Lord Martin of Springburn (CB): My Lords, if I understood the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, correctly, he feels that more restraint should be put on special advisers, and I agree with him. I have already said in this House that it was absolutely appalling that in the previous Government the Prime Minister’s special adviser

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went about the business of blackening, or seeking to blacken, the names of the family of a member of the Cabinet. That was absolutely disgraceful. He then went on to have the absolute brass neck to write a book. When he was interviewed, he said, “Well, you see, when I left I did not get any money, so I have to get some money somewhere”. I say: welcome to the real world. I had constituents who were in employment for less than two years and they did not get any redundancy money, but they did not seek to brag about the bad things that they did.

I mention that because this individual was there on taxpayers’ money. To my shame as a practising Catholic, he went on to work for an organisation called CAFOD. Fellow Catholics, like me, are expected to give to missions on what is known as Mission Sunday, and they do so very generously. The poorest of the poor set aside funds that they have worked hard for to give to that organisation, and it really amazes me that someone gave that individual a senior job there. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, that I feel strongly that if these people are employed by the Government and paid for by the taxpayer, they should be accountable in every possible way.

5.45 pm

As has been mentioned, Her Majesty’s Opposition get Short money. It is a substantial amount of money and it has increased rapidly since Edward Short—later Lord Glenamara—created it when he was Leader of the House. It should be remembered that it extends not only to funds but to office space here in central London, and it is a substantial amount, not in cash but in kind. I would see difficulties arising where members of the shadow Cabinet had to report in the same way as Ministers do. Ministers have a big back-up team, whereas members of the shadow Cabinet, particularly the junior ranks, do what they do on a more voluntary basis. They give up a great deal of their spare time.

However, I want to talk mainly about the role of the PPS. I was a PPS in opposition. I had the honour of serving Denis Healey when we were fighting against the extreme left wing of the Labour Party. It was a time when, as some noble Lords will remember, the lunatics were beginning to take over the asylum. As much as I made my peace with Tony Benn, whom I consider to be a nice man, he attracted some of the most dangerous elements that I have ever come across—and nasty people with it.

The PPS has a difficulty, and the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, touched on it. Not only is he or she an adviser to the Minister, with the honour of being taken into the inner circle when important decisions are being taken, but they have to go into constituency mode when they go home at the weekend. As my noble friend Lord Kerr said, you do not always know that you are going to land up in the company of one of these consultants. The local authority could say—it happened to me—“We would like to invite you as a Glasgow MP to talk about a certain industry within the city”. When you turn up, lo and behold, someone who is employed as a professional adviser is there. They could be from a roadworks or an engineering organisation; they could be from anywhere. That would put a serious responsibility on a Member of Parliament

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who happened to be a PPS. He would have to be very careful about somehow getting the matter on the record. The media have a habit of building up a story and they would pounce on the fact that something was not declared. It might be that it was not declared inadvertently but that would not be how it was presented. Sometimes even a headline can be different from the story.

If anything is to be done about Parliamentary Private Secretaries, it should be borne in mind that they are usually young Members of Parliament who have not necessarily established themselves in their constituency. They are still building up their reputation and getting known, and they are as keen as mustard and going to all the meetings. We should be careful that we do not put that burden on them if we can help it.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I rise, with my very messy notes, to support Amendment 3 in the name of my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours and to speak to Amendments 18, 22, 29, 32, 33 and 36. I do so while congratulating the Government on their unique feat of uniting transparency campaigners and the lobbying industry against the Bill—including on the issue that our amendments seek to address, namely the scope of those who are lobbied. I speak as someone who has been lobbied as a Back-Bench Peer, as a Minister and as a member of the shadow Cabinet. All the while I was a legislator, but I have also been a special adviser, albeit to the leader of the Opposition. I agree with my noble friend Lord Rooker that it is important to include members of the shadow Cabinet in such legislation. I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Martin, has said about the fact that they do not have the infrastructure that is properly accorded to a Minister of the Crown. However, these people aspire to be in government and perhaps within the next year they might be in government. Therefore, for their own protection in many ways, they should be included.

As regards PPSs, again I hear the rightful concern and warnings of the noble Lord, Lord Martin. These people are perhaps fairly new to Parliament but they have real access to power. We should consider properly whether they should be covered by the legislation. The fact that the Bill confines the scope in Clause 2 to,

“oral or written communications made personally to a Minister of the Crown or permanent secretary”,

demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the lobbying industry. In evidence to the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Gavin Devine, chief executive of MHP Communications, stated:

“The only conclusion one can reach about the Bill is that the Cabinet Office has no understanding of what companies like MHP Communications actually do”.

I hear the Minister when he says that there has been interaction with the lobbying industry about this part of the Bill, but perhaps there has been a dialogue of the deaf. I do not mean to be rude but I do not think that there always has been proper listening; otherwise we would not be confronting some of the issues that we now face.

At Second Reading, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said that,

“the Permanent Secretary is probably … the last civil servant to be lobbied in a controversial situation”.—[

Official Report

, 22/10/13; col. 979.]

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Listening today to the noble Lords, Lord Kerr and Lord Armstrong, it is clear that the Permanent Secretary is always the last civil servant to be lobbied, and not only in a controversial situation. The speeches made today by the noble Lords, Lord Armstrong and Lord Kerr, were very important. We should also read very carefully what the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said about the Diplomatic Service. The whole industry of lobbying our Diplomatic Service should be looked at. The lobbying of government is not just about Bills in play but also about future policies.

On special advisers, I welcome and support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tyler. However, I do not think that it goes far enough. One has only to think of the demeaning tale of Adam Smith and the News Corporation lobbyist Fred Michel, who would not have been touched by this Bill—and yet that case was one of the catalysts for the Bill. It is interesting to note that the Committee on Standards in Public Life has today published a report on lobbying. One of the recommendations from that body is that special advisers to Ministers should be subject to tighter rules about their contacts with outsiders, which probably is something with which the majority of this House would agree. I hope that the Minister will move on that swiftly.

The lobbying industry itself has said many times during discussions about this Bill that,

“we do not make personal representations to Ministers or Permanent Secretaries”.

So one has to ask: what is the Bill trying to do? The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, asked some incisive questions. Indeed, the House of Lords Constitution Committee points out that,

“even those who consider that ‘transparency in lobbying is a significant problem’ do not appear to be of the view that the specific matter of consultant lobbyists meeting ministers and permanent secretaries needs legislative correction. Indeed, some witnesses told the PCRC that if this really is the problem that needs addressing, it does not require legislation to fix it and could be dealt with simply by the Government changing the rules that apply to ministers and permanent secretaries”.

However, as we have this golden opportunity of the Bill before us, we are obliged to do whatever we can to ensure that there is a healthy and transparent relationship between government and lobbying and to resolve the problems that we have seen over the past months and years.

In their response to the Constitution Committee, the Government said:

“Ultimately, it is ministers and permanent secretaries that are responsible for the decisions taken within their departments and the focus of the register is therefore on communications with those key decision-makers whose meeting details are published”.

Yes, ultimately, the responsibility for decisions is taken by those at the very top. However, we know that the influencing of policy-making and of legislation occurs at a much lower level.

I certainly agree with the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Rooker and the scope that he mentions in his Amendment 23. The exposé that he gave of non-ministerial government departments was very important. I hope that the Minister will look at that very closely. These bodies, and those who work in them, are extremely influential in terms of governing in this country.

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The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, mentioned the devolved institutions, which, again, need to be looked at. While I fully recognise that devolved institutions make their own rules and regulations pertaining to this issue, it would be terrific if we could get to a situation where the rules pertaining to all the governing bodies of the United Kingdom were similar. That would make it much easier for the Governments of the nations and for those who are doing the lobbying.

Our Amendment 18 would widen the scope phenomenally to Members of both Houses of Parliament. I am sure that many Members of this House would think that that perhaps widens the scope of the Bill too far. However, we should reflect on that because we all recognise the important role that lobbyists play and the invaluable information that they provide. We should also recognise that in lobbying they have a profound effect on us as legislators and on the laws that we pass. We therefore need to keep that in mind, because it is a matter of being open and transparent so that the public know what or who has influenced the laws that we are making all the time. As everyone’s inboxes in relation to this Bill will testify, we are heavily lobbied.

My noble friend Lord Rooker raised an important point about the revised order of consideration. I hope that the Minister will confirm that the revised order will be Parts 1, 3, 2 and then 4. That would be the proper and logical way of doing things.

The right honourable Andrew Lansley suggested on Report in the Commons that to extend the scope of those lobbied would be too bureaucratic. He imagined 5,000 senior civil servants all publishing their diaries. I believe that that is a poor excuse because we all know that the system does not have to depend on the publishing of diaries. I very much welcome what the Government have done in publishing ministerial diaries but perhaps we could look at some other way of ensuring that there is a less bureaucratic means of having an open and transparent way for the public to know who is being lobbied and on what issue. Now that we have longer before Report on this Bill I hope that the Government will look at that problem and perhaps come up with a way of ensuring there can be a system that is not overly bureaucratic and provides the openness and transparency required.

Transparency in the 21st century means that the public not only want to know who is being lobbied but, I believe, that they have the right to know. As the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, pointed out, this Bill is indeed entitled “Transparency of Lobbying”. It presents us with an opportunity to address the concerns of our citizens who have lost trust in the political system to the detriment of our democracy. They rightly want to know who is being lobbied and what power is being lobbied. We all know that power does not just reside with Ministers and Permanent Secretaries. I trust that the noble Lord will reflect on these points.

6 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I will first answer some of the specific questions raised. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that Part 4 will be taken in Committee after Part 2, as is logical in the Bill.

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The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, suggested that the Diplomatic Service is not part of the Civil Service. When I was a young academic people talked about the Home Civil Service as opposed to the Diplomatic Civil Service, which I understood was the overseas Civil Service.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: I have never been criticised for being civil.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Both of those services were as opposed to the military service—and I am not sure that I would think of the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, as particularly military.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, asked who needed to know. It is not Ministers who need to know primarily. Transparency is about the public being better informed, and campaigning groups and civil society organisations making the information easy to obtain.

The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said that perhaps if the information was easier to obtain we would not have newspapers any longer claiming that they had discovered such and such. As I listened to him, I recollected that yesterday in the DailyMail, I think that I read the same “We have discovered” story for about the third time in about four years. Newspapers have a tendency to claim that they have discovered something that was all there already. Indeed, many years ago when I criticised the financial services industry in the Channel Islands, the local press announced that it had discovered that I was a French spy. Its evidence for this—that my wife and I had both been decorated by the French Government—came from that deeply obscure publication, Who’s Who. I am sure the press will go on “discovering” things that could already have been found out easily. Again, that is the way the press behave.

As I have listened to this debate, I have been thinking about the debate we had in the Cabinet Office about the mistake previous Governments made in going for really grandiose IT projects, trying to put absolutely everything into what they were doing and eventually coming unstuck. The Cabinet Office has now decided that incremental change in IT is easier to control. If we are moving towards transparency we have to be careful that we do not say we want absolutely everyone to be included. The best can be the enemy of the good here. The first target is lobbyists rather than every single representative of government that they meet in all circumstances. The definition of who they meet in government was adopted as “those within government who now have to publish their diaries: their lists of whom they meet”.

Amendment 3 from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, in many ways stands on its own. We need to think about it in a different context from the others here. Other amendments extend the register to parliamentarians, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, other civil servants, special advisers, all Members and staff of Parliament, all non-ministerial departments, parliamentary private secretaries and so on. We are talking about, I suspect, between 15,000 and 20,000 people. There are 5,000 members of the senior Civil Service—Permanent Secretaries, directors general, directors and

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deputy directors. The figure in my head for the number who work in Parliament is more than 6,000, and then we have to include non-ministerial departments. How fast and how far we go certainly needs to be considered.

Lord Rooker: There is an organisation in the Civil Service that they all want to belong to—the Top 200. It is an official classification. The figure the Minister has just given for the kind of people who will be covered as the decision-makers and opinion formers is preposterous. I am not saying it is limited to 200, but within the Civil Service being a member of the Top 200 means you are there. It is not just the Permanent Secretaries but the directors general as well. You are not talking about thousands. They are the chief executives of some of the departments I referred to.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I take that. I was about to say that the issue of proportionality—how far we go—is a really difficult one here. However, if one is talking about who gives you access to a Minister perhaps we need to include diary secretaries for example. Who we include and who we do not is itself a matter of some difficulty.

Lord Dubs: As I was one the of noble Lords who mentioned that point, surely it is those civil servants who are senior enough to decide that they will put to the Minister the prospect of a meeting with the lobbyists?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Perhaps we need to discuss between Committee and Report which definition of senior civil servants Ministers and various Members of the House wish to adopt. I was adopting my own understanding of the senior Civil Service, which is the 5,000 I mentioned.

I will be interested to hear from the Opposition whether they also need to be included in this. Again, that is something that perhaps the Opposition Front Bench and the Government should usefully discuss between Committee and Report. I come back to say that the best can be the enemy of the good in requiring too many people to be brought within the context of this Bill. I take the very powerful speech from the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, about non-ministerial departments to mind. I also take some of his other points about particular senior civil servants. We will consider all these points and, in that light, I trust that the noble Lord will be willing to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Norton of Louth: My Lords, I do not understand my noble friend’s point about numbers. It is irrelevant in the sense that it is the consultants who are doing the lobbying to those people. It does not matter how many they are. It is merely the fact that they are engaging with some of them that requires them to register.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The register is of lobbyists. If we wish to include in the register every single Member of Parliament and others with whom they interact, we would get into a very complicated business. The question is who you wish to define as a consultant lobbying—as Amendment 3 says—to government.

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Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, we have had a very wide-ranging debate which has fully revealed the flaws and inadequacies of the Bill. In Amendment 3, I drew on the 2012 document which dealt with categories of public bodies. It is worth noting what it says about them:

“The landscape for public bodies is undergoing significant reform to increase transparency and accountability … Those public bodies retained will remain at arm’s length from Government, but will be expected to become more open, accountable and efficient”.

The Bill as it stands does precisely the reverse.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Rooker, who drew on his very considerable experience in the Food Standards Agency to strongly reinforce my case. The Government would be very wise to heed the words of the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, who argued that an amendment should be tabled on Report to widen the definition of those civil servants who should be covered by the Bill. I hope that the Minister has taken on board that suggestion, and that the Government will wish to bring forward their own amendment to deal with those issues.

Finally, I want to say a word about the position of Permanent Secretaries. It has been argued that Permanent Secretaries almost appear to have little influence over what happens in many areas. However, there is of course one department where Permanent Secretaries have a major influence and could well be subject to substantial lobbying, and that is the Ministry of Defence, to which I do not think any of the former Permanent Secretaries who spoke today referred. In that department it is crucially important that they are included.

On the basis of the response given by the Minister and in the hope that he will respond to the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 3 withdrawn.

Amendment 4 not moved.

Amendment 5

Moved by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

5: Clause 1, page 1, line 6, at end insert “and the person has signed up to the Registrars’ code of conduct”

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, in moving Amendment 5, tabled in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Royall, I shall speak also to Amendment 93. I would expect a Bill on lobbying to do two things. First, it should show who is lobbying whom over what, which was the issue of the first two groups of amendments. Secondly, it should raise standards in the industry to help make it a profession, with all that that implies for ethics, training and good practice. As I made clear earlier, I am not against lobbying. Like many other noble Lords, I spent too many years seeking to influence civil servants and politicians, sometimes with success and sometimes with none, but always, I hope, by employing honest arguments and with the most open of motives and the cleanest of hands. For me, it is particularly sad that the golden

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opportunity for this Bill to introduce a requirement for registered lobbyists to abide by a code of conduct has been lost. A code is absolutely key if we wish to raise standards.

We are not arguing for a code to be spelt out in the Bill—far from it—but we are arguing that the registrar, after discussion with representatives of the industry, should be able to adopt or approve a code; and that, if it was shown that someone had breached it, that would lead to a sanction. It would signal to the industry how the registrar judges any misdemeanours. It would be a code rather like the one that noble Lords sign at the Table as we take the Oath, and anyone putting their name on the register would also have to sign up.

The Sheila McKechnie Foundation states that,

“an effective register would include an obligatory code of conduct for all registrants, along with clear sanctions for non-compliance or breaches”.

Indeed, we need to be able to prevent the worst offenders from continuing to practise by removing them from the register, but without a code and the power to judge someone in reference to it, how will we see offenders taken out of this industry?

Understandably, the Government do not want a statutory code written into the Bill. Nor do we, but neither that nor their response to the Select Committee report explains why they do not want to make it mandatory for the registrar to give approval to a code that she or he has drawn up or endorsed in consultation with the industry and other stakeholders. Just as the royal charter does not itself set up a press regulatory body, but simply ensures that whatever is established is up to standard, so the Bill should simply require the registrar to endorse and lay before Parliament the code against which she or he would judge the behaviour of anyone on the register. The code would set the standard for the behaviour of those who seek to influence the Government of this country. I beg to move.

6.15 pm

Lord Tyler: My Lords, Amendment 78, tabled in my name and those of my noble friends, attacks—if that is the appropriate verb to use—the same point that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, has addressed, but in a slightly different way. We have heard a lot about the need for a statutory code of conduct for lobbyists both in the debate on Second Reading and, to some extent, in our debates today. However, the Bill is not about regulating lobbying but about trying to make lobbying more transparent. My own amendment maintains that spirit. There is a genuine concern that the Bill, by setting out in law some of the things that consultant lobbyists must do, could imply by omission that there are some things that we do not expect them to do. Hence, it is important to make some reference to the existing codes.

I confess that although I have not been involved with the lobbying industry for many years, when I had a real job before politics, I headed up a public affairs consultancy. In those days I do not think we even referred to it as lobbying. It was thought to be simply informing decision-makers about important issues and so on. I can see noble Lords opposite observing that

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there is hardly any distinction between the two activities. However, I appreciate very much the extent to which the lobbying industry has improved its transparency and its codes of conduct, of which I understand there are several. It is important that we should refer to the voluntary codes of conduct that various professional associations and their membership bodies have now signed up to.

The UK Public Affairs Council has said that,

“the range of membership bodies, trade associations, companies and other organisations involved to a lesser or greater extent in lobbying makes a single self-regulatory code unobtainable for the foreseeable future”.

That is a realistic position, but surely it does not mean that we should ignore what is already in place. UKPAC went on to say that,

“effective self regulation can nonetheless be achieved if everyone in a business or employed in a capacity which involves lobbying subscribes to an appropriate Code of Conduct”.

The Bill can only do that for consultant lobbyists because, as we have heard, it is not about a telephone directory-style register of everyone who ever lobbies. However, it should ensure that those whom it does cover are encouraged to continue their compliance with existing voluntary codes by requiring that they are transparent as to whether they do so or not. All concerned—those on the receiving end of lobbying, those who engage these services to lobby on their behalf, the general public and we as parliamentarians representing them—would then be aware of whether they have subscribed to the voluntary codes. Our amendment deals simply with that objective.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Opposition’s proposed amendment would prohibit lobbying unless the person had signed up to the registrar’s code of conduct. Their new clause would require the registrar, after consultation with relevant stakeholders, to produce a code of conduct which would include a provision that any inappropriate relations between lobbyists and parliamentarians were strictly forbidden. Amendment 108, which has been grouped elsewhere, would enable the registrar to impose civil penalties for breaches of the code of conduct. The Government are not persuaded that a statutory code of conduct is appropriate, and I suggest that the proposed amendments are based on a miscomprehension of the role of codes, either statutory or voluntary, in the regulation of lobbying. The Opposition appear to suggest that such codes are in existence and are operating successfully in other jurisdictions. Perhaps I may draw their attention to international examples of statutory codes of conduct, of which there are very few.

The Australian statutory code of conduct establishes a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and prohibits the lobbying of government on behalf of a third party without registration. That is exactly what this Bill provides for and, if that is what the Opposition are seeking to achieve, the amendments are not needed. In Canada, the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct promotes three principles—integrity and honesty, openness and professionalism—and requires that lobbyists act transparently, that they respect confidentiality, and that they avoid conflicts of interest. That code is not a statutory instrument and there is no sanction for

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non-compliance other than a report from the registrar outlining the lobbyist’s misdemeanour. That is appropriate, because determining non-compliance with these very broad principles is a challenging, uncertain and subjective process.

We have not been able to identify any international precedent for the type of code the Opposition propose. Indeed, even the overwhelmingly high-regulation system in the USA, which requires a 900-plus page handbook to aid compliance, does not incorporate a statutory code of conduct of this sort. Perhaps the fact that the Opposition have been able to propose just one provision for their code of conduct illustrates why such an approach has not been adopted elsewhere.

The Government recognise the industry’s efforts to improve lobbying practice by introducing its own codes of conduct and are confident that that will continue. Those codes promote the ethical behaviour that is essential to the integrity and reputation of the lobbying industry. The codes contain laudable principles and good practice guidance, but their translation into statute does not seem sensible or feasible.

Amendment 78, in the name of my noble friend Lord Tyler, would instead amend Clause 5(4) so that regulations could be made to enable lobbyists to include details in their information returns of the voluntary codes of conduct that they had subscribed to; but no other additional types of information unrelated to voluntary codes of conduct could be so specified. My noble friend appears to agree with the Government that a statutory code of conduct is not necessary and that the existing voluntary codes should be endorsed and promoted. I am happy to tell my noble friend that the Government are committed to ensuring that the statutory register complements the existing self-regulatory regime.

A specific reference on the statutory register to the voluntary code to which a lobbyist has subscribed is an interesting proposal that the Government are willing to consider further. However, we are not persuaded that the power under Clause 5(4) should be restricted so that it could be used to make regulations only in relation to voluntary codes, which is the—perhaps unintended—effect of my noble friend’s amendment. We will consider this further. Meanwhile, I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment and my noble friend not to press his.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: I fear that that reply was written before I made my speech. I made it very clear that I do not want a statutory code of conduct. The reply that the Minister gave was about why we should not have a statutory code of conduct: I agree, and we did not ask for it. What we are asking is for the registrar to endorse a code of conduct. I assume that it would be based either on the format of five principles that other professions use or maybe on the existing voluntary code. That would be a matter for the registrar, but I very clearly said that we did not want a statutory register.

I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, is in her seat as she will remember very well discussing whether the regulation of letting agents should be statutory or—as it is now—voluntary. The letting agents had a very good voluntary code but if you did

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not obey it and were taken to the ombudsman, you could simply say, “I will leave the code, walk off and not remain signed up to the voluntary code”. All the good boys were signed up to the code but—guess what—the cowboys were not. If anyone was caught breaking the code they just resigned. The noble Baroness did at one point ask me to stop thanking her for this but I will never stop doing so because, through her work, we agreed the amendment that makes it compulsory for letting agents to belong to an ombudsman scheme. As part of that, there will be a code, overseen by the ombudsman, by which will be judged any misbehaviour by letting agents.

Effectively, that is what we are asking for here. Once you have a register of consultants, they should have to sign up to some code of good practice or ethical principles against which it will be judged whether they should be taken off the register. I am not asking for a statutory code, although it was very nice to hear the Minister make a speech against it. What we want is, if you like, a blessing to the voluntary code that says more than simply, “Please read it”. If you are on a register, I imagine it would become quite a kitemark. People would say, “I am a registered consultant lobbyist” —or, if our amendment were passed, a proper lobbyist, not just a consultant. It would be a kitemark to be on the register. However, if it implies no requirement to keep to an ethical code or a code of good behaviour, the kitemark could itself be quite misleading.

We will definitely return to this and I hope that the Minister has heard what we are really asking for: not a statutory code but a requirement that the registrar should have a code that anyone on the register would have to sign up to. I will leave that until Report for the moment—whenever that will be—and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 5 withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed.

Clause 2: Meaning of consultant lobbying

Amendments 6 to 9 not moved.

Amendment 10

Moved by Lord Rooker

10: Clause 2, page 1, line 12, leave out “and in return for payment”

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I have a few probing amendments in this group: Amendments 10, 12, 15, 30 and 51. I am not in any way criticising the Minister here, as we are in Committee and the idea is to get some detailed answers to some of these issues so that we can decide whether or not there are issues of substance to come back to on Report. I hope he will feel free to give us some detailed responses to some of the points being raised as, otherwise, we will not get the benefit of Committee stage. It was always planned that Report would be after Christmas anyway—there is no change there, as I understand it—and this is important.

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Amendment 10 says,

“leave out ‘and in return for payment’”.

I want to know what happens if the lobbyist is acting for free. What is the situation when they are not doing it for payment? There might be ways of people organising their affairs such that they can undertake lobbying but not actually get paid for it. I want to know what the effect would be of removing the words “in return for payment”.

Amendment 12 has a degree of substance. I have not brought it with me, because I do not want to make big speeches in Committee, but this is based on paragraphs 18 and 19 of the report from Graham Allen’s constitutional reform committee in the other place. The reality of life is that lobbyists, in return for payment, provide professional advice on how to lobby but do not lobby themselves. That is, to a great extent, the evidence that was given to the Select Committee in the other place about the way that professional lobbyists work. They go to a company and say, “You have a problem and this is the way to solve it: deal with it this way and approach these people. Do it all yourself and we will guide you through”. That is perfectly respectable—I am not criticising it in any way—but it is not covered by the Bill. The industry itself says that is the main way that it works. There has to be a response to that. I did not follow the details in the other place but the Select Committee report criticised the Bill as an object lesson in how not to legislate. This is an important point.

Lord Campbell-Savours: I have pondered this myself. I wonder what interest it really is anyhow of anybody what a lobbyist advises a client. Why is there a need to register that person? If he is simply advising his client as to what to do, why should that original lobbyist register?

Lord Rooker: The point behind this is that the Bill is addressing an issue that does not really arise. The vast majority of the work that takes place is lobbyists training and advising others how to do their own lobbying. They will not get caught by this. The reality is that the Bill will not cover anybody. The numbers are going down all the while. We will end up with a register with nobody on it; there will be no fees to run the register. I am not criticising this; it is a perfectly respectable way to work. I do not want to criticise people who train others how to lobby; it is a bit like training others how to legislate. But that is what the industry told the Select Committee in the other place about how the industry works. This Bill is a complete waste of time and does not address the issues the Government set out to address. That is what is behind Amendment 12, simply the way it works.

6.30 pm

On the VAT thing, I am not really clear. I have read the clauses on this. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Norton, has tabled amendments on it and I will be interested to hear what he has to say. I think we should take out the bit about the VAT registration. I am suspicious as to why it is in there. It seems to be done in such a way so as to avoid people having to be up front. That is why I query that. Amendment 15 is purely a probing amendment.

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Amendment 30 might look a bit juvenile. It says that communications,

“must take place in the presence of a civil service note taker”.

This is born out of my experience: Ministers do meet non-civil servants without the presence of civil servants and then make decisions which they promulgate to the department to act on, and there are no notes. I have been on the receiving end of it myself in the past four years—of being given an instruction that came about because of such meetings where there was no access to the notes because there was no note-taker present. I did not follow that instruction, by the way. The Food Standards Agency is open and transparent and we said no. We were instructed to do something—to stop a process—and we said, “No, we’re not doing it”.

In my early days of my 12 years as a Minister, I was a bit irritated that you could not go anywhere without somebody there writing down what you said. I soon learnt that it is a massive protection to have a note-taker present. It is not so much what you are being told but what you say that you must have a note of so that you cannot be misrepresented later on. It should not require a note in the legislation but I am suspicious because the Bill does not reflect the way in which the industry works, so I wonder why we have the Bill and think it is probably a good idea if we can be assured that there will be notes of such meetings if they are face to face with a Minister.

I do not think that the Bill will stay as it is but let us assume that it does: if a lobbyist has personal contact with a Minister or Permanent Secretary—there is a question over how we define personal contact—it is axiomatic that there has to be a note-taker. In the previous Parliament, one of my colleagues in this place, a Minister, made some incredibly important decisions one weekend in the middle of a crisis and did not have a back-up civil servant with him. It was an issue. It is a protection for the Minister. The civil servants in the private office will make sure that it happens, as long as they know about the meetings, of course. That is the other issue: the meetings have to be in the diary anyway.

Amendment 51 seeks to cover the issue of in-house teams, those who make,

“communications on behalf of another person irrespective of whether the individual is an employee of that person”.

The in-house teams of the big corporations should be covered. They are the employees. Let us take a FTSE company. It does not have to employ lobbyists: it has its own people, in-house. They are not covered by this Bill. I think they should be. That is what this amendment is, inadequately, designed to cover deep in the issues in Schedule 1. I looked at what the Minister in the other place said and, to be honest, the answers on this aspect were not satisfactory. There is a powerful case for the in-house lobbyists of a company to be covered; they are not consultant lobbyists but salaried employees. By definition the company will be big enough to have its own team—rightly so. I am not criticising any of this at all; it is a perfectly respectable activity.

I would just like some answers to those questions so that I can decide whether in about three months’ time—or maybe six months’ time—I will have to come back on Report with other amendments.

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Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend if I misunderstood slightly what he was driving at. But it begs the question as to whether the 350 companies that the Minister referred to at the Dispatch Box include some of those companies that my noble friend was arguing were excluded from the legislation. The Minister might want to provide for us a more detailed analysis of how that list of 350 was drawn up so that we can see whether it includes some organisations that we believe are excluded under the legislation.

Amendment 17, which was in the first group, and Amendment 19, which is in this group, are in my name and deal with essentially the same issue. Amendment 19 stems from an unease I harbour about how some lobbying works in practice. I want to make it clear that I understand the vital role lobbying plays within our system of government. What I worry about is how people interpret the word “lobbying”.

Clause 2(3) defines lobbying as “oral or written communications” but there are oral communications and oral communications. This came out during an interview on the “Andrew Marr Show” on 7 October this year. The Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, was asked by Andrew Marr whether he had been lobbied by Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party strategist, on the issue of tobacco. He replied, after the question had been repeated, that Lynton Crosby “has not intervened”. It was a curious construction of the language. You got the feeling that some wriggling was going on. I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no idea where the truth lies. I am sure that Mr Crosby is a perfectly excellent gentleman; that is not the point that I am making. I am simply drawing on that as an example of how there can be a wriggle on the use of the term.

The answers given by the Prime Minister during that interview reminded me of the answers given by the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Lympne, during the famous Paxman interview. It also brought memories back of the many conversations we had in the Select Committee on Members’ Interests in the 1980s during the course of our inquiry into lobbying nearly 30 years ago, under the chairmanship of the late Sir Geoffrey Johnson-Smith. There was endless discussion on formal as against informal discussion—formal as against informal lobbying—the word in the back of the cab as against the discussion across the table in the department with civil servants or a Minister present; the word on the golf circuit as against the formal response to a consultation.

The issue is where you draw the line. To this day I do not know, and I have asked Ministers over the years where they draw the line and there has always been much ambiguity as to where that line is to be drawn. When is an intervention not lobbying? When is lobbying not an intervention? This is a probing amendment to tease out some guidelines on where that line is to be drawn.

Lord Tyler: My Lords, I read with interest Amendment 12, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, because there is a serious point here, although I am not sure that that is the right way to approach it. As I mentioned earlier, way back in the 1980s, I headed a public affairs consultancy. I recall that on many occasions I and my colleagues would advise clients. They were not, on the whole,

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commercial clients. They were usually trade associations, local authority associations, environmental groups, the Countryside Commission, the Rural Development Commission, and so on. Ministers and their senior team would always rather hear from the horse’s mouth, not from me as an intermediary. I had some experience; I had previously been a Member of Parliament; but it was far more effective for bodies of such reputation to speak directly to Ministers. So there is the definition suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that not just those who are themselves making representations but those who, in return for payment, provide professional advice on how to lobby should be within the subsection.

However, we may be losing the effective target for the legislation. It would not be appropriate to deal with the next group of amendments in great detail, but the critical issue is who meets who when and what is discussed. In those days, I may have advised a client to take a particular line, think about the implications, talk to particular people in whatever context or perhaps given them bullet points as to what to say. For example, I recall advising a client on what approach they should take when talking to the then Prime Minister about which of the options should be supported by the Government for the Channel crossing. We went into detail about exactly what should be said. We did not go to see the Prime Minister in No. 10, and Sir Nicholas Henderson, who was the leader of that particular team, did not take a great deal of advice from me—he was far too experienced at dealing with Prime Ministers, not least Mrs Thatcher.

The critical issue is the details of the meeting: who, when and how? That is why, in the next group of amendments, we will address that to a greater extent. It is important that we concentrate on that. I give credit to the present Government because they have made that a great deal more transparent than it has been in the recent past. That is a real step forward, and we must make sure that the Bill builds on that.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: I support these probing amendments from my noble friends Lord Rooker and Lord Campbell-Savours, and certainly look forward to the Minister’s response. On Amendment 30, I certainly agree with my noble friend Lord Rooker that such an amendment would afford important protection to the Minister and his office but, as he acknowledged, that should be a matter of good practice, and I am not sure that one can always legislate for good practice. It will be interesting to hear the Minister’s views.

My noble friend Lady Hayter and I have tabled Amendments 21, 28 and 48 to 50. There are three essential issues: the inclusion of electronic communications; the inclusion of lobbying about European legislation; and the exclusion of parts of the schedule that limit the definitions of lobbying. In the 21st century, I think we would all accept that electronic communications are probably the principal way by which we all communicate, yet the Bill defines communications as “oral or in writing” and fails to make clear whether electronic indications are also included. I hope that the Minister will be able to clarify that. If electronic communications are not included, I hope that the Government will consider that issue and, if not, I will certainly come back with an amendment at a later stage.

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Apparently, the Australian register of lobbyists states that communications with a government representative includes oral, written and electronic communications, and the USA register provides that the term lobbying contact means any oral or written communication, including an electronic communication. Were electronic communications not to be included, there would be a loophole. I am sorry to keep banging on about this, but Jeremy Hunt’s texts to News Corporation lobbyist Frederic Michel about Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of BSkyB were in electronic form. It is important that that should be captured.

6.45 pm

Secondly, our Amendment 28 in this group is intended to ensure that the Government address the issue of lobbying UKRep and senior officials representing the UK in Brussels. As we all know, lobbying in the European Parliament is covered by an EU register of lobbyists, but there is much lobbying in relation to European legislation where UKRep is concerned. I have to some extent been on the receiving end of it, although not directly employed by UKRep, and have also lobbied UKRep. Brussels is the city second to Washington in being the kingpin of lobbyists. It would be absurd if our civil servants working in UKRep, especially the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative, were not covered by the Bill. We are not talking about foreign policy; we are talking about domestic policy and the way in which it is affected by European legislation and how it is then implemented in this country. I hope that the Minister will be able to respond favourably to that amendment.

Finally, our amendments to Schedule 3 would delete paragraphs 6, 7 and 9. Paragraph 6 can be deleted because it is designed to be a carve-out of which activities do not count as lobbying. However, we are seeking a different carve-out in Amendment 39, which excludes a number of activities, such as someone contacting their MP or making communications solely on their own behalf. That means that we can delete the government provision excluding certain types of lobbying. Our Amendment 49, which would delete paragraph 7, is consequential.

Most importantly, I hope that the Minister will address the amendments relating to electronic communication and about UKRep, because I truly believe that that is extremely important for the people of our nation, who want to know who in Brussels is being lobbied about legislation which has a real impact on their lives in this country.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I thank noble Lords, in particular the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, for the detail of the various amendments. I will take them all back and consider them. First, on Amendment 10, it was absolutely the intention of the Bill to capture consultant lobbyists who lobby as a profession, not the neighbour who is lobbying for a friend about a housing development, or whatever, for no payment. That is part of informal campaigning, which is different from the professional consultant lobbyists with whom Part 1 is intended to deal.

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I clearly need to have a long tutorial with the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, and I promise that I will give him a good deal of my time, but I hope that that gives him some comfort. I also take the noble Lord’s point, which I had noted in the committee report, about not only direct lobbying but the sort of indirect lobbying that comes through professional advice and the danger that public affairs companies will retreat from saying that they are lobbying to saying that they are merely providing advice. We clearly need to ensure that we cover that.

On the question of VAT, the Government were looking for a simple means to exclude the very small fry from the Bill. It was felt that whether or not a business has a large enough turnover to have to register for VAT was the simplest and easiest method to exclude the small fry and include the large ones. That is the intention. If the noble Lord has a better way to do it, I look forward to discussing it, but there is nothing more intended by that provision.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, had an interesting thought about whether communications include interventions. I am advised that interventions are communications, but, again, we will consider in detail the subtle differences that may occur. I am certainly advised that it is established practice in legislative drafting that the now ubiquitous nature of electronic communications is accepted as being included in the term “writing”, except in cases where the context specifically demands otherwise. The Bill therefore makes no distinction between a handwritten note, a typewriter-produced letter—if such still exist—a dot matrix-printed telegram, a fax, an e-mail, a text message, a personal tweet or a BlackBerry messenger conversation, so I assure the noble Lord that the amendment is not necessary.

On the inclusion of “European” in the Bill, I understand that the intention is that lobbying the UK Government in respect of European legislation will be captured. Our understanding is that lobbying with respect to government policy, including government policy towards the European Union, is covered by the Bill but we will look at that to make sure that it is fully covered.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, that is very welcome but would that include our officials who are working in Brussels?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Let me take that back and be absolutely sure. We are all conscious that, as has been said, Brussels is the seat of lobbying on the largest scale, after Washington. We need to make sure that the interaction between those huge American law firms based in Brussels, which have large lobbying activities, and others is not excluded from the Bill. I will certainly take that back.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: I am grateful for what the Minister says. The other point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, was about level. When you are looking at UKRep and thinking about Brussels, it would be best to think not just about the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative,

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because in many ways those are figureheads. The real work is done in working groups by quite junior public servants. Some are diplomats and some civil servants but they are often in their early 30s and, in those working groups, they are doing serious legislation. They certainly are beset by lobbyists from outside all the time, so if you are going wide then you need to look down in seniority a bit, well below the top brass.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, in answering these amendments I set out to avoid reading out any of the note prepared beforehand, in order to satisfy the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. However, let me read out the paragraph I have on that. I can assure noble Lords that any lobbying of the UK Government in relation to European legislation is indeed captured by the Government’s provision at Clause 2(3)(a), which captures communications in relation to government policy. Communications in relation to the development, adoption or modification of the Government’s policy on any element of European legislation would therefore be captured by the definition of lobbying as drafted.

The overlap between what happens in Brussels and London is, I appreciate, a slightly more subtle issue than that. The question of what happens when everyone is abroad is a constant of globalisation, and one which the British Parliament may find it a little difficult to cover entirely by legislation.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: The question is of how policy develops in response to a development in the negotiation. Policy is not an artefact made in London, whole and entire, which stays like that all the way through a negotiation. Policy has to take account of what others do or what amendments emerge from the European Parliament. The process of legislation in Brussels is very much ongoing and the key figure is often the young man or woman who is sitting in the relevant working group. Yes, they will be contacting London but they will also be contacting their opposite numbers. The chances are that most of the decisions on how we react in a war of movement will be taken on the ground, without reference up to Ministers. Of course the Ministers will see every night how we are getting on but, over there in Brussels, the lobbyists are very close to this. If you are to take an interest in contact between lobbyists and UKRep, do not cut it off at the Permanent Representative and Deputy Permanent Representative.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the political process flows through a whole series of meetings. Capturing every single dimension of the political process may be beyond the wit of man or woman to achieve. We are looking here at making lobbying more transparent and capturing the main actors involved. The Bill specifically includes the lobbying of Ministers wherever they are: in London, Brussels or Washington. How far down the chain of officials we go, outside the United Kingdom as well as inside it, is a matter that we need to consider under the issue of proportionality and how far we think we need to cover absolutely everything.

Perhaps I may turn to Amendment 30, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, which is on note-taking. Perhaps recording rather than note-taking is what we might now be considering. As the noble Lord said, the

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question of how far one can legislate for good practice under all circumstances is very difficult but, again, I will take that back and discuss the matter further with him.

The noble Lord’s Amendment 51 takes us back to the definition of directly employed lobbyists versus consultant lobbyists. As I said on a previous grouping, Part 1 is intended to deal fundamentally with consultant lobbyists—lobbyists for hire—rather than those directly employed in the public affairs departments of multinational companies. From my own experience, perhaps I may say that companies and banks based in London often operate directly with government and we know who they are. Consultant lobbyists are often representing companies based abroad, foreign Governments or others who are not used to knowing how the British political system works. That is one reason why they come to consultant lobbyists, who are specialists. They advise them and then often lobby for them. That is part of what we want to catch in a globalised political system where non-British actors, so to speak, are taking an active part in our political process.

Having, I hope, answered some of the points raised and repeated that I am open to further conversations off the Floor with those who have tabled these amendments, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for his response. What the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said in his intervention regarding Brussels is absolutely right. It so happens that about 95% of the legislation affecting food in this country, and which is implemented by the government department—the Food Standards Agency—is actually European. It starts in Brussels. At the point when I joined the FSA in about 2009, my predecessor had already decided to embed someone in UKRep because we were too often too slow. If you are not there when the conveyor belt starts, you cannot influence it and we were too far down it.

Look at the evidence of what happened with the way that the food information regulations were dealt with in Europe. There was massive lobbying against some of the things that we wanted to do, such as traffic-light labelling. I will not criticise people from other countries but the international lobbying was massive. We got a first-class individual, exactly as described by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. I will not name them. There are negotiations and meetings while they are trying to get this stuff ready for the Parliament, which has more interference now—I meant more contact and should not have said that; parliamentarians should interfere but the EU Parliament has a different role now in this area—but there is no way that you would get all that detail back for Ministers and perm secs. The decisions would be done, so it is on a different level completely.

I wanted to reinforce that from my own little window of experience from the last few years. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 10.

Amendment 10 withdrawn.

Amendments 11 to 36 not moved.

Clause 2 agreed.

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7 pm

Schedule 1: Carrying on the business of consultant lobbying

Amendments 37 to 52 not moved.

Schedule 1 agreed.

Clause 3: The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists

Amendment 53 not moved.

Clause 3 agreed.

Schedule 2: The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists

Amendment 54

Moved by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

54: Schedule 2, page 54, line 31, at end insert “after consultation with the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee”

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, Amendments 54 and 74 are in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Royall. We support an independent registrar, which means independent of the industry as well as working independently of the Government. However, the matters over which the registrar must judge, the standards that he or she sets and the objectives set for the office have an importance to Parliament and to our standards and expectations. We believe that that requires an organic link to Parliament, not just to the Government of the day.

We think it appropriate that that link is to the elected House, which by its nature is responsive to the outside electorate and their concerns and interests. We recommend that the Minister, in making the appointment, should consult the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of the other place and that, in similar mode, the registrar should report back to that committee on an annual basis.

We recognise the strength of the other amendments in this group, and we trust that the Minister will similarly do so and agree to take these away and bring back his own amendments on Report. I beg to move.

Lord Norton of Louth: My Lords, the principle in Amendment 74 of the registrar reporting is important. In my view, though, rather than reporting to a particular committee, it would be more appropriate to oblige the registrar to produce an annual report to Parliament itself. If it were going to be confined, I would not just confine it to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of the other place; I hear what the noble Baroness says, but there would also be a case for the Constitution Committee of you Lordships’ House being included as well. My preference would be for a report to Parliament, but I wholly support the principle that there ought to be a report. As the noble Baroness said, bringing the registrar within the scope of Parliament is entirely appropriate.

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Lord Tyler: My Lords, my Amendment 63 comes within this group. It is an extremely important amendment and one that is so central to the Bill that I hope there will be general agreement with its purpose. It may not be in perfect form; that is a different matter.

The amendment would insist that, alongside, there would be a central database of meetings between Ministers and external organisations, as recorded under the Ministerial Code. As the Minister said earlier, and as has been said on other occasions, not least at Second Reading, there is wide agreement across your Lordships’ House that the movement towards more transparency on meetings, with reports from various Ministers about what meetings have taken place with outside organisations, has been a major step forward under the present coalition Government. In fact, I was astonished to learn that this is the first Government to proactively publish the details of such meetings.

There is nevertheless a concept known among transparency campaigners as “hidden in plain sight”. That means that important information about who is bringing influence to bear in government may be published but may still be obscured by the form in which it is published. That is the issue to which I made reference at Second Reading and to which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, made reference earlier, when we had a brief exchange. That is critical to making progress in this direction.

To find out who Tesco has met in government over the past 12 months, you need to go manually to each of 26 different departmental websites, and then you have to look at spreadsheets for each quarter. There are therefore 104 spreadsheets that you need to find, and you then need to download them—just to get one simple bit of information: who has Tesco been talking to over the past 12 months? You will probably find that one or two departments have not even got around to publishing for the latest quarter, so it is not in real time. Indeed, by the time that department does publish that information, the influence that has been exerted over important legislation might have come and gone, right through Parliament. There is simply no opportunity to see what has happened.

You might find that one or two departments have broken or defective links that lead nowhere; we discovered that when we looked at some of the relevant spreadsheets. Surely it should not be necessary for a citizen, journalist or indeed parliamentarian to spend days looking for such simple information. The technology is there. Having made such a good start, this Government should surely not be hiding what is happening at this level simply because the systems that they are using are not up to the job.

If the Government took up the suggestion in our amendment, a simple and searchable central database for all their meeting data would mean that we could take the sting out of the calls, here and elsewhere, for an enormous lobbying register. We would have immediate access. This would fulfil my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth’s objectives: we would have the information, very accessibly, at our fingertips very quickly. It would not matter whether the lobbyist was a professional consultant or an in-house one, a charity or some other

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organisation; the information about who was talking to whom within the governmental system would be available relatively accessibly.

In my office we started to try to put together the spreadsheets for different departments. We just did two or three departments for one quarter in order to see if this experiment could be undertaken by anyone—parliamentarians or people outside. Excel itself can then produce a list of external organisations that have met Ministers. Quickly we could see who had met Ministers in more than one department, right across Whitehall. Surely that should be the objective that we all have. If we can do that in my office, there is no reason why departments and the Government collectively should not and could not do so. If it was done professionally, the data would then need to be parsed to ensure that if a meeting with BT came up, for example, it was indicated whether the meeting was registered as with BT, with BT Group or in other formats. Clearly there has to be some moderating intervention, but in this day and age that is surely not too difficult or expensive a task to ask of Government in the interests of transparency, which is surely what this initiative is all about. Then the result will be a fully searchable database, online, for all to examine—interested citizens, organisations outside Parliament, journalists and us. We could see what exactly had happened in the process of influencing legislation or executive decisions.

To make it more effective still, government departments should surely be able to publish these data at least on a monthly basis. Previously the Minister explained that he records very carefully all such meetings. Why should other Ministers not do so on a monthly basis rather than a quarterly basis? Surely that is no more difficult than doing so on a wider time basis. Anyone who has tried to influence the Government knows that time is critical. Get in at the right moment, or you fail. Given the way in which legislation, particularly statutory instruments, can go through both Houses of Parliament relatively speedily, if you do not know who has talked to whom within a matter of a few weeks after their meeting has taken place, the exercise becomes purely academic.

We need to see when people have been exerting influence at the same time as that influence may have had effect, not three or six months later. These would be very simple but very significant improvements. I hope that the Government, who have now created a more transparent system for meetings—the first time that any Government have attempted this—can see that this is the way to be more transparent still, and that surely is precisely what Parliament should be asking in the context of this legislation.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, I support what my noble friend just said. It seems rather silly to have done what is required in order to be transparent without taking the necessary steps to make it easy for other people to access that transparency. For example, ministerial diaries will be done on a daily basis, I assume, or possibly on a weekly basis, in advance, I hope, so the basic structure is there almost immediately. I cannot see why the diary cannot immediately be put out. Obviously, the diary sometimes has to be corrected, because even ministerial diaries sometimes do not

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actually transpire as intended, but an immediate correction could be made to make sure that it is accurate. I cannot see why it could not be done immediately, on a daily basis. Certainly, weekly would seem perfectly possible. If not, having made what one might regard as an important step towards transparency, the Government are losing the full benefit of that transparency by the difficulty that people have in accessing it.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay. Ministerial diaries need to be secure about the future. There are security considerations about ministerial movements. The future is quite different from the past. I do not see any reason why ministerial diaries should not be available the following day. I agree that they need to reflect not what the Minister planned to do, but what he actually did, and therefore the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, is quite right, but that can easily be done within a few hours. I see no reason why they should not be out the following day. I think the Foreign Secretary’s diary used to be, until a slightly embarrassing moment in the time of Ernest Bevin. When he was planning to go to the cinema, the diary said, “Night of love with Mrs Bevin”.

Lord Campbell-Savours: It seems to me that there is a bridge between the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, at Second Reading and the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, today. That is the way forward, but what it really needs is courage. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, will recall that in the previous Parliament I had to lead a rebellion against my own Government on political funding. We won. We defeated the Labour Government. I, a Labour Peer, was behind that rebellion.

It may well be that because what is being advocated here is so very different from the approach being proposed by the Government, it needs a bit of bottle and a bit of courage for the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, or the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, to take on their Government on the Floor of the House of Lords and in the Division Lobbies in the hope that they will have the support of the Official Opposition for the amendment. That is the only way we are going to be able to reshape the legislation whereby there is a far greater element of accountability in the way the noble Lords suggested in their contributions during this debate and at Second Reading.

7.15 pm

Lord Hardie: I support this amendment, and I hope that the Minister will see his way to coming forward with an amendment on Report to give effect to this. This may well not only meet the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, but also the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Lang of Monkton, at Second Reading that an easier and perhaps more effective approach to lobbying issues might be to require the person in government who is lobbied by discernible commercial interests to declare that in a lobbying register. That would perhaps go slightly further than the amendment, but I think the amendment meets the concerns expressed then. The amendment would have the added advantage that it would enshrine in statute

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this admirable initiative taken by the Government so that it would apply not just to this Government on a voluntary basis, but to all future Governments so that Ministers would be obliged to disclose their activities and they would appear alongside the details in the register.

Lord Martin of Springburn: My Lords, I am slightly worried about the speed which is being talked about by the noble Lords, Lord Kerr and Lord Tyler. I have no objection to getting up-to-date information but, if I understand correctly, we are talking about the information going out the following day. There have to be security implications. When I held of the office of Speaker, I was warned that there are fixated individuals who watch, stalk, make a pest of themselves and can be even more dangerous than that. The information would not only show up who the Minister was meeting but could well show up the venue, the place where the Minister was meeting. If it showed on a regular basis over a number of weeks that a meeting was taking place at a certain venue—let us say that the Minister by preference wanted to meet in his or her native city and said, “Make it a Friday at my constituency central office”—it could throw up a pattern of where the Minister was every Friday or every Monday for that matter, before they moved down to Westminster. I put that in as a word of caution. If the information says that the Minister met a representative from BT or Centrica, I would not be too unhappy, but if it showed a Minister meeting at a certain venue, I would worry about that.

Lord Tyler: I think I should make it clear that I suggested monthly. The present arrangement is three-monthly, but sometimes it is three months beyond that. I am less in a hurry than the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, who is much more radical. I am modest on these matters.

Lord Martin of Springburn: I could live with that.

Lord Norton of Louth: I add my support to my noble friend’s amendment, but it does not go far enough. Partly for the reason he just mentioned, I would be more ambitious, along the lines indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. There is no reason why you cannot have a rolling publication after the event excluding, following the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Martin, the venue because that is not really germane. It is the substance of the discussion that matters. I would be more ambitious than my noble friend Lord Tyler.

As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours said, the amendment links to what I am arguing. It moves us in the right direction, so I am fully in support; it is just that I want to go further because this is a database of meetings between Ministers and external organisations and we need to extend it in terms of who is being seen. Just confining it to Ministers creates problems, so we need a larger database, or we certainly need to be able to identify those who are being lobbied.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am fascinated to hear this great outbreak of revolution in transparency. We thought that we were set out on a constructive step

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forward on transparency. I am not sure that I want all Ministers’ and civil servants’ diaries published the day after they meet anyone, which I think is what the noble Lord, Lord Norton, was beginning to suggest.

I will try to answer the various probing amendments. A number of them, starting with Amendment 54, are about stiffening the independence of the registrar. Amendment 54 would require the Minister to consult with the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee before appointing the registrar. I am not aware whether that has yet been requested by the committee itself, but it is an interesting proposal.

The amendments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, would prevent any person who had been a civil servant or a political adviser in the previous five years being appointed registrar. This is also thoughtful, and designed to provide assurance regarding the independence of the registrar which, of course, the Government are entirely committed to establishing and maintaining. Under the Bill, the registrar will be appointed according to the public appointment principles of open and fair competition and the Minister will be able to dismiss the registrar only where they are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds that he is unable, unwilling or unfit to perform the functions of his office. If thought unreasonable, any such decision by a Minister could be challenged in the usual way, by judicial review. The registrar will be independent of the lobbying industry and the Government, and will have a clear remit to operate independently of the lobbying industry and the Government.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, seeks to extend the positions that will not be eligible for appointment as registrar to capture those officials who would be required to submit information to him or her under his new clause. The Government are not persuaded of the case for the noble and learned Lord’s additions, and would therefore resist this amendment.

The Government recognise the importance of ensuring that the registrar is independent. We are confident that our proposals secure that, but are grateful for these suggestions and will of course consider whether they should be pursued further.

Amendment 63 has attracted a considerable amount of support. It would require that, in addition to the statutory register of consultant lobbyists, the registrar would be required to keep and publish a central database of ministerial meetings with external organisations.

Lord Campbell-Savours: When the Minister responded to the amendment of my noble friend Lady Hayter of Kentish Town, I heard him say that the Government would consider the amendment; he will find that that is what he said in Hansard. If that is the case, can we be assured, then, that the chairman of that committee in the Commons will be consulted so that there can be discussion in the committee about to what extent it thinks that it is a realistic possibility for it to carry out that function, so that Ministers at least have the view of the committee when they make a judgment as to whether to accept my noble friend’s amendment?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am not going to give that commitment now because there are larger questions about how many public appointments should

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be overseen by Commons committees. That is a much broader issue than this appointment alone. I will take that back and consult with others but, as I said earlier, the Government are not currently persuaded of these amendments.

I return to the central database issue, which raises some large issues about the role of the registrar and whether or not ministerial appointments should be handed over, so to speak, for collation by an independent body associated with the Government. We have listened to those who have asked that the reports be available from one central location and have responded by migrating all meeting reports to gov.uk, where they can be readily accessed as both PDF and open-format CSV files. We have responded to those that suggested that the timeliness of reporting could be improved by committing to publishing all meeting information in the quarter immediately after that in which the meeting took place. I note the pressure to go further. The Government are committed to the principles of open government and we continue to investigate how we can further improve the value of the information that we make available to the public. However, we are not at present persuaded that we should be going as far as the noble Lord suggests.

Opposition Amendment 74 would require the registrar to submit an annual report to the PCRC on the operation of the register. Again, this is not a provision that I understand that the committee itself has sought—perhaps because it recognises that the registrar is already required by the drafting to submit their annual accounts to Parliament and that the committee will be perfectly entitled and able to call the registrar to provide evidence at any time. I would have thought that that would be enough to hold them to account.

The new clause of the noble Lord, Lord Norton, is by far the most ambitious amendment. It would require the Government to publish alongside any statement on a matter of policy, legislation or a contract or grant, records of any oral or written communication directed to a Minister, the Minister’s parliamentary private secretary or special adviser, and any departmental civil servants relating to that matter. The noble Lord, Lord Norton, provides exemptions from the requirement to publish for commercial or security-sensitive material. This is certainly an intriguing proposal but, I suggest, neither a feasible nor proportionate one. At a time when our focus should be on ensuring more efficient and effective government, a statutory requirement that every oral or written communication received by every civil servant, special adviser, PPS or Minister be recorded, collated and published in parallel with any relevant statement would appear ill advised. It would of course be an absolute goldmine for an academic researcher.

Not only would such a system impose an unwelcome bureaucratic burden on the public sector, it would likely impose information overload on the members of the public—perhaps even academic researchers. The volume of information that the Government would likely be required to publish in relation to a Budget Statement or a Queen’s Speech would be so overwhelming that any transparency value would be entirely undermined by the inaccessibility and quantity of the information. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, who

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talked about “hiding in plain sight”. When there is too much information provided, it is sometimes hard to weed out what is crucial.

The Government’s objective is to provide the public with valuable information which they can utilise to scrutinise our actions and hold us to account. The focus should be on the value of information and the insight it can provide, not on the volume. The Government already publish unprecedented amounts of information about decision-making, and the register is intended to extend that transparency to those who seek to influence decision-makers. It is already standard practice that responses to government consultations are published in full and in summary, and if the public require further information about certain policies or decisions then they have a right to request that information using the Freedom of Information Act.

I recognise that the noble Lord is urging the Government to extend our information publication regime a good deal further. We will continue to consider how enhanced transparency can best be achieved. I suggest, however, that a statutory requirement of this nature is not the most appropriate manner in which to do so. I therefore resist that amendment, and urge the noble Baroness to withdraw it.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, this has turned into a more interesting and wide-ranging debate than we had anticipated. There are two parts to it. One is about this database. On the idea that there is too much for us and therefore the Government do not want to put it out there—they should try harder than that. The House knows I have a certain thing about alcohol misuse. I just want to know how many drinks companies lobbied the Government about tax before the Budget. It ought to be possible to know that. I do not want all the other submissions. Someone who is interested in the environment or any other issue will just be focused and want to drill down to one thing. If it is a good system, an awful lot of noise out there will not matter.

When I am not spending my time here at 7.30 pm I am quite often at the National Theatre. You can go there with a tiny card and you have ordered perhaps four different lots of tickets for different nights and different theatres. You put in your little card and you get them all back. Its computer system can do it very easily. I cannot believe that it is beyond the wit of man—even men—to produce a similar system for this database, which is currently completely unsearchable. It is not, in the words of the Minister readily available. I have tried to search it, although I did not try for quite as long as the noble Lord, Lord Tyler—in future I will come to his office when I am trying to find this out. However, it is not searchable or rapid, and is therefore almost irrelevant, so late is it. I cannot see why it cannot be available the next day. If there was a will, there would certainly be a way.

7.30 pm

On the report going to a committee of the other House, I take the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, that it probably should be both rather than one. I think that that is right. The consultation would be about the job description and the sort of person, not necessarily about the individual. However,

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on the report back, which the Minister says will be published in Parliament anyway, by saying that this is the committee, or committees, that will see it, a significance is given to the registrar’s report. When we were debating the Financial Services Bill we wrote in it that quite a few things would go to the Treasury Select Committee. That tells the person writing the report where they will be interrogated or interviewed about it.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: From time to time Parliament does change the structure and the nomenclature of its committees. I think the Government would be a little hesitant to write the current structure of committees into legislation.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: The words “relevant select committee” could be used.

Lord Norton of Louth: On that point, legislation does write in the name of committees or the equivalent, so it is quite possible to do that.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: Not only does the noble Lord, Lord Norton, supply me with his wonderful Hull students to help me with my work, but he comes up with answers to my questions, for which I thank him.

What seems like a small amendment about writing the committee in is an important signal. I am sorry that we keep hearing the words “not persuaded” from that side. Having had the earlier discussion about Part 2 of the Bill, we very much hope that the Government will be persuaded by what they hear. I had hoped that some of that might have bled into Part 1 of the Bill and that the Government might have been persuaded by some of the things we said. However, we will leave it here, although we may want to come back to some of it at a later stage. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 54 withdrawn.

House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.33 pm.

Armed Forces: Civilian Life

Question for Short Debate

7.33 pm

Asked by Lord Craig of Radley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Transition Mapping Study published by the Forces in Mind Trust in August into understanding the transition process for armed forces personnel returning to civilian life.

Lord Craig of Radley (CB): My Lords, I welcome the Minister and her evident versatility to the Dispatch Box. We debated medicine labelling 10 days ago and transition mapping tonight—that is surely a very broad canvas for her skills.

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Due to redundancy programmes in the Armed Forces, more than the usual annual numbers of personnel are making the transition from service to civilian life. The Transition Mapping Study, published by the Forces in Mind Trust last August, is therefore a timely and important new look at this subject. It is a new look into the many issues and problems that may arise for some, but by no means all, who leave the forces and seek to establish themselves in a new civilian career or occupation.

I will first remind your Lordships of the Forces in Mind Trust. It is a new charity, which owes its genesis to the inspiration and determination of Air Vice-Marshal Stables, then chairman of COBSEO, to set up a charitable organisation that would be complementary to and supportive of the many service charities that already exist. Some might argue that there are enough already, so why have yet another one? Time is too short to explain in detail. Briefly, however, Stables was able to persuade the Big Lottery Fund to make a grant of £35 million to set up the Forces in Mind Trust, and the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry has given partnership support. Those are surely two very resounding votes of confidence in the concept, place and value of this new charity.

The trust aims initially to concentrate on transition, a term used to describe the process whereby service men and women, as well as their families and dependants, make their individual preparations to leave the Armed Forces and return to civilian life. For the majority who leave each year this is a successful process. However, there are a significant number who have faced or are facing a difficult transition, and the trust has focused on that group. The trust’s patron is the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, who would have wished to take part in this debate but unfortunately has a speaking engagement elsewhere this evening.

The Transition Mapping Study report, which is the trigger for this short debate, is well worth study. Some recurring themes emerge from it—for example, transition experiences vary greatly, and much depends on the individual’s attitude to his or her transition. The differences between military and civilian life are often underestimated; cultural differences, for example, can come as some surprise, and even as a shock. Families matter; the extent to which the service leaver’s family is supportive and able to help is a strong indicator of likely transition success. Financial awareness is also important. For many it differs greatly between their service experience and forthcoming civilian life. The quality and consistency of the transition process within the services has improved but remains uneven. After transition the safety net that could be provided by service charities is hard to navigate. Not everyone who leaves the Armed Forces is entitled to resettlement support. Even among the entitled, some lack educational qualifications. Others are required to serve their final months deployed overseas or distant from their chosen civilian life. As the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, says in his foreword to the report, such individuals are at particular risk of failing to make a successful transition.

I will draw attention to some guiding principles identified in the report, from page 78 onwards, to aid those assisting with transition. These have been distilled

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from interviewing stakeholders, analysis of existing research and the research team’s own work and modelling. For example, how can one best comprehend and encompass the whole context of the experiences of a service leaver? Moving from a service environment to a civilian one is not simply about a change of job; it involves a change of lifestyle and culture, maybe moving home, establishing new friendships, new schools for the children, greater personal administration and responsible management of personal affairs. It involves not only the individual service man or woman but also the immediate members of their family.

Each case will be different, so it is not simply a matter of identifying or adopting a broad systemic approach. Rather, how should support organisations tailor and direct their services to meet the needs and aspirations of the individual in a more personally structured way? As he or she joins the forces, that individual faces the inevitability of transition and its related financial, emotional and cultural changes and experiences. So how soon, and with what help and guidance, should the individual and their immediate family start to prepare? Problems with mental health and alcohol abuse may have a direct bearing on making a successful transition. Some who are leaving the forces today have been exposed to the traumas and tragedies and operations in a way that may, months and even years later, lead to mental stress and related illnesses. Those individuals will surely need additional help.

As the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, also mentions in his foreword to the report, there is a clear, evidence-based economic case for some change in the current arrangements. Failed transition cost the state upwards of £113 million in 2012. The financial cost to the charity sector and individuals will be many times more, not to mention the quality of life cost to the individual of ill health, family breakdown and even imprisonment. The report lists 10 categories of failed transition—for example, homelessness, imprisonment, class A drug treatment, family breakdown and unemployment. Through an algorithm, it calculates that the cost to the state in benefits, treatment and loss of revenue adds up to that figure of £113 million for 2012. Those are stark symptoms of transition breakdown, which must not be ignored or brushed under the carpet.

I shall be interested to learn from the Minister how the MoD and the Government are reacting to the work of the Forces in Mind Trust. Do they accept the thrust of its analysis and recommendations? I acknowledge that the MoD has introduced some new transition arrangements, but does the Minister agree that further change is acquired? Is not a more cost-effective approach to this important aspect of the support of the Armed Forces and the practical value of the Armed Forces covenant required? I look forward to her response.

Earl Attlee (Con): My Lords, I quickly point out that timings for this debate are quite tight.

7.42 pm

Baroness Garden of Frognal (LD): My Lords, I thank the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, for introducing this debate and offering an

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opportunity to consider the issues around members of the Armed Forces returning to civilian life. The timing is particularly appropriate as we approach Remembrance Day, when the nation pays tribute to all those who have laid their lives on the line in the service of the country.

As the noble and gallant Lord said, and as was mentioned in the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, last week, military life is not just a job but a way of life. Leaving the military can mean personnel and their families leaving work, homes and communities, each of which will impose disturbance and uncertainty. In addition, as the insightful survey by the Forces in Mind Trust makes clear, there are very varied cultural differences between military and civilian, in forms of behaviour, language and expectations.

The transition to civilian employment has been greatly improved since the days when the military ran its own training programmes with its own, often somewhat mystical, accreditation. During the many years when I worked for City and Guilds, we saw expansion in demand from the military for NVQs and other vocational qualifications. New recruits sometimes needed basic literacy and numeracy qualifications. Advanced skills, such as those called for by REME, with its technical and mechanical prowess, by nuclear submariners in the Royal Navy, or aeronautical engineers in the Royal Air Force, and many other forms of skills could be recognised in a way that would be understood and valued by civilian employers. City and Guilds also worked with higher command and staff courses to award degree-level qualifications. Over the years, increasing numbers of personnel have been offered opportunities to gain university degrees—again, placing them in a better position for civilian life. So whatever the rank or length of service, all should now leave with a profile of achievement which equips them for the employment market. Creating transferable skills is one of the recommendations in this report.

But there is more to the transition, of course. Ray Lock, the chief executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, which generated the survey, has flagged up the importance of practical skills to cope with everyday life. Military personnel who have spent their service life in barracks or mess accommodation may have little experience of managing their personal finances. If food, accommodation, heating and uniforms have all been provided, it can be a steep learning curve to have to sort out everyday needs for oneself. As he says,

“soldiers, sailors and airmen can join up as young as 17 and are cocooned from civilian life when they are in the forces. As well as missing the camaraderie and identity of the Armed Forces, they can struggle to deal with rent, bills and planning”.

The study found that the worst affected were often young veterans who had left early. They may have joined up with few coping skills and, in a short period in service, not managed to build up self-sufficiency. An essential part of any transition process will include learning the responsibilities of everyday life. Critical to that is financial literacy, which should be part of every school leaver’s education and one of the many areas in which the Armed Forces are doing considerable work to try to improve the skills of those serving. Another theme of the report is to create independence.

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The challenges faced by single people are matched by those with dependent relatives. In my 30 years, when my husband was a serving RAF officer, I became very involved in welfare matters, particularly in respect of wives and families; this was before the days when partners were officially recognised. The military community has always been resourceful and capable of innovative self-help projects. I remember that, through the station executives, it was possible to set up opportunities, albeit limited, for families to access learning and training, which would give them some skills and confidence to continue learning, both during and after their service life. Those were embryonic schemes, and much progress has been made since then, with official engagement with the family, which is another theme of the report. It is important to do this at the earliest stage.

The transition for families can be as demanding and traumatic as for the members of the Armed Forces. Measures that enable dependent relatives to be supportive rather than burdensome at this time bring all-round benefits. I pay tribute to the work of families federations, which have raised the profile of military family life, identified problem areas and offered supportive solutions. Would my noble friend the Minister, whom I welcome to her role within the Ministry of Defence, be able to say something about government support for the Army, Navy and Air Force families federations?

Many of the qualities and skills called for in military life are entirely transferable and will prove valuable throughout society—not just professional skills, but the ethos of public service, teamwork and respect for others. Plans to recruit troops into teaching, for instance, are beginning to bear fruit. Other public and private sector employers would do well to look out for these new entrants to the civilian market.

In your Lordships’ House, there is enormous expertise and support for the Armed Forces. In addressing the transition brought to the fore by the redundancy programme, I trust that the Government will take positive action to take full account of the military covenant and be generous in support of the invaluable members of the Armed Forces during these testing times. I look forward to the other contributions and to my noble friend’s response.

7.49 pm

Lord Walker of Aldringham (CB): My Lords, I apologise most profusely to the House and to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, for being absent at the very start of this debate. I declare two interests. I am a trustee of Veterans Aid which aims through a caring and non-judgmental approach to care for veterans in crisis and contribute to their return to society. I am also president of Stoll, a housing organisation which supports vulnerable veterans in the hope that they can live as independently as possible.

I would like to address two areas this evening. One is to do with the Forces in Mind transition study itself and the second is a wider point affecting the veterans sector in the UK as a whole. It is a great pity that the study did not address the singular and very knotty problem of foreign and Commonwealth personnel as they transition to civilian life here. There are about

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8,500 such folk in the Armed Forces—some 5% of the total. It is not known how many of them aspire to British citizenship, but the annual number of foreign and Commonwealth veterans who have sought help from the Veterans Aid charity has increased exponentially over the past seven years and now constitutes some 22% of those who were seen by the charity this year.

This may be due in part to the successful resolution of the Lance Corporal Baleiwai case. Your Lordships may remember that he was a Fijian soldier who had served with distinction for 13 years, including on operational tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, but, because he had had a barrack room fight with another soldier, was threatened with deportation. Following a petition and a relaxation of the rules by the Home Office, he and his family were allowed to stay. The publicity surrounding this case may well have given more of those likely to encounter such problems the courage to seek help. However, if there is a belief that because of interventions such as that the problem has gone away, that is not the experience of the charity. If anything, the situation is worse than it has ever been and the problems do not relate just to citizenship but to applications for indefinite and further leave to remain in the country. Many of those affected are service men and women who have served for less than four years and have been discharged on medical grounds or made redundant through no fault of their own. They believe that they have a fair claim to stay, but often do not. Public perceptions of the wider immigration issue also work to the detriment of this cohort. Indeed, they are further disadvantaged by the £1,000 cost of an application to regularise their status, which is not refundable if it fails.

A recent case is that of a former Royal Engineer from Nigeria who left the Army in September after two years of service, having been medically discharged. He had lived in the United Kingdom for six years but had never applied for citizenship. After leaving his Army quarters, he had nowhere to go. When he went to see the charity, he was sleeping in a garage and his 18 month-old daughter and pregnant wife were sleeping in a cupboard. The charity provided immediate intervention but this is not a long-term solution and the outcome remains uncertain.

Discretion can be exercised in these cases, but although there are guidelines they are by no means clear. They are further confused by the bureaucracy surrounding the applications, which is very complex, even for those with legal training, and virtually impenetrable to the lay soldiery. Not everyone can be helped, of course; there are clear cases where the actions of an individual make him or her ineligible. On the other hand, a single error on a form can generate rejection or critical delay.

Things are happening. A Private Member’s Bill in the other place seeks to amend the British Nationality Act 1981 so that foreign and Commonwealth citizens in the forces who want to apply for naturalisation as British citizens are not disadvantaged because of time served overseas. Current law states that foreign and Commonwealth citizens must have been in the UK for five years prior to making an application, and those who have spent time serving overseas, albeit on active service in Afghanistan, may have to wait longer to apply than non-service personnel or those who have

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spent their entire military career in the United Kingdom. It is clearly a well intentioned Bill that was introduced to ensure that the military covenant is delivered in practice as well as in spirit, and it should be applauded. It will, however, address only a small part of the wider problem.

This brings me to my wider point, which concerns the veterans sector as a whole. There are currently three studies relevant to this issue—the mapping study itself, the study of the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, and a study being conducted by the Centre for Social Justice. The latter two have yet to report. We should await the outcome of these studies before any action is taken. However, coupled with the recent enshrinement into law of the military covenant, high expectations have been raised in the veteran community and the many charities involved.

We should not forget that the vast majority of those leaving the Armed Forces manage the transition to civilian life well. Those veterans in crisis or real need constitute a relatively small but none the less important cohort. At the same time, the veterans sector is comparatively well provided for. The Charity Commission calculates the net assets of Armed Forces charities at about £1.1 billion, with an annual gross income of nearly £750 million. However, there are currently some 2,050 Armed Forces charities from which these totals are aggregated. This seems a staggeringly high number and suggests that there is a charity for every 10 members of the Armed Forces. I suspect that many of them are unsustainable in the longer term and that many, too, are donor-led rather than needs-led, with good folk having what seems a cracking good idea and starting up a charity without serious analysis of the need. The marketplace is, indeed, very crowded.

Therefore, I suggest that, however well intentioned all these studies are, the time has come for a much more radical look at the veterans sector. We should revisit the notion of an independent veterans’ champion or ombudsman, or whatever would be the best title to describe him. The Ministry of Defence is the principal department with responsibility for veterans and has, through no fault of the individuals, had something like seven Secretaries of State and seven junior Ministers handling the veterans portfolio in the past eight years, which is not a recipe for focus and continuity. This is a source of concern for the ex-service charity world and begs the question of whether it is not time to look at the Canadian model of a fully fledged department of veteran affairs with an enshrined veterans’ charter. Working with the Charity Commission, this official or department should be able to bring a better coherence to the veteran sector while encouraging needs-led rather than donor-led activity and provisioning. It should also allow the sector to get the biggest bang for its buck, which is certainly not the case at the moment. It would have a much clearer focus on the issues across the board and across government and would have the independence to recommend courses of action to the Government, untrammelled by departmental agendas.

7.57 pm

Lord Empey (UUP): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, on securing this important debate. I want to concentrate primarily—at

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least initially—on personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Battlefield medicine has improved dramatically. Consequently, the survival rate of members of the Armed Forces who receive very severe injuries while on active service is much greater than would have been the case some years ago. As welcome as that is, the net effect is that many very seriously injured personnel are returning to this country. These young men and women will require perhaps 60 years of help and welfare.

I tabled a Question on this issue last December and was given the relevant figures at that time. I am sure that the noble Baroness who is to reply will have access to that information. There is a growing number of very seriously injured service personnel returning to this country who will require a career path to be worked out for them. If they are able to undertake work, that is extremely therapeutic. I know of a ranger in my own home area who is doing telephony work in a barracks, although it remains to be seen how permanent that will be. There are many special needs cases among these returning personnel. I hope that the noble Baroness will refer to them in her reply.

I also want to mention another development. A few weeks ago my party, the Ulster Unionist Party, put forward a proposal at home for a world-class trauma centre that we would like to be developed as part of our local mental health strategy, which is based on the Bamford review published a few years ago. It is the case, sadly, that because of our experience with Operation Banner and our Troubles over 40 years we have many people who served in the Armed Forces or the police, or their reserves, who are even now, after 30 or 40 years, presenting with clear illness only at this stage and requiring substantial aid and assistance. I just wonder how prepared we are to deal with such people.

Given that around the world there are cases such as all the shootings in American universities, the Norwegian experience and people returning from wars, including our service personnel, a huge number of people require help and assistance in dealing with the mental health effects of such terrible circumstances. Our idea is therefore to create in Northern Ireland a centre of excellence based partly on 40 years of experience but which would be opened up internationally, because people from, for example, the United States and the European Union have been helpful to us, and because, with our experience, we think that as well as receiving help we can perhaps give something back to the international community. That is why we are pursuing this. There was a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday on a Motion from our party that was passed unanimously, seeking support for the implementation of a strategy to deal with the trauma that had been created.

The military covenant was referred to. Given the commitments that Parliament and the Government have rightly made, we have to give a lot more attention to these issues than perhaps has hitherto been the case. Figures were quoted from the report and have been in the press. I agree with the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, that those figures only scratch the surface, because it is impossible in many cases to put a financial value on some of the downstream

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consequences of these traumas, particularly when many ex-service personnel have multiple amputations and very severe injuries. The truth is that we do not know in this country what the consequences of these situations are going to be and we cannot estimate the cost.

I asked the Ministry of Defence in a Question last year whether the National Health Service was prepared and resourced to deal with these matters. I ask the Minister to address that issue. What provision is being made? We have large numbers of troops returning who are going to be interfacing with a transition process. Within that number will be a percentage who, over time, will present with post-traumatic stress and related conditions. I should like to think that we as a country will put some resources into helping research and development into these conditions, which would have an international application. Perhaps this is one area in which those in Northern Ireland who have had significant experience can give a lead—which is certainly our intention.

8.03 pm

Lord Hope of Craighead (CB): My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley on securing time for this debate, which is very timely in view of the period in the year in which we find ourselves, as the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, pointed out.

I was much impressed by the statement on page 15 of the Transition Mapping Study that the difference between a manageable transition and a poor one can come down to resources when the safety net provided by charities for ex-service personnel either works or fails to work, and by the point that the safety net is hard to navigate, even by those who understand it. I was impressed because I find this assessment of the efficacy of the safety net in present circumstances quite disturbing.

My initial contact with the services was some 55 years ago when I was called up for national service in the Army. Perhaps I was unusually fortunate, but two features of the Highland regiment that I joined impressed me at the time and are relevant to this debate. The first was that the regiment had strong links with particular areas in the Highlands and certain areas in the north of England from which traditionally it had drawn its recruits. The second feature was that the regiment maintained strong links with those areas by means of a network of regimental associations that were very active in looking after the interests of those who had left the service but were in need of support. We were all encouraged to believe that although we had gone back into civilian life, we were all still members of the regimental family. This applied especially to the regular soldiers who had been in the service for a long time. It was appreciated that they, too, would be likely to need support. That was why the associations were set up and why the retired officers of the regiment took such a strong interest in them.

I left the Army just as the process of amalgamations was starting. To begin with, the association system could cope with that. The regimental family was enlarged but was still a family. That all changed when all the

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surviving Scottish infantry regiments were gathered together into a single body, the Royal Regiment of Scotland. I make no criticism of the decision to reform the Army in Scotland in that way, but it has had the unfortunate consequence that as the links with particular recruiting areas and the associations that went with them were broken, the old families have almost entirely disappeared. That kind of support is not there any more. It will take time to build up a replacement.

I mention this because I suggest that it makes it all the more important that the Government pay very close attention to the points made in this study. The old system, when the regiments could do so much to provide the support and guidance that was needed in their own areas, has gone. Of course, as the study points out, there are strong differences between the culture of the different services, and indeed between the various units in the Army, too. The system which I have been describing was suited to the way the infantry regiments, each with its own cap badge, were organised. However, I suspect that the process of slimming down has made itself felt across all three services in a similar way. This increases the need for positive action by the Government, and it is a point that I think this study is making about the provision of resources.

At this time of the year one thinks, of course, of the Royal British Legion and of Poppyscotland, its Scottish counterpart whose unique poppy I wear. I am troubled by the suggestion that ex-servicemen find the charity sector, in which these organisations play such a prominent part, hard to navigate. I doubt whether this can be attributed to lack of effort by the charities. Each year Poppyscotland helps thousands of ex-service men and women and their families to overcome physical, emotional and financial difficulties. It also supports other veteran charities which provide specialist help and it has a high profile. Help is available to those who need it if they know where to go and can bring themselves to seek it. I am quite sure that Poppyscotland would not be alone in feeling disappointed if the route to get help from it were difficult to navigate. That is the last thing it would wish to happen. There are, however, as we all know and as has been mentioned by my noble and gallant friend Lord Walker, very many charities in this field, and one can understand that it may be a bit difficult for those who are in trouble to know where to turn to because, as the study points out, there is no central conduit for finding one’s way about.

Therefore, there seems to be much force in the points that the study makes, in recommendations 4.6 and 4.7, that there is a clear need for a central tool to be devised and provided. That would seem to be an important practical step that the Government might take to address this worrying situation, and I, for my part, would be very interested to learn from the Minister what assessment has been made of the possibility of taking it.

8.09 pm

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, I take this opportunity to welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, to her defence brief as a Minister and extend to her our congratulations.

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I, too, should like to express my thanks to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, for securing this debate and for providing the opportunity to discuss some of the issues raised in the Transition Mapping Study, published nearly three months ago by the Forces in Mind Trust. The study reviews how the transition process from military to civilian life currently works, and how it is viewed by stakeholders and recent service leavers. That information has then been used to develop an economic model that calculates the cost to the United Kingdom as a whole of the impact of unsuccessful transition.

As has already been said, the report points out that the cost to the state last year of Armed Forces personnel not making a successful transition into civilian life at the end of their service is estimated at upwards of £113 million. On top of that are the financial costs to the many relevant charities which become involved and to the individuals and their families who are directly affected. The report makes 26 recommendations for addressing this issue. It goes on to state that the cost of implementing many of the recommendations would be but a small fraction of the £113 million cost figure for last year, when there were just under 20,000 service leavers.

The figure of £113 million for the costs of poor transition is broken down in the report. Alcohol misuse makes up the biggest single figure with a cost of £35 million, followed by mental health issues at £26 million. Unemployment costs come in next at £21 million, with the costs of family breakdown being put at £16 million. The cost of homelessness is assessed as being £5.5 million and ending up as a prison inmate £4.4 million. There are then the more limited costs related to other matters reflecting poor transition, which bring the total figure up to the £113 million.

The report recognises that over the past 13 years there has been an increased awareness of the issues involved in servicemen and servicewomen transitioning from the Armed Forces to the civilian world, starting with the formal statement in 2000 under the previous Government of the notion of the Armed Forces covenant. This spelt out why, as a society, we should ensure that those who have served in the military are not disadvantaged by their time in the services.

In 2003, the processes necessary to improve transition from the services to civilian life were initially outlined under the Ministry of Defence’s Strategy for Veterans, and this was further developed as part of a Command Paper published in 2008. The 2003 Strategy for Veterans laid down the objectives that transition to civilian life from the Armed Forces was intended to achieve. It set out three key pillars, the purpose of which was to ensure that veterans received excellent preparation for the transition to civilian life following service, support from the Government and the voluntary sector where needed, and recognition of their contribution to society.

Until 2011, the Armed Forces covenant was an informal understanding, but in that year the core principles of the covenant were, as we know, enshrined in law for the first time, and provided that no current or former member of the Armed Forces, or their families, should be at a disadvantage compared with other citizens in the provision of public and commercial

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services, and that special consideration was appropriate in some cases, particularly for those who had been injured or bereaved. As we know, the Armed Forces Act 2011 laid down, too, that the Defence Secretary should provide an annual report on the covenant.

The 2011 Act also set out two key principles. The first is that it is desirable to remove disadvantages arising for service people from membership, or former membership, of the Armed Forces and the second is that special provision for service people may be justified by the effects on such people of membership, or former membership, of the Armed Forces.

In the document, The Armed Forces Covenant: Today and Tomorrow, published in May 2011, the Government set out the measures that they were taking to support the principles of the covenant in the immediate and longer term, drawing also on work already done, including by the previous Government. In respect of the general expectations and aspirations implicit in the covenant, the document said in relation to transition that support should be provided to all service personnel to assist in their transition from service to civilian life. It went on to say that provision should include training, education, and appropriate healthcare referral and job-seeking preparation and assistance, and that this should include information and guidance on housing and financial management and the support that is available from government departments and the voluntary sector.

Under the previous Government and this Government, real progress has been made in acknowledging and in seeking to address the issues involved in the transition process for service personnel returning to civilian life and their families, whether it be through, for example, training courses, civilian work attachments, help with job-hunting and house-hunting, financial advice, or advice on the importance of seeking medical help, including the ability to access mental health services.

Tremendous work continues to be undertaken by military charities and welfare organisations. Through community covenants, local authorities, local businesses, organisations and charities, along with the Armed Forces in their area, are encouraged to promote understanding and awareness of issues affecting the Armed Forces community, including the sacrifices they have made, and encourage activities which help to integrate the Armed Forces community into local life. A great many local authorities have signed up to the community covenant scheme. There are also many examples of local initiatives designed to help ensure that there is a successful transition process.

However, what the Transition Mapping Study published by the Forces in Mind Trust in August reminds us is how much there is that can still be done and needs to be done while in service, as part of resettlement and in the transition to civilian life itself. The study makes 26 recommendations and it would be helpful if the Minister could say whether the Government are or will be considering adopting and implementing any of those recommendations in order to build on the work and progress that has already been made.

Perhaps I may also raise one specific point about a proposal that was put forward during the discussions on the Offender Rehabilitation Bill that there should

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be what were described as veterans courts under which former members of the Armed Forces who pleaded guilty to or were found guilty of an offence would receive specific and positive help with rehabilitation, not least through the provision of a mentor. Is this a matter that the Government are considering since one indication of a failed transition can be a court conviction?

We often express our gratitude in this House to our Armed Forces for the courage and commitment they show and for the sacrifices they make on our behalf. We do so again today. We recognise that members of our Armed Forces and their families face particular problems that are not experienced by others in having to make the transition back to civilian life—problems that can arise from the very nature, demands and culture of military life, from the work and responsibilities that our Armed Forces are expected to undertake and from the experiences with which they can be confronted. We all want to make sure that the move back into civilian life is made as successfully as possible for all service personnel. The Transition Mapping Study is a very useful document in helping us to achieve that objective.

8.17 pm

Baroness Jolly (LD): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, on securing the important debate on the Transition Mapping Study undertaken by the Forces in Mind Trust. I am aware of his long and illustrious career in the Royal Air Force, which spans some 40 years and is reflected in his interest in our Armed Forces personnel today. I thank noble Lords for their kind words to me on this, my first, defence debate. For me, it is a rather a poignant occasion because a few years ago my husband left the Royal Navy after more than 30 years’ service as an officer. Therefore, I have been on the receiving end of what was old-style transition.

Let me begin by first acknowledging the work that the Forces in Mind Trust is undertaking to enhance UK-wide support and advocacy for service personnel, veterans and their families. As your Lordships will know, the transition we are interested in today is the process of a service person, and in many cases their family, leaving the Armed Forces and settling back into civilian life. The aim is to see them in gainful employment, if that is what they want, and with no accommodation, welfare, health or domestic concerns.

As reflected by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, a great majority of Armed Forces personnel who leave the services each year do so successfully. This is, in part, due to the resources invested in them during their service life but also through their own determination and desire to succeed. Employers recognise these qualities. However, a majority is not enough. We must concern ourselves with those who find the transition from military to civilian life difficult and may require some state support.

Your Lordships may find it useful if I set out the transition support already available to those who leave the Armed Forces. While in service, Armed Forces personnel receive accreditation for their professional training. This provides them with formal qualifications to help them to compete with their civilian counterparts

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on transition. In addition, they are provided with the opportunities and financial support to conduct vocational as well as professional advancement.

Prior to leaving, all Armed Forces personnel are entitled to some form of resettlement assistance. This is provided by the MoD-funded Career Transition Partnership with the amount of support based on length of service. Those who have served six years or more and all those medically discharged or made redundant, regardless of how long they have served, are entitled to a full resettlement programme. This includes a three-day career transition workshop, use of a career consultant, a job-finding service, retraining time and a retraining grant. Those who have served between four and six years are entitled to a package focused mainly on employment support with a bespoke job-finding service and a career interview.

Until this year, those who left prior to four years’ service, often without completing training, were only signposted to support services. Research has suggested that some of these early service leavers needed more. For some, the inability to make a success of a service career comes on top of a background of social issues.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Walker, asked about foreign and Commonwealth personnel. They are valuable members of the Armed Forces. I will ask my noble friend the Minister to write to the noble and gallant Lord on the specific entitlements of these personnel and how we respond to their specific needs.

In 2013 the Ministry of Defence decided that following the successful Forces in Mind Trust pilot in Catterick, early service leavers would have access to transition support. This recent improvement provides them with financial, housing and employment support, including linking them to a Jobcentre Plus. Separate to these structured packages, all service leavers can access lifetime job-finding support through either the Officers’ Association or the Regular Forces Employment Association.

In 2012 the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, was appointed as a veterans’ transition special representative, a need highlighted by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Walker. In this role he will provide the Ministry of Defence with valuable advice on how we can further support those leaving the Armed Forces. It is expected that the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, will produce an interim report to the Secretary of State for Defence by the end of 2013, with more comprehensive recommendations being made during 2014. He is expected to focus on housing, health, welfare, employment and education.

In addition to the independent review, the Chief of Defence Personnel is undertaking an internal review of the Armed Forces personnel transition programme. In 2015 the contract with the Career Transition Partnership is due to be re-let. This is therefore the right time to assess whether any changes need to be made. While the support offered to service personnel is extensive and largely effective, there may well be areas which could and should be improved. This work will take into account the recommendations made by the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, the Forces in Mind Trust and the Centre for Social Justice. I will pass on the helpful comments of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Walker of Aldringham, to the MoD.

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I turn now to the Transition Mapping Study report, Understanding the Transition Process for Service Personnel Returning to Civilian Life. Although the Ministry of Defence did not commission the report, it has acknowledged the good work of the Forces in Mind Trust and supports its desire to improve the transition process for Armed Forces personnel on their return to civilian life. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, referred to the contents of the report and its recommendations, but for those noble Lords who are not familiar with them, I shall highlight some, although I do not intend to list all 26.

The report is helpfully split into three distinct areas covering all aspects of service life: in-service, resettlement and transition. For those still in service, the recommendations include: profiling potential Armed Forces personnel for their aptitude for personal development; increasing the alignment of military vocational training with civilian skills; financial awareness training; and reducing the intensity of deployment. During resettlement, it was recommended that an assessment be made of an individual’s needs to support them to make a successful transition. The possibility of conducting work experience in a civilian environment was also raised, as was providing more resources, particularly for early service leavers. Finally, during transition itself, the recommendations include engaging the family, reviewing post-services housing provision, improving informal one-to-one support and improving the research and monitoring of former Armed Forces personnel after leaving.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, and others raised the issues of mental health, homelessness, imprisonment and those who are wounded in service. I hope to be able to address some of those matters. Some recommendations have already been addressed by the Ministry of Defence and were in train prior to the report being published. The early service leavers initiative, although in effect only since 1 October 2013, was implemented early following the positive evaluation of the 2012 pilot scheme. In addition, noble Lords may have seen the media launch in September of MoneyForce, the new training programme and website to help improve the financial awareness of UK Armed Forces personnel. Several noble Lords highlighted this as a serious issue. For the first time ever, personnel will receive structured financial education during basic training to equip them and their families with the best information and tools to make informed financial decisions about their future. MoneyForce is an excellent example of the Armed Forces covenant in action.

The Secretary of State for Defence recently announced the Forces Help to Buy scheme, which will come into effect in March 2014. It is designed to help Armed Forces personnel who want to buy their first home. The scheme aims to address low levels of home ownership in the Armed Forces and overcome the disadvantages that mobility brings, in line with the principles of the Armed Forces covenant. It will support greater lifestyle choice and the retention of personnel. These two financial initiatives are the first step towards creating a through-service awareness of transition. The aim is to create a level of personal independence in Armed Forces personnel that will enable them to make a future successful transition.

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In December, officials will meet representatives from the Forces in Mind Trust to discuss its report and look at opportunities for further research to better understand why some individuals do not undertake transition successfully. Regardless of whether the recommendations put forward by the trust have already been implemented or not, the evidence and recommendations made will be used to inform the department’s future work on transition.

I want now to address the issue raised by my noble friend Lady Garden. The three service family federations play a crucial role in ensuring that we know what service families are thinking and allow us to discuss ideas and problems as they arise. We maintain a range of formal and informal contacts with the three federations. For example, the MoD hosts a biannual families working group, which brings together the family federations, the Children’s Education Advisory Service and welfare policy officials to discuss the key issues. The family federations have also had direct contact with Ministers as necessary, including through attendance at annual conferences. Each individual service interacts with its family federation differently, but the three services provide financial support to ensure that this vital link is maintained.

As part of our ongoing commitment to mental health, over £9 million from LIBOR fines has been awarded to programmes supporting mental health in the service community. Mental health among service personnel and veterans is as good as, and in some cases better than, that among the civilian population, and significant effort is put into preventing the onset of mental health problems and providing effective support and treatment when required. Service personnel being discharged from the Armed Forces on mental health grounds are managed by a robust transition care process. I am sure that the Minister will highlight further issues around mental health.

I will move quickly on to homelessness. The majority of service leavers make a smooth transition to private accommodation. The 2012-13 figures reported by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network indicate that 3% of those found sleeping rough in north London claim to have served in our Armed Forces. On leaving the service, the need for social housing becomes a local authority matter. The MoD is working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government to ensure the fair treatment of service families in need of social housing and to ensure that they are given proper priority on the waiting list.

It is important that injured personnel are given the support that they need to make a successful transition from service life. Armed Forces personnel who are deemed no longer fit for service as a result of their medical status will be assessed individually and personally. No one will leave the Armed Forces until they have reached a point in their recovery where leaving the Armed Forces is the right decision, however long it takes.

This has been an interesting debate and I am grateful for noble Lords’ contributions. The Minister will write to any noble Lords whose questions have not been answered.

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Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill

Committee (1st Day) (Continued)

8.33 pm

Amendment 55

Moved by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

55: Schedule 2, page 55, line 5, at end insert—

“( ) Before dismissing the Registrar, the Minister shall consult the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords.”

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con): My Lords, in moving Amendment 55, I apologise to the House for not having been in the Chamber for the debate immediately preceding the dinner break, where some aspects of the position of the registrar of lobbyists were discussed—how he will be appointed, who can be appointed and some method for reporting on his performance. My amendment is, at this stage of course, a probing amendment, and is concerned with the other end of the appointment, the question of dismissal.

Paragraph 3(6) of Schedule 2 says:

“The Minister may dismiss the Registrar if the Minister is satisfied that the Registrar is unable, unwilling or unfit to perform the functions of the office”.

Those are quite big words, capable of pretty wide interpretation. Rather gratifyingly, after I had tabled this amendment, I was written to by a number of groups that are interested in this: the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and a group called Spinwatch, which said it thought this was an issue worth probing.

As I said at Second Reading, the registrar of lobbyists will have a pretty key role in the efficient functioning of the new system. From time to time, for he or she to be effective, he or she will be required to be disobliging—to lobbyists, of course, but also to be prepared to speak truth to power, which can be quite uncomfortable. As I have just explained by reading out the clause, the Minister has summary powers as far as the removal of the registrar is concerned.

I reflected on what might be done to provide what might be described as a little air cover for the registrar in the work that he is doing. I looked at two examples. Both are bodies that have some connection to this Bill. First is the Charity Commission. Paragraph 3(3) of Schedule 1 to the Charities Act says:

“Before removing a member of the Commission the Minister must consult … the Commission, and … if the member was appointed following consultation with the Welsh Ministers, the Welsh Ministers”,

so he has no power to remove the head of the Charity Commission without at least having to go through an iteration with fellow members of the commission. More specifically, the Electoral Commission, the other body with which we are concerned, has a considerably higher threshold. Paragraph 3(4) of Schedule 1 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act says:

“An Electoral Commissioner may be removed from office by Her Majesty in pursuance of an Address from the House of Commons”.

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I thought that, at least to get the discussion going, it would be helpful to put down here that the Speakers of both Houses would have to be consulted.

This is wider than the Electoral Commission because lobbying concerns both Houses, whereas of course the Electoral Commission is concerned with elections, which, at least to date, do not concern your Lordships’ House. I am not wedded to these specific proposals. I do not suppose for a moment that the Government will accept them in their present form, but it is worth exploring how we are going to make sure that the registrar, who has this important role to play, has some protection if he or she wishes to carry out his or her work in a way that the Government of the day may find disobliging. I beg to move.

Lord Martin of Springburn (CB): My Lords, I know that the noble Lord put this amendment down in good faith. I can see the negative aspect of consulting with the Speaker and the Lord Speaker. First, the legislation states that the person who shall appoint the registrar is the Minister, not the Speakers of both Houses. There is an old saying that if you hire the person, the unpleasant task of firing them is also yours. Things would need to get very serious indeed for a Minister to find that the registrar was so unfit that he or she would have to be removed.

There is a danger, which has happened with other appointees to the House, where the individual concerned could appear on the face of it to have a good personality and to be a likeable person; they strike up a rapport with the media and use the media against the authority that has decided to remove them. It is easy for the media to indulge in a good person/bad person scenario.

I think that the question that the media would ask is: have the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords been consulted? The Minister might find it quite easy to say, “Yes, they have been consulted”. If dismissal is to take place, it goes without saying that the Speakers of both Houses have agreed with that proposition. If the responsibility is given to the Minister via the Bill, any difficulties should be left at the Minister’s door.

I think that the parliamentary commissioner, whom we have for both Houses, is appointed for either four or five years nonrenewable. That is a satisfactory way to deal with the matter: the registrar gets a five-year nonrenewable appointment—I know that that is not what the amendment provides. Then, when there is a parting of the ways, there are no hard feelings, whereas the Bill talks about a third renewed appointment. I have not looked fully into the responsibilities of the registrar, but I know about the parliamentary commissioner. If the third reappointment is not given, it would be considered a slur on the incumbent.

I understand that in the 1950s and prior to that, no one bothered the Speaker or the Lord Chancellor—they did not have a Lord Speaker. In recent years, the Speaker has been attacked for many reasons, and he or she is an easy target because the rule for a Speaker is that you do not respond to a press attack. That makes him or her a very easy target. I would be happier if the Minister who made the appointment made the decision. It would take a genius of a registrar to get things so

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badly wrong as to get him or herself sacked. In such a controversial situation, we should leave both high offices out of the legislation.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, in a sentence, I oppose the amendment. The registrar is not an officer of Parliament. If the registrar had been an officer of Parliament, I would be in favour of the amendment.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, I recognise that this amendment, like some of those we were discussing in the previous group, is concerned with reinforcing the independence of the registrar in appointment, accountability to parliamentary committees and obstacles to what might be challengeable dismissal. Let me reassure noble Lords that the Government are committed to ensuring the independence of the registrar. The registrar’s ability to operate independently is clearly essential for the successful operation of the register.

The amendment specifically concerns potential dismissal. The Government are confident that the provisions as drafted will assure the independence of the registrar without those reinforcements. We will, however, continue to listen to and explore all suggestions for reiterating and firmly establishing that independence. Having given that assurance, I urge the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reassuring response. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Martin, for raising some of the practical issues. I tabled the amendment just to have a discussion about who can provide some back-up to the registrar, if needed. I think that the Minister has shown a willingness to listen. I am grateful for that and, in the circumstances, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 55 withdrawn.

Amendments 56 to 61 not moved.

Schedule 2 agreed.

8.45 pm

Clause 4: The register

Amendments 62 to 64 not moved.

Amendment 65

Moved by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara

65: Clause 4, page 3, line 5, leave out from “business” to end of line 6

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, in moving Amendment 65 I shall also speak to Amendments 67, 70, 71, 75, 76, 77 and 113, which are in the names of my noble friends Lady Royall and Lady Hayter. This is an extensive group of amendments but the main focus is to expand greatly the amount of information that the register holds. For example, one of the key amendments in the middle of this group concentrates on the detail of spending by lobbyists. This is important as, without these details, it is possible

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only to build up a very limited picture of the lobbying activity taking place because, as Unlock Democracy says in its briefing to noble Lords:

“A good faith estimate of what it being spent on lobbying would also show scale, disparities and trends in lobbying”.

Compare the current, limited proposals in the Bill with the level of transparency in place in the United States, where it is relatively easy to find out how much is being spent, and by which companies and sectors, using publicly available information. For example, the Senate record of spending shows that Boeing spent $15,440,000 on lobbying in the US in 2012. General Electric spent $21,200,000. These are very significant sums and they are spent by in-house lobbyists. As we know, this can have a marked effect on policy and the discussions around it. For example, an IMF working paper from 2009 draws a direct link between the amounts of money spent in lobbying by financial services firms and high-risk lending practices before the financial crisis. Ameriquest Mortgage and Countrywide Financial, both of which were at the heart of the crash, spent $20.5 million and $8.7 million respectively in political donations, campaign contributions and lobbying activities from 2002 to 2006. The IMF paper concludes that,

“the prevention of future crises might require weakening political influence of the financial industry or closer monitoring of lobbying activities to understand better the incentives”.

This is still pertinent here. As recently as 2 July, the head of the Prudential Regulation Authority was reported in the FT as saying that he was going to draw up rules to prevent the banks lobbying parliamentary officials against new requirements for leverage. Under the proposals in the Bill, we will not get any of the same transparency when it comes, for example, to lobbying by the big six energy companies. It has been reported that Ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change have met representatives from the energy giants on 128 occasions since 2010, yet have held talks with the main groups representing energy consumers only 26 times during the same period. We need much more information about what is going on here.

Amendment 65 would exclude the option of an individual residence being listed as the address of a lobbyist. Our concern is that this seems to represent a potential loophole, which we urge the Government to reconsider. The effect of the Bill, if passed in its current form, is that the level of transparency for the register is limited to the individual name and address of a main place of business or, if there is no such place, the individual’s residence. This is surely a loophole that would bar us from knowing who the individual works for. That concern fits into the wider point raised by our Amendment 67: that an increase in transparency should allow us to see who is lobbying on behalf of a company and which members of staff are engaged in that lobbying.

There are also a number of amendments in this group in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie. We should be very grateful for the way in which he has gone through the Bill with such forensic attention to detail. His amendments have similar intentions to ours and we support them. I beg to move.

Lord Norton of Louth (Con): My Lords, my Amendment 115 is in this group. From my point of view, it is the core amendment in terms of shifting the

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emphasis of the Bill. As I have drafted it, the clause is designed to be integrated in the Bill, but essentially it seeks to advance an alternative to what the Government propose. If the Government insist on the current provisions of the Bill then, as today has increasingly shown, it will achieve little by way of making lobbying of Government transparent; if anything, we are establishing that it may serve to obscure rather than enlighten.

As we have heard, the focus of Part 1 as it stands is on those who lobby. As I argued at Second Reading, a more comprehensive approach, achieving transparency without the need for a clunky bureaucratic framework, is to focus on those who are lobbied. That would shift the emphasis far more to the actual activity. My amendment is designed to give effect to what I argued at Second Reading.