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House of Lords

Thursday, 16 May 2013.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Schools: Bullying

Question

11.06 am

Asked By Baroness Brinton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what funding is available to enable self-excluded severely bullied children to return to education.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): My Lords, bullying should not be tolerated. Schools should take action to prevent bullying and protect pupils. Alternative provision is provided if a pupil cannot remain in a mainstream school. This enables pupils to receive education in different settings with specialist support if necessary, including for a return to a mainstream school. Some parents may none the less decide to withdraw their child altogether from all state-funded education. Local authorities may offer support to parents in those circumstances.

Baroness Brinton: I thank the Minister for his response. Given that the National Centre for Social Research report in 2011 estimated that 16,500 young people aged 11 to 15 are absent from state schools where bullying is the main reason, does the Minister agree that specialist education and psychological support interventions, such as the very successful Red Balloon Learner Centres, are the best way of helping these children back into mainstream schooling? Can he also say how such interventions can be funded if it is voluntary on local authorities’ behalf?

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness’s pioneering work in this field in Cambridgeshire is a model of best practice, and I am familiar with Red Balloon’s work. I very much agree with her that, for some severely bullied children, the type of intervention she describes may well be the most appropriate provision to support a pupil returning to mainstream education. However, that will not always be the case. Severely bullied children are not a homogenous group and among them will be some with a wide variety of specific needs and requirements. Local authorities can commission appropriate provision from a wide variety of providers and are funded to do so.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, with the noble Baroness’s Question concentrating our minds on a toxic problem which is estimated to have led to at least 20 suicides each year, should we not be thinking of more imaginative and radical ways of co-ordinating our approach to bullying in schools? I commend to the Minister particularly the work of theatre companies such as Ten Ten, whose production I recently saw in a school setting and which, by working with young people, imaginatively addressed this issue of bullying.

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Does he agree that with one survey stating that 69% of UK children reported being bullied, and now with the phenomenon of cyberbullying and 31 million school days being lost each year through bullying, we need to take this incredibly seriously?

Lord Nash: I could not agree more. Suicide is a tragedy whenever it occurs. I am not familiar with Ten Ten but I would like to be; perhaps the noble Lord and I could discuss it later. We are particularly focusing on cyberbullying. Our central thrust is to send a strong message to all schools that bullying is not to be tolerated. We have focused Ofsted much more on four specific categories of which behaviour and well-being—including bullying—is one. We have also recently funded four organisations with £4 million to work with schools specifically on bullying.

Lord Geddes: My Lords, what practical help is being given to schools to prevent bullying?

Lord Nash: My Lords, in addition to the points that I have covered, including the Ofsted framework and the four organisations we have funded—namely BeatBullying, the Diana Award, Kidscape and the NCB—we are working with other innovative provision. In my own school, for instance, we have a programme where, if a child has been bullied and wishes to be out of school for a while, there is a student centre where they can come back in on a temporary basis and gradually engage again with classes until they have the confidence to get back into school life. I am keen to spread this practice elsewhere.

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, does the Minister accept that underlying many of the statistics is the fact that bullying is also about racism and Islamophobia? If so, what are the Government doing about it? I take this opportunity to commend the work of the Osmani youth centre, which is based in Whitechapel.

Lord Nash: I am not aware of that centre’s work but I would be grateful if the noble Baroness could advise me of it. We will definitely look at further such facilities.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote:My Lords, bullying is rampant throughout our society—even, it would appear, in areas such as the BBC, as we have heard via the media. Given that prevention is better than cure, as everybody has stressed, what practical steps are being taken to ensure not only that playground or classroom bullying is classified as absolutely unacceptable but that every school is required to eliminate it? Will the Government publish a document giving examples of how this has already been successfully achieved in some areas?

Lord Nash: We should consider that. We have tightened teachers’ disciplinary powers, including their powers to search and confiscate, for instance, mobile phones and remove inappropriate material, and, particularly, to search for text bullying. We are continuing to focus on these areas.

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Lord Lexden: Can my noble friend tell the House what the Government are doing to ensure that children in alternative provision have support and education to a standard that is on a par with that in mainstream schools?

Lord Nash: We are focusing intensely on alternative provision providers. This Government have sent a very clear message that we expect alternative provision education to be equivalent to that in mainstream schools. There is no doubt that alternative provision in this country is extremely erratic. I am delighted to see that we have a number of alternative provision providers coming through in the new free school applications, and I expect that a number of them will be approved. A number of alternative provision providers are converting to academies. We have some excellent alternative provision providers. We have also asked Ofsted to look specifically at alternative provision through a thematic inspection process.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch:My Lords, does the Minister accept that many severely bullied children are very bright and can flourish educationally if they are given the right specialist intervention? However, such intervention has to happen at an early stage and all too often there is a gap between these children being identified and their being brought back into proper educational provision. The Minister has presented a picture of patchy provision across the country and said that it is erratic. What is the department doing to make sure that we have a complete picture of what is happening nationally and that those who are not providing the necessary educational provision are stepping up to the mark?

Lord Nash: I entirely agree with the noble Baroness’s point about the patchy nature of the provision. That is why we are encouraging more new providers to enter the system and set some standards. It is also why we have asked Ofsted to focus particularly on this area. Children who are excluded from school are often very bright and very energetic and we have a duty to make sure that they can be educated in the best way possible.

Lord Storey: My Lords, the Minister will be aware that schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy. Can he ensure that when Ofsted inspects schools, it does a quality assurance of that very important policy?

Lord Nash: Yes; and I believe that it already does.

NHS: GP Dispensing

Question

11.14 am

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review the rule that prevents patients of dispensing doctors who live within 1.6 kilometres of a pharmacy from collecting their medication from a doctor’s dispensary.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, the current NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 continue an agreement reached between representatives of pharmacist and GP contractors setting out the circumstances under which patients living in designated rural areas are eligible to receive dispensing services from their GP. To make any significant change in the regulations would mean reopening complex and lengthy discussions. We believe that contractors’ representatives are satisfied with the current regulatory arrangements and would not support an extensive review.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, does the Minister agree that “no decision about me without me” and the freedom of patient choice have been pivotal to the Government’s NHS reforms? Does he not think it crazy that I, as a patient of a dispensing doctor, can either ask my doctor for a prescription which I can take to a pharmacist in the nearest town or have my prescription dispensed by his staff, whereas my neighbour, who might live just within that 1.6 kilometre boundary, is allowed to get his prescription dispensed only in a pharmacy in the town? Does the Minister agree that the reasons for this rule are now obsolete? It was created in 1911 when there could have been corruption between doctors and patients, and that possibility no longer exists because of the controls.

Earl Howe: My Lords, there is a balance of interests here, not least the interests of the patient. We therefore need a set of rules which reflects those interests. Patients who live in a rural area can be dispensed to by their GP if there is no pharmacy within 1.6 kilometres of where the patient lives, or within 1.6 kilometres of the GP practice. Without these rules, it would rarely be viable for new pharmacies to open to serve rural areas. That would deprive people living in rural areas of the opportunity to benefit from the more comprehensive health service that a combination of a GP practice and a pharmacy can provide.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, can my noble friend say whether all elderly people who have difficulty over this matter are clearly informed that they can ask to have their prescription given by the doctor? For those who have no car and live in areas where buses are not frequent, it is sometimes extremely difficult to manage.

Earl Howe: My noble friend makes a good point. There is a special provision that allows a patient who has serious difficulty in getting to a pharmacy by virtue either of the distance involved or lack of means of communication to receive dispensing services from a doctor. Any patient is eligible to receive these services; they do not have to live in a rural area to do so.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, does the Minister agree that some pharmacies do not have wheelchair access? Some have steps, including the one in my own village. However, surely it is the easiest place for a disabled person to receive their prescriptions.

Earl Howe: My Lords, the rules as they stand do not present a major obstacle for disabled patients. Many pharmacies, for example, offer a free prescription

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collection and delivery service if a patient encounters difficulty in getting into the pharmacy premises. Under that arrangement, the pharmacy collects the prescription from the surgery on behalf of the patient, dispenses it and delivers it to the patient. Patients can contact their local pharmacies to see whether they offer that service.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I refer noble Lords to my health interests in the register. I well understand why the noble Earl does not want to reopen the issue, having chaired meetings at the department of the two representative bodies myself. However, I wonder whether the current arrangements are justifiable in 2013. Does the Minister not think that it might warrant his department asking an independent reviewer to look at the situation again, particularly from the point of view of the consumer and patient rather than of either the pharmacist or the dispensing doctors?

Earl Howe: I am sure that the noble Lord is as aware as anyone of the balance that has to be struck here. A GP’s primary purpose is to provide comprehensive medical care and treatment to his or her patients. More than 90% of prescription items are dispensed by pharmacies, which is what most patients expect. However, we must have arrangements to enable patients who live in rural and more remote areas to access medicines more easily. I think the noble Lord will understand that the arrangement for some GPs to provide dispensing services has always been the exception rather than the rule. I do not think there is an appetite on anyone’s part among the professions to reopen these arrangements.

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, these GP-dispensed services come at a cost, but as someone who lives in a rural area I am very glad of it, because it saves me a 12-mile round trip. However, the cost of a practice-based prescription will be apportioned to the CCG in two parts: the actual cost of the medicine itself and disbursement costs. Does my noble friend expect that the disbursement cost mechanism will be looked at again in the light of GPs running CCGs, where, of course, every penny will count towards the care of the patient?

Earl Howe: My Lords, those particular technical matters will always be looked at very carefully to ensure that the right balance is struck. It is open to commissioners to propose a change in the arrangements. If a new pharmacy applies to open, and that could affect GPs dispensing to patients in a rural area, we would fully expect there to be consultation with patient groups and the public. There is a mechanism to ensure that that process can take place.

EU: Reform

Question

11.21 am

Asked By Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals for reform of the European Union they will present to the forthcoming meeting of the European Council.

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the agenda for the forthcoming European Council on 22 May is tax, energy and an update on economic and monetary union. Our objective will be to secure EU support for a G8 commitment to a new global standard for tax and the multilateral automatic exchange of information on tax. We will also aim to secure agreement for a stable energy policy framework that provides growth, competitiveness and investment. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have both been clear that the EU needs reform. The UK will continue to argue for reforms to ensure that the EU can better tackle the challenges it faces.

Lord Dykes: I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Bearing in mind the very sad humiliation and setback that the Prime Minister, absent in the USA, suffered yesterday, with a much larger vote than expected, would not the obvious solution, because of agreement by those two, therefore be to assign any negotiations to the Deputy Prime Minister and other Liberal Democrat Ministers in the Cabinet who have excellent relations with other EU member states and who would help to exorcise the Tory demons of xenophobia?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this is a coalition Government, and we work as a coalition Government. There is substantial ground in the Government on a multilateral EU reform agenda. I spent three days in Brussels last week and was encouraged to find how much support there was for the sort of reform agenda we are talking about within other Governments and with a number of senior people in the EU institutions themselves.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, is it possible for the Minister to be more vague and imprecise about the exact nature of the reforms that the UK would wish to propose within the European Union?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we are, of course, following up the PM’s speech with some detailed work under way at present on precisely what our reform agenda should be. I will simply set out that it includes changes in the EU budget. We have already made some progress on that in the multiannual financial framework, but that needs to continue. There will be a stronger role for national Parliaments. The Lisbon treaty allows for that, and we are encouraging our own Parliament and others to work more closely together. An external trade agenda will include in some ways more European action; the Prime Minister, after all, pursued that very thing in his discussions with President Obama in Washington. There will be a deepening of the single market, such as digital single market services. Therefore there is a range of areas, including better regulation and cleaning out some of the dead aspects of the acquis.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My Lords, does my noble friend know yet whether other countries will make proposals for the reform of the European Union? If so, for what purpose, and what will those proposals be?

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We have already had extensive discussions, particularly with the German Government but also with a number of others. There is the potential here for a like-minded group. Of course one has to work in shifting coalitions on many of these issues. On some issues, some member Governments agree strongly with the British Government’s proposals; on others, we have others to work with. On changing the culture of the EU institutions and perhaps changing the balance of portfolios in the next Commission, et cetera, discussions are already well under way.

Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question concerning Article 50 of the European treaty. As he will know, that is the provision that deals with the renegotiation of the treaty. Will he kindly tell the House whether any member state has invoked the provisions of that article, and, if so, with what result? Furthermore, will he tell the House that the Government will publish a list of the powers that they seek to have repatriated, so that the British people will be able, in the light of reason, to determine what the issues are rather than having to fumble about in a miasma of popular clichés?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I welcome the noble Lord’s support for a reasoned debate. The question is not about unilateral repatriation but about the multilateral reform of the EU.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Lord can speak for the Prime Minister on this occasion, but will he tell us whether the major changes that he said he was looking for will require treaty change and the agreement of all 27 member states?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Of course, many things require the agreement of nearly 28 member states—Croatia is about to join. There is a great deal that we can achieve without treaty change; the Lisbon treaty has considerable headroom in it. The question of whether we are likely to face treaty change in the next five years is much more to do with what form banking union takes—I am sure that the noble Lord read Mr Schäuble’s article in the Financial Times the other day—and with other areas of management of the eurozone.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, as a first step towards closing down the whole ill-fated project of European integration, why do Her Majesty’s Government not propose the abolition of the euro, with all its participants returning to their national currencies? Would that not start to ameliorate the suffering of the Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Cypriot and—soon—French people? Would it not also give us financial and monetary clarity for the longer-term future?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am fascinated by the way in which the noble Lord approaches some very complicated international issues. I am struck by the extent to which European Union regulation and global regulation go together. While the UK is inside the EU, we are playing a major part in negotiating global regulation, for example on tax and on how the global framework for digital regulation will evolve. If

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we were to leave the European Union, we would lose our influence over the evolution of global regulation—unless the noble Lord is such a free trader that he believes that we should have no global regulation at all.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the success of any proposals for reform that are pursued by the Government at the European Council will be severely diminished as a consequence of last night’s vote in the House of Commons, when the majority of Conservative MPs who voted voted against Her Majesty’s Government’s Queen’s Speech?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I agree that the degree of noise in the British domestic debate damages our ability to conduct a reasoned, multilateral negotiation with our European partners. We need a reasoned debate on the advantages and costs of EU membership.


Tobacco: Smuggling

Question

11.29 am

Asked by Lord Sheldon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to reduce tobacco smuggling.

Lord Newby: My Lords, the joint HMRC and UK Border Force efforts to tackle tobacco smuggling were strengthened in 2011. This included further investment of more than £25 million from the Government’s 2010 spending review to increase HMRC’s capacity to target and disrupt illicit trade and investigate those behind that trade. Latest estimates indicate that the illicit cigarette market has more than halved since 2000, from 21% to 9%, and the hand-rolling tobacco illicit market share has reduced from 61% to 38%.

Lord Sheldon: My Lords, is it not essential to reduce the smuggling of tobacco? It affects any increase and clearly results in an artificial weakness.

Lord Newby: My Lords, I completely agree with the noble Lord, which is why the Government have put more money into this. The money that we have put in will mean that 120 additional enforcement staff are employed at borders, looking specifically at this. There is a 20% increase in criminal investigations and a 20% increase in the overseas intelligence network, which is instrumental in identifying the sources of smuggling.

Lord Mawhinney: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the reported considerable smuggling of tobacco across the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border, despite the best and combined efforts of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana? What are the Government planning to do in addition to reduce that smuggling?

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Lord Newby: My Lords, some of the additional effort that I have been talking about is being deployed in that area. The Irish tax rate on tobacco has increased recently, so the differential is less. But there is also an issue that is currently being looked at by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which is relevant here, namely that the penalties for tobacco smuggling are significantly less than those for drug smuggling. There is a discussion about whether the sentencing guidelines for tobacco smuggling should now be tightened to move them more closely into line with drug smuggling.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that this crime is, almost by definition, an international one, handled very often by international networks? Is he satisfied, and are the Government satisfied, that they are making full use of the machinery of Europol and OLAF in the European Union, and all the other structures that exist, for getting a genuine international effort to bear down on this crime?

Lord Newby: Yes, my Lords, I am. The co-operation on Customs and Excise matters is long developed, and a lot of effort has gone into it over the years. Noble Lords may be as surprised as I was to know that we have deployed staff covering between 60 and 70 countries and looking specifically at tobacco smuggling. They are working very closely with their opposite numbers in the countries in which they work.

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, the Minister mentions additional money being put into criminal investigation. Can he say how much of that has been directed at the prosecution side? I am sure that he would agree that the threat of successful prosecution is important in combating this. Furthermore, what has been the effect of the abolition of the separate, dedicated, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office?

Lord Newby: The headline figure in terms of prosecutions over the past few years is very significant here, and the key point. Some 3,700 people have been successfully prosecuted since 2000. I think that I am right in saying that there is no diminution in the number of cases or the amount of success that we are having on the prosecution front.

Lord Cormack: My Lords, when the last Northern Ireland Affairs Committee looked into this grave issue, we found that a very large percentage of the smuggling into Northern Ireland involved substances far more noxious than tobacco. Can the noble Lord say how much of this smuggling is of genuine cigarettes, which are harmful enough, and how much is of more dangerous substances?

Lord Newby: Whether it is in Northern Ireland or anywhere else, the people who smuggle cigarettes do, indeed, tend to smuggle other things, typically drugs, and sometimes even more dangerous things than that. I do not have an exact breakdown, but a lot of this smuggling is carried out on a large scale by criminal

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gangs who are looking to smuggle anything they can with a high value, of which cigarettes typically are only one component.

Lord Howarth of Newport: I welcome the Minister’s statement that the Government are considering introducing greater consistency in their treatment of tobacco smuggling and the smuggling of other substances. Will they consider aligning more extensively their treatment of tobacco, alcohol and other psychoactive substances in making policy across those fields more consistent?

Lord Newby: That was an extremely wide question. As a general principle, that is what the Government are seeking to achieve. As I say, we are putting additional effort into combating smuggling not just tobacco but across the piece.

National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.36 am

A Bill to make provision to re-establish the Secretary of State’s legal duty as to the National Health Service in England, quangos and related bodies.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Owen, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Marriage (Approved Organisations) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.36 am

A Bill to make provision to amend the law on marriage to permit the Registrar-General to permit certain charitable organisations to solemnise marriages.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Harrison, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Deputy Chairmen of Committees

Administration and Works Committee

Communications Committee

Consolidation etc. Bills Committee

Constitution Committee

Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

Economic Affairs Committee

European Union Committee

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House Committee

Human Rights Committee

Hybrid Instruments Committee

Information Committee

Liaison Committee

National Security Strategy Committee

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Committee

Privileges and Conduct Committee

Procedure of the House Committee

Refreshment Committee

Science and Technology Committee

Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee

Statutory Instruments Committee

Works of Art Committee

Soft Power Committee

Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee

Mental Capacity Act 2005 Committee

Inquiries Act 2005 Committee

Membership Motions

11.37 am

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

Deputy Chairmen of Committees

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed as the panel of members to act as Deputy Chairmen of Committees for this session:

B Andrews, B Anelay of St Johns, L Bassam of Brighton, L Bates, L Bichard, L Brougham and Vaux, L Colwyn, L Faulkner of Worcester, B Fookes, L Geddes, B Gibson of Market Rasen, B Harris of Richmond, L Haskel, B Hooper, B McIntosh of Hudnall, B Morris of Bolton, B Pitkeathley, V Simon, L Skelmersdale, V Ullswater.

Administration and Works

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider administrative services, accommodation and works, including works relating to security, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

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That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Anelay of St Johns, L Brougham and Vaux, L Cameron of Dillington, Bp Chester, L Faulkner of Worcester, L Laming, L McAvoy, B McIntosh of Hudnall, L Mancroft, L Newby, L Roper, L Rowe-Beddoe;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Communications

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the media and the creative industries and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Bakewell, L Bragg, L Clement-Jones, B Deech, L Dubs, B Fookes, B Healy of Primrose Hill, L Inglewood (Chairman), Bp Norwich, L Razzall, L St John of Bletso, E Selborne, L Skelmersdale;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Consolidation etc. Bills

In accordance with Standing Order 51, that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to join with a Committee of the Commons as the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills:

L Campbell of Alloway, L Carswell (Chairman), L Christopher, E Dundee, L Eames, L Janner of Braunstone, B Mallalieu, L Methuen, L Razzall, L Swinfen, L Tombs;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

Constitution

That a Select Committee be appointed to examine the constitutional implications of all public bills coming before the House; and to keep under review the operation of the constitution;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Crickhowell, L Cullen of Whitekirk. B Falkner of Margravine. L Goldsmith, L Hart of Chilton, L Irvine of Lairg, B Jay of Paddington (Chairman), L Lang of Monkton, L Lexden, L Macdonald of River Glaven, L Powell of Bayswater, B Wheatcroft;

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That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform

That a Select Committee be appointed:

(i) To report whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of legislative power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny;

(ii) To report on documents and draft orders laid before Parliament under or by virtue of:

(a) sections 14 and 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006,

(b) section 7(2) or section 19 of the Localism Act 2011, or

(c) section 5E(2) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004;

and to perform, in respect of such draft orders, and in respect of subordinate provisions orders made or proposed to be made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, the functions performed in respect of other instruments and draft instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments; and

(iii) To report on documents and draft orders laid before Parliament under or by virtue of:

(a) section 85 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998,

(b) section 17 of the Local Government Act 1999,

(c) section 9 of the Local Government Act 2000,

(d) section 98 of the Local Government Act 2003, or

(e) section 102 of the Local Transport Act 2008.

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Andrews, B Fookes, B Gardner of Parkes, L Haskel, C Mar, L Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L Mayhew of Twysden, B O’Loan, B Thomas of Winchester (Chairman);

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

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Economic Affairs

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider economic affairs and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Blackstone, L Griffiths of Fforestfach, L Hollick, L Lawson of Blaby, L Lipsey, L McFall of Alcluith, L MacGregor of Pulham Market (Chairman), L May of Oxford, B Noakes, L Rowe-Beddoe, L Shipley, L Skidelsky, L Smith of Clifton;

That the Committee have power to appoint a sub-committee and to refer to it any of the matters within the Committee’s terms of reference; that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairman of the sub-committee;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on the sub-committee;

That the Committee and its sub-committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee and its sub-committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee and its sub-committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

European Union

That a Select Committee be appointed:

(1) To consider European Union documents deposited in the House by a Minister, and other matters relating to the European Union;

The expression “European Union document” includes in particular:

(a) a document submitted by an institution of the European Union to another institution and put by either into the public domain;

(b) a draft legislative act or a proposal for amendment of such an act; and

(c) a draft decision relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union under Title V of the Treaty on European Union;

The Committee may waive the requirement to deposit a document, or class of documents, by agreement with the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons;

(2) To assist the House in relation to the procedure for the submission of Reasoned Opinions under Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union and the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

(3) To represent the House as appropriate in interparliamentary cooperation within the European Union;

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That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Boswell of Aynho (Chairman), L Bowness, L Cameron of Dillington, L Carter of Coles, B Corston, L Dear, B Eccles of Moulton, L Foulkes of Cumnock, L Hannay of Chiswick, L Harrison, L Maclennan of Rogart, L Marlesford, B O’Cathain, B Parminter, E Sandwich, B Scott of Needham Market, L Tomlinson, L Tugendhat, B Young of Hornsey;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and to refer to them any matters within its terms of reference; that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees, but that the sub-committees have power to appoint their own Chairmen for the purpose of particular inquiries; that the quorum of each sub-committee be two;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on a sub-committee;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee or its sub-committees;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

House Committee

That a Select Committee be appointed to set the policy framework for the administration of the House and to provide non-executive guidance to the Management Board; to approve the House’s strategic, business and financial plans; to agree the annual Estimates and Supplementary Estimates; to supervise the arrangements relating to financial support for Members; and to approve the House of Lords Annual Report;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Alderdice, L Campbell-Savours, L Cope of Berkeley, B D’Souza (Chairman), L Hill of Oareford, L Laming, B McDonagh, L McNally, B Royall of Blaisdon, L Sewel, L Stirrup, L True;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

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Human Rights

That a Select Committee of six members be appointed to join with a Committee appointed by the Commons as the Joint Committee on Human Rights:

To consider:

(a) matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom (but excluding consideration of individual cases);

(b) proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders made under section 10 of and laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998; and

(c) in respect of draft remedial orders and remedial orders, whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to them on any of the grounds specified in Standing Order 73 (Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments);

To report to the House:

(a) in relation to any document containing proposals laid before the House under paragraph 3 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether a draft order in the same terms as the proposals should be laid before the House; or

(b) in relation to any draft order laid under paragraph 2 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether the draft Order should be approved;

and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said proposals or draft orders; and

To report to the House in respect of any original order laid under paragraph 4 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether:

(a) the order should be approved in the form in which it was originally laid before Parliament; or

(b) the order should be replaced by a new order modifying the provisions of the original order; or

(c) the order should not be approved;

and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said order or any replacement order;

That the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Berridge, L Faulks, B Kennedy of The Shaws, L Lester of Herne Hill, B Lister of Burtersett, B O’Loan;

That the Committee have power to agree with the Committee appointed by the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman;

That the quorum of the Committee shall be two;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

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That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Hybrid Instruments

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider hybrid instruments and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Addington, L Campbell of Alloway, L Grantchester, L Harrison, L Luke, L Quirk, L Swinfen;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

That the reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee; and

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Information

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider information and communications services, including the Library and the Parliamentary Archives, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Aberdare, L Best, L Black of Brentwood, L Haskel, L Kirkwood of Kirkhope (Chairman), L Lipsey, E Lytton, B Massey of Darwen, L Maxton, B Rawlings, L Rennard, B Seccombe, B Stedman-Scott;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Liaison

That a Select Committee be appointed to advise the House on the resources required for select committee work and to allocate resources between select committees; to review the select committee work of the House; to consider requests for ad hoc committees and report to the House with recommendations; to ensure effective co-ordination between the two Houses; and to consider the availability of members to serve on committees;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Alderdice, B Browning, L Campbell-Savours, B Corston, L Craig of Radley, L Hill of Oareford, L Laming, L McNally, B Royall of Blaisdon, V Ullswater;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

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That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

National Security Strategy

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to join with a Committee of the Commons as the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, to consider the National Security Strategy:

L Fellowes, L Foulkes of Cumnock, L Harris of Haringey, L Lee of Trafford, B Manningham-Buller, B Neville-Jones, B Ramsay of Cartvale, L Sterling of Plaistow, B Taylor of Bolton, L Waldegrave of North Hill;

That the Committee have power to agree with the Committee appointed by the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place in the United Kingdom;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to the Board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST):

L Haskel, L Krebs, L Oxburgh, L Winston.

Privileges and Conduct

That a Select Committee be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Anelay of St Johns, L Bassam of Brighton, L Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L Eames, L Hill of Oareford, L Howe of Aberavon, L Irvine of Lairg, L Laming, L Mackay of Clashfern, L McNally, B Manningham-Buller, L Newby, B Royall of Blaisdon, B Scotland of Asthal, L Scott of Foscote;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on a sub-committee;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

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That in any claim of peerage, the Committee shall sit with three holders of high judicial office, who shall have the same speaking and voting rights as members of the Committee;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee or its sub-committees;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Procedure of the House

That a Select Committee on Procedure of the House be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

B Anelay of St Johns, L Bassam of Brighton, L Blencathra, L Butler of Brockwell, L Campbell-Savours, B D’Souza, L Filkin, L Hill of Oareford, B Hollis of Heigham, L Laming, L McNally, L Newby, L Patel, L Roper, B Royall of Blaisdon, B Thomas of Winchester, V Ullswater, L Wakeham;

That the following members be appointed as alternate members:

V Craigavon, B Hamwee, V Montgomery of Alamein, L True;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Refreshment

That a Select Committee be appointed to advise on the refreshment services provided for the House, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Colwyn, B Doocey, B Gale, B Gould of Potternewton, B Henig, L Howard of Rising, B Jenkin of Kennington, L Kennedy of Southwark, L Mawson, L Newby, L Palmer of Childs Hill, L Skidelsky;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Science and Technology

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider science and technology and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

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L Dixon-Smith, B Hilton of Eggardon, L Krebs (Chairman), B Manningham-Buller, L O’Neill of Clackmannan, L Patel, B Perry of Southwark, L Peston, L Rees of Ludlow, E Selborne, B Sharp of Guildford, L Wade of Chorlton, L Willis of Knaresborough, L Winston;

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and that the Committee have power to appoint the Chairmen of sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any member to serve on the Committee or a sub-committee;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee and its sub-committees have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee or its sub-committees;

That the evidence taken by the Committee or its sub-committees shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Secondary Legislation Scrutiny

That a Select Committee be appointed to scrutinise secondary legislation.

(1) The Committee shall, with the exception of those instruments in paragraphs (3) and (4), scrutinise—

(a) every instrument (whether or not a statutory instrument), or draft of an instrument, which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be, or might have been, taken in either House of Parliament under an Act of Parliament;

(b) every proposal which is in the form of a draft of such an instrument and is laid before each House of Parliament under an Act of Parliament,

with a view to determining whether or not the special attention of the House should be drawn to it on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (2).

(2) The grounds on which an instrument, draft or proposal may be drawn to the special attention of the House are—

(a) that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House;

(b) that it may be inappropriate in view of changed circumstances since the enactment of the parent Act;

(c) that it may inappropriately implement European Union legislation;

(d) that it may imperfectly achieve its policy objectives.

(3) The exceptions are—

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(a) remedial orders, and draft remedial orders, under section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998;

(b) draft orders under sections 14 and 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, and subordinate provisions orders made or proposed to be made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001;

(c) Measures under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 and instruments made, and drafts of instruments to be made, under them.

(4) The Committee shall report on draft orders and documents laid before Parliament under section 11(1) of the Public Bodies Act 2011 in accordance with the procedures set out in sections 11(5) and (6). The Committee may also consider and report on any material changes in a draft order laid under section 11(8) of the Act.

(5) The Committee shall also consider such other general matters relating to the effective scrutiny of secondary legislation and arising from the performance of its functions under paragraphs (1) to (4) as the Committee considers appropriate, except matters within the orders of reference of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Bichard, L Blackwell, L Eames, L Goodlad (Chairman), B Hamwee, L Methuen, B Morris of Yardley, L Norton of Louth, L Plant of Highfield, L Scott of Foscote, L Woolmer of Leeds;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published.

Standing Orders (Private Bills)

That a Select Committee on the Standing Orders relating to private bills be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Geddes, B Gould of Potternewton, L Luke, L Naseby, L Palmer, L Rodgers of Quarry Bank, V Simon;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

That the reports of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Statutory Instruments

In accordance with Standing Order 73 and the resolution of the House of 16 December 1997, that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to join with a Committee of the Commons as the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments:

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L Avebury, L Kennedy of Southwark, L Lyell, L Selkirk of Douglas, B Stern, L Walpole;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

Works of Art

That a Select Committee be appointed to administer the House of Lords Works of Art Collection Fund; and to consider matters relating to works of art and the artistic heritage in the House of Lords, within the strategic framework and financial limits approved by the House Committee;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Cormack, L Crathorne, B Gale, L Harries of Pentregarth, B Howells of St Davids, L Luke (Chairman), B Maddock, B Rendell of Babergh, L Roberts of Llandudno, E Shrewsbury, L Stevenson of Coddenham, B Valentine;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time.

Soft Power

That a Select Committee be appointed to examine the use of soft power in furthering the United Kingdom’s global influence and interests, and to make recommendations, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Armstrong of Hill Top, L Forsyth of Drumlean, L Foulkes of Cumnock, B Goudie, L Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L Howell of Guildford (Chairman), B Hussein-Ece, L Janvrin, B Morris of Bolton, Nicholson of Winterbourne, B Prosser, L Ramsbotham;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 14 March 2014;

That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Olympic and Paralympic Legacy

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the strategic issues for regeneration and sporting legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to make recommendations, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Addington, E Arran, L Bates, L Best, B Billingham, B Doocey, L Faulkner of Worcester, L Harris of Haringey (Chairman), B King of Bow, L Moynihan, B Wheatcroft, L Wigley;

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That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 15 November 2013;

That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report on the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

L Alderdice, B Andrews, B Barker, B Browning, L Faulks, L Hardie (Chairman), B Hollins, B McIntosh of Hudnall, L Patel of Bradford, B Shephard of Northwold, L Swinfen, L Turnberg;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 28 February 2014;

That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

Inquiries Act 2005

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report on the law and practice relating to inquiries into matters of public concern, in particular the Inquiries Act 2005, and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Buscombe, L Clinton-Davis, B Gould of Potternewton, B Hamwee, L King of Bridgwater, L Morris of Aberavon, L Richard, L Shutt of Greetland (Chairman), B Stern, L Trefgarne, L Trimble, L Woolf;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That the evidence taken by the Committee shall, if the Committee so wishes, be published;

That the Committee do report by 28 February 2014;

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That the Report of the Committee shall be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): In moving the 27 Motions standing in my name on the Order Paper en bloc, I remind Members of your Lordships’ House that if there is an objection to any single Motion, I will be more than happy to move all 27 Motions separately.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I rise again to query the usefulness of our proposed European Union Committee, and especially of its six sub-committees. I do so against the background of our Liaison Committee’s recent review of our committee structure, which was debated in your Lordships’ House on 21 March. This revealed that there were requests for no fewer than 28 ad hoc committees from your Lordships, of which only five could be accommodated. We could not even find the resources for a foreign affairs committee, which was widely supported, nor for a committee on preventing religiously based gender discrimination in arbitration and mediation services, which was supported in writing by 70 Peers.

I will very briefly repeat the case against this committee. First, its composition remains heavily, if not uniformly, Europhile, as it has been for the past 20 years, and therefore does nothing to reflect the growing Euroscepticism of the British people. Secondly, its findings are almost entirely ignored by Brussels, which routinely overrides our scrutiny reserve. That is the agreement whereby successive Governments have promised they will not sign up to any new EU law in Brussels if it is still being examined by the Select Committee of either House of Parliament.

Between January 2010 and June 2012 the scrutiny reserve was overridden 212 times in the House of Commons and 191 times in your Lordships’ House. Furthermore, the new “yellow card” system, whereby Brussels has to reconsider one of its new laws if eight national Parliaments object to it, is proving to be just as fraudulent as subsidiarity, as some of us forecast. If the Chairman of Committees does not agree with me, can he say what has happened to the proposals by Brussels for gender equality on company boards? Indeed, can he tell your Lordships of any new Brussels law that has been avoided by a yellow card?

I am aware that noble and Europhile Lords will claim that our reports are taken very seriously in Brussels and that Eurocrats can be seen reverently devouring our reports as they go about their unhelpful business, but the Government can point to hardly a single worthwhile case where our recommendations have been passed into European law—witness their Written Answer to me on 10 April. We are told that our committee has inspired the long-overdue reform of the criminal common fisheries policy, but if you put your ear to the ground in Brussels, you learn that this was inspired more by Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall’s television exposé than anything that our committee may have said. In passing, the answer is not to reform the CFP but simply to leave it and reclaim our great fishing industry.

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Be all that as it may—and it is—I have to ask why we have seven EU sub-committees when so many subjects go uncovered by your Lordships’ acknowledged wisdom. Your Lordships’ committee reports on every other subject are respected by our media and of value to our people. I have to ask why we do not redistribute the resources of the six EU sub-committees and place them at the disposal of new ad hoc committees, for which there is a genuine need. I look forward to the noble Lord’s reply.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, it is reassuring to know that in these changing times there are some certainties about the nature of debate in your Lordships’ House. It is that time of year again.

First, I welcome the endorsement of the noble Lord for the new ad hoc Select Committees that have been established and I hope that we will be able to develop even more ad hoc Select Committees over the years ahead. However, that should not be at the cost of the EU Select Committee and its sub-committees. Indeed, I see a slight—to be generous—illogicality in the noble Lord’s position: given his views on the EU, I should have thought that he would have wanted bigger and better scrutiny of EU matters by your Lordships’ House. Therefore, the case is made for maintaining the present number of sub-committees.

Motions agreed.

Outdoor Activities

Motion to Take Note

11.43 am

Moved by Lord Greaves

That this House takes note of the contribution of outdoor activities to the United Kingdom economy and to the health and well-being of the population.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, this Motion is about the great outdoors. When I tabled it, I tried to include “great outdoors” in the title but the clerks thought that the term was rather colloquial and preferred not to have it. However, that is what it is all about. The previous debate in Parliament on these issues was a Commons Adjournment debate led by David Rutley MP on 5 February this year. His definition was, “adventure tourism and outdoor activities”, and that is exactly what this debate is about.

Since I have been in your Lordships’ House we have had some epic debates. A long time ago in 2000, Parliament passed the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. More recently, it passed the Marine and Coastal Access Act, and there have been many others. These are all about the great outdoors, and that is what this Motion is about today. I should declare my interests, which are my involvement in the British Mountaineering Council as a patron and in other ways, and as a vice-president of the Open Spaces Society.

The purpose of this debate is to celebrate the great outdoors, its importance to the local and national economies, and its positive effects on the health and well-being of people. I tried to put the word “people”

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into the Motion but the clerk said that it should be “population”. However, as far as I am concerned, it is “people”.

The great outdoors involves activities that engage the body and the mind out in the open air, ranging from gentle walks in local parks to exploring the great mountains and wilderness areas. It entails experiencing not just physical activities—you can pay a lot of money to get that in a sweaty gym if that is what you like—but landscapes, nature and open, wild places. It includes walking, climbing, mountaineering, canoeing, cycling, riding, sailing, orienteering, fell running and hang-gliding, as well as nature lovers, botanists and twitchers, and even field sports, although I would draw the line at hunting. I apologise for any that I have missed out. It encompasses walking in the local park, flying kites, cycling across urban trails, winter mountaineering in Scotland and extreme sports that some of us have never heard of. Some are very organised and highly commercialised; others involve voluntary activities in local clubs, rambling groups, mountaineering groups and cycling clubs, but the great majority involve individuals, friends and families going into the countryside and doing their own thing.

What is the value of this activity? Inevitably in a debate such as this, we have been deluged by statistics from all sorts of organisations. I am grateful to bodies such as the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Ramblers, the BMC and the John Muir Trust, and we have had excellent briefing from the House of Lords Library. Living Streets reminds us that going out and walking is not just a rural activity. I sometimes think on these occasions that you get so much material that you could write a book with it—you cannot possibly use it all.

The value of outdoor activities lies, first, in the economic benefits. The latest research that I have found—there is lots of it—is from the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff University on the new Wales coastal path. The research unit reckons that this attracted 3 million visitors and was worth £16 million to the Welsh economy over the 12 months from September 2011 to August 2012. In 2011, the LSE’s “gross cycling product” report—an economic report on British cycling—said that British cycling contributes £2.9 billion to the UK economy. I suppose that these studies all keep academics in work but they provide helpful background information.

The social benefits of the great outdoors are huge. The Government’s own UK National Ecosystem Assessment in 2011 estimated that the social benefits of people being able to access and enjoy the countryside amount to £484 million per year. How does one work out these figures? I have no idea. I am very cynical about their accuracy and what they actually mean, but if the Government think that that is what it is worth, I am very happy to support that because it helps me to encourage the Government to promote these activities.

Natural England, in its 2011 Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment report, said that 2.73 billion visits to the natural environment took place in 2011-12, 10% up on the previous year, and that £20 billion was spent. We are deluged with these statistics and they are important, but there are other statistics as well.

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The John Muir Trust’s research with Glasgow University looked at equality in accessing the great outdoors and wild places, and at people’s experiences of outdoor activities. It reported that these are still heavily biased towards more prosperous people—I suppose middle England and the middle class, except that this research was carried out in Scotland. It found that people from the 15% more deprived areas in Scotland—worked out on our old friend the indices of multiple deprivation—were more than six times more likely to have had no experience of wild places.

I think of the great epic accounts that have been written by working-class Clydesiders, such as the fascinating book Always a Little Further by Alastair Borthwick about his experiences in the 1930s and going out into the Highlands with some of his mates, and the northern working-class climbers in the 1940s and 1950s, Joe Brown, Don Whillans and their friends in the Rock and Ice Club. They are legends but they were always a small minority of people from deprived backgrounds going out into the countryside, and that remains the case.

We now have stories about children in schools being asked, for example, where milk comes from and saying, “From the supermarket”. The importance of education and of extending involvement across the social classes is as great as it ever was.

On the health values, one academic study in 2007 reported that physical inactivity cost the NHS between £1 billion and £1.8 billion a year, and that the cost to the wider economy was £5.5 billion in sickness absence and £1 billion in premature deaths. We know that going out into the great outdoors not only has great physical benefits for people but great mental benefits as well.

Local authorities now have their new public health roles, and public health is nothing if it is not a matter of ill health prevention. The new role at local authority level will be absolutely vital, and yet these local authorities, the top-tier counties and the unitary authorities that ought to be promoting walking and other outdoor activities to boost public health to produce significant savings in public spending, are exactly the same authorities that are now undergoing drastic cuts in their budgets and cutting their public rights of way budgets for maintaining and developing their local footpath networks. We need more joined-up thinking, and those local authorities should be looking at how to do it.

This leads me on to the question of access, which is absolutely crucial. If you cannot get into the great outdoors it is of no use to you. The Ramblers research last year suggested that 70% of local authorities have cut their rights of way budgets in previous years and that 41% of them have cut them by more than 20%. Given another round of budget cuts this year, the position now is clearly much worse. I am proud to say that my local authority—I declare an interest as a member of Pendle Borough Council, which carries out rights of way work on behalf of the county council in Lancashire—has managed to maintain its service this year despite drastic and savage budget cuts. However, we shall have to look at whether we can continue to do so in the future. Our spending on the

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service is voluntary, not statutory, yet we have managed to maintain it so far, I am pleased to say.

We have many national trails through our area: the Pennine Way is not very far away, the Pennine bridleway comes within a mile or two of where I live, and the ward I represent on the local council has the Pennine Cycleway, Cycleway 68, threading through it. So we are in the heart of the national trails.

On blocked rights of way, the latest rights of way condition survey by the Countryside Agency in 2000 suggested that serious obstruction occurred every two kilometres on average. I suspect that statistic is much better now, although it will deteriorate because of the way in which rights of way staff in county councils are being removed.

I sponsored a Question for Short Debate about coastal access on 12 July last year, and said then that I was very pleased that, despite the doubts at the beginning of the coalition Government on this, it is now going ahead, but not as quickly as it was. I do not want to say anything more about it, although others do. However, there is a question about national trails generally. Natural England is moving responsibility to local trail partnerships and there is a concern that while local involvement in national trails is vital and can be beneficial—I speak as someone who was instrumental in securing a toucan crossing for the Pennine Cycleway across a busy dual carriageway in my ward—there is still a need for national oversight and a national champion. The Ramblers ran a petition in favour of having a national champion which attracted 18,000 signatures. It would be helpful if the Government could confirm whether there will continue to be national oversight of the national trails.

The rights of way network never has been and is not complete. The map was supposed to be finished by 2026, when a cap would be put on new registrations of historic routes. Stepping Forward, the report of the stakeholder working group on unrecorded rights of way for Natural England has not been taken up and pursued, and it would be interesting to know that the Government are now intending to do that.

One of the problems with access is the lack of knowledge and understanding of what you can do in the countryside. We have such an urban population nowadays that people actually do not know what they can do. They drive out in their cars, park in the car park or on the verge and get the picnic table out, but if you suggest to them that they could go for a walk, they are bewildered. That is why most people who go out into the countryside stay within sight of their cars. Education, information, signage, the maintenance of well used paths and clearing obstacles from less well used ones are all vital, but are being put at risk given the present difficulties with local government budgets.

The Government’s Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement, published earlier this year following the excellent work of the Independent Panel on Forestry, did not pick up the recommendation of the panel with regard to access to forests and woodlands. While the specific recommendation may not be acceptable, it is vital that the question of access to woodlands generally is picked up again. There were concerns at the beginning of this coalition that there were forces, particularly

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within Defra, who were turning the tide on access. I think that that has now been sorted out and the Government are as committed to access as we could possibly expect; that is to be welcomed.

This is the centenary year of John Muir, who was a founding father of the modern conservation movement, an environmental campaigner, a pioneer of national parks, a champion of wild places and a promoter of the spirit of adventure. I suppose I should declare that I am a member of the John Muir Trust. It is appropriate to conclude these remarks with a famous quotation of his:

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul”.

That is what this Motion to Take Note is all about.

11.58 am

Lord Haworth: My Lords, I warmly thank the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, for initiating this debate today and for the opportunity it gives to emphasise the benefits of outdoor activities to the health and well-being of the nation in so many important regards. It comes just a few days after the publication of a new report by the Mental Health Foundation to mark Mental Health Awareness Week and therefore it is particularly timely. I declare my interest in the great outdoors as the secretary of the All-Party Mountaineering Parliamentary Group and as one of three Members of your Lordships’ House to have climbed all the Munros, the other two being my noble friends Lord Elder and Lord Smith of Finsbury. I am sorry that my colleagues have not put their names down to speak in this debate because they are more eloquent than I and because I know that they share my enthusiasm for walking in the hills, and we are all fully aware of the health benefits—physical, mental and spiritual—that we derive from spending time in the hills.

All three of us will be on our way to Scotland this evening, by plane or sleeper, for the annual John Smith Memorial Walk. This event has been held most years since the tragic and untimely death of the leader of the Labour Party, 19 years ago now, and involves John’s family and friends and old colleagues from politics and wider Scottish life climbing a mountain and raising a glass to his memory. This year we will be on a Corbett in the far north-west of Scotland on Sunday, weather permitting.

Since neither of my noble friends is competing with me, perhaps I might add that I very much hope to be the first member of your Lordships’ House to complete what is known in the Scottish mountaineering world as the “full round”; that is, all summits over 3,000 feet, not just the principal peaks. The grand total is around 600 and I still have a small number to visit.

I am also the organiser of two rambling groups—the Radical Ramblers and the Wednesday Wanderers—and it is from the perspective of the first of these that I wish to make my brief contribution to this debate. The Radical Ramblers has been in existence for more than 30 years; we celebrated our 30th anniversary earlier this year, on the Sunday after the Eastleigh by-election, almost exactly 30 years after our first walk, which was on the Sunday after the Bermondsey by-election. I am

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sure that the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, remembers both those by-elections well. His party used to do well in parliamentary by-elections, and Bermondsey was certainly a landmark.

In the past 30 years, we have walked very extensively in southern England. Indeed, there is scarcely a long-distance footpath south of a line from the Wash to the Bristol Channel that we have not walked. Some of the best walks have been along the coast. We have walked east from Gravesend on the Saxon Shore Way, turned right at Thanet and headed west along the south coast all the way from Dover to Dartmouth. That includes the South Downs Way from Eastbourne to Winchester and the South West Coast Path from Poole Harbour along the Dorset and Devon coasts, plus the bits in between through the New Forest and the surrounding countryside.

Much of this walking was done before the passage of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, on pre-existing paths, some of which were some distance from the actual coast. That Act was widely welcomed by the walking community, in particular for giving legislative underpinning to the inspiring notion that as far as practically possible the public should have a right to walk right round the coast of England and Wales. In Wales this aspiration has been fully met, thanks to the enthusiastic support of the Welsh Government. Recently published research has shown that the Wales Coast Path attracted nearly 3 million visitors over a 12-month period and was worth an estimated £16 million to the Welsh economy, as the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, has already mentioned.

In England the evidence on the ground is that significant improvements to the coastal footpath network are coming—but very slowly. Natural England has an important role to play in this regard, in co-operation with local authorities. I have to accept that in a time of austerity progress will be slower than one might like, but I hope that the Minister will recognise that progress needs to be steady and determined and that the Government have a role in ensuring that the momentum is maintained and the will of Parliament prevails.

Lots of figures are bandied about to emphasise the importance of walking to the economy. I have just mentioned one for Wales. Another, provided by the Ramblers, suggests that walkers in the English countryside spend around £6.14 billion a year, supporting almost 250,000 full-time jobs. Recently my group had a marvellous bank holiday weekend walking up the Suffolk Coast Path, taking it fairly easy over four days from Aldeburgh to Lowestoft. There were about 16 or 17 of us on that walk, including two other colleagues from your Lordships’ House. A rough, back-of-an-envelope calculation suggests that our little rambling group spent more than £3,000 in and around Southwold during those four days—on hotels and B&Bs, in pubs and restaurants et cetera. Why were we there? It was because of the coastal path.

The Government recognise that tourism is a cornerstone of growth. The Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport spelt that out in the debate on outdoor pursuits which was held in the other place earlier this year. What is needed is gentle but firm encouragement for the rollout of the English coastal path

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The Marine and Coastal Access Bill was subjected to intensive pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses in the spring of 2008, and I had the privilege and pleasure of serving on that pre-legislative scrutiny committee. I still have the report, which I have brought with me, and the voluminous evidence which we received.

One of the submissions that disappointed me most was from Essex County Council. Although its paper acknowledged that long-distance walkers would bring economic benefits—increased trade for bed-and-breakfast owners was specifically mentioned—the general tenor of the submission was quite negative towards the concept of a coastal footpath.

Essex has more coastline than any other county in England, more even than Cornwall. This may come as a surprise to those who are not acquainted with the convolutions of the many tidal estuaries which make up so much of the Essex coast. Much of it is low-lying and subject to erosion.

In some cases the sea walls are being breached deliberately in collaboration with the Environment Agency to provide additional intertidal habitats—Rigdon’s breach, on the south side of Hamford Water near Walton-on-the-Naze, comes to mind. Much work is ongoing but precious little, if any, seems to be related to promoting a long-distance coastal path. In fact, some of this work gives the impression of being done to thwart the development of a coastal path.

I hope that Essex County Council can be encouraged to see its extensive coastline as an economic opportunity, not merely as an expensive liability. If Sussex, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall can see the economic potential of encouraging walking along their shores, with the appropriate provision of car parks and access facilities, Essex might yet do the same. I sincerely hope so.

It will be too late for the Radical Ramblers, as we are all getting a bit long in the tooth, but future generations of walkers are coming after us. The Essex backwaters provide splendid habitats for overwintering birds and are rightly popular with ornithologists as well as wild fowlers. Access on foot to these hidden gems needs to be greatly enhanced for future generations of lovers of the great outdoors.

12.07 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend, who in his time in your Lordships’ House has really championed the cause of outdoor access. It was a privilege to be able to work with him on the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, and ever since then I have learnt a great deal from him about all aspects of access. He referred to the different categories of people to whom access is important. I would classify myself in the category of nature lover, and it is on that that I am going to concentrate today.

In my lifetime, our lives have certainly become much more constrained to being indoors, in cars and in front of screens. It is a fact that has been reported widely that children play out less, are driven about more and spend more time in front of TVs and games consoles. My noble friend laid out some of the reasons why that is dangerous. It is dangerous to health and, as

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my noble friend was right to point out, particularly to mental health. It is extremely uplifting to spend time even just walking outdoors.

I feel pretty lucky, because we did not have a TV until I was 14 and my parents thought that their big radiogram was quite exciting enough. Being the last child by a long way and living in the middle of nowhere, I thought that damming the stream was high entertainment if my friends were not around. Now I realise how lucky I was, because the love of being outdoors has stayed firmly with me. At that age I absorbed absolutely effortlessly the names of birds, flowers and butterflies that my parents taught me. The excitement that they felt at seeing a patch of sundews or an early purple orchid if we were out walking in the mountains has also stayed with me.

Only once did I feel that my mother had taken this a little far. By that time I was an adult and she was staying with me. I was helping a neighbour with his beehives one evening in a rather nice area of heathland and my mother had come along for a walk. I made a mistake, did not smoke the bees enough and got 50 angry bees or more up my bee suit. I was running about screaming when my mother turned round and said, “Shh! I think I can hear a nightjar”.

Even with a very outdoor childhood like mine, I still felt keenly the absolute thrill of our biology A-level course field trip to a centre near Pickering. I remember clearly laying out our metre squares, our job being to count the different species within that metre. The point was to learn a bit more about ecology and how species related. My children in Somerset felt the same excitement when they went to the Somerset outdoor centres at Kilve Court and Charterhouse.

Imaginative schools can make the best of their own grounds. You do not need access to vast acres to make things interesting and exciting. Just this morning, as I thought about what I would say today, I looked at the Archbishop Sumner school opposite my flat in Lambeth, appreciating again just what they have achieved by planting silver birches in the front and creating an exciting woodland entrance to the school. At the back, there is an area now full of bluebells. There are also interesting places for the children to explore with woven living willow shelters and so on.

Experiencing the real world around you is incredibly important, not just for educational reasons but for the feelings of freedom and wonder that it engenders. The first time I came across a study on this sort of thing I was still a county councillor. In 1999, a publication called The Outdoor Classroom: Educational Use, Landscape Design and Management of School Grounds caught my eye. I started to look at the schools in our area, which had done a lot. That began to increase my interest in what you could achieve with even a marginal area round a school playing field.

A 2008 Ofsted report looked at a sample of schools providing opportunities to learn outside the classroom and found that, when implemented well, those opportunities,

“contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social and emotional development”.

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Indeed, if you ask a child what they remember about their last term at school, you will often get a vivid account of a school trip or something else based outside the classroom.

What are the barriers to this? There is health and safety. The 2010 report by my noble friend Lord Young, Common Sense, Common Safety, helped to reduce the form filling and red tape that had previously hampered teachers who wanted to take their pupils on school trips. The Department for Education continued the effort to reduce barriers in 2012 with some important health and safety policy statements about school trips and learning activities. It did quite a bit of work tackling myths about health and safety by explaining that its main interest is in real risks arising from serious breaches of the law, such as a trip leader taking pupils canoeing but not ensuring that they all wore buoyancy equipment.

Then there are the costs. An important 2010 report from the other place, Transforming Education Outside the Classroom, found that there was a risk of school trips becoming the preserve of private schoolchildren. My noble friend Lord Greaves mentioned that going outdoors at all can be a preserve of the privileged.

Sadly, as the report was published just before the election, its recommendations have not been taken up as fully as they could have been. The Guardian newspaper ran a round table in 2012 that found, unsurprisingly, that local authorities have been hit by cuts from central government. It was an interesting round table under Chatham House rules, so the comments are reported but not attributed. It found that some schools thought that they could meet the costs from the pupil premium and others were no longer subsidising the cost of children going on trips or to local outdoor activity centres. One of the conclusions of the discussion was that if you viewed the outdoor classroom as a classroom, it could be an essential part of the curriculum and should be given equal status with the other aspects of provision.

Of course, one of the biggest champions of all that is the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. If I had my way, the Government would class that body as pretty much as important as Ofsted. It is the national voice for learning outside the classroom. I can do no better than cite the example of Marnie Rose, who won the Learning Outside the Classroom award as the innovator of 2012 for setting up a social enterprise called The Garden Classroom four years previously to offer free science and nature workshops for schools in local parks and gardens here in London. She encapsulates what I am talking about when she said:

“When I was a child I attended Cann Hall Primary School in Leytonstone, east London and in year 5 & 6 we regularly visited Sun Trap Field Study Centre in Epping Forest. To this day I can remember the smells and colours of walking in Epping Forest, wearing wellies and being allowed to get wet and muddy ... seeing hedgehogs close up … and eating my egg mayonnaise sandwiches. They are some of my happiest childhood memories. The school continues to run the visits to this day”.

She then mentions that her nan had an allotment, which was also very important to her. It is that sort of childhood and formative experience that can lay the foundations of wishing to go outdoors and understanding what it can offer you as a person.

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Given the time available, I will not list all the organisations that do so much work in this area, but I will just mention Garden Organic, which offers all sorts of help to schools with activities tied into the curriculum. The Wildlife Trusts run a huge programme of activities for children by collecting charitable and private resources. In 2012 alone, they hosted 162,000 pupils from 4,400 schools all over the country. They have sites dotted around everywhere, so there is nearly always one near a school. They provide informal education opportunities, with 140,000 members of their junior branch, Wildlife Watch. They also do outreach work in schools. There is a follow-up to that, because lots of those children then become volunteers with their local wildlife trust. You can go out to see things with experts. As I know, it is very hard to go out on your own and work out which sort of bat is which, but if you go out with a bat expert you will soon learn.

We talk about social mobility and equality of opportunity, but I think that is meaningful only if our young people have the chance to experience and learn about the natural world around them. To the Government, I say: encourage empty classroom day. This year, it is on 5 July, and I wish it all the luck in the world.

12.19 pm

Lord Addington: My Lords, when my noble friend Lord Greaves was lucky enough to secure this debate, because he got himself together to put in for it, he asked me to contribute and I said yes. When you talk about the countryside and the great outdoors, what exactly does that mean? It suddenly became clear to me that it means something different to everyone. We have heard from noble Lords about serious walking and long-range walking. These walks are structured and take up the day. People plan them to be the major part of their day. My noble friend Lady Miller spoke about being in the countryside.

I thought about what the countryside means to other people. Let us remember that we all bring our own baggage to these debates. My childhood was in Norfolk, which we all know is very flat. It probably does not present the challenges suggested by noble Lords who have spoken here about walking. I now live in Berkshire, which is experienced differently because of where it is. I live in Lambourn, which is dominated by the racing industry and horses. The industry’s attitude to the usage of the countryside is very different from that of the average walker. It is worried about the people who use the paths. It does not want, for instance, to risk great holes in the paths and bridleways that might trap a horse’s foot, which could lead to a broken leg, a damaged horse or worse.

The area is close to urban centres. Swindon is just over the hill. We also get people in motor vehicles and cyclists on these paths. The usage and distortion of the paths and access points mean that once again there are different priorities. My experience of the countryside usually is walking, accompanied by a dog on a lead. My bête noir is the green laner in his 4x4 who seems to get a great buzz from going up the same small bit of hilly path that cuts across a walk I do frequently. In the past, I have been told that I just do not understand people who want to experience this activity or want to improve their driving skills. Over the winter, periodically

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I saw the same person in a nice warm heated cabin bumping along the same path. You are quite right: I do not understand it.

I have slightly more sympathy for those on scrambling bikes, which we see quite a lot. That is possibly because I feel that there is a greater danger of them falling over and hurting themselves. The competition for usage in the countryside is great, particularly around centres of population. Of course, everyone knows that what they are doing is most important, which is intrinsic to us all. To get the best out of all those activities, we have to look at co-ordination. In addition, as my noble friend pointed out, local authorities are under pressure. It is no surprise that a path will be lost if it is not opened up or maintained. If you want to lose a path, brambles and nettles will cover it pretty quickly, particularly if it is not used frequently. How do we prioritise getting into those places to make sure that multiple uses are available?

My noble friends have reminded me of the CROW Act. At the time, there were rows with the Ramblers’ Association, which suggested looking at better services on more public paths. Someone said, “No, we cannot tarmac over the countryside”. I said, “But you are quite prepared to have expanding paths that spin out to the side, making an environmentally sterile situation with great scars running across the countryside”. Very few people can access those paths unless they are determined walkers. On the Ridgeway, someone with a baby in a buggy might have to turn around because of a huge, muddy puddle in front of them. Some management is required.

We also have the disability lobby, with which I have strong connections, saying, “No, we want places that we can use”. Then you discover that they are using small, powerful, electronic, jeep-type wheelchairs. Their level of access is different from someone who has a slightly bad leg but wants just to walk in the countryside. How do you co-ordinate that? Effectively, unless we take action to bring these people together, these conflicts will always occur. They will become quite intense at times and get in the way of the idea that there should be room for us all to do if not everything we want, at least some of that.

The economic and health arguments are fairly straightforward. My noble friend may be very cynical about the exact figure for the economic benefit, probably with some justification, but the fact of the matter is that if you are selling walking boots and giving out cream teas and coats, and the odd bit of bed and breakfast, there is going to be a benefit. In the same way, if you want horses that go out and are used for hacking around, there is a benefit to everybody, from farriers to saddlers and the people who run the stables. There are benefits to be had from this, and you can go on and do this again and again.

Those benefits are clearly there. Given that and the fact that gentle walking must be, shall we say, the most perfect form of low-impact exercise for weight control, particularly if you are not in the peak of condition and want a shorter activity, to get these benefits in all these areas we must have somebody who looks at the overall picture and tries to pull them all in together.

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Can my noble friend give us an idea of exactly what has been done to bring all these competing groups together to talk to each other?

For instance, will people who are dealing with countryside access talk about access without a car from an urban centre? Either you walk there or you can catch a bus. That is quite an important part of access. It once again addresses a fact that was already raised: that the middle class who jump in a car and go get the best out of this. There again, do we particularly want them to use their cars more? Not really. We would much rather have it that anybody with a reasonably sturdy pair of shoes and a coat with some water resistance can access the countryside. Better still, if we can co-ordinate access from urban centres to the countryside without using a car, it would be a massive help.

The serious walkers also have an inbuilt interest in this, for the simple reason that we will encourage more people to take up the activity. There always has to be an entrance point, particularly if you are taking this on without having a cultural reference within your family. Having easy access to a start is very important. I have no doubt that the Ramblers’ Association, among others, will have views and opinions about how that should happen but unless it starts to co-ordinate it with those in urban environments who are, for instance, planning such things as bus routes and transport, it will not have the maximum effect.

Unless an overview is taken and some people are made to pay attention to it, we are never going to get the best out of this environment. We are always going to be chasing round and putting people under pressure, who will then defend with tremendous fervour their own particular interest. Unless we can form this overview and make people sit down and talk together more, we are always going to have that conflict. I look forward to hearing what will be said to address this, but can we please take on board that huge benefits are to be had here? They will never be maximised if we always find people in those situations of rivalry defending their own patch.

12.29 pm

Lord Judd: My Lords, I declare an interest as a vice-president of the Campaign for National Parks and as a former president of the Friends of the Lake District, and currently a patron. If we are to have a second House worth having, people such as the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, are indispensable. I have the highest regard for his independent-mindedness and his consistent commitment to qualitative dimensions in our society, ensuring that we are not able, in all the preoccupations of economic efficiency and administration, to overlook what a real, healthy, decent and civilised society should be about. I am very grateful to him for having introduced this debate.

In preparing for the debate, I was interested by the quality and quantity of briefing that came to us from organisations working in the countryside and in activity there. I draw the attention of noble Lords to a particularly good brief that came from the Ramblers. In case there is any prejudice about the title of that organisation, the brief is anything but a ramble. It is concise, brief and very effective. Let me share some of it with the House.

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“Walking is a major contributor to the UK economy. Research carried out in 2003 on behalf of the Ramblers revealed that walkers in the English countryside spend around £6.14 billion a year, generating income in excess of £2 billion and supporting up to 245,000 full-time jobs”.

That suggests that this is a brief worth bringing to the attention of most departments of government, not least the Treasury.

According to the Outdoor Industries Association, £9 billion a year is spent directly on outdoor leisure goods and services, including walking as well as other outdoor activities, such as climbing, and an additional £10.5 billion is spent in the local economy by people engaged in outdoor activities. The outdoor economy employs 2% of the UK workforce in rural areas and is worth 1.2% of the UK’s GDP.

It is worth noting that the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001 revealed starkly the extent to which our countryside is valued as a recreational amenity; the miserable closure of the countryside during the outbreak was estimated to have cost the rural economy and tourism industry £5 billion.

There is good evidence that clear, easy to use, well promoted path and trail networks influence more people to make day trips to an area or to stay for longer periods, thereby increasing visitor spend. This directly supports vital services such as shops and pubs, as well as local business such as hotels and small accommodation providers. For example, in 2010, £7.2 billion was spent visiting the countryside, while Hadrian’s Wall path has brought in £19 million to local communities since it was created in 2003. It is estimated that the south-west coast path national trail, running along 630 miles of the coast from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset is worth £307 million annually to the regional economy. Natural England estimates that the English adult population participated in an estimated 2.73 billion visits to the natural environment during 2011-12 and that just over half—52%—of visits to the natural environment were to the countryside.

Despite the popularity of countryside visits, our access infrastructure is not effectively or adequately supported. The extent and quality of public access opportunities is patchy; good-quality access exists in some areas, but in others the recreational infrastructure is fragmented, in poor condition or access is not signposted. The last national survey on the condition of public rights of way was undertaken in 2000 and revealed that on average users were likely to come across a serious obstruction every two kilometres.

In a timely way, the organisation Living Streets reminded us in its useful brief of a recent article in the Lancet. It revealed that increased levels of walking and cycling have the potential to save the National Health Service more than £17 billion over 20 years through reductions in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer because of increased physical activity.

All this is powerful evidence of why we should take more seriously the economic dimensions of the countryside and what it means for Britain, but I do not make any apology for turning to another matter. I recognise that it is subjective, but I cannot believe that

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I am alone. It must be shared by many other noble Lords. I mean the priceless side of the value of the countryside.

What sort of Britain do we want our children and grandchildren to inherit? Is it one that has become so preoccupied with the mechanisms of creating wealth that there is nothing there of value to enjoy with the greater wealth at the disposal of the population? Do we want a Britain in which people are materially existing or a creative, living Britain in which youngsters—as an ambition, all youngsters—have the opportunity to discover themselves physically and spiritually and fulfil their lives by their experiences? For me, that is the value of the countryside and why all those who fought to make it available and enjoyable were so important.

I live in the Lake District, and when we are going home, my wife says that I become just about liveable with when we reach Preston on the train. I ask myself why that is so. I am sure many others share my experience that when I am on the west coast route from Oxenholme to Penrith between the two national parks and see the hills, the sun, the rain, the sheep battling with the environment and the rivers racing and flowing, there is an excitement and a dimension. I think, “My God, why are more people not able to enjoy this? Why have they not seen this potential in life?”. I know that when I have struggled, panted, climbed and clambered up a fell—although not at the moment, because my chassis plays me up a bit—and come over the brow of the fell, and there was a range of hills and mountaintops in front of me, it was an extraordinary experience. Why is it not more available to people of all ethnic groups in our society or to the handicapped? We should find ways to make it available, sympathetic ways that do not spoil the objective. There must be ways in which that can be done.

There is a small fell near my house. Until recently, I enjoyed going up it whenever I could. When you get to the top, on a clear day you can look one way and see in the distance the hills above Buttermere—the Gables—and Scafell. If you turn round, beyond the lake of Loweswater is the view of the Isle of Man and, on a very good day, looking across the Solway, you can see the Mull of Galloway and the Southern Uplands. I challenge anyone to have that experience and not say that life is about more than just making money and increasing one’s material well-being. That should be there for all.

The danger is not that we will see an all-out blitz on the countryside but that there will be a gradual erosion of what I am talking about. There will be what has been described as a suburbanisation of what I am talking about. The paradox, incidentally, with suburbanisation is that people like me who can afford to live in the countryside and enjoy it have to face the reality that local people are no longer able to afford to live there. There is the huge challenge of affordable housing, and how that is done sympathetically. I am vice-president of the Lakeland Housing Trust, which specialises in using existing buildings for accessible housing and is committed to the principle of ensuring that it is done in a sympathetic way.

A society like ours, with the psychological and other pressures that operate on people, needs places which are contrasts and provide peace in the context

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of living. In government departments and in opposition, we have to be rigorous in saying that, whatever the other immediate economic pressures and the rest—and you would be a fool to deny that these are of course important—we are here to protect this heritage and to enable it to be enjoyed by our people into the future. There must be a strong inter-departmental strategy to make sure that that is happening.

I conclude with an anecdote, which I have perhaps used more than once before in the House; I do not apologise for that, because it had a deep effect on me. Down on Windermere, there is a YMCA training centre. I was talking to a really rather impressive middle-aged lady who was utterly committed to the work going on there, and she said, “The other day, I had a youngster here from an inner-city area, aged about seven or eight. In the evening, I said to this youngster, ‘What did you do today?’. The youngster looked at me with wide eyes and excitement, and said, ‘Miss, I saw far!’. A few days later, I said to her, ‘What did you do today?’, and she replied, ‘Miss, I saw very far!’”.

That is what the countryside can mean. That is why it is invaluable. That is why those who want to ride roughshod over green-belt land because of some immediate economic opportunism when there are perfectly good brownfield sites available need to be challenged. They are destroying the soul of Britain.

12.43 pm

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Greaves on securing this debate. I declare my interests: I am president of the Friends of the Ridgway and a member of the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement, GLEAM.

When I was a member of Oxfordshire County Council, we moved to erect traffic regulation orders on the Ridgeway. This was a joint action between the county councils of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. I was also a member of the Thames Valley Police Authority, which was willing to enforce the traffic regulation orders. The reason for these was the need to protect the Ridgeway against the depredations of motorcyclists and 4x4 sports vehicles, which were turning it into an absolute quagmire. My noble friend has referred to the fact that it is a wide way, but it was muddy, dangerous to ride a horse and quite impossible to ride a bicycle. It really was a disgrace. We managed to do something positive. I am sorry to hear my noble friend’s story of the water across the Ridgeway, but I think that that is perhaps beyond the control of the county council. In any case, we should do something about it. Maintaining a footpath or bridleway costs a lot of money, but they are so easily destroyed by the activities of a few—and I use the phrase advisedly—pretty irresponsible people.

We have managed to make some improvements under the Traffic Management Act 2005 and the NERC Act 2006 making it a little bit easier to face down the Trail Riders Federation and their fairly substantial supporters. However, there are many more things to do. I will not talk for a long time about the Peak District, but it is an absolute disgrace in most places. The noise and intimidation that are presented to walkers, cyclists and horse riders are quite awful. This goes on

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because no traffic regulation orders are even being sought by the several local authorities in the Peak District. The reason for this is that traffic regulation orders can be difficult to obtain. The procedure is convoluted and allows lots of scope for objectors to make their views known, which they do. That makes the process very expensive. The result is the destruction of the countryside. The noise of many of these vehicles is really quite awful in a place that should be peaceful. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has referred to his returns to the Lake District, and it is the peace of the place that is part of the appeal he describes. However, I am afraid that the peace of the Peak District is being very severely eroded.

Obviously, the House will not want to hear a list of the technical things that need doing. I will not repeat it. However, the highway authorities have rather ill described objectives to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of any highway for which they are the authority. That can be read as if they are there to protect the rights of people who use noisy and intimidating vehicles. The highway authority is probably not the best body to initiate much of this activity.

I hope that the Minister, when he replies to the debate, will give me some comfort. We ought to be prepared with the necessary secondary legislation, and indeed the primary legislation, so that when the opportunity occurs we can move forward. This will never be the major substance of any Bill, but we have in the past made quite a lot of progress through being ready and able, when a piece of legislation comes forward, to tack a clause on. I stress the serious condition of many valuable rights of way that causes immense heartache and suffering to the people who would use it if they could. I hope that the Minister might today offer some hope to those people.

12.49 pm

Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, I am most grateful to the House for the opportunity to speak in the gap, and it is a great privilege to follow my noble friend Lord Bradshaw.

I have been involved in this matter for over 10 years, and I declare an interest as a member of GLEAM. My noble friend was far too modest about the achievement of the Ridgeway, which was a masterpiece of leadership and communication with the various authorities and the police. He has emphasised the contrast with the Peak District, which, with respect to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, is certainly one of the most beautiful bits of this island. Ironically, however, seven highway authorities are involved there, and certainly up to spring of this year not one traffic order had been made.

It is worth pointing out that the cost and time involved in making one of these orders is far outweighed if the matter goes to appeal and the appeal goes against the authority, when it is faced with the costs of the appeal, of making good the damage and of enforcing the traffic regulation order. Therefore my noble friend Lord Greaves, who has done a great service in securing this debate, will provide the opportunity to get those local authorities, particularly in the Peak District, to look again at this matter.

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I am told that the Peak District National Park Authority was only starting to look at this matter seriously two years ago, and it is said to be overwhelmed by the problems it faces. That may well be true, but it means that there is no time to lose. The off-road fraternity is very quick witted, shall we say, and very good at exploiting local authority inertia. That is one of the real problems that we face in this matter.

12.52 pm

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I, too, thank and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, on his initiative in securing this debate, and if I may say so, on his excellent introduction to our debate. He is very well known in your Lordships’ House for the way he has championed the great outdoors, as he calls it, and it is a privilege to be able to take part in the debate.

As the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, the great outdoors means different things to different people. His comments and those of the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, have reinforced the fact that while most people who use the great outdoors are able to get along with each other with a degree of tolerance, there is a problem. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned 4x4 vehicles, and we could have talked about speedboats in certain parts of the national parks. I hope that the Minister will reflect on the particular points made about the Peaks, which is a wonderful, beautiful area in which people’s enjoyment is being spoilt at the moment. If there is a real issue about the laying of traffic orders, one might want to look to primary legislation as a way of helping local authorities to do the right thing. I hope the noble Lord can give some comfort on that.

The great outdoors, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, means different things to different people. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, was very clear as to what the outdoors means to her. To me, of course, it means the great city of Birmingham, and rather different circumstances, but we have wonderful parks—and canals, which, in some parts of the city, meet the description by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, as open and wild places—and we have cycling paths, which are being developed. I was reflecting on the comments made by my noble friend Lord Judd that when he reached Preston he began to feel better and that he was beginning to get into the great outdoors. I use the same west coast main line, and I feel the same sense when I get into the city centre, just past Birmingham City football ground, as I look at the green spaces that greet you as you go into the city, particularly as a result of the recent development in the city centre.

I declare an interest as chair of an NHS foundation trust and as a trainer and consultant with Cumberlege Connections, as we cover health issues. My daughter is a director of policy at the organisation Living Streets, formerly the Pedestrians Association, which is sponsoring Walk to Work Week this month. Comments were made that if we are to encourage people to exercise more—and the evidence in favour of that is overwhelming—often the best way to do that is to incorporate it into people’s daily working lives. That is why the walking to work initiative is very good.

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The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, mentioned the Welsh and English coastal paths. He said that although at the beginning of the coalition Government’s term of office he feared the worst for the implementation of the Act, which many noble Lords here today spent many happy months debating, he had been reassured that the intention was to implement the coastal pathway. However, I have been very disappointed by the pace of implementation. Is the Minister able to give us any words of comfort about when we might be able to see the full implementation of the coastal pathway? I gently remind him that when I took the Bill through, we came under great pressure from the Conservative Benches on some aspects of it. It is right that we press for its speedy implementation.

The health evidence of an active lifestyle, including a lifestyle in the great outdoors, is overwhelming. The WHO estimates that around 6% of global deaths are caused by physical inactivity. It also estimates that between 20% and 35% of cardiovascular disease could be prevented if people became more active throughout their lives. We have the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines, which is 30 minutes of physical activity on at least five days a week for adults, and at least one hour of moderate or intense activity a day for children aged five to 18. We also have a 17 year-long study of 10,000 people, published by the University of Exeter last month, which looks at the impact of living in a green area, and which concluded that it has a significant positive effect on well-being. My noble friend Lord Haworth made the point that the green space effect is that you can have lower levels of mental distress and higher life satisfaction, which can still be seen, even after changes over time, in participants’ income, employment, marital status, physical health and housing type. Although we are talking about the great outdoors, and inevitably think about the national parks, of course a green space can be in a city if planners are imaginative about their provision of facilities.

My noble friend Lord Haworth is going on the John Smith memorial walk this weekend, and I wish him well in that endeavour. He showed, and mentioned, the economic benefits of rambling, and mentioned the coastal path, as did my noble friend Lord Judd. It is interesting that the national parks have estimated that 110 million people visit them each year. They contribute about £4.5 billion to local economies, and more than 100,000 jobs are directly dependent on the national parks. In other country areas one can see similar impacts. Therefore, there is an overwhelming case for the economic, health and well-being benefits of encouraging the use of the great outdoors. Again, I would be interested to know what the Government are doing to recognise that and to encourage us to see even more positive impacts on the economy in future. The next debate, which is coming up a little earlier than some noble Lords thought, is about growth in the economy.

Perhaps we could send a message to the noble Lords taking part in it, although of course I very much share the point made by my noble friend Lord Judd that although the economic benefit is to be celebrated, the main issue is the intrinsic value of the countryside rather than any materialistic goal.

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My final point comes back to an issue mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller: children and schools. Unfortunately, not many young people meet the levels of exercise recommended by the Chief Medical Officer. My information is that in England, 32% of boys and only 24% of girls meet the basic levels of activity that the Chief Medical Officer recommends. For adults, the figures are 39% of men and 29% of women—so they are low, and there is a gap between men and women. There is also some doubt about whether the figures are accurate. Some people responding to the surveys were tested to see whether there was evidence that they were engaging in physical activity. This reduced the figures that I have to 6% of men and 4% of women. Clearly, the overwhelming evidence is that although activity of the type mentioned by noble Lords is good for people, only a small proportion of people in our country engage in it.

This brings us back to schools. I have to mention my disappointment at the Olympic legacy. Of course not all young people will engage in the physical activity involved in competitive sport—although we should do everything we can to encourage those sports. There is no doubt that when the Olympic bid was won, and when we had the wonderful Olympics, we expected there to be a positive impact in schools on sport and physical activity generally. Mr Gove’s decision to get rid of funding and then bring some of it back is having a direct impact on the levels of physical activity in schools. I hope the Minister will be able to say that the Government acknowledge and recognise that this is a problem that needs to be put into reverse.

In conclusion, it seems that the case argued with great passion and conviction by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, is one that noble Lords have found to be proven.

1.04 pm

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend on securing this debate and acknowledge his long-term commitment to these matters. I also reiterate, as noble Lords said, that outdoor activity means many things to many different people. That is its appeal. It provides millions of people with the opportunity to participate in a diverse range of activities. It gives them much pleasure and improves their mental and physical health and general well-being. It also contributes to the economy.

Inactivity is associated with many diseases. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, suggested the figure of 6% of early deaths globally. My figure is 9%. Whatever the correct figure, it is a very serious issue. For those reasons and more, in July 2011 the Chief Medical Officers of the four home countries published Start Active, Stay Active, setting out the new guidelines for physical activity. For adults, the new recommendation is for at least 150 minutes of physical activity spread across the week. Importantly, the guidelines address the whole-life course, from early years to older people, and include advice on avoiding sedentary behaviour.

As we have just lost a Garden but there is a Gardiner on the Front Bench, I will raise the issue of gardening. That is an activity that millions of us engage in, all

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year round. Only two days ago I read that gardeners can burn off 19,000 calories a year. There were 20.9 million visits to allotments and community gardens between March 2012 and February 2013. The 100th anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show is approaching next week—I declare that I am a member of the Royal Horticultural Society—and millions of us enjoy walking round this country’s wonderful parks and gardens. There were 34 million day visits to gardens in 2012 alone. As I gardened as a schoolboy, I was particularly struck by the important observations of my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer on school gardens.

Much is being done to encourage people to take more exercise, but in England, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, suggested, six out of 10 men and seven out of 10 women exercise less than the guidelines would like us to. For children, the guidelines recommend at least 60 minutes of daily activity, but, again, participation levels are too low. I shall address how we should tackle some of these issues.

In the face of the statistics, the Department of Health has established a national ambition for physical activity of a year-on-year increase in the number of adults doing 150 minutes of exercise per week, and a similar reduction in the number of those who are inactive. This represents what could be achieved if all sectors worked together, supported by the new delivery system for public health. The ambition is reflected in the public health outcomes framework indicator for physical activity.

There are so many health benefits from outdoor activity. Walking brings important mental health benefits. The noble Lord, Lord Haworth, and other noble Lords spoke powerfully about these benefits. It can help prevent dementia in older people. I read recently of the important ways in which depression can be helped by people walking much more. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, also raised this point.

I turn to the Olympic and Paralympic legacy, which was mentioned. Grass-roots participation is crucial to a successful legacy. To support this, Sport England’s Places People Play programme is making a significant investment in local sports facilities, with more than 1,000 community sports facilities receiving grants totalling more than £50 million. It is also protecting playing fields, which are so important in enabling all members of the community to take part in sport and physical activity.

The latest active people participation figures for England from December last year showed that between October 2011 and October 2012 more than 15 million people aged 16 and over participated in sport at least once a week. This was a significant increase in sports participation over 2010-11, with more than 750,000 more adults taking part. Surely we must build on this. The Government recognise the importance of sport for people of all ages, and particularly for young people. In January last year, we launched the £1 billion youth and community sport strategy with Sport England, with the aim of creating a sporting habit for life.

The devolved Administrations are also actively engaged in promoting health and well-being via their sporting agencies. As part of that strategy, in December last year Sport England announced a £493 million investment

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between 2013 and 2017 in the national governing bodies of sport to deliver a year-on-year increase in the number of people, particularly those between 14 and 25, doing regular sport. Sport England is also funding programmes for community organisations, charities and local authorities, putting sport organisers into colleges, helping disadvantaged young people to develop life skills though sport, and funding to improve participation among those currently least active.

Major sports play a crucial role in the health and well-being of the UK. Sport England’s Active People survey shows that just over 2.1 million people play football for 30 minutes once a week. The forthcoming Rugby League World Cup in October and November this year and the Rugby Union World Cup in 2015 will inspire a new generation to play the game across the country. On the first day of the test season, I must not forget cricket, either.

I would like to highlight three sectors where we did extraordinarily well in the Paralympics and Olympics. First, there is equestrianism. Sport England has funded £6 million to the British Equestrian Federation, which will be used to deliver a number of activities to attract new riders, keep more people riding, and bring former riders back to the sport. I would particularly like to mention an organisation that I know well, the Riding for the Disabled Association, which is such a force for good. Then there is sailing. The Royal Yachting Association is expanding on programmes which introduce new young people into the sport by teaching them new skills in a safe and controlled environment. It is also continuing the successful Sailability programme, which supports disabled people to sail through specialist provision.

Then there is cycling. The huge success of Team GB truly inspired many more to get on a bike. The impact of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France setting off in Yorkshire next year will be immense. The Department for Transport has published details about how it will allocate the £42 million investment in cycling announced in last year’s Autumn Statement. It will comprise an urban element, which I hope will please the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, and a rural element for areas that are covered by national parks.

I turn to mountaineering. I am very conscious that the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, has climbed all the Munros. I have a mixture of admiration and dread at that prospect. Of course, I wish him and all his colleagues well in the memorial walk that they are doing very shortly. I also mention the close interest taken by my noble friend Lord Greaves in this matter. Mountaineering is receiving £3 million through Sport England’s whole sport plans. Almost 100,000 people regularly take part in those activities. Figures from Natural England show that there were more than 60 million visits to mountains, hills and moorlands between March last year and February this year. They are much cherished parts of the countryside.

Outdoor pursuits can happen anywhere, be it large-scale events such as the London marathon or the Great North Run, Ramblers’ Association activities, or those at community level. We are now into the Walking to Work week, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings

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Heath, mentioned. My own contribution is to get off the bus one stop earlier, as part of that exercise. It may not be the most robust contribution, but I am with them in spirit. Next week is Walking to School week. I am very conscious of safety matters in that regard. But, clearly, that is something that we should encourage wherever possible.

I turn to the matter of access, raised by quite a number of noble Lords. Defra has announced a £2 million fund for the creation of new permanent access rights, following the rural economy growth review in 2011. My noble friend Lord Greaves, in particular, raised those points. The Paths for Communities scheme, funded by the Rural Development Programme for England, aims to develop and enhance the rights of way network to the benefit of the local economy. Natural England, on behalf of the Government, has appointed Walk England as its partner on national trails at the start of the financial year. Natural England has completed a two-year review programme to develop a new operational management model for national trails. During that review, we are looking into the possibility of taking proposals forward on how we could leverage the economic potential of trails more strongly. It was raised by many noble Lords that the network of national trails is an important generator of local businesses. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, mentioned the south-west coast path, which I understand generates over £300 million a year for the economy of the region, supporting over 7,500 jobs.

I am also very mindful of what my noble friends Lord Addington and Lord Bridgeman have said on these matters, and on the challenges of the multiuse of rights of way, as well as the discussions and negotiations that have to take place to try to find a settlement. I am particularly conscious of the representations that my noble friend Lord Bradshaw has made, especially about the Peak District. I had an opportunity before the debate to discuss those matters with my honourable friend Richard Benyon, the Minister in Defra, and I know that he would be very happy to meet my noble friend. He is actively seeking to find solutions to what are clearly unsatisfactory problems in that part of the world. It has been mentioned that many local authorities are engaged in this matter, but I wanted to emphasise that the Minister specifically asked me to say that he is happy to meet and that he is working on this matter now.

I raise the matter of the countryside—and how could I resist, when my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer spoke so wonderfully about its place in the nation’s affections? Its beauty means so much to us, and binds together past and present, nature and culture, and tradition and invention. The countryside is where my soul certainly soars, but I equally respect the fact, along with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, that the urban dimension also has a soul-soaring aspect.

Our “green and pleasant land” is hugely important for tourism. Domestic tourism, as well as that from overseas, plays a vital role in rural economies. I was pleased to know that Chinese visitors place great interest in the British countryside. There is no doubting the British passion for these pursuits, be they camping,

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country sports, hill-walking, climbing and outdoor adventure. They all play a key role in underpinning many rural economies. Indeed, Sport England has recently announced its largest ever investment in angling, of £1.8 million over four years, with 1 million people fishing once a month.

Outdoor leisure is a key area for the GREAT campaign, as it enables us to promote the UK as a fantastic destination for adventure and exploration. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, spoke very strongly about the economic benefits that derive from outdoor activities. We received many excellent briefs stressing that point, and it is important that we should emphasise it. The GREAT campaign is run directly from the Prime Minister’s Office and celebrates our country’s rich heritage, countryside and contemporary culture, our people and places to visit, as well as our great economic strengths. Only last week, VisitEngland launched the follow-up to last year’s hugely successful Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign. There is no doubt that outdoor activities would have played a very considerable part in that success, with an additional £300 million spend, equivalent to 4.5 million nights away.

VisitEngland is also promoting outdoor activity in its work with the Regional Growth Fund and with DCMS investment. In March, VisitEngland and Blacks, the outdoor retailers, launched a £1.2 million multimedia campaign to run alongside VisitEngland’s Rural Escapes and Active Outdoors campaigns. One of the most powerful experiences that I have had in connection with children and urban schools is a visit to the countryside that I undertook with Kate Hoey with a Vauxhall primary school some years ago. It was among the most powerful effects that I have seen on children who have never had any opportunity before to see the countryside—and there they were with brushes, grooming cattle and running through fields of corn, barley and wheat. I have to say I was quite horrified but it was encouraged because they came back with ears of cereal and were asked what food came from them. It was probably one of the most effective ways of capturing those children’s imagination as regards where their food comes from and what a great place the countryside is.

The School Games initiative has been mentioned by noble Lords. It will be jointly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of Health and the Department for Education. The initiative will provide more pupils with the opportunity to compete in a wide range of sports regardless of ability, gender or disability. As of May this year, 13,271 schools are fully engaged in this.