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Grand Committee

Tuesday, 1 July 2014.

Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014

Legal Services Act 2007 (Approved Regulator) Order 20141st Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Consider

3.30 pm

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That the Grand Committee do consider the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.

Relevant document: 1st Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (special attention drawn to the instrument)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, the regulations were laid before this House on 3 April. They are part of a series of measures, founded on the Localism Act 2011 and the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, which this coalition Government have taken to protect local democracy, enhance local scrutiny, and create 21st-century local accountability. Specifically, these regulations enhance the rights of the press and public to report council meetings in digital and social media. They also enhance the rights of people to know what decisions are being taken by council officers on behalf of elected members.

That the public can readily know what those they have elected to represent them are doing is the very lifeblood of democracy. This is fundamental and has long been recognised. It was my late friend Lady Thatcher who introduced the right for the press and public to attend and report council meetings back in 1960 through a successful Private Member’s Bill, which she first mentioned in her maiden speech in the other place. A well functioning democracy, however, is not something set in stone. It must keep pace with the way people live their lives, and the way they communicate and share and discuss information.

Use of digital and social media now runs through daily life. The rights which were given to people in 1960 to report and access council meetings now need to be updated to encompass the digital world of today. I know that when we debated the provisions of what is now the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 there was a general welcome across the House for the kind of changes I have just outlined. I also know that a number of noble Lords had concerns about how precisely we could implement these changes, and at the same time avoid creating circumstances in which the good conduct of business in a council could be put at risk, or where those using the digital media might inadvertently put themselves at risk through breaching laws on defamation.

We believe it is possible to give the public modern 21st-century rights of access and of reporting, and equally to address the concerns such as those that have been raised. The principal means of doing this will be

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through our plain-English guide that we are developing with local government. I will say more on this in a moment, but through it we envisage dealing specifically with issues such as defamation, disrupting a meeting, or inhibiting the free exchange of views among the council members.

When we sought views about these regulations, the Local Government Association stated that it does,

“not believe that further central government regulations are needed in this area”.

We agree that many councils are already opening their meetings to digital reporting. But sadly there have been occasions where councils have sought to prevent this, even in a few cases ejecting members of the public from meetings for trying to report them using the digital media of today. I am sure that if this can happen, it is not the modern democracy we all want. The regulations before us today will ensure that this cannot happen in future. They will ensure that local democracy everywhere in the country is on a modern footing. We want ordinary people to be clear about their rights.

Turning to specifics, the regulations will amend existing legislation to put beyond doubt the rights of the public to film, audio-record and use social media to report public meetings of their council or other local government bodies, their committees, sub-committees and joint committees. To be clear, these regulations apply to all principal councils—county councils, London borough councils, district councils, unitary councils, the City of London and the Isles of Scilly. They apply also to local government bodies such as fire and rescue authorities, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.

The regulations apply equally to parish and town councils. I know that there was some concern about how this will work in practice, particularly for small parish councils, or indeed the parish meeting. The practicalities will be covered in the plain-English guide. It will specify, for example, that while the public can film, they can do so only from the area that the public normally use and that none of this requires the council to make equipment available or to provide special electronics or lighting.

In essence, where today a council has to provide access to the public, in future, those exercising that right of access will in addition be able, from that same public area, to use their own equipment to film, or to tweet from their own devices, such as an iPhone or iPad. In the interests of impartiality and to demonstrate that I am digitally savvy, I should say that they could also use tablets or Androids.

In every case these regulations give people the right to film, blog or tweet at meetings of the council or body and at meetings of any of the council or body’s committees or sub-committees. These same rights apply to meetings of a council’s executive and any committee or sub-committee of the executive.

Nearly two years ago we made the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, which for the first time opened up the meetings of an executive to filming and reporting by social media. The regulations

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before us today now extend what we have achieved for council executives in 2012 to all the meetings of a council.

The 2012 regulations also gave the public rights to see a written record of decisions officers take on behalf of the council’s executive. The regulations we are considering today likewise extend these rights to decisions that officers take on behalf of the council or any of its committees or sub-committees.

Specifically, where a council or one of its committees delegates to officers decisions that affect the rights of individuals, grant a permission or licence, or that relate to incurring expenditure or awarding a contract that would have a material impact on the financial position of the council or local government body, there must be a record of the decision the officer takes. The record of the decision will include the reason for the decision, any alternative options considered and rejected and any other background documents. That will mean that there is transparency and openness in the way these bodies make the decisions that significantly affect the lives of those in their communities.

As I have explained, these are important rights which will ensure that our local democracy is fit for purpose in the world of today. To ensure that these rights are smoothly and effectively introduced and recognised everywhere, my department is working with the local government sector on publishing, if Parliament approves these regulations and they are made, a plain-English guide about what these rights mean for the public, for members and for officers. This will incorporate and extend the plain-English guide we published in 2013, Your Council’s Cabinet—Going to its Meetings, Seeing How it Works, following the 2012 regulations.

As I mentioned, a draft version of the plain-English guide has been published and deals with such issues as defamation and disruption. It contains guidance for the public on libel and the responsibility they must take for the comments they tweet or the videos they publish.

Regarding disruption, the guide will make clear that nothing in these regulations will impact on the chairman’s power to exclude members of the public in cases of genuine disruption, while explaining the clear legal position that the act of filming and using social media in itself cannot be considered as disruptive.

Turning to the timing of the coming into force of the regulations, the regulations provide that they will come into force on the day after which they are made. The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments did not find a compelling justification for this timing of coming into force, and accordingly reported that the provision appeared to make an unusual use of the power conferred by Section 40 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

The Government accept that it is important that there is a smooth introduction of the new rights which the regulations will give the press and public, and accordingly they have undertaken not to make the statutory instrument until at least 28 days after the day on which any parliamentary approval for the statutory

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instrument is given. In taking this approach the Government have had careful regard to the report of the Joint Committee.

In conclusion, these regulations will mean that in future local government everywhere is more open, more transparent and more accountable. People will more readily be able to see and know what those who they elected are doing. That is good for democracy, it is good for elected members, it is good for our communities and it is good for local government and the vital services that councils provide.

I commend the regulations to the committee.

Lord Smith of Leigh (Lab): My Lords, before I start, I need to declare my interest as leader of a council, chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and a vice-president of LGA. I commend the Minister for the competent way in which she introduced the regulations today. I am sure we all agree that openness and transparency are as important in local government as anywhere else in public service.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord McKenzie for pointing out that I am mentioned in dispatches today. I am mentioned in the appendix of the first report of the 2014 session by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments in evidence provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government. I hope that the rest of the evidence is more accurate than the bit that quotes me. The very famous news source is the Daily Mail. How reliable does anybody think the Daily Mail is in providing stories about Labour in local government? What it says is entirely untrue. It says that a member of Wigan council was ejected by the police for tweeting. He was ejected because he would not obey the order of the mayor. It was to do with me as leader of the council. The mayor asked him to behave. He refused to do so. What does one do? He just would not follow instruction. That is the basic rule in any form of organisation. If the Deputy Chairman of Committees were to instruct us, we would obey. That is a basic law.

The fundamental question about these regulations is: why? Why are we spending today debating these regulations? There are more crucial issues in local government that we ought to be talking about. Yesterday, the LGA produced a report stating that local government spending is probably underfunded by just short of £6 billion, caused by cuts to government services and increasing demand. Sir Merrick Cockell, the Conservative leader of the LGA, said that local government funding is on a knife-edge, yet all we are doing is passing regulations that increase unnecessary spending in local government, even if only in a small way. Councils should be left to determine how to tackle these issues.

Whatever happened to localism? In 2011, we passed the Localism Act with grand claims about what it would mean for local government. The Secretary of State who introduced the Bill said:

“The Bill will reverse the centralist creep of decades and replace it with local control. It is a triumph for democracy over bureaucracy. It will fundamentally shake up the balance of power in this country, revitalising local democracy and putting power back where it belongs … they managed to fulfil the wildest dreams of both Sir Humphrey Appleby and Mr Joseph Stalin.

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That strangled the life out of local government, so councils can barely get themselves a cup of tea without asking permission”.—[

Official Report

, Commons 17/1/11; col. 558.]

Those were strong words from the Secretary of State. I supported them then, and I still support them, but here we are introducing legislation about openness in every council.

Councils will have different ways of solving this problem because, as anyone who goes to different town halls knows, different town halls will need different solutions. There is no issue about whether members of the public should be allowed to do it. I am very pleased that people want to come and record me and film me. I would be very flattered if that were to happen as a regular thing, but I am sure it will not be after the first couple of meetings. We are stretching the point when we go into such detail about what each local authority will need to do to solve the problem about where people can and cannot film meetings effectively.

It is right that local government publishes what decisions are made, but to make non-compliance with some of this a criminal offence is perhaps going a little bit over the top. This is unnecessary legislation. We are back to the old days when anything that local government does is being determined not in each and every town hall but in Whitehall. I am sorry that we have reached that pass again. I hoped that we had gone beyond it, but, unfortunately, these regulations demonstrate that we have not.

3.45 pm

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, I start by thanking the Minister for her explanation of these regulations, and I am delighted to have heard from my noble friend Lord Smith, the experienced voice of local government, who put the Department for Communities and Local Government correct in some of its submissions and reminded us just how precarious the financial position is of local government.

We do not oppose these regulations, although they are not without controversy. Of course, the principle of ensuring that local authority decision-making is accessible to the public so that they can better engage with it and encourage the delivery of value for money is not controversial. We are on the record—or the shadow Secretary of State Hilary Benn certainly is—about supporting the use of modern technology in the course of doing this. There is controversy about bringing the regulations into force the day after they are made. The Minister referred to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, which was clear that it did not find compelling the justification that the department offered for the provision. I was going to ask the Minister to have another go at convincing us, but I understand from what she said in her introduction that the regulations will not be made for 28 days in any event—so in a sense that would give some breathing space.

The Minister could perhaps tell us why the Government eschewed a consultation on these regulations and opted for a short, focused, informal soundings exercise with partners. How transparent is that? We understand that all comments were carefully considered before finalising the regulations but, of course, we are not privy to all these comments. In the interests of transparency, could

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they be made available? We are told that the LGA did not support the regulations, believing that guidance would have sufficed. The National Association of Local Councils raised concerns over the practical implications of the proposals, and we all had the benefit of the submission of Transport for London, which set out its concerns and those of the GLA.

Will the Minister comment on the points raised on the vague and broadly based category of decisions that will need a written public record? There is a risk that lack of clarity will cause a wider interpretation of what is required with unintended and disproportionate burdens, and the suggestion, for example, that TfL would have to record and publish in the region of several thousands of decisions, including in relation to taxi and private hire licensing. There are concerns, too, over contracts whose terms and conditions include granting a permission or a licence, adding burdens with very little impact on transparency, given DCLG’s local government transparency code of 2014. There are also concerns about provisions on background papers. I do not assert that Transport for London is correct in its concerns, but we are entitled to hear a response from the Minister to what seem to be the very real issues that were raised with us.

On what is perhaps a minor matter, we note that written records must be retained and made available for inspection for six years, but background papers for only four years. Perhaps somebody could explain the difference between those arrangements.

The Minister said in her introduction that it was agreed during the passage of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 that the Government would bring forward new powers to ensure that the public can film, blog or tweet at all meetings of the council, its committees and sub-committees, that they can attend. This is about bringing local democracy up to speed with today’s fast-moving digital age.

These new communication channels enable local authorities to speak quickly and directly to their local communities. As my honourable friend Roberta Blackman-Woods said in another place, the local media industry is sadly in decline. The internet and social media mean that people are accessing news and information online. The circulation of local newspapers has declined and staff and resources have been cut. Today, more and more council meetings are taking place without a reporter in the public gallery.

Over recent years, we have seen local authorities experiment with new ways of broadcasting council meetings such as live streaming video or audio, using Twitter to post updates and uploading transcripts online. Although the number of people watching these webcasts may be small, the online audience is significantly higher than in the meeting room itself, and has the power to grow exponentially. A retweet or a shared Facebook post grows the potential reach of that piece of information by tens or hundreds of people with just one click. We know that many local authorities are struggling to deliver their statutory services so it is right that we give powers to the public to film and record council meetings rather than make it mandatory for councils to do it themselves.

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We are used to having our proceedings televised but rules govern how this is done. It seems to me that these rules will not necessarily exist at the town hall, so will the Minister offer her thoughts on circumstances where filming or recording is focused on one member in particular, and done in such a way as to intentionally seek to damage his or her reputation, perhaps by capturing an unguarded and unflattering moment? My honourable friend Roberta Blackman-Woods also referred in another place to the extent to which accommodation must be made for big equipment such as spotlights, but I think the Minister dealt with that in her opening remarks.

We note that there are no formal plans to monitor and review these regulations, which is a pity, but we look forward to the plain-English guide and hope that it will clarify some of the uncertainties around the drafting of these regulations—which, as I said, we nevertheless support.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords for their contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Smith of Leigh, talked about the need for these regulations and said that there was a reference to him in one of the documents that my department provided to the JCSI.

As I said at the start of the debate, we all believe in openness and transparency. We think that is a good thing and want people to have access to meetings. However, people’s expectations of what that means are changing because of the onset of social media. People no longer want to go to meetings and listen; they want to provide a commentary through tweeting or make a recording so that they can have an element of control in the way that they use the information they have gathered. That is the modern way in which democracy works in terms of public access.

Although the noble Lord is absolutely right to say that there is already widespread use of these forms of access on the part of local authorities, there is, however, evidence of some local authorities not allowing them. I do not think it is right that in this country in 2014 we should be put in a situation where it is possible for some people not to be able to tweet or record a public meeting just because a council thinks that they should not do so.

I can refer to few examples in addition to those to which the noble Lord referred, which I will not repeat. Tower Hamlets, for instance, barred a 71 year-old resident for filming, due to the risk of reputational damage to the authority. In November 2013, it was stated at a meeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Council that it would not allow filming or blogging of any meeting until forced to do so by law. In Middlesbrough, an AGM was suspended because an internet blogger refused to stop filming proceedings; people were told to leave the building after the meeting was suspended while the police were called.

I understand that they may be limited in number, but earlier this year I was in Strasbourg at a Council of Europe meeting, responding to a report of one of the committees there about local democracy in England. There were people in that committee from Turkey and other countries. I wanted to be able to demonstrate

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that, in our country, we have the kind of freedoms that people believe in and that we will, if those freedoms cannot be accessed, change the law where necessary to make it possible. We have done it in a simple and straightforward way.

The issue of expense has been raised. There is nothing in these regulations that should incur any cost to local authorities, because they are not required to provide any kind of additional facility whatever. I am aware that some local authorities record or even stream their meetings live as they are happening. That is a good thing, but they are not obliged to do so, and we certainly would not make that mandatory. The fact that there is some evidence of restrictions on the public means that we are now making absolutely clear what is possible, which local authorities are in most cases already doing. It should be quite a simple change for people to be able to cope with and implement.

That said—as I said in my opening remarks and as the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, asked me to confirm—we will not bring the regulations into force until at least 28 days after they have hopefully been approved by Parliament. We have produced a plain-English language guide, a draft of which is available on my department’s website. It addresses the sorts of concerns that are legitimate, such as making sure that this access does not lead to inappropriate disruption. If noble Lords have not yet had a chance to look at it, I encourage them to do so.

I turn to some of the specific points raised by the noble Lords, Lord Smith and Lord McKenzie, which I have not already addressed in my remarks. The noble Lord, Lord Smith, asked about criminal sanctions. It is worth me being clear that the criminal sanction applies only to a situation in which a person without reasonable excuse prevents someone from accessing an existing document. It does not apply to the decision as to whether such a document should be produced; it is a question of there being evidence of somebody obstructing somebody from accessing a document.

On the categories of decisions made by officers on behalf of elected representatives, the regulations do not require the recording of day-to-day administrative decisions taken by officers. Rather, they require the recording of two categories of delegated decisions: those taken by officers under a specific delegation, and certain decisions taken under general delegation, as I mentioned. To the noble Lord’s point that most local authorities are already following good practice in this area, we believe that the work necessary in preparation for these regulations coming into force is quite minimal.

The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, asked what steps we have taken to consult others about these changes and about our informal soundings. The comments that we received from our soundings are described materially in the Explanatory Memorandum. The plain-English guide will make clear that decisions such as operational ones about, say, tickets, which the noble Lord referred to, do not need to be recorded.

Noble Lords raised the issue of whether access to the chamber for the recording of proceedings might lead to intimidation of councillors. Although it is important to be considerate of members of the public who do not wish to be filmed, we believe that an elected representative should not shy away from being

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held accountable for their words and actions in council meetings. In cases of actual intimidation, there are of course existing laws that prevent any kind of intimidation that would be threatening in nature.

On the recording of decisions, the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, asked why background papers need to be kept for four years and decision records for six. This is consistent with existing rules contained in the Local Government Act 1972 for decisions taken by members in council or committees. It is also consistent with the 2012 regulations about the openness of council executives.

The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, also asked about recording the granting of licences. It is right that, where a licence is granted, there needs to be a written record of the decision taken by the officer concerned. It is right that there should be transparency about the granting of such benefits to private individuals. Indeed, such decisions today will invariably be in writing.

I think I have covered all the points that were raised during the debate. I think that I should thank the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, for the Official Opposition’s support for the regulations, although I was not entirely sure whether he was supporting them or not. However, there is a certain spirit of support for ensuring that we are as open and transparent as possible.

Motion agreed.

Housing (Right to Buy) (Maximum Percentage Discount) (England) Order 2014

Housing (Right to Buy) (Maximum Percentage Discount) (England) Order 20142nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Consider

4.03 pm

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That the Grand Committee do consider the Housing (Right to Buy) (Maximum Percentage Discount) (England) Order 2014.

Relevant document: 2nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, this order was laid before the House on 5 June. As the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer both recently reiterated, helping people buy their own home will always be part of this Government’s policy for housing, so I am delighted that the reinvigorated right to buy has already helped over 19,500 households achieve their home ownership aspirations since April 2012.

It is not just about buying but about building. Over £419 million from these right-to-buy sales has been ring-fenced to help local authorities fund new homes for affordable rent. Already, 3,000 new homes for affordable rent have been started on site or acquired by local authorities through additional right-to-buy receipts since April 2012. This includes authorities from across England such as Camden, Birmingham and Cornwall, to name but a few.

When we reinvigorated the right to buy in April 2012 by increasing the maximum cap to £75,000, we committed to keeping the discounts under review to

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ensure that they remain effective in helping people turn their home ownership dreams into reality. That is why we increased the maximum cash cap for social tenants in London to £100,000 in March 2013 in recognition of the unique nature of the housing market in London. It is why we are proposing, through a separate order, to increase the maximum cash caps annually in line with the consumer prices index rate of inflation, and it is also why we propose, through this draft order, to increase the maximum percentage discount available for houses across England from 60% to 70%.

This change, if it is approved, will provide tenants with a clear message about the discount levels available for all eligible tenants. It will ensure that those living in houses will be able to accrue the same maximum percentage discount as that available to those living in flats. Long-term tenants of houses will benefit from this policy—often those who have committed to the area for 30 years or more. Affording them the same opportunity to access up to the maximum percentage discount of 70%, just as their peers living in flats can, gives them every opportunity possible to achieve their home ownership aspirations and leave a legacy for their families. The revenue from additional sales will be ploughed back into delivering new affordable homes for rent.

The draft order also includes important transitional provisions, which will apply for this year only, to ensure that no eligible tenant currently in the right-to-buy application process misses out. Equally, however, we are mindful that some people who are near to completing the purchase of their property may not want to take up the new discounts, and the draft order will allow them to opt out if they wish.

We have listened to representations from social tenants who have asked to be allocated the same equality of opportunity as their friends and neighbours who are able to buy flats. My officials have also spoken to the Local Government Association and the National Housing Federation, as well as to social landlords.

Bringing parity between the maximum percentage discounts for all properties, combined with the changes we are making to increase the maximum cash caps, is the right thing to do to help more social tenants exercise their right to buy. I commend the order to the Committee.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): I again thank the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, for her clear introduction of this order, which deals with the maximum percentage discount. There are separate arrangements dealing with the change to the cap. The Labour Party supports those who want to buy their own home, which is why we support the right of tenants to buy their council home, including the preserved right to buy. However, at a time of national housing crisis, we do not want to see the stock of council homes diminished.

The Government have claimed that homes sold through the right to buy will be replaced one for one. Indeed, in March 2012, Reinvigorating Right to Buy and Onefor One Replacement stated:

“For the first time, every additional home sold under Right to Buy will be replaced by a new home for affordable rent”.

I shall probe that proposition a little.

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The Government’s figures appear to show that currently for six homes sold, only one has started to be built. The evidence of the LGA during the passage of the Deregulation Bill was that in many local areas one-for-one replacement simply is not possible. As the LGA also made clear, replacement homes are not necessarily like for like. The rents in replacement homes will be higher, meaning the rents are unaffordable to many tenants and will increase the housing benefit bill. The houses are not necessarily the same size and may not even be in the same area. The LGA also expressed concern about the impact of these arrangements on councils’ business plans.

I shall ask the Minister a few questions. For a start, can she clarify the position of those who are deemed to underoccupy their social housing and who would, if they are on benefits, currently be subject to the bedroom tax—or, in the Government’s terms, have their spare room subsidy withdrawn? Should somebody exercising the right to buy and underoccupying their property be eligible for the full discount? Can the Minister confirm that, although the information we have before us for this order refers to the need to have at least five years as a public sector tenant, the Deregulation Bill reduces this qualifying period to at least three years? Assuming that the Bill is secured by the Government, it will provide that the qualifying period is to operate from a date determined by the Secretary of State. Can the Minister let us know what the Government’s intention is in respect of the starting date of those provisions? If this provision takes effect, will the starting discount rate still be 35%, with the additional 1% accruing after three years rather than after five years?

The assumption about the ability to replace one for one is that it would be at an affordable rent. Can we have an update on the definition of affordable rent in these circumstances? How does this replacement work where the sale is through preserved right-to-buy arrangements or previous stock transfers? Can we understand how many of the current sales are under preserved right to buy rather than the normal routine arrangements?

As for the changes that have taken place, there are changes to the cap: there will be CPI uprating of the cap—the qualifying period is going to be reduced to three years—and there is this change to the maximum discount. What are the estimates of the take-up that each of these changes has generated, and the estimates of the number of replacement homes? More specifically, I am trying to understand the financial model that drives the replacement arrangements—and, in a sense, who makes the decision. Is it always the council?

If we are talking here about a council that has sold the house and is in the driving seat in determining the nature of the replacement, in what circumstances is there wider provision by and engagement of government in the process? Having had one read of the documentation that was produced, it is less than clear to me. It is one of those issues that requires quite a lot of study. If the Government’s contention is that there is going to be one-for-one replacement, who is driving that? Who makes the decision about the nature of the replacement—the nature of the property that is going to replace the one that is

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sold—or its specific location? Is that primarily always the local council? At what stage is there a national or central input to that decision-making?

As I said, we will not oppose this order but we are seeking to understand how real the commitment is to one-for-one replacement, which we think is a very important part of the right to buy.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, for clarifying that his party supports the right of people living in council homes to buy them. This is something that we feel very strongly about. It is an important right that we want to see more people have the opportunity to exercise than has been possible over the past few years, because the reduction in discounts had rather diminished the number of houses that were being sold to people. We wanted to change that, because we believe that owning your own home is an important aspiration for people and we wanted to make sure the opportunity was widely available to as many people as possible.

4.15 pm

In reinvigorating right to buy we wanted to ensure that we use the money raised from the sale of those homes, where they were in addition to the number of homes that we would have expected to be sold under the previous scheme, to fund the construction of new homes. We feel strongly about that. I have reminded the noble Lord before that in the four years of this Government we have seen more council homes built than in the previous Government’s full 13 years in office. We are trying to ensure that we both increase those homes and at the same time provide people with these opportunities.

The noble Lord asked me specific questions about where we are with those sales and I will give him a few specifics in response. The total number of council-owned properties sold to date under the reinvigorated scheme—in other words, since this Government came to power—is almost 17,200. However, in 2012-13 nearly 2,500 households bought their homes under the preserved right to buy. Therefore that brings the combined number of sales to 19,500, which I mentioned in my opening remarks. Therefore the total so far is at 19,500, of which 2,500 is preserved right to buy.

Under the reinvigorated right to buy, local authorities are able to keep the receipts from additional sales to pay off debt and fund replacement affordable housing. Since April 2012 the sales have generated a total £1 billion gross income. About £420 million of that total has been generated from additional sales receipts. That money is being recycled directly into providing new, affordable houses for rent. It is early days, but since April 2012 just under 3,000 dwellings have been started on site or acquired through the receipts from right to buy.

An important point to make to the noble Lord is our commitment that the money raised from the sales from the reinvigorated scheme must be realised within three years from point of sale. Therefore there is a lag. We did not commit at the time that the point of construction would immediately follow point of sale: there is a three-year period. However, we are closely following that.

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The noble Lord also asked about decisions on the construction of new dwellings under this scheme and where decisions lay in terms of where they would be placed. Because the moneys raised from sales go back to the same local authorities responsible for selling those homes, it is for the local authorities to take decisions on the replacement homes.

The noble Lord asked me about affordable housing and affordable rent. Before I respond to his question on the definition of affordable rent, it is worth pointing out that in addition to the new homes that have been built from the receipts of sales of council housing, we have also delivered almost 200,000 affordable homes since 2010. Therefore, a combination of affordable housing and council housing is coming on stream, which is very important.

As regards the definition of affordable rent, the simple response is: up to 80% of market rent in the area. That is our definition of affordable rent. It is also worth making the point that if somebody is on housing benefit and is not able to cover the cost of their rent, having access to affordable housing rather than social housing is not in any way detrimental to them—so being placed in a home that is designated as attracting affordable rent, if somebody is in receipt of benefits, is the same as for those who are in social housing.

The noble Lord asked whether I could give estimates of the take-up in the light of these changes. The change, taken together with other right-to-buy proposals currently before Parliament, will help nearly 11,000 tenants who are expected to benefit from these changes over the next three years. He also asked about the measure in the Deregulation Bill. He is right to highlight that one of the changes we are making alongside that through this order and the other order to which I referred earlier, is to reduce the point at which somebody is eligible to purchase to three years rather than five. As no further information seems to be coming forward, I will have to write to him on his specific questions about the starting date and the 1% extra and when it kicks in—whether it is after three years or not. I think that covers most of the points that the noble Lord made.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Before the Minister sits down, may I return to the issue of numbers? I thought I heard her say that the issue of one-in one-out applied to additional housing sales. Is that right or are we talking about the total sales here, minus perhaps the preserved right-to-buy disposals?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: We have always been very clear that the right-to-buy scheme is about generating money that is used to construct replacement homes. The money comes from the sale of houses under the reinvigorated scheme. We are committed to that. As the noble Lord acknowledged, both his Government and my Government previously did not make that commitment to take steps formally to use receipts from housing sales to build new social housing. This Government have made that commitment but we said specifically that we would do so on the basis of the additional homes resulting from sales under the reinvigorated scheme.

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Lord McKenzie of Luton: I am not sure that that was clear. It was certainly not clear to me that it applied only to additional sales. I took the replacement arrangements to be that every council house that was sold would lead to another one being provided at an affordable rent. If I understand the noble Baroness, she is now saying that that is not the case and that it is a question only of housing under the reinvigorated arrangements. I am not sure how that sits with the additional housing which is above and beyond that which was assumed in business plans and reflected in local authorities’ housing revenue accounts. Which is it? Does the commitment apply only to those additional sales, or additional sales minus the preserved right-to-buy ones?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: All sales of council houses clearly generate income that returns to the Exchequer. That has been the case since right to buy was first introduced. That money will be used for a range of purposes. When this Government came to power, we introduced a reinvigorated scheme to encourage more people to buy their council homes than had done so over the preceding years. We wanted to make it possible for more people to purchase homes. When we did that, and because we knew that it would lead to an increase in purchases of council housing, we said that the money received from the sales of houses that were made available under the reinvigorated right to buy would, for the first time, go right back in full to the local authorities that had sold those properties, and they would have to use that money to build replacement social housing. That had never happened before; that is what is new, and that has been the policy since it was introduced.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Could the Minister explain which houses are deemed to be sold under the reinvigorated right-to-buy arrangements and which are otherwise?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I think that I will need to follow up this debate with a specific letter that covers some of the specific detail. What has happened in terms of business planning is that, clearly, local authorities were preparing for sales on the basis of the previous scheme. On the introduction of the new scheme, sales have increased; when sales have increased in the light of us reinvigorating the scheme, and there is an increase above and beyond their estimates, the money goes straight back to local authorities. It has never happened before. That money must be used for the construction of new homes.

Lord Deben (Con): May I say how pleased many of us are that we have at least moved to this stage? It means that at least some of the money that goes from selling council houses goes back to building new ones. The trouble is that the Minister is saying, rightly, that this is the first time that this has happened, which is true—but both sides of the House should be pretty ashamed of what has happened before.

The truth is that the sale of council houses, for it to be sensible, should mean that you sell a house to somebody who lives in it and it is therefore not vacant for anyone else to live in, then use the money towards building houses that are not lived in and which new

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people can move into. At long last, we are doing this. But let us not kid ourselves—neither the Labour nor the Conservative Party has done this before, and that is what was wrong about the whole system. It was supposed to be circular and, as usual, the Treasury pinched the money, under both Labour and Conservative, because the Treasury never changes. So congratulations—and I hope that the Minister will press for all the money to go to local councils for this purpose.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: To be fair, I think that, in the past, not all the money was snaffled by the Treasury—I think that 25% went to local authorities. I was not pressing the point to be pedantic, but because it is a very bold statement about replacement to say that you will sell one house and another will replace it. That will be a very important policy, but as we pick away at it we see that it is not quite like that; it does not seem to be every house that is sold that will give rise to this replacement.

I am not sure that we can take the discussion much further, as I think that we need some facts and clarification on this. I would be very grateful if the Minister would write on this and share the answer, because my understanding is that the Government’s position is not as strong as I had understood it to be from the pronouncements that they had made on this.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am grateful to my noble friend for his intervention. I am absolutely clear, and I know that the Government have been very clear, in introducing the policy that they did—and as my noble friend has reinforced, this is the first time that it has ever happened; it has not happened before—the change in policy was about ensuring that the money raised through the sales of homes in addition to those that were forecast would go straight back to local authorities for building new homes.

I understand my noble friend’s point about whether there is scope to do more. There is always, of course, scope to do more, but I remind him that we have done more to increase affordable and social housing through a range of different measures than happened under the previous Government. I do not think that I can be any clearer than I have been, but I will none the less commit to review the noble Lord’s specific points and, of course, to follow up this debate in writing with supplementary information.

Motion agreed.

Jobseeker’s Allowance (Supervised Jobsearch Pilot Scheme) Regulations 2014

Jobseeker’s Allowance (Supervised Jobsearch Pilot Scheme) Regulations 2014

Motion to Consider

4.31 pm

Moved by Lord Bates

That the Grand Committee do consider the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Supervised Jobsearch Pilot Scheme) Regulations 2014.

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Relevant document: 2nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 2nd Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

Lord Bates (Con): My Lords, these regulations were debated in the other place on 30 June 2014, and I am satisfied that they are fully compatible with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

With the labour market growing stronger and increasing numbers of companies able to hire workers, everybody who is able to should be able to share in this recovery by being supported to find, and stay in, work. Over the last four years, the Government have extensively altered the landscape of our employment support services, both in Jobcentre Plus and throughout contracted employment provision.

With the introduction of universal credit and the claimant commitment, there has been a cultural change in the expectations of claimants and a conscious shift towards full-time work search. It is right that we expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to find work, and this can be a full-time activity. At the same time, we are committed to doing what is best to support harder-to-help claimants to prepare for and find work. The Work Programme has been able to transform the lives of those furthest from the labour market. Performance is continually improving, and more than a quarter of jobseeker’s allowance claimants with sufficient time on the programme have spent at least three or six months in employment.

As part of our continuing commitment to supporting people off benefits and into work, the department is committed to continue testing what works best to assist jobseekers who are the hardest to help. This is why the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced the supervised jobsearch pilots in October 2013. These pilot schemes will test what works and what does not. We will ask providers to deliver the pilots in five areas across England from autumn 2014 until spring 2015 and will be testing how best to deliver extra support to those claimants who need it. The aim of the pilots is to explore the impact on claimants of daily attendance, supervision and support for job searching. In terms of outcomes, we will look at how different interventions affect jobseeker motivation and confidence, as well as measuring the impact on claimants leaving benefits and moving into employment.

Participants will be referred to a supervised jobsearch for 13 weeks. We expect participants to move off the scheme within this period as they find work, but it is important to consider that these are claimants for whom finding work may take significantly longer than for others, and 13 weeks will give providers a reasonable amount of time to work with them to ensure that the support is effective. This approach will have a positive impact on moving claimants closer to, or into, employment. It will also give us the opportunity to add to our evidence base of what works for those who are among the most difficult to help.

Currently, claimants not yet referred to the Work Programme receive the Jobcentre Plus offer: a flexible and tailored menu of support led by work coaches

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who can, among other interventions, refer claimants to outside training and provision to address barriers. Claimants at risk of becoming long-term unemployed are supported by contracted providers through the Work Programme. These providers provide support to claimants, making use of local provision and services, and using a “black box” approach, with payment by results for getting people into sustained employment.

We always knew that some people would be returning from the Work Programme. Those who have participated in it and remain on benefits afterwards then receive a period of more intensive support from Jobcentre Plus. Since June 2013, claimants have been referred to the mandatory intervention regime, where advisers have more time to spend with claimants with complex needs. From April 2014, we have rolled out the help-to-work package, which added two other elements of support, on top of the mandatory intervention regime, for Work Programme returners. These were daily work search reviews, which take place over a period of up to three months, and community work placements, where claimants undertake work of community benefit for up to six months. These additional measures have given the clear message that we will not write anyone off and will continue to provide increasingly intensive support the longer that someone is out of the labour market.

The supervised jobsearch pilots will complement these measures we have taken in the current journey by maintaining momentum and motivation at a critical point in the claim. Pre-Work Programme claimants will be referred when they are three months away from a two-year mandatory referral to the Work Programme. This will apply to post-Work Programme claimants following six months of intensive support.

These regulations will allow the department to select and refer certain suitable claimants to participate in the pilots. Claimants will then attend the pilots for 35 hours each week for a 13-week period. Claimants will have to attend for fewer than 35 hours per week if they have any restrictions agreed in their claimant commitment. During this time, they will receive expert support and supervision from providers. This might include help with jobsearch, job goals, covering letters, job application skills and interview techniques. However, the exact provision will vary depending on the claimant’s needs and the individual provider running each pilot scheme.

We already expect claimants to do everything they reasonably can each week to give themselves the best prospects of securing employment. This covers not just work search but a whole range of activity to improve employability. The pilots are in line with this but, of course, if an individual cannot work full time—for example, because of agreed caring responsibilities—then we would expect them to participate in supervised jobsearch only on a part-time basis. Those selected for these pilots will at all times have access to facilities and staff to encourage and guide them along their journey.

None of the claimants eligible for these pilots will be new to the benefits system and will have spent the months prior to referral having their jobsearch monitored

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and skills levels gauged by Jobcentre Plus work coaches before reaching the point of being considered suitable for this extra support. Everyone goes into a new activity with different skill levels and learning styles, and looking for work is no different. Some individuals will have just emerged from jobs feeling confident in what they need to do and having contacts in the right places. Others may need more comprehensive help, support and guidance in order to seek out opportunities and prepare to present themselves again to prospective employers. This is what we are looking to provide through the supervised jobsearch pilots.

In order to inform the design of the pilots, we ran a supervised jobsearch test bed in Wolverhampton Jobcentre from December 2013 to February 2014. The test bed explored some aspects to inform these pilots, including confirmation that Jobcentre Plus is able to support this system. As a result of what we learnt from Wolverhampton, we have incorporated several elements into the pilots’ design, including: induction sessions to set clear expectations and assess individuals’ abilities; basic IT training; integrating group sessions and one-on-one support to retain claimants’ concentration and engagement; and supporting participants to focus on tailored, quality job applications.

It is right to expect people who are able to work to do all they can to find a job. This Government are committed to supporting people in this ambition. We know that our programme of support works well for most people. Two-thirds of people leave jobseeker’s allowance within the first 12 months, which is the most common work programme referral point. The claimant count has fallen for 19 consecutive months. We know there was support for the very long-term unemployed trailblazer, which ran from November 2011 to July 2012, but for those who reach long-term unemployment and are among the hardest to help, increasing the intensity of support improves their chances of moving into work. We know that jobseekers see the switch to the claimant commitment, with its focus on full-time job search, as something that will genuinely increase their chances of finding employment, while at the same time taking into account their personal circumstances. These pilots will test what can be achieved if we bring this knowledge of what works—tailored support, intensity and full-time activity—together in a way that is sensitive to individual needs.

I conclude by saying that we believe these pilots have potential to improve the employment prospects of those who are struggling in their search for work. That can be done through increased jobsearching ability, heightened confidence, more effective interaction with others and improved punctuality and time-keeping. The scheme has the potential to help people into sustained work, enabling them to increase their independence and build better lives for themselves, their families and communities. I beg to move.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope (LD): My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for the lucid way in which he introduced these important regulations. I declare an interest as a non-executive director of the Wise Group in Glasgow, which works in JSA service provision.

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I am grateful also to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which looked at these regulations. It does excellent work; it is hard to overestimate the value it brings to some of these very complicated schemes. The committee came to the conclusion that it was not impressed. There are two issues here: the policy behind the pilot and the structure of the pilot—whether that is worth the candle. I want to rehearse some of its concerns, because they are self-evident to anybody who has studied these things. Pilots are very useful; they have played an important role in the past in developing policy and I am sure the Scrutiny Committee accepts that. But how do we expect to get real value out of something that starts on 6 October and ends on 15 April, when we are dealing with the possibility and the opportunity that these regulations provide, as the Minister rightly described, in helping people into sustainable work? In my book, sustainable work is a 12-month contract, with support that a jobseeker can take advantage of from being on benefits into that sustained job outcome. I have severe doubts, as does the Scrutiny Committee, that we will get anything of value in what I think is insufficient time. Why are we stopping on 15 April? Obviously, there is an election. I can see that coming—I am not that stupid. However, it is more important to get this policy right than to have niceties about purdah or any other technicality of that kind. I have serious doubts about what value we will get from the shortness of the period of the pilot. Indeed, client groups of 3,000 are not that useful, either. Before the debate started the Minister helpfully handed us a long list of exclusions of clients who cannot be included.

We have a very limited pilot here, and I think we could have had a much more useful opportunity to test some of these things. We have very minimal information about what will actually happen. Jobsearch is something that, if people have been in the Work Programme, should have been deployed for two years—and intensively, I would like to have thought. Now we have supervised jobsearch, which comes six months after two years so it will be really intense. The new system of Universal Jobmatch—which I have seen; it is very good—takes only about half an hour to prospect for jobs across the United Kingdom, because it is so efficient. This is a full-time commitment. People are being mandated to come in for 35 hours a week. How many hours will they spend over a Universal Jobmatch machine? They can get the full value out of it in half an hour, in my experience. It would help me to understand the value of these pilots better if the Minister could flesh out what would be done over this extended period of 13 weeks at 35 hours a week. What on earth are they going to do? We are told at paragraph 7.19 that:

“On day one, the provider must: assess the claimant’s skills and experience”,

et cetera. Then we are told:

“In week one, the provider must: carry out a number of activities with the claimant … On an ongoing basis, providers must: review and update the claimant’s portfolio, CV and action plan”.

These are things that I always assumed would be taken account of in the Work Programme anyway. Now they are doing it full time, for 35 hours a week for 13 weeks.

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I am in favour of providing support for people, but I do not know how that intense job-searching activity will look different from what they are supposed to have been doing for the previous two years.

I am interested in the pre-Work Programme group, because I do not understand where it came from. There is a logic to involving people who have been in the Work Programme. In any commonsense view, if someone has been unemployed for two years despite being in the Work Programme, in which they get a lot of help, it would suggest that more than their CV needs fixing. I do not know if it is possible to translate those people into the Troubled Families Programme; I hate that term, but the programme is interesting. It takes a holistic view, going beyond the front door of the family home, looking not just at the CV but at everything that is going on. Somebody who has been unemployed for two years despite the Work Programme’s assistance has got some serious issues behind the front door of the family home. It would be much more sensible for some of these people to at least be offered the option of taking a different route from that of looking at a Universal Jobsearch machine for 35 hours every week. That would drive me crazy.

The Scrutiny Committee says that there is scant information about the cost-benefit ratio for this. We have been told that there is a cap of £5,000 per head. I understand that if this is to be competitively tendered for, the department has got to be a bit canny in determining costs for contracts which will be bid for. However, Parliament requires a little more information, particularly given the department’s straitened circumstances, with departmental expenditure being squeezed so ruthlessly.

In passing, the whole-time staff equivalent costs are being substantially reduced. I looked at the annual report which came out a couple of days ago. In 2012, there were over 100,000 whole-time equivalent staff in the DWP. It fell to 98,000 in 2013. It is now 88,000. We are laying extra layers of responsibility on to a smaller cadre of hard-pressed staff. These job coaches will have their work cut out to do the work they already do on top of this pilot. The Minister was helpful in his introductory remarks, but any more information we can have about what will actually be done during this intensive period of job searching would certainly help me a lot.

I am looking at the Autumn Statement 2013, where the Chancellor said that,

“the Government will invest £700 million over 4 years in a new Help to Work scheme”.

He went on set out what that would do. He said it would,

“require all JSA claimants who are still unemployed after 2 years on the Work Programme to undertake intensive, often daily, activity to improve their employment prospects”

Is this part of that? Is this part of the £700 million four-year programme that the Chancellor set out in the Autumn Statement? I would like to know about that because, if it is, it would make it possible to place this pilot in a wider context. I must sit down. I have just realised how long I have been talking for.

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My view about conditionality and support for getting people off welfare into work is captured accurately in the study that Paul Gregg did in 2008 for the previous Government. If the Minister will promise to read it at the weekend, I will say no more about it. That is a deal that he had better accept because, otherwise, it will take me another 20 minutes to explain its detail.

There are some opportunities here. I understand that. I am not against sanctions. I think sanctions should be restricted to a much smaller band of people than the 800,000 or 900,000 that we are headed towards. I am prepared to look at this. I know the Explanatory Memorandum states that the results of the evaluation will be published. I hope the Minister will confirm that on the record because that would give it some solidity and be an assurance. I hope this pilot produces something useful. I have great doubts that it will, but I understand why the Government are taking the powers they are taking. I wish the pilot well and I hope it works.

Baroness Sherlock (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for his introduction to this order and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, who should not have worried about going on too long. I should apologise because I intend to go on for a great deal longer than that, I fear. My speech will be composed mostly of questions to which—like the noble Lord—I struggled to find the answers. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, and I have been together wandering around the Palace hunting. I was so much driven by desperation that I even went to watch the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee debate these regulations yesterday. I have to admit that that the exercise was slightly more entertaining than it was informative—and it was not actually that entertaining, in truth. It was an attempt to try to find out what was behind it. Yesterday, the Minister did not manage to answer many of the questions, but I have confidence in our Minister who I know will answer them. If he cannot, I ask him to write on any questions that may be outstanding at the end.

The noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, mentioned the report by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. It was interesting reading. It might be worth reading a bit into the record. It commented rather drily:

“While the Committee has in the past commended well-structured pilot exercises as a means of informing policy development, it is unable to do so on this occasion due to a lack of information on how the scheme will work in practice. The Explanatory Memorandum provides minimal information on the pilot scheme and none at all on the cost of the exercise. We found virtually no material in the public domain about this proposal. No evidence is offered on why DWP expects the format and 13 week duration to be more successful than the existing interventions or why a shorter intervention might not be more cost-effective. We understand that the pilots will cost more than the existing programmes to run but not how they are expected to provide value for money, particularly when the candidates selected will be those who have failed to engage with the Work Programme”.

Apart from that, it loved it. It goes on:

“We therefore suggest that, before the House is asked to approve these Regulations, DWP offers … a revised Explanatory Memorandum”.

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I discovered this morning that DWP had produced a revised Explanatory Memorandum which was put on the website last Thursday. Will the Minister take back a thought, which is one for all sides to consider? In circumstances such as this, where a department revises an Explanatory Memorandum very late in the day, he might reflect on the best way to bring that matter to the attention of Members of the House who might be interested—which I say, for the purposes of the avoidance of any doubt, would include Her Majesty’s Opposition on occasions such as this. I wonder whether he might consider whether there is any way we could make the communication process work better.

The noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, asked about context. These pilots were first announced by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, at the 2013 Conservative Party conference. Their aim was made clear when he said that,

“alongside the Mandatory Work Programme and our tough sanctions regime, this marks the end of the something for nothing culture”.

That is the context. To understand what this is about, it is worth looking at those two other bits of the package because what is happening here is connected directly to the Work Programme.

Its record, as noble Lords will know, is not hugely encouraging. Its performance is inconsistent and it has helped primarily those who are already closest to the Labour market. In another place the Minister of State, Esther McVey, responded on this point by talking about unemployment levels. Thankfully, I know that we have in the noble Lord a Minister who is better able to distinguish between the level of employment and the contribution made to it by the Work Programme, which is carefully evaluated.

While it is good news when anyone gets a job, there are significant gaps in the Work Programme. Over 1.5 million referrals have been made to it but fewer than 300,000 job outcome payments have been made. The success among disabled people is particularly bad, and not much more than one in 20 people on ESA are getting a sustained job outcome. However, the key point is that that means that 477,480 people have gone back to Jobcentre Plus after two years on the scheme. This is over two-thirds of participants who have completed their allotted time. Can the Minister tell the Committee if it is the intention to roll out this scheme, should it be deemed successful, to all of those 477,000 people?

It may be the case—given the piece of paper he handed to us at the start—that once those 11 categories of people who will be excluded are taken out, the number is smaller. If so, by how much? What is the size of the population who would potentially experience this, should it be rolled out? If so, what would that cost? My back-of-envelope maths suggests that at £5,000 a head, the cost will be about £2.4 billion. Are the Government really considering spending that on rolling out this programme to 477,000 people? If not, why are they piloting it?

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, is of a more generous spirit than me—which I confess is not always hard—but I am ever so slightly suspicious

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that it was announced that the Work Programme was not doing well but there was nothing to say what you do to people who get to the end of it. Labour had suggested all kinds of things such as compulsory job guarantees. This scheme is not a good thing, but it is a thing. I will wait for the Minister to correct me, as he often does.

In relation to sanctions, the other part of the package, we have heard a lot of complaints repeatedly from people concerned that jobcentres are being pushed to sanction too many people, or inappropriately. As regards communication, the Minister has a job to do in reassuring the Committee about how the Government will make sure that anyone who is sanctioned is sanctioned appropriately.

There is, however, a serious issue behind this, as the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, pointed out. We need to do something to redress the position of those who are still struggling, even after having received considerable amounts of help. The Government could usefully look at a more effective process of assessing jobseekers right at the beginning. Also, the Government’s proposals are not ambitious enough for the long-term unemployed. The Minister knows the Labour approach. We would offer a compulsory job guarantee to any young person out of work for a year, and to anyone else who was out of work for more than two years; basic skills tests; a more devolved model of commissioning; and different support for young people. However, these regulations are what the Government have produced, so I should be grateful if the Minister would tell us why their proposal will make a difference that our kind of schemes will not.

I have some specific questions, and I apologise for their number. As the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, asked, can the Minister tell us what people will do for 35 hours a week for three months? Will they all be doing the same thing as one another? Yesterday in the House of Commons, Esther McVey said that the Government were refining and tailor-making support for individuals. How individualised will the programme be? Will all the participants from any one provider be doing the same thing or different things? What range of things will they be doing?

The Minister there also suggested that they would vary according to client need and provider inclination. How then will the Government ensure that provision and supervision will be of good quality? If a provider bids low and does only what the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, suggested and keeps claimants in a room with a computer screen and Universal Jobmatch for 35 hours a week, will that pass? It might be value for money because it would not be very expensive, but would it pass the quality threshold? The noble Lord is wrong to think that he would go completely mad; he could probably read the adverts for careers at CosaNostra Holdings several times to amuse himself before he became too bored with Universal Jobmatch; so he need not do it down too much.

Regulation 3(a) states that the scheme is to provide support,

“for up to 35 hours per week over a period of up to 13 weeks”.

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Is it the intention to test varying periods and durations, or will everyone be expected to be there for 35 hours a week for 13 weeks?

5 pm

Next, who will be delivering the provision? The revised memorandum told us something: there will be a procurement process involving suppliers on the employment-related support services framework. How many such suppliers are on that framework? Are they the suppliers that are already delivering the Work Programme? If they are, and they failed to deliver the Work Programme, why are the Government confident that they will be more successful in dealing with people who have gone through two years on the Work Programme without getting a job? Can the Minister also tell us how many of those suppliers are in the voluntary sector?

The revised memorandum also says that providers will be responsible for travel, childcare, replacement adult care and other additional support costs in line with guidance. Has that guidance been published? Can the Minister assure us that no claimant will be sanctioned for failing to engage as a result of adequate support not being provided to meet those costs? Specifically, could the Minister confirm that that funding will be provided in advance? After all, if someone has been unemployed for two years, it is very unlikely that they will have sufficient savings to allow them to finance the cash flow needed to pay for childcare upfront or possibly even travel costs. Will that money be made available before the costs have to be incurred?

Yesterday, the Minister in the Commons said that people would get four days’ notice of the need to attend the programme, although that would include the time taken for the letter to travel in the post. What happens if a client cannot arrange childcare or replacement adult care in time to turn up—potentially two days after getting a letter? Can the Minister also tell us whether some of the clients on the programme in the test bed had children, childcare needs or other additional support needs? If so, were they given help with travel costs, and was that funded upfront?

The next question is who will be going on this scheme. I listened quite carefully to what the Minister said, which I think was that the pre-Work Programme people would include anybody who was three months off mandatory referral into the Work Programme. Does that mean everybody who was at that point? Will everyone who gets to within three months of referral to the Work Programme be in the pool?

Yesterday, Esther McVey said that people will be chosen who would particularly benefit from this kind of support; as I think she put it, “The sort of people who need motivation and intensive support”. She said that advisers would decide who would benefit from it. The revised Explanatory Memorandum says:

“All potentially eligible claimants will be put into a selection pool”,

and that a randomised control trial will then be run. How can claimants both be carefully selected and be sampled on a randomised control-trial basis? Could the Minister explain how that will work?

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Secondly, according to the revised memorandum, claimants who are referred to the pilot will apparently be able to make representations if they feel it would not be suitable for them. Their work coach can then take those into account before deciding whether to refer them. If the work coach ignores those representations, what recourse does the claimant have, if any?

Regulation 5 is very interesting. It provides for claimants to be taken from a group where,

“the Secretary of State is satisfied that the claimant (“C”) is not taking sufficiently effective steps to secure employment (for example, because C is failing to secure job interviews)”.

Could the Minister unpack this a bit? Two different things could be going on. Are these people who are not putting in sufficient effort and are therefore being brought into the scheme or are they people who are not getting results—for example, failing to get job interviews? It is perfectly possible that somebody could be doing all the right things, but not get a job, through no fault of his or her own. Perhaps there are no jobs in their area or no jobs for which they have the right skills. This matters quite a bit. If the Government intend simply to target people who are not doing enough, rather than people who are not getting results, they should say so.

If this is about people who are not getting the results, even though they are doing all the right things for jobsearch, can the Minister explain how the programme is appropriate? The memorandum says that the aim of the pilot is specifically to deliver,

“support and supervision to look for work and improve … jobsearching and application skills”.

If someone is doing all the right things but not getting a job, what is the point of bringing them in to teach them to do the things that they may already be doing well? In those circumstances, will those claimants be brought into the scheme? If they are, will they be given some support other than jobsearch skills? In that case, why are they in the jobsearch pilot?

On selection, are the 11 categories listed here out in the public domain? The Minister may not want to read them into the record, but could he just tell anyone reading Hansard where they might find the list of the 11 categories of people who will be excluded?

On evidence and evaluation, what evidence is there, from the test bed or elsewhere, to suggest that the activities covered by this pilot scheme are likely to be successful in helping its target audiences to move into work? That is one of the questions from the Scrutiny Committee. Pilots will last for 13 weeks, rather than the six months that were mentioned when it was announced at a Conservative Party conference. What evidence did the Government use to determine that 13 weeks was the appropriate period?

In following up the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, on this, can the Minister assure the Committee that the evaluation will be independent—that is, done by somebody from outside the department? Will its findings be published before any further rollout?

On communication, can the Minister confirm that the letters that will be sent to claimants will specify the time and date for all appointments but also tell the claimant precisely over what hours they will be expected

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to attend? That is particularly important for those who have to make childcare or other care arrangements. Could the Minister clarify that, as there have been issues with that in other programmes in the past?

Finally, could the Minister comment on one other thing? The Child Poverty Action Group suggested that a regulation should be added that provides that the requirement to participate in the scheme will be relaxed if the claimant can demonstrate that they are undertaking an activity that will make it more likely that they will obtain employment than they would under the scheme. Does the Minister find that attractive? I noticed that on the list of people to be excluded that was handed to us were claimants who are participating in voluntary work. In those circumstances, if a claimant was participating in voluntary work, does that mean that any claimant who is doing such work would be excluded from the scheme? Could the Minister clarify that?

It must be right that claimants are given the help and support that they need to get a job, especially after a long period out of work. But if the Government are going to spend some £30 million of public money on a scheme and allow providers to sanction claimants for not engaging with it, Parliament has a right to rather more information than I think has been forthcoming so far. I look forward to the Minister’s answers.

Lord Bates: I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Kirkwood and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, for their scrutiny, which compared and contrasted interestingly to the sparks flying and a lot of heat and not much light that took place in the other place when it considered these regulations. I totally accept their spirit of genuine inquiry and the need to flesh out the important issues and details, which we need to get on to the record. At the same time, I ask them to recognise the fact that what we are bringing forward here is a pilot, which in its nature is going to have areas of ambiguity that will be resolved as it takes effect and is rolled out. So a tolerance of that would seem fair.

Another thing should be said and needs to be put on the record. I accept that there is criticism of the Work Programme—but the noble Baroness will accept that there was criticism of the New Deal and even of the Flexible New Deal. The IPPR report came out just last week; it is not normally a champion of government social policy, but it actually said some very positive things about the way in which the Work Programme is going. Of course, 294,000 outcome payments have been paid to providers on the scheme, which suggests that something is happening in the labour market. In addition, at the risk of slightly straying into the territory of the other place, we need to put it on record that there is a changing employment environment. We have employment at record levels in this country and we seeing the number of vacancies increase quite dramatically; it is up 100,000 at 600,000. We are seeing a lot of people getting off benefits and into work; unemployment is down 27%, while youth unemployment is down 33% and long-term youth unemployment is down 39%. So in the interests of balance, one ought to put that record out there, to say that what Her Majesty's Government are doing in trying to help people is not without effect. Therefore, it is progressing.

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I turn to the specific points. First, I recognise the sterling work of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which looked at these regulations and commented in a fairly detailed way. It asked that the Explanatory Memorandum be enhanced and updated with a lot more detail, and the department did that. That Explanatory Memorandum was published last week ahead of the scrutiny which is now taking place in Parliament.

The noble Baroness raises a very interesting point about whether there ought to be a mechanism. Whether it is for the House or the Secondary Legislation Select Committee, there should be something that says that when a report makes a recommendation there should be some mechanism for ensuring that people who have a close interest in this—certainly, perhaps, the spokesmen of the respective parties or groups—are systematically made aware. I will take that back to the department, and we will certainly try to respond to it.

Many points were raised. My noble friend Lord Kirkwood and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, referred to many of the same issues, and I will work my way down them. On why the power is for 13 weeks and whether that is too long or too short, this is a new initiative and that is why we are testing it. The evaluation will help inform us about whether it is the right length of time to refer claimants to this more intensive activity. The length of the programme gives sufficient time for claimants to adapt and benefit from the enhanced jobsearcher’s routine. It also gives providers a reasonable amount of time to work with claimants to ensure that the support is effective.

I was asked why claimants will be on the programme for a maximum of 13 weeks. We will track them for as long as it takes after they have left the programme, typically for at least six months, to establish the impact of the pilot. I confirm that the pilot is being run on a randomised control basis, which is regarded as the gold-standard methodology for evaluation. I confirm that we will publish the results of the evaluation.

At this point, I turn to my colleagues behind me because the noble Baroness made a very interesting point when she focused on selection and randomised control and asked about the predominant methodology. The pilot we are talking about is a randomised control trial. The type, category and number of individuals will be the overriding methodology that will be used.

Baroness Sherlock: Something is either a randomised control trial or it is not. I am going to try to help the Minister here. It is not impossible that what the department is trying to do is select people to go into the pool, and then people from that pool of those deemed to be eligible will randomly be chosen to go into the programme or a control group. If that is what the department intends to do, will the Minister explain how people get to be in the selection pool in the first place? If I have got that wrong, he will of course correct me.

Lord Bates: The normally impassive officials behind me are nodding sagely to say that that is indeed the methodology that has been adopted. Advisers will

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have discretion on those who are eligible for the pool. Let me make a little further progress and perhaps some further inspiration will be on its way.

I was asked how claimants can possibly look for work for seven hours a day and what a typical day will look like. The Select Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, all asked this. A typical day will be tailored to meet the needs of each individual participant. While there are generic skills that underpin jobsearch activity, participants will have tailored work plans that address their specific needs. They may include work on IT skills, interview techniques and job application skills, which do not just involve visiting the jobsearch website, looking at this person who has been on the Work Programme and has applied for up to 100 jobs without success for two years, and asking what are they lacking that would ensure that they get off benefits and into work, which is the outcome that we all seek. The Government have introduced the principle that looking for work is a full-time job, as has been said.

5.15 pm

On the reference to the Autumn Statement, this was announced as part of the Help to Work package, but the funding is separate. This is being funded by the European Social Fund, which is a matched-funding arrangement, which—to pre-empt a possible question—is why it is happening only in England and not throughout the UK.

I have a helpful note from the Box here: “Paul Gregg summary: will the Minister promise to read answer? Yes”. I take that as a stipulation as to how my own education needs to be enhanced, so I will certainly do that.

On the list of exclusions, the Minister for Employment’s letter, which will be coming shortly, will be placed in the House Library. That will be the mechanism via which those 11 categories will be put on the record.

On the providers being given certain employment officer functions and what checks are made to ensure that sanctions are applied consistently and in the same way as they would be by jobcentre staff, the provider makes the referral. A consideration of whether to apply any sanction, of either a high or a lower level, would be undertaken by a labour market decision-maker; this applies to both Jobcentre Plus and the pilots. The decision must take into account the claimant’s circumstances and any other relevant information to determine whether the claimant has good reason for the failure. In addition, there will be provider guidance in place detailing its role and responsibilities to ensure that referrals are applied consistently.

I have made that point about the Work Programme. As has been said, it is improving results, and I am sure we welcome that. Will it be for all Work Programme returnees? No firm decision has yet been made as to how this will be rolled out. We will need to consider carefully the results of the pilot and which delivery model will provide the best combination of positive outcome, service quality and value for money—hence the reason for the pilot.

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How is the random allocation tool applied? Once a claimant has been selected for a suitable pilot they will then be randomly allocated to either the control or treatment group. What criteria will the work coach use when selecting claimants for the pre-Work Programme pilot? What if the claimant does the right thing but does not get a job? We are committed to providing an individualised service, ensuring that claimants get the help that they need at the right time. Guidance supporting work coaches will help them to identify suitable claimants who need additional support and assistance. Ineffective jobsearch does not meaning “unwilling to apply for work”. If a claimant, for example, is applying for many jobs and not getting invited for an interview, this would indicate that their jobsearch is ineffective. In this case, focused support from a supervised jobsearch scheme could support the claimant in improving the quality of their job applications.

Work coaches using their discretion to select claimants for certain programmes is nothing new. Throughout the Jobcentre Plus offer, work coaches will use their judgment to refer claimants to provisions that they think would be most suitable. Is four days long enough to allow a notification to be received? The four days includes time for the post. In the vast majority of cases, we expect the provider to supply the claimant with a notification at the end of the initial interview. Only in a small minority of cases might this be a problem; for example, with formatting, when the provider will send a notification by post.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope: One of the experiences driven into my brain while working with the Wise Group is that there is a huge amount of ignorance about what is happening to some of these claimants. Some of that is because the letters sent to them are couched in language that is difficult to comprehend. Will the noble Lord pay special attention to making sure that the Queen’s English is used and that people understand exactly what they are being invited or required to do, and the consequences? The group that the Wise Group works with in Glasgow is often completely at sea about what is happening to them.

Lord Bates: We can certainly look at that. One of the reasons why it needs to be tailored, rather than just having a letter generated, is that a lot of those people will have literacy or numeracy problems. They cannot comprehend it, whatever form of English it happens to be delivered in. Therefore the ability to talk that through with someone in person, so that they can explain it at the meeting while giving claimants the formality of the letter, would seem to be the right way to do that.

In terms of how we will ensure quality of service throughout the contract, the majority of the payment made to providers will be based on service delivery. The standards of service delivery will be monitored throughout the contract and payment will be related to providers consistently meeting the required minimum service levels outlined in the specifications. In terms of what will happen if the work coach ignores the claimant’s view that they are not suitable, at the point of referral claimants will be able to make representations if they

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feel that a pilot will not be appropriate for them. The work coach would take this into account before making a referral. Where the work coach decides that a referral should nevertheless be made, the normal appeal route will be open to the claimant who refuses to attend and is sanctioned as a result.

In terms of varying periods and whether they will all be 35 hours, everyone will be attending for 35 hours unless they are not able to do so because of restrictions. That is the point that was made earlier. We acknowledge that people are caring for other people; for instance, there are parents caring for young children and they might have other responsibilities that are entirely legitimate and need to be built around. Again, that is the reason why it is a tailored and individual approach.

Baroness Sherlock: I thank the Minister for answering a great many of my questions. I shall flag up one or two that I think he may have missed. One is the question of childcare and travel costs. Can he confirm that those will be available up front—that people will not have to find the money to pay for childcare and then reclaim it from the provider? On the same point, will the Minister clarify the answer he has just given to the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood? Is he saying that an individual judgment will be made about whether somebody does not need to do 35 hours because they have other needs or responsibilities, or is he—as I suspect—saying that if somebody is not required to be available full time for work, in a comparable manner they will not be required to be available full time for this programme? Perhaps the Minister can clarify that for the record.

I do not think that he answered the point about whether somebody was engaged in doing something at the suggestion of the Child Poverty Action Group, or if somebody is already engaged in doing something that in fact makes it more likely that they will get a job. With that, can he clarify that anyone doing voluntary work will therefore not be covered by the programme, because that is what the list seems to say?

Finally, will he clarify his answer about the randomised control trial? One of the biggest problems that can befall a randomised control trial is if the selection pool from which people are chosen is itself biased. One of the difficulties in having what is essentially a subjective judgment made by coaches about referring people into the pool is that it does not matter how rigorous the randomisation is from the pool if entry into the pool itself is not biased. Can the Minister say whether the Government have been thinking that through? Do they have any concerns in that direction?

Lord Bates: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for saying that there are only one or two issues to cover, which suggests that I have worked my way through the list. I feel as though I am doing well, or, rather, the wonderful officials behind me are doing well.

The point about childcare is a serious one and I want to get my reply on the record. As regards childcare travel guidance, extra costs incurred by claimants will be provided. This is not currently published but has been stipulated in the terms and conditions. The provider

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is encouraged to consider claimants’ circumstances when awarding this and, if possible, to do this in advance. Good reasons are always considered before applying any sanction, and whether travel costs had been issued would be taken into account.

As regards how the randomised control trial will work, for the pre-Work Programme strand of the pilot, the Jobcentre Plus adviser will first identify suitable claimants, after which they will be randomly allocated to a treatment or control group. I think that I have mentioned that already. The 35-hour period is currently part of the claimant commitment, so that would apply.

As regards the Child Poverty Action Group’s view on charitable or voluntary work, perhaps the noble Baroness would be good enough to send us more information on that group’s recommendation on that.

Baroness Sherlock: That group simply asked whether, if somebody was already doing something that made it more likely that they would get a job than by going on the programme, that would do. I am sure that it was not thinking about work experience at a high-level cultural institution, for instance, but I give that by way of example.

Lord Bates: I thank the noble Baroness for that very helpful further intervention, which enables me to confirm that those engaged in voluntary work will not need to participate. A work coach will consider any other activity in which the claimant is engaged before deciding what action is taken. I again thank my noble friend Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, for their scrutiny. I hope that this debate has been helpful. I believe that it will make a positive contribution to understanding how we can help some of the hardest to reach people in our society and give them employment, hope and a future.

Motion agreed.

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (Civil Sanctions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (Civil Sanctions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014

Motion to Consider

5.27 pm

Moved by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

That the Grand Committee do consider the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (Civil Sanctions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014.

Relevant document: 2nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000—PPERA, as we all love to call it—was amended in 2009 to give the Electoral Commission certain investigatory and civil sanctioning powers. Those powers were given

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effect by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (Civil Sanctions) Order 2010, as a result of which the Electoral Commission is able to apply civil sanctions against the criminal offences established in PPERA. The full list of criminal offences that have been so prescribed is available at Schedule 2 of the order, but includes offences such as incurring election expenses without authority, exceeding campaign expenditure limits and failing to record donations appropriately.

The draft order before the Committee for consideration seeks to extend the list of offences prescribed in the 2010 order to reflect changes recently made by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. I am sure that noble Lords are already aware that Part 2 of that Act amends the non-party campaigning provisions of PPERA. The 2014 Act introduced certain entirely new controls that non-parties must comply with if they wish to campaign during election periods. A non-party’s failure to comply with these new controls currently constitutes a criminal offence. The new controls are limits on targeted expenditure and requirements for weekly donations reports and a statement of accounts.

However, the Act did not provide that the Electoral Commission could impose civil sanctions for breaches of these new rules. Under the Act, a breach of these rules would be considered a criminal offence only. However, the Government believe that a civil sanctioning power in respect of the new offences created by the 2014 Act should be made available to the Electoral Commission. This would be in line with the existing approach to the other offences in PPERA. To enable the Electoral Commission to apply civil sanctions to the new offences created by the 2014 Act, an amendment to the original 2010 order is required, which is what this draft order does.

I will make one further point, which is that it is not proposed that civil sanctions should apply to all the new offences created by the transparency of lobbying Act. Those offences known as “false declaration” offences are not prescribed by the 2010 order, and the order under consideration today does not amend this. False declaration offences are those where a person knowingly or recklessly acts in a way that contravenes the legislation. It is appropriate that such offences remain liable only to criminal prosecution, and the Government do not therefore intend to prescribe the new false declaration offences created by the 2014 Act either.

I assure noble Lords that the regulator, the Electoral Commission, has of course been consulted on the order. The commission supported the policy intention of making civil sanctions available for these offences. If the Motion is agreed, then the order will be made and come into force on 19 September. That is the start of the regulated period for non-parties campaigning in the 2015 parliamentary general election. I beg to move.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, for introducing the order. I say at the outset that we fully support it and I shall not detain the Grand Committee for long. Civil sanctions are a good way of dealing with breaches such as those listed in the order. I was until recently a member of the Electoral Commission,

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and saw at first hand how civil sanction powers helped make sure that breaches by the parties were dealt with more effectively.

The only thing I would say to the noble Lord is that these powers must be applied proportionately. In some cases, there may be mitigating or aggravating circumstances when dealing with issues. So far, the commission has been good at dealing with them proportionately. I have heard of many cases in which parties gave good reasons for what had happened and were dealt with fairly. I remember one party—which has no representation whatever in either House—that would not comply in respect of its accounts. An official dealt with that party very skilfully, and the powers of sanction were helpful in getting it to comply and file its accounts properly.

I shall leave it there. I am very happy to support these measures. All I would say is that proportionality is important, and the Government should always keep that under review when dealing with the commission.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I thank the noble Lord for that. I remind him and anyone else who may read this that the legislation was aimed at the non-party campaigners that have registered in the past two elections. This order gives greater flexibility to the Electoral Commission, which we entirely agree is a well organised and well functioning organisation.

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Iraq) Order 2014

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Iraq) Order 2014

Motion to Consider

5.34 pm

Moved by Baroness Warsi

That the Grand Committee do consider the European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Iraq) Order 2014.

Relevant document: 3rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): My Lords, we are today considering the draft orders for partnership and co-operation agreements—PCAs—between the European Union and its member states and four countries; namely, the Republic of the Philippines, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mongolia and the Republic of Iraq.

The purpose of these draft orders is to declare the PCAs to be EU treaties as defined in Section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. They provide a framework for political dialogue and further engagement between the EU, EU member states and each of these four countries in areas including: trade and investment; education, culture and environment; health, science and technology; justice, migration and human rights;

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and counterterrorism and counterproliferation. Respect for democratic principles, transparency and development are all essential elements of the agreements.

The draft orders that we debate today are a necessary step towards the UK’s ratification of these PCAs and, indeed, the treaties themselves are a necessary precursor to future EU free trade agreements with any of these countries. We have a strategic interest in developing our and the EU’s relationship with Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia and Iraq. While we recognise that progress in some areas is slow and challenges remain, we also believe that it is right to recognise the advances made in many areas in these countries including, for example, in the Philippines, which is the fastest growing economy in south-east Asia and too important to be ignored.

HSBC estimates that the Philippines could grow to be the 16th largest economy in the world by 2050. It is a vibrant, stable democracy with a leading role to play in ASEAN and, as the Administration of President Aquino has shown, in bringing peace and stability to the region. The UK is the largest investor in the Philippines, but there is potential for more, and now is the right time to deepen engagement. It is an emerging power, both economically and politically, with which we are keen to work more closely in order to make the most of the promising opportunities for both countries.

Vietnam is also a fast growing economy, an increasingly strong regional force and an important trading partner. The Vietnam PCA supports our bilateral strategic partnership signed in 2010 with Vietnam. It will provide a solid basis upon which we can strengthen ties between the EU and Vietnam, and will also provide the UK with an additional diplomatic tool with which to pursue complex and politically sensitive objectives, including on human rights, which continues to be of concern in Vietnam.

The UK has a strong and long-standing relationship with Mongolia. We celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations last year. Mongolia shares our values in many areas. It is a member of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and a valued contributor to peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan and South Sudan. Mongolia’s “third neighbour” foreign policy seeks to build friendly relations with countries such as the UK in its desire to diversify beyond its two heavyweight neighbours, China and Russia. The PCA would encourage the removal of restrictions to trade and promote measures to improve transparency, thereby helping to build British businesses. It will also support our ongoing work with third parties to embed democratic practice, good governance and respect for human rights.

Finally, I turn to Iraq. Despite the current violence, our hope remains that it will become a stable, prosperous country which plays a constructive role in the region. Greater engagement by both the UK and EU will allow it fully to realise that potential. Iraq successfully held parliamentary elections on 30 April, the third under the 2005 constitution, which demonstrates the commitment of its people to choosing their Government, despite the serious challenges the country faces. Increased co-operation through the framework of the PCA will also help to address many of the underlying causes of the current crisis, such as lack of jobs and access to

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education and basic services, as well as ensuring confidence in the security and justice systems and respect for human rights.

There is more that the Philippines, Vietnam, Mongolia and Iraq still want to do, and much that we want to encourage them to do. It is important that we continue to seize opportunities, through frameworks such as these agreements, to enable stable, sustainable and democratic states to flourish.

Although all these treaties have been signed, they will enter into force only once all 28 member states of the European Union and the Republic of the Philippines, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mongolia and the Republic of Iraq have ratified them and the EU itself concludes the agreements.

Noble Lords will be aware of the recent European Court of Justice case regarding the Philippines PCA. In some ways, the judgment changes little: the UK will still be bound by the entire agreement once it is concluded either in its own right or as part of the EU, as was always going to be the case. However, the case raises some broader questions as to exactly how the UK is bound and the question of the opt-in. I take this opportunity to assure noble Lords that we are urgently considering these issues.

In conclusion, with specific regard to these PCAs, other countries’ ratification and parliamentary processes are in train. The agreements serve the interests of the UK, as well as the EU, other member states and the four countries concerned. They lay the foundation for stronger, mutually beneficial ties for the future. I commend them to the Committee and I beg to move.

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab): I thank the Minister for that introduction. Developing co-ordinated agreements between the EU and other individual countries is just one of the many benefits of EU membership. Rather than the UK Civil Service spending hours on end developing bilateral relationships with countries around the globe, the EU uses all its combined political clout to negotiate more favourable terms using the political weight of 28 member states. That bargaining power is so much stronger than a bilateral dialogue.

The purposes of partnership and co-operation agreements are to provide a framework for political dialogue, to help strengthen democracies, to encourage the transition to a market economy and to encourage trade and investment. It is often a precursor to a closer trade agreement, which may or may not develop in the longer term.

Free trade is generally considered to be a good thing, and benefits both parties. Under these agreements, countries will accord to one another most-favoured-nation treatment. Nevertheless, it is important that, where possible, we ensure that those benefits are fairly distributed within those countries and that wider questions of human rights and democracy are respected.

Today, here in Parliament, we have an opportunity to determine whether we agree with the negotiation which has been thrashed out on our behalf by the European Commission: a demonstration that this is not a fait accompli until Parliaments across the EU have given their blessing. It is therefore not being

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imposed upon us in any shape or form. That is a message that we need to ensure that the public hear, loud and clear.

The orders in relation to the countries today and the kinds of areas that are covered were outlined by the Minister. Crucially, in these extremely testing times for Iraq and its authorities, the partnership agreement with Iraq refers to help in facilitating and supporting its stability and regional integration. That is much easier said than done. Al-Maliki’s pronouncement last week has done nothing to give us confidence that he believes in regional integration, despite the pronounced threat by ISIS forces to the stability of his country. What remained of the economy was largely shattered by the 2003 invasion and the subsequent violence. Attacks by insurgents on Iraq’s oil infrastructure have cost the country billions of dollars in lost revenues. Can the Minister therefore explain how the proposed agreement could be implemented in the light of the current security situation?

Since 1990, there has been a transformation in the way that Mongolia has been run, with the introduction of elections and privatisation. However, the withdrawal of Soviet support triggered widespread poverty and unemployment. Nevertheless, there is great hope for the country as it is now one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Its economy increased by 17% in 2011, driven in large part by investment, particularly from its Chinese and Russian neighbours, who are, of course, anxious to get their hands on the vast quantities of untapped mineral wealth.

There is, however, real concern about corruption in the country and it is surprising, perhaps, that this is not a more notable feature of this agreement, as European investors will need to be assured that their investments are secure. Will the Minister explain how this agreement will ensure that the benefits of strong economic growth will be shared more fairly by the whole of the Mongolian population? What pressure can we bring to bear on that?

We all remember the devastating pictures which appeared on our screens in 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. The EU was only just establishing and still recruiting for its European External Action Service and was slightly criticised for being slow in its response despite not having much in terms of infrastructure or staff in place at the time. Will the Minister explain how this agreement will help to develop and support the reconstruction efforts following the typhoon? The Philippines also has its own internal political threats. Terrorism attacks by the radical Islamist Abu Sayyaf group, which is linked to al-Qaeda, are frequent in some places. Guerrilla campaigns by the communist New People’s Army were commonplace in certain parts of the country.

The Philippines is perceived as one of the most promising newly industrialised countries, with its export economy moving away from agriculture into electronics, petroleum and other goods. The Philippines has a population of about 96 million people. It has one of the highest birth rates in Asia, and forecasters say the population could double within three decades. However, many leave the country and much of the economy, in the south in particular, is held afloat by remittances sent by people based overseas.

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Finally, I turn to Vietnam. It has a population of about 89 million people and remains a one-party communist state. It has one of south-east Asia’s fastest growing economies. Private enterprise is allowed and investment, in particular from the US, has increased, while the country joined the World Trade Organisation in 2007. Of all the countries we are discussing today, Vietnam is the one I have most concerns about in terms of ensuring that any economic benefits of this agreement are felt by the whole population and are fairly distributed. My understanding is that, despite pursuing economic reform, the ruling Communist Party shows little willingness to give up its monopoly on political power.

I am extremely concerned about the situation in relation to human rights in the country, in particular about the treatment by the Government of the ethnic minority hill tribe people, the Montagnards. Amnesty International has voiced concerns in relation to fair trials, so how we can ensure that abuses are monitored and reported upon? What sanctions will occur if this aspect of the agreement is not respected?

Will the Minister also explain whether we can do anything in this agreement to ensure that firms with suspected links to slavery in these countries are rooted out? If the Minister can answer these questions satisfactorily, then my party will support all the proposed partnership and co-operation agreements.

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for this interesting debate. She has raised a number of interesting questions in relation to the specific countries. I will deal with them in turn, starting with Vietnam.

The PCA contains a commitment by Vietnam to respect human rights as well as obligations in other areas such as counterterrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Vietnam is a country of concern in the FCO’s annual human rights report, and the PCA will provide an additional channel through which we can pursue UK objectives on human rights. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Vietnamese Government through the biannual EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue and also bilaterally, but this agreement provides us with a further opportunity to do that and raise the very issues to which the noble Baroness has referred.

Our relationship with the Philippines will focus on three key areas: prosperity, including trade and investment; continuing engagement on the Mindanao peace process; and a foreign policy that continues to be closely aligned to the UK’s. We will of course encourage the Philippines, as an emerging power, to become a responsible global player and to use its influence within ASEAN. The PCA will enrich our political engagement with the Philippines, including by consolidating co-operation on democracy, governance and human rights. As the Foreign Secretary has said, human rights and the rule of law are essential tools and indivisible from our national foreign policy objectives. The work in relation to the disputes within the Philippines could again form part of the discussions under the PCA.

The noble Baroness made an incredibly important point in relation to Iraq. Despite the recent instability and the current security crisis, we still believe that Iraq has considerable resource and potential which the

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international community should help it to realise for both for Iraq’s own interests and for the interests of stability and security in the region. The PCA is the centrepiece for EU and member state involvement with Iraq, and it underlines the EU’s determination to play a significant role in Iraq’s transition. The crisis in Iraq should not prevent us proceeding with ratification of the PCA. Rather, increased co-operation through the framework of the PCA will help us to address many of the underlying causes of the current crisis.

We welcome the PCA relating to market access in Mongolia, in particular through the removal of restrictions to trade and through measures to improve transparency, which was a specific issue raised by the noble Baroness. The PCA also includes provisions for the protection of the EU’s financial interests, which is of particular interest to the UK. The PCA will also help our current work with NGOs and government agencies to embed democratic practice, good governance and respect for human rights, and it will encourage action on climate change.

In conclusion, these draft orders provide us with an opportunity to enhance engagement between EU member states and the Republic of the Philippines, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mongolia and the Republic of Iraq across a broad range of areas. They are testimony to the growing importance of EU links with these countries, and they have the potential to raise relations to a new level. These agreements give us the opportunity further to develop stronger ties and common approaches to global challenges. Further engagement with the Philippines, Vietnam, Mongolia and Iraq can help to make the most of the wealth of opportunities that lie in greater trade and investment links. It is also important to continue to strengthen our ties with these countries in response to emerging and constantly evolving security challenges while also remaining true to our core values.

As I mentioned previously, wide-ranging engagement with Iraq will enable us to assist the new Government, once formed, in addressing many of the political causes of the current instability and building, it is hoped, a more stable country in the future. The PCAs will all help to support our efforts to improve the human rights situation and to promote the principles of democracy and the rule of law in each of these countries.

I thank the noble Baroness for her support, and I commend the draft orders to the Committee.

Motion agreed.

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Mongolia) Order 2014

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Mongolia) Order 2014

Motion to Consider

5.52 pm

Moved by Baroness Warsi

That the Grand Committee do consider the European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Mongolia) Order 2014.

1 July 2014 : Column GC267

Relevant document: 3rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion agreed.

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Philippines) Order 2014

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Philippines) Order 2014

Motion to Consider

5.52 pm

Moved by Baroness Warsi

That the Grand Committee do consider the European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Philippines) Order 2014

Relevant document: 3rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion agreed.

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Vietnam) Order 2014

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Vietnam) Order 2014

Motion to Consider

5.53 pm

Moved by Baroness Warsi

That the Grand Committee do consider the European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Vietnam) Order 2014.

Relevant document: 3rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion agreed.

Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys) Order 2014

Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys) Order 20142nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Consider

5.54 pm

Moved by Lord Faulks

That the Grand Committee do consider the Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys) Order 2014.

Relevant document: 2nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, first, on the designation order, the purpose of the order is to designate the

1 July 2014 : Column GC268

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales—ICAEW—as an approved regulator under the Legal Services Act 2007 for the reserved legal activity of probate activities. I should also say that, if this is approved, a further order will be laid in the near future to designate the institute as a licensing authority for probate activities, which will mean that it will be able to license alternative business structures. This should help to promote increased competition and innovation in the legal services market.

The Legal Services Act 2007 established a new regulatory framework for legal services. Among the key aims of the Act was to deliver a more effective and competitive market. The Act contains eight regulatory objectives which include protecting and promoting the public interest; protecting and promoting the interests of consumers; and improving access to justice. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is a regulator and professional membership body for the accountancy profession in England and Wales. It provides leadership and practical support to its UK and international members and professional standards are maintained through working closely with Governments, regulators and the industry. It also undertakes education and training to support students studying to become chartered accountants.

The institute applied to the Legal Services Board in December 2012 to be designated as an approved regulator for probate activities. It also applied simultaneously to be designated as a licensing authority for probate activities. During 2013, the Legal Services Board very carefully and rigorously tested the institute’s proposals against the criteria in the 2007 Act. The Legal Services Board has also taken care to assess that the institute has both the capacity and the capability to undertake a regulatory role in the legal services sector. The board took advice from the mandatory consultees, as required by the 2007 Act. These are the Lord Chief Justice, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the Office of Fair Trading—now the Competition and Markets Authority. The board additionally consulted the Financial Reporting Council and the Insolvency Service.

The Legal Services Board took care to ensure that the governance arrangements proposed by the institute are suitably robust in ensuring that its regulatory arrangements are independent from its representative functions, which is a key element of the 2007 Act. This is an important point, on which concerns were raised during the consultation, but the board has tested this issue and is fully satisfied that the arrangements that the institute has set out for its new probate committee will allow it to exercise the regulatory functions in a way that is not prejudiced by the institute’s representative functions. The Legal Services Board is fully satisfied that the institute has in place the safeguards required to regulate authorised bodies and protect the providers and users of such bodies. The Government accept that assessment.

The Government recognise the importance of the legal services market and want to encourage its growth. We believe that designating a new regulator, which has the appropriate safeguards for consumer protection, will help to achieve this. As for consultation, some issues were raised when the proposals were consulted

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on. The then Lord Chief Justice had long-standing general concerns that regulatory competition would have a detrimental effect on standards. The Legal Services Board was aware of these concerns and addressed them by setting out how the 2007 Act aims to achieve a more effective and competitive market, thereby improving standards. The Legal Services Consumer Panel strongly welcomed the application by the institute but was concerned that the institute was initially not proposing to have a majority of lay members on the probate committee or disciplinary committee. In response to the panel, the institute redrafted its regulations so that the probate committee was made up of a majority of lay members. The Office of Fair Trading had no objections. The Law Society wrote to the Legal Services Board to express concerns, in particular, as I have already noted, about the governance arrangements being proposed by the institute. The Legal Services Board copied this letter to the institute, which responded in detail to all the concerns that the Law Society had raised. The LSB was content with the response and the governance arrangements.

As I have also already mentioned, the Legal Services Board consulted the Financial Reporting Council and the Insolvency Service. Both the Financial Reporting Council and the Insolvency Service noted that the institute takes its regulatory responsibilities very seriously and supported the applications.

I appreciate that some might argue that the Government should not be pressing ahead with this and that an accountancy regulator should not be permitted to regulate legal services. Some may even suggest that there will be a lowering of standards, or a diminution of consumer protection. We do not accept these arguments. The Legal Services Board is satisfied that there will be no lowering of standards or lessening of consumer protection, and the Government agree. I am satisfied that the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales will be a highly capable and effective regulator in the legal services market. Its entry to this field will help contribute to the growth of the legal services market and bring further innovations, leading to benefits to consumers of legal services.

I turn now to the appeals orders. Noble Lords may be aware that the licensing regime for alternative business structures, as contained in the 2007 Act, became operational on 6 October 2011. In brief, alternative business structures are bodies that carry on reserved legal activities and are partly or wholly owned or controlled by non-lawyers.

In relation to that regime, as I have said previously, the ICAEW has applied to the Legal Services Board to be designated as a licensing authority. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys—CIPA—and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys—ITMA—also made a joint application to the Legal Services Board to be designated as licensing authorities. Members of the Committee may be aware that the Legal Services Board made recommendations on 6 December, and earlier this year the Minister responsible for legal services agreed to make the following orders designating the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales as licensing authorities under the Legal Services Act 2007.

1 July 2014 : Column GC270

In accordance with that Act, before CIPA, ITMA and ICAEW can be designated as licensing authorities by order of the Lord Chancellor, it is necessary for there to be an appellate body with the power to hear appeals against its decisions made in relation to alternative business structures.

The purpose of these orders is to make provision for the First-tier Tribunal to act as the appellate body for the purpose of appeals from those three bodies in their capacity as licensing authorities. As required by the 2007 Act, these orders are made on the recommendation of the Legal Services Board, following public consultation.

In summary, the two appeals orders make provision: for the First-tier Tribunal to have the power to hear appeals from the decisions of ICAEW under Part 5 of the 2007 Act and its licensing rules and to hear appeals from the decisions of CIPA and ITMA, acting jointly or separately, under Part 5 of the 2007 Act and their licensing rules; for the orders that the First-tier Tribunal may make on appeals from decisions made by those bodies under their licensing rules; and for modifying the Legal Services Act 2007 so that these appeals fit into the existing structure of onward appeals from the First-tier Tribunal to the Upper Tribunal.

These orders have been brought before the House at the earliest opportunity, following recommendations from the Legal Services Board on 2 May. If approved, the orders will provide individuals and businesses that are subject to licensing decisions of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and the ICAEW with an opportunity to appeal those decisions through an independent and impartial appellate body. I beg to move.

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, having safely navigated the rather stormy waters of the Second Reading of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill yesterday, it is a pleasure to renew acquaintance with the Minister over these crucially important statutory instruments. One or two questions occur to me about them.

The first is that we are talking effectively about alternative business structures, which are clearly well regulated. I do not know whether this is possible, but supposing that within a single alternative business structure you had both lawyers and accountants, what would be the appropriate framework? Would the professional body of which an individual within such a structure might be a member have a jurisdiction? Or is there an overarching mechanism for the structure as a whole as opposed to the individuals who work within it?

Secondly, grants of probate are issued to executors. My understanding is that if the executors chose to employ someone who is not part of a regulated profession, of course none of these safeguards would apply. Is it the intention of either the Government or the relevant bodies—I presume it would certainly be that of the latter, but it would also be sensible for the Government—to promote the use of properly regulated structures for these purposes? Having said that, I mentioned to the Minister before we began this Committee that I know of a solicitor who many years ago charged something

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like £90,000 in fees on an estate that was valued at just over £100,000. The regulatory body disposed of him in due course, but he was nevertheless guilty of an offence and seriously defrauding his client. The existence of a regulatory body itself does not necessarily mean that everything will be well.

There is one other matter, which may be slightly tangential. I am assuming that other accountancy bodies may be in a position to apply to be recognised for the same purposes as the chartered institute. In that connection, I have some involvement with an organisation called the Association of International Accountants. It is a non-commercial relationship; I just happen to know some of the people involved and I was recently asked to host a dinner in this House in lieu of my noble friend Lord Sawyer, which I did. The organisation is having some difficulties, not in this particular context, but in the more general context of being recognised for certain other purposes. It may not be possible for him to give me one at the moment, but I would like an assurance from the Minister that, if such a body were to apply to be recognised for the same purposes as the chartered institute, the same process that the chartered institute has successfully undergone would be available to it.

There is a feeling on the part of the Association of International Accountants that the two main accountancy bodies in this country—the chartered institute and whatever the appropriate body is for certified accountants—are, in one particular area, effectively operating a duopoly from which this association is excluded. I asked a Written Question about this some time ago, to which I received a not terribly helpful reply from the point of view of the association. An assurance that they would be treated on an equal footing in terms of passing whatever tests are necessary to be included in this would perhaps be of some comfort to them. Having said that, I cannot see anything to object to in these orders and we are perfectly content to see them go through.

Lord Faulks: My Lords, I am grateful for the questions that I have been asked by the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, who rightly says that regulation and discipline are no absolute guarantee against unprofessional, to put it mildly, practice on the part of a professional in whatever their particular role is. The Legal Services Board has been given by Parliament the task of approving as a regulator these various bodies. As your Lordships will be aware, the scope of their activities is limited. In terms of protection of the consumer, it was important that the effective arrangements were in place to ensure that members co-operated with the legal ombudsman. The Government also had to be satisfied that appropriate client protection arrangements were in place for any body designated as an approved regulator. The Legal Services Board undertook a detailed analysis and was satisfied with the arrangements of the probate compensation scheme, and the requirement for all authorised firms and accredited probate firms to hold professional indemnity insurance. That should protect someone in whatever particular professional role they perform within an alternative business structure.

1 July 2014 : Column GC272

In terms of these now multidisciplinary practices, there may well be lawyers working with what one used to regard as an accountancy firm. As I understand it, their work within the accountancy firm would be regulated in the way of the accountancy firm licensed to perform these particular activities, but if they were solicitors, for example, their activities would also be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as the disciplinary body. In so far as there can be protection for the individual, that will be ensured by these new arrangements.

Lord Beecham: In view of what the Minister has said, it is right that there should be professional indemnity insurance but that is basically for professional negligence. Certainly, the Law Society—as I know from the experience of having to contribute to these things—has occasionally to step in, not just in cases of professional negligence but also in cases of dishonesty, to compensate the clients of solicitors. Is it a condition of these bodies being recognised as regulatory bodies that they should assume responsibilities in that context of compensating those who have been defrauded of their entitlement as opposed to in claims for professional negligence? Again, it may not be possible to answer that question now but it would be interesting to find out.

Lord Faulks: I think that it would. I would be happy to write further with details about the arrangements. As I understand it, the Legal Services Board needed to be satisfied of the capacity for individuals to be compensated if mistakes were made in non-contentious probate. For historical reasons, probate is a reserved activity; hence the need for this whole process. The Legal Services Board was satisfied about professional indemnity insurance.

If I sound somewhat hesitant, the noble Lord will appreciate that Parliament has designated the Legal Services Board as the regulator. This is not directly the Government’s approval; it is the Legal Services Board’s approval. They have created this body, and the body has gone through the process. The Government have to be satisfied that the Legal Services Board has gone through the necessary process of consultation and satisfied itself of the adequacy of protection, for example, for consumers, and all the other aspects to which I referred in opening, but they do not have a separate governmental role. We do not think that there has been any inadequacy in the process of this approval. Essentially, the Legal Services Board, having been given that task, has satisfied itself. If an individual chooses a regulated person to undertake their probate, they naturally have protection and redress. As the noble Lord says, individuals have the choice of whether to undertake their own probate, in which case they do not, which is a matter of consumer choice. Further to what I said about lawyers and accountants within a single ABS, that will, of course, depend on which regulator licensed the alternative business structure. However, I understand that entity regulation applies over individual regulation, although, as I say, the individual may have some additional professional obligations of the sort that I described.

1 July 2014 : Column GC273

I do not think that I can answer from the Dispatch Box the other question that the noble Lord asked in relation to international firms. However, I will try to write him a more helpful letter than the one that apparently he received on a previous occasion.

Lord Beecham: I am grateful to the Minister for that. However, to be clear, the Association of International Accountants is not just a body of international accountants; it is a body with many UK members and some overseas members as well. It is therefore not operating solely in the international sphere. However, as I say, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his offer.

Lord Faulks: I hope that, subject to my providing further information by letter, I have satisfied the noble Lord. The debate has enabled me to put on record the importance of the alternative business structure and of the Government encouraging growth and innovation in the legal services market generally through these means. The order designated the ICAEW as a new approved regulator, which demonstrates our commitment to it. I hope that the debate has demonstrated the importance of the appeals order, which naturally needs to exist to support the effective operation of the ABS scheme. The appeals orders form a key component of the licensing arrangements. I commend these orders to the Committee.

Motion agreed.

1 July 2014 : Column GC274

Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Order 2014

Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Order 20142nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Consider

6.16 pm

Moved by Lord Faulks

That the Grand Committee do consider the Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Order 2014.

Relevant document: 2nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion agreed.

Legal Services Act 2007 (Approved Regulator) Order 2014

Legal Services Act 2007 (Approved Regulator) Order 2014

Motion to Consider

6.17 pm

Moved by Lord Faulks

That the Grand Committee do consider the Legal Services Act 2007 (Approved Regulator) Order 2014.

Legal Services Act 2007 (Approved Regulator) Order 2014

Relevant document: 3rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 6.18 pm.