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House of Lords

Tuesday, 12 November 2013.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Oxford.

NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups’ Funding of Treatment


11.06 am

Asked by Baroness Wheeler

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many types of treatment Clinical Commissioning Groups have decided not to offer to patients since April 2013.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, clinical commissioning groups are now responsible for commissioning services and treatments for their local populations, with NHS England providing oversight and support. NHS England has advised that it does not routinely collect data on the number and type of treatments that CCGs have decided not to offer to patients. We have been clear: restricting access to services on the basis of cost alone is wrong and compromises patient care. Commissioning decisions should be made using clinical evidence and best practice guidance.

Baroness Wheeler (Lab): I thank the Minister for his response. Is he not concerned about the recent British Medical Journal survey, which showed that since CCGs took over, one in seven have introduced new treatment restrictions, including treatment for hip and knee replacements, cataracts, and caesarean births for non-medical reasons? What steps are the Government taking to ensure regional and national monitoring and consistency of treatment policies across the NHS? Moreover, the Royal College of Surgeons is concerned that so few CCGs are meeting their legal obligation to publish guidance on how they will provide medicines, surgery and therapeutic interventions. This was meant to provide transparency in rationing decisions. What will the Government do about it?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the availability of some healthcare services is determined nationally; for example, under NICE technology recommendations. Some services are commissioned directly by NHS England, but in most cases decision-making on whether to fund a service or treatment is left to the local CCG or local authority. That is to enable CCGs and local authorities to commission services that best fit the needs of their local population. For such decision-making it is very important that the process is rational, transparent and fair. The right contained in the NHS constitution ensures that that happens. If a CCG decides that a treatment will not normally be funded, it needs to be able to consider whether to fund that treatment for an individual patient on an exceptional basis.

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Lord Walton of Detchant (CB): My Lords, does the Minister accept that, largely as a result of new developments in molecular biology, a number of highly effective but also very expensive so-called orphan and ultra-orphan drugs are coming on stream for the treatment of patients with rare diseases? If these drugs are approved by the rare disease advisory group of NHS England and by NICE, will it then be incumbent on clinical commissioning groups to agree to their being prescribed for NHS patients?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the system is very clear. If NICE recommends under its technology appraisal that a drug should be made available, the funding will automatically follow.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, I declare an interest as a patient with rheumatoid arthritis who is on a biologic. What data are available to show whether CCGs follow NICE guidelines for the use of biologics and how long does it take for permission to be granted? I talked to rheumatologists last week at the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society awards ceremony and I was told that there is increasing evidence that CCGs delay treatment for those on biologics. Is there a case for moving chronic illnesses such as RA to NHS England rather than relying on the lottery of CCGs?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the list of conditions for which treatment is directly commissioned by NHS England is reviewed regularly. On the particular question my noble friend asked about transparency, as part of Innovation Health and Wealth the innovation scorecard is now showing up the variations in prescribing rates between different clinical commissioning groups. We expect this information to be extremely informative as regards the decisions taken by commissioners.

Lord Warner (Lab): My Lords, has the Minister seen the recent evidence given by the Nuffield Trust to the Health Select Committee showing that a growing, and increasingly large, number of NHS hospitals are financially unsustainable? In the light of his earlier answer to my noble friend, what arrangements do the Government have for ensuring that CCGs or local health economies are not in breach of the NHS constitution by failing to deliver the mandate that the Secretary of State has given NHS England?

Earl Howe: My Lords, it is for NHS England to oversee the commissioning practices and policies of CCGs. If any deficiencies are brought to the attention of NHS England, they will be followed up. On the specific point made by the noble Lord about the financial sustainability of provider trusts, we would expect commissioners and trusts to engage in regular discussions about how to ameliorate that position, not only for the sake of the NHS but also to ensure that patients are treated in the right setting. As we all know, that imperative needs to be pursued very vigorously over the coming months.

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Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB): My Lords, if patients are turned down by CCGs, can they appeal to NHS England?

Earl Howe: They can appeal to the clinical commissioning group itself in the first instance under what is known as an individual funding request. That request has to be considered rationally and transparently. If the request is turned down, the reasons must be published.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, 55 years ago—

Baroness Wall of New Barnet (Lab): My Lords, as chair of one of the many trusts that are in financial difficulty—

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): I suggest that we hear from my noble friend Lord Harris.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, 55 years ago, I had my tonsils removed on the National Health Service. Had that not taken place and I now needed that procedure as an adult, according to figures from the Royal College of Surgeons I would be extremely unlikely to have them removed in the area in which I live—Haringey—but 22 times more likely to have the same procedure carried out in the Isle of Wight. Can the Minister explain why this Government’s arrangements facilitate that extraordinary postcode lottery, which means that there is no equity of treatment across the National Health Service?

Earl Howe: My Lords, what the noble Lord calls the postcode lottery is, as he knows, nothing new. That is why Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of the NHS, has commissioned a project to engage professional bodies, particularly the Royal College of Surgeons, to develop clinical commissioning guidance, in particular, where there is unwarranted variation in the rates of elective surgical intervention. They are currently looking at 28 common types of surgical intervention with more topics under development, and commissioning guidance will ensue from that work stream.

Banking: Lending


11.14 am

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to encourage banks to prioritise their lending to the manufacturing sector compared to the property sector.

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, the Government are committed to improving the flow of credit to all businesses, including those in the manufacturing sector. The Funding for Lending scheme has contributed to an improvement in the bank funding environment and banks are now passing this on to the real economy,

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including to small businesses. The Business Bank and the Business Finance Partnership are developing alternative sources of finance for smaller businesses.

Lord Barnett(Lab): That is a very different story from the one given by the chief executive of RBS, who, as the noble Lord will know, has told us that the bank is working very closely with the Treasury—by which he means Treasury officials. RBS has now set up an internal bad bank, while the Chancellor, whom I assume the officials talk to occasionally, has refused to set up a bad bank. Between them, they have found £38 billion of high-risk assets which they have decided will go into the bad bank. They have also said that they propose to finish the rest after writing off £4.5 billion by 2016. For those who owe that money, there is now an incentive to wait until the very end, which will mean the bank having to write off even more. Is that something that the officials, with the Chancellor’s consent, have agreed to?

Lord Newby: My Lords, as the noble Lord knows, there was a review about whether there should be a formal good bank/bad bank split of RBS. The Government decided that the cost and disruption of doing this was not justified. However, as the noble Lord says, the bank has itself decided to make an internal split, enabling it to have a greater focus on lending and on dealing in a more orderly way with many loans which will not be repaid or will be only partially repaid. Many of these are related to the property sector.

Lord Sharkey (LD): My Lords, in March it was noted that lending to SMEs had shrunk by 25% in real terms since 2009 and it has continued to decline since then. The Business Bank is intended to address the problem and BIS forecasts that the first SME loan portfolio guarantees will be in place by the end of this year. Can the Minister update the House on progress?

Lord Newby: My Lords, in respect of SME lending more generally, gross lending is now rising. The picture is clouded by the fact that a lot of SMEs are still paying back loans, so the net position is not as positive, but net lending is down by a much lower amount. As far as lending to SMEs as a whole is concerned, the picture is improving. The Business Bank was launched on 17 October and it aims to support economic growth by bringing together public and private sector funds to improve financial markets for SMEs. Very recently it announced its first commitment of £45 million from the initial £300 million investment programme.

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister think that his answers thus far will have given any satisfaction to those vocal critics of the low level of lending by banks to business, who include the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, the International Monetary Fund and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable?

Lord Newby: My Lords, it is important to look at what is happening in the real world. The CBI’s SME trends survey, published yesterday, showed that SME

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business optimism was rising at the fastest rate since the survey began some 25 years ago. Among SMEs, output grew for the fourth quarter and is expected to grow more rapidly going into 2014. More generally, vacancies—the best indication of growing or falling demand for labour—are rising at the sharpest rate for more than six years.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, the noble Lord forgot to answer my question. Did the Chancellor agree with his officials in setting up the internal bad bank?

Lord Newby: My Lords, the decision on setting up the bad bank was, primarily, for the management of RBS. The Treasury and UKFI are obviously in regular contact with RBS.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): Does my noble friend not agree that one of the reasons that the banks have had difficulty in providing loans for small business is the disastrous state of their balance sheets, which was the responsibility of the ridiculous monetary policy followed by the previous Government?

Lord Newby: My Lords, that was clearly a major contributory factor. However, I refer noble Lords to the review undertaken by Sir Andrew Large for RBS, which found that the bank had failed to meet its own lending standards, had risk-averse staff and took longer to process applications than other banks, and that its treatment of customers in financial distress had led to major negative perceptions of the bank. The bank is now, at long last, moving to tackle many of those issues, but the failures in the way that RBS ran its business were a major contributory factor to its failure in recent years to lend to SMEs the amounts it set itself in its target.

Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister not accept that his characterisation is grossly inaccurate, and that in the past few years the huge fall in output in the western capitalist economies—I use that term advisedly—was due to the way in which Lehman Brothers and others at that time were able to cause that financial bubble and cause output to fall 10% below trend right across the western world? Simply to say that it was the fault of the Labour Government is ludicrous.

Lord Newby: My Lords, I may be mistaken but I do not think that I said it was the fault of the Labour Government.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Newby: I attempt to take responsibility for things that I say at the Dispatch Box; it is beyond the scope of my responsibilities to take responsibility for the views of every other noble Lord.

Lord Dobbs (Con): I congratulate my noble friend on accepting some responsibility at the Dispatch Box. Is that not far better than, in the case of Members opposite, apparently accepting no responsibility whatever for anything they ever managed to do in government?

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Lord Newby: That is extremely kind but perhaps I may, as a final word, remind noble Lords—given the subject of the Question—not only that manufacturing output is up but that the Government have adopted a very wide range of proactive measures to promote manufacturing, including increasing the investment allowance to £250,000, supporting the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative, supporting high-value engineering and vastly increasing the apprenticeships scheme, including apprentices in manufacturing companies.

Railways: British Rail


11.22 am

Tabled by Lord Spicer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to mark the passage of the legislation enabling the privatisation of British Rail.

Lord Mawhinney (Con): My Lords, at the express request of my noble friend Lord Spicer and on his behalf, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): My Lords, the Government have no plans to do so but note that a recent European Commission rail comparison study found that since the 1990s Britain’s railway is the most improved in all European Union countries.

Lord Mawhinney: My Lords, does my noble friend recall that when privatisation was proceeding and being implemented, the Government made two strong and clear commitments: first, that privatisation would reverse 40 years of decline in the use of railways, which has manifestly been the case; and, secondly, that there would be a huge input in private investment over and above anything that the taxpayer could contribute, which has also obviously taken place? Will my noble friend confirm that both those things have been the product of the privatisation of the railways?

Baroness Kramer: I can certainly confirm those comments from the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney. He is absolutely right that at the time of privatisation— 5 November 1993, which I assume is the date to be commemorated in the Question in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Spicer—the railway essentially was expected to fall into decline, having had a long history of underinvestment and of stop-and-start annual budgets. Since then, the UK has seen a doubling of passenger journeys to the highest level since the 1920s; 4,000 more services a day than in the mid-1990s; a 60% increase in rail freight; and the fastest growth of European railways. The UK railway now carries nearly 20% of the EU’s passenger journeys.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, has any assessment been made of the sort of railway that we would be enjoying today had the British Railways Board received the same levels of support and investment

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—much of which has come from the taxpayer, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney, said, but has been made available to privatised industry—and had the railway not been subject to the negative influences of decline and contraction, to which the Minister rightly referred, largely at the behest of Her Majesty’s Treasury?

Baroness Kramer: The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, gets to the heart of the problem. Under a system in which this was a Government-run industry, an essential feature was the constant stop-start and underinvestment. It is by putting in place a structure with the ability to set up arrangements that force the Government into long-term decision-making and long-term commitment that we have been able to rebuild the infrastructure.

Lord Grocott (Lab): Did not the privatisation of the railways simply follow the pattern of previous privatisations, which was that priceless national assets acquired by the great Labour Government of 1945 were sold off at knockdown prices by a Tory Government to a small number of investors, who made huge sums of money overnight? Does the Minister share my near despair that precisely the same pattern has been followed with the sale of Royal Mail, which was grossly undersold against the wishes of its previous owners—that is, me and everyone else in the country? Incidentally, as my assets have been sold off against my will, at the very least I ought to receive a cheque for the value of the assets sold.

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, I will resist the temptation to go into the territory of Royal Mail. The privatisation of the railways may not have been perfect; we certainly had Railtrack going into administration in 2002, and there have been other issues. The question is: do we have a system that has delivered a significantly better railway for customers and freight in this country? I would argue that we very evidently have. Does this give a basis for moving forward and providing yet further improvement? I think that argument is also made.

Baroness Wilcox (Con): While I am delighted to travel by rail most of the time, all the way down to the West Country, I am very sorry to see, after all these years since 5 November 1993, that raw sewage is still going out on to the lines. Before we rush forward to HS2—to which I am looking forward enormously—I urge our new Minister to think about the men working on the lines and in the stations who have to deal with this excrement.

Baroness Kramer: The comments of my noble friend totally resonate. It is utterly disgusting. It speaks to the fact that customer service has not always been at the centre of the railways, because I think customers are very concerned about this issue. Beginning in 2017, the current InterCity 125 trains will all be replaced by the new Class 800/801 intercity express trains from Hitachi, which will solve that problem on the intercity lines. It is a tougher issue on the local diesel trains,

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which are gradually going out of service, and we could use some help from the industry in tackling that problem.

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): The Question was whether the Government would mark the passage of the legislation. Is this the legislation that, within 10 years, saw the bankruptcy of Railtrack? Is this the legislation that saw the franchise fiasco on the line from Paddington to south Wales a short while ago? Is this the legislation that insists that a publicly operated company, which produces £47 million of profit to invest in the railway and hands £800 million back to the Treasury as extra profit, is disbarred from competing for the franchise against German and French state railways?

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, Network Rail plans to invest £38 billion into the system between 2014 and 2019, which will shortly bring into the system Crossrail, the upgraded Thameslink, a northern hub cross-Manchester link that will provide electrification linking the core centres of the economy in the north, the West and East Midlands and Yorkshire. Today, the south of England has 75% of passenger miles on electric trains. I assume that the noble Lord was talking about the east coast main line franchise and, as he knows, it was always intended by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, that this would be in public control only temporarily. He said:

“I do not believe that it would be in the public interest for us to have a nationalised train operating company indefinitely”.—[Official Report,1/7/09; col. 232.]

The public sector—DOR—has done an excellent job of stabilising the system, but now returns it to a period of investment, which requires private sector engagement.

Immigration: Economic Impact


11.30 am

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of recent analyses of the value of immigration to the United Kingdom economy; and whether they have any plans to revise their target to reduce net migration in response to those analyses.

Earl Attlee (Con): My Lords, the Government have made no official assessment of the recent analyses of the economic value of immigration to the UK economy. Each policy that influences immigration is assessed using the impact assessment process. The Government have a commitment to reduce net migration to tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament and believe that that will be achieved without an adverse impact on the economy.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): I think I thank the Minister for that Answer, but it is disappointing. It seems that the only real criterion that the Government have in dealing with immigration is in numbers, not in need. Do they have any other policy at all to tackle

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immigration positively? This morning a news item stated that 20,000 nurses were needed for the NHS. In north Wales I know of three general hospitals where a third of the consultants come from overseas. Is it not short-sighted to deal only in numbers and not look at this in a positive and long-term way?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, the Dustmann and Frattini report looked at the fiscal impact of immigration, and made it clear that continued high levels of immigration—net immigration of, say, 200,000 a year—would be unsustainable. Obviously two of the areas affected would be housing, which I know greatly exercises noble Lords, and other services, including the health service. We intend to attract the brightest and the best, including healthcare professionals.

Lord Morris of Handsworth (Lab): While I accept that all those who live in our country should have a legal right to do so, will the Minister condemn the disgraceful scene of vans touring parts of north London inviting immigrants to go home?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, if an immigrant is here illegally I would invite him to go home, but if he is here making a valuable, worthwhile and legal contribution to the economy, I would like him to stay and continue to do that.

Lord Brabazon of Tara (Con): Does my noble friend welcome, as I do, the large number of French people who have come to live in this country, making London now the sixth largest French city by population? Does he think that there is any connection between the presence of those people and the high-tax Socialist policies of President Hollande, whose election was so widely welcomed by the party opposite?

Earl Attlee: My noble friend makes a very good point about the adverse impact of high marginal rates of taxation, but it demonstrates how the free market in Europe works in terms of free movement of labour and capital.

Lord Tomlinson (Lab): Does the Minister share my concern that the Government are continuing to talk about net migration figures, yet contrary to the advice of every inquiry in both Houses of Parliament they continue to include overseas students in that net migration count? Would they accept that this is a nonsense that needs to be removed?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am very sorry to disappoint the noble Lord, but the decision to include students in net migration figures was not ours. As the noble Lord knows, they are international statistics and we need to be consistent with other states. We also need to include students in the total figure because students have an impact on the housing and services that they need to support them while they are studying. I make it absolutely clear that we welcome foreign students and that there is no limit on the number of students that we will accept.

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Lord Rosser (Lab): We recognise that, while there are real benefits from immigration, they are not equally shared, due to inadequate labour standards, exploitation of the supply of low-waged migrant labour and the failure to provide young people with the necessary skills. What steps are the Government taking to see that the minimum wage is properly enforced? Do the Government agree with us that the maximum fine should be doubled to £10,000 and are the Government, like us, also prepared to consider whether the scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority needs to be extended to new sectors in order to stop exploitation? Finally, are the Government reviewing sectors that have become dependent on migrant labour, to identify where enough has not been done to equip young people with the skills they need to compete?

Earl Attlee: The noble Lord asked rather a lot of questions. I share his concern about the exploitation of migrant labour. All employers must adhere to the minimum wage provisions, which apply to migrants as well as to UK natives. There are very few prosecutions for paying below the minimum wage; however, it is normally dealt with by means of fixed penalties and the income is about £700,000 of fixed penalties.

Philippines: Emergency Aid

Private Notice Question

11.36 am

Asked by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to get emergency aid to the people of the Philippines.

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, Her Majesty’s Government have so far committed £10 million to support relief efforts in the Philippines. This includes rapid funding for non-governmental organisations, emergency shelter and household items and the deployment of public health experts. HMS “Daring” will also redeploy to the affected region in order to support relief efforts. A UK team in Manila is guiding the UK’s response.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. This natural disaster looks like being one of the worst to have been experienced worldwide in the past decade. Does the Minister really believe that £10 million is sufficient, given that there are 800,000 people in immediate and dire need of water, medical supplies and food? Can she give us an assurance that this figure will be kept under constant review? I understand that HMS “Daring” is on the way and I think that a C17 is being deployed, but there will be a need for vehicles on the ground to get to the isolated communities that those big transport carriers cannot reach. Will the noble Baroness also tell us what advice the Foreign Office is giving to UK nationals who may be in difficulty in the Philippines? What advice are they able to give people in this country who have family members or loved ones in the Philippines about whom they have very understandable anxieties?

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Baroness Northover: I thank the noble Baroness for asking this extremely important Question. There is a dedicated team at the moment working continuously on this in Whitehall and things are constantly under review. The noble Baroness mentioned a number of things that we are doing. I shall expand on the points about vehicles. She is quite right that we need to get to some of the affected areas and there are flights going to the Philippines. Two flights are going in at the moment and three more cargo flights will go from Dubai shortly. We are delivering 4x4 vehicles to get to these areas and the noble Baroness mentioned the C17s. Noble Lords will probably be aware that the United Nations has just launched an appeal for $301 million. All the numbers are under review. We have published a Written Ministerial Statement today, but I should point out that it mentions that 4.3 million people have been affected by what is the strongest ever tropical cyclone on record. The figure is now 6.9 million people, and no doubt it will increase.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD): My Lords, given that the Prime Minister is leading our delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka imminently, what discussions will he have with other heads, particularly those from countries in the region such as India, Singapore and Malaysia, which could provide timely logistical support? Of course, Brunei Darussalam could help with financial aid. Will the Commonwealth get behind the relief effort as well?

Baroness Northover: I am sure that all countries, and certainly those that are close by, will wish to help. Our colleague, the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, who is the head of UN OCHA, has just arrived in Manila. The Government of the Philippines are in overall control of what is happening, although of course they are working closely with the United Nations. Our NGOs are being co-ordinated by the Disasters Emergency Committee. It is extremely important that everyone works well together, and for that to extend internationally as well as nationally.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, anyone who has seen the distressing pictures on the TV and in the newspapers today will understand the need for urgent relief, and I certainly welcome the Government’s action. I also share the concern of my noble friend Lady Symons that the amount of money needs to be kept under constant review. However, I have another point that I want to focus on. Will the Government combine their efforts with the international community to commit to longer-term aid and support? While there are short-term concerns, it will be a tough job for the country to recover fully and ensure that people can get back their livelihoods.

Baroness Northover: The noble Lord of course knows that the United Kingdom has a long-term commitment, which is why we have committed 0.7% of our GNI to aid. He is quite right to emphasise the need for long-term reconstruction. One of the lessons that came out of the report penned by my noble friend Lord Ashdown

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was that when bringing in aid in this sort of circumstance, one needs also to look at long-term reconstruction. However, right now we need to deliver immediate assistance to people in the form of shelters, water supplies and so on. I note that we are also bringing in solar lanterns with built-in mobile phone chargers because the need for communication is absolutely essential in these circumstances. However, we are well aware of the need to ensure that reconstruction looks to the long term.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, after Haiti, the tsunami and now this appallingly tragic and devastating catastrophe, is there not a case for the Government to have a larger contingency fund within the aid budget? Some of us are a little concerned that nations which have space programmes are helped, as are nations whose regimes are not beyond the accusation of corruption. We need a much larger contingency fund so that not only can we go in quickly with large sums, we can also deal with what the noble Lord, Lord Collins, talked about—the aftermath.

Baroness Northover: It was in the light of the Humanitarian Emergency Response Review by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, that we set up the Rapid Response Facility, which has been brought into operation here. Money is set aside for just this kind of situation because clearly that is important.

Perhaps I may come back to a question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, about FCO advice, which I do not think I answered at that point. The FCO is advising against all travel to the Philippines, and the embassy in Manila is working to support UK nationals in the country.

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, in the context of absolutely indispensable international co-ordination, does the Minister accept that what has been demonstrated over and over again in situations of this kind is the vital importance of local knowledge to the reconstruction effort as well as for short-term relief? A number of distinguished and effective NGOs in this country have been working in the Philippines for a long time. Have they already been consulted and how can we make the most effective use of their assistance?

Baroness Northover: That is why it is important that the Government of the Philippines are in overall charge of this. The noble Lord will be aware that in some circumstances the Government of a particular country are knocked out by whatever disaster occurs, but the Government of the Philippines ordered mass evacuation. They took all sorts of measures to try to reduce the impact of the disaster, but it was an unprecedented typhoon. They have the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, which has been co-ordinating aid. Internationally, and certainly within the United Kingdom, we are well aware of the great importance of making sure that what happens now and thereafter is something that makes sense within the country and that can be best determined within the country.

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Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): My Lords, my noble friend mentioned the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, the former Leader of the House. Will she accept how many of us appreciate the immensely valuable work that she is doing in her post at the United Nations, particularly in this crisis? My noble friend Lady Falkner also mentioned the current Commonwealth meeting in Colombo. Is she aware, as I am sure she is, that the Chinese and the Japanese—not members of the Commonwealth, of course—are sending enormous delegations to the business forum in Colombo? Will that be an opportunity to remind them that, as aspiring world powers and key players in the international landscape, they too have a task—which I am sure they can be encouraged to perform—to bring the maximum help of their enormous economic power to the Philippines, to which they are considerably nearer than we are?

Baroness Northover: My noble friend makes some very important points. We owe a great deal to the noble Baroness, Lady Amos. She is formidable in making sure that she gets assistance from wherever she requires it, as she has sought to do in the case of Syria. I am sure that the points that he has made will be picked up.

Personal Service Companies Committee

Membership Motion

11.47 am

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the consequences of the use of personal service companies for tax collection, and to make recommendations; and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Committee:

B Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B Donaghy, L Empey, L Higgins, L Hope of Craighead, L Levene of Portsoken, B Morgan of Huyton, L Myners, B Noakes (Chairman), L Palmer of Childs Hill, L Stewartby, L Woolmer of Leeds;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

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

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

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

That the Committee do report by 31 March 2014;

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

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, I do not know whether there is a misprint on the Order Paper but can the Chairman of Committees explain how this committee can possibly report by 31 March 2014? This is a very complex subject. We will be in recess for

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a short period and then it will soon be Christmas. This seems an enormous task for a very short period of time.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): If the noble Lord thinks back to the beginning of the Session, we decided to try the experiment of having two relatively short inquiries, each taking up half a Session. This one, in the second half of the Session, takes up the space that was previously occupied by the inquiry on the Olympic legacy. The aim is to see if it is possible to do work on an inquiry reasonably and effectively in half a Session, rather than taking up a full Session. The House, of course, will have to reach a judgment on the basis of what the committee produces.

Motion agreed.

Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill

Order of Consideration Motion

11.48 am

Moved by Lord Newby

That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 7, Schedule 1, Clauses 8 to 13, Schedule 2, Clauses 14 to 26, Schedule 3, Clauses 27 to 31, Schedule 4, Clauses 32 to 69, Schedule 5, Clauses 70 to 106, Schedules 6 and 7, Clauses 107 to 114, Schedule 8, Clauses 115 to 120, Schedule 9, Clause 121, Schedule 10, Clauses 122 to 127.

Motion agreed.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

Committee (1st Day)

11.49 am

Relevant documents: 12th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 4th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Clause 104 agreed.

Schedule 5: Amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

Amendment 1

Moved by Baroness Thornton

1: Schedule 5, page 151, line 28, at end insert—

“( ) Where a court makes a sexual harm prevention order in relation to a “child” as defined in section 103B(1), the court must have regard to safeguards in place to ensure the child receives the support he or she needs, including an assessment of their emotional, welfare and behavioural needs, therapeutic or educational support.”

Baroness Thornton (Lab): My Lords, the first thing I need to say is happy birthday to the Minister. I am sure noble Lords will agree with me in wishing him all the very best. I am not sure that this is the best way I would choose to spend my birthday.

As I said at Second Reading, we on these Benches generally support the sexual harm prevention orders and the sexual risk orders as set out in Part 9 of the Bill. The two new orders will replace existing powers, and the threshold for risk will be lowered to cover any

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case of sexual harm, not just cases of serious sexual harm. These orders seek to improve the protection of vulnerable children at risk of sexual harm. On Report in the Commons, the Minister, Damian Green, provided details of the two new orders. He explained:

“The sexual harm prevention order may prohibit the person from doing anything described in it, including preventing travel overseas. Any prohibition must be necessary for protecting the public in the UK from sexual harm or, in relation to foreign travel, protecting children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm. It lasts a minimum of five years and has no maximum duration, with the exception of any foreign travel restrictions which, if applicable, lasts for a maximum of five years but can be renewed”.

The sexual risk order,

“will be available for those who have not been convicted of an offence but who none the less pose a risk of sexual harm to the public. It may be made by the magistrates court on application by the police or the new National Crime Agency where an individual has done an act of a sexual nature and poses a risk of harm to the public in the UK or adults or vulnerable children overseas”.

Of course, any prohibition in the sexual risk order must be necessary for protecting the public in the UK from sexual harm or for protecting vulnerable adults abroad. Such an order, as I have described it, will last for a minimum of two years. The police are very keen on these orders as their view is that they do not have the right measures at their disposal to intervene to prevent harm to children. We agree with them.

It is also welcome that these orders simplify the current system. In relation to non-conviction behaviour, they reduce the number of acts of harm required for an order to be used from two to one, which means that they can be obtained more easily. Extending the scope of sexual behaviour covered by the orders and lowering the threshold from serious sexual harm will also increase their use. This will help tackle behaviour that poses a risk of sexual abuse to children but which has not yet translated into a criminal offence.

In the Commons, my honourable friend Ann Coffey MP noted:

“The risk of sexual harm orders, which the new sexual risk orders would replace, can be given only to offenders aged 18 and over”.

She asked the Minister:

“Will the new sexual harm prevention orders also only apply to offenders over 18? If they will apply to offenders under 18, what consideration has he given to introducing accompanying rehabilitative provisions for child sex offenders?”.

That is at the heart of what this probing amendment is about. At the time, the Minister, Mr Green, said:

“The two new orders will apply to both over-18s and under-18s”.

He also clarified the situation in relation to the sex offenders register:

“In line with the old order, the new sexual harm prevention order will make the offender subject to the notification requirements for registered sex offenders—it will put them on the sex offenders register. For both new orders, in line with the existing position, breach is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment. Conviction for a breach of a sexual risk order would also make that individual subject to the sex offender notification requirements”.—[Official Report, Commons, 14/10/13; cols. 472-75.]

Extending the ability to use these orders to protect children under 18, including 16 and 17 year-olds, recognises that older children are still vulnerable and

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can be subject to child sexual exploitation and abuse. The inclusion of vulnerable adults to the SHPO and SRO is welcome. We know that young adults with learning difficulties or special educational needs are targeted by individuals looking to exploit them.

The amendment seeks to probe how the orders will work for young people under 18 subject to the orders and how they are supported. Some young people who are subject to the orders may also have been victims of sexual exploitation, or become involved as a means of self-preservation, as was the case for a young person quoted in one of the briefs that I received. We are seeking safeguards from the Government for young people under 18 who are subject to the orders, to ensure that they receive the support that they need,

“including an assessment of their emotional, welfare and behavioural needs, therapeutic or educational support”.

We are concerned that a breach of the child SHPO without conviction or the SRO can result in five years’ imprisonment when a child has not actually committed a criminal offence. We know that custody may not be the most effective way to tackle children’s criminal behaviour, and I am sure that we all agree that custody for under-18s should only be used as a very last resort in the most serious and violent offences, so we must question whether this is appropriate where children have not been convicted of an offence. We are very concerned about the use of custodial sentences for under-18s subject to SROs or SHPOs obtained without conviction. That is why we have put forward this amendment.

What measures do the Government propose for under-18s subject to these orders? Will the Government consider prescribing the use of therapeutic support and/or education and an assessment of needs in guidance when the orders are applied to under-18s? Will the Government review and evaluate the effectiveness of the orders, such as through rates of reoffending and the effectiveness of any assessment of needs, when they are applied to under-18s? It is important that we question the detail of how this will work for under-18s.

The Minister very kindly wrote to me on this matter and in his letter he mentioned that the Government will be,

“working closely with the Ministry of Justice on applications for orders relating to under-18s and will ensure that guidance is available to the courts and others to ensure that such cases are heard in the youth court as appropriate”.

Will that draft guidance be available before the Bill has completed its passage through your Lordships’ House? I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, the Government have moved forward a great deal, as have the police and the CPS, in understanding that in some cases, particularly in cases of trafficked people, those who may at first be seen as a perpetrator—often of relatively small crimes, but sometimes of bigger ones—are in fact victims and have done what they have done as a result of the way that they have been treated. It seems to me that what the noble Baroness proposes is absolutely in line with that thinking.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her comments and join with her and the rest of the House in wishing my noble

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friend a very happy birthday. My appearance at the Dispatch Box may be one of the best presents that I can give my noble friend, who is doing a gallant job as my Whip today. This may well be part of the Conservative birthday present allocation.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, has explained, Amendment 1 would require a court making sexual harm prevention orders in relation to under-18s to have regard to,

“their emotional, welfare and behavioural needs, therapeutic or educational support”.

Schedule 5 makes provision to replace the current sexual offences prevention order, foreign travel order and risk of sexual harm order with sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders. The new sexual harm prevention order can be applied where an individual has had a conviction for a specific sexual or violent offence and the court is satisfied that the prohibitions are necessary to protect the public in the UK or children or vulnerable adults abroad from sexual harm. The new sexual risk order can be applied to individuals without a conviction but who have committed an act of a sexual nature and, as a result, the court is satisfied that prohibitions are necessary to protect the public in the UK or children or vulnerable adults abroad from sexual harm.


In line with the current sexual offences prevention order, the new orders can be applied to under-18s. Of course, I recognise the important points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, at Second Reading and again in this short debate. I reassure your Lordships that the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice are working very closely together on applications for orders relating to under-18s.

For both the sexual harm prevention order and the sexual risk order, our intention is that applications relating to under-18s are heard in the specialist youth court as appropriate. As noble Lords may be aware, the youth court is tailored to the needs of young people; for example, the magistrates in youth courts are trained and encouraged to engage in conversation and use plain language. The room layout is less formal than in the standard court; for example, where possible, the magistrates’ bench will be on the same level as the rest of the court, and the young person is able to sit with their parents.

The courts, the youth court in particular, recognise the specialist consideration and sensitivity needed for cases relating to under-18s. Of course, this is particularly important where the court is dealing with individuals who pose a risk of sexual harm; for example, there may be circumstances where the line between a young person being an offender and a victim becomes blurred, and such cases will require particularly sensitive handling. The new orders are flexible enough to allow the courts the discretion they need when hearing such cases.

The primary purpose of these orders is the prevention of sexual harm, with a focus on young people. There may be circumstances in which obtaining one of the new sexual risk orders to help manage a young person’s risky behaviour will also help prevent that young person becoming criminalised in the future.

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I reassure the Committee that, as with the current system, there are safeguards in place. To impose an order, the court will, in effect, need to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt in relation to the matters on the basis of which the application for an order is made. In addition, the individual has a right of appeal against the making of an order to the Crown Court or, where the order was made by the Crown Court, to the Court of Appeal. Furthermore, where there is a change of circumstances, the individual subject to the order has the same right as the applicant to apply to the court for the order to be varied, and a court may discharge an order early with the consent of the defendant and the police.

Finally, the Bill includes provision for statutory guidance. This guidance will be developed in consultation with the police, Courts Service and others, and will include specific guidance on the application of the orders to under-18s. The noble Baroness asked when this guidance would be available. Following the successful passage of the Bill, the Government will work with the police, the National Crime Agency and others to develop guidance on the new orders, and we want to ensure that there is adequate time for consultation with experts in preparing this guidance.

I hope that this reassures the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and that she will withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Thornton: I thank the Minister for that detailed reply. I will read it in more detail but the Government seem to be taking this issue extremely seriously. I would just like to be reassured that when these orders are being considered, therapeutic and educational support can also be prescribed, as it were, as part of the order. The noble Lord is nodding—I thank him.

Finally, I suggest that the others that are consulted in the process of producing this guidance will include the children’s organisations that are expert in dealing with abused children. Their expertise has certainly been very useful to me in bringing this amendment to the Committee and I hope that the Government will draw on those resources. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Schedule 5 agreed.

Clause 105 agreed.

Clause 106: Violent offender orders

Amendment 2

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

2: Clause 106, page 77, line 17, after “may” insert “, following consultation with such persons as she considers appropriate,”

Baroness Hamwee: I hope that neither this amendment nor the two that I have in the next group will cause the Minister to run to and from the Dispatch Box. I see that he is already confident enough that that will not be the case. Amendment 2 takes us to violent offender orders, and my noble friend will, I hope, already know what my point is.

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Clause 106, the new clause to be inserted in the 2008 Act, will allow the Secretary of State by an affirmative order to amend the list of specified offences, either by adding to or subtracting from the list—the specified offences being those which can trigger the order. It seems to me that this is a very wide power. As I said, it would require an affirmative resolution, and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has not chosen to share any concern about this because it is an affirmative power. However, I think that it would be helpful to understand how the Secretary of State will be expected to go about making such a change. Of course, we always have to remember that, although there may be a benign Secretary of State this month, next month or next year the Secretary of State may be less benign in the eyes of some Members of the House.

In order to probe this, my amendment would provide for consultation, before an order is made, with such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate. I cannot believe that any Secretary of State would undertake such an act without consultation, but you never know. It would be good to have confirmation on record as to the means that would be followed. I beg to move.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for raising this issue. Amendment 2 would, as she has outlined, require the Secretary of State to consult those deemed appropriate prior to making an order to amend the list of specified offences for a violent offender order.

Clause 106 gives the Secretary of State the power to amend the list of specified offences through secondary legislation, subject to the affirmative procedure. Models of offending change over time, and this change will help to ensure that the legislative powers for managing violent offenders can be updated to reflect changes with the appropriate parliamentary oversight.

My noble friend asked specifically about the consultation. I reassure her and the Committee that any changes to the list of specified offences will be considered in close consultation with the police, the National Offender Management Service and others to help to ensure that the police and NOMS are able to manage the risk posed by serious violent offenders. Specialist input will be sought as a matter of course. We do not consider that specific requirement to consult is required on the face of the Bill. I hope that this reassures my noble friend that appropriate consultation will take place and that she will be prepared to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, that is helpful. It has only just occurred to me that I should have asked whether any change is in mind at the moment. I do not know whether the Minister’s briefing allows him to answer that question.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: As I have highlighted, there is NOMS and the police will be involved. Additional experts will be sought as part of that process.

Baroness Hamwee: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Clause 106 agreed.

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Clause 107: Offence of breaching forced marriage protection order

Amendment 3

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

3: Clause 107, page 77, leave out lines 35 to 38

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 4. This is a very low-key group of amendments as we start the part of the Bill on forced marriages. Many noble Lords will have far more to say on this issue than is appropriate to this little group. I will confine my remarks very narrowly to the points of which I have given the Government notice.

These are two probing amendments. Amendment 3 would take out new subsection (2). The intention is to probe the meaning of “aware” in it, where it says that,

“a person can be guilty of an offence … in respect of conduct engaged in at a time when the person was aware of the existence of the”,

forced marriage protection order. What is the burden of proof as to whether an individual is aware of an order? I assumed on first reading that this meant actually aware as distinct from having been served with an order, which is rather more particular. Is there scope for judicial discretion in dealing with this? As I said, this is just intended to understand what is meant by “aware” in this context. My noble friend Lord McNally accuses me of being too curious about this sort of terminology.

Amendment 4 probes the relationship between criminal proceedings following a forced marriage protection order and contempt of court if an order is not complied with. I agree with what I understand the Bill to provide—that it should be one or the other—but I hope that my noble friend can explain to the Committee how decisions will be taken about which enforcement route will be followed. What criteria will be used? I am not challenging the content; I simply wish to understand how the matter will be approached. I beg to move.

Baroness Thornton: I was not completely clear what these amendments concerned when I read them and I assumed they were probing. They are both legitimate questions and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about them.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, first, I reassure my noble friend that her curiosity is always welcome on these Benches. That is well acknowledged by my noble friend Lord McNally.

Turning to her specific amendments, as she rightly said, we are moving on to the subject of forced marriages. This is an important subject to address. It is unfortunate that we have to address it but it is a reality that exists. As my noble friend said, we will move on to other elements of this. I say from the outset that the Government take this particular issue very seriously. It tragically impacts on people in this country and it needs to be tackled and dealt with. I hope that through our discussions this afternoon we will be able to throw further light on what is a very important matter.

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The new offence of the breach of a forced marriage protection order mirrors closely the existing offence of the breach of a non-molestation order in Part 4 of the Family Law Act 1996. This approach of closely following the non-molestation order precedent is the proposal on which the Government consulted in 2012, as noble Lords will know, and with which a large majority of respondents—71%—agreed.

Consistent with the existing offence, new Section 63CA of the Family Law Act provides that, first, a person can be guilty of an offence under Section 63CA only in respect of conduct engaged in at a time when the person was aware of the existence of the order and, secondly, where a person is convicted of a breach of a forced marriage protection order, they cannot be punished subsequently for contempt in relation to subsections (3) and (4).

12.15 pm

Specifically on the questions raised, the effect of Amendments 3 and 4 would be to remove subsections (2), (3) and (4), and it may assist the Committee if I explain the provisions in more detail.

Making the breach of a forced marriage protection order a criminal offence, for which arrest without warrant is possible, will mean that the police are always able to arrest a person who breaches an order without the need for the court to attach a power of arrest, or for the victim to apply to the civil court for an arrest warrant. Subsection (1) provides some protection for the person who will be arrested in recognition of the fact that orders may be obtained without notice, just as with non-molestation orders. The protection is afforded by making it clear that they will be guilty of the criminal offence only if they were aware of the existence of the order.

That does not mean that the order has to have been served on the person, or that they need to know the exact contents of the order, provided that they are aware that an order has been made prohibiting certain acts or behaviour. Therefore, a respondent who is aware of the existence of an order but who has not been served with the order, or who does not know precisely what it prohibits, could be liable for breaching the order. The provision is not a licence to evade service and wilfully maintain ignorance with a view to a defence. However, subsection (1) provides that a person can be found guilty of breaching the order only if the breach is “without reasonable excuse”. That provides a safeguard for a person who has been accused of a breach and who has, for example, genuinely not been served with an order or who has been unable to establish its contents.

Ultimately it will be for the court to determine, on the facts of each case, whether the accused person had a reasonable excuse for the breach and whether they should have been aware of the order. The court will then determine whether in the light of that knowledge the person was indeed in breach of the order. On the issue of burden of proof that my noble friend raised, the court will need to be satisfied, to the criminal standard, that the elements of the offence have been made out. This includes that the accused is aware of the forced marriage protection order.

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On the second amendment, in making a breach of a forced marriage protection order a criminal offence, Clause 107 none the less preserves the option for breach of an order to be dealt with as a civil contempt of court. In the light of this, subsections (3) and (4) are intended to prevent someone being punished twice for the same breach. This means that a person being protected by a forced marriage protection order will be able to choose whether the criminal or civil law is used to deal with a breach of the order, just as Section 42A of the 1996 Act allows a person protected by a non-molestation order to do. They can either report the breach to the police to have it dealt with as a criminal matter or make an application to the originating county court to have the breach dealt with as a civil contempt of court. If the victim decides to pursue the criminal route for breach of an order, the decision on whether to prosecute will rest with the Crown Prosecution Service. If the victim decides to pursue the civil route, the Crown Prosecution Service will not be involved.

It is important to retain both options in case some victims are deterred from reporting a breach of an order because they are reluctant to pursue criminal proceedings against the perpetrator, who may be a close relative. However, it would not be right for the person who breached the order to face criminal and civil sanctions for the same actions. Victims need reassurance that if they seek civil redress and sanctions are imposed under that route there is no risk of a criminal prosecution being brought as well.

We will ensure that victims are made aware of what the new law will mean for them in practical terms. We will continue to deliver an engagement programme focused on prevention and education through a series of regional road shows and debates. This will complement our ongoing work with front-line practitioners and our partners to deliver additional awareness training that will enable them to help victims to utilise the civil remedies and criminal sanctions more effectively. This approach will ultimately strengthen the message within all communities that forced marriage is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the UK.

I assure my noble friend that the issue of information and education, as I am sure all noble Lords will agree, is extremely important in how we communicate with, and raise awareness among, those who fall victim to this heinous crime so that they know what routes are accessible to them. The Government will be working with all partners on the ground to ensure that this is appropriately facilitated. I hope that, in the light of my explanation, my noble friend will agree to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful for that and will of course withdraw my amendment. With regard to my first amendment, the clause refers to awareness,

“of the existence of the order”.

My noble friend said that one can be aware of the existence of the order without knowing what it prohibits, and so awareness of its existence is not the same as being aware of its content. I would like to think about whether “without reasonable excuse”, to which he

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referred, is an adequate protection in that situation. Obviously a range of circumstances could be covered by that.

On the two distinct remedies, if that is the right term for them, I believe the Minister is saying that the decision is very much in the hands of the victim. That, of course, is completely in line with what I have read about the Government’s approach to this and the rest of the Bill. This may perhaps be an issue for us later in today’s debates. On a later amendment, I will be looking to understand what guidance the police may have as to the advice they give. On paper, it looks easy for a potential victim—I would like to start calling them “survivors”—to take that decision, and it may look easy to us sitting in this Chamber, but when one is caught up in the situation, how does one assess the right course to take? That is a sort of trail for some of the points which may come up later. Unless the Minister wants to come in again, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 3 withdrawn.

Amendment 4 not moved.

Amendment 5

Moved by Baroness Thornton

5: Clause 107, page 78, line 39, at end insert—

“( ) It shall be a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and publish guidance about the effect of this section before it comes into force to such descriptions of persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

( ) A person exercising public functions to whom guidance is given under this section must have regard to it in the exercise of those functions.”

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, in moving Amendment 5 I also speak to Amendment 10; both are in my name and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece. Amendment 5 would place a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and publish guidance about the consequences of forced marriage and breaching a forced marriage protection order. We all agree that criminalisation, whether through criminalisation of a breach of a forced marriage protection order or through direct criminalisation, is not enough to tackle forced marriage alone. The previous Government recognised this and that all the authorities which come into contact with victims of forced marriage—schools, colleges, the police, doctors and health services, social services, local authorities, airport staff, FCO staff and the courts—must be aware of forced marriage, how it manifests itself, what to look for and, most importantly, the appropriate action that needs to be taken.

For example, in August this year, the Government issued a warning to teachers, doctors and airport staff to be alert to forced marriages over the summer holidays. Between June and August, the Forced Marriage Unit—a joint operation between the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—received over 400 reports. This year the unit handed out leaflet cards called Marriage: It’s Your Choice, to provide help and information to potential victims, signposting them to

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confidential advice. The cards reminded young people to speak to police or airline staff if they found themselves at an airport with nowhere to turn. That is an important initiative. Of course, it referred them to the Forced Marriage Unit, which was set up in January 2005 as the Government’s one-stop shop for dealing with forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. It does an excellent job, operating both inside the UK, where support is provided to any individual, and overseas, where consular assistance is to be provided to British nationals, including dual nationals. I pay tribute to my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland and other noble Lords who set up this important initiative.

However, we need to look at what has happened since that time. We must recognise that, if we look at the evidence, the action we want to be taken throughout all those authorities and public bodies is certainly not uniform or adequate. We can look, for example, at the evidence that Karma Nirvana and the Southall Black Sisters gave during Committee in the Commons. Karma Nirvana’s evidence showed that little had changed in schools since 2008, and that schools were often reluctant to participate in the charity’s work on forced marriage, for example. Other evidence confirms that schools do very little to ensure that pupils are informed about forced marriage and to offer them the necessary support if they need it. There was even evidence that some schools were putting students at risk by contacting family members when children had consulted teachers in confidence.

Southall Black Sisters said in its evidence:

“Our experience shows that the education system has been the slowest to respond to the need to address forced marriage. There needs to be considerable attention on increasing awareness and creating monitoring mechanisms for all forms of gender-related violence and equality issues in schools … We are of the view that heads of secondary schools and further education colleges have an obligation to provide clear and well publicised information on a range of gender-related violence issues”,

which includes forced marriage,

“and Ofsted has an important role to play in monitoring how these issues are addressed”.

I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some information that will help to reassure us that this will happen and that it will have teeth. However, in addition to that evidence, in 2011 the Home Affairs Select Committee wrote to the Secretary of State for Education to express its concerns about this matter. I am sorry to say that the Secretary of State rejected its views and said that he did not believe that his department should be directive or prescriptive to schools on this matter. Does the Minister think that that is satisfactory, on a matter of child protection that lies at the heart of forced marriage for young people?

There have now been two Select Committee inquiries and the Forced Marriage Unit report, and still the Department of Education does not treat forced marriage as a child protection issue in many schools—a reason why this amendment is so important. We have to recognise that the voluntary sector is doing an excellent job in trying to remedy this situation. I know that were he here, my noble friend Lord Harris would tell us about the organisation he chairs, the Freedom Charity, which first and foremost wants to protect the lives of children and young people by raising awareness of

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forced marriage in the UK and the associated problems of dishonour-based violence, giving young people the tools and confidence to deal with the problem. The charity plays a vital role in spreading the word and helping to prevent forced marriage, and runs the country’s first 24-hour, seven-days-a-week helpline to raise awareness and prevent abuse. It should be commended for the work it does. However, we have to accept that it is almost certainly not enough.

My second point, which I will raise very briefly with the Minister on this matter, is on whether and how legal aid will be available to victims of forced marriage when they come forward. Again, many of the organisations that deal with forced marriage have raised that as a concern. Statutory agencies have a legal duty to ensure that safeguarding policies and practices are implemented, and that is what lies at the heart of this amendment. I beg to move.

12.30 pm

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, I, too, have added my name to this amendment. I wish to make just a few comments as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, has covered most of what I would have liked to say about this amendment. I come to this issue with personal experience of some of the problems that I encountered as a young teenager living in my community. I like to think that we have moved on considerably in the intervening 35 years or so, but this is still a real issue. Too many young women are still exposed to this problem and are victims of it. We need to do far more to tackle it than is currently the case.

The guidance needs to be uniform and all the agencies that come into contact with potential victims need to be very clear about what they can do to support these young people who come forward needing help. I agree with the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, on schools. There are huge concerns about schools because they follow their own principles and guidelines. In addition, we now have far more free schools, whose practice in this regard may not be in line with that of local authority schools. I would like assurance that the role of schools, which are pivotal in this regard, will be looked at very closely.

I have had conversations with survivors and some of the organisations working in the front line of forced marriages, particularly Jasvinder Sanghera of Karma Nirvana, who is very supportive. As most noble Lords who have worked in this field know, Jasvinder is herself a survivor of forced marriage and has set up the organisation to support other women in this situation. I was struck by the advice that Karma Nirvana gives girls who are forced to travel overseas to marry; namely, to conceal a spoon or fork, for example, about their person so that an alarm will be set off when they go through the airport X-ray machine. Then the airport security staff will have to take them aside to speak to them, thus giving them the opportunity to speak privately with security staff and try to enlist their support. It is sad that this advice still has to be given to young women and some young men. If everything worked effectively, presumably they would not need to resort to such tactics. Is my noble friend the Minister confident that there is consistency across the country regarding

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the guidance and support given by airport security staff to young girls who are being forced out of the country and who follow the advice to activate an alarm, or is it just up to individual staff to decide what support to give? The amendment is important to ensure that there is uniformity in this regard.

Young people in this situation who are accompanied by their families also need to be listened to. I know that schools contact the families of pupils who have raised this issue. If schools or other authorities contact the families of victims, it is important that the young person is taken aside and is spoken to privately to enable them to explain their situation rather than relying on family members to speak on their behalf.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Lab): My Lords, I support both amendments in this group, not least because guidance in this area is critical. Noble Lords will know that the previous Government produced stringent guidance. However, it is not just a question of producing guidance but of implementing and monitoring it to ensure that it is effective in raising standards and offering greater protection for the victims and survivors of this most pernicious form of abuse. What assessment has been carried out of the current guidance and of any implementation strategy that the Government are minded to put in place if this amendment is accepted, which I hope the noble Lord is about to tell us he energetically supports?

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of a forced marriage commission which is currently hearing evidence. An interesting aspect of that is that we went to visit the Karma Nirvana organisation just outside Leeds and the victims to whom we spoke were all very anxious that forced marriage should be criminalised. I have had my doubts about that. I took part, with the noble Lord, Lord Lester, in the original initiative on this issue, which led, I am very glad to say, to a government Bill being produced some years ago under the previous Government. I know that the noble Lord is very opposed to the criminalisation of forced marriage. However, there is no doubt that all the victims to whom members of the commission spoke considered that this was an essential next step, which I thought was very interesting.

I am very concerned about how the immigration authorities, or emigration authorities, can cope with this problem. I talked to an immigration official at Gatwick and asked him what he did about girls going out to Pakistan with their parents and those coming back, or a young man coming into this country, where a girl is waiting with her parents to welcome him as her intended husband. The official told me that he had spoken to these girls on many occasions. One such girl was waiting for an intended husband to come through the airport and the official took her aside and asked her whether she wanted to marry that man. She replied, “No, I do not”. When he asked her whether it was a forced marriage, she replied, “Yes, it is”. He said that he could stop the forced marriage by preventing the young man entering the country but that the girl would have to declare publicly that she was being forced into a marriage. The girl replied, “I cannot do

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so in front of my parents”. This is a major problem. We know that a lot of girls and some young men, many of whom are under 18, are being forced into marriage in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India and, indeed, other places. This is by no means only a Muslim problem. It is also a Sikh problem and occasionally a Jewish problem, but it is a problem across the world. One of the major problems in this regard I have been told about concerns disabled young people, particularly those with learning difficulties, as the parents think they are doing the young woman concerned a favour by marrying her off as she will be protected for the rest of her life. Nevertheless, she does not want the marriage and this is a very real problem.

I very much support Amendment 5, particularly because I think it is time that everyone, from the Government through to the Department for Education and schools in particular, should do as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, suggests and treat this as a child protection issue. If you force a girl or boy to marry under the age of 18, particularly under 16, when they do not want to marry, this is a very real child protection issue. However, another extremely worrying issue arises. These girls—it affects particularly the girls—are being married in other parts of the world with an Islamic ceremony. That ceremony is not registered overseas and it is not registered in this country. Therefore, the girl is not married according to English law. The husband can divorce her under Islamic law and she can obtain no redress in this country for herself. She does not have to be married to get financial help for her children but she gets no financial help whatever for herself because she is not married according to English law. Interestingly, there is a law that gives the second wife in a polygamous marriage some financial assistance.

I have not tabled an amendment in relation to forced marriages that are not considered valid marriages, but I hope that the Government will look at that as there is no shortage of women in this country and abroad who are not considered married according to English law although their marriage ceremonies are considered perfectly adequate in some communities. I particularly underline what the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, said about child protection. I am not at all sure whether Amendments 5A and 6 are entirely necessary, although the Government should certainly look at them, but Amendment 5 is vital.

Baroness Hamwee: My noble friend Lady Berridge is not in her place at the moment, but I know, from a very short conversation I had with her yesterday, that her Amendment 11 is intended to address the second problem to which the noble and learned Baroness referred. When I first read it, I thought it was simply about annulment but she tells me that it is, in fact, about property.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece for tabling the amendment. The noble and learned Baroness made a point about forced marriages. As I said when we moved on to this part of the Bill, there is evidence to suggest that this is a

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reality and we have to deal with it. I can assure her that the Government take this very seriously. The issue of unregistered marriages which take place abroad or even on home soil, and which do not provide the protections afforded by the rule of law, is one that must be looked at and the Government are looking at how this can be done. An example of good practice within Muslim communities is where the nikah—one aspect of Islamic marriages—is not performed by the imam until a registration certificate is provided. Many Muslim communities adhere to that principle and we should be encouraging that kind of practice across the board.

I turn to the amendments which concern the publication of guidance for front-line professionals working in this area. We know how important guidance is if the new legislation is to work effectively. I join other noble Lords in saying that this must not just be issued but, as the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, said, adhered to as well. I align myself with the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, on the Forced Marriage Unit and pay tribute to the work done in this field, over many years, by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland.

First, I will explain the existing statutory provisions in relation to guidance. These are contained in Section 63Q of the Family Law Act 1996, which was inserted into the 1996 Act by the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. I join noble friends in paying tribute to my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill whose Private Member’s Bill resulted in the 2007 Act and provided a widely used civil remedy for victims and potential victims of forced marriage. Subsection (1) of Section 63Q of the 1996 Act provides that the Secretary of State may, from time to time, prepare and publish guidance to such descriptions of persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate about, first, the effect of Part 4A of the Family Law Act 1996, and, secondly, about other matters relating to forced marriages.

Clause 107 amends Part 4A to make the breach of a forced marriage protection order a criminal offence, so the preparation of guidance about the new breach offence is already covered by the power to issue guidance provided for in Section 63Q. Clause 108 creates a new offence of forced marriage which is undoubtedly a matter relating to forced marriages, so the preparation of guidance about the offence in Clause 108 is also already covered by Section 63Q.

12.45 pm

I recognise that, unlike other amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, the existing statutory provision does not place a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and publish guidance. However, as the Minister explained when the same amendments were debated in Committee in the House of Commons, the fact remains that two editions of the multi-agency statutory guidance for those dealing with forced marriage have been published, in accordance with Section 63Q of the 1996 Act, since the provisions of Part 4A came into force in 2008. The guidance will be further revised to reflect the creation of the new offences before they come into force.

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The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, has already spoken about the importance of adherence to guidance. Subsection (2) of Section 63Q provides that a person exercising public functions, to whom guidance is given under this section, must have regard to it in the exercise of those functions. Therefore, agencies are already under a statutory duty to have regard to the multi-agency when they exercise their functions and they could be subject to a legal challenge by way of judicial review, for breach of statutory duty, if they fail to do so.

I turn to a few of the issues raised during the debate. My noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece related, very eloquently, a poignant, factual story about a young girl who turned up at an airport and the desperation she felt. We have taken these issues on board and the Forced Marriage Unit has delivered awareness training to staff in airports across the country, including Heathrow, Stansted and Birmingham. I agree that this problem does exist and that we need to look at the practicalities within the family environment.

I come back to my central point about education within the community. This is not a one-off: it is not about passing legislation or criminalising a particular activity; it is about how it is applied in practice. This will require a community effort involving training, education, doctors’ surgeries and practitioners on the ground. It will mean going into the communities, into all places of worship and all community centres, to ensure that the routes are available to people. This is not about targeting one community or another. I am sure all noble Lords share that sentiment. It is about ensuring that no young girl or boy—boys are also forced into this—has to endure pressure or fear of social ostracism if they take a step to say no to forced marriage. The relevant support and guidance must be provided. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, also raised the issue of guidelines. A review of guidelines was published in 2012 and we will be revising statutory guidelines, in the light of criminalisation, next year.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, made a point about the Department for Education. I have also raised this matter with officials and asked them what currently happens in schools. Schools have a duty, as I am sure we are all aware, to safeguard and protect the welfare of all their pupils and teachers should be trusted to decide how best to discuss this issue. I am assured that if a school requires the Forced Marriage Unit to provide guidance it is always ready to do so. Forced marriage is totally unacceptable and schools should be part of the process by ensuring that intervention or support is provided where they feel it is necessary. In 2009, the previous Government provided multi-agency practice guidelines on handling cases of forced marriage. They include a chapter for schools in how to take appropriate—

Baroness Thornton: I am grateful to the Minister for giving this detail, but can he clarify whether the Department for Education regards forced marriage as a safeguarding issue?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Safeguarding and the protection of people in schools or elsewhere are central to every department of government. The Department

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for Education takes that responsibility very seriously. As I have already said, schools work very closely with the Forced Marriage Unit and children’s services at a local level. It is right that decisions are taken with the full consultation and engagement of schools, and intervention will be available to them if they require it.

Perhaps I may address the other points that were raised. The noble Baroness mentioned legal aid, a subject that has occupied your Lordships’ House at various levels over the past few years, but there was a reality to address. I am conscious that my noble friend Lord McNally is sitting to my left but I will not ask him to take over the Dispatch Box; he has answered many a question on this issue. However, there was a reality and a challenge that needed to be faced. However, I assure the noble Baroness that we have retained legal aid in key areas impacting on women—in particular, in relation to injunctions to protect victims from domestic abuse and in private family law cases in which domestic violence is a feature. Legal aid is also available for victims of forced marriage, who can seek a forced marriage protection order.

Finally, as my noble friend Lady Hamwee pointed out, given that we will come on to discuss elements of a later amendment that relate to forced marriage—a subject raised by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss—I hope that, given my explanation, the Committee is assured that there is appropriate provision for guidance and that the Government are fully committed to addressing and tackling this issue. We are looking to update existing guidance to support professionals in the field. This is not just about passing laws but about applying them too. I therefore hope that the noble Baroness will agree to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Thornton: I thank the Minister for that detailed and comprehensive answer. I also thank my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, as well as the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, for her support.

This has been a useful discussion because this issue is important. I had a look at the guidance, which, as my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland pointed out, is comprehensive and impressive. Were it to be implemented in the way that is intended, it would be extremely effective. It is detailed and tells all public officials how they should deal with this issue and what they should say. The guidance is very impressive but implementation is the point. I also agreed with the noble Lord when he told the House that this is also about cultural change, changes in community and so on.

I might say to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, that I come from a community in Bradford, have links across West Yorkshire and have spoken about this issue to many different groups of women in those areas. I have to say that the enthusiasm for criminalisation, which we will come on to talk about, is not by any means uniform among the groups, including, for example, a group of Somali women in Halifax with whom I had conversations only in the

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past year. Criminalisation of breaches of the Forced Marriage Act is important, as I think everyone would agree. However, the discussion that we are going to come on to is slightly more nuanced.

I should be grateful if the Minister could answer the question mentioned by his noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece about free schools. He does not need to answer now; a letter would be sufficient. Do the rules relating to this issue apply also to the new free schools? I should like to read what the noble Lord has said about the Department for Education’s role in this and about the safeguarding issue. We may need to have discussions and return to it at a later stage. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 5 withdrawn.

Clause 107 agreed.

Clause 108: Offence of forced marriage: England and Wales

Amendment 5A

Moved by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

5A: Clause 108, page 78, line 41, leave out subsections (1) and (2) and insert—

“(1) Where a person commits an offence under the law of England and Wales, it shall be considered an aggravating feature if he or she—

(a) uses violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage, or

(b) believes, or ought reasonably to believe, that the conduct may cause the other person to enter into the marriage without free and full consent.

(2) Where a person commits an offence under the law of England and Wales, it shall be considered an aggravating feature if he or she—

(a) practices any form of deception with the intention of causing another person to leave the United Kingdom, and

(b) intends the other person to be subjected to conduct outside the United Kingdom that is an aggravating feature under subsection (1), or would be an aggravating feature if that person were in England and Wales.

(2A) In subsections (1) and (2), “a person” refers to any individual who commits an offence for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage.”

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I should make it clear right from the beginning that this is a probing amendment at this stage. I seek to amend the proposed criminalisation of the offence in order that forced marriage becomes an aggravating feature that a court will be minded to consider and have to take into account.

Perhaps I may explain to the Committee my concern in relation to the current government proposals. In doing so, I immediately endorse and commend the Government for caring about this issue, for seeking to address it and for understanding the sensitivity that surrounds it in relation to all communities, because, regrettably, forced marriage happens in all communities.

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Whether it involves an Irish farmer, someone in this country from a strict Christian denomination, Jewish communities or various forms of Asian communities, forced marriage happens in all our families. It is wrong and it is an infringement of human rights. I therefore do not hesitate to say that the Government are right to care about this, to work on it and to commit themselves to its eradication. All that is correct.

The question that I raise through this amendment is: is criminalisation the right course? Noble Lords will know from my noble friend Lady Thornton that we worked very hard on this matter and during that time we learnt a number of lessons. During the whole of my legal career—from 1977 to date, which is not very long—I have had the privilege of working with families in which both boys and girls have been subjected to forced marriage. During that time, my experience in the Foreign Office caused me to seek to create the Forced Marriage Unit and then to pursue the issue with vigour through each of the departments in which I was privileged to be a Minister. Lastly, as noble Lords will know, as Attorney-General I had the opportunity to assist victims of domestic violence, of which forced marriage is part. The prosecution of those who unlawfully seek to coerce others into a marriage to which they do not consent is something which all of us, no matter which party, pursued with vigour. The question for all of us is how best that should be done.

I looked with interest at the Government’s response to the consultation. I want to ask the Minister a number of questions in relation to the notice, if any, which was taken of some of the answers given—particularly in relation to Imkaan, which the noble Lord will know submitted a response from 48 organisations. I shall mention a few: Jewish Women’s Aid, Latin American Women’s Aid, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, various professors, the Newham Asian Women’s Project, Race on the Agenda, Rape Crisis (England and Wales), Respect, Rights of Women, Scottish Women’s Aid, Solace Women’s Aid, the Southall Black Sisters, Welsh Women’s Aid, Women and Girls Network, and Women’s Aid, England. These front-line organisations have been dealing with this matter for a very long time—indeed, as far back as I can remember.

To the Government’s question:

“Do you believe that the current civil remedies and criminal sanctions are being used … effectively?”,

those organisations answered no. In answer to the question:

“Do you think a criminal offence should be created for the act of forcing someone to marry against their will?”,

the answer was no. In answer to the question:

“What issues should be considered to ensure that a new offence does not deter people from reporting the crime?”,

the answer was:

“The creation of a specific offence on forced marriage would in itself create a significant barrier to reporting. As highlighted earlier, women and girls will not always prioritise prosecution. Women and girls want the choice to reconcile, where appropriate, with family members and often prefer to access support services before making any other decision”.

In answer to the question:

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“Do you think there should be an offence of luring someone abroad”,

the answer was no. In answer to the question:

“Do you think that the creation of a new criminal offence would make the law clearer?”,

the answer was no. Then, in answer to the question:

“Do you think the creation of a new criminal offence would make it easier for professionals to tackle the problem?”,

once again, the answer was no. That made me pause because here were the most significant front-line services in our country, which have been dealing with these issues for many years, saying no.

1 pm

I then looked at the other indications that we have had, and there is a concern. I shall explain why that is. At the moment we have a plethora of criminal offences. Just as with domestic violence, forced marriage comes in many forms and will be used and perpetrated by a number of individuals in different ways. You may have cases that involve the victim of a forced marriage being subjected to common assault, actual body harm or Section 18 or Section 20 grievous bodily harm. You may have cases that involve false imprisonment, attempts to murder or threats to kill. Each of those offences carries a different penalty. False imprisonment, rape and conspiracy to rape all carry life imprisonment, not seven years’ imprisonment.

Therefore, I ask the Minister how this particular offence will be prosecuted. How will we differentiate between this offence and cases where someone may have been kidnapped or falsely imprisoned, for which the punishment could potentially be up to life imprisonment? How will prosecutors and others implementing this new offence differentiate between those more serious offences and the offence of forced marriage, where the activity used to try to coerce or oblige the individual to enter into a marriage will be one of those offences? I am concerned that we might downgrade the offence if it involves a forced marriage. The effect would be that if you kidnap someone simpliciter, you may be subject to a potential penalty of life imprisonment, but if you kidnap someone for the purpose of forcing them into a marriage and you are then prosecuted for the offence of so doing, under this legislation you will be subject to the lesser penalty. I am very concerned about what we may be saying to the public if we do that.

Lord Faulks (Con): Would not the answer to the dilemma that the noble and learned Baroness quite rightly identifies be for the prosecuting authorities to have different counts on indictments so that they include, for example, Section 18 or Section 20 and the offence of forced marriage?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, that, of course, is the way forward. However, the question that I pose is this: how are the prosecutor and the police officer to decide which offence to go for? Criminal prosecutions, as the noble Lord will know, will be carried out on the basis of proving things beyond reasonable doubt. If you look at the forced marriage provision, you have to identify a course of behaviour that is coercive. In so doing, the prosecutor will have

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to identify what criminal act was alleged against the defendant. For example, is it alleged that the accused hit the person or that they threatened the person? It seems to me that in order to prove the forced marriage provision, you have to identify a substantive criminal act which it is asserted that person committed. If one then has a jury, what will we say to the jury? How do we differentiate the forced marriage allegation from the substantive allegation made in relation to the other offence? I am asking this probing question to understand how the Government expect this to be done, because you cannot have an alternative in the way that we have just debated unless there is clarity about what the prosecutor is seeking to establish. In the case of a kidnapping, in order to satisfy the jury that a forced marriage offence was committed, how do you differentiate between those two if the accused is found not guilty of the kidnapping but guilty of the forced marriage based on the kidnapping? There is an inherent difficulty.

The only element of this offence that seems not to be currently covered is coercion on an emotional basis. I take as an example a devout Jewish family which discovers that one of its children wishes to marry outside the faith. A matchmaker has arranged a marriage within the community and the child rejects the suggestion made by the parent. The parent then says, “If you do not do this, I will rend my garments, I will sit shiva for you”—which means, in effect, “I will treat you as if you were dead”—“and you will break my heart”. That is coercion inasmuch as it is emotional blackmail, perpetuated for the sole purpose of making the child change their mind, but it is genuinely felt by the parent, who believes that to refuse will be detrimental to the child’s long-term being. Looking at this offence, it seems to me that it would be possible to prosecute such a parent under this legislation. I want to be clear as to whether the Government believe that such a prosecution would be merited and is what they wish to achieve.

The whole question of forced marriage is a very delicate and difficult issue. If emotional blackmail, which is not yet on the statute book, is the only offence, do the Government intend this provision to apply to parents who use it? Emotional blackmail can be devastating; if you think your mother is going to kill herself, that the family are going to be shamed, that your father will never again be able to raise his head and that you will be thrown out of your community, that is very powerful coercion, directed specifically to cause the child to comply with the request. It seems to me, looking at the offence created, that that behaviour could be caught by this provision. I would very much like to know from the Minister whether that is the Government’s intent. Let us be clear. If a loving parent disagrees with a child and seeks to persuade them to do something, which the child does not want to do but which the parent believes to be right—no matter how wrong that parent is and if they do it lovingly—they could find themselves in difficulties. I need to understand from the Minister whether that is indeed his intent.

The other issue is to see how the legislation is currently working. From the evidence that I have been able to cull, the forced marriage protection orders

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appear to be a very effective tool. Between November 2008 and the end of 2010 there were 257 applications for forced marriage protection orders, of which 181 had power of arrest attached. By June 2011 339 orders were recorded. A study carried out in 2011 at Roehampton University shows that of the 74 written responses received from a range of groups, including local authorities, organisations concerned with domestic violence, faith groups, police and lawyers, 50% of respondents thought it should not be criminal, 38% were in favour, 13% were unsure, 57% thought it would be more difficult for criminals to come forward, and 64% thought that the existing legislation was enough. So 64% thought that what we have now is enough. The real issue that came forward strongly was the enforcement of the forced marriage protection orders.

Before we step into an area where there may be unforeseen consequences, I should like to hear from the Minister how it is proposed that this offence will operate and what guidance the enforcement agencies—the police and the CPS—should be given. If, however, as my amendment proposes, the Government were minded to make it an “aggravating feature”, that would be a very useful tool for the courts. Forced marriage involves a breach of trust. It is not just that you kidnap, falsely imprison or assault someone you are supposed to love, it is that you do so to force them to enter into a relationship that will have lasting impacts on their lives, and maybe negatively so.

Just as we punish more severely those who breach our trust if they steal from us as an employer, it is equally important to say that if you commit any of these substantive offences which are grievous and egregious in their own right, and you do so for the express purpose of forcing someone for whom you have responsibility directly or indirectly into a marriage or otherwise, you deserve more trenchant punishment than if you did it to a stranger—somebody that you did not know. We would be able to keep all the substantive offences, punish them appropriately in accordance with the gravity of what was done, using the legislation that is already there, but we could do so more trenchantly because they did it in the framework of forcing someone into marriage. We would do what the Government want, which is to make it very clear that it is a criminal offence, will be taken seriously and needs to be punished, but we may be able to do it within a context that will not bring about some of the unforeseen consequences that some of us foresee now.

1.15 pm

Lord Hussain (LD): My Lords, coming back to what the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, said earlier on forced marriage, I, too, am glad that the Government are taking this seriously and are trying to do something about this awful practice involving many victims whose lives are made miserable. At the same time I, too, wonder whether the measures that the Government are trying to take will be helpful or counterproductive, as I said at an earlier stage. As has been suggested by other noble Lords, I fear that by making forced marriage a criminal act, a lot of young

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people will not come forward to report it, so it could be pushed more under the carpet, rather than being dealt with.

Will the Minister shed some light on the background from which forced marriage comes? I share the view that it is not an issue from one particular community or faith. However, many noble Lords will know that most cases registered with the Forced Marriage Unit of the Home Office come from the Pakistani Muslim community. I speak from that community, as I belong to it and know what is happening. Does the Minister understand that one of the major factors in forced marriages is the clan system? The tribe system strongly exists within the Pakistani community in the UK, although we have been settled here for 40 or 50 years. In the tribes, sects, brathries, clans or castes—whatever name we use—people are divided into those groups and many of them do not want their sons or daughters to marry out of their clans, brathries or castes. This is where many forced marriages are taking place.

Does the Minister recognise that and what will the Government do about educating people to come out of the brathries system? I get invited to many community meetings and have spoken many times about this. I have written in the Urdu language, which I am able to do, in newspapers against this practice. For example, 15 years ago in my home town of Luton, there was a big community meeting where we discussed community issues. There were a couple of hundred people there, and I spoke on this issue. By the time I had finished, every leader of every clan or caste gave me a dirty look, as if to say, “How dare you?”. That is how strongly the caste system is built into some of these cultures. We need to educate them not only through the normal education channels but through the ethnic media, which has hardly been mentioned but which can play a positive role in educating people.

Then there is the film industry. I was watching a film on one of the satellite channels; many Pakistani-origin people watch dramas and films on these channels. In this film, a female was to be married to someone out of her caste. Another female tells her, “My dear, you will have to give up this idea”, and points to the cemetery outside their house, saying, “It is full of virgins”. They are the virgins who were not allowed to get married outside the caste. This is how strongly this is practised outside the UK and these films, when they are shown, have an impact on people’s lives and behaviour. We need to understand that as well, and maybe we need to educate our own people in how to look into it.

On the particular issue of the media, DfID is giving millions of pounds to media outlets operating in the UK and in Pakistan. I hope that some of that money will be used for programmes to educate on forced marriages by the media that are supported financially by DfID. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us how he thinks he can prevent the criminalisation of forced marriage discouraging reporting. I strongly feel that that may happen and we need to look at it very carefully. I hope that he can satisfy us.

Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl): My Lords, I stand somewhat hesitantly and ask for the House’s leniency, as I did not take part at Second Reading. I hope that the

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House will indulge me for a few minutes, as someone who chaired the initial work on forced marriage in 1998, alongside the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, instructed by the then Home Secretary. I was inspired by the comprehensive understanding of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland. I have no words of expertise to be able to relay the issues she laid before the House. I was also deeply inspired by the noble Lord, Lord Hussain. All those years ago, in 1998, such a speech would have been unthinkable from a Member of the House of Lords coming from the Pakistani community. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, also comes from the Pakistani community and, although he took a little pulling in on my sisterly part to bring him along to the discussions, when he did, he did so with vigour. We are standing on the shoulders of giants regarding much of the work that was done across the country.

We went across the country for 18 months, talking to various sections of the community: we left very few stones unturned, whether it was the Jewish community, the Irish community, the Scottish borders or the Welsh community. We did not leave any of the women’s organisations out of the debate. Out of it came the Forced Marriage Unit, which is very laudable, and the work it has subsequently done. I support the amendment moved by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, because it is critical. All those years ago, women really wanted some protection and their consensus, which was right across the board, led to forced marriage protection orders. However, our report made it very clear that we proposed that this should have been done under the protection of domestic violence legislation and child protection legislation. Whether it is kidnapping or murder, we wanted to mainstream the issue of forced marriage into the criminal legislation. That did not happen at that point.

The women’s organisations listed by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, have played a critical part in leading to the changes that have occurred and we have to acknowledge how much change there has been, led by community organisations, faith organisations and the women’s organisations themselves. If they are now saying that criminalisation will impact on the numbers of women and young people reporting, I suggest to the Committee that we take that very seriously. I have attended a number of meetings with these organisations, both here in the House and outside, and they have consistently asked that the Government recognise their work and expertise. They are saying that criminalisation will make it very difficult for them to work because, whatever we say about the amount of resources available outside, we have done very little since 1998 to empower those marginalised women economically and to address their welfare needs and their education. Women, in particular, will not be confident to come forward, whether it is to report violence against them or to report rape or forced marriage, unless we address the issue of their economic well being. I suggest that this added burden of criminalisation will be a very deep-seated aggravation, compounding the levels of pressure women face within the community. I hope that we will listen to some of the women’s organisations. I think that the amendment

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moved by the noble and learned Baroness is the right way to go about it and I hope that the Government will concede.

Lord Faulks: My Lords, I am a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which looked at this issue, as with other issues in the Bill, and realised that there was a great deal of knowledge and experience in your Lordships’ House, some of which we have heard today. We came to the conclusion that we cautiously accepted the Government’s reasoning for the criminalisation of forced marriage, but we recommended, among other things, that the Crown Prosecution Service should develop a strategy on prosecutions over forced marriage and that, in developing such a strategy, there should be consultation with the relevant stakeholders. It was very much a cautious acceptance of the Government’s reasoning.

I appreciate that the noble and learned Baroness has put this down as a probing amendment rather than anything more and I accept it in that spirit. I counsel some caution, however, about having an offence which one commits if there is an aggravating feature in relation to another offence. It causes difficulties in sentencing in other cases in which this form of offence has been introduced. It seems to me, as I suggested in a brief intervention on the noble and learned Baroness, that it would be perfectly possible to have an offence of forced marriage and to have an offence if the context required it—a further offence, perhaps, in Section 20 or Section 18—of whatever other offence had been committed. However, I understand the spirit of the amendment and I look forward with interest to what the Minister has to say.

Baroness Thornton: Did the human rights committee consider the proposal that has been put forward by my noble and learned friend? If it did not, does it think it would be a good idea if it did now do so, if there is time?

Lord Faulks: I do not, of course, speak for the committee, as I am only one member. This particular amendment was not considered; I can certainly take it back to the committee and ask that we consider it.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, I, too, pay tribute to the noble and learned Lady, Baroness Scotland, for all the work she has done in setting up the Forced Marriage Unit and for her commitment and dedication over many years on this issue, as well as on domestic violence and related issues. She speaks with great authority. My concern is that we need a clear message, a deterrent, to go out to many of these communities and my fear is that some of the messages we are hearing in the debate today are not as distinct as they could be.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Hussain that education is needed and that far more should be done within all the various communities. We are talking about a range of communities; it is not just one or two. Moreover, we are seeing people coming here from the first generation, particularly from certain African countries, who are still bringing these sorts of customs

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with them. They do not always understand what is and is not acceptable in the United Kingdom in the 21st century.

As I said in my earlier contribution, I have some personal experience of this. I know what it is like to be threatened with being ostracised from your family and to have to leave home. No child wants to feel the pressure of being ostracised and losing contact with their family. They cannot be in touch with their extended family. For many of us, our communities and families, particularly the immediate family, are very important to us. It is our whole world. Let us make no mistake, this is a terrible thing to happen. It is not always done with violence, but certainly with intimidation.

I want something that will work. Whatever we agree to, it has to be able to prevent this happening to young women. Unfortunately, the evidence shows that although we have made a lot of progress, this is still happening to far too many young women and, as my noble friend said earlier, to boys as well. Many young people are at risk and are being affected by this. The figure must still be in the thousands and that cannot be right. We have to do something about it.

On prevention, I heard what the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, said about the voluntary organisations. The vast majority of community organisations that are working with their respective communities do not want to see the people who are in their communities being criminalised. No one would want that. The idea is that this would prevent people doing these things and entering into this sort of behaviour. It would prevent criminalisation.

1.30 pm

Baroness Uddin: Does the noble Baroness accept that organisations such as the Newham Asian Women’s Project and Southall Black Sisters have a long and honourable history of campaigning against such violence? There is no way that they would want to associate themselves with what she is suggesting; that is, that they just want to see more education or protection because they want to save their communities from such allegations. They are very clear about this issue and that comes from their experience, which has been acquired from more than 30 years of protecting women.

Baroness Hussein-Ece: I accept what the noble Baroness says. I have worked in the past with Southall Black Sisters on domestic violence issues in the Turkish and Kurdish communities when I was setting up a women’s refuge for them. Indeed, I worked very closely with them; I know the work the women do and I pay tribute to them. However, I think that we need some sanctions in order to prevent this. I am sure that the same arguments were deployed in the debates on the proposal to criminalise FGM. Perhaps that is not a good example because there have been no convictions, but it is illegal. Whatever we may think about it—which is obviously for another debate—that sends out the message that FGM is wrong. If something is wrong, it should be against the law. I have listened carefully to the debate and I have thought long and hard about the issue. I

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have not come to this view over the past few days. It is something that I have considered for many years, and of course there needs to be far more education.

Let us look at the facts. No religion supports forced marriage and it is not a religious requirement. It is also a barrier to integration. These girls, when they behave in what is perceived to be too pro-western a fashion and perhaps are friendly with members of the opposite sex, are considered to have lax morals. The barriers then come up and the pressure starts. I go into schools and talk to girls whose families do not want them to move on into further education. They do not want them to go into further education because they then start to lose control. They think, “Oh, they will have boyfriends and get into relationships where they have sex before marriage”. That is when the oppression starts. It is a barrier to integration and goes against the opportunity for girls to reach their full potential. That is something I feel very strongly about. Moreover, it is a form of slavery and rape. I will be clear on this because that is what happens in many cases. It is about being held against your will in a marriage, which is slavery and rape, and I have no other form of words to describe it.

At the moment, many families feel that their young girls, particularly those under the age of 18, are their property. They belong to the family and the honour of the family rests on them, so the family feels that it has the right to impose its will. I shall quote what I think I might have said, and what one young girl who is a survivor and very much in favour of this legislation said to me: “I wish I had been able to say to my parents at the age of 14, ‘You can’t do this to me because it is illegal’”.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am at the cautious end of the spectrum as well. Being cautious, I noticed in the fact sheet on this issue published by the Home Office the lines:

“Victims of forced marriage, their families, and society may feel better served by a specific criminal offence. There may also be a deterrent effect”.

I read into the second sentence that that might also cover a reluctance to approach the health and other authorities simply because they are authorities.

I share the concern that has been expressed about stigmatising one’s own family and the ostracism of not just the family, but of the whole community. However, as I have said already today, I am not yet convinced that this would be answered by there being a choice between civil and criminal proceedings. Indeed, the fact sheet also makes it clear that choice is a key message of engagement. That is because there is still the dilemma of how one’s family and community will react to either type of proceedings. I then asked myself whether, conversely, it could produce the reaction of, “Well, they are civil proceedings, not pursuing the criminal route, so it is not that serious”. That worries me as well. I have said to my noble friend that I am concerned about training in this issue for the police and prosecution authorities, although that probably goes to the guidance: how will they put to those who are victims in this situation the choice they have and yet not put pressure on them?

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Finally—at this point at any rate—my noble friend said that female genital mutilation is not a good example. I think that it is a good example because the criminal route has not been chosen. I am not sure what we have learnt from that; I have not picked up that we have learnt anything.

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, this has been a remarkable debate and I thank my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland for introducing what is a very serious and important issue to our discussions. I want to make a point about the legislation on female genital mutilation. The reason we had to create an offence was because our law was silent on the matter of female genital mutilation at the time. We created an offence because it was the only thing we could do.

We should not be in any doubt at all that forced marriage is an offence. We need to be clear about that, and I do not think that my noble and learned friend’s—

Baroness Hussein-Ece: My Lords, I want just to clarify a point. Perhaps I did not make myself clear, but what I meant was that in the debates around FGM at the time, it was argued that criminalisation would force the practice underground. There is an area of comparison because the point about this issue is that it is underground already.

Baroness Thornton: The noble Baroness makes a very fair point. What we are being presented with here, as the result of the proposal of my noble and learned friend, is a choice about how to deal with the crime of forced marriage: which is the best way to deal with it? At Second Reading I think I indicated to the Minister that the Government would have to make a good case for going down the road they are proposing. They need to have a robust justification for criminalisation. As yet, the Government have not produced the evidence that would be the justification for doing so.

My noble and learned friend has done the Committee a great favour here, because she has said that there are two ways of achieving this. This side of the House is very keen to strengthen the law on forced marriage; indeed, my right honourable friend Yvette Cooper and my honourable friend Gloria De Piero—my new boss, the shadow Equalities Minister—have both said that we are keen to do so.

I would like to ask a couple of questions, because I know that some of us are quite keen to have our lunch. In what way did the Government examine this as an alternative route to the criminalisation that is on the face of the Bill? What was the discussion? Where did it take place? In particular, was this discussed with the CPS and police and what were their views on the most effective route to take? If the Minister thinks it is appropriate, we may need to have further discussion about this.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, first, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in a very detailed and expert debate on this issue, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, has already said. On a lighter note, I will address a point made by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, who knows I have a deep

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respect for her professionally and personally. She talked about how parents would react to children who said no to them. I can assure noble Lords that as a father of two myself, that is a regular occurrence in the Ahmad household. A firm line—more from mother than father—normally does the trick. However, we are on a serious subject and it is important that we have had this detailed debate.

I join other noble Lords in thanking the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, for all the work that she has undertaken both in and out of government to end forced marriage. We have different perspectives on this. Let me also assure the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, and the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, who is not in her place at the moment, that this Government are building on what has been done already. I am sure that I speak for all in the Committee and in your Lordships’ House when I say that we are at one in trying to get the best solution on this most important issue. I am therefore very grateful to the noble and learned Baroness for raising her important points and I welcome the opportunity to explain to the Committee how we have considered these points fully in the development of the Bill and will continue to take them into account as we move forward on the issue of forced marriage.

Let us be absolutely clear: we all agree that forced marriage is a fundamental abuse of human rights and needs to be tackled. We are as one on that. In criminalising forced marriage it is the Government’s intention to prevent this appalling abuse, to protect victims and prosecute perpetrators. By criminalising forced marriage, we are sending a very strong message that this abuse will simply not be tolerated and we are empowering the victims, who are at the centre of what we are proposing, to come forward in the knowledge that this issue is being and will be taken seriously, and perpetrators will be punished.

The proposal is to replace the new offences of forced marriage in England, Wales and Scotland with provisions that would make the same conduct an aggravating factor when sentencing a person found guilty of another offence. I would like to reassure the noble Baroness that the Government have considered making false marriage an aggravating factor for sentencing. However, in England and Wales, the courts already have an overarching guideline on the principles of seriousness which they are required by law to follow. Within this guideline, abuse of power, position, trust and the deliberate targeting of vulnerable victims already apply, as supplemented by a guideline on domestic violence issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, which courts are required by law to follow. The guideline uses the current definition of domestic violence which covers forced marriage. It is therefore difficult to see how the amendments of the noble and learned Baroness would make any difference to the way in which the courts currently sentence forced marriage—the behaviours often associated with it are already aggravating factors.

1.45 pm

Of course I recognise there are concerns relating to criminalisation. That is why the Government want to be absolutely certain that any changes that are made

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are in the best interests of the victims. To this end, the Government launched a consultation. We talked to people and considered their opinions. We considered all the evidence afresh. The majority view expressed was that forced marriage should be criminalised.

The noble and learned Baroness quoted the Government consultation. I will share the summary of the responses with the Committee this afternoon. The Government conducted a full consultation on criminalising forced marriage and overall 54% of those who responded to the forced marriage consultation were in favour of criminalisation; 37% were against the creation of a new offence; and 9% of respondents were undecided.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the Minister but can he tell me whether Imkaan’s submission was counted as one or 48?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I shall come to that. I will ask the officials to look into that and respond accordingly. Some 297 responses were received in total. People who looked at this issue are on the front line and deal with these issues day to day. Aneeta Prem from Freedom says:

“One of the arguments is that, if you criminalise forced marriage, you will drive it underground. Well, it already is underground. Nobody advertises that they are forcing their son, daughter or anybody else into a marriage. It could not be further underground than it is already. People are using that as an excuse”.

Jasvinder Sanghera from Karma Nirvana writes:

“Criminalising forced marriage will give the police more effective, formal powers, but it would also send out a very strong message that it is child and public protection”.

I recognise that there is a fear that criminalisation could serve as a deterrent to victims. Tragically, as I have already said in a previous debate on this subject, it is already there, it is happening—it is underground, it is tragic, it is real. The question is what we are going to do about it. Forced marriage is already a hidden underground practice. While we take these concerns very seriously, I do not believe the answer is to avoid criminalising forced marriage.

In drafting this Bill, we have sought to provide the best possible protection for victims. That is why we have made provision to establish jurisdiction over new forced marriage offences where they are committed overseas by or against a UK national or where they are committed by or against someone who is habitually resident in England and Wales. The amendments would then result in these provisions not being available for the protection of the victims at the centre.

In answer to the question raised by the noble and learned Baroness, Imkaan’s submission was counted as one response. However, Karma Nirvana submitted 3,000 responses in the same vein in favour of the Government’s proposals and we also considered those 3,000 responses as one.

The question is one which, of course, taxes—

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am sorry to press the noble Lord further but I want to make it plain to him why I am concerned. I am sure he will want to deal with this. My worry is that the list of 48 covers the

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national front-line agencies that have been dealing with this issue for a very long time. Women’s Aid operates throughout our country and represents thousands and thousands of women, as do the Jewish societies and Refuge. I estimate that all those organisations counted in the 48 would account for millions of voices as opposed to thousands. I would be very grateful if the noble Lord would look with a greater degree of acuity as to the quality of the list of the 48.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: As I always assure the noble and learned Baroness, I listen attentively when she speaks. I take on board what she has said and will write to her about it.

To those who say that this is going underground, and in respect of the cultural pressures that exist, I would say that young women and, indeed, young men may not take the issue forward because of the fear of being ostracised in their community and for fear of shopping their parents or close relatives. I say that with some understanding of the cultural challenges faced by some communities across Britain. Although I do not claim any expertise in the field, I certainly travel quite widely, along with other noble Lords, and I hear about and deal with some of these cases directly.

Irrespective of whether it goes down a criminal or a civil route, the step forward is a difficult one. That is the focus and the emotion that the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, spoke about with such eloquence. It is the first step. We are leaving the civil route open but, equally, we need to ensure that the deterrent of this being a criminal offence is also available for the victim. I defer to the noble and learned Baroness’s expertise in this field but the difficult part for anyone involved is taking that first step of reporting this kind of coercion or abuse, irrespective of what route is available. That is what we need to overcome. We need, as a responsible Government, to address that issue. As I am sure the noble and learned Baroness will acknowledge, I have listened to her words quite carefully. I reassure noble Lords that, in drafting the Bill, we have sought to provide the best possible protection for victims. That is why we have made provision to establish jurisdiction over the new forced marriage offences, whether they are committed overseas or against a UK national.

The noble and learned Baroness raised several other questions, which I shall address briefly. In respect of the emotional element in decision-making, Clause 108(1)(a) covers any other form of coercion, which includes emotional coercion or emotional blackmail. That forms part of the mischief that we are seeking to address via criminalisation. However, in practice, the CPS will prosecute in cases only where it is in the public interest to do so. That will also involve an analysis of all the facts of the case, including the gravity of the offending behaviour and the harm caused. The definition of force in the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 already addresses coercion by other psychological means, which could encompass emotional coercion and emotional blackmail. This is not a new proposition but something that Parliament has already endorsed. The inclusion of emotional coercion is also consistent with the non-statutory cross-government definition of domestic violence.

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The CPS has existing guidelines on the selection of charges in cases where a number of different offences have potentially been committed, and our expectation is that the CPS will apply that existing guidance. We will, of course, consider carefully with the CPS whether any additional bespoke guidance is required in this context to deal with the new forced marriage offence.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked whom we discussed this with outside of the general consultation that I and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, have referred to. Discussions were held with ACPO, the CPS and the Attorney-General’s Office about how this offence could work in practical terms. The Government considered the option of making it an aggravating factor, but we took the view that this was already adequately covered by the guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council, to which I have already referred.

The noble and learned Baroness’s amendments to Clause 109 would make identical provision for Scotland. This is a devolved matter and Clause 109 has been included in the Bill at the request of the Scottish Government. I cannot, as noble Lords will appreciate, comment on behalf of the Scottish Government. The noble and learned Baroness is, of course, also aware of the convention that the UK Parliament does not legislate on devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

As I said in responding to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lady Hamwee, to complement the legislation, the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit is rolling out a nationwide engagement programme to support practitioners such as those that the noble and learned Baroness highlighted in tackling forced marriage. The unit also continues to give direct assistance to victims and potential victims. Last year, for example, the unit provided advice or related support in almost 1,500 possible forced marriage cases.

My noble friend Lord Hussain talked about education and about Pakistani dramas and Bollywood. I certainly did not expect that element but nothing surprises me in your Lordships’ House. He is right, but I would ask how many of these families watch these films and dramas, watch this man fall in love with a woman who is the wrong caste or even religion and say, “Oh, it’s tragic isn’t it?”. Yet what do they practise themselves? Why do they not have the same emotions as when they watch what are often fictional accounts? That is the education that needs to be given to the community—to realise that, whether this is about Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity or humanism, what should prevail above all else is the rule of law, which prohibits coercion in marriage. That is what the Government are seeking to address through their proposals.

I pay full respect to the experience of the noble and learned Baroness and, once again, acknowledge the hard work that she has undoubtedly, historically and over many years, put into the area of forced marriage. I know that she will continue to share her expertise in the field, and I hope that, based on the explanations I have given, she will be minded to withdraw her amendment.

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for that comprehensive response. I very much value his commitment, sensitivity and understanding in relation to these matters. I reiterate that I absolutely accept that the Government are committed to doing what they believe to be right to support victims of forced marriage.

I listened very carefully to what the noble Lord said but cannot promise him that I will not bring this back, not least because I would very much like a full answer on how these issues are going to be prosecuted. One of the delights I had for three years was being in the position where that burden was mine. I therefore hope that the House will forgive me if I look at this role that is going to be foisted on my successor, Dominic Grieve, and worry a little about what he is going to do with it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, asked about the plea made by a young girl who said, “I wish I could say you cannot do this to me because it is illegal”. The answer is that she can. Today, in our country, forcing someone into marriage is illegal. Someone will commit that offence by doing a number of the things that we went through in the debate. I urge the Government to make it clear that it is illegal today, because that is what people need to hear. I also invite the noble Lord to consider how we are going to differentiate between domestic violence and forced marriage, which is a feature, an aspect or a species of domestic violence.

At the moment we do not have an offence of domestic violence, because domestic violence can be committed in a plethora of ways. I should like the Government to consider again, a little more deeply, the fissure that might be created by this disparity in the way in which we treat these offences. Everyone in this short debate has made it clear that prevention is the most important element. I ask that the Government consider very carefully whether the current system, with strong implementation, is not the better course.

In response to the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, regarding the sentencing guidance, the current amendment has been framed in such a way as to enable us to have this debate. Obviously, if the Government were minded to follow the suggestions that we have raised, it could be done by strengthening the sentencing guidelines together with creating, with ACPO and the CPS, appropriate strengthened guidance to make sure that we prosecute more of these cases and that we do so successfully by enabling those victims to have the courage not only to come forward but to stay forward. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment but I will be back.

Amendment 5A withdrawn.

House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 3.01 pm.