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House of Lords

Thursday, 20 June 2013.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Liverpool.

Violence Against Women


11.06 am

Asked By Baroness Howe of Idlicote

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the report Deeds or Words? by the End Violence Against Women coalition.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, the Government are fully committed to preventing and combating violence against women and girls. Our national campaigns try to encourage teenagers to rethink their views about abuse. Government-funded community activity challenges so-called “honour crimes” and new legislation against stalking and forced marriage sends a strong preventive message. However, as this report highlights, there is much more to do. Our updated action plan strengthens our preventive approach, responding to a number of the End Violence Against Women coalition’s recommendations.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: I thank the Minister for that very useful list of activities. However, in view of the report’s considerable concern that the Department for Education has substantially reduced spending in this whole area, how will the Government ensure that every child receives age-appropriate information in schools—for example, about the harmful effects of pornography—not least since a report from the Children’s Commissioner for England, entitled Porn is Everywhere, also underlines the urgent need for such guidance?

Baroness Northover: This report emphasises that we face a wide cultural challenge, which needs to be tackled at every level by everybody. The quality of teaching in schools is very important. The Department for Education is providing funding for the PSHE Association to work with schools to support them in developing their own curricula and improving the quality of teaching, which is clearly key. In addition, from September 2014, the new computing curriculum ensures that, for the first time, pupils aged five to 11 will be taught about online safety, including issues such as sexting and cyberbullying.

Lord McColl of Dulwich: My Lords, as people generally seem very reluctant to believe the extent of the abuse, is it not time for the Government to broadcast the figures in more dramatic terms? For instance, they could say that millions of men are smashing up millions of women and that millions of men are sexually abusing millions of children. These abusers are normally distributed throughout society, which might account for the fact that so few prosecutions occur.

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Baroness Northover: It is, indeed, a widespread problem. Last year, 88 women were killed by a partner, 60,000 women were raped and 400,000 were sexually abused. The report talks about a “watershed moment” in relation to child sexual abuse and other violence against women and girls, as shown by the concern about the Savile investigations, and so on. We have to make sure that it is indeed a watershed moment and that things start to improve.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, the noble Baroness will be aware of the value of women’s refuges, which allow women to remove themselves from immediate danger of physical or sexual violence towards them or their children. A number of refuges are reporting serious financial difficulties at the moment. Will the Government consider carrying out some kind of review of the impact of local government cuts and of stopping the ring-fencing of financial support so that we can assess that impact and see what can be done to ensure that these refuges have the finance that they so desperately need?

Baroness Northover: Across government, we are determined to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the victims of domestic abuse. I know that colleagues across government have looked at this issue. If the noble Baroness has more specific information, I would welcome receiving it.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames: My Lords, there is a clear link between domestic violence and sexual abuse and women’s offending, with between 50% and 80% of the women in our prisons being victims. Is this not a sound reason for devoting more government resources, as this report demands, to education and to campaigning in the community to help to bring an end to this dreadful scourge?

Baroness Northover: We recognise the challenge posed by female offenders and the fact that they themselves are often at risk of violence and have specific rehabilitation needs, as well as often having high levels of mental health problems. Many of them have indeed suffered domestic violence. The Ministry of Justice has just set up a cross-departmental advisory board on women offenders, chaired by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. This group will be looking at more provision in the community, more rehabilitation, a review of the prison estate to raise the profile of women offenders and the factors associated with offending that my noble friend has just pointed to.

Baroness Gale: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the level of domestic and sexual abuse towards women and girls in our country is an absolute disgrace? Does she further agree that the daily displays of semi-nude women in the popular tabloids help only to build up disrespect among boys and young men in their formative years? Therefore, will she join me in congratulating the No More Page 3 campaign? More than 106,000 people have already signed its petition, including me. If she agrees to endorse that campaign, perhaps she could sign the petition herself, as I believe that it is one way of combating the disrespect that can build up among boys and young men.

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Baroness Northover: Yes. On Monday, on the subject of women on boards, I described a company as being outdated for having no women on its board. I would describe what the noble Baroness has portrayed as also being outdated. Personally, I would indeed endorse the campaign and I am astonished that we are still fighting this battle a number of years down the track. That said, of course we support freedom of speech, but I think it is about time that we made very clear what we find acceptable and what we do not.

Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, domestic violence is clearly a loathsome feature of our community. Does the noble Baroness agree that, as so much domestic violence is founded on the exploitation by men of their relative superiority in strength, physically and economically, over women, there is a strong case for either legislation or sentencing guidelines to be considered regarding domestic violence as an aggravated form of violence, to be dealt with, where appropriate, by condign punishment?

Baroness Northover: I am sure that the group that I mentioned earlier will be looking at exactly that.

Lord Avebury: Does my noble friend think that the leniency shown to Mr Saatchi when he half-strangled his wife set the wrong tone?

Baroness Northover: I cannot comment on a particular case. However, I am struck by the media reaction, which is really very interesting. I am struck by the support and sympathy for people who find themselves in such situations and by the fact that these problems go through every level of society.

Unemployment: Young People


11.15 am

Asked By Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking with other European Union member states to tackle youth unemployment.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My Lords, the Minister for Employment attended a ministerial meeting on youth unemployment in Madrid yesterday under the European initiative for growth and jobs. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will attend a follow-up in Berlin on 3 July. Youth unemployment is on the June agenda of both the European employment and social policy council and the European Council, and UK experts are members of the team reforming the Greek public employment service.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: I think I thank the Minister for his Answer. He is telling us what is going to happen, but does he agree that with nearly a quarter of under-25s in the European area unemployed, the only way we can solve this is on a European-wide level? To tackle this crisis, should he not join Lib Dem MEPs and others who have called for the UK to make

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the most of the €6 billion EU youth guarantee scheme, which ensures that all under-25s receive continued education, a job, apprenticeship or traineeship? How would the Government use the money that would come from this European initiative?

Lord Freud: My Lords, clearly there are various initiatives. Some €6 billion across Europe is not a huge amount, and we are spending a great deal on our youth unemployment issues with the youth contract. If it emerges out of these meetings that one of the aspects of the European scheme is to encourage SMEs to take on youngsters by offering loans, clearly that is something that we will look at.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, does the noble Lord accept that talking to others might be helpful, but that generally they are pretty useless, especially in summits? Will he also accept that 1% growth at best over the coming years will be no way to help to increase employment among young people or anybody else?

Lord Freud: My Lords, perhaps I should not comment on the uselessness or otherwise of summits.

One of the most interesting things about this current recession, or slowdown in growth—

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Freud: We have had a recession and we are now having slow growth. One of the most interesting things is how the effects on employment have been nothing like what we have seen in previous recessions. One reason is the effectiveness of active labour market polices, particularly those that address youth unemployment, which has been coming down in the last year in particular in a way that it probably would not have done in previous recessions.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, will my noble friend remind the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, that money that comes from Europe is our money, which has gone to Brussels, has had a large amount sliced off for its own purposes and waste, and has then been graciously returned to us? Can he also explain to me, because I do not understand, why so many young people are unemployed here but so many young people can come from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and find jobs here without any trouble at all? What is the explanation for that?

Lord Freud: My Lords, the blunt explanation for that is that we have a welfare system that traps people in inactivity and makes it very difficult for them to pick up some of the jobs that other people find it easy to take. That is why we are reforming the welfare system root and branch, in particular why we are bringing in the universal credit, which will get rid of that trapping effect of our benefit system.

Lord Martin of Springburn: In the coming year, will more young people be taken on as apprentices in the Government’s apprentice scheme?

Lord Freud: My Lords, one of the recommendations of the Wolf report, which, as noble Lord’s will remember, I am very enthusiastic about, is to underpin the importance

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of apprenticeships and vocational training. In the latest year for which I have a record, 2011-12, we had more than half a million apprenticeships—520,000. That is up 86% on the two years before. Clearly this is one of the most important ways in which to get youth back into the workforce in a sustainable way, and it is something that we are pursuing aggressively.

Baroness Sherlock: My Lords, the Minister might not realise that one consequence of our very, very slow growth is that 1 million young people are out of work. In the north-east, where I live, a quarter of young people are out of work. We now need something really radical. May I make a suggestion? Labour’s job guarantee would mean that any young person out of work for a year would be guaranteed a job and would have to take it. Will he match that?

Lord Freud: My Lords, we have a huge number of programmes in our youth contract to encourage people into work. One thing I need to emphasise is that we have a long-term problem of disengaged youth, which we had right through the longest boom we have ever had. The real measure here is people not in education or work. In 2001, that figure stood at just shy of 1 million and it rose through the boom period. Since the election, we have pulled it down by 60,000. The figure currently is 1.3 million. It is a real problem that cannot be brought down with short-term programmes; it is brought down by fundamentally restructuring how youngsters are supported—through vocational education as a key underpinning to get these kids into meaningful long-term work.



11.22 am

Asked by Baroness Falkner of Margravine

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the political situation in Turkey.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My Lords, Turkey is a democracy with multiparty elections and a democratically elected Government. We are following events in Turkey closely. There have been disturbances in Ankara and Istanbul. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe have spoken to their Turkish counterparts about the protests. As friends of Turkey we hope to see the issues raised by the protesters resolved peacefully through dialogue. A stable, democratic and prosperous Turkey is important for regional stability. Turkey remains an important foreign policy partner and a NATO ally, and the UK will continue to support its reform agenda.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the resilience of a democracy is tested through how it responds to internal dissent? The clampdown in the past three weeks on not just protesters but also on medics, hoteliers and simple bystanders who were only helping the wounded as well as on the media demonstrates an authoritarian strand. Does she agree that this can assist only those who argue against Turkey’s entry into the EU on the

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basis of the Copenhagen criteria? Is she working with European partners, as well as Turkish authorities, to help solve this?

Baroness Warsi: My noble friend raises important points and we have raised our concerns exactly in the way that she has described. Of course, she will accept that Turkey is on a positive path to reform. A huge amount of economic and constitutional reform has been effected. As regards Europe, we are concerned about countries that are raising concerns about not opening up further chapters on accession; however, we must also remember that before these protests there were many countries which for the past three years have objected to opening up any chapters on further accession.

Lord Anderson of Swansea: There is proper concern at the increasing authoritarian tendencies by the Turkish Government and certain Islamic tendencies. However, should not the Turkish Government be given credit for their opening up to their Kurdish minority and their far greater reconciliation than any previous Government, not only in Turkey, particularly in the south-east provinces, but also in relations with the Kurds in northern Iraq?

Baroness Warsi: The noble Lord makes an important point. As well as reform of the constitution generally that has assisted the Kurdish peace process, progress in that process has meant that Turkey has been heading in the right direction, and we must support and congratulate it on that.

Baroness Hussein-Ece: My Lords, after the terrible scenes that we have seen over the past few weeks of how the security forces and police have responded to these demonstrations, does my noble friend share my view that Turkey’s huge economic success in the past decade now needs urgently to be matched by democratic reforms to ensure an anti-authoritarian, inclusive society that the younger generation in particular, who are educated, middle class and secular—I include women in this—are demanding? I declare that I have family and friends who have been involved and caught up in this, especially women’s groups with whom I work. Does my noble friend also think, as has been touched on, that the UK and the EU now need to engage more than ever with Turkey? As has been mentioned, fundamental chapters have been closed, such as Chapter 24 that would force the reform of justice, freedom and security, and Chapter 22 on regional development.

Baroness Warsi: My noble friend makes an important point in relation to Turkey’s economy. It has enjoyed 5% growth on average over the past 10 years. It is effectively one of Europe’s strongest-growing economies. We must congratulate Turkey on that. Britain has seen success on the back of it, but I take the noble Baroness’s point in relation to further European accession. It is because Turkey continues its path towards European accession that it carries on making these reforms and we must therefore encourage rather than discourage it.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I welcome the noble Baroness’s response in regard to the Kurdish question that is long outstanding in Turkey. Does this not include

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work on a new constitution and can our Government be helpful through our experience of devolution within the United Kingdom?

Baroness Warsi: We always stand ready to support Turkey in whatever way we feel that we can add value.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I share the view that the Minister has expressed about the importance of Turkey, to this country, its own region and potentially the European Union. I would like to return to one of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, because it is important to get a precise answer. The attacks on doctors and nurses in the course of these demonstrations, and on hospitals to where people injured in the demonstrations have been taken, seem to raise profound questions about the way in which we work with the World Medical Association and other competent medical authorities. How do the Government propose to do that? Plainly it cannot be the case that those who are assisting the injured and seriously injured are left to fend for themselves.

Baroness Warsi: It is important for noble Lords to understand slightly more the complexity of what led to these protests. What started off as concerns about a Bill on the use and sale of alcohol became an environmental dispute about the development of a shopping mall in Gezi Park, which has stood for 60 years. This then became a broader political dispute. It is important for us to remember that there are different things happening with the different groups in Turkey, but I completely take the noble Lord’s point in relation to making sure that these matters are resolved peacefully and by a political dialogue, and that Turkey continues to be aware of its international obligations in dealing with these protests.

Lord Dykes: Will my noble friend make specific representations about the large number of journalists and lawyers who seem to be languishing in Turkish jails, which is an affront to democracy?

Baroness Warsi: I will see that we raise that in bilateral discussions.

Armed Forces: Redundancies


11.29 am

Asked By Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the implications of the most recently announced redundancies in the British Army for the United Kingdom’s defence capabilities.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My Lords, the Chief of the General Staff and his team assess that the size and the structure of the Army set out in Future Army 2020 will deliver the level of capability agreed in the October 2010 SDSR and the associated national security strategy. The Army’s element of the Armed Forces redundancy programme is a consequence of the size

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of the Army being delivered under

Future Army 2020

and as such there are no implications for the UK’s defence capabilities.

Lord Touhig: My Lords:

“There’s never been a better time to be a soldier, to get qualified and have a career”.

That is on the Army website at this minute. It further states that,

“there will be even more opportunities for people who want to enjoy the challenges that come with being a soldier”.

That is a sham. If there were any justice the Government would be prosecuted for issuing a misleading prospectus. The Minister is well regarded in this House, deservedly so, and perhaps he is here with a heavy heart today, but how much longer will the Government go on sacking highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated soldiers who have been trained at great expense to the taxpayer and have served our country well, and, at the same time, spend an absolute fortune on advertising for, recruiting and training their replacements? It is a total waste of taxpayers’ money and is harming our defence capability.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, no Government likes making these kinds of redundancies. While reduced recruiting and fewer extensions of service will account for some reductions, a redundancy programme is needed to ensure that the right balance of skills is maintained.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, is it not the case that more than 80% of those who are on the redundancy programme this time are volunteers? If so, what does that say about morale in the Armed Forces, particularly in the Army?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the number of applications for redundancy is not a good indicator of the state of morale because the Army has deliberately set out to maximise applications. Additionally, it should be noted that only 30% of those who were eligible applied for redundancy.

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill: My Lords, will the Minister expand on his Answer in relation to reductions in the Army to include reductions in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy? The proposals were for 5,000 reductions in the RAF and 5,000 in the Royal Navy. Can he tell the House the timing of those reductions and what progress has been made? Following on from the previous question, what is the state of morale in the Armed Forces if voluntary redundancies are of the extent about which we have been told?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I think I covered the question of morale in my previous answer. As to redundancies in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, in tranche 1, 2,800 personnel—just over 1,000 Royal Navy, 920 Army and 920 RAF—were selected for redundancy, of which 62% were applicants. In tranche 2 of the Armed Forces redundancy programme, 3,760 personnel—165 Royal Navy, 2,880 Army and 750 RAF—were selected for redundancy. Achieving the reductions required to bring the Regular Army to

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a strength of 82,000 is expected to require a further redundancy tranche, which may also include medical personnel of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. However, at this point, no decision on this has been taken.

Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the Minister is aware that the Chief of the General Staff and the Secretary of State for Defence are both on record as saying that any further cuts would dramatically impact on our military capability. All of us who have any knowledge of the MoD know that there is insufficient funding for Future Force 2020, to which the Minister referred. Notwithstanding this and assuming that there will be further cuts, have we conducted a detailed analysis—rather like the highly regarded global strategy paper that was produced—looking at the true impact of these forced reductions on our Armed Forces’ ability to conduct the military operations that our nation has a right to expect of them?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, on the first part of the noble Lord’s question, as he would expect, I agree with the Secretary of State. On the issue of detailed analysis, as the noble Lord knows there are some very bright people in the Ministry of Defence and I can assure him that endless meetings are taking place to discuss the way forward.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, could my noble friend very gently point out to noble Lords opposite that none of this would have been necessary had the previous Government not made such a mess of the defence procurement programme and a mess of our economy?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I have done this on numerous occasions, and not always in a gentle fashion.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: Would the noble Lord be kind enough to return to the Question he was originally asked by my noble friend Lord Touhig and address the recruitment campaign? I do not think I heard him answer the implied question. Why are we still recruiting when we are making redundancies?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, even while reducing in size, the army must continue to recruit new talent to replace those who are promoted. It needs to develop its own leaders. It cannot bring in people from outside to leadership roles without the necessary military experience.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: Will my noble friend say a word about the injured and the wounded, bearing in mind the very worthy tradition that wherever possible they were absorbed back into the armed services as soon as they were in a position to give of their best?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, all personnel who have been graded permanently below the minimum medical retention standard were exempt from redundancy and, where appropriate, will be medically discharged in due course. Every case of wounded, injured or sick will be assessed individually. No one will leave the

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Armed Forces through redundancy or otherwise until they have reached a point in their recovery where leaving is the right decision, however long it takes.

Lord Davies of Stamford: My Lords, is it not disingenuous and absurd to suggest that you can reduce the Army from 102,000 to 82,000 with no reduction in the nation’s defence capability? Will the noble Lord set out the figures clearly and frankly? What was the maximum military force that we were able to sustain over a number of years—for example in Iraq or Afghanistan—with an Army of 102,000, and what will be the maximum military force that we can deploy on a sustainable basis under the new arrangements for an Army of 82,000?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, this was not being disingenuous. This level of capability was agreed by the SDSR and the National Security Council.

Care Quality Commission: Morecambe Bay Hospitals


11.37 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place yesterday by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health on Morecambe Bay Hospitals. The Statement is as follows.

“I wish to make a Statement about today’s independent report into the CQC’s regulatory oversight of University Hospitals, Morecambe Bay. What happened at Morecambe Bay Hospital is, above all, a terrible personal tragedy for all of the families involved. Before saying anything else, I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS for all the appalling suffering they have endured and, in that context, I know that the whole House will wish to extend our condolences to every one of them.

Joshua Titcombe’s tragic death was one of 12 serious untoward incidents, including five in the maternity department. His family and others have had to work tirelessly to expose the truth—and I want to pay tribute to them for that—but the fact is that they should not have had to go to such lengths. As we saw with Mid Staffs, a culture in the NHS had been allowed to develop in which defensiveness and secrecy were put ahead of patient safety and care. Today I want to explain to the House what the Government are doing to root out that culture and ensure that that kind of cover-up never happens again.

The independent report was commissioned by the new chief executive of the CQC, and the new team running the organisation has made it clear that there was a completely unacceptable attempt to cover up the deficiencies at the CQC. The report lists what went wrong. Unclear regulatory processes, reports commissioned and then deleted, lack of sharing of key information and communication problems throughout the organisation. Most of the facts are not in dispute. All of them are unacceptable. They have compounded the grief of the Titcombe family and many others.

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The role of the regulator is to be a champion for patients, to expose poor care and to ensure that steps are taken to root it out. It must do this without fear or favour. It is clear that at Morecambe Bay the CQC failed in that fundamental duty. We now have a new leadership at the CQC and we should recognise its role in turning things around. David Behan was appointed chief executive in July 2012. One of his very first acts was to commission the report that we are now debating. David Prior was appointed the new chairman in January this year. He has rightly insisted that this report be published as soon as possible. Those two outstanding individuals have never shrunk from addressing head on the failings of the organisation they inherited and are wholly committed to turning the CQC into the fearless independent regulator the House would like to see. While I do not underestimate the challenge, I have every confidence in their ability to undertake it. David Prior will now report back to me on what further actions the CQC will take in response to the report, including internal disciplinary procedures and any other appropriate sanctions on individuals.

Working with the CQC and following the Francis report into the tragedy at Mid Staffs, the Government are putting in place far-reaching measures to put patient care and patient safety at the heart of how the NHS is regulated. The CQC is appointing three new chief inspectors—of hospitals, social care and general practice. This will provide an authoritative, independent voice on the quality of care in all the providers that the CQC regulates. The commission has already announced the appointment of Professor Sir Mike Richards as the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals and on Monday the CQC launched a consultation, “A New Start”, which outlines its new much tougher regulatory approach. This includes putting in place more specialist inspection teams with clinical expertise. It will include Ofsted-style performance ratings so that every member of the public can know how well their local hospital is doing, just as they do for their local school.

The Government will also amend the CQC registration requirements so that they include an emphasis on fundamental standards—the basic levels below which care must never fall, such as making sure patients are properly fed, washed and treated with dignity and respect. Failure to adhere to these will result in serious consequences for providers, including, potentially, criminal prosecution. The revised registration requirements will also include a new statutory duty of candour on providers that will require them to tell patients and regulators where there are failings in care—a failure that was identified clearly in today’s report.

Finally, we are putting in place, through the Care Bill, a new robust single failure regime for NHS hospitals. This will provide a more effective mechanism to address persistent failings in the quality of care, including the automatic suspension of trust boards when failings are not addressed promptly.

The events at Morecambe Bay, Mid Staffs and many other hospitals should never have been covered up, but they should never have happened in the first place, either. To prevent such tragedies we need to transform the approach to patient safety in our NHS. The Prime Minister has therefore asked Professor

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Don Berwick, President Obama’s former health adviser and one of the world’s foremost experts on patient safety, to advise us on how to create the right safety culture in the NHS. He and his committee will report later this summer.

In addition, later this year we will start to publish surgeon-level outcomes data for a wide range of surgical specialties. Most of all, we need a culture where, from the top to the bottom of NHS organisations, everyone is focused on reducing the chances of harming a patient in the course of their care, and a culture of openness and transparency to ensure that, when tragedies do occur, they are dealt with honestly so that any lessons can be learnt. Our thousands of dedicated doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants want nothing more than to be allowed to make this happen. We must not let them down or the families who suffered in Morecambe Bay”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

11.45 am

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for repeating the Statement, and I declare my interest as a consultant trainer with Cumberlege Connections and as chair of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. Yesterday’s report will have left your Lordships shocked. The noble Earl began with an apology and we on this side of the House echo that apology. Of course, it is a sad fact of life that mistakes will be made. What is never acceptable is when people or organisations try to hide those mistakes. Sadly, this is what appears to have happened in this case.

The report covers a four-year period up until autumn 2012 and deals with failures in regulation, but also with subsequent attempts at a cover-up. It was only published thanks to the efforts of James Titcombe and his family, and I echo the tributes that the noble Earl has paid to him. It is essential that he and all the other families affected in Lancashire and Cumbria get the answers they are looking for. We on this side of the House are fully committed to making sure that this happens.

The most shocking revelation in this report is that in March 2012 an instruction was given by a member of senior management at the CQC to delete the findings of an internal review. Today’s report says:

“we did find evidence of the apparently deliberate suppression of an internal CQC report … and the alleged decision to suppress it … may constitute a broader and on-going cover-up”.

When one considers the context in which this takes place, it is truly shocking. At that time, we were almost two years into a public inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire. That followed an earlier independent inquiry, also led by Robert Francis, following which all parts of the NHS had committed to full openness and transparency. It came after failings at other trusts, most notably Basildon and Thurrock, had been made available, which led to the Opposition calling for an in-depth look at hospitals and a new assurance that they were safe. That is why yesterday’s report is so hard to comprehend. It raises serious questions for the CQC and the Government, which I will take in turn.

On the question of the CQC, I agree with the noble Earl’s assessment of the quality of the new leadership team at the CQC. I commend the new chief executive,

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David Behan, for commissioning this report. However, yesterday the chair, Mr David Prior, said that he wants to draw a line under the issue. Does the noble Earl agree with me that that line can be drawn only when further questions about the report are answered?

On the cover-up, paragraph 1.17 of the summary of the report says, as I said earlier, that the order to delete,

“may constitute a broader and on-going cover-up”.

Will the noble Earl address this point directly and tell the House whether he is confident that this cover-up is no longer happening? Is he satisfied that the CQC is taking all appropriate steps, and does he have full confidence going forward, or does he believe that a further process of investigation is necessary?

More specifically, is anybody who is involved in the decision to delete that report still working at the CQC or elsewhere in the National Health Service? If they are, I think the public will find that very hard to accept. Given that accountability is essential, does he agree that the public would find it very hard indeed to accept data protection laws standing in the way of this? Will he therefore review the decision to shield the identities of those involved?

The noble Earl will probably have heard the Information Commissioner, speaking today about the use of the Data Protection Act, saying, as I understand it, that there is no blanket ban under the Data Protection Act that would deal with a situation like that, and that if there is an overriding public interest in the names being in the public domain, the Data Protection Act should not be prayed in aid.

I know that the CQC is now seeking further legal advice, and that is welcome. In the end, does the noble Earl agree that sometimes organisations have to override legal advice and do the right thing? I hope the CQC will do that and do it quickly.

Turning to the noble Earl’s department, can I just have it confirmed that the decision to delete the report was taken solely by senior management at the CQC? Can he confirm that officials in his department were not aware of that deleted internal report and were not involved in any discussions between the CQC and the department about it?

Yesterday, at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister said that there should always be support for whistleblowers, and he was right. However, there are serious doubts about whether that happened in this case. Concerns about the CQC were raised by a whistleblower, but I understand that she was then subject to attempts to remove her from the CQC board. The noble Earl will recall that I raised this in the House, and he very kindly took action on the matter. It has been reported that the same whistleblower told the CQC board yesterday that she raised issues internally first and then within the department, including directly with the then Secretary of State, in a meeting. Is the noble Earl prepared to release the minutes of those meetings?

We note the important work of Mr Don Berwick, but should we not be getting on with implementing the recommendations of the Francis report in this regard? The Care Bill, which is now in your Lordships’ House,

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is an ideal vehicle for implementing Francis but is remarkably light on clauses relating to Robert Francis’s recommendations. His report emphasised the need for openness, transparency and candour. Openness will enable concerns and complaints to be raised freely and without having questions to answer. Transparency will enable the truth about performance and outcomes to be shared with everybody with an interest in it. Candour will ensure that any person harmed by the provision of a healthcare service is informed of that fact and an appropriate remedy offered.

Francis made specific recommendations, including that a statutory obligation should be imposed to observe a duty of candour. He wanted healthcare providers who believe or suspect that the treatment or care provided to a patient has caused death or serious injury to inform that patient, or a duly authorised person, of that fact as soon as practical. He said there should be a statutory duty on all directors of healthcare organisations to be truthful and that it should be made a criminal offence for any registered medical practitioner to knowingly obstruct another in the performance of the statutory duties that he wished to see enacted, to provide information to a patient or nearest relative intending to mislead, or to dishonestly make an untruthful statement. However, the only offence in the Bill is a corporate one of providing “false or misleading information”. That is not a duty of candour, so I was very surprised to see the Secretary of State say yesterday in the other place that there would be a duty of candour in the Care Bill. It is not in the Care Bill and I do not think that secondary legislation is sufficient.

Does the noble Earl also not agree, in the light of what happened at the CQC, that it is perverse that the duty not to provide false or misleading information applies only to providers? It does not apply to the CQC; to the other regulator, Monitor; to NHS England; or to his own department. Is he prepared to agree to amendments to the Care Bill on Report to extend this duty to the organisation that has been found so grievously to suppress information that it found itself uncomfortable with?

There is clearly a real problem about the approach that the CQC has taken to hospital regulation. Is the noble Earl willing to have a lengthier debate about regulation? I wonder whether we are just putting too much responsibility on regulators and not enough on the people who actually provide those services. I particularly worry about what he says about the introduction of Ofsted-style ratings into the health service. He will have seen evidence from a number of medical bodies, which are concerned that this is going to be too simple a process when judging something as complex as a hospital.

A hospital may be given a 1 rating—an outstanding rating Ofsted-style—but inevitably within a large hospital, although overall it may be a category 1 there are likely to be services that are not so good. My worry is that a hospital, because it has been given a 1, will not then be reinspected for a number of years, which is the Ofsted style, and its weaknesses will go undetected. When at some point a real problem with patient care comes into the open, it will undermine the whole credibility of the exercise undertaken by the CQC.

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We know that the CQC has really been pushed into this by the Government and the Prime Minister. I hope it will be given the flexibility to come up with a more sophisticated approach. We do not want to set the CQC up for failures in the future. I am very fearful that a simple grading of 1 to 4 is almost guaranteed to do that. Overall, I am glad the Government have brought this Statement to Parliament. It is very important indeed that the messages and lessons are learnt. However, we need a much wider debate about the role of regulation in the health service and about whether the practicalities of this can be taken forward effectively by the CQC.

11.56 am

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for his measured comments, and I am the first to agree with him that the report we now have is very deeply worrying. It sets out conclusions about the CQC’s leadership and operation during the period in question that are very shocking. What happened was totally unacceptable.

The CQC today is a different organisation and I was glad to hear that the noble Lord recognised that. Its board and management team have been completely overhauled. A new chief executive and chair are in post. A powerful new Chief Inspector of Hospitals has been appointed, an appointment that has been welcomed widely. The new leadership, as the Statement said, commissioned and published this report to make sure that the events of the past are exposed and that lessons can be learnt from them.

I am very pleased that the CQC will now be overseeing the production of a report within the next two months to provide assurance that any cover-up has been fully exposed and stopped and that the mistakes made by the CQC in regard to Morecambe Bay hospitals are being put right. That will ensure that the organisation’s structures and procedures are such that these shocking events cannot be repeated.

The noble Lord referred to what I agree with him is the troubling issue of the anonymisation of names in this report. Our clear understanding from the CQC was that its legal advice was that the report had to be anonymised prior to publication to comply with data protection legislation. We asked the CQC to consider this further and to provide advice on whether it was possible to release the names. Yesterday, it gave a commitment to do just that. It has now done so and my understanding is that it will later today publish the names of certain individuals currently anonymised in the Grant Thornton report.

The noble Lord asked whether the Department of Health had seen the report prepared by the CQC, which was then withheld. We have extensively asked officials throughout the department. There is no evidence to suggest that anyone in the department knew that the CQC had commissioned a report into its handling of Morecambe Bay and subsequently withheld it, still less that anyone actually saw it.

The noble Lord raised the issue of the whistleblower, Kay Sheldon. Her concerns about the CQC’s capability were considered alongside a range of other evidence as part of the DoH performance and capability review

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that was carried out between October 2011 and February 2012. The issues she subsequently raised have been considered along with other information as part of the department’s ongoing oversight of the regulator. The appointment of David Prior as chair of the CQC in January and David Behan as chief executive last July, combined with a strengthened board and the CQC’s new strategy, puts the organisation in a good position for the future.

When Kay Sheldon approached the department she was asked to raise the issues with the CQC board, and DoH officials also raised the issues with the CQC team in line with our normal approach to operational issues. The noble Lord asked whether we will release the minutes of the meeting with Kay Sheldon and the Secretary of State. I am happy to take that request away and I will let the noble Lord know whether that will be possible.

The noble Lord rightly raised the issue of culture in the NHS. The overriding message from the document that we published, Patients First and Foremost, which arose out of Mid Staffs, is that the culture of the NHS governs the quality of everything it does. We are clear that radical transparency, excellence in leadership, clarity of accountability and consequences for failure are together necessary if we are to maintain in the NHS the focus on quality and safety and for concerns to be identified quickly and acted upon.

Transforming culture is a complex challenge that will be different in each organisation. We believe that a combination of the steps that we have set out, such as ratings, which we will debate during the course of the Care Bill, a Chief Inspector of Hospitals and a failure regime that puts quality on a par with financial failure will contribute to making a real difference to the experience of patients. I look forward to the debate on ratings because I know that the noble Lord has concerns about the idea.

The noble Lord referred specifically to the duty of candour. In our response to the Francis report we said that we would introduce a new statutory duty of candour on providers. We agree that it is essential that providers of health and social care must be open in their dealings with patients and service users. We intend to introduce an explicit duty of candour on providers as a CQC registration requirement. That will require providers to ensure that staff and clinicians are open with patients and service users where there are failings in care.

As with all requirements for registration with the CQC, our intention is that the duty of candour will be set in secondary and not primary legislation. I am sure that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State would not mind me saying that he made a slip of the tongue yesterday. He meant to say that a statutory duty of candour will be put in place. However, I emphasise that the duty will have the same legal power in secondary legislation as it would in primary legislation.

The noble Lord made a number of powerful points on false and misleading information. The Care Bill will make it a criminal offence for care providers to give false or misleading information where information is required by a legal obligation. We will specify through regulations the type of information within scope of

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the offence. However, a failure to provide information would be a breach of the relevant legal requirement to provide it and would be subject to appropriate action.

In determining the scope of the false or misleading information offence, our current focus is on information supplied by providers who are closest to patient care, in which inaccurate statements can allow poor and dangerous care to continue. We need to give further consideration to the events highlighted in the Grant Thornton report and to reflect on whether a false or misleading information offence should apply to other health bodies such as regulators.

12.04 pm

Lord Patel of Bradford: My Lords, I welcome the Statement made by the noble Earl, particularly in respect to the CQC’s new focus on being a champion for patients, putting safety and care at the heart of the system and having more specialist teams. I am particularly pleased that David Behan has been appointed as the new chief executive. However, I am extremely concerned that another scandal is looming round the corner. There are very strong warnings. I am extremely concerned that mental health patients detained under the Mental Health Act are very poorly served at the moment. To put this in context, the CQC was formed from three organisations: the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, and the Mental Health Act Commission. The Mental Health Act Commission was not an inspectorate—it was a visitorial body, and looked after the care and treatment of detained patients. It did so by employing a number of commissioners with specialist expertise, not only in understanding the issues faced by mental health patients but also in mental health law, which is so important.

Noble Lords: Question!

Lord Patel of Bradford: I am coming to the question.

As the former chairman of the Mental Health Act Commission, I was assured when those organisations merged that the CQC would keep the focus of those commissioners, those skills and that methodology, and that specialist focus and attention would be given. That is legally required under the Mental Health Act, but it has not happened. Over the last few years the expertise of Mental Health Act commissioners has been eroded. Can the Minister assure me that this focus will be renewed, and the focus of Mental Health Act commissioners returned? Will the Government consider having a chief inspector of mental health? That was one of the original ideas when it was formed.

Baroness Northover: I remind noble Lords that brief questions are allowed. As the Companion states, this is not the occasion for an immediate debate. I note that many noble Lords want to speak, so the briefer the better, please.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I recall the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, making those points very powerfully some years ago when we debated the Bill that created the CQC. He makes an extremely important point. I think that we can take it from the statements of David Prior yesterday that the decision taken in 2009 to take

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a generalist approach to inspection was a mistake. The CQC’s inspectors are in one sense specialist inspectors who are trained and supported to carry out their role, which they do to the best of their ability. However, requiring inspectors to have oversight of a wide range of service types from slimming clinics to acute hospitals, and indeed mental health establishments, has spread expertise too thinly.

We are clear that we must now work with the CQC to create a much more specialist approach to inspection, including on mental health. I think that the three new chief inspectors we are appointing will help to do that. It is not the whole answer, because they need to be supported by clinical expertise and by the people who are experts by virtue of their experience in care services. However, I will take away the noble Lord’s idea of a chief inspector of mental health. I must be honest with him that we have not discussed this, but I am sure that we now should.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, I wonder if my noble friend would take account of the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, that legal advice can sometimes prevent people from doing the right thing. I was very sorry to hear that. I think that good legal advice should in fact produce the result of people doing the right thing. The second point I want to make relates to the claims against the health service for negligence. These have been quite substantial over the years. Could the CQC look at that area and examine the grass-roots standard of care given to patients?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the deputy Information Commissioner is quoted as saying that confidentiality and data protection issues should not stand in the way of disclosure where disclosure is clearly in the public interest. I completely agree with that. That is why our instant reaction yesterday, when we were told by the CQC that legal advice had said that the names of the individuals had to be kept confidential, was to challenge that. I am pleased that that decision is to be reversed and the names will be released.

On my noble and learned friend’s second point, most certainly yes: the CQC should take a view about matters relating to negligence. However, I would add that apart from the CQC, we now have the new Healthwatch bodies, part of whose function will be to make sure they provide good soft intelligence on what is happening in NHS and social providers in their local areas. The Healthwatch bodies can then act as the eyes and ears of the CQC, which, with the best will in the world, cannot be everywhere at once. In terms of the future—this is clearly a longer-term agenda—I hope we will have a system that is better equipped to pick up this kind of incident should it ever occur again.

Lord Blair of Boughton: My Lords, I welcome the idea of a statutory duty of candour and all the other means of regulation being discussed, but what appears to have happened here—and obviously it is just an allegation—is a simple case of malfeasance in public office. One of the things that seem to have happened over scandals such as Stafford, or even LIBOR, is that the ordinary criminal law of the United Kingdom has

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not been considered. I assume that the CQC is a public body. It is certainly paid for by public funds, and therefore its officials are subject to the common law.

Earl Howe: My Lords, clearly it is a matter for the police to investigate criminal offences and for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether the test for prosecuting individuals has been met in this case. It is too early to reach a conclusion about whether this case highlights a gap in the law but if it does, I can assure the noble Lord that we will pursue it. We keep the criminal law under review. It is too early for me to say—I am not a lawyer—whether he is right, but I am sure that his comments will resonate strongly with the House.

The Lord Bishop of Liverpool: My Lords, chaplains occupy a unique position in hospitals in relation not just to patients but to staff. Will the Department of Health keep under review the role of the chaplain in relation to both patients and staff, especially when a culture of carelessness and intimidation emerges?

Earl Howe: The right reverend Prelate makes an extremely important point. The Government have been very supportive of the concept of hospital chaplains, who play an enormously important role in supporting not just patients but staff. I am concerned because I have heard anecdotally that in some hospitals there are moves to dispense with hospital chaplains. I am in touch with one of his right reverend colleagues about this. Once again, we have a mechanism—if I may call them a mechanism—that could be deployed to good effect in this context.

Baroness Pitkeathley: The Government’s support for the current leadership and the newly launched New Start consultation will be welcome to all those of us who know the current people. Can the Minister assure the House that the Government will stand firm in this support when the tabloid press starts calling, as it surely will, for more heads to roll? Will he further assure the House that he believes that the last thing that the CQC needs is more change at the top?

Earl Howe: I agree fully with everything that the noble Baroness has said. We have in the CQC the right team to take it forward. They are very clear that there needs to be a complete refresh of the senior team where doubts emerge about the individuals concerned. We are already seeing a complete refresh of the board. I share her worry about the tabloid press and calls for heads to roll. Nevertheless, it is appropriate, in the particular context of Morecambe Bay, for there to be a close look at the role of certain individuals: exactly what they did, what they knew, when they knew it and whether what they did was either wrong morally or against the law.

Baroness Emerton: My Lords, I wish to refer to the introduction of a new, robust, single-failure regime for NHS hospitals. This will provide a more effective mechanism to address persistent failings in the quality of care, including the automatic suspension of trusts.

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As a nurse, I was trained to look at prevention rather than cure. Ought we to be looking at, and including in this, the preparation of trust boards, as well as the staff, looking across the consensus of the trust rather than concentrating on targets? It is often mentioned in reports that they do not look at the quality. We need to see a much more cohesive trust report.

Earl Howe: My Lords, this is one of the reasons why the previous Government introduced quality accounts, which are becoming more and more sophisticated and which focus the minds of a board on quality of care. It is easy to give the impression that we want to introduce a punitive culture into the NHS: we do not. However, there should be sanctions in the background to back up any serious failings of care. That is broadly what Robert Francis was driving at in talking about fundamental standards below which no care provider should fall. The CQC will be consulting on those standards later in the year, but I take the noble Baroness’s point about trust boards. It remains within the powers and competence of Monitor to suspend trust boards, either in whole or in part, where concerns arise over the governance of an organisation. That is a drastic power to invoke and they can take measures which fall short of it where appropriate.

Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, am I alone in being surprised that it should be necessary to have legislative change to secure a duty of candour? Does this mean that, in the absence of this change, the CQC has the right to tell lies?

My other question is on the inspection regime. I understand that a generic system used to work in the past, whereby somebody whose expertise was in dentistry was sent off to inspect an A&E department. Who was responsible for the decision to run the inspection regime in that way?

Earl Howe: My Lords, there has never been a right to tell lies, either professionally or in statute. My noble friend is right that we should be shocked that it is necessary to put in legislation that there has to be a statutory duty of candour. Candour has been part and parcel of the ethical framework for professionals in the health and care sector for many years. It is a sad reflection on those involved in the events at Mid Staffs and Morecombe Bay that we should be thinking in these terms at all, but we must, because unless we do we lay ourselves open to matters being brushed under the carpet, as they have been in these cases.

The inspections themselves have not been generic: it is the skills on the part of the inspectors that were considered to be adequate as those individuals were deployed generically. That decision was taken very early on when the CQC first came into being in 2009. We now think, as does the CQC, that that was wrong and that skills should be altogether more specialist.

Lord Clark of Windermere: As someone who lives in the catchment area of Barrow-in-Furness hospital, I have followed the story very closely. Does the Minister agree that, while we are discussing the cover-up by the CQC today, it in turn was investigating shortcomings

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by what was presumably the previous management of Morecambe Bay hospitals? Did he see the very pointed quote yesterday in the other place by the MP for Barrow-in-Furness, John Woodcock, who has done so much in this? He quoted the report as saying that there could be a “broader and ongoing cover-up”. Can he give the House an assurance that any investigation will not stop at the CQC but will look at the main cause of the disturbance and Mr Titcombe’s complaint initially?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I can give that assurance. In part, we have the answers in the Grant Thornton report commissioned by the CQC on the actions that the CQC took or did not take. As I said in answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, it is reassuring that the chief executive of the CQC has undertaken to produce for the department within the next two months a report to provide assurance that any cover-up has been fully exposed and that we will learn fully not only the facts but the lessons that we can draw from them.

Baroness Wall of New Barnet: I thank the noble Earl for repeating the Statement. It has caused quite a stir. My worry is two-fold. First, we had a big reaction to what happened at Mid Staffs, and now we have this. I would want us to be very careful not to become desensitised by some of these things—I do not mean in this House, but elsewhere.

I will pick up on the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, and agree with her totally. As chairman of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, I find it bewildering that, never mind any cover-up at the CQC, the board was not aware of those tragic deaths of mothers and babies. Certainly, in my trust that would absolutely be reported, both through the quality and safety committee that deals with what are called SUIs, or serious untoward incidents, and from the board itself. It would be helpful, as has been suggested, that the inquiry goes a bit further than just the CQC.

Earl Howe: I am grateful to the noble Baroness. In fact, the trust has taken significant action in response to the concerns raised by the CQC and Monitor. In addition to responding specifically to the three warning notices issued by the CQC, there have been significant leadership changes at the trust. Sir David Henshaw was appointed as interim chair and Eric Morton as interim chief executive. The trust appointed four new non-executive directors and a new chief operating officer and recruited a new obstetric consultant and additional midwives. There have been other appointments as well. It has established a programme management office, as requested by Monitor, to oversee the implementation of programmes of work to bring about lasting improvements across the trust—and it has recruited a number of posts to the programme office to take that work forward. So I am encouraged that it is taking the position as seriously as it should in the circumstances and that, again, there is a refreshed team at the top of that organisation.

Baroness Cumberlege: Very often, when we have these inquiries, they are initiated not so much by the people who work within the trusts but by members of

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the public who feel very concerned about the quality of care being given within a hospital or service. Very often, those people who bring up these concerns, who are dubbed colloquially as whistleblowers, get very victimised by other people within the population but also within the hospital. Is there any support or help that we can give those people who bring to the attention of the NHS some of the problems that exist?

Earl Howe: My noble friend raises a key issue, which successive Governments have wrestled with. We all know how life works. Whistleblowers are treated badly because their message is often very uncomfortable. That is why local Healthwatch could potentially be a very important part of the puzzle here, by ensuring that people have a place to go to that they can trust and that can raise concerns without necessarily naming the person who has initiated those concerns.

More and more, we need to encourage providers of care to take ownership of their performance. They have to be candid with themselves and accept criticism where it is laid. Boards of directors have to look systematically and regularly at the complaints made against them—whether rightly or wrongly—to make sure that they are as open as possible with themselves. Only by instilling a culture of that kind can we move forward.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords—

Baroness Northover: I am afraid we are out of time.

Schools: Bullying

Motion to Take Note

12.26 pm

Moved By Baroness Brinton

That this House takes note of the level of education support and mental health provision available to children who are severely bullied at school.

Baroness Brinton: My Lords, I am very honoured to be able to move that this House takes note of the very difficult problems facing severely bullied children, particularly of how they are able to learn and to get help with any mental health issues they face as they recover. I look forward to contributions from noble Lords today, many of whom have considerable knowledge and interest in this area. I am particularly looking forward to hearing the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro as he makes his maiden speech. I declare my interest as the co-chair of the All-Party Group on Bullying and as a patron of the Red Balloon Learner Centres, a charity that works with severely bullied children.

Any head teacher who tells you with confidence that there is no bullying in his or her school is deluded. Bullying, as with any abuse of power, will always be with us. What we need to do as parents, educators, friends and family is to be alert and work with both bullies and the bullied as early as possible to recognise the bullying as it starts, and to work to change behaviour.

I am sorry to say that many people think that too much fuss is made of bullying and that children should just learn to cope with it. Today’s debate is not about

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the minor tiffs that all children go through, learning about relationships, power and listening to each other. It is about the children who are so severely bullied that it is having a catastrophic effect on their lives—to the extent that some children kill themselves—and about what we do as a society to respond to this problem.

First, let us clarify what we are talking about here. The definition of bullying is aggressive behaviour that is intended to cause distress or harm, involves an imbalance of power or strength between aggressor and victim, and commonly occurs repeatedly over time. Children severely affected by it miss school for long periods of time, often self-excluding due to the trauma caused by the bullying.

This image of self-excluding may seem odd to those who do not know about it. I will tell your Lordships about a time when I was standing in a primary school playground with a head teacher. We had talked about her early recognition and intervention techniques, but she wanted to show me the practical effect of bullying on a youngster. This child, no more than eight years old, was standing on the edge of the playground. He refused eye contact with any of the children and, when their play moved near him, he sidled round the edge of the playground as far away as he could. The head told me that he had arrived from another school and was finding all social relationships very difficult following bullying elsewhere. He did not want his parents to intervene with the school because every time they had reported it in the past, the bullying had got worse. Even worse for him, his previous school had told him that he was behaving like a victim. This head understood that he needed intensive support, which she had put in place, including staff members keeping an eye out for him and a safe place inside if he felt he could not bear to be in the playground. This child was heading towards a classic downward spiral. His concentration had gone; understandably, he was not learning; and it was going to take many months to start building him up again. At least he had parents who had taken action and a new school that understood the problem.

For too many children, help comes too late. Ayden Olson took his life aged 14 earlier this year. His mum, Shy Keenan, wants action to ensure that it never happens again. She said:

“Our wonderful 14 year-old son Ayden died on the 14th of March 2013—his spirit defeated, he was bullied to death at school and driven ... out of pain and despair ... to take his own life. We miss him so much. Our hearts just ache for him and as we try to adjust to a life without him, we have committed to carrying his dreams of bully free schools ahead with Ayden’s Law”.

Her campaign, with the charity BeatBullying and the Sun newspaper, is an outstanding example of how we need to change the culture surrounding bullying. Otherwise, even more children will die. However, Ayden is not the first; nor, indeed, is this the first campaign. Other recent tragedies include Aaron Dugmore. He hanged himself at home after relentless bullying. At nine years old, he is Britain’s second youngest suicide victim of bullying. Other cases are Natasha MacBryde, who jumped in front of a train because she was being bullied about her parents’ divorce, and Sam Leeson, whom internet bullies drove to suicide because of his taste in music and love of fashion.

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Research already shows that more than 16,000 children a year are so severely bullied that they cannot face school, and it is estimated that a shocking 44% of suicides of children aged 10 to 14 have occurred at least in part because of bullying. I support much of what Ayden’s law seeks to achieve, including compulsory family intervention and children, teachers and social workers all having anti-bullying training. The model, Jodie Marsh, who was herself severely bullied at school, has worked with anti-bullying campaigner, Alex Holmes, to celebrate the good practice at some of our schools. She went to Springwell College in Staveley, Derbyshire, which has 25 anti-bullying ambassadors. They are now spreading that work to other schools. A TV programme broadcast a couple of months ago showed what they were doing with Carlton Community College in Barnsley to make sure that children themselves change the culture.

We need to really look at our schools and at educational support for these badly bullied children. One child described how,

“actually going to the school campus was terrifying”.

They want to learn, to have friends and to be in school, but it is literally too dangerous for them even to try to go and learn. How do schools handle children who refuse to go to school? Believe it or not, some are sent to specialist alternative provision known as pupil referral units. These units are designed for children whose behaviour is so unacceptable that they cannot remain in their mainstream school, and so often they are the bullies that these children desperately need to get away from. I shall say briefly here that we also need to address the behaviour of bullies, and I know that my noble friend Lady Walmsley will cover this in her speech.

When schools are in denial about bullying, they will not pay for alternative provision that may cost more than the school receives for educating that pupil. I am afraid that they often keep the child on the school roll—and therefore receive the government funding for that child—and say to the parent that the family could educate the child at home until things get better. Many parents do not feel that this is the right route for them, especially if they have to give up work to do it, thus costing the state even more.

Often, children need specialist support for only a limited period, and organisations such as Red Balloon have an excellent record in getting bullied students back into mainstream education. In Red Balloon’s case, it is 95%. Will the Minister make it absolutely clear that severely bullied children will receive the funding required to recover and continue their education, and that the schools will not keep the money if a pupil transfers to alternative provision or sits at home for months on end?

One young student I know from Red Balloon arrived there aged 13, having been bullied about the death of her single mother. That is shocking. She was unable to concentrate on anything, and her reading age was estimated at nine years. However, within two terms, she was reading—and enjoying—Great Expectations on her own. The intensive therapy alongside excellent

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education transformed her life but, for most, many schools do not even recognise that these children have special needs.

I remind the House that the definition of special educational needs is having learning difficulties that make it harder for children to learn or access education than most children of the same age. Surely severely bullied children fit that description. They need this formal label to help to create the package that is going to help them to return to their mainstream education, whether it is in school or college. It is evident to those who work with these children that severe bullying is, at the very least, a temporary special educational need that will persist and worsen without intervention. Will the Minister consider specifically adding severely bullied children to the category of those with special educational needs?

The Government are rightly concerned about the achievements of children who fall through the net. Students who end up in pupil referral units do not perform well. Less than 1% gain 5 A* to C GCSEs. That should be compared with specialist intervention at places such as Red Balloon, where the figure is 75%. Therefore, I further ask the Minister to ensure that alternative provision for bullied children is made available that compares performance not with the mainstream education system but with other children who also face major difficulties, whether the comparison is with pupil referral units or even with the data for looked-after children. It is not fair to set a benchmark for these children that does not recognise the trauma they are facing.

The reality of what these children and their parents have to deal with is stark, especially when schools refuse to face up to their responsibilities. A 13 year-old boy in year eight was threatened by his school and the education welfare team, which said that he had to come to school despite severe bullying because, if he did not, his mother would be taken to court and might go to jail. That is shockingly cruel. Schools should have to be responsible for the consequences of bullying in exactly the same way that employers have to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

Mental health problems are exacerbated when these children are made to feel that it is all their fault and that they are letting down their families. Giving them special educational needs status will ensure that schools can more easily work with GPs and specifically with child and adolescent mental health services. The latter is already very difficult to get referrals to, but a statement will provide the key to unlocking that urgent help.

The National Union of Students has surveyed school students, and its mental distress survey illuminated a lack of support and advice opportunities for students: 64% of respondents said that they did not use or have access to formal services for advice and support in relation to their mental distress; and 26% did not tell anyone about their feelings of mental distress. Evidence from this survey shows that levels of educational support and mental health provision are a concern not only in schools but in colleges and universities.

Bullying and harassment are demonstrable sources of mental distress for further and higher education students, too, and opportunities for support and advice are either unavailable or, worse, inadequately signposted.

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Can the Minister reassure the House that signposting for support and advice for school, and education beyond, are clear and evident to any student and their family in distress?

During this speech, I have referred to a number of different types of bullying. I have not touched on cyberbullying, which is a growing and insidious form. It needs to be part of the debate we are having as a nation at the moment about the use of the internet and social networking. It is all too easy to post something on Facebook that can cause lasting damage, and the viral nature of social networking means that things can escalate out of control very rapidly.

Reasons for bullying seem to grow. Schools pride themselves on their equality and diversity policies, yet race, homophobic and disability bullying remain. Schools must tackle the unacceptable culture that even thinks it is okay to taunt, let alone bully, someone because of their race, disability or sexual identity. There is also a disturbing increase in physical attack and even rape as a part of bullying.

It is our duty in society to help these 16,000 children who fall through the cracks in our education system. By giving children a statement and proper funding, we are investing in a transformation of their wrecked lives, even if it is only at very few of the schools in our country. Many are becoming inspirational champions as they recover. Let us hope that they become future leaders. We need to empower those schools that do not understand this to help build a network of support for severely bullied children. The country has instilled its trust in our ability to restore hope to these children. We cannot allow success so far to impair our ability to make our country a better place. We must ensure that there is not one more wrecked life; not one more suicide. Imagine if it were your child or your grandchild. You would want better.

12.40 pm

Lord Lexden: My Lords, it is both a pleasure and a privilege to make a short contribution to this debate, initiated with great skill and in the most moving fashion by my noble friend Lady Brinton, who speaks with such tremendous authority on this grave social and educational issue—authority drawn from her patient, dedicated and successful work in combating it in practice on the ground.

School bullies are sad individuals, cowards every one of them, who gain satisfaction and pleasure from showing unkindness to others—a reversal of the right and proper order of things. Unkindness leading to persecution can be such that, in some cases, it leads—as we have heard—to suicide. My noble friend spoke particularly movingly on that point. For far too long, indeed over generations, there were in our country too many weak and callous teachers in uncompassionate schools who did little or nothing to tackle the disfiguring phenomenon of bullying in their midst. Today, however, they can no longer evade their basic responsibilities, which have been clearly defined in law, endorsed by all political parties and by successive governments.

This Government have shown themselves to be particularly sensitive to widespread concern—reflected in my noble friend’s important Motion today—about

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the extent of bullying prevalent in our schools. That is underlined by the deeply disturbing facts and statistics that my noble friend referred to. The Government have consistently shown their responsiveness to well founded anxiety. In 2011, they brought up to date the anti-bullying advice drawn up to enable all schools to tackle bullying effectively. Teachers have been given new powers to tackle the hideous new phenomenon of cyberbullying, for instance by searching for and, if necessary, deleting inappropriate images on mobile telephones. Very importantly, the Government have laid a requirement on Ofsted to take account of behaviour and well-being, including the incidence of bullying in schools. Most recently, funds have been made available to enable four specialist organisations to work with schools in exploring new, innovative ways of tackling the scourge of bullying. These points, I hope, bring some measure of comfort to my noble friend, while also underlining the need for her continuing commitment to securing further progress.

The Government deserve great credit for extending and enhancing the national framework through which bullying can be confronted and reduced. However, particularly after hearing my noble friend’s speech, we all now yearn for results—for tumbling rather than rising statistics. That can be the only truly satisfactory measure of success.

I will illustrate the point by turning to an aspect of the issue that has always been a particular concern and anxiety to me personally: homophobic bullying. Last year, Stonewall published results of research carried out on its behalf by Cambridge University, involving a survey of some 1,600 lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in our schools. Some 55% had experienced homophobic bullying in schools and 99% had heard homophobic language. It is not surprising, and confirms the other evidence that my noble friend has given us, that this bullying had a marked adverse effect on young people’s attainment, health and well-being. Three in five bullied pupils said that it had a negative impact on their schoolwork. One in three bullied gay young people had considered changing their future educational plans because of the bullying. Nearly a quarter of gay young people had thought of attempting suicide. More than one half had harmed themselves. Polling of more than 2,000 primary and secondary school teachers by YouGov, published in 2009, showed a similar picture. Nine in 10 secondary school teachers said that they had witnessed homophobic bullying. Worryingly, half of secondary school teachers who were aware of homophobic bullying said that the vast majority of incidents go unreported. There is a further important point to be made in this connection. Stonewall’s research into homophobic hate crime in 2008 found that three in five hate incidents are committed by people under the age of 25, highlighting the transition from homophobic bullying in schools to homophobic hate crimes in local communities.

In this area, as in others, the Government have shown commendable resolution and determination. They made tackling homophobic bullying a priority in both the coalition agreement and the 2010 schools White Paper. They have strongly encouraged schools to seek advice and support from Stonewall. Ofsted

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inspectors are advised to ask pupils about the use of homophobic language in their schools and whether or not they learn about gay people in the curriculum.

Perhaps the Government will now consider taking further steps. For example, through the National College for Teaching and Leadership, they could seek to ensure that high-quality training on preventing and tackling homophobic bullying is part of all teachers’ initial training. They could help schools further to share best practice and to learn from each other in this area, in particular encouraging academy chains to provide such opportunities among their schools. The Government could also ensure that free schools and new academies recognise the importance of combating homophobic bullying and supporting gay young people when establishing policy and procedures. As president of the Independent Schools Council, and its former general secretary, I also recognise that action in these matters should not be confined to the maintained sector. It is needed in all our country’s schools.

Bullying in schools causes serious, sometimes terrible, problems, both social and educational, for those who experience it at the hands of the cowards who practise it. The harmful effects can last a lifetime. Our duty is clear: to do all that we can to help extirpate it.

12.48 pm

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, not only for calling this debate but for her brilliant and comprehensive speech, as well as her efforts on behalf of children. She drew together many of the issues which we all believe to be a terrible, often hidden, problem for many children. Any bullying can become severe bullying. Prevention, as well as dealing with the issue, is vital. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, for his passionate plea to combat homophobic bullying.

I have just come from a meeting to launch the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s new report on an inquiry into what opportunities children think they should have. I declare an interest as the chair of that group. In that inquiry, during which we consulted children and those who work with them, children’s rights came across very strongly. This debate reminds us that the children we are discussing are having their rights eroded in a very sinister way.

Many years ago, as a teacher, I was aware that some children were not only being discriminated against but were being bullied. I recall how difficult it was to identify the problem and to deal with it. Bullying is very difficult to prove and it is very difficult to change the behaviour. I recall that children might be bullied perhaps because they were clever, not clever enough or had a physical feature such as an accent, a limp or red hair. The schools I taught in had a proportion of children who were black or Asian, which could be a factor.

It is even worse now with e-mails, texts and so on. It is clear that there is the same old problem. Many children—I believe that now it is about 28%—do not want to talk about being bullied either to their parents or the school. Parents and schools often are in denial about children who are being bullied or children who bully. I believe, as I suspect do many people, that

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bullies also need help and that they exhibit behaviour that may damage their lives. All that is even more terrible when there is severe bullying. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bullying states that children who have suffered severe bullying may develop temporary special educational needs, which was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton.

In schools, teachers also may be victims or perpetrators. We are now going back an awful long way but I have never forgotten a friend of mine at school who was picked on—that is what it was called—by a teacher because she was overweight, middle class and very clever. She said that she thought many times about ways to kill herself. The problem was resolved because I and other friends told another teacher.

Extremely severe bullying, as has been said, can have tragic consequences in the deaths of young people. Today, I am very grateful for the many organisations which exist to combat bullying and improve the lives of young people. Many of these organisations send us their experiences and their concerns. It is also gratifying that Ofsted now comments on bullying in schools.

From what we know and continue to learn, it is clear that bullying has an impact on the physical and mental health of children—the more severe, the greater the impact. It is also clear that bullying may have a profound impact on achievement in school and on the whole life of a child both immediately and in the future. The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, spoke of the Red Balloon Learning Centres group, which estimates that 16,000 young people may be absent from school at any one time due to bullying. That is a shocking figure and these children may be treated as if they are just truanting. What impact on the self-worth of a child must bullying have? Without self-worth, attendance and academic, as well as social, competence may be severely affected. The Anti-Bullying Alliance reports that more than 61% of children reporting to child and adolescent mental health services are being bullied. The NSPCC’s Childline estimates that 38% of young people have been affected by cyberbullying.

I want to dwell mainly on what can be done to either prevent bullying or tackle it before it becomes dangerous. Parents are key. The National Centre for Social Research points out that children being bullied at the age of 14 or 15 were much less likely to be bullied at 16 if parents had reported the bullying. But, as I have said, and as we know, parents often do not know what is going on and friends—if the child being bullied has friends—also find it difficult. Bullies can be very powerful, particularly when they are in a gang.

I want to look at how we can prevent bullying in schools, starting with the importance of immediate action. I have to say, and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy reaffirms this, that having a school counsellor is one of the most immediate and accessible ways of offering support. Sadly, provision of school counselling services is not universal. It should be and I wonder whether any schools are using the pupil premium to supply such services. That would be money well spent. Perhaps I may ask the Minister how many school counsellors there are working and by what means they are paid.

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I move on, inevitably, to personal, social and health education in schools. When will the Government accept that every child, in whatever type of school, should be entitled to protection and encouragement from a solid programme of personal, social and health education? That would be much less difficult than the Government think. We have had this debate before and no doubt will have it again. A school policy on behaviour and bullying is part of PSHE. Many schools have such policies, although Kidscape asserts that some schools are reluctant to discuss their policies. I cannot think why: perhaps they do not have one.

In a school where I was a governor, the children helped to develop the policy. School councils can help to monitor behaviour policies. Class representatives on school councils often know what is going on before a teacher and may have suggestions to repair the damage. One school, Goose Green in east London, came to speak to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children. The teachers and children spoke eloquently about their experiences of personal, social and health education and of a friendship system where a child can go to another child for help and support, which is just brilliant. I wish that Mr Gove could have been there.

Personal, social and health education is not just a woolly concept about being nice; it should be rigorous with structures and policies to help children gain information at the appropriate age, develop the skills and confidence to use such information, and develop respect for themselves and others. I hope that the Government will provide a more encouraging lead on this. I believe that there are others in the Chamber today who think the same way.

School policies support a positive school ethos and are not just about mistreating others. Personal, social and health education is about what happens not just in science lessons where reproduction may be taught, even if it is not human reproduction, but also in English lessons, history, art, sport and so on where children can discuss relationships and reflect on their behaviour. PSHE may happen in lessons on topics that are not necessarily carried out by teachers but by special visitors, such as St John Ambulance, the school nurse, scouts and guides, the police, parliamentarians and so on. There do not have to be specialist teachers but the school has to be organised to make use of such visitors. I know of one school which invited a school counsellor and a child who had been bullied to a lesson to talk about their experiences. It was a very powerful experience for all those people in the classroom.

That is preventive work. If a school discovers bullying, the staff policy must kick in fast. The incidents need to be analysed, solutions sought and, if necessary, help found. It is not enough simply to punish. As I said earlier, an elected school council may be able to help, as well as counsellors, parents and a strong school ethos. There clearly is a problem here. For children who are bullied, it is disruptive and a terrifying problem. I have suggested two things that could help schools to help children; namely, school counsellors and a programme of personal, social and health education. I look forward to the Minister’s comments.

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12.59 pm

The Lord Bishop of Truro: My Lords, I am honoured to be here and I thank noble Lords for their welcome. I also thank Black Rod and his staff for their marvellous help and support. I regard it as a privilege to be a Member of this House and look forward to playing my part. I thank in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for initiating this debate, and for her powerful and passionate speech. I am very grateful to be able to make my maiden speech in this debate.

As Bishop of Truro I am fortunate to work across the county of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Last week I was on the Isles of Scilly visiting the Five Islands school, which is an all-through age five to 16 school. I spend a lot of my time across the diocese visiting schools and always enjoy engaging with staff and students. It is helpful for a bishop in the Church of England sometimes to be in places where the majority of people are relatively young.

As I am sure that your Lordships are aware, Cornwall is a beautiful part of the country. If this were not my maiden speech, and therefore non-controversial, I might have gone further and said that it was the most beautiful part of the country, but I will refrain. I am sure that noble Lords are also aware that it is one of the poorest parts of the country, with areas of real deprivation and facing major problems of rural isolation, low wages and, sadly, among many of the young, low aspiration. Bullying and mental health concerns can be compounded by living in rural areas.

I am delighted to say that much of my work is responding to invitations from the wider community to visit and learn more about what is happening right across the county. In this regard I am always concerned to hear of areas of life where there are real pressures. I know, sadly, that many people in the county suffer from various forms of mental illness and do not always have access to the support structures and services that they need.

As well as being the Bishop of Truro—here I declare an interest—I am chairman of the trustees of the Children’s Society. Many noble Lords will know that this is a national charity, caring for the most deprived young people across the country. I will reinforce a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey. One of the key features of our work is that we listen to the voice of children and young people.

In this debate I want to make the point that it is essential that we advocate for those who are often unable to advocate for themselves. Children who are either affected by mental health conditions or are being bullied are not in a good place to have their voice heard. It is important that we find ways to do just that. As is evident from the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bullying, many children who are bullied feel isolated from their peers. This can have a profoundly damaging impact on their well-being at that time and over the rest of their lives.

There are two points that I would like to make about children who are particularly vulnerable to bullying. First, children living in poverty face a number of issues with bullying. This can be due to lacking things that their peers may have, such as not being able to go

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to the cinema, or to a friend’s birthday party because they cannot afford a present. I underline what the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Massey, said about understanding child poverty in terms of the children’s own understanding of what it is like to live in poverty. Children can miss out on school trips, or not have the same basic material goods that other children have. This will have an impact on a child’s sense of self-worth. They are therefore more vulnerable to bullying and socialised isolation than their peers.

If not administered correctly, things such as free school meals can serve to highlight differences between children. In many schools children on free school meals are not easily identifiable, which reduces the risks of stigma. However, I am concerned that nearly half of secondary schools do not have cashless systems, meaning that those on free school meals may be singled out. My first point is to highlight the need to listen to the voice of children in poverty and note the implications on their lives of being bullied.

My second point relates to young carers. The latest census statistics reveal that there are 166,363 young carers in England, compared to around 139,000 in 2001. This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, as many young carers remain hidden from official sight for a host of reasons, including family loyalty, stigma or indeed bullying. As well as having the potential to suffer stigma and bullying, young carers are particularly vulnerable because their caring responsibilities can have a severe impact on their school life and long-term outcomes.

We know that one in 12 young cares is caring for more than 15 hours per week. Around one in 20 misses school because of their caring responsibilities. Young carers are more likely than the national average to be not in education, employment or training—one of the NEETs—between the ages of 16 and 19. That is why I welcome the Children’s Minister’s announcement last week that the Government will be looking at how the legislation for young carers might be changed so that rights and responsibilities are clearer to young carers and practitioners alike.

It is important that the Care Bill that covers the adults’ legislation around social care, and the Children and Families Bill, work together to better identify and support young carers and their families. Schools and teachers can play a vital role in doing this. Schools also play an important role in promoting positive attitudes towards young carers and their families to help mitigate the impact of stigma, discrimination and bullying. It is important that children who struggle in school get the support and help that they need, and this includes mental health support. I fear that the provision of mental health support and the structures in place are not sufficient for the needs of young people and children.

I also want to ask if it is right that we should allow young people to be carers, which inevitably limits their childhood and opens them to a range of potential problems, not least bullying and missing out on education. These put added strain on their mental health. I dare wonder whether society is in danger of being the bully in allowing young people to be carers. What about the rights of the children and young people themselves?

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In conclusion, I welcome this debate on such an important matter. I am glad to be able to speak as a bishop and as chairman of the trustees of the Children’s Society. I am especially concerned about children living in poverty who are vulnerable to bullying and to mental health concerns and who need advocates on their behalf. Equally in need of advocates are the young carers, who again are open to being bullied. I question whether we should not take more seriously the issue of whether we can do more to allow such children and young people to have their right to a childhood. I look forward to the contributions of other Members and hearing from the Minister about the work that Government are doing to support those children who are indeed being bullied at school.

1.08 pm

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady Brinton for the opportunity to debate this difficult issue. Mental health problems in school have been on the radar of the NHS for well over 15 years. Similarly, bullying, once thought of as a brutal rite of passage, has become a major concern for schools and society at large.

Before I develop my thoughts, it gives me enormous pleasure to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro, my own bishop—Bishop Tim as he is affectionately known in Cornwall—on his maiden speech. I know that he does not shun challenge or difficult issues. I welcome another voice in your Lordships’ House to speak up for Cornwall, where a chocolate-box image often seen by the majority hides real poverty and inequalities. I would expect him, as chairman of the Children’s Society, to be well informed on this issue and I was not disappointed. I welcome his concern for child carers, and at some time I will talk to him about adult carers for children, because there are similar issues to be concerned about there.

I also congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his Google footprint. I came to do the speech following his quite late, so needed to find out more about him than I knew—and which perhaps he would not want to be shared with the rest of the House—in a hurry. I resorted to Google. His footprint is almost non-existent, and there few in public life who can say that. I had to resort to Cornish contacts.

He is universally liked and respected for his commitment to working with the sizeable Methodist community in Cornwall. He has a liking for ham and eggs and is the doting grandfather of twins. One thing I learnt that really surprised me is that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro was schooled in Devon—and not only Devon but Plymouth, over the Tamar. However, that secret was well kept and I shall not revisit the boundary debates of a year or so ago.

The links between mental health and bullying can go in two directions. There is evidence that children who have mental health problems are often bullied, and children can be so consumed by bullying that they develop mental health problems. It goes both ways. Both problems need dealing with in school, as others have spoken about in detail.

I will address the issue of health interventions, whether through the NHS or through other services.

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Before children and young people can get support and help—I am talking about the whole age range in schools—they need to be identified. Current statistics suggest that one in 10 children and young people aged between five and 16 suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder. That is three children in every class.

Schools need to train staff in how to identify those with mental illness and those who are being bullied. This is a priority for all schools, whether they are academies, private schools, free schools or maintained schools. I would be grateful if the Minister would indicate in his reply the proportion of schools that ensure that their staff are given training in identifying signs of mental health problems in children.

The lifetime cost of a single case of untreated childhood conduct disorder is approximately £150,000. Early intervention for young people with emotional, behavioural or social difficulties can help prevent mental health problems becoming more serious or developing in the first place. Early intervention saves money but, as we have already heard, it also saves lives.

A survey conducted for the Red Balloon learning centres found that 18% of school absences arose from bullying. The number of young people aged 11 to 15 who were away from school was estimated by the study to be around 16,500, for which bullying was the main reason. Bullying can lead to a child suffering from myriad psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders or obsessive compulsive disorders, all of which can result in extreme anxiety and social avoidance.

According to YoungMinds, the Department for Education message to schools is that their focus should be on educational attainment; it does not consider health and emotional well-being as one of its core priorities. Over the past year we have seen what has happened to hospitals, and their patients, which have concentrated on targets to the exclusion of all else.

Having identified and had diagnosed a mental health problem, treatment can be difficult locally. However, the coalition’s localism and decentralisation policy initiatives have allowed many heads to use their new-found autonomy to commission their own mental health services, which, in combination with the voluntary sector, have helped deliver early-intervention mental health support for young people in schools. I would be interested to know how many head teachers have used those freedoms to do that. If the information is not readily available, I would be grateful if the Minister would write to me.

The coalition has recognised this as a problem and last year announced extra investment in the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies project, which works with existing CAMHS in the NHS, the voluntary sector and others to help improve and change mental health services and make them better for children and young people. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and former care Minister, Paul Burstow, announced that the ambitious Children and Young People’s IAPT programme will receive an extra investment of up to £22 million over the next three years. This is in addition to the £8 million a year for four years that had previously been secured. These new resources will be used to extend the geographical reach of the collaboratives and to extend training to

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two further therapies that address depression, eating disorders, self-harm and conduct problems with ADHD. This is to be welcomed. The focus of the project is to help build upon more collaborative relationships between children, young people, families and therapists through the use of frequent outcome monitoring, extending participation in service design and feedback.

Additionally, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb has just announced an investment of almost £2 million in Children and Young People’s IAPT sites to buy handheld computers such as laptops, tablets and iPads. This equipment will be used in existing IAPT sites to enable young people, parents and practitioners to record session-by-session outcome monitoring, allowing instant feedback to be used in therapy sessions.

Acting early to help children with mental health problems can prevent a lifetime of suffering, as half of those with lifelong mental health problems first experience symptoms before the age of 14. This technology helps children and young people see how their treatment is progressing and, where treatment is not going as well as it could, practitioners can change their approach to get the best results. Children and young people have said how much it helps them to see how their treatment is going. It is interesting here to reflect on the generational change. Young people welcome these kinds of interventions, but their parents and grandparents possibly would find them threatening and not of help.

The Red Balloon centres and Kids Company do wonderful work with children in inner-city settings—all of which is welcome—but this is not yet available all across England. Rural areas fare particularly badly. In the moorlands of the north-west, the north-east and the south-west, services are remote and access is difficult. Will the Minister tell the House the latest estimate of children and young people who are not yet reached by NHS child and adolescent services, and what is the percentage reduction across England since 2010?

We now recognise the problem, which when I trained to teach some 30-odd years ago we did not, and we now know how to address the problem, which 15 years or so ago we did not, so, in part, we are doing really well. We know that funds are tight but, until every teacher has received training in recognising mental health problems and every bullied child receives some level of mental health support as appropriate to their need, we not only fail them but we lay down trouble for the future and we fail society, too.

1.17 pm

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I, too, add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for this debate on bullying and the extent, or lack, of educational support that still exists for children who are severely bullied at school. I also congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro. I am particularly glad that he mentioned not only carers but school governors and their important role, because I think there should be someone on a governing body who keeps an overall eye on bullying.

Like one or two other speakers, I wish to concentrate my remarks on the importance of a high-level preventive strategy for this damaging and growing phenomenon,

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which has become a far too obvious part of each individual’s life, whether they are a child at school or an adult in a job. As we have heard already, it is the most vulnerable members of the community who are most likely to be targeted.

As I said, the title of the debate points to the level of educational support provided for those who are severely bullied at school, with the implication that it is probably inadequate. I am sure it is, even though we are all beginning to be much more aware of the need. In any event, is there not a necessity for rather more than the required support? Should it not be the Government’s responsibility, if necessary by education, to see all schools not only providing support for those being bullied but having a strict policy to ensure that there is no bullying?

Five years-old is the official age at which a child is required to attend school, so that is clearly a good time to insist on acceptable and respectable behaviour not just of pupils towards their teachers but of children towards each other. I suspect that there are already a number of examples of good practice of how this is being achieved in our schools. The only problem is that they are insufficiently publicised. I remember attending a meeting several years ago when one such successful example was being discussed. Where better to start than at the moment when a child arrives in school? What unfolded seems a pretty good way to provide an early intervention exercise that would have an excellent chance of working. In this group of schools, every new pupil is given a slightly older mentor whose duty is to settle the child into its new surroundings and environment. How well the child does will affect the number of brownie points that the mentor gets, so both the new pupil and mentor gain.

Another area where a clear need has been shown, and has been mentioned many times, is in Red Balloon’s work with children who have special needs. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, on her involvement with that organisation, which does some incredibly good work. I thought the case studies that they included—I had a few moments to scan some of them yesterday—were extremely interesting. Quite clearly it is not only at the very beginning of your life and at school that problems occur that can lead to bullying and huge periods of isolation. Those case stories showed a high level of success when places such as those provided by Red Balloon offer support to cope with this situation. It would have taken some time to establish what was really required in those cases, but at least it was established, whereas in other situations in other parts of the country I am afraid the local authority did not want to know, nothing was done and two or three years went by before any notice was taken. That is horrendous because that really is the end of the possibilities for that child.

Somebody also mentioned the importance of learning about the background and history of that family. Again we come back to the early intervention side. I wish we could encourage really effective, early intervention. Frank Field and all our experts have educated us for so long on this issue. Yes, everybody has accepted it, and yes, everybody has contributed something, but I am afraid it needs far more resources to make it work really effectively and begin to show results.

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I hope I will be encouraged by what the Minister tells us, but I really do think that a national strategy is what we need as a way forward.

1.24 pm

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I add my voice to all the requests my noble friend Lady Brinton made to the Government in her excellent speech. I declare my relevant non-pecuniary interests as an honorary fellow of UNICEF and as a patron of Red Balloon, and I pay tribute to Carrie Herbert and all her staff for the wonderful work that they do in getting children back into education.

I will start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start, especially with bullying, because if there were no bullies there would be no problems with the education and mental health of bullied children. There would be no bullied children. I will therefore address the issue of prevention. Why do children bully others, and how can we stop them before they even start, because all severe bullying starts with mild bullying?

In my view, a bully is often someone who needs help himself or herself. In some cases, the bully has been a victim himself or is simply replicating learnt behaviour. A violent child often comes from a violent home. A child demonstrating inappropriate sexual behaviour may well have been abused. So while we are looking at the causes of bullying and how we can help the bullies to stop doing it, we are of course not ignoring bullied children; we are making life better for them by nipping it in the bud.

Learnt behaviour is a big factor, which is why parents should always be involved by schools dealing with bullies. However, I think many children bully because they lack self-confidence in some area of their lives, so they make up for it and make themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse. They feel powerless so they try to take power over others.

A guide from the Department for Education a few years ago suggested how children might react to bullying. It says:

“stay calm … and … confident … be firm … tell the bully to stop”.

That is easier said than done, but it becomes easier when children have developed their own self-confidence and a belief in their own self-worth. How do they get that? Ofsted identified the answer and published it in its 2012 report No Place for Bullying.It found that the schools that were most successful in preventing and tackling bullying were those that,

“identified the links between personal, social and health education, citizenship, religious education and other curriculum areas”,

and their anti-bullying programme. It is obvious to me that PSHE courses that build up children’s self-confidence and self-esteem will help the bullied students to “stay calm and confident” and will help those who might become bullies not to need to fill the gap in their own self-confidence by belittling others.

Ofsted also pointed to the need for good-quality teacher training and CPD to help staff to deal with situations that might arise. That is quite right, but it is important that staff identify bullying as a child protection issue, not just in relation to the bullied child but so that they will look at the underlying issues in the life of

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the bully. Domestic violence at home, drug and alcohol problems, neglect and a poor relationship with their parents can all be contributory factors. The child may never have developed the ability to empathise with others, possibly because of attachment problems early in life. For reasons to do with his background, he may have great difficulty forming relationships. Perhaps he has never been loved.

So, apart from good quality PSHE in all schools, which noble Lords know I always advocate, I recommend a programme that has had a great beneficial effect in all the schools that have used it, so much so that it is rapidly spreading across the country, particularly in Scotland. It is called Roots of Empathy and was developed in Canada by a wonderful woman called Mary Gordon, who ought to get an honour. As Mary herself says:

“Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children while raising social and emotional competence and increasing empathy”.

Her aim is to change the world one child at a time. If a child has empathy, why would he ever bully another child? The strong evidence from schools is that this programme improves behaviour and reduces bullying.

The first Roots of Empathy classes in England began in October last in 14 primary schools in the south London boroughs of Lewisham and Croydon, although it had been going for some time in Scotland. The classes are co-ordinated by the Pre-school Learning Alliance, with support from the WAVE Trust and funding from the Big Lottery. How does it work? The basis of it is that, following preparation by the teacher, a mother or father brings his or her young baby into the primary classroom and the baby becomes the “teacher”. Indeed, he wears a cute little T-shirt that tells us he is the teacher. The children sit around the baby in a circle and are asked to observe his behaviour, interact with him and comment on how he is feeling. The whole thing is very structured and there is plenty of cross-curricular follow-up work. By interacting with a tiny vulnerable child in a controlled environment, the children go back to the beginning and learn how to empathise with others, understand their own feelings and why they sometimes feel sad or uncomfortable. All aggression is taken away and it is often amazing and very touching to discover what the children reveal about themselves and their home backgrounds.

The programme also gives the children a model of parenting which some of them never see at home. In Scotland, the programme is so popular that I believe it has now been introduced in two-thirds of all primary schools. The programme has now been extended to the early years and is called Seeds of Empathy. It is being piloted here in Lewisham, although it has been operating in Canada since 2005 and is being evaluated there. Seeds of Empathy, apart from helping children develop their social and emotional skills, also helps them develop positive attitudes to reading. It does not teach reading as such but uses stories to explore feelings, such as feeling grumpy or happy, and helps the children to be comfortable about expressing how they feel. The children observe how the baby’s capabilities develop from week to week and consider why his or her moods change and how that relates to their own moods.

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Mary Gordon believes that the programme helps children develop their executive functioning skills, dealing with impulse, self-control, flexible thinking and decision-making. In this way, these toddlers are being prepared to benefit from their formal education a little way down the road. Having seen these programmes in action, it is hard to believe that any of the children will develop violent or disrespectful behaviour towards their peers. Respect is, of course, a key word in relation to bullying, and there is another programme that is highly successful in developing this, the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools programme, about which I have spoken before. It is logical, is it not? If a child understands his own rights, he learns to understand that the other children in his school have the same rights and that these should be respected as much as he would wish his own rights to be respected. Therefore, a school that fosters this mutual respect usually does not have a major problem with bullying and has a structure for dealing with it, if it does arise.

Finally, I would like to mention counselling, as was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey. When I visited a primary school in Beijing, I was surprised to be told that all Chinese primary schools have access to a school counsellor. Why should we not have that here too? I think that we need it since our children are often under great stress and really need help. Children need someone to talk to who will not be judgmental but will help them work out their own problems or direct them to other help. Some great organisations do this, such as Place2Be. If children are listened to, they feel valued. We know that if children do not feel valued, they sometimes strike out and that is what we want to avoid. It is striking that most of these counselling services help both the bullied and the bully. However, I know that schools struggle to find the money to introduce these programmes, so will my noble friend the Minister confirm that they could legitimately use some of the pupil premium money to do so as long as they can show that the programme helps to underpin the learning of children who attract that money to the school? Of course, I believe that it does. A child in fear is not a learning child and neither is a child who is angry, so again the same service helps both the victims and the perpetrators. Is not that unusual?

This matter boils down to the culture of the school and its duty of care to bullied children to ensure they get an education, but also to its duty of care to bullies to stop them ruining their own lives as well as those of others, because nobody loves a bully.

1.34 pm

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for tabling this debate. I also pay tribute to the passion and commitment she has shown in raising awareness and campaigning on these issues and to her forthright leadership of the all-party group.

I also congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his maiden speech. I am grateful for his emphasis on the stigma that can attach to children living in poverty and to young carers. He made powerful points on those issues. He has shown enormous compassion and

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wisdom on these issues and I hope he can be persuaded to join us in speaking up for young people’s needs in future debates.

I think we all share a common purpose in raising this issue. Anyone who has read the case studies and the media stories cannot help but be moved and saddened by the dire consequences for the happiness of young people if bullying is allowed to carry on unchecked. The fact that at a low level it appears to be so prevalent in schools—which should, after all, be providing a secure and nurturing learning environment—should be a wake-up call for everyone involved in education.

The Department for Education report which showed that 47% of children report being bullied at 14, 41% at 15 and 29% per cent at 16, is truly shocking. Many of those reported that bullying was not just a one-off incident but was ongoing, and for some of them it was an everyday occurrence. The noble Lord, Lord Lexden, rightly raised concerns about the prevalence of homophobic bullying, which, as he reported, is widespread. It is also distressing to hear that children with disabilities and special educational needs are three times as likely to be bullied, with verbal, emotional and physical bullying again being prevalent.

Meanwhile, as a number of noble Lords have commented, the dramatic rise of cyberbullying is finding new victims, with new vulnerabilities and opportunities for exploitation and abuse. Recent research has shown that nearly one in five young people have been victims of Facebook, internet or mobile phone bullying, with girls affected more than boys. Many of these children will slip under the radar. Their plight will never be drawn to the attention of anyone in authority and they will develop coping methodologies to survive, and as a result will never know the full impact on their confidence, self-worth and sense of well-being as they progress into adulthood.

We know that bullying is not a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up but can have long-term consequences into adulthood. A recent study at the University of Warwick showed that children who are exposed to bullying during childhood are increasingly at risk of suffering psychiatric disorder in adulthood, regardless of whether they are the victims or the perpetrators. Victims display a higher level of agoraphobia, general anxiety and panic disorder, whereas bullies show a tendency to develop an anti-social personality disorder. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, rightly identified the need to break that cycle of bullying at an early age and the factors that lead children to bully. I was very interested to hear about the Roots of Empathy programme that she described in detail, which should be encouraged.

It appears that the problem is growing and that the onus on schools and local agencies to have a clear, firm policy in place is ever greater. So what needs to be done? At the outset, schools need to have a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying. There are simply too many examples of children or parents who have reported bullying to a teacher or head teacher but who then find that nothing is done or that the child is disbelieved or the problem minimised—or, worse, that the child being bullied is further isolated or removed to another class, rather than those who are doing the bullying.

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Schools need to have an active anti-bullying policy that is backed up by staff training and regularly reviewed. They also need to take responsibility for what happens at the school gates and beyond.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, rightly made the point that mutual respect should be learnt from a very early age. My noble friend Lady Massey made a powerful case again for the role of PSHE and also for the role that school councils can play in empowering young people to tackle the bullies.

However, there also needs to be a much clearer strategy for those children who are so traumatised that their behaviour, school attendance and mental health are beginning to be affected. We have some evidence of the problem from research by the National Centre for Social Research for the Red Balloon Learner Centres. As we have heard, it has calculated that more than 16,000 young people at any one time refused to attend school because of bullying. Given the parental, legal and educational pressure on young people to attend school, it is also fair to assume that there is a much greater number suffering severe health problems arising from bullying who remain trapped within the school and without adequate support.

What provision should we make for these young people? First, given that they are the victims of bad behaviour by other children, I hope we can agree that any alternative education and support should be at least as good as that which they would have received in mainstream education. Secondly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, highlighted, consideration should be given to those young people accessing temporary SEN status, which would allow them to fund and access individual support.

Thirdly, as many of these young people have complex needs, there should, as is fairly obvious, be a range of support packages available. These might include counselling facilities and in-school specialist units. As has been pointed out, however, we need to be aware of the limitations of these options. PRUs often do not address the child’s trauma of going through the school gates, remaining on the same site as the bullies or dealing with the staff who they feel have failed them in the past. Sometimes, as we have heard, it is expected that they will be taught side by side with other children with a range of other behavioural problems, including the very anti-social behaviour often displayed by bullies that they fear. All too often the units do not have the quality and range of teaching available in the rest of the school.

Fourthly, although local authorities have a duty to provide suitable education for children who are unable to access mainstream education, the reality appears to be that there is little funding available and that provision is patchy. Local authorities are quick to pass the problem back to the school or, as we have heard, in cases where children refuse to attend, they consider prosecuting the parents for their child’s non-attendance rather than tackling the root cause of the trauma.

Fifthly, it seems that government and educators are becoming much more proactive in addressing the physical health of young people through, for example, providing sport and tackling anti-obesity. However, there is not the same drive or expertise to tackle the equally pressing

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mental health issues of young people in education. There needs to be much better awareness and training for staff on effective strategies for addressing mental health issues. The noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, quite rightly raised the patchy provision of support for mental health in schools since the funding has been devolved.

Finally, we should promote the benefits that specialist trauma recovery units can provide. Like others, I am very impressed by the successful work carried out by Red Balloon to provide a safe sanctuary for bullied children combined with strategies to help them back into mainstream education. Many of the children they help are academically bright and it is crucial that they are not lost permanently to the educational system. It seems a great shame that these units, or an equivalent, are not available on a more extensive basis for traumatised young people.

These issues seem to come down to issues of quality and money, so I would be grateful to hear from the Minister what guarantees he is able to give that bullied young people will receive the same quality of education as their peers. Will he consider our proposal to make SEN status available on a temporary basis to bullied young people, thereby giving them access to much-needed additional support? What external inspection mechanisms are in place to ensure that specialist in-school units, such as PRUs, provide a comparable quality of education as that available on the remainder of the school site? What funding is available to ensure that local authorities provide quality education for young people not attending school? What inspection regime exists to ensure that proper standards in these alternative provisions are met? Finally, what funding mechanisms could be put in place by the department to allow delivery of a more comprehensive availability of such specialist units as Red Balloon which are, as we have heard, so successful?

We have had a thoughtful and probing debate this afternoon and I know that the Minister shares many of our concerns. I hope that in responding he will be able to offer some comfort and commitment to the many thousands of young people who are being bullied in school, and who continue to be bullied as we speak.

1.45 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend Lady Brinton for raising this important issue and for her excellent and moving speech. I should also like to thank noble Lords for their contributions. It has been an insightful and productive debate. I should particularly like to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro on his maiden speech. His wide experience, including as chair of the Children’s Society, will bring very valuable insights to our debates in future.

I am grateful for the opportunity to set out again the Government's vision in the context of this important group of children. One of the really nice things about this job is that, although we inevitably disagree from time to time on the precise mechanisms for delivery, I know we agree entirely across this House on the determination to provide an excellent education

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for all pupils, irrespective of background or personal circumstances. This is vital for the success of our young people and it is vital for the success of our country.

The Government have sent a clear message to schools that bullying for any reason is absolutely unacceptable and should not be tolerated in our schools. We will not hesitate to continue to reinforce that message. Schools should tackle bullying at the earliest opportunity and not allow it to escalate, so that pupils suffer emotional or physical distress. Every school is required to have a behaviour policy which includes measures aimed at preventing all forms of bullying among pupils, both in school and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, said in her excellent speech, beyond school as well. My noble friend Lord Lexden referred to some of the measures we have introduced.

I have personal experience of bullying in a number of ways. It is a particularly nasty and pernicious piece of behaviour which can become all the more relentless with the use of modern technology. I can assure the noble Baronesses, Lady Massey and Lady Howe, that we will exhort schools at every opportunity to have a clear vision that emphasises, among other characteristics, compassion for and consideration of others. They must have a clear PSHE policy, which includes an anti-bullying policy, and emulate what good schools do, as my noble friend Lady Walmsley mentioned.

In our drive to tackle bad behaviour and bullying, we have changed legislation to strengthen teachers’ powers to enforce discipline and promote good behaviour in schools. Our guidance published in 2011 sets out schools’ legal duties and powers in relation to bullying. Teachers can search pupils and delete inappropriate images on electronic devices potentially used for cyberbullying. There are now plenty of examples across the country, including in many sponsored academies, where behaviour has gone in a relatively short period of time from being, frankly, pretty awful to good, thanks to strong leadership, a clear behaviour strategy, and the strengthened powers that we have given to teachers.

We believe that the balance is now about right between a statutory framework that requires schools to address behaviour and bullying and is clear about the powers at their disposal, but which also allows schools freedom as to how they tackle bullying. I will come to Ayden’s law shortly. But along with freedom comes accountability. As a number of Lords have mentioned, Ofsted now clearly holds schools to account on how well they deal with behaviour and bullying. Since January 2012, inspectors must consider pupils’ freedom from bullying, harassment and discrimination. The department has also provided £4 million for four anti-bullying organisations to work in schools.

Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on local authorities to provide full-time education for children of compulsory school age who, due to illness, exclusion or any other reason, including bullying, may not otherwise receive suitable education. That is what we define as alternative provision education. The Government have shown the importance they

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place on providing a good quality education to these pupils by asking Charlie Taylor last year to review alternative provision. He stated that it was,

“a flawed system that fails to provide suitable education and proper accountability for some of the most vulnerable children in the country”.

The Government have agreed to all Charlie Taylor’s recommendations and acted swiftly to improve the quality and range of alternative provision by giving existing providers more autonomy through conversion to AP academies and by encouraging new providers such as AP free schools. We now have 14 AP academies and 32 new AP free schools either open or approved. They are providing a range of alternative provision and include such excellent providers as the Bridge Academy, the Complementary Education Academy and Everton Free School.

We are also enabling schools to have greater responsibility and funding for commissioning alternative provision. We have set clear standards for this provisioning and, since September 2012, Ofsted has shone a bright light on mainstream schools’ commissioning of AP. We have asked Ofsted to conduct detailed thematic surveys of this every three years. As part of the wider school funding reforms, since April this year we have ensured, for the first time, that all maintained alternative provision providers such as PRUs, AP academies and AP free schools receive essential core funding of £8,000 per pupil. Top-up funding will then be paid depending on local frameworks agreed between the provider and the commissioner. Schools and local authorities are best placed to decide the appropriate provision for their pupils and, as such, responsibility for commissioning and funding AP has to be at the local level.

We are also trialling a new approach, the “exclusion trial”, built on excellent work previously pioneered in Cambridge, under which schools maintain responsibility for excluded pupils—who stay on their roll—including for placing them in AP settings. This gives a real incentive to schools to intervene early to address behavioural problems before they become entrenched. It also means that schools will ensure that the AP they commission is of high quality and results in pupils achieving good qualifications. The trial includes 11 local authorities.

For the first time, we are utilising effective practice in AP by involving pupil referral units and AP academies in teacher training. Trainee teachers will now be able to teach and gain qualified teacher status in PRUs and AP academies. Eight PRUs are working with 21 trainee teachers for their initial teacher training with seven initial teacher training providers.

I turn now to the mental health support available for children and young people who are bullied. Good head teachers know the importance of supporting young people who are unhappy, unwell or struggling with their family life. Ofsted evidence shows that schools whose pupils do well academically recognise this. In July last year, the cross-government No Health Without Mental Health implementation framework was published. It describes the role that schools and local authorities should play and recommends that schools and colleges have a whole-school approach to this. In his AP review, Charlie Taylor said that the

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interface between CAMHS and schools does not work as effectively as it should. We are looking at this in some detail.

I can confirm, as requested by my noble friend Lady Walmsley, that my department’s investment in the pupil premium enables schools to invest in pastoral support, therapists and counselling—as in my own school, which has an extensive inclusion programme of therapists and counselling, run by our SENCO. As my noble friend Lady Walmsley said, these are complicated issues and home circumstances often play a very big part. Pupil premium funding is driven by the number of economically deprived pupils, who are more likely to face mental health issues. We also fund a £3 million two-year grant with the Better Outcomes, New Delivery consortium, or BOND.

Helplines also provide a vital source of support and advice for children who are bullied. We have awarded the NSPCC a grant worth £11 million for investment in ChildLine and the NSPCC helpline. In addition, we have awarded a £1.3 million contract to YoungMinds to deliver a helpline for parents whose children are having mental health difficulties. We have also extended the Coram Children’s Legal Centre funding for a further two years to March 2015 and fund Family Lives and Contact a Family. All provide advice and intensive support for parents in relation to bullying and SEN.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, mentioned, a key strategy for improving services for children and young people is to improve their access to good mental health services, such as the Department of Health’s Improving Access for Psychological Therapies programme. IAPT is a service transformation project, aimed at embedding the best evidence-based practice. It trains CAMHS and other professionals in evidence-based therapies. The programme is being rolled out gradually but, by the end of 2015, the Department of Health estimates that 60% of under-19s will be in an area served by the programme.

The Government have also invested £54 million in the Children’s and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme to transform mental health services for children. We hope that the service will particularly help children at risk of suicide. The Government have underlined that commitment with a specific reference to IAPT for children and young people in the NHS mandate.

Clearly, a highly trained and qualified workforce is also crucial to providing good outcomes for children with SEN, including those with mental health problems. The school SENCO has a critical role to play in this. Every school, including academies, must have a qualified SENCO. He or she has day-to-day responsibility for the operation and co-ordination of specific provision to support pupils. This could include children who are experiencing psychological distress and who are affected by bullying.

Since 2009, the department has funded more than 10,000 SENCOs to complete the national award. We continue to invest in their development and will support a further 800 SENCOs this year. The department has also made a significant investment in educational psychology training of around £5 million per year

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since 2010. A further £16 million will be made available to support existing trainees to fund their courses and to support two more cohorts starting this year and next.

These principles drive the Government’s reforms but can succeed only if we allow schools, medical practitioners, local authorities and other professionals the freedom to exercise their professional roles, working closely with parents to seek the best outcomes for each child.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, gave examples of particular cases of child bullying leading to suicide. These cases are tragic. With regard to Ayden’s law, we believe that the behaviour and disciplinary framework that schools are required to have in place should be sufficient to cover most cases of bullying and we are wary about suggestions to make bullying a criminal offence. It is difficult to define, could put head teachers in an invidious position and would risk classifying young people as criminals.

Many noble Lords mentioned the Red Balloon organisation. I have had the opportunity of discussing Red Balloon’s work with my noble friend Lady Brinton. Its outcomes sound most impressive. I have not yet had the opportunity of meeting Dr Carrie Herbert, the chief executive, but I hope to do so soon. I hope that it will be able to make a successful application in September under the free schools programme to expand its provision. However, to do so, it will need to demonstrate value for money, demand from schools and local authorities, and clearly demonstrable outcomes.

I was asked about adding bullied pupils to the SEN category. SEN tends to be a long-term issue and we hope and intend that the consequences of bullying can be resolved quickly. However, the definition is deliberately broad and it must allow local professionals the freedom to make those judgments. I understand the points raised by my noble friend Lady Brinton about the need to provide rapid support for children and young people who have become deeply troubled as a result of bullying. Local authorities can issue a short-term statement or make an emergency placement. Education, health and care plans are intended for longer-term, more complicated needs and can take up to 26 weeks, although we are reducing that to 20 weeks.

A number of noble Lords referred to cyberbullying, which is a particularly insidious and harmful form of bullying. We are working closely with anti-bullying organisations such as Childnet International, social networking sites and other internet companies. We included wide search powers in the Education Act 2011 to give teachers stronger powers to tackle cyberbullying and CEOP has also developed an excellent resource for teachers.

My noble friend Lord Lexden referred to homophobic bullying. The coalition Government have made it clear that tackling all forms of bullying, including homophobic bullying, is a key priority. Stonewall has found that 98% of young gay pupils hear the word gay used as a form of abuse at school. Such language is offensive and unacceptable. I expect teachers to react to this in the same way as an offensive racial slur. My noble friend also made the point about the national college enhancing training. I will investigate what it does now

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and what more can be done and I will write to him. I will certainly send a message to free schools and academies about inspection and the importance of eliminating homophobic bullying.

The noble Baroness, Lady Massey, and my noble friend Lady Walmsley talked about school counselling. England does not collect data on the number of schools offering counselling. A recent survey conducted by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy estimated that between 61% and 85% of English secondary schools provide access to counselling. School-based counselling is one of the most widely delivered forms of psychological therapy for young people in the UK. The Department for Education has a two-year grant with Better Outcomes and there are some excellent voluntary and community organisations. My noble friend Lady Walmsley mentioned Place2Be, an organisation I know well and been involved with for a number of years.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro made an important point regarding advocacy for young carers and children in poverty. The Department of Health has recently started training school nurses to champion young carers and, as he knows, we are working with the Children’s Society to develop policy. He also mentioned child poverty. This Government’s education reforms are driven very much by the needs of children in poverty. As we all know, the best way out of poverty is a good education.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, mentioned early prevention. Schools should excel at this by inculcating a culture of respect rather than a rules-based system so bullying is tackled at an early stage and does not develop. This Government have thought hard about early invention, recognising the importance of boosting our children’s social and emotional capability. We have done this through a range of measures such as Graham Allen’s review, the Early Intervention Foundation and George Hosking’s work with Sally Burlington on the needs of children up to the age of two. They identified the importance of evidence-based programmes and practice, such as the internationally acclaimed Roots of Empathy programme mentioned by my noble friend Lady Walmsley. I am very pleased to hear that the Roots of Empathy classes were launched in 14 primary schools in Lewisham and Croydon and I will be very interested to hear about their progress.