favour if we were to do that.

We might also look at the work being done at West Middlesex University Hospital, which is close to Heathrow Airport. It has adopted a policy of stabilising people who turn up in A&E and then talking to them quickly about what the cost of their care is likely to be. It has managed to reduce radically the number of people who do not pay for their health services. Let us look at whether the legislation is necessary.

Unfortunately, I will not be taking part in the Children and Families Bill because I have the privilege to lead from these Benches on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, so I shall be rather busy doing that. However, if I were taking part, I would want to address a question that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, and I thought about during consideration of the Adoption and Children Bill and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: the fact that our birth registration system is becoming increasingly out of date in a world in which families are very different and digital technology is bringing about change. It is not a subject that I can go into at any great length, but I hope to return to it at some point later in the year.

These are tough times. We need to strengthen communities, and we will do that only by looking forward in a radical way, not by looking into the past.

6.42 pm

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, there is much to welcome in the Queen’s Speech. I particularly look forward to the advent of the Children and Families Bill. I welcome the attention that the Government have been paying to adoption and I hope that we may be able to encourage them to offer still more support to adoptive families and provide further support for young people leaving care as the Bill makes its journey through your Lordships’ House towards the statute book. I share with the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, her concern that there is no legislation or regulation for the minimum pricing of alcohol or for blank packaging on cigarettes. I am concerned in particular that many of the children who are taken into care come from backgrounds where alcohol misuse was a contributing factor to family dysfunction. It would be helpful if alcohol was less available to young people so that they would be less likely to start the bad habits which persist when they start their families.

I do not wish to tire the patience of your Lordships so I will concentrate on one issue that is of deep concern to some in this House, and which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, in his remarks. My time will be spent considering the Government’s proposal to introduce the opportunity for early years providers and childminders to increase the ratio of children to carers where the carers can demonstrate improved qualifications. I begin by applauding the Government’s attention to this important policy area. I am particularly pleased that they have chosen to maintain important requirements with regard to the supervision of early years staff and that they

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have welcomed the report of the Nutbrown review, with its call for higher qualifications for early years staff. The Government have stated that their first priority is better quality childcare; the Education Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Nash, repeated that last week in this House. The Government have also been seeking to make this better quality childcare more affordable for parents.

I hope that I may also pay tribute to the last Government’s attention to childcare. They introduced the first Childcare Act, placing a duty on local authorities to provide a sufficiency of childcare. They invested significantly in developing the workforce, introducing career development pathways and early years professional status. International assessment of the UK’s progress has been very favourable, and there is an encouraging sense of political consensus and commitment to getting this policy right. One of our main aims is to improve outcomes for children. High quality early years care has been clearly demonstrated by the EPPE research project to improve children’s outcomes. Indeed, I have heard the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, speak about this many times. I was very struck by a presentation I attended three years ago by Professor Melhuish of the University of London. The research he produced found that children with a good early years experience would tend to continue to do well in their education at the age of 11 whether they attended a good or an indifferent primary school. Good early experience is a protective factor against poor later educational experience.

The right honourable Iain Duncan Smith MP and the honourable Graham Allen MP have both highlighted that it is the early years when we can break the cycle of disadvantage and put children on a better path because, at that point, their brains are highly malleable. They and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, have referred in the past to the importance of new findings in neurobiology where brain scans can show us how the infant brain is sculpted by the loving relationships around him. At the same time, we have been warned about the impact of prolonged exposure to poor quality early years care by Professor Jay Belsky. He presents the other side of the coin: the harm caused by poor quality care, harm which increases the younger a child is exposed to it and the greater time over which the child is exposed.

I should now like to raise my concerns about the Government’s proposals, and I preface them with some comments on current practice in baby rooms. It is essential that babies feel that their carers are attuned to them, that they feel their carers are keeping them in mind, and that they know their wants will be met. Regulations recognise this and each baby is required to have one or two carers as their key person in the nursery. However, there are challenges to doing this even as things stand. Carers may be working shifts, as may the parents themselves. There may be a high staff turnover. The job is also extremely demanding and the workforce is mostly made up of very young and inexperienced women. In this context, I am very troubled by the Government’s proposal to allow early years providers the choice to increase the number of babies cared for by each carer from three to one to four to one. The Government seek to reassure us by saying that better qualifications will be a prerequisite for

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increased ratios. It is a matter of regret that the Government chose only to consult on what the qualifications requirement might be rather than if indeed the ratios should be changed. It seems clear to me that the important prerequisite for good-enough baby care is the number of staff. As my mother used to say to the four of us when we were children, she was not an octopus. Staff have only so many arms and eyes, and the overwhelming academic consensus is that, with babies, one needs first a sufficiency of carers. Here I shall quote a literature review from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand entitled,

Quality early childhood education for under two year-olds: What should it look like?

. It states that,

“the strongest and most consistent predictor of observed positive caregiving in group-based early childhood settings was the adult:child ratio ... caregivers provided more sensitive, frequent and positive care when they were responsible for fewer children ... the optimum ratio for under two year-olds in education and care settings was consistently stated as 1:3”.

The Government seek to reassure us further by looking to France, Germany and Scandinavia. I agree that we should look at best practice from our neighbours but we should, I suggest, do so critically and avoid picking up some of their worst habits. France, for instance, has ratios for babies of five to one. However, according to “The Predicament of Childcare Policy in France: What is at Stake?”, published in volume 19 of the Journal of Contemporary European Studies,

“young children are often cared for by a rotating cast of characters and institutions within the same day. This is particularly so when both parents have non-standard work schedules; when the parent is living alone; or, when there is only one child”.

There is considerable concern about this practice on the continent.

I regret that I am not comforted by the Government’s reassurances. I continue to share the concerns of five of the major childcare providers, of the Early Years Alliance, of Mumsnet and Netmums and, indeed, of the Deputy Prime Minister on this particular topic. I am also uncertain that a change in ratios will produce savings for parents. In a recent editorial, Nursery World drew attention to the many factors contributing to the UK having some of the most expensive provision in the world and suggested that hard-pressed providers may not pass any savings made to parents.

To conclude, I am grateful to the Government for giving childcare this careful attention. I also hope that the Minister might be able to answer two questions. Have the Government looked again at the assessment of the evidence and are they still confident that increasing the number of babies—children aged under two—to carers will not be harmful if it is balanced with a raising of qualifications? What is the Minister’s response to parents’ groups that are concerned about the Government’s proposal? I look forward to the Minister’s response.

6.52 pm

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I start by welcoming the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Ridley. He is not in his place, but I was most impressed by the fact that his sons spent more time in the Chamber than many other Peers have managed—a number of hours. I welcome him particularly because he is a neighbour

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of mine in Northumberland. I miss his father, who was a great friend of the red squirrel in Northumberland, an issue we were both passionate about. I also liked his point about being an ex-hereditary, although as an ex-hereditary myself, and now a life Peer, I took a slightly different route to address the House this evening.

I wish to speak on three aspects of the Queen’s Speech, and start by focusing on energy. I have noticed, having taken part in a vast number of debates on Queen’s Speeches over the years, a depressing aspect of this one. Scientists have recently pointed out that we might well have passed 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but this seems to have been completely neglected in many of the speeches about energy. Carbon was a very important issue on all sides of the House, especially for the introduction of the Climate Change Act 2008, which I think the Labour Party has a great deal of credit for introducing. It is very unfortunate that that has been missed.

I welcome the Energy Bill to come, especially when it talks about greening up aspects of energy, but we should not misunderstand the situation that we are facing. The noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, mentioned that we face an energy gap. I declare an interest as the CEO of the Energy Managers Association and the Carbon Management Association, which represent all the energy managers in the country. They are absolutely dumbfounded that politicians fail to understand that we will not have enough power generation to meet our needs in peak demand in a couple of years’ time. At a conference recently, I put up on the board when they thought the first blackouts would be. Out of 2015, 2016 and 2017, 80% said 2015. That is not so good if you live in Reading or Oldham, as those are the places on the grid that are about to drop off first. Blackouts will not hit universally but they will be quite widespread. We have a major issue, the very simple reason being that Governments have failed to build power stations of whatever hue: coal, gas or renewable energy.

I was asked recently why we have not been building power stations. The answer is very simple: for nuclear power stations, which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, has been pushing for, we are talking about a 50-year planning cycle. You have to get the money, plan it, build it and then decommission it after its run cycle. That could be longer than 50 years. That has to be put to a Parliament that now has a maximum period of five years. The politicians then have to explain their decision to the press, who are running on a 24-hour news cycle, and to an electorate who are worrying about last month’s bills, not where the energy bill is coming from in the next 50 years. That is why we have a massive backlog.

Privatisation has been a bit of a con. We have sweated the assets on power generation and on the distribution grid. To put it in context, a recent report talked about £100 billion being needed. The figures came out anywhere between £100 billion and £800 billion to renew the whole grid, depending on whether you take down all the power cable lines, but they are many years old and we are going to have to eventually. The average figure that the experts came to was about £360 billion. If we were to do that over the next 10 years, to get the grid up to where we believe it should be would mean £36 billion a year, which is

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about the equivalent of a banking crisis each year for the next 10 years. I see no pot of money put aside to pay for that.

Ofgem’s report on the fact that we have problems and that energy prices are going to go up has nothing to do with environmental costs. Indeed, one of the great myths going around at the moment is that Europe is responsible for us shutting down our power stations. Yes, the emissions objectives are going to bring that forward but the trouble is that most of the power stations are 30 to 40 years old. They are steam-driven power stations with thousands of miles of steam pipes. They have a run-time cycle: after 30 or 40 years you do not have a power station, you have what one engineer described to me as a colander. They are just not efficient enough to run and will have to be scrapped. We are looking at losing about a fifth of our power-generating capacity. This is a problem because we might then have to move. None of the generators, after the experience they have had, will actually build a coal-fired power station, so we will have to go to gas.

We should be careful about another myth, which is that we can get rid of gas from the system. Eight out of 10 homes are on gas and I cannot see many people wanting to change their boiler. The big problem is that we are now going to generate the majority of our power through gas-fired power stations. A gas-fired power station loses about 70% of the fuel up the chimney, just to get you the electricity. We talk about decarbonising the grid by going for electricity when we are actually losing most of the energy in the generation at that point. We should not go down the road of saying there is a silver bullet.

Unfortunately, there are not really many silver bullets in energy generation. We are going to have to build nuclear power stations. I know there are some in this Chamber who will be surprised to see me promoting nuclear after the many years I spent fighting it. When I was energy spokesman for the Liberal Democrats I was asked whether I would take part in some debates on nuclear because they had to have somebody who was going to be against it. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, remembers those debates. My problem with nuclear is that it is not going to provide cheap electricity and is not going to come on until the 2030s anyway—it is not a short-term solution. We have major problems with our energy infrastructure, and politicians have to realise that it is going to be a lottery. Whoever is in power when the first blackouts hit are going to take the blame, not the fact that we have not built power stations for a very long time.

The second aspect is a problem that is linked to that. We have problems with power generation, but we also have a massive problem with the water industry. The water Bill, as far as I am concerned, is a complete load of twaddle. I am sorry, but I find the idea of competition in water incredible. The noble Lord, Lord Freud, said that we are going to sell water and that you will be able to pick your water up from anywhere. Yes, I can go to Newcastle, to Kielder Water or Catcleugh reservoir—I have a private water supply as a damned great pipe runs through my land, although I cannot actually get any of the water out of it—get a bucket from there and bring it down to London, but the energy cost of shifting water is incredibly high.

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Ofwat is illiterate. I went to a presentation on competition, which showed a picture of water competition. It was a fantastic map. It showed in yellow where all the bits joined up, and the biggest concentration was around Bristol, south Wales and north Somerset. I said, “Am I the only one to realise that the Bristol Channel runs through there, so you cannot actually link up because there are no pipes between?”. The whole policy is based on that.

The trouble with Ofwat is that it is all about the cost of water now. Have we learnt nothing? I plan to be alive in 20 years’ time. I plan for my children to be alive a lot longer. If we do not do something about resilience now, we are going to be the consumers who pay for this. Yet we have a regulator that fired all its sustainability officers and employed more economists to talk about the cost now. It makes no sense. In the White Paper the Government said that they were minded to consider making sustainability a primary rather than secondary objective for Ofwat. I do not think that anybody around the House thinks that sustainability should be a primary objective, and I certainly will move an amendment to that effect.

Sustainability is one of those words that actually came from international development. It has moved in the political sense and now means carbon and a number of other things. Of course, if you do not have water you die. At a Defra briefing last year, Defra said, “We are going to have hosepipe bans and even more serious issues if we do not have 200% of normal rainfall”. Last summer we had 220% of normal rainfall and everybody said that was fine. We are now seeing groundwater flooding because we have had so much rain. The climate is changing. This is not a question of whether or not you believe in climate change. The evidence over the past 10 years shows that we have a real issue.

I have gone over my time, but as the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, is in his place, I should say that I also welcome the Government’s intention to do something about dangerous dogs. I very much hope that that is an issue we can have some agreement on.

7.02 pm

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top: My Lords, I, too, welcome the maiden speeches. I always welcome people from the north-east, even if they are on the opposite side, and I know the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, quite well from being a Member of Parliament in the north-east. I was also very interested to hear that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester was born in and has such a close attachment to east Africa. I have a very close attachment to east Africa, so maybe we can have the odd conversation in Kiswahili.

I have a different approach to my speech because I always view the Queen’s Speech as the signal from the Government of their vision for the future and their aspiration for the country. Perhaps it is a bit ambitious to look at this Queen’s Speech from that perspective, but I will have a go and deal with detail when we come to the individual Bills.

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The debate yesterday showed that whatever the analysis of how and why the economy is in the state it is, there is a consensus that more needs to be done to get growth. There is also the realisation that for the foreseeable future the country will continue to face economic hardship. I want us to think about what that means for the areas of social policy that we are looking at today.

The post-war settlement on public services and welfare, born out of the Beveridge report, was not just based on economic arguments but sought to look after those who had fought in the Second World War. It was based on the values of decency and on conquering what were then seen, and today would still be seen, as five great evils. Those values essentially spelt out the Britain that people had sacrificed for during the war. Those values are enduring. While the circumstances and context that we are living in have changed, the values are still there.

It is clear that we really need to reform the way in which public services—health, education and welfare—are delivered so that they are relevant to the vast changes in our society. Britain has never been a place where there has been a belief that the market on its own can deliver the values that our society is based on. That is as true now as it was in the 1940s. Our circumstances are very different: women expect to work and are expected to work, and the nature of work is vastly different, with many fewer unskilled workers and many more changes in any working life.

In his speech last week, the Prime Minister said that we are now in a “global race”. Globalisation has brought incredible changes to our society, many of which my parents’ generation—let alone my grandparents’ generation—would not recognise and certainly would not have envisaged. Of course, one is the level of migration around the world, but there is also the recognition in this country that migration—not all of it, but some of it—is critical to our economy and our future, even if some aspects of it give us problems. It is our job to tackle those problems.

To handle this global race, we need not only some immigration but a well educated and trained workforce. We need a healthy workforce. We still need a system that protects people when they are most vulnerable so that they will be able to retrain and re-equip themselves quickly to get back into the workforce. They will inevitably need to do that several times over their working lives, which means that they need to have real confidence in the public services that they rely on: education, training, healthcare and income support in hard times. They need confidence that their children, and increasingly their parents—that is you and I—will have responsive and high-quality services when they need them so that as working people they can continue to play their part in the workforce, the economy and their community.

My concern with the Government’s programme is that it seems more concerned with rhetoric—whether to appease the right wing of the Tory party or UKIP, I am never too sure—than with properly addressing the challenge of reform. Far too often, rhetoric replaces real, necessary reform. We need to reform the way in which public services work in order to see that real

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change in the relationship between the population and the services that will enable this country to properly play its part in that global race.

I want the Government to do this in a way that upholds the values that make this country what it is, and what in my view makes it great, and to move away from the rhetoric that makes it virtually impossible to achieve that objective: that everyone on benefits is a scrounger, that every immigrant is leeching from our National Health Service or other aspects of our society, that education is not able to deliver. The Secretary of State for Education keeps saying that he is committed to reform, but we have had no plan to tackle the shortage of school places, which is so acute in some areas, and proposals for the curriculum will take us back generations rather than offer a curriculum suited to the 21st century. Reforms in welfare have been overshadowed and in many senses threatened by the rhetoric around “scroungers” and the lack of candour on the part of the Secretary of State about the impact of the changes.

I wish that the Queen’s Speech had tackled the skills and training deficit, but it did not. We have a Bill on social care, which is hugely welcome. I suspect, however, that it is insufficiently radical and does not take us far enough into the real challenges that face us, but we will deal with that when we get the Bill.

The Government have become frightened of talking about reform in health. We had two years where we were supposed to be getting into real reform and real change, but they became worried about that and did not introduce the sort of reforms that would have transformed our health service for the future. The new Secretary of State has now been told, “Do whatever you can to get to the election without mentioning reform”.

Without real and radical reform, the Government will simply end up with cut after cut, so that people will lose confidence in the contribution that public services can make to securing and empowering them for the future. That will bring huge change to this country, change that I believe nobody wants. This is all very difficult, which I suspect is why the Government have simply avoided tackling it in the Queen’s Speech. We will all suffer from that.

7.12 pm

Lord McColl of Dulwich: My Lords, I wish to draw attention yet again to the terrible crime of human trafficking and slavery. There are more slaves today than there were 200 years ago. I am pleased that the Victims Minister said recently that the Government’s ambition is to eradicate all forms of slavery, and I would warmly welcome measures in the Session ahead.

One month ago, the deadline passed for the Government to make sure that our laws comply with the EU anti-trafficking directive. Although some very welcome changes have been introduced, I have to say with some reluctance that I am not convinced that the Government have seized this opportunity as they might have done.

One area where there is significant need for greater action is the welfare of trafficked children. The NSPCC recently published statistics demonstrating that nearly

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7,900 children went missing from local authority care in 2012, almost 3,000 of whom went missing more than once. The NSPCC highlights the risks that these missing children face, none more so than those who were trafficked. We know that between 2005 and 2010, 301 of the 942 trafficked children who were rescued went missing from care. The Government have admitted to there being problems with the system of data collection, but it is astonishing that the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Nash, was unable to answer my Written Question about how many trafficked children had gone missing from care in 2012 because those data are not recorded separately from those for other missing children. This simply is not good enough if we are really serious about eradicating human trafficking.

I read in the Centre for Social Justice’s report, published in March, about a trafficked child who had been rescued and was later in foster care. One day, the boy went missing when he was supposed to be at his English lessons. The boy was missing for several months until, thankfully, he was found again in a different part of the country, having been trafficked again. After he was rescued for a second time, his foster carer asked him what had happened. He told her that his traffickers had been ringing him on his mobile phone telling him to meet them on the corner of the street. He had been terrified, so did as he was told.

Stories such as this demonstrate that children who have been trafficked are in desperate need of special care due to the particular dangers that they face. Last September, GRETA, the treaty monitoring body for the Council of Europe anti-trafficking convention, published its first report on the UK’s compliance with the convention, which I commend to your Lordships. Among its recommendations, GRETA urged the British authorities to take steps to address this very problem.

In closing, perhaps I may remind your Lordships’ House of our deliberations on the Protection of Freedoms Bill in February 2012. During that debate, I highlighted the problems which rescued trafficked children face, particularly the large number of rescued trafficked children who are lost while in local authority care. I put forward an amendment to provide for a legal advocate for trafficked children to accompany, support and advocate for a child victim from the moment he or she is discovered. On that occasion, I withdrew my proposed amendment in the light of assurances from the Minister that our care for trafficked children would be examined. I welcome the research into the practical care arrangements for trafficked children that has been commissioned by the Refugee Council and the Children’s Society and eagerly await publication of the review, which is due next month. The Minister can be confident that I will be reading it very carefully and looking to the Government to respond, taking appropriately robust action in this Session of Parliament.

7.17 pm

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I hope that the words of the noble Lord, Lord McColl, will not be forgotten; I greatly support him.

I shall speak today about children and young people and education. I will suggest that a strategy for youth is long overdue. Such a strategy would involve uniting

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elements of young people’s health, education, employment and other services. I am pleased that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, is to respond to this debate—somehow, for it is an unenviable task—because I think that he genuinely understands the importance of structures and systems working together.

The gracious Speech last week referred to the Government’s commitment to a fairer society where aspiration and responsibility are rewarded, to giving every child the best start in life regardless of background, to improving the quality of education and bringing forward plans for a new national curriculum, to helping working parents with childcare, and to encouraging those leaving school to go on to further education or into training.

On further education and training, a recent UNICEF report comparing child well-being across 29 richer countries highlighted that the UK has the lowest further education participation rate in the advanced world—I declare an interest as a trustee of UNICEF UK. It is clear that an emphasis on FE and training for young people must be a priority and I hope that it will be. The Children and Families Bill, which will be with this House shortly, covers a vast range of issues concerned with child well-being. I look forward to debating those and sharing perceptions on that Bill across this very knowledgeable House.

Today, I shall touch on issues of curriculum and education. Curriculum and education are of course not the same. Education is about fostering a love of learning and ambition, while the curriculum is a list of topics. I was a teacher myself once; I taught modern foreign languages. I am all for high academic standards, but I would also want to foster curiosity in young people, to encourage personal awareness and skills and to encourage discussion of religion and cultural values. I would want to give opportunities for young people’s sporting and artistic talents. I share the concerns of my noble friend Lady Billingham about the dangerous inroads being made into sport for young people. Having said that, I applaud the Lord’s Taverners’ Chance to Shine initiative, which continues to flourish.

I am also acutely aware that some young people need security and confidence in themselves before they can learn. I was interested to see the Youth Parliament announce earlier this month a campaign to support what it called preparation for life. It is after all made up of people experiencing education. It said that the focus of the proposed change in education is mainly within academic subjects—the curriculum again—at the expense of other skills essential for life. The Youth Parliament asserts that young people need to know about communities, politics, finance, sex and relationships, and cultural diversity and that it is not enough to expect parents to provide this knowledge; it must be taught in schools. I agree with that.

These skills need not be curriculum subjects in their own right, but they must be offered in school policies and the school ethos: in assemblies, in relationships within and outside the school and across subjects in the school. Such skills must be incorporated into certain subjects. They may also be offered by specialists—not necessarily teachers—in the school, as sessions in

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the timetable. They may include issues such as volunteering, local and national politics, how the police and other services work, and so on. Information must of course be appropriate to the age of the child and must not be one-off. Just one assembly on drugs is certainly not enough, for example. The different phases of growing up demand different content and approaches. It is interesting that the soft skills, as they are called, are also appreciated by the CBI and employers, who want their workforce to be able to act in teams and be good communicators—a long way away from a rigid curriculum.

A new report by Ofsted evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of personal, social and health education in primary and secondary schools in England. I want to dwell on that for a few minutes. Ofsted expressed concern that sex and relationships education,

“required improvement in over a third of schools, leaving some children and young people unprepared for the physical and emotional changes they will experience during puberty, and later when they grow up and form adult relationships”.

Ofsted was also concerned that such a lack of sex and relationships education might leave young people,

“vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours and exploitation”.

We cannot forget nowadays the problems as well as the wonders of the internet and its influence on young people. Young people must not be left uninformed and without the confidence and skills to recognise exploitation. Of course, they are also susceptible to alcohol and drug misuse, which was spoken of earlier. Again, they need the knowledge and skills to combat inappropriate risk taking.

The Ofsted report also quotes a significant DfE research report stating that children with higher levels of emotional, behavioural, social and school well-being have higher levels of academic achievement. I for one am not at all surprised by that, so I hope that the Government will make it clear that these issues—these soft skills—are important and must be taught in schools. If they are not, children might be deprived of vital information and the skills to protect themselves.

I said at the beginning that I would make a plea for a government strategy on youth that involved young people in its development. That would be a wonderful opportunity to prove that dialogue works. Such a strategy for youth might include issues around guaranteed services for young people—for example, health and education; it might include guarantees of the availability of sport and leisure, including the arts; it might flag up the rights and responsibilities of young people as citizens; and it might encourage engagement in the political process. I maintain that young people are special and that too often they are demonised when we all know of wonderful, kind, positive young people. They should be given a prominent voice in decisions about their own welfare. They clearly can and want to be involved. Perhaps the Government can take a lead in engaging young people in developing such a strategy. Perhaps then education and involvement in the institutions of our society, such as politics, would become more meaningful.

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7.24 pm

Lord Stoneham of Droxford: My Lords, I will speak about those aspects of the gracious Speech that support people saving for retirement and the important ongoing reform of state pension provision. Obviously, the focus of the coalition is to get the British economy back on an even keel, but we should not forget the important social reforms that it has undertaken, and those in the pension field are, in my view, outstanding.

Most of the pension objectives set out in the coalition agreement have been implemented: the triple lock for state pension enhancements; the review of the sustainability of public service pensions, which has largely been agreed; the raising of the state pension retirement age and the phasing out of the default retirement age; and the launch of auto-enrolment. Most of these policies were derived from the implementation of the pensions commission’s recommendations, initiated by the previous Government. The gracious Speech brings forward further reforms: a new single-tier state pension to simplify and create a fairer system designed to encourage more retirement saving; the increase of the pension age to 67 in 2026-28 and the formalisation of a permanent system for reviewing the retirement age in future; the reform of bereavement benefits; and the automatic transfer of smaller pension pots.

These are important reforms and they have benefited from the continuity and determination of our work and pensions ministerial team: Iain Duncan Smith, my noble friend Lord Freud and Steve Webb. It must be significant that they have been together for three years. They have apparently resisted efforts to break them up and are now getting into their stride, concentrating not just on getting legislation through but tackling the central importance of delivery on pensions and welfare generally in the second half of the coalition Government. I have been reading Jack Straw’s autobiography; I always like to understand how admirers of Liberal Democrats work and think. One of the examples he gives of not-so-good government is that the previous Government, in one nine-year period, had nine Secretaries of State for Work and Pensions. The coalition has learnt that lesson in the interests of better government, just as the Liberal Democrats have learnt the importance of discipline in coalition.

I agreed with every word that the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, said on the single-tier state pension and social care. Fixing the single-tier state pension at the level for means-tested benefits will greatly simplify pension provision and end a system whereby 46% of pensioners currently rely on means-tested benefits while 33% of those entitled to claim do not do so. It also recognises the huge problem we have with pension saving and the incentives to save. In 2011, 30% of 35 to 64 year-olds made no pension provision. Activists in pension schemes fell from 12 million in 1967 to 8.2 million in 2011. It is therefore essential that the new single-tier pension will complement the auto-enrolment reform that is being phased in.

There will be transitional difficulties with the ending of contracting out, especially with the imposition of particular costs on defined benefit schemes. Legislation must provide for a statutory override that supports

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private sector employers coping with these problems. Steve Webb has clearly convinced the Prime Minister of his concerns. We should have confidence in his ability to guide us through these difficulties.

I was less in agreement with the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, on her view that seems to resist the further raising of the state pension age. Some 33% of children born in 2012 are expected to live to 100. By all predictions, at least 95,000 of those reaching 65 this year will celebrate their 100th birthday in 2048. Longevity and active living are increasing. I agree with the noble Baroness that, in making decisions on raising the state pension age, we should consider the quality of retirement as well as its length, and also the social inequalities that arise in retirement. We need a formal process to arrive at consensus about what is the right and appropriate state pension age. I believe that that is what the Government are seeking to do.

It is also important that pension reform must lead us to encourage the easy transfer of small pension pots between pension schemes, but we must ensure that people are not transferring their pension pots to poorer providers. Now that these key reforms are coming into place, we need to concentrate on the protection of individual pension provision and the paramount need to maintain consumer confidence in investors and saving institutions. There remains strong cynicism and an enormous lack of understanding about costs and investment risk. This area has to be regulated and reformed to encourage more saving.

I hope that the Government and the regulators will look again at the whole concept of fiduciary duties of investors to ensure that they act only in the best interests of pension clients. We will need a culture of trust, confidence and respect in pension management. That must recognise that more people will be dependent on contract-based pension schemes, rather than of those such as NEST, which have had trustee basis for their governance. We have to continue to anticipate these problems so that our worst fears are never realised.


Baroness Drake: My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Stoneham, and to comment on the Government’s commitment to people who save for retirement and to create a single-tier pension. People save for their retirement through the compulsory national insurance system, through auto-enrolment into workplace pensions and through an active decision voluntarily to save more than is delivered by auto-enrolment. Achieving a sustainable and fair pension system that delivers desirable outcomes for people requires a holistic approach across both the state and the private pension system.

The Government’s single-tier pension reforms are evolutionary, in that they continue at a faster rate than reforms commenced by the previous Labour Government in 2010. They will certainly deliver a higher state pension sooner for many women and carers and those on lower incomes. That is surely to be welcomed.

The state pension will always form a greater part of the retirement income of carers, who, as a consequence of their caring responsibilities, will spend longer periods out of the labour market or participate for fewer hours. It is regrettable, therefore, that the Government

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continue to exclude an ever-growing number of part-time working women from the benefits of auto-enrolment into a private pension.

Pensions are very long-term, and it is important that there is a consensus across the political spectrum about the long-term intention for pension policy. Otherwise, we will simply revert to the mistakes of the past, when successive Governments over decades took incremental decisions which contributed to an increasing dependency on means-tested benefits and to the huge decline in private pension savings, which can be seen from the early 1980s.

The single-tier pension will mean winners and losers, as changes normally do. It will be important when we consider the Bill fully to understand those trade-offs and whether, for the losers, the loss is fair and proportionate. The introduction of the single-tier pension is intended to strengthen the firm foundation for private pension savings and reduce reliance on means-tested benefits. Both are desirable, but a single-tier pension does not of itself achieve those intentions, as was acknowledged by the Government in their report, The Single Tier Pension: A Simple Foundation for Savings, which states that the starting level and uprating for the single-tier pension will have significant implications for what can be asserted about gainers and losers. The state pension must hold its value against earnings over the long term if ordinary people are to have a realistic prospect of achieving a reasonable replacement income in retirement.

Increasing the state pension age in the face of increasing life expectancy is part of a sustainable pension system. Reports from the Government Actuary on trends in life expectancy will inform the Government’s view of that age, but it is less clear how much importance will be given to the report of the independent panel reviewing additional factors such as socioeconomic differences in morbidity and mortality. Those are matters of considerable significance when setting public policy. As my noble friend Lady Hollis powerfully articulated, it would be most unfair to ignore them.

As to private pensions, there are some most welcome actions proposed by the Government, such as banning consultancy charges for auto-enrolment schemes, tackling charges generally and the abolition of short service refunds. With auto-enrolment, pension policy cannot rely on caveat emptor. Auto-enrolment is predicated on the behavioural insight that, for many people, improved information will not overcome the inertia that prevents their actively choosing to save for a pension. Furthermore, the pension chosen for auto-enrolment is a decision made by the employer, not the worker. A consequence of using inertia to raise pension saving levels—that is to say, not relying on people actively to choose to save—is that ordinary savers will have even less power and influence over the operation of that market. Therefore, it is welcome to see the Government indicating a greater willingness to set minimum standards.

There are many regulators in the private pension space—the FCA, the OFT, the TPR and the DWP—and the Government may not want to change the organisational architecture, but the need for enhanced

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co-operation between them is essential. The FSA’s proposals to allow employers to negotiate consultancy charges with their advisers and for those to be deducted from their employees’ pension costs were clearly not in savers’ interests and did not sit well with the messages coming from the pensions regulator. In workplace pensions offered by insurance companies, there remain significant governance challenges. No single regulator or government department has responsibility for ensuring that contract-based schemes provide value for money and a high standard of governance. Too much reliance on disclosure of information will not produce those. The majority of savers will struggle to process and act on the information provided, and the overwhelming majority will not make active decisions but end up in the default fund.

I hope that the Government will be brave and use their powers under the Pensions Acts 2008 and 2011 to set up more highly specified minimum quality requirements. I accept that it is reassuring that the Government have already announced their intention to consult on the OFT findings on the working of the pensions market, to be published later this year.

Finally, defined benefit pension provision in the private sector is, for the most part, in managed decline. The new duty on the pensions regulator to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer raises concerns. The setting of prudent discount rates, for example, remains a key battleground—I make no apology for using that phrase—between trustees and employers. Trustees have to give proper consideration when setting deficit recovery plans. There is real tension between the very long-term funding requirements of a defined benefit pension scheme, the importance of the employer covenant being good for the funding of that scheme for decades to come, and the five-year horizon that many companies work to when making corporate decisions. The cases of Nortel and Lehman Brothers, going through the Supreme Court at the moment, are good case studies of such tension.

7.38 pm

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, as my contribution is relatively brief, perhaps I may take half a minute to say how much I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who, alas, is not in his place at the moment, on the importance of early years—the first two years of a child’s life—and the influence that that can have on the whole of the rest of the child’s life. It will also become apparent as I say my little piece that I closely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, who, alas, is also not in her place. These things will happen.

The gracious Speech looks forward to further development of the Government’s policy on education. During the past year, major changes have been made to education policy and much more emphasis has rightly been placed on the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. Perhaps more importantly, a new and much more prescriptive national curriculum has now been introduced and will effectively be mandatory in all maintained schools. However, for all other subjects and for all extra-curricular activities in a school, it will be up to the school, its head and the governing body to decide the school’s priorities.

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The Secretary of State, who I greatly admire, is rightly searching for greater rigour in teaching the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. This makes absolute sense. I can also see that there is a case for a new and compulsory national curriculum but I fear that the Government’s proposals for it may give rise to some unintended and undesirable consequences. My first concern is that there is a real danger that in some schools the compulsory and more demanding new curriculum may crowd out other facets of education. My second is about the possible effect of a more demanding curriculum on the self-esteem and self-confidence of less academically talented children.

On the first point, each school’s resources are finite in terms of both finance and well qualified staff. Each maintained school has the same per capita payment for every pupil on its roll, plus a further payment for every child from a disadvantaged background. This additional payment has, I am happy to say, recently been raised from £400 to £600 a year. However, there is a real danger that schools will decide that they have no option but to spend what it takes to deliver the new national curriculum—and then, if there is not much left, that is just too bad. I am particularly concerned that this may happen in schools with a high proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Inevitably, some of those children—perhaps many—will take far longer to learn the new compulsory national curriculum than children from more supportive families. I very much doubt whether the £600 bonus per child for disadvantaged children will be anything like enough to cover the extra cost of bringing children from a disadvantaged background up to speed on the proposed new academic curriculum, let alone leaving much over for all the other important subjects about which the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, spoke: drama, sport, the PSHE curriculum, citizenship and personal and social skills.

My second concern relates to self-confidence. One of the most important roles of schooling, particularly in a society where so many families are dysfunctional, is to build each child’s sense of self-worth. In a report three years ago, Ofsted looked at two groups of schools that it had rated “outstanding” in spite of being located in very disadvantaged communities. Importantly, Ofsted, which was looking for what was common to all those schools, found that among them a brilliant headmaster was important, as were dedicated staff, but what particularly interested me was that in each of those schools, every child believed that they could succeed. Self-confidence is an essential building block for a child’s success, in school and in life. I fear that the national curriculum may be a disaster for some children, if it means that they have to be set academic hurdles at which they are not able to succeed.

7.44 pm

Lord Touhig: My Lords, I wish to confine my remarks to social care support, particularly for people with autism. A commission on autism and ageing on which I served, and which was chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, was told that most people with autism in this country are adults and that most are undiagnosed. Autism was identified in the 1940s and the first generation to be diagnosed is therefore

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now moving into old age. As a consequence, very little is known about the impact of autism on ageing, and vice versa, but we know that autism is not rare. It is estimated that 1% of the population have an autism spectrum disorder, while some 70% of those diagnosed are not receiving the help that they need from social services.

Far too many adults with autism are still waiting for the everyday support that they need, so the purpose of the commission of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, is to build on the work of the National Autistic Society and advise on the policy changes required to ensure that people with autism can access the right support as they get older and that they have equal access to older people’s services. Here, I should declare an interest as a vice-president of the National Autistic Society.

The society’s research shows that local authorities often do not identify adults with autism living in their area and do not plan and commission services to meet their needs. As a result, many fall into the gap between mental health services and learning disability services. Too often, people with autism find that they do not fit into existing structures. I am reminded that, in my 20 years as a councillor, too often when I took up a case on behalf of a constituent I would be told by an official, “Sorry, councillor, he/she falls through the net”. But who created the net? Well, we did—councillors, parliamentarians and the Government. We created the net that so many people fall through.

This year, however, there are two major opportunities to begin to change this. First, the Government are reviewing the adult autism strategy. This is a chance to assess progress on implementing the strategy so far and to identify and remove barriers preventing the much needed transformation of services to support adults with autism. Secondly, in the Queen’s Speech we have the Care Bill, which promises a fairer system for adults with disabilities. It is a good start, but it, too, can be improved. This Care Bill is important, as it relates to social care laws for adults and will provide the framework for adult care and support services in the future. I hope that the Bill will ensure that the duties covered by the statutory guidance in the Autism Act continue to apply to local authorities and the National Health Service.

Social care must no longer be a service of last resort. Under the current system, too many people become eligible for support only when their needs become acute and they require intensive, high-level care and crisis management. Research by the National Autistic Society shows that only 10% of people with autism receive social skills training, yet 55% would like to receive it; that only 10% of people with autism receive employment support, but 53% would like to receive it; and that just 17% of people with autism have access to a social group, yet 42% would like to. Many adults with autism would benefit greatly from low-level services such as befriending or social skills training, which would help them to avoid isolation and allow them to participate in society. A lack of access to these services can have a devastating impact. A third of adults with autism who responded to a

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National Autistic Society survey said that they had developed serious mental health problems as a result of lack of support.

Crucially, evidence from the National Audit Office shows that providing low-level services is cost-effective and prevents people from developing more complex problems. Its report stated:

“Beside the negative impact of such crises on a person’s life, acute services are also expensive, with inpatient mental health care costing between £200 and £300 per day”.

I want the Care Bill to guarantee that local authorities are under a duty to identify people with low-level needs to prevent and delay further needs accruing. They must also be held accountable for the exercise of these duties.

Many adults with autism are not eligible for support under the current system, leaving their needs unmet. The National Autistic Society, as a local service provider, knows that community care assessments can vary depending on where you live and on who assesses you. I therefore welcome the Government’s proposal to introduce national minimum eligibility criteria so that people will be assessed on the same set of criteria across the country. However, in order for the new system to be fair for people with autism, the Government must ensure that social and communication needs are given equal weight to physical needs in the eligibility assessment. The new eligibility threshold must be equivalent to moderate needs under the current system. This is essential if the Government are to succeed in their stated aim to prevent or delay care needs developing and to support people when they need care. Better we do that than intervene only at crisis point.

The National Autistic Society, Scope, Mencap, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Sense have produced a joint report, supported by economic modelling by Deloitte, which shows the cost savings that can be made by investing in support for people with moderate needs. Many people with autism can make a valuable contribution to the workplace, but they must be supported to do so. This can mean full-time or part-time employment, supported employment, internships or work experience. At present, far too many people with autism are missing out on the opportunity to fulfil their ambition and potential, while society is missing out on their talents. Just 15% of people with autism are in full-time employment. Furthermore, 26% of graduates with autism are unemployed, which is by far the highest rate of any disability group. As many as 79% of people with autism on unemployment benefits say that they want to work but need support to retain full-time employment.

We cannot change these things overnight, but the figures that I have given show just how far we have yet to travel. Indeed, we have a great opportunity to start to make a difference so that people who are disadvantaged in the way that people with autism are disadvantaged can enjoy the opportunities that those of us in this House have enjoyed throughout our lives and, indeed, the opportunities that most people in this country take for granted.

Let no one believe that the Care Bill is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is not that but, coupled with the Autism Act, it is our chance at least to see the

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tunnel entrance. I hope that, through the Care Bill, we will establish ways in which people with autism can enter and remain in employment. I hope that the Government will be open to working with noble Lords on all sides of the House to make sure that the Care Bill succeeds, but I also hope that the Government are open to helping to make it a better Bill, which I am sure the contribution of noble Lords across the House will do.

7.52 pm

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, among the many briefs that I received before and after the gracious Speech, there is one from the BMA indicating its initial response to a number of proposals in the Queen’s Speech that impact on health and healthcare. While welcoming the Care Bill, which has been promised for some time, I am not sure whether the House would have tolerated any more healthcare legislation. However, I am aware of the recent statements in the popular press claiming that soaring charges have caused a fifth of people to give up going to their dentist, that as many as 500,000 patients have been wrongly told they must pay privately for treatment, and that the surge in the sales of dental kits in pharmacies is risking 200,000 DIY dentists harming themselves. I do not recognise these problems, but they must be addressed. I hope that your Lordships will allow some brief comments about the current general dental services, which provide free treatment for all children and nearly one-third of adult patients and have enabled 1.25 million more people to see an NHS dentist than in May 2010.

Having worked as a dental surgeon for more than 40 years, and declaring that interest, I welcome the progress that the Government have made in piloting a new NHS dental contract in line with the undertaking that was given in the coalition agreement. September 2011 saw the beginning of piloting of a new contract, based on registration, capitation and quality, with a focus on the quality of clinical outcomes and on promoting a preventive approach to oral health. Seventy practices were involved.

Building on this work, the Government recently embarked on a further stage of piloting, involving a larger number of dental practices. There are now 98 practices taking part, testing how the different elements of a proposed contract can work together most effectively to deliver the Department of Health’s goals of improved access to dental services and improved oral health. So far, the feedback from staff and patients taking part in the pilots has been largely positive, and I hope that it will not be too much longer before the department is in a position to begin discussions with the profession on the details of the new contact. I commend the Government for taking the time to get these reforms right.

These reforms have transformed the commissioning of dental services. Although dentists have been largely supportive of the shift to central commissioning by NHS England, there are concerns that the transition to the new structures has not gone as smoothly as it might. Dentists do not know who to engage with in the 27 NHS England area teams and the teams have yet to develop a consistent approach for working with local dental committees, which are a valuable source

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of up-to-date local information. Additionally, there is concern that local professional networks are not being allocated the funding necessary to enable them to provide the detailed clinical advice that NHS England’s dental commissioners will require from them. There are also worries that currently Public Health England has an insufficient number of consultants in dental public health to deliver on the aims set out in the public health outcomes framework. All of these teething troubles will need to be addressed if the Government want the NHS reforms to deliver real improvements to the population’s oral health.

At the end of last month, it was announced that NHS England is setting up a task group to look at how to improve dental services and outcomes for hard-to-reach groups. This is a very welcome initiative. The British Dental Association recently published a report on the future of salaried primary dental care services, the part of the NHS that provides dental care to special care patients who present challenges that can prevent them being treated in general practice. This report highlighted a series of issues, including a lack of funding, inadequate provision of facilities and a predicted increase in demand for this service, which will need to be overcome if the needs of these patients are to continue to be met. I hope that this is one of the issues that NHS England will be able to address as a matter of urgency, perhaps through the new task group.

Recent changes to decontamination requirements have also been welcomed by dentists. The new requirements, which include an extension to the shelf life of wrapped instruments, will continue to ensure patient safety while making more reasonable demands of dental practices. Dentists have also welcomed the Department of Health’s recent confirmation that a full review of the guidance will take place by the end of 2014, and I hope that the Minister will soon be in a position to say when this review is going to commence.

I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the ongoing issue of the annual shortage of foundation training places for UK dental graduates. I appreciate that this is an extremely difficult issue to resolve, but it cannot be right that this year 185 applicants, many of whom will have studied in UK dental schools at a cost to the public purse in the region of £155,000 each, will have to endure months of anxiety that their career in dentistry is over before it has even started on account of there being insufficient foundation training places available. Without this training, it will not be possible for any of these students to take up jobs providing NHS dentistry after they graduate. I know that the Minister will do all he can for each of these students, and I expect that places will be found for many of them in the coming months. I hope that it will also be possible to find a long-term solution to this issue, so that future dental students will be spared deep uncertainty at a time when all of their attention should be focused on doing as well as possible in their final exams.

In conclusion, I shall make some comments on the statutory regulation of the practitioners of herbal medicine which was briefly discussed in Grand Committee on 24 April in a Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. Recently two herbalists working in the Prime Minister’s constituency wrote to ask whether he would,

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“kindly intercede on our behalf with the Department of Health to find out what is happening with our promised statutory regulation”.

His reply stated that,

“the Department of Health expects to consult on draft legislation to establish a statutory register of people who are authorised to supply unlicensed herbal medicines and for legislation to be in place by 2013”.

After a series of consultations, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, announced in February 2011 that he had decided to ask the Health and Care Professions Council to establish a statutory register for practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines. Nothing has happened.

It is rumoured that the Minister now concerned with this regulation, Dr Dan Poulter, is set on making an announcement on regulation without properly consulting representatives from the herbal medicines profession, who now believe that the 2011 decision is about to be reversed. The move to statutory regulation has been endorsed by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, by two Department of Health-sponsored steering groups under independent chairs and by the overwhelming majority of the public, who responded in huge numbers to two public consultations. My noble friend has been very helpful with meetings, letters and general advice. I hope that he will be able to update noble Lords on the current situation and confirm that representatives from his department will do all they can to meet in order to discuss and enable this long-promised legislation.

7.57 pm

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein: My Lords, I had intended to speak on the draft care and support Bill and to deal with some of the positives in it, as well as some of the issues in the interface between health and social services. I had also intended to deal with the crisis in A&E departments and, inter alia, to be critical of the absence of Bills on important public health issues such as tobacco and the minimum pricing of alcohol. However, my noble friends Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Lady Wheeler, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Patel, said all I wished to say on that, so I will not take up the time of the House by repeating it, save to say that I agreed with every word.

I will spend a little time on the issue of nurses and nursing. The image of the profession has taken something of a battering in the past few months. As a nurse I am saddened by the adverse publicity arising from Winterbourne View and Mid Staffs, among other places. There have been some shocking, inexcusable examples of bad nursing. I have no time for it; such staff should not be caring for the sick and vulnerable. They have no place in the health and caring services. However, the whole profession should not be made to carry the guilt for a few bad eggs. The opprobrium is not deserved because the vast majority are working their socks off every shift in increasingly difficult circumstances.

The Minister rightly said that,

“what went wrong at Mid Staffs was not typical of our NHS and … the vast majority of doctors and nurses give excellent care day in, day out. We must make sure that the system does not crush the innate sense of decency and compassion that drives people to give their lives to the NHS”.—[

Official Report

, 26/3/13; col. 968.]

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I could not agree more with these sentiments. My hope is that his words will resonate throughout the boardrooms of the service because it is clear that it is all too easy to slip into the sad state of affairs that was clearly evident at Mid Staffordshire.

It is clear from the Francis report that there are issues for nursing. The noble Lord, Lord Willis, said in the introduction to his report, Quality and Compassion: The Future of Nurse Education, that,

“there has been insufficient political or professional will to implement past recommendations”.

However, the big announcement from government was to propose something not recommended in the Francis report: having potential nurses working as healthcare assistants for a year before entering formal education. I cannot see where that idea came from, because there was no criticism of nurse education in Francis. Yet the Government ignored recommendations in the report that a registered specialist status should be created for the nursing care of older people, and ignored the recommendation that HCAs should have compulsory registration. Trusts are to be free to decide whether to have ward sisters spending more time on the ward and nurses more time at the bedside.

Recommendation 209 in the report, on a registration system for healthcare assistants, could not have been stronger. It is supported by most HCAs and is meat and drink to me because it reflects almost exactly the policy of my old union at the time of Project 2000. In supporting the move of nursing education into academia and the ending of the old enrolled nurse training, as it then was, we wanted a new second-level nurse and a fully qualified, accountable service for patients.

That did not happen, but wheels turn full circle and the same debate that we led then is now being rerun. There was an interesting letter to the Times on 24 April from Dr Anthony Carr, a distinguished former Chief Nursing Officer, fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and member of the Cumberlege committee that produce the excellent report, Neighbourhood Nursing, in the 1980s. Dr Carr’s letter chimes with much of our old policy. He first asked a question that deserves to be asked: how many patients today realise that their main nursing care is given by people with little or no training whatever? For HCAs he goes on to propose the solution of a year’s training and practice under the supervision of clinical teachers. He proposes that, if satisfactory, this should lead to a licence to practise, which should be overseen by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. That would give accountability, regulation and a national standard of training.

Piloting such an idea for HCAs would fit far better with the ethos of the Francis report than the fence-sitting, “we have not ruled out regulation and registration” approach taken by the Government. The Camilla Cavendish report is unlikely to go along with regulation and registration because that was not included in her terms of reference. However, I hope that she will still support the idea. She used to write pieces supporting registration, unless my memory is playing tricks.

I go back to the Government’s proposals that aspirant student nurses work for a year as HCAs, and to their spat with the Royal College of Nursing. The college

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does not need me to defend it. I have never been a member. When I started my nurse training, the college did not admit men into membership, so I joined another union and ended up as its general-secretary many years later. However, much more united these rival organisations for nurses than ever divided us. It is a bit thin, unpleasant and lacking in resonance for the Secretary of State to attack the college in the way that he did because it dared to disagree with the proposal that student nurses should first work as HCAs for a year.

The Secretary of State seeks to use the Francis recommendation about the RCN as a fig leaf. Staff organisations are entitled to give a considered response and to advocate on any proposals made by Governments that will have an effect on nurses and nursing, particularly when they have not been consulted in the first place. For the Department of Health to suggest that the RCN or anyone else who opposes such an idea lacks credibility is nonsense, not least because it appears that the idea of a year as an HCA before entering nurse education is the sort of policy that might have been thought up in front of the metaphorical shaving mirror.

It is not easy to separate professional issues from what might be referred to as pay and rations. It is right that the Royal College and UNISON should ask questions about where the funding will come from for this idea; where the supervision and mentorship are going to come from; where the vacancies are, if any; and whether these people will come within the Agenda for Change pay structure. They are right to point out the risk that they will pick up bad habits and, as we used to put it, the risk of “learning with Nellie”. They are right to ask whether the idea will work at all and whether it will lead to a better nurse than would be the case if the Francis recommendations were taken up instead. Above all, nursing organisations need to be consulted and involved before such announcements are considered or made. Enhancing the status of the profession and looking after pay and conditions can sometimes be separated and sometimes not. As General Secretary of my old union, I set up a professional department for precisely that reason.

I repeat that it cannot be right that the thrust of the problems facing the NHS is laid at the door of the nursing profession. Let us have a proper look at mandatory staffing ratios. Let us get ward sisters back on the ward, taking clinical charge. Let us get student nurses doing what Francis recommended, and find a way to ensure that there is hands-on practice during the three years of university education.

The Government have said some of the right things, post-Francis, on tightening up accountability, duty of candour for providers—although, as many others say, that needs to go further—and introducing the concept of a chief inspector for hospitals. I would like to see that post being held by a nurse, and to see the Government follow through as rapidly as possible in cutting the paperwork burden that nurses endure at the moment. I want to see nurse leaders in trusts responsible and accountable for the delivery of nursing care. They should not have several other portfolios added to their role. And yes—the nursing profession needs to challenge,

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perhaps more that it has ever done, and to stand on its professional feet. But there has to be a cultural change in the service as well, and Governments, managers and boards have to listen.

In conclusion, I hope that the Government listen and engage with nursing organisations on all these challenges that face the NHS, and in particular that of delivering consistent quality care.

8.10 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I entered your Lordships’ House in 1998, and at the first gracious Speech debate that I attended one word was never uttered—and it was probably not uttered until about 2000. Now it is one of the most commonly used words in political conversations, and one which we ask for if it is missing from legislation. That is the word “sustainable”. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Redesdale referred to it in relation to the water Bill. It can be used carelessly to mean anything from “nice” to “environmental”, or to cloak things in greenwash. But in its true sense it is a vital word to help us to frame legislation. We will certainly need to debate exactly what its definition should be now. With most of the Bills in this Session—certainly the water Bill, the Energy Bill and the legislation on HS2—we will need to consider whether the definition that we explored and put into legislation under the previous Government is still fit for purpose. Luckily, help is at hand to update and redefine the concept, because the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management has just issued a report, Reframing Sustainable Development. That new report should be required reading for all of us before we embark on a debate about what sustainability means with regard to many of the Bills in the gracious Speech.

When the concept of sustainability first came to be widely debated in this Chamber during the passage of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, we talked about it as having three elements. We likened it to a three-legged stool, with social, economic and environmental legs. That was a useful start in the thinking. This Government have made good progress in developing that thinking and deepening the understanding of the interplay between environmental, social and economic factors. For example, they have established the Natural Capital Committee and national ecosystems assessments. But we need to recognise that environmental limits are the ultimate constraint to social and economic development. Much of today’s debate has concentrated on those elements. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, who is not in his place, made quite a play of ridiculing the environmental aspects, or, as he called them, the “green” aspects. But even he must realise that the planet has finite limits. Indeed, his speech reminded me of the words of Benjamin Disraeli, who said that it is easier to be critical than to be correct. I am sorry that the noble Lord is not in his place, but I shall engage him in conversation about that later.

The report of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management states:

“To be sustainable an action must not lead, or contribute, to depletion of a finite resource or use of a resource exceeding its regeneration rate”.

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That definition is going to be very useful as the Government examine the various intensive livestock proposals. If they examine them under a proper definition of sustainable, they will be looking at the whole carbon cycle—and that is just for a start. The intensive livestock proposals are very complex, particularly when you look at the whole carbon cycle. They also involve things such as the disease risks, land use questions, animal welfare issues, and even the nutritional quality of the product. We need to begin government guidance on these issues by thinking about whether our definition of sustainable is fit for purpose.

That is also so with government procurement, and procurement in your Lordships’ Chamber. Many of us in this Chamber have a mobile phone, a computer or a laptop, myself included. We see from the recent report from the Gaia Foundation and Friends of the Earth, Short Circuit, the roll call of the metals and minerals needed to make these gadgets. Many of them are rare minerals, and thousands of hectares of land, forest, pasture and mountain are stripped bare in the search for them. Our gadgets are literally costing the earth. But we need only to demand that they be recycled efficiently, and we can transpose the directives about end-of-life use to see to that, and make sure that they are manufactured in a way that allows this. Then at least there would be something like a 70% reduction in the mining effort to procure the minerals. That is an example of the new way of thinking that we need to adopt on these issues. It is not just all about legislation.

In the time remaining, I want to talk about schools and nutrition in schools. Several noble Lords have mentioned the importance of early years provision. I am very pleased that in the previous Session the Government introduced more guidance on early years nutrition. Therefore, I was outraged to hear in February the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, belittle school governors for spending far too much time,

“looking at the quality of school lunches”.

He said that many had their priorities wrong and ignored fundamental aspects of education such as teaching standards, student behaviour and school culture and instead spent their time worrying about “marginal” issues such as school lunches. Sir Michael’s comments completely ignore all the research: for example, that of Michèle Belot of Oxford University, work that directly correlates nutrition and higher achievement. Having decent food is the first step in being able to learn. Indeed, Ofsted itself commented in 2010 on the importance of nutrition.

The Government took an immensely important step when they reintroduced cookery to the school curriculum in the previous Session. They recognised the tremendous work of the School Food Trust, now the Children’s Food Trust. I hope that emphasis on the importance of early years nutrition will continue. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will have a word with Sir Michael, who is busy swimming in the wrong direction on this matter.

I was saddened to discover that the Department for Education has just downgraded the gardening and horticulture element of the B.Tech. On the one hand, the Government recognise the future challenges of food production and our position as a world leader in

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horticultural innovation and practice, yet the Department for Education takes this vicious swipe at the very roots from which this expertise grows. I ask the Government to have a rethink on that. The importance for our future food production cannot be overemphasised. I wish to emphasise the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Plumb, about the importance of well qualified young people going into agriculture.

8.19 pm

Lord Smith of Leigh: My Lords, I had intended to speak on welfare or health but on Saturday evening, travelling back north on the M1, I underwent a conversion and decided to speak on culture, specifically sport. I was able to exchange my views on welfare with the Minister during a recent visit to our universal credit pathfinder and my sentiments on health have been adequately expressed by my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and others.

The power of sport in our society was clearly demonstrated on the very day of the gracious Speech when the media chose not to be dominated by the Government’s legislative programme but by the retirement of a football manager. Mind you, he was the most famous or, in some people’s eyes, the most infamous football manager at the most famous football club in the world.

As many in your Lordships’ House are aware, I am leader of Wigan council and can give another example of the power of sport. When Wigan got through to the FA Cup Final, we were working with the club on a campaign entitled “Believe in Wigan”. That slogan rang true on Saturday evening when Wigan achieved its historic win in its first ever cup final. I want to place on record my appreciation of the work of the chairman of Wigan Athletic, Dave Whelan, and his fellow directors, and of the manager, Roberto Martinez, and the players for a wonderful victory. We believed and we came through. My only regret was that there were no local elections in Wigan this year as I am sure that, if there had been, we would have won even more convincingly than we normally do.

Sport makes a huge contribution to this country which goes far beyond the obvious benefits of the health and well-being of those participating in it. It has a major economic impact. Recent research in Greater Manchester shows that football alone contributes about £333 million to the Greater Manchester economy. Over four years, that is equivalent to the impact of London 2012 on the country, so we can see the effect it has on GVA. The Manchester brand is recognised throughout the world, largely due to Manchester United. The FA Cup Final has an audience of more than 600 million worldwide. Wigan’s appearance in the FA Cup meant that it had access to that audience and we want to try to exploit that.

Sport can also have a big influence on disaffected young people in our society by attracting members of this difficult group to engage with education, health activities and anti-crime initiatives. All professional clubs, certainly the three in my borough—Wigan Athletic and the two Rugby League clubs: Wigan Warriors and Leigh Centurions—all have extensive community

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programmes which enable young people to get involved in sport. That works very well in deprived parts of the borough.

I commend the work that is done by the voluntary sports sector which provides not just facilities for young people but also creates community capacity. In many of the most difficult parts of Wigan, probably the only community activity that is going on is the local sporting club. These clubs engage with the community and provide facilities. It is heart-warming to see what they do. They work largely with the council but also on their own. We set up a Wigan sports council and it was terrifically successful at gaining funding to improve facilities. We are now trying to work with those communities and the clubs. As austerity means that there will be a very different form of public provision—whether that is right or wrong, we need to accept that not as much provision will be done by public authorities such as local authorities—we need to make sure that people and communities are strong enough to make their own contributions. We will try to use our sporting clubs to get people more healthy and engaged in that, and to tell people that they can do things for themselves and demonstrate it through their sporting clubs.

Although I am sure it was pleasing for the Government to see the increase in participation in sport following 2012, and some 750,000 more people were engaged in sport, we cannot afford to be too complacent, particularly as one of the key target groups, young people between 16 and 25, was actually unchanged. We need not only to sustain the level of increase but—if we are going to match the best-performing countries in Europe—to grow the level of participation in sport.

If we are going to do that, we obviously need to make sure that there are facilities available, and at a reasonable cost and with easy access for those who need to use them. These will be provided by a variety of partners. We need to make sure that the private sector is working in local areas with the voluntary sector, with schools, colleges and, in some cases, universities, and of course with local authorities, to make sure that the facilities are available and can be accessed by young people in particular. In our case, we are looking to see how we can subsidise access by public transport. Clearly you cannot have facilities all over the place, but if you have good facilities you need to ensure that young people can access them, particularly in the evenings.

In many local authorities, including my own, we have to review the provision of facilities and, sadly, some will inevitably close. However, I want the Government to realise that there is a different way of viewing sport. By investing in sport, and in young and old people becoming more active through sport, we can save lots of money in the provision of health, education and other major services because people will become more engaged.

Finally, I remind those noble Lords who are not aware of it that the next big sporting event in Britain will start in 165 days. It is the Rugby League World Cup. In addition to the programme of matches between the 16 countries that are participating in the games there will be a cultural, social and educational programme

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so that visitors can engage with people beyond the die-hard rugby league fans such as myself. The Government have given great support to the initiative of the Rugby League World Cup and I thank them for that, and obviously I hope that they will maintain their support during the competition. In the previous World Cup, in Australia, we failed to do well in the competition but we managed to win the wheelchair rugby league games. I hope that this year we can do one better and win the real competition.

8.27 pm

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, I remind the House of my interests, particularly two non-financial interests: I am a trustee of Lung Cancer Campaign Carmarthenshire and a board member of the National Cancer Research Institute. Like many noble Lords, I congratulate those who made their maiden speeches this evening. It certainly takes me back to the day I made mine, when I talked about occupational lung disease. I am delighted that a Bill was announced in the gracious Speech to tackle the need for compensation for people with mesothelioma.

I will focus on tobacco control, which has been referred to by many noble Lords as a major omission from the gracious Speech. One in four cancer deaths are still thought to be due to smoking. Smoking kills one in two long-term smokers. These are shocking facts. I hope that whether noble Lords support standardised packaging or not, they will agree that it is deeply disturbing to learn that eight in 10 smokers start smoking by the age of 19.

Given this uptake of smoking by young people, we must surely all be united in taking whatever action we can to reduce or even stop the young people of this country from smoking. We must, therefore, consider the role of advertising and the role that promotion may play in drawing young people into smoking. Packaging is part of this.

It is no surprise, perhaps, that packaging is a vital issue to focus on, given the results of the 2012 study funded by Cancer Research UK, which included an audit of the tobacco retail press from January 2009 to June 2011. It found that,

“the level of tobacco packaging activity is increasing. Brands appear to be in a continuous cycle of modernisation through pack redesign. Increasingly, innovative packaging and limited editions draw attention to the product”.

A review commissioned for the standardised packaging consultation concluded that there was,

“strong evidence to support the propositions set out in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control relating to the role of plain packaging in helping to reduce smoking rates; that is, that plain packaging would reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products, it would increase the noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings and messages, and it would reduce the use of design techniques that may mislead consumers about the harmfulness of tobacco products”.

Given this and our need to prevent millions of children from starting to smoke, we have a responsibility to introduce standardised tobacco packaging as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle tobacco at local, national and international level.

Therefore, along with many of my colleagues across the health community, I am extremely disappointed

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that the Government did not include legislation in the gracious Speech. This absence of a Bill inevitably raises the question of the Government’s response to their consultation on standardised packaging. Nine months after the consultation ended, we are still awaiting a response from the Government. Can the Minister confirm that the Secretary of State for Health is still considering how the Government should respond to this consultation?

In the time we have been waiting, Cancer Research UK estimates that more than 150,000 children have started smoking. I call on the Government to respond in favour. We have waited long enough. We know that the Public Health Minister in the other place is convinced by the evidence, and there are many in this House who have voiced their concerns today, including the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, the noble Baronesses, Lady Jolly and Lady Wheeler, my noble friend Lord Hunt, from the opposition Front Bench, and my noble friends Lord MacKenzie and Lord Patel, who have all voiced their concerns and hopes for government action.

Let us take a moment to reflect on the support for standard packs, which is extremely broad. I mentioned the support of the health community. I cannot overstate the extent to which health organisations agree with this measure. Smokefree Action Coalition brings together 190 health and welfare organisations: royal colleges, the British Medical Association, charities such as Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, the Trading Standards Institute and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. They all support the idea of standard packs.

This issue also resonates with the public. If one shows people examples of existing packs that are clearly aimed at young women, they are horrified. YouGov polling shows that 63% of adults support the removal of branding from cigarette packs, and just 16% are opposed. Some 85% of people back government action to reduce the number of young people who start smoking. In the Government’s consultation more than 200,000 members of the public supported standard packs. These are the supporters of standardised packaging: a majority of the public and more than 190 health and welfare organisations.

Yet their collective voice has at times struggled to be heard over the well organised campaign by the tobacco industry. In 2012, Japan Tobacco International said that it would spend £2 million on adverts arguing against standard packs. To date, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled its claims to be “misleading” and “unsubstantiated”. While the tobacco industry argues that smuggling is increasing and that standard packs will make things worse, HMRC is clear that smuggling has halved in the past decade, and the Trading Standards Institute backs standard packaging, saying that pack design makes no difference to its efforts to tackle smuggling.

The evidence is clear and substantial. A majority of the public, 190 health organisations, the World Health Organisation and many others all support standard packs. The tobacco industry has spent millions on advertising to oppose standardised packaging, which indicates just how much store its sets by pack design.

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Like the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, I hope very much that when Her Majesty said in the gracious Speech that other measures will be laid before us, we will see a Bill aimed at stopping children taking up smoking through the introduction of standard cigarette packages.

8.35 pm

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I start by apologising to the whole House for the fact that I was not here at the beginning of yesterday’s debate. The consequences of that, I realise, fall upon Members who are here today, who have to listen to me giving the rant on transport that I was going to give yesterday. Such are the easy rules of protocol of your Lordships’ House that one is able to speak on any subject in the debate on the Loyal Address on any day of the week.

I thought that I would start with Heathrow. Heathrow is a national disgrace. It is not worthy of a third-world country, yet we brag to ourselves about what a splendid airport it is. I have friends in New York who come to London via Charles de Gaulle Airport in order to avoid Heathrow, and I am not in the least bit surprised. There are many such examples. If you arrive at a terminal at Heathrow—I have not counted the number of terminals but this applies to most of them—by private car or taxi and it happens to be raining, you get wet. It is as simple as that. To call that a modern airport is unbelievable. Sometimes with one or two of the terminals—the latest ones—you have to get on a bus to get from your gate to the plane. You would do better than that in Lagos. It really is a scandal, yet we go around shouting our heads off about what a brilliant airport it is.

Of course, this is not the direct responsibility of the Heathrow authorities, but when you leave Heathrow terminal 5 the only road sign you get—if noble Lords do not believe me, they can go and have a look—points to a place called Staines. How many people arriving at Heathrow want to go to Staines? They have never heard of Staines and they do not know where Staines is, but there is nothing else to tell them where to go. That is our prime international focus. It is unbelievable.

Then we have a bunch of idiots who want to put an airport in the middle of the Thames estuary. I have never heard anything more bonkers. It would be right in the middle of the shipping lanes and in the middle of the climate of the Thames estuary, with the catchment areas in northern France and Brussels, and with very doubtful access to emergency services. I cannot imagine a more ridiculous idea. It goes without saying that I think that Heathrow should have four runways, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?

I now want to say something about the railways. I know a little bit about this as—this is probably without the memory of your Lordships—some 40 years ago Harold Wilson made me Minister for Transport. I am so envious of the present Minister for Transport, who is told that he can concentrate on capital expenditure. With all the money that I had, there were a lot of lunatics on the Labour Back Benches telling me to cut bus fares. That is what I was supposed to do with the money I was given. It was not to improve the infrastructure that the country desperately needed, but that is how it was.

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The idea of HS2 is absolutely idiotic—another idiotic waste of money. We do not need it. The money would be much better spent on electrifying parts of the network that are not yet electrified. In particular, a huge amount could be spent on modernising the current infrastructure in London and the south-east. A great deal has been spent on extending platforms and signalling, but further electrification would add greatly to the efficiency of the country and to the welfare of people living in this part of the world.

I want to say a word or two about motorways. We pride ourselves on our motorways, but hardly a single motorway reaches a port in this country. I challenge any of your Lordships to tell me which motorways get to ports. Freight and passengers come off a ship and, having gone through a lot of suburban roads, they will get to a motorway. Very few motorways are motorway from start to finish. The M25 has toll structures in the middle of it. That is not a motorway. Some go down to two lanes in each direction. Anyone who does not know that has never driven on the M40. It is an absolute disgrace and dangerous.