The committee welcomed the Government’s reasons, when it came to it, for proposing a duty on regulators to have regard in broad terms to “economic growth”. We discussed at some length with our witnesses and among ourselves the question of measuring or judging the success of that requirement. That was an important consideration; we need to be able to assess the effect of any piece of legislation. However, we acknowledged that with the growth objective, that would be difficult. We understood the difficulties involved in attempts to quantify. Nevertheless, we thought that the Government should consider by what criteria the impact of the duty could be demonstrated, and welcomed the Minister’s commitment to reflect further. I am not sure that the further reflection—if that is what it was—in the Government’s response to our report was terribly helpful. It was all rather vague and woolly. That is an important and unresolved issue, to which I expect to return at a later stage.

Also unresolved is the consequence of the application of the growth duty to the EHRC. The commission spoke to us about the,

“intrinsic incompatibility between the growth duty and the duty to promote and protect human rights”.

That incompatibility would risk the “A” status of the commission and the British candidacy on the UN Human Rights Council. The JCHR agreed with this assessment. In their response to our report the Government recognised the need to avoid jeopardising the international standing of the EHRC. They said that they would consider this issue further with the EHRC before finalising the list of regulators to whom the growth duty will apply. In the helpful draft guidance notes I received from the Minister this morning, there was no list and no mention of the issue in the covering letter. Can the Minister tell the House what progress is being made in discussion of whether that growth duty will apply to the EHRC?

There are also some other committee recommendations where the Government response seems to require further discussion. I refer in particular to Clause 2, which removes the employment tribunal’s power to make wider recommendations, to Clause 43, which deals

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with household waste decriminalisation, and to Clause 70, which deals with gangmasters. I am sure that the list of clauses your Lordships will want to discuss in detail will be much longer than that, and I look forward to those discussions.

The purpose of the Bill is a very good one. It is a very welcome Bill and contains good things. The provisions for apprenticeships and their funding in Clauses 3, 4 and 5 are especially welcome, as is the whole part on “Alcohol and entertainment”. This grew from one rather lonely clause in the draft Bill on the exhibition of films in community premises to the larger-scale liberalisation for local community events.

That part also contains, in Clauses 59 and 60, provisions for review of the penalties for non-payment of the BBC licence fee and powers to decriminalise such non-payment. I welcome the opportunity that gives us to discuss how to balance protection of the BBC’s revenue with the importance of not sending people to prison for non-payment of the licence fee. However, I would have welcomed it even more had we been discussing this in the context of charter renewal.

Finally, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, for his outstanding chairmanship of our Joint Committee. I would like to thank our truly excellent clerks, Christine Salmon Percival and Geraldine Alexander, for their invaluable work.

5.30 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, as we have heard in this debate, everyone agrees it is right to remove unnecessary regulatory and legislative burdens from individuals, civil society, businesses and public sector organisations. However, this hotchpotch of measures is not proportionate in some areas and will not promote growth or jobs. There are two specific areas of the Bill that I want to focus on in my contribution today, both of which, if carried, will put at risk workers’ and consumers’ safety. These relate to the clauses on health and safety and the last-minute proposals thrown in at the end of the Committee stage in the other place on taxis and private hire vehicles.

Regulations that protect the health and safety of workers are not red tape: ask the many people injured in the construction industry or the families of those killed. Nor are the regulations that help women decide on the safest way home or to work red tape. The health and safety proposals will have a negligible impact on self-employed people but will create confusion, as we have heard in the debate, where there has been clarity for the past 40 years. At best, the Government believe this clause may save self-employed people 37p each per year. As the Minister said, the Health and Safety Executive has only today published a consultation on the list of self-employed people who will continue to be covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It is 60 pages long, so I have not been through it thoroughly, but it is beyond me how any self-employed joiner is expected to know whether they are involved in,

“construction work (within the meaning given in regulation 2(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulation 2007)”.

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The same is true of most others. It is a recipe for confusion and the only people who will benefit will be consultants and possibly undertakers.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health is also worried that this exemption could cause growth in bogus self-employment and poor health and safety standards—a problem highlighted so well by my noble friend Lady Donaghy’s report in 2009. The institution believes the current requirements for the self-employed are not onerous and make good business sense. Exemption would give the wrong message and may encourage the unscrupulous to gamble with people’s safety and health.

Turning to the other area, taxis and minicabs are not just for the well-off. At certain parts of the day they are the only form of public transport available. For elderly and disabled people taxis and minicabs are often their only option throughout the day. Safety organisations, police and crime commissioners, licensing officers, councils and industry bodies warn that the Government’s proposed reforms will have severe safety implications. People without a minicab licence will be allowed to drive one when it is “off duty”, threatening to put vulnerable passengers, such as women, at increased risk of rogue minicab drivers. Mandatory annual licence checks, which help councils ensure drivers are fit and proper, will end. Minicab operators will be allowed to subcontract bookings to firms in other areas, meaning that someone getting into a minicab cannot be sure it is from the firm they booked with. Ask a person with disabilities whether that is right.

The Government cannot rely completely on the Law Commission for this regulation. Its final report, published in May, recommended significant new enforcement powers and safeguards for local authorities in conjunction with these measures. As my noble friend Lord Stevenson said, local licensing officers do not have the powers to ensure these changes can be enforced safety.

Ministers in the other place said these measures work in London but Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police work together for on-street enforcement in the capital, which has significant problems with unlicensed operators. Between 200 and 250 cases of sexual assault concerning unlicensed minicabs are reported across London every year. It is conservatively estimated that five times that number go unreported. The recent protests we have seen outside the House over Uber and the questions it raises on the impact of new technologies on the trade underline why the Government’s piecemeal reforms will not work. We need to consider regulation and enforcement of the licensed taxi and private hire trades comprehensively. These piecemeal measures are wrong. Deregulation will have wider consequences, including for people with disabilities’ access to taxis and minicabs, and the production of black cabs, which is still an important part of the UK automotive sector.

The Government need to stop and listen. Listen to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns for better personal safety and expressed concerns that enabling anyone to drive a licensed minicab will provide,

“greater opportunity for those intent on preying on women”.

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Listen to the Local Government Association, which says that,

“it is imperative that the Government withdraws these plans”,

to ensure passenger safety. Listen to the group of 15 cross-party police and crime commissioners from across the United Kingdom who have written to the Government to oppose these measures. If Ministers continue to refuse to listen, I am confident from listening to the contributions in today’s debate that noble Lords across this House will stand up for the travelling public and refuse to endorse the Government’s rushed and risky proposals.

5.38 pm

The Earl of Lytton (CB): My Lords, I am afraid I have a fistful of declarations of interest to make, not only as a vice-president of the LGA, but as a landowner, a member of the CLA, a landlord, a practising chartered surveyor, chairman of the Rights of Way Review Committee and, of course, due to my involvement with parish and town councils. I am afraid I do not speak for any of those other interests.

Much of the Bill is welcome. Anything that calls itself deregulation is a start—in particular, I briefly point to the issues of dealing with short-term lets and the health and safety of self-employed trades—always provided it produces net reductions in burdens and does not just shift them around or create other problems in their wake. I am sure other noble Lords will relate to that.

I wish to follow the example of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, and refer to Clauses 21 to 27 on the matter of rights of way. I agree that they represent the essence of what the stakeholders working group agreed to. I particularly pay tribute to the way the disparate interests involved with that sought to find common ground. I think that should be applauded. However, it had quite a narrow remit, and many issues of current management and usage of the rights of way system remain unaddressed. I hope that the Minister will confirm that these remain in focus and that the Bill, when it has been ticked off, does not just become a means for ignoring the ongoing need to do something.

I think we all agree that the rights of way system in this country is a thing of glory and great value culturally, economically and socially. It more than merits better treatment, with an even-handed and objective approach as befits a national treasure. At present, it is deprived of resources, a primary cause of the delays in recording historic rights and of procuring necessary change along the way. This risks leaving many stakeholders inherently dissatisfied, if not irate, and the current day-to-day management and administration suffers.

Therefore, I hope that we will not settle the issue of unrecorded rights of way after 2026 only to open up, as we approach that date, some other area of contention that we have not thought of. The Bill deals with some aspects but not with others. I hope that the Minister can reassure me about the intentions for the rest, as I have said. I accept that the rights of way network is very large and often incoherent. Its statutory basis is complex and the coalition inherits a legacy of many

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past Administrations doing too little or nothing, with occasionally some expensive and ill-targeted legislation on the way.

I am a landowner within the Exmoor National Park. I know how useful it is to both users and landowners to have a focused, resourced and authoritative body such as a national park authority to deal with issues of network coherence and management. Such bodies have proved effective in defusing negativity and removing obstructive stances by just process, expertise and reasoned dialogue. We need more of that.

Therefore, the key to all this is resources for rights of way, which outside of national parks, as I have suggested, have been decimated. If that deepened voluntary dialogue between stakeholders, I would welcome that as a slightly back-handed compliment. The administrative machinery that underpins any necessary change is essential, and access to the countryside on urban fringes is no less important than access across rural broads or remote uplands or along the coast.

Despite the limited claims of the Bill, which I support, I hope that the Minister will confirm that the Government are apprised of the hugely beneficial opportunities offered by investment in a national rights of way system, not least its eventual rationalisation, making it fit for the 21st century and less of a bone of contention.

Child Abuse


5.43 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement made in the House of Commons earlier this afternoon by my right honourable friend Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about the sexual abuse of children, allegations that evidence of the sexual abuse of children was suppressed by people in positions of power, and the Government’s intended response.

In my Statement today I want to address two important public concerns: first, that in the 1980s the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse; and, secondly, that public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children. As I do so, I want to set three important principles. First, we will do everything we can to allow the full investigation of child abuse and the prosecution of its perpetrators, and we will do nothing to jeopardise those aims. Secondly, where possible, the Government will adopt a presumption of maximum transparency. Thirdly, we will make sure that wherever individuals and institutions have failed to protect children from harm, we will expose these failures and learn the lessons.

Concern that the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child abuse in the 1980s relates mainly to information provided to the department by the late Geoffrey Dickens, a Member of this House between 1979 and 1995. As the House will be aware, in February 2013, in response to a Parliamentary Question from

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the honourable Member for West Bromwich East, the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, Mark Sedwill, commissioned an investigation by an independent expert into information the Home Office received in relation to child abuse allegations, including information provided by Mr Dickens. In order to be confident that the investigation would review all relevant information, the investigation reviewed all relevant papers available relating to child abuse between 1979 and 1999.

The investigation reported last year and its executive summary was published on 1 August 2013. It concluded there was no single ‘Dickens Dossier’ but there had been letters from Mr Dickens to several Home Secretaries over several years that contained allegations of sexual offences against children. Copies of the letters had not been kept, but the investigator found evidence that the information Mr Dickens had provided had been considered and matters requiring investigation had been referred to the police.

In total, the investigator found 13 items of information about alleged child abuse. The police already knew about nine of those items, and the remaining four were passed by the Home Office to the police immediately. The investigation found that 114 potentially relevant files were not available. These are presumed—by the Home Office and the investigator—destroyed, missing or not found, although the investigator made clear that he found no evidence to suggest that the files had been removed or destroyed inappropriately. The investigation found no record of specific allegations by Mr Dickens of child sex abuse by prominent public figures.

Upon completion of the investigation, the Home Office passed the full text of its interim report and final report, along with accompanying information and material, to the police for them to consider as part of their ongoing criminal investigations. As Mark Sedwill has said, the investigator recorded that he had unrestricted access to Home Office records and he received full co-operation from Home Office officials. The investigator was satisfied that the Home Office passed all credible information about child abuse in the time period—from Mr Dickens and elsewhere—to the police so they could be investigated properly.

I believe that the Permanent Secretary did the right things in listening to the allegations made by the honourable Member for West Bromwich East and ordering an independent investigation. I am confident that the work he commissioned was carried out in good faith. But I know that, with allegations as serious as these, the public needs to have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation’s findings.

So I can tell the House that I have today appointed Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, to lead a review not just of the investigation commissioned by Mark Sedwill but also of how the police and prosecutors handled any related information that was handed to them. Peter Wanless will be supported in his work by an appropriate senior legal figure, who will be appointed by the Permanent Secretary. Where the findings of the review relate to the Director of Public Prosecutions, it will report to the Attorney-General as well as to me.

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I will ask the review team to advise my officials on what redactions to the full investigation report might be needed in order that, in the interests of transparency, it can be published without jeopardising any future criminal investigations or trials. I expect the review to conclude within eight to 10 weeks, and I will place a copy of its terms of reference in the House Library today.

In addition to the allegations made by Geoffrey Dickens, there have also been allegations relating to an organisation called the Paedophile Information Exchange, a paedophile campaign group that was disbanded in 1984. In response to another query from the honourable Member for West Bromwich East, the Permanent Secretary commissioned another independent investigation in January this year into whether the Home Office had ever directly or indirectly funded PIE. That investigation concluded that the Home Office had not done so, and I will place a copy of the investigation’s findings in the House Library today. But, again, in order to ensure complete public confidence in this work, I have also asked Peter Wanless to look at this investigation as part of his review.

I now turn to public concern that a variety of public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children. In recent years, we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse. This includes abuse by celebrities, such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, as well as the systematic abuse of vulnerable girls in Derby, Rochdale, Oxford, and other towns and cities. Some of these cases have exposed a failure by public bodies to take their duty of care seriously, and some have shown that the organisations responsible for protecting children from abuse, including the police, social services and schools have failed to work together properly.

That is why, in April 2013, the Government established the national group to tackle sexual violence against children and vulnerable people, which is led by my honourable friend the Minister for Crime Prevention. This cross-government group was established to learn the lessons from some of the cases that I have mentioned and the resulting reviews and inquiries. As a result of its work, we now have better guidance for the police and prosecutors, new powers for the police to get information from hotels that are used for child sexual exploitation, and better identification of children at risk of exploitation through the use of local multiagency safeguarding hubs. In the normal course of its work the group will publish further proposals to protect children from abuse.

I know that in recent months many Members of the House, from all parties, have campaigned for an independent, overarching inquiry into historical allegations of child abuse. In my correspondence with the seven Members of Parliament who wrote to me about the campaign—the honourable Members for Birmingham Yardley, Brighton Pavilion, East Worthing and Shoreham, Richmond Park, Rochdale, Wells, and West Bromwich East—I made clear that the Government did not rule out such an inquiry.

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I can now tell the House that the Government will establish an independent inquiry panel of experts in the law and child protection to consider whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The inquiry panel will be chaired by an appropriately senior and experienced figure. It will begin its work as soon as possible after the appointment of the chairman and other members of the panel. Given the scope of its work, it is not likely to report before the general election, but I will make sure that it provides an update on its progress to Parliament before May next year. I will report back to the House when the inquiry panel chairman has been appointed and the full terms of reference have been agreed.

It will, like the inquiries into Hillsborough and the murder of Daniel Morgan, be a non-statutory panel inquiry. This means that it can begin its work sooner; and because the basis of its early work will be a review of documentary evidence rather than interviews with witnesses who might themselves still be subject to criminal investigations, it will be less likely to prejudice those investigations. But I want to be clear that the inquiry panel will have access to all the government papers, reviews and reports that it needs. Subject to the constraints imposed by any criminal investigations, it will be free to call witnesses from organisations in the public sector, private sector and wider civil society. I want to make it clear that if the inquiry panel chairman deems it necessary, the Government are prepared to convert it into a full public inquiry in line with the Inquiries Act.

I began my Statement by saying that I wanted to address the dual concern that in the past the Home Office failed to act on information it received and, more broadly, that public bodies and other institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. I believe that the measures that I have announced today address those concerns. I also said that I wanted the work we are doing to reflect three principles: that our priority must be the prosecution of the people behind these disgusting crimes; that wherever possible and consistent with the need to prosecute, we will adopt a presumption of maximum transparency; and that where there has been a failure to protect children from abuse, we will expose it and learn from it. I believe that the measures announced today reflect those important principles, and I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

5.57 pm

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Home Secretary’s Statement, which we welcome. There is a lot at stake today. Child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, is an abhorrent crime that devastates its victims. There has been mounting distress and revulsion at the avalanche of allegations, arrests, charges and convictions that we have seen to date. The clear evidence is that abused children have had their pleas for help and reports of crimes dismissed. The fact that no action was taken must be fully investigated. Even when the abuse is

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historic, the trauma continues into the future. The truth may be painful and distressing, but nothing less will do.

We have rightly been angered and we have demanded action when there has been evidence of abuse and potential cover-ups. That has now been brought to the Government. It is truly shocking, as the Minister said, that allegations are being made that the Home Office not only failed to investigate evidence that was brought to it, but that crucial documents were lost and others may have been destroyed. The Minister will, I am sure, understand the concerns already expressed of a deliberate attempt to cover up crimes and to protect perpetrators.

The 2013 review that has now come to light was clearly inadequate. It was not announced to Parliament and it was not revealed that more than 100 related files had gone missing. The Minister will recall from previous debates that we called for a much wider, overarching inquiry. Indeed, I raised this with Ministers in your Lordships’ House on both 6 November and 14 November 2012 in debates on child abuse. At that time Ministers rejected those calls, but today’s announcement is a step further towards that and we welcome it.

I would like some clarification on the new process, both of the review and of the inquiry panel. Both have to be thorough investigations. Peter Wanless is highly regarded and, alongside his personal integrity and expertise, he brings the reputation and trust of the NSPCC. Nothing matters more now than reaching the truth, because only through the truth can we achieve justice and support for victims and provide stronger and better child protection now and for the future. I want to ask the Minister a few questions. What legal expertise and support will be provided to Mr Wanless? He will no doubt want to talk to those who have been victims themselves, so will professional support be made available when he does so? There have been reports that police officers have felt unable to provide information as they had signed gagging clauses. Will the Wanless—the Minister calls it a review—inquiry be able to override any such clause where criminality is suspected? Will the inquiry be able to obtain information from individual civil servants, whether in work or retired, and from any government agency or its employees? What powers will the Wanless inquiry have to compel witnesses to provide evidence? Will it be given access to any and all papers, notes and minutes of meetings from government and government agencies? The inquiry cannot just be given the information that it asks for; it needs to have the freedom to investigate and to search for information that it might not yet know is available.

The Minister will understand the serious concerns regarding the apparent mystery of the disappearing Dickens file or files that were handed to the then Home Secretary. What records and notes were kept of those initial meetings? Was the 2013 review able to identify whether any investigation or action followed from those meetings? Can the Minister confirm whether the Home Secretary has been advised of the identities of the private office staff and senior civil servants who were aware of the documentation and asked to review its contents and whether they were involved in the 2013 review? Can he confirm that they will be asked to co-operate with the Wanless inquiry? Will that 2013 review—inadequate as I think it is recognised

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now that it was—be published? When were the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister told that the files were missing or destroyed? Finally, can the Minister confirm that there will be no hiding place from justice for those who have committed child sex abuse crimes or have been involved in destroying or hiding evidence? Will a further Statement be made on the terms and references of the inquiry panel once the appointments are in place? At this stage there are more questions than answers and I hope that the Minister will agree to keep Parliament informed as this process proceeds.

Action has to be taken to deal with the past, but equally important are the lessons that we learn for the future. The Minister will know our concerns about the Government’s changes to the vetting and barring system. The system is designed to protect children, but we believe that the Government have weakened it. Is he aware that the number of people barred from working with children as a result of committing sexual offences against children has fallen by 75% in the past three years? Can the Minister assure me that the Government will, in the light of increasing evidence that perpetrators of child sex abuse have evaded justice for many years, reconsider the changes that they have made to this legislation?

We welcome the two investigations. I hope that, given the importance of the issues, the Minster will be able to answer my questions today, but if he is unable to do so I hope that he can write with answers to those specific points.

6.03 pm

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, for her comments and indeed her support. I suspect that the whole House will be pleased to have heard the Statement made by the Home Secretary today and will recognise that it is a determined attempt to find out what lies at the bottom of the issues that the inquiries and the reviews will be addressing. I hope that noble Lords will be reassured by the comments in the Statement about the review made almost immediately on the Permanent Secretary’s arrival in the Home Office.

I disagree with the noble Baroness. I do not think that the review was inadequate. It was a very important inquiry. It has shown us some truths about where we are within the Home Office on that issue. It has also given us encouragement to set up a further review that goes across all the reviews across government. Perhaps I should concentrate on the questions that the noble Baroness asked me in that regard. She asked whether Peter Wanless—he is a superb choice for the job and I am very pleased that he has agreed to take it on—will have professional support. He will have high-quality legal support in the work that he is given. He will have a team that will enable him to get to the bottom of this. This is not going to be a half-baked job. It is going to be a thorough job delivering within eight to 10 weeks, we hope, a review of the situation.

As I said in the Statement, there will be total access to Home Office papers and staff and to government agencies to enable Peter Wanless to get a thorough view of the situation. It is not the inquiry; it is a review of where we are and what we know already. The

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inquiry is another thing, which I will perhaps come on to. As I said, we will be able to see all documents. The terms of reference will be placed in the House Library so that noble Lords can see them.

I think that it is important to see the Wanless review in connection with the inquiry, which is a much more far-reaching affair, designed to discover the extent to which government and non-government departments, the police and other authorities have failed in their task of protecting children and why this has happened. I hope that the noble Baroness will understand that that may well be a much longer process, but there is a commitment to come back to this House before the election with a Statement as to where we are on that issue. The noble Baroness will know that I will always co-operate in trying to provide information to the House on any subject of this nature. I have not been able to answer some of the inquiries that the noble Baroness made, but I am very happy to do so and will make sure that a copy of the answers is placed in the Library for other noble Lords to see.

6.07 pm

Lord Fowler (Con): My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will welcome the reviews, not least because, I suspect, questions on the destruction of files go much wider than the Home Office. My experience of three government departments is that Ministers are never consulted in or out of office on such destruction. My suspicion is that decisions on destruction are taken at a fairly junior level and that at times the whole system can be fairly chaotic. May I ask my noble friend whether one of the aims will be to ensure that we have a system that is fit for purpose and applies to all departments in Whitehall and where decisions on destruction are taken at an appropriately senior level?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I agree with my noble friend. I know that he speaks from considerable experience of government in this respect. There are in fact guidelines in place. New guidelines were brought in in the late 1990s to deal with the destruction of files. I imagine that one of the outcomes of all this business will be to determine how come 114 files are missing. At this stage we do not know whether the files are significant. Mark Sedwill was of the view that they were not. I think that the House would be entitled to ask what the titles of the files were. We do not know what they were. My noble friend is quite right to draw attention to the fact that we will learn lessons here that could well be important in other aspects of government. Tragic and uncalled-for events teach us lessons about how we deal with things in the future. I hope that we learn from this episode.

The Lord Bishop of Truro: My Lords, I welcome the Statement. The church is keen to be involved in any such overarching inquiry. A question was asked in the other place about whether the church is involved in this matter. Is the Minister aware that my friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the Home Secretary some weeks ago asking for an inquiry such as this? The church is very willing

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to be involved. In a situation such as this—in which, inevitably and sadly, people involved in various authorities at a high level would be related to other authorities and institutions—it is crucial that such an inquiry is allowed to go wherever it needs to go. The church and other organisations and institutions should explicitly be involved in this matter. Perhaps I may add as chairman of the Children’s Society that we would be keen to stress that the voice of children and young people should be always in the centre of one’s thoughts on any matters such as this. If any matters come to light through this inquiry that need to be directed to the police, that will, one hopes, happen and they will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I pay tribute to the role of the church in the care of children. I am sure that the Home Secretary will note the offer of involvement in the review and these inquiries. I am delighted that the right reverend Prelate has raised this issue. The involvement of church activists in the national group to tackle sexual violence against children and vulnerable people is an important start.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, by far the most harrowing constituency surgery meetings I ever attended were those where representations were received from victims of historic child abuse. People were haunted by that abuse 40 or 50 years later. One of the most difficult days I had as First Minister of Scotland was when I had to issue from the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament a formal apology to those victims on behalf of the Government and people of Scotland. However, there is still no independent inquiry into historic child abuse in Scotland. I warmly welcome what the Government have announced today which, I presume, at this stage covers England and Wales. Victims and perpetrators will have crossed borders over the past decades. What discussions could take place to ensure that any review at this stage or future inquiry will cover those victims and perpetrators across the whole UK?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: We know that these are devolved matters in some areas. As the former leader of the Scottish Parliament, the noble Lord will know that Scotland is affected as much of the United Kingdom has been by these matters. We have inquiries going on in Northern Ireland and north Wales. In so far as it is not a devolved matter, the inquiry will indeed embrace the entire United Kingdom, but it is about England initially. However, I am sure that we can all learn from each other’s experiences. If there is a willingness to accept, across the United Kingdom, that information should be exchanged between the Governments and Assemblies in other parts of the United Kingdom and the inquiry, I am sure that that will be made clear.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, that I have received a comment about gagging and whether people will be prevented because they have signed a commitment not to talk about matters. I make it clear that this is to be a wide-ranging review. It will have access to all papers and reports, as I have said, and, subject to the constraints of criminal investigations, it will be free to call witnesses. We have made it clear that if the inquiry

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panel deems it necessary, the Government are prepared to convert it into a free inquiry. It will have considerable powers.

Baroness Walmsley (LD): My Lords, I welcome the Statement, particularly the independent inquiry. Indeed, I added my voice to those who were calling for such an inquiry during my debate in your Lordships’ House on 26 June.

There is no reason why such an inquiry should in any way interfere with the work of the police as long as the panel has available to it people from the police and the prosecuting authorities who know what is going on and which inquiries are actually under way. I ask my noble friend whether such people with up-to-date knowledge of what is being looked into and may be looked into in the future will be attached to the panel so that it can avoid straying into areas that might prevent perpetrators being prosecuted in the future. That is very important.

I ask my friend whether the inquiry will focus more on learning lessons than pointing fingers. It is the role of the police and the prosecuting authorities to point fingers and to bring perpetrators to justice, but they are not in the position, as the panel will be, to learn overall lessons. I echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, said about victims. They need to be at the heart of this. We need to be sure that they can be heard and will have support in order to be heard.

Finally, what will be the scope of the recommendations that the panel will be able to make? Clearly, it will be making recommendations on changes of practice. Will it also be able to make recommendations on changes in legislation? What will be the procedure for the Government to respond to those recommendations in the fullness of time?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I will start on that final point. There will be no limit on what the inquiry will be able to tell us all about what it finds. That is the whole point of it. My noble friend assumed too much when she said that it would not be pointing fingers. I think it will point fingers, and it should do so if it feels that areas of government have failed, either now or in the past. The panel needs to be able to tell us that, and it is right and proper that it should do so.

Of course it is important that people who have been subjected to child abuse feel that this inquiry is about what has happened to them. However, the principal thing that I would urge them to do is to go and tell the police what has happened to them. It is for the police to bring justice to these incidents. We are trying here to learn the mechanisms whereby we can have that framework and whether that is possible or easy to do.

My noble friend asked about the constitution of the panel. I cannot give information on that. No doubt the panel will be constructed to provide the right sort of expertise. We do not want the panel to be so inhibited by the situation regarding criminal prosecutions that it fails to do its work properly. It will have a proper legal basis for making inquiries so that prosecutions, if necessary, can follow from what it discovers.

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Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, the two inquiries that the Home Secretary has announced are of course welcome. Does the Minister recognise that an eight-week review into an existing review into whether the Home Office handled things properly and a more wide-ranging inquiry into whether public and other bodies have carried out their duty of care will not address the central, corrosive concern that is all over today’s newspapers, which is that it is not just about celebrities who have managed to get away with child abuse over many decades, but about people in power—Members of your Lordships’ House, Members of the other place and former Members of the other place? How will these processes address and restore the confidence that people in power are not being allowed to get away with things?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The inquiry will be entirely independent and able to make whatever recommendations it makes without fear or favour. I would not be supportive, and I do not think this House would be, of anything that smacked of a cover up. This is about finding the truth and making the truth evident. If people have done wrong in the past, that will be revealed by the inquiry. The review is designed to check that all aspects of the review conducted by Mark Sedwill, in the first instance, and the review into the Paedophile Information Exchange were properly conducted and whether there were any failures in the Home Office. I should say that the inquiry that Mark Sedwill set up found no evidence of wrongdoing by prominent figures. However, that is not to say that it will not be discovered; that is a matter for the inquiry to find out when it comes to it.

Lord Deben (Con): Does my noble friend accept that he has had huge support from every side of the House for what is a really important decision by the Home Secretary? Does he also accept that the whole House would want to thank Mr Wanless for taking on what will be an extremely unpleasant job? That is true of anyone who is going to take part in the inquiry and we ought to appreciate that. I hope he will also accept that anyone with information of any kind is duty bound to give that information in whichever of these arrangements is appropriate. Does he further accept that those without information are also duty bound not to talk to the public in ways which suggest that they seem to have, or pretend to have, or sometimes claim to have information which they do not have? The issue here is too serious for it to be a matter of innuendo. This is a matter of finding the truth. Those who have information should give it; those who do not should shut up.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I agree with that, but I think we are right to have embarked on this difficult exercise. I think nothing less would satisfy public opinion. We need to get to the bottom of what is going on. We need to be satisfied in ourselves that we have done all we can do to make sure that child abuse does not flourish in any institutions with which we are associated. I agree totally with what my noble friend has just said, but I think the Home Secretary has provided us with the opportunity to get to the bottom of it all.

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Lord Warner (Lab): My Lords, although I welcome this inquiry, I ask the Minister to take back to the Home Office the issue of children’s homes. I carried out an inquiry for the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, when she was Health Secretary. Children’s homes have often been a pivotal point for vulnerable children being exploited by people in authority and power. The inquiry will be a good opportunity to explore this area very seriously as we know from previous inquiries that this has been a source of children who can be abused. We need to make sure that things are improving and are now a lot better than they were in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am sure that this matter will be considered by the inquiry. I have no doubt that one of the most unpleasant things about child abuse is that it is often the most vulnerable who are subjected to it.

Lord Steel of Aikwood (LD): My Lords, I too welcome this Statement by the Home Secretary and thank the Minister for repeating it here. One of the names mentioned regularly in the press in recent days is that of the late Cyril Smith MP. Can I assure the Minister that no complaint—or even rumour—of misbehaviour on his part when a Member of the House of Commons ever reached the Liberal Party? If, indeed, he was one of those named in the 1980s by Geoffrey Dickens MP, I find it odd that he never relayed that information to the Liberal Party. However, what is important is that the short, sharp Wanless review must reassure the public that, if politicians were guilty of molesting children, they will be revealed just like anybody else and there will be no cover up.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I obviously will not talk about any individual cases and I hope that noble Lords will understand why I will not do so. The whole point of the exercise is that there should be no hiding place.

Lord Clinton-Davis (Lab): If any doubt affecting complete public confidence arises in the future, will Parliament be informed immediately? That is most important.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I think I can take it from the sentiments of the House and from the support that the Home Secretary’s Statement received in this House that if I felt the House needed to be informed I would not hesitate to seek the opportunity to do so.

Lord True (Con): My Lords, I speak as leader of a local authority which has premises which have been the continuing subject of police investigations, with which, obviously, the authority is co-operating and has co-operated. I welcome the Statement and agree with many of the things that have been said in this House. Fundamentally, my noble friend has said that the police investigations will not be prejudiced. At one point he said that they were less likely to be prejudiced. Can we be assured that the investigations in train will not lack for resources at any point and will not be suspended and will be pursued relentlessly in every case where they are currently underway? People want to see perpetrators brought to justice.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I agree with my noble friend in those comments.

Deregulation Bill

Second Reading (Continued)

6.28 pm

Lord Brabazon of Tara (Con): My Lords, returning to the Deregulation Bill, I dare say that not every noble Lord will wish to hear my speech. I do not blame them. I will leave a moment or two for the House to settle down.

This Bill has been described by the Minister as a wide-ranging measure. Other noble Lords have described it as a Christmas tree. I have heard most of the speeches on the Bill so far and they have ranged over a very large number of topics. However, there is one little gem hidden away in the Bill on page 203—out of 204 pages. Paragraph 40 of Schedule 20 states:

“Omit section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996”.

I had the honour to chair the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, which reported a year or so ago. One of our recommendations in paragraph 170 was,

“the repeal of section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996. The anomalies it creates are more damaging than the mischief it was intended to cure. There is no persuasive argument for granting either House a power of waiver or for restricting such a power to defamation cases alone. A wider power of waiver would create uncertainty, and have the potential to undermine the fundamental constitutional principle of freedom of speech in Parliament”.

The Government told us:

“There are clearly problems with Section 13 of the Defamation Act. It is at odds with the principle that freedom of speech is a privilege of the House, not just individual members and it can create an imbalance where one party to proceedings can choose to use the parliamentary record but the other cannot”.

The Government went on to say:

“However, the Government is not aware of any instances in which anyone has used the power of waiver and as such it would not appear to be a pressing priority to repeal Section 13”.

However, I am very pleased that three of my Commons colleagues managed to table an amendment to put this into the Bill. It was accepted—indeed, I think the Government added their name to it—and is therefore now in the Bill.

I do not suppose that a great number of your Lordships have actually got as far as paragraph 40 of Schedule 20—perhaps I should not say that—although I did hear that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, at least got to the preceding paragraph about dog collars, so he must have jolly nearly got there anyway, on which I congratulate him.

Anyway, the amendment was successful and is now part of the Bill. I congratulate the Government on that and I hope the Bill will get a smooth passage through its remaining stages.

6.31 pm

Baroness Thornton (Lab): My Lords, this is even more of a pot pourri of a Bill than the previous regulatory Bill in which I participated in your Lordships’

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House. However, there are some continuing themes concerning equalities, a lack of thought about people who need to be considered because of their vulnerabilities, and the fact that regulation is often the way in which public bodies and businesses ensure that protection and fairness.

I will be speaking about three matters. Clauses 83 to 86 concern regulators having regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth. Clause 2 concerns tribunals’ power to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases—I think we have been here before. I will be looking at Clauses 10 to 12, as other noble Lords have, concerning the safety of vulnerable groups in the taxi licensing regime; I will not stray into the detail of licensing. Finally, I wish to speak about clauses that are not yet in the Bill but which I hope the Government might bring forward in their own amendments, which would assist the growth and development of co-operative schools.

I will speak about co-operative schools first. Given that the Bill is supposed to be about removing barriers and creating a level playing field for enterprises, and that this Government are to be commended for their support for co-operatives and mutuals, I suggest that this matter is absolutely at the heart of that support. I am aware that the Government have been holding discussions about amendments on this matter and I hope that we might see a positive outcome.

The matter concerns adding two additional clauses to the Bill. The first would remove a clause from the Education and Inspections Act 2006 which is a barrier to enabling nursery schools to become full members of trusts—or, indeed, academies. This would help to provide a vehicle for parental and family engagement in early years. The second would amend the School Organisation (Requirements as to Foundations) (England) Regulations 2007, to ensure that schools are able to establish themselves as industrial and provident societies, should it be desirable, and bringing co-operative schools in line with other types of co-operative organisations.

Despite an all-party commitment to co-operatives and mutuals in the public sector, co-operative schools have had to work around existing legislation because no provision is made in the relevant Education Acts for schools to be established as industrial and provident societies as currently defined in the 1965 Act. My proposed new clause seeks to amend this and ensure that any future legislation provides a level playing field and a more understandable legal framework. I hope the Minister will agree that these new clauses would be a good addition to his Bill.

Clauses 83 provides that while exercising their regulatory function, regulators must,

“have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth”,

and must,

“in particular, consider the importance for the promotion of economic growth”,

of ensuring that any regulatory action they take is necessary and proportionate. At Second Reading, Oliver Letwin, the Minister for Government Policy, described this as,

“probably the single most important clause in the Bill”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 3/2/14; col. 37.]

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We need to pay it particular attention, I suggest. Clause 84 would enable a Minister to specify in a statutory instrument which regulatory functions would be subject to this duty; in some cases it might not apply to all the regulator’s functions. Clause 85 would give power for a Minister to issue guidance on how,

“regulatory functions may be exercised so as to promote economic growth”,

and how regulators subject to the duty could demonstrate that they were complying with it. Regulators subject to the economic growth duty would have a duty to regard any guidance. We saw the draft guidance an hour or so before the debate started, and I will return to that in a moment.

I understand that the background to these provisions is the post-implementation review of the Regulators’ Compliance Code, and the independent report of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, No Stone Unturnedin Pursuit of Growth, which recommended that the Government should impose such an obligation on regulators,

“to take proper account of the economic consequences of their actions”.

The Government ran a consultation on this in 2013, which maintained that a growth duty would,

“enable regulators to respond more comprehensively to the challenge of stripping back burdens to the minimum necessary and proactively supporting growth”.

The Government stated that,

“the duty needs to be imposed via primary legislation to provide the legal foundation needed”.

On these Benches, we share the concerns that have been expressed by the Joint Committee chaired by my noble friend Lord Rooker, the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which have consistently expressed concerns about the implications of applying the economic growth duty to the EHRC. The Joint Committee believed that the duty in Clause 85 to have regard to ministerial guidance,

“raises serious questions about the EHRC’s independence”,

because of the implications of the proposed growth duty for the UK’s compliance with the United Nations’ Paris principles if the duty applies to national human rights institutions such as the EHRC. They are supposed to be independent organisations which decide which human rights and equalities issues to address. The Joint Committee on Human Rights said:

“Applying the economic growth duty to the EHRC poses a significant risk to the EHRC’s independence”,

and that this should not be pursued in the way that the Government are doing.

The chair of the EHRC, the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill of Bengarve, was asked whether applying the growth duty to the EHRC might undermine the Paris principles on the independence of the commission. She said:

“We have tended to agree with this Committee that, prima facie, it would indeed threaten the A-status”,

of the EHRC as an international equality and human rights body. She continued:

“Therefore, it would be proposed that we come under the duty with respect to very specific functions. The debate between us and

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government at this stage is over how specific it would have to be and whether it is worth the candle when you get to that degree of specificity”.

I think she is probably correct.

I looked at the draft guidance that we received before the debate to see if I could find some comfort from it. Actually, I think it created more smoke than elucidation. What we have to do in Committee—as I intend to—is consider what might happen were this duty to be applied under particular circumstances. So we need to look at, for example, maternity leave where companies have been found wanting and the cost of putting that right, and whether that could be balanced against the economic growth duty.

I will be seeking, as I think other noble Lords will, to look at the proposal to remove the power of employment tribunals under the Equality Act to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases. This is an important power. It is not one that we should throw away. Most companies, when they lose, apply the tribunal’s recommendations to all their employees, but not all do. Surely those employees deserve the same protection as others, so we will be seeking to remove that from the Bill. We will also be asking the Government what the evidence is that this needs to be done because we do not think that the evidence is there any more than it was the first time the Government tried to do this.

Finally, on taxi licensing, we oppose the Government’s proposal to reform taxi minicab law because it will put passengers at risk. My honourable friends in the Commons opposed this when it was inserted late in the Committee stage. We believe that these targets to cut red tape are rushed and risky, poorly drafted and badly consulted on. Where they have been consulted on, safety organisations, the police and industry bodies are warning that the Government’s proposed reforms could have very severe safety implications. These include the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns for better personal safety and has raised concerns that enabling anyone to drive a licensed minicab will provide greater opportunities for those who are intent on preying on women.

6.40 pm

Lord Bew (CB): My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, I praise the golden words to be found in paragraph 40 of Schedule 20 to the Bill:

“Omit section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996 (which allows an individual litigant in defamation cases to waive the ban in Article IX of the Bill of Rights on proceedings in Parliament being impeached or questioned in court)”.

As the noble Lord said, this was the view of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, which he chaired so ably. We are very much indebted to the members of that committee in another place who pushed this matter forward so skilfully, but it was the view not only of our committee, but of the committee chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, in 1999. What it does is effectively to resolve the ambiguities created by the Neil Hamilton case of 1996. We are indebted to the Government for finally grasping this nettle and I offer my support to this part of the Bill.

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However I register a caveat. In the debate occasioned by the Second Reading of the proposed legislation of the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, on this topic on 27 June, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, made an important point. I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Lester, who has played a major role in bringing about the change envisaged in the Bill. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, made a point that must be reflected on, even by those who are extremely enthusiastically in favour of this change, when he said that,

“the question is whether it is right that a Member of Parliament can be defamed by people in respect of something that he or she has said or done in Parliament and that, if that happens, he or she has no remedy”.—[

Official Report

, 27/6/2014; col. 1522.]

There is a problem here. In my view, the balance is right. The principle of parliamentary privilege cannot be, as it were, individualised. That was the problem with the situation we had from 1996 to the present. It must be placed at the level of Parliament as a whole if it is to be understood and respected by the public. None the less, a difficulty is created. I draw the parties’ attention to the duty of care that they will have, particularly to new Members, in the next Parliament. It is related also to another piece of legislation, which is in the Queen’s Speech, for recall. In both these cases, if they get it wrong the consequences for a new MP could be really dramatic. That is the way we are going.

There is a sense that Parliament understands that the public expects higher standards from Members of Parliament than they do from other public servants and Parliament is trying, through these measures, to address public concerns about honesty in our public life. The impulse that is leading Parliament to act in this way is entirely reasonable, but it does mean that Parliament has a duty to ensure that new Members understand the ways in which legislation is changing. There are vulnerabilities now that did not exist in the past and prices to be paid if we get these things wrong.

It is perfectly reasonable to argue that IPSA has effectively resolved the issue of expenses—that the recent issues have been historical ones that go back to before the time of the new IPSA regime. However, anybody who believes that issues around lobbying, or even cash for questions, have disappeared and are issues of the 1990s simply has not been reading the newspapers in the past three or four years. Therefore, it is all the more important that the induction programme for new MPs should help with these questions.

At the beginning of the previous Parliament, the Hansard Society put on an induction programme that was poorly attended. The ethics section was particularly poorly attended. The parties must have a major role here. They should encourage new Members in the new Parliament, explain where public opinion is and explain the ways in which legislation is changing. They should also explain, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, pointed out on Friday 27 June in this Chamber, that Members now have a vulnerability they did not have before: they do not have the protection that they previously had over what they say in the Chamber. These are important matters and it is the responsibility of Parliament, and particularly the responsibility of the parties, to take them on board.

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I welcome this new legislation. It is absolutely correct in principle but there is a caveat: there is a responsibility on the political parties that are pushing the legislation through to make sure that newly elected Members know exactly where they stand and where the law now stands. It is not, in this matter, where it has stood since 1996.

6.46 pm

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): My Lords, I speak from the Back Benches because we have two excellent Front-Benchers who are concerned with the Bill. I find that my usual blissful state of either opening on legislation or winding up has now been reduced to a middle position in the debate, where everything I want to say has already been said and, if I make a mistake, there are enough people behind me to call me out. So it is with a degree of nervousness that I make a few short comments on the Bill.

We have serious reservations about the three main transport areas of the Bill. Those concerned with the regulation of taxis and minicabs, particularly the deregulation of minicabs, which my noble friend Lady Thornton identified a moment ago, raise serious risks for the public. We should recognise that people, particularly women, book minicabs for the security of the service being offered. That is being blown apart by the Bill. The cab firm could pass on the telephone call and engage another company. The person who has booked the cab will not have that surety, and it has the potential to let rogue drivers exploit the looseness in the Bill. There have been a few examples in recent years of dreadful things being carried out in cabs.

The Bill needs to be amended in that area. We should recognise that the black cab trade is worried about this situation. It is always worried about minicab competition and so it should be—minicab competition has the right to present a challenge—but we know that new technology, such as the Uber technology that is a source of great concern at present, is creating a situation whereby anybody can call a minicab at any time and minicabs will not suffer from the restrictions forced on them in the past. The black cab trade is central to safe, secure and proper transport in some of our cities, particularly London, and is admired all over the world, in all the world’s great cities. We should take threats to that seriously.

The second area we are concerned about is the banning of CCTV for parking enforcement. I have great sympathy with the Government in seeking to tackle a problem whereby the citizen receives a fine through the post, not having been aware that a charge has been laid, to which they have to make immediate return. We do not seem to have tackled this issue thoroughly or properly. On 10 June, the Government said that they had not reached a decision; on 17 June an amendment was made to the Bill in another place and was immediately translated into the Bill by a government majority.

There are real risks to road safety. There are risks at schools. There are risks in bus lanes, where drivers will chance it if they think they will not be surveyed. There are risks at bus stops. There are risks at yellow boxes on junctions. They are a good idea and have eased congestion, but a good idea is destroyed if one driver

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chances it and sits in that box and blocks the traffic. If the Government are open to persuasion that there should be exemptions to ending closed circuit TV prosecutions in these areas, those exemptions should be in the Bill and we will seek to achieve that.

The measure in the Bill on maritime accident investigation seems to us a miserable and mean little gesture on the part of the Government. The House will know that the most significant case in recent years involved the MV “Derbyshire”, which was lost in the South China Sea a few years ago with everybody on board—all 42 crew and two wives travelling—lost. There was always the suggestion, while nothing could be proved, that somebody had blundered and that the accident had occurred because seamanship was deficient. When the wreck was eventually identified, it became clear that the circumstances in which the vessel went down were nothing to do with error on the part of the crew or with their seamanship. The case was reopened thanks to great efforts by my noble friend Lord Prescott, who was Minister at the time and who had a long history with the seamen, and great pressure from the National Union of Seamen, which, together with international forces that came in to help, funded a great deal of the investigation. It is now suggested in the Bill that the Secretary of State should not be bothered to reopen such investigations except in specific circumstances.

Sea accidents are such that we should treat them with the greatest seriousness. We surely cannot have a Bill in which they are taken lightly. My noble friend Lord Rooker, in his excellent speech, identified this issue as one that did not add to the quality of the Bill. At least I have kept to time.

6.53 pm

Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury (Con): My Lords, I was very pleased that, in introducing the Bill, the Minister reminded us that one of its main purposes was to create jobs and enterprise. That was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, who hoped that the Bill would stimulate the economy. My noble friend Lord Fowler told us quite rightly that it was important that restrictions and regulations that were brought in some time ago to meet the circumstances of the time should be looked at again, as the world has changed. That brings me neatly to the one point that I want to make today, which is about Sunday trading.

It is now 20 years since the Sunday Trading Act became law and, of course, the world has changed considerably since then. Sundays are now a huge family day, with great sporting events—people go to football in a way that never happened on such a scale previously—concerts and cultural activities. It is a fantastic opportunity for families to get together. The Government recognised this two years ago during the Olympics. They recognised that, in the new world, the current restrictions were not appropriate, so they relaxed the Sunday trading laws for eight consecutive weekends. They knew that people and their families wanted to shop at a time of their choosing and not at a time laid down by officialdom and red tape.

Sunday trading was mentioned in passing by the noble Lord, Lord Monks, who is not in his place. I say to him that there has been one other major development

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in today’s world, which is the number of people who work right through the week on different days and at strange hours. They do so because they want to meet the needs of their customers. In particular, there are those in the public sector, the public servants on whom we all rely, who have to provide 24/7 service to their customers, patients and so on. Should not those public servants be on the receiving end of similar flexibility on a Sunday as well?

There has been another change since the Act came in 20 years ago, which is 24-hour online shopping. I think that younger people find the idea very quaint that people should not be allowed to shop between certain hours on a Sunday.

Under the current law, shops of more than 3,000 square feet can open only for restricted hours on a Sunday. Smaller shops do not have restricted hours. As a result, the big supermarket chains have been opening their own small stores of less than 3,000 square feet and then charging in them significantly more than in their larger supermarkets. Surveys show that, in some of these supermarket “mini” or “local” stores, prices are on average 10% higher. Customers rightly see that as something of a rip-off.

Lord Rooker: The noble Lord gives an excellent example. About six months ago, I did a shopping survey in the town where I live, Ludlow. I bought identical products in One Stop, which does not label itself as Tesco but is wholly owned by it, and in the Tesco supermarket in the town. All the products went to the food bank afterwards. The noble Lord is absolutely right: there is a 10% difference in price. A small store can open from 6 am to 11 pm because it is not governed by the Sunday trading laws, but there is definitely a premium to be paid in those small stores owned by the supermarkets.

Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury: I am grateful to the noble Lord for that comment, which is reinforced by surveys that show exactly the same thing: prices are on average 10% higher. That is a rip-off in my view.

An anomaly in the current law is the way in which garden centres have been caught up in these restrictions—I do not think that that was ever the intention—because their products are spread over a larger area than 3,000 square feet. Garden centres are a big part of family outings.

I am not asking the Minister for much. This is a very large Bill, with more than 200 pages, so I am sure that it would not be impossible for him to add perhaps one extra page.

6.59 pm

Lord Hussain (LD): My Lords, I want to address the provisions relating to taxis and private hire vehicles. We choose to use taxi operators that we trust. If I ask my children to use a taxi at an odd time, I tell them which taxi rank to use, because that is the one that I have confidence in and which I trust. The proposal to allow taxis to subcontract to other operators will mean that it will not be possible for anybody to have their choice. We are going to take the choice away

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from people about which operator they want to use. We change operators from time to time when we are not satisfied with a particular company, but if this Bill is approved, we will have no control over who will come. It may well be a company that you have left because you were not satisfied with it. If you ring company A, company B may turn up, and you may not necessarily want to use it. Therefore, we need to think again about this particular aspect of the Bill allowing subcontracting to other firms.

Regarding the provision allowing a driver without a PHV licence to drive a licensed PHV when it is not being used for private hire, I know many people in the taxi trade. Many of my family are in the trade and I know that by allowing taxis to be used by others, some of them may benefit. In some cases, spouses may want to use the car when it is not being used for taxiing purposes, but they cannot at the moment because the law does not allow them to do so. In that case, it would be helpful to allow other family members to use those vehicles for other purposes—for family purposes—when they are off duty.

However, I have been strongly lobbied by many companies and unions, particularly Unite, GMB and RMT, which have put some valid points forward. There is a higher risk that those cars could be used as taxis by rogue drivers. They could be made available to those who are not necessarily taxi drivers and have not taken their tests. By allowing this to happen, we could compromise public safety. However, it may well help if we allowed named drivers to use those vehicles instead of any driver. In that case, at least we would know that the people who use those vehicles will be known to family members. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will give some consideration to this and perhaps have named drivers, instead of any person, driving those vehicles when they are not being used for taxiing purposes.

7.04 pm

Baroness Turner of Camden (Lab): My Lords, this is an extraordinary Bill, covering almost every aspect of life. I shall concentrate on aspects of particular concern to me. Others have done the same and I am interested to hear what they say. Why do we have regulation? Surely it is because we live in a competitive environment and need to protect the interests of others who would otherwise risk being damaged. If we change the regulations, we have to be very careful that in so doing we do not damage other people who would otherwise be vulnerable.

As we know, the Bill begins with a clause on health and safety at work. It proposes to include a general duty on the self-employed to others involved in the undertaking, but not particularly to employees. There is a reference to the construction industry, in which quite a number of self-employed people are involved, but I am more concerned about the general duty to employees as a whole. In the last Session, the Government introduced a change to the legislation, making it more difficult for employees to sue for compensation in the event of injury—or even death—at work. In this House, we opposed that change, but the Government defeated our amendment in the House of Commons. What is proposed in this Bill does not assist ordinary employees

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very much, although it may be relevant to self-employment, but in Committee we will have to return once again to the issue of ordinary employees who are still at risk, as far as certain undertakings are concerned.

We then have a reference to employment tribunals: a change to the Equality Act so that a tribunal will not be able to make recommendations wider than the actual case under decision. Like other noble Lords, I do not see why this is necessary. No reason at all has been given for this change and it should be opposed in Committee. I certainly intend to do so.

Clauses 3 and 4 relate to English apprenticeships. It is said that the funding proposals will encourage individuals to do approved English apprenticeships or to work afterwards. I hope that this is so and that there are arrangements for suitable funding. This is extremely important. It is an aspect that, again, we should look at in more detail when it is before us in Committee.

There is then a list of recommendations dealing with taxis and private car hire. As someone who uses car hire frequently because of disability, I am interested in ensuring that the drivers are safe and mostly good in their driving—and they seem to be. Driving in London is crowded and often expensive and the Bill will obviously make no difference to that, but is it really a good idea to allow people who are not licensed to drive private hire cars? I do not think so and neither do a number of noble Lords who have already spoken in the debate. It was noted that women could be at risk, particularly going home late at night. I hope that this is something that shall look at with great scrutiny in Committee.

The Bill refers to housing, in particular what is known as the right to buy. A clause reduces the qualifying period for people who wish to buy their social housing from five to three years. There is no doubt that this provision was popular with many people, who were thus able to acquire property that they would not have been able to afford on the private market. However, many of us were critical at the time, because no replacement was made of the social housing that disappeared as a result of the right to buy. It therefore does not seem right in the present circumstances to make it easier for people to buy local authority housing when there is still such a shortage of social housing. I think that everybody agrees that there is a terrible shortage of social housing and there should be concentration on that.

As far as the final schedule, Schedule 20, is concerned, there is a set of proposals for legislation to be removed. It is proposed that legislation that is no longer of practical use should be removed. That includes legislation on formerly nationalised industries that have been privatised. Obviously, legislation is no longer required for such industries, especially ones such as mining and steel.

There was a TV programme recently, “Benefits Britain”, dealing with areas where, once, steel provided employment for the whole community—no longer. The people were feeling hopeless, left without employment. The Bill has nothing to say about that. There is a reference earlier in the Bill to a sustainable community strategy to be undertaken by local authorities, but the

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Bill does not recommend that that should continue. It is clearly necessary that there should be some development to provide alternative work in areas that have been rendered into that situation, providing no employment and no support for the local people.

There are a number of other issues in the Bill to which I shall not refer because many noble Lords have dealt with them this afternoon. It is clear that a number of issues are matters for further scrutiny and could be rendered more acceptable to some of us if they were amended. We will pursue that when the Bill is before us in Committee.

7.11 pm

Lord Grade of Yarmouth (Con): My Lords, by my calculation, I am the 25th cab on the rank today—licensed or unlicensed, I am not sure.

The Bill is indeed a weighty tome, a very heavy volume. In a previous life, I might have been tempted to put it on one side and wait for the film, but even if it is made at Pinewood, I do not think that would be appropriate.

I should like to refer to two or three matters. The noble Lord, Lord Tope, referred to Clause 34, about short-term use of London accommodation. This being a deregulation Bill, that caught my eye because I was trying to understand why London was separate from the rest of the country in respect of legislation of this kind, whether this was regulation or deregulation, and whether there are homogeneous rules across all London boroughs. That is a source of great confusion to me in a deregulation Bill. It would be very interesting to know, at a time when housing is in such short supply, particularly in Greater London, whether there is cause for reregulation of some kind and why we cannot just be consistent with the rest of the home nations.

The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, with whom I have had many an agreeable conversation over the years on matters of broadcasting, raised the issue of Section 73 of the Copyright Act 1988. That is not in the Bill. The noble Lord eloquently described the anomaly that it has created. Opportunities in the legislative timetable of Parliament to put right things that have gone horribly wrong are very rare, and this is one of those things, at a time when the creative industries in this country are so important to economic growth. The Bill is about growth. The growth of investment in British television product is leaking a lot of value as a result of the 1988 Act, which was designed to create greater competition in the fledgling cable market. The cable market is hardly fledgling now; it is dwarfing the public service broadcasters in this country. It has attracted Liberty, one of the world’s biggest media companies, to own Virgin Media in this country. It appears that the commercial public service broadcasters are now leaking value as a result of Section 73, and this is absolutely the appropriate time in the parliamentary timetable to redress that and ensure that funds are flowing into British production, as they should. I look forward to participating in debates on amendments to that effect.

Clauses 59 and 60 relate to the BBC. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Fowler is not in his place, but it is probably just as well, because an argument about

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the BBC Trust would detain your Lordships far too long, and we can take that offline. As my headmaster used to say, “See me afterwards”.

It is of course right that the Government should consult and consider whether it is possible to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee. However, Clause 60 seems to anticipate charter review—a point made by many noble Lords—which is worrying. We do not know what the funding future of the BBC will be, we do not know what the governance structure will be, and so on: that is all part of a process to come immediately after the election, if it has not started already.

Also, the power of the Secretary of State in Clause 60 could in unscrupulous hands be used in future as a stick to beat the BBC and, perhaps, challenge its independence or even threaten it. I am not saying that the present Secretary of State would have any such thoughts, but it is a worrying trend. I hope that the BBC clauses will get a good debate. I hope that we can get reassurance from my noble friends on the Front Bench that implementation will await the outcome of charter review. It makes no sense at all to put the cart before the horse.

In summary, as I said, I am hugely supportive of a deregulation Bill of this weight. As your Lordships will know, this House is a repository of some of the greatest expertise in the land on a million different subjects. They are all contained in the Bill, and I wish those on our Front Bench all the very best in steering it through.

7.16 pm

Lord Whitty (Lab): My Lords, I think I start from that point. I have a whole range of comments on the Bill, which start with Clause 1, relating to the self-employed being excluded from health and safety duties, and end on page 202. As a vice-president of the LGA, I know that one of its anxieties has been about the provisions on the breeding of dogs on the last but one page of the Bill.

However, as comments have been made on most of those points, I will start by being a bit more general, philosophical and procedural. Although the Government do not exactly look like Bourbons, they have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. The coalition started this Parliament by bringing into this House a Public Bodies Bill which managed, in all parts of the economy and society, to alienate large chunks of civic society. We had representations, and the Government had to drop a major part of the Bill. Thanks to my noble friend Lord Rooker and his committee, one of the worst parts of the original draft of this Bill has been jettisoned this time, because we had pre-legislative scrutiny. Having a portmanteau Bill such as this is exactly the wrong way to go about modernising our regulation.

I am in favour of better regulation; I am not necessarily in favour of deregulation. The best way to deal with our legislative inheritance and what is needed for modern society is to take each area of regulation, look at it every two or three years, and ask what is still relevant, what is cost-effective, what is working, what is absolutely redundant and what is counterproductive.

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Each area needs to be looked at as a consistent whole. The way not to do it is for the Cabinet Office to write round to the rest of Whitehall saying, “Can we have 24 clauses that we need to delete so that we can get rid of them all in one Bill in the last Session of this Parliament?”, but that seems to be what it has done.

The one area in which the Government have taken a more coherent, comprehensive approach from full consultation is rights of way. I told the Minister that they were very sensible to do that. I was the Minister who brought in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act; it was a pretty torrid time in this House, I can tell you, with all sorts of different interests, but we have a package which is largely agreed. I agree with other speakers that that may not be the end of the story, and I warn the Minister that there will be attempts to unravel or add to it, but that is the way we should approach each of those areas. Instead, we have piecemeal bits of legislation that we are going to cross out. Some of them are utterly redundant, and I am absolutely in favour of crossing them off the statute book—there are still bits in Norman French that we ought to be deleting from the statute book. These need to go. We have a process for doing that; we have a Law Commission, which is proposing how we get rid of redundant statutory provision. It also, incidentally, has good ideas on how we consolidate legislation. Having got that machine, somehow we never find enough parliamentary time to implement its recommendations; the next Parliament needs to look at how we can do that better.

There are some areas that I will comment on specifically but I think the Government and future Governments have to reflect on the way we deal with this. The better regulation approach—I see the noble Lord, Lord Curry, just coming in—was looking on behalf of the whole of government at different areas. Rather than this piecemeal, portmanteau Bill, perhaps we should have followed procedure a bit more closely. Having got that off my chest, I will comment on one or two aspects of the Bill.

I follow my noble friend Lord Davies in relation to the transport provisions and, in particular, CCTV. This is populism gone mad. If we cannot enforce parking restrictions, we not only endanger the safety of road users and pedestrians but also provide no parking space for motorists. If people can continue to park in restricted areas with impunity, there will be no parking space for the vast majority. By adopting the Jeremy Clarkson interpretation of the motorists’ interests, the Government have gone down exactly the wrong road. Just as the taxi provisions are not in the interests of the users of taxis, these parking provisions are not in the interests of the vast majority of motorists; our towns will get clogged up and there will be more accidents.

On housing, the right to buy is perhaps the most obvious aspect of my general contention. The right to buy has been hugely contentious. I do not oppose the principle of right to buy. However, in the present housing crisis, it is very important that any exercise of the right to buy is put in the context of what is available in social housing, and affordable housing generally. We have one provision in relation to eligibility for right to buy. The right to buy was very good for those people who would never be able to afford their own house or who were too old to get a mortgage.

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That does not mean people who have been in social housing for only three years. The right to buy is for people who have been tenants for a large proportion of their life and deserve a chance to get on the housing ladder. At the same time—tomorrow, I think—in the Moses Room we are dealing with the change in the right to buy provisions relating to the discount. Therefore, we have two changes in different parts of the House in relation to one subject that needs to be seen in a wider context. The right to buy ought to be a local decision. The provision, eligibility and discounts for the right to buy are not suitable for national legislation, but should address the housing market in the locality. In any case, it is an example of something that needs to be seen in the round.

Clause 83 relates to putting another requirement on all non-economic regulators. Most legislation on regulation over the past 15 years has inserted the provision on economic and non-economic regulators that they should have regard to sustainable development. Quite often the previous Government, in their initial years, were slightly resistant to that, but they were persuaded by the sensible arguments of the Liberal Democrats by and large, to put those provisions in. That meant one had to look after the economics, the environmental effect and the social effect. Obviously the main focus for any individual regulator was one or other of those three corners, but they all had regard to all three. This seems to have an override, even for areas such as human rights and environmental controls that should not be overridden by short-term economic considerations. There is a real danger in that.

The world and his wife will be agitated about various aspects of the Bill. Some of it—probably most of it—is very sensible and I can support it. However, I wish the Government would not go down this road. When one gets to almost the very final page, there is an interesting provision relating to the deletion of offences by people who fly kites. I am in total agreement with that because it is a grave inhibition on the work of the House.

7.25 pm

Lord Greenway (CB): My Lords, I shall not be tempted to follow the noble Lords, Lord Davies of Oldham and Lord Rooker, into discussing Clause 40 regarding marine accident investigations. We will have plenty of time for that in Committee. I will confine my remarks to Clause 81, which seeks to amend the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 in relation to the implementation of international maritime conventions, which emerged from the International Maritime Organisation just across the river on the Albert Embankment. Currently in this country these are implemented through a mix of primary and secondary legislation. This has led to a very complex regulatory system that is confusing, time consuming—statutory instruments can take just as long as primary legislation to go through both Houses—and resource intensive. It also results in delay that can often be to the detriment of British shipping. For instance, our ships can be challenged during control inspections in foreign ports for not being up to scratch with the latest convention when those changes have not been incorporated into

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UK law. Conversely, we are not able to challenge foreign ships when they transgress in our own ports on the latest changes for the very same reason.

The new clause will permit any change in maritime conventions to which the UK is a party to be automatically incorporated into UK law by the use of dynamic ambulatory references. I am not a lawyer—I am sure a lawyer would understand that—but it is very much a speeding-up process. What are the advantages? First, it will simplify the whole process and level out the playing field for both UK and international shipping. Secondly, it will remove the lengthy process of having to issue a new statutory instrument every time a change is made to a maritime convention, and it will do away with the risk of gold-plating legislation, something that we are rather prone to in this country. Thirdly, it will improve the reputation of the UK abroad, where we are deemed to be rather slow and out of date in adopting new international maritime standards in law.

UK shipping was reinvigorated by the introduction of the tonnage tax in 2000. Since then, the UK-owned fleet has increased almost threefold and the UK-registered fleet, albeit from a very low base, by more than six times. Shipping is still important to this country. The shipping, ports and maritime sectors between them contribute £31.7 billion to UK GDP and support more than 500,000 jobs. Shipping is a highly competitive business and anything that can be done to help, as in this instance with the new clause, is very much to be welcomed.

7.28 pm

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston (Lab): My Lords, I hope to persuade the Government to consider an amendment to the Deregulation Bill. I declare an interest having formerly worked in independent television for 30 years. Like my noble friend Lord Dubs and the noble Lord, Lord Grade, who spoke earlier, my concern is that the content of our public service broadcasters—BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five—is increasingly being retransmitted without payment by cable and online streaming companies. These companies package public service broadcasting content on their platforms and can then place their own unregulated adverts around it. With personal video recorders now encouraging the time-shifting of programmes, and capable of storing hundreds of hours of high-quality drama, popular entertainment and, of course, sporting events, these personal video recorders are major revenue drivers for pay-TV platforms.

The issue of retransmission is rising up the policy agenda worldwide. In the United States, the steady decline of television advertising revenue is being offset by the income that broadcasters get from retransmission revenue: $2.36 billion in 2012. That may explain why US TV is increasingly producing so many successful drama series, while our advertising-funded PSB channels struggle to maintain their output of quality popular programming, with their share of advertising revenue in decline.

We can debate whether we still have the best TV in the world, but what is indisputable is that sales of programmes and formats provide very valuable income for the UK’s creative sector. ITV’s “Downton Abbey”, for instance, sells in 250 territories with an estimated

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100 million viewers in China alone. Reformatted, “Strictly Come Dancing” can be seen in 50 countries, and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in more than 100. However, in these times of disruptive technologies and increasing commercial competition across the media, our public service broadcasters should not be subsidising international media conglomerates such as Liberty Global, which now owns Virgin Media.

Our PSBs do not get paid by those who retransmit their output because of the now redundant Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. As the noble Lord, Lord Grade, said, this legislation was originally intended to encourage the rollout of cable in the United Kingdom—but the world has moved on in the past 26 years. We now have a highly competitive pay-TV market in satellite, cable and, increasingly, online. Section 73, designed to boost cable coverage by allowing retransmission of UK public service channels at no cost, has now become the unintended loophole for commercial online platforms to stream PSB programming without permission or payment. These companies do not reinvest their online profits in the UK creative content that makes their services so attractive. Indeed, they divert money from the UK production sector because of Section 73, which could be repealed by an amendment to this Bill.

The personal video recorders—the so-called PVRs—used by customers on cable or online platforms can store, as I said, hundreds of hours of PSB-produced drama or entertainment. For instance, ITV’s “Downton Abbey” is time-shifted by almost half of cabled homes, using their TiVo PVRs, but most viewers then fast forward through the recorded advertising breaks, which means that ITV gets paid less by its advertisers. Given the importance the Government attach to our creative industries, they should surely be more purposive towards the timely removal of Section 73 in this fast-changing digital world.

They may be inhibited by ongoing litigation between PSBs and one of the many online streaming services, which has been going on for some four years already, as my noble friend Lord Dubs said, but that kind of litigation need not be an excuse for inaction. My advice is that the Interpretation Act 1978 speaks to this very issue. It provides that where an Act repeals an enactment, the repeal does not affect any investigation, legal proceedings or remedy. The irony is that the copyright Act of 1988, which includes Section 73, itself came into force despite related ongoing legislation at that time.

The Government promised, more than a year ago, that they would consult on Section 73 in the current review of the Communications Act. That has not happened. However, do they not agree that the Communications Act 2003 superseded Section 73 by making a “must offer” provision that ensured PSBs must offer their content to platforms,

“subject to the agreement of terms”?

That is the crucial difference, since it means that PSBs can enter into commercial negotiations with each platform, as they do with BSkyB; in contrast, Section 73 prevents

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this from happening by allowing the retransmission of PSB content without any payment in recognition of the value that it represents.

The Bill is designed to remove burdensome regulation. Section 73 clearly meets that criterion. Supporting its removal by subsequent amendment to the Bill will help to ensure that our public service broadcasters can continue to produce and commission quality programming made here in the UK.

7.34 pm

Lord Cope of Berkeley (Con): My Lords, I start prepared in principle to cheer on its way any Bill labelled a Deregulation Bill. Mind you, it has come out this afternoon, if one did not realise it from reading the Bill, that much in it is not exactly deregulation but reregulation and so on. One of the worst features of modern life is the multiplicity of regulations. I do not mean that regulation itself is bad. Of course not; we all realise that regulation is essential in very large parts of life. The problem, particularly for a small business, for example, is on the one hand the multiplicity of regulations and on the other the fact that they are constantly changing. This changing factor is part of the difficulty, which is a problem when it comes to a Deregulation Bill.

I have been arguing in favour of deregulation for a long time—over 40 years or so of parliamentary life—but so have a lot of other people. The previous Government, as well as the present one, have given a lot of attention to it. Yet throughout that time, and for that matter before, regulations have been and still are breeding like weeds in a garden. While I welcome the Bill in general, I have some reflections on Second Reading about deregulation and the complications of regulation itself.

I do not think that I am the only Member of this House who believes that one problem with our modern legislative drafting habits is that every Bill, even this one, is littered with statutory instruments—even though the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, and his colleagues have succeeded very well in getting the Henry VIII one removed from this Bill. Yet statutory instruments flow through the Moses Room like the waters of the sea when Moses first arrived on its banks—except that there seems to be no way of stemming the tide, as he did when he parted those waters. Moreover, they are only the statutory instruments that require debate by your Lordships’ House. They are affirmative instruments, for the most part, but businesses have to take account of many negative instruments as well.

I am contemplating moving a new version of Dunning’s famous Motion of 1780, which would say that “The number of statutory instruments has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished”. How far we will get, I am not sure—and I emphasise “diminished” rather than abolished. For the record, I do not blame the proliferation of statutory instruments on the parliamentary draftsmen; I think that the blame lies within the various departments. Legislation is insufficiently prepared, so the details of a Bill have to be filled in after enactment. For some details, that is entirely in order, but too many are left to be filled in in that way. I pay tribute in passing to the existence and work of the

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Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, and I look forward to its report on delegated powers memoranda, which it is currently working on.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, my noble friend Lord Naseby and others, I am a supporter of the work of the Law Commission in this field of deregulation, particularly on cancelling parts of the law that are no longer required. I also think that it is better placed than Parliament to look at areas of the law, and to suggest improvements and parts that should be done away with. I am sympathetic to the idea of annual SLR Bills—an idea that should certainly be considered further by government.

I recognise, as the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, did just now, the difficulty of finding legislative time for Law Commission Bills in general. I am also sympathetic to the idea that my noble friend Lady Eaton drew our attention to: namely, the Local Government Association proposals for rewiring licences in that field. My noble friend knows much more about it than I do, but I have read something about it in the past and I have seen an account of it, about which I can say only that it looked good to me.

I reflect on my experience of deregulation as a Minister. Sometimes, of course, efforts to simplify have exactly the opposite effect. For example, when I was at the Treasury, along with Customs and Excise we went to great efforts to make VAT easier for small businesses instead of having a sharp cut-off between those who were not involved and those who were fully enmeshed. Several alternative schemes were introduced for VAT for small businesses, but the danger then was that you needed knowledgeable advice about which scheme you ought to go to for your particular circumstances in business and how it was going to move over the next few years, in order to know which scheme to choose. The schemes were good and worth while, but deciding which one to use gave you another complicated headache.

I know what a difficult business deregulation inevitably is. I have every sympathy with my noble friends on the Front Bench as we look forward to the Committee stage of the Bill—which, as we have heard today, is going to be of some length and complexity, to put it no stronger. This has been frequently described as a Christmas tree of a Bill, but I think that Christmas is going to be a long time coming as far as my colleagues are concerned. However, the Second Reading of the Bill is the time to congratulate the Government on tackling the subject vigorously and to wish them the best of good fortune in the debates to come.

7.42 pm

Baroness Donaghy (Lab): My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. He will not need reminding that it was Moses who created the first 10 regulations.

My mother used to say, “Say something positive first, dear”, so this is my positive bit. I welcome the proposal in Clause 70 to clarify the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004. Anything that strengthens the arm of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority’s work is to be

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welcomed. I believe firmly that its remit should be extended to cover the construction industry, as it is an area that is crying out for some protection for exploited workers. However, today I shall concentrate on two areas: Clause 1 on health and safety for the self-employed, and Clause 34 on short lets in London, which have already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Grade, and a noble Lord who is not in his place.

I will deal with the short lets in London first. If this measure is passed, and I profoundly hope that it is not, the unintended consequences will be detrimental to rich and poor alike. This is a strange gloss on the Prime Minister’s slogan that “We’re all in this together”. Take a settled residential block north of the river. All the residents are comfortably off, with security provided 24 hours a day. If this legislation is enacted, the sub-letters and online letting companies will march in. The premiums are such that you can make three times as much income as you can from ordinary longer-term lettings. Even if we disregard the diminution in housing stock in London, which is already at crisis point, the health tourists would move in and out with their families, treating the place like a hotel and an A&E department combined.

If you are really unlucky, the prostitutes and housing benefit fraudsters will move in, while at best it will become a temporary residence for overseas businessmen and their families, who are often no respecters of other people’s property or peace of mind. The residents will experience an increase in unauthorised rubbish dumping—and flooding, if they live in flats below the temporary residence. By the way, it will be virtually impossible for the fire authorities to keep track of this. The nature of the residential block will change and there will be nothing that the majority of residents can do about it. They in turn will be tempted to move in order to escape the disruption when temporary letting becomes the norm in that block of flats. To my knowledge, this is already happening at the margins.

As the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said, the British Hospitality Association, the Bed and Breakfast Association and many others have sent submissions about this clause. Westminster City Council has provided an excellent briefing as well. That council has done a sterling job in fending off the marauders. Yes, I am praising a Conservative council. All those bodies are saying the same thing: the proposed change will pave the way for largely unregulated short-term online rental companies to operate more freely in London and remove the main mechanism by which regulators currently have the chance to ensure the safety of the public. The largest of these online companies, Airbnb, has over 23,000 premises in the UK for paying guests—premises which do not comply with government guidelines on fire safety.

Other cities in the world are striving to adopt the same controls that we are about to throw away. Paris, New York and Singapore have experienced housing inflation and anti-social behaviour in residential neighbourhoods. Westminster City Council has dealt with 7,362 enforcement cases in the past 15 years, equating to nearly seven years’ housing supply. In fact, this proposal is so unpopular, I think it must have been

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cooked up at the same dinner party as employee share ownership and the abolition of 100 year-old health and safety legislation on strict liability.

I turn to the proposal in Clause 1 to exempt the self-employed from health and safety law if they are not on a prescribed list. The Government claim that they are following a recommendation by Professor Lofstedt, but that is only partially true. The professor must be rather bruised by his encounters with this Government. He makes a recommendation that is circled about with conditions and caution, and it is snatched by this Government like a hungry child wanting a liqueur chocolate—of course, they will be able to have liqueur chocolate fairly soon. Professor Lofstedt indicated that any exemption should be for those,

“whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others”.

The Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin, said that,

“about two thirds of the people in the country who are self-employed will no longer be covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 3/2/14; col. 41.]

That really gives the game away, doesn’t it? It is a sad day when we mark the 40th anniversary of that Act in this way.

It is also regrettable that the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health was dismissed by the Solicitor-General as an organisation of “consultants”. I know that IOSH has written to correct this but it should be remembered that it has a royal charter and 44,000 members worldwide and is recognised by the ILO. It is a distinguished and knowledgeable organisation and is severely concerned by this clause. It deserves to be listened to.

The current draft of prescribed activities, produced very late in the day, includes construction, which I know a bit about. I am not reassured. I make it clear that I am not referring to the large construction companies, which are seized of the business case for a healthy and safe building site. It is the refurbishment industry, which is notorious for recruiting underskilled workers and for accidents. What happens if an employer informs his workers, who may be bogus self-employed, that, “This is not a building site so we’re exempt”? They are desperate for work and will take what they are given. Will the Government make it clear what is and what is not a building site? Is scaffolding around a house or a trench dug in the garden to be covered by the word “construction”? Are self- employed plumbers, electricians and carpenters covered in domestic housing? If not, how will the householder be alerted?

It is estimated that 90% of construction workers in London are self-employed or bogus self-employed. There is a worrying proportion of cowboys operating in London: small operators who know that there is a slim chance that they will be inspected by the HSE and who will exempt themselves from the prescribed list with little or no comeback, so there is an increased risk premium in London for workers and the public.

I remind the House that we kill 50 construction workers a year in accidents at work, let alone serious injuries and the scandal of unreported accidents. In addition, 32 construction workers die every week of lung-related diseases, and that figure is going up, not

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down. If three-quarters of the self-employed are to be exempt, as Oliver Letwin says, this must include some construction and allied workers.

The current Health and Safety at Work etc. Act is simple and easily understood. Everyone knows where they stand. Creating a prescribed list will cause confusion and encourage the cowboys.

7.50 pm

Lord Clement-Jones (LD): My Lords, having seen successive deregulation units created and then relabelled within government over the past 25 years, I can see that it is clear that, more than previous Governments, the coalition has got to grips with the deregulation agenda. I therefore welcome many aspects of the Bill and in particular the further cuts in red tape in the Licensing Act regulation, particularly those relating to community events.

There are, however, differing views as to what is sensible deregulation to ease a regulatory burden and what should be retained to protect the consumer, keep a market open or protect an individual right. I hope, therefore, that the Government will prove as flexible as they were in response to pre-legislative scrutiny.

There are a number of issues about the content of the Bill. As we have heard from many noble Lords, if the BBC is to continue to be financed by the licence fee, it is important that we retain a system that is successful in maintaining the current low levels of evasion and of collection costs. At the very least, the Government should review, under Clauses 59 and 60, the appropriate penalties for non-payment of the licence fee, which should be considered as part of the total review of the BBC charter and licence fee funding.

As we have also heard, Clause 34 involves amendments to Section 25 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Acts 1973 and 1983, which require that London residential property owners and tenants seek planning approval prior to using residential property to sell accommodation on a night-by-night basis. We have heard also that many of us have seen the brief from Westminster City Council. This makes a devastating case against the proposal. We are in the middle of a major shortage of housing accommodation in London at a time of strongly rising population. This would lead to an unsustainable loss of permanent residential accommodation.

Existing provisions ensure that whole blocks of flats are not blighted by hotel-type use year round. I hope that the Government listen to the very council that would be most affected. We must keep London as a place to live, not just to visit. As the British Hospitality Association says, and as we also heard today, cities such as Paris, New York and Singapore have enacted measures recently to control the surge in commercial use of residential properties. Have the Government carried out an impact assessment on these proposals?

Another area where there seems to have been no economic impact assessment is the provisions of Clause 51 and Schedule 15. These provisions potentially mean not only that the summer holidays could be a great deal shorter but also that each of 25,000 schools in England could have its own holiday arrangements,

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causing confusion for parents, teachers, pupils and industry. This could, not least, have a major impact on the UK hospitality and tourism industry, which employs 3 million people, many of them in seaside areas. We have heard the reference to BALPPA, which represents British leisure parks and attractions. It says, in its brief:

“Shifting term times would be devastating for those that rely on seasonal trade which cannot be recouped elsewhere”.

It points out that, where similar schemes have been introduced in the US, the evidence clearly shows that moving school holidays reduces tourism spending, and that this is not made up elsewhere.

Coming to the omissions rather than commissions, and with all due deference to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, who is not in his place, I have some ideas for additions to the Bill. We have the issue of busking. The Mayor of London has rightly been fulsome about the place of busking in London life. In the Bill we should explicitly remove Part 5 of the London Local Authorities Act 2000, which provides for busking licensing schemes at individual London councils’ discretion. We should also remove Section 54(14) of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, which was recently used against buskers in Leicester Square.

As I explained to the House, the King’s Parade, the winners of the mayor’s busking competition, were interrupted by the police mid-song as they performed in Leicester Square and informed that they were in breach of Section 54 of the archaic 1839 Metropolitan Police Act. They were bundled into a van by eight officers and held at Paddington police station for more than six hours. This 174-year-old piece of legislation, which also—I think the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, would be pleased by this—prohibits kite flying, sleigh riding and doorbell ringing, was used to justify the arrest.

There are more than adequate powers under separate legislation to deal with noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour. For example, there is the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or the Control of Pollution Act 1974. There are also powers to make by-laws available to local authorities with respect to street nuisance. Camden, under the London Local Authorities Act, has banned street music at any time, amplified or unamplified, except through a special busking licence. Camden’s approach runs completely counter to the arguments heard and accepted by government and Parliament during the Live Music Act debates.

We have also heard that another potential missed opportunity is the inclusion of provisions to repeal Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. We have heard eloquent speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Dubs, Lord Grade and Lord Macdonald on this subject. It is quite clear that Section 73 of the CDPA is an outdated copyright exception that allows cable operators to retransmit PSB channels without permission or payment to broadcasters or to the people who created the content. We have heard why it was introduced. Cable is now a highly effective and well resourced competitor to Sky and Freeview. Pay TV platforms are able to make money from PSB content while benefiting from a regulatory regime under which no payment goes back to the public service broadcaster or to any content creator.

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As we have head, reform is even more urgent as a result of personal video recorders—PVRs. These enable consumers to record programmes and avoid watching advertisements. PVRs are revenue-earning and customer-retention devices, yet none of the value that the pay TV platforms derive from them reaches those who help to create the content on which they depend. Section 73 now simply represents a subsidy from the PSBs to cable operators. Section 73 is also being relied on by online service providers, such as TVCatchup, to make money from the PSB channels by retransmitting them while selling their own advertising around PSB content.

The Government have said that they must wait for the end of current litigation with TVCatchup, but there are no legal reasons that would prevent them supporting any amendment to the Deregulation Bill. Indeed, ongoing litigation is not affected by a change of law, as set out in the Interpretation Act 1978. The UK is not alone in reviewing this issue. In the US, News Corporation—yes, News Corporation—has led the charge in favour of fees. I urge the Government to consider using the Bill to promote growth in the creative industries by including a clause to repeal Section 73.

Finally, we need an urgent review of noise abatement legislation to cater for the situation where a venue with a very good record and no complaints is subject to a complaint or potential complaint from a new occupier or developer. Venues are closing with great rapidity as a result of this inappropriate use of noise legislation. We need to act fast. I look forward to my noble friend’s reply.

7.59 pm

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, I will speak on housing and, like my noble friends, against the folly of Clause 1 and its changes to the Health and Safety at Work Act. Clause 29 reduces the qualifying period for the right to buy from five to three years. We know that this is part of what the Government have labelled “reinvigorating the right to buy”. It has been accompanied by secondary legislation that increased the maximum percentage discount for houses sold to 70%, and increased the cash cap to £75,000—£100,000 in London—which in future is to be uprated by CPI.

We want to see people enabled to purchase a home, and we support the right to buy. However, housing is in crisis in this country, and especially affordable housing. Last year the Government built the lowest number of homes for social rent for more than 20 years and since records began. Section 106 agreements have been watered down, the capital budget for affordable housing has been cut by 60%, and the affordable rent model is anything but affordable. If recent reports are true, the Government are in panic over the prospect of yet a further fall in housebuilding as the general election looms. The Government’s favourite scapegoat to blame is the planning system, but can the Minister confirm that some 9,000 sites with full planning permission have not yet started building?

Therefore we will press the Government on their declared replacement policy. The formulation which they adopt is that they would use the receipts from additional—note, not all—right to buy sales to replace

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every additional home sold. We will wish to probe in Committee exactly what that means and how it would work in practice. It does not appear to cover sales under the preserved right to buy, which is to the detriment of the finances of housing associations.

We can see the merit of rationalising technical housing standards and their inclusion in the main building regulations, albeit with scope to deal with local circumstances. The Minister will be aware of the briefing from Leonard Cheshire which welcomes proposals to incorporate lifetime homes standards into building regulations, but expresses concern that they will potentially be optional. We will wish to be reassured that this is not the case.

We should be proud of our health and safety system in the UK. Over 40 years it has helped save countless lives and protected many from injury and ill health. Since this Government came to office there have been three reviews of its scope and operations — that of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Graffham, of Professor Lofstedt, and the triennial review. Each in its way has concluded that the system and the HSE is fit for purpose and doing an effective job.

We oppose Clause 1 not on ideological grounds, nor because our instinct is to resist any weakening of health and safety requirements, and nor because we believe that there is still a lingering antipathy to its cause in some higher reaches of government. We oppose it because whatever minor benefits the clause might bring are more than outweighed by the confusion and uncertainty it will engender.

The position at present is very clear. Under Section 3(2) of the 1974 Act every self-employed person is required to conduct their undertaking to ensure that,

“so far as is reasonably practicable … he and other persons … are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”.

What could be fairer or more decent than that? Yet the Bill will restrict the requirement to those engaged in prescribed undertakings expressed by the Minister in another place to be “high-risk” activities. Notwithstanding that there is only a draft list of prescribed undertakings thus far—although an HSE consultation with a list commenced just today—Oliver Letwin proclaimed in another place that I think about two-thirds of people who are self-employed will no longer be covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. Why is that something to be proud of?

The Government, as my noble friend Lady Donaghy said, point to Professor Lofstedt as the reason for doing that, but that was not his recommendation. He recommended that an exemption should apply to those self-employed who have no employees and who pose no potential risk of harm to others. Even then, he acknowledged:

“The actual burden that the regulations currently place upon these self-employed may not be particularly significant”.

That point was reinforced by evidence from IOSH to the Public Bill Committee, where Richard Jones made clear:

“To our mind, the proposed exempted group … is not overly burdened by health and safety at the moment”.—[Official Report, Commons, Public Bill Committee, 25/2/14; col. 5.]

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As the TUC points out, there is no need to make any change, because anyone who is self- employed but does not pose a risk to themselves or others cannot be prosecuted. They have no need to do a written risk assessment.

The HSE was clear that the best basis for any exemption should be to allow it only to those who would not be expected to put others at risk at any point in the normal course of their work and only if they did not work in certain prescribed industries. Paragraph 18 of the 2013 impact assessment states that,

“we explored the possibility of being wholly prescriptive and making a comprehensive list of the occupations, industries, or combinations thereof that would be covered by the exemption … However, discussion with sector experts within HSE made it clear that within occupations and industries there are many exceptions and atypical cases. Relying exclusively on such an approach would therefore risk unintended consequences”.

What is the huge burden that offending legislation imposes on the self-employed, and which holds back the advance of entrepreneurial zeal? The HSE’s original assessment was that the risk assessment would take—15 minutes a year. Annual savings for the new and existing self-employed would be about £500,000 a year—in aggregate, that is—but there would be upfront familiarisation costs of nearly £2 million. All of that, therefore, for the self-employed to save a quarter of an hour a year and on average less than 50p. The figures for today’s updated assessment tell the same story.

However, the proposition for exemption now in the Bill has greater health and safety risks. The HSE made it clear that some of the occupations proposed to be exempt have injury rates statistically higher than the average for all occupations. These, it said, include motor mechanics, furniture manufacturers, animal care occupations, metalworking, and maintenance fitters. That is a deeply flawed and dangerous position for the Government to take.

First, in framing the exemption using a prescribed list approach, we know that some who operate in risky businesses in a risky way will fall within the exemption. Secondly, even if the exemption could be phrased in a narrower way, the estimated savings are tiny. The prospect of exemption for some will provide another spur to the encouragement for individuals to declare a self-employed status—bogus or otherwise.

There is scope for huge confusion about whether someone will be exempt or not, particularly among the self-employed, who might typically get their information through informal channels and in circumstances when Ministers are talking up the scale and scope of exemptions. There could be confusion for those who take on an employee for part of a year, or whose activities are partly within a prescribed undertaking and partly outside. I hope that the Government will reflect and draw back from Clause 1.

8.07 pm

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will flag up a couple of points in the gap which will need further attention as we go through the Bill.

There is a dearth of accessible housing in the UK. As a result, one in six disabled people and more than half of disabled children live in accommodation that

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is not suitable for their needs. The need for disabled-friendly housing will only grow as the population ages, and providing good housing can reduce the need for care. The Government’s proposal to incorporate lifetime homes and wheelchair-accessible standards into building regulations is therefore most welcome. However, I am concerned that those standards will be only optional and concerned at the suggestion that planning authorities will be able to adopt them only where they can satisfy a rigorous needs test and show that they are strictly necessary and justifiable, not just desirable.

The GLA has committed to all new buildings matching lifetime homes standards and to 10% of all new homes being built to wheelchair-accessible standards. I would like to see the approach taken by successive mayors in London rolled out across the UK and I believe that the Bill should be encouraging that. Instead, I am concerned that it could actively discourage authorities from taking that positive approach if they are required to jump through too many bureaucratic hoops. I therefore seek the Minister’s assurance that the Government accept that the level of evidence gathered by the GLA is sufficiently rigorous to support the introduction of lifetime homes and wheelchair-accessible standards. I would also like to see an exemption from the community infrastructure levy for fully wheelchair-accessible housing and a reduction for that which meets the lifetime homes standard.

I turn to my second point. The Bill includes provisions on parking. Clause 38 amends the Road Traffic Act to prevent local authorities from issuing penalty charge notices through the post and using CCTV for parking enforcement in particular circumstances. I was glad to see that the Opposition have some reservations about this. The clause was inserted following a government consultation on local authority parking strategies. The Government acknowledged that a common theme in responses to the consultation was the need for a uniform approach to pavement parking, but this has not been followed up in the Bill. That is a major omission. Pavement parking is dangerous for pedestrians, especially parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people, including blind and partially sighted people, who may be forced out into the road where they cannot see oncoming traffic. Pavements are not designed to take the weight of vehicles and they cause pavements to crack and the tarmac surface to subside. This is also a hazard to pedestrians, who may trip on broken pavements, and particularly to blind and partially sighted people, who cannot observe the damage. It is also expensive. Local authorities paid more than £1 billion on repairing kerbs, pavements and walkways between 2006 and 2010; £106 million was also paid in compensation claims to people tripping and falling on broken pavements during the same five-year period.

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, with the support of at least a dozen other organisations, is calling for laws across the UK prohibiting pavement parking unless specifically permitted, such as have been in place in Greater London since 1974. Local authorities report that existing measures are insufficient. In a recent YouGov survey, 78% of councillors supported a national law with flexibility for local authorities to make exemptions. The Transport Select Committee described the current system as unduly complex and

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difficult for motorists to understand. A Private Member’s Bill with cross-party support has been presented in the other place by Martin Horwood MP. There is considerable support for a law of this type, and I very much hope that the Government will give it serious consideration.

8.12 pm

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab): My Lords, this has been an interesting debate, which—a bit like this Christmas tree of a Bill—has been like a Christmas party, with people calling in to raise concerns, including about inadequate consultation, last-minute clauses and lack of evidence, which leads us to query whether this Bill is more about dogma than good governance. Why do the Government speak with a forked tongue—more red tape for charities and unions under the lobby Bill, as my noble friend Lord Monks reminded us; more red tape for trading standards officers under the consumer Bill; and an attack on localism in this Bill, despite the Localism Act passed in the Session before last? None of us likes red tape—unless it is around those presents under the Christmas tree—but it is worth remembering that regulation is brought in for pretty good reasons, such as to safeguard children or the public, or, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, to ensure that the interests of the consumer are pre-eminent. Whether we are introducing or abolishing regulation, it is always worth asking who it helps and whether it is worth the candle.

Like the Consumer Rights Bill, which we debated last week, I like the title of this Bill, as indeed I think does the noble Lord, Lord Cope. It is the content that leaves me a bit queasy, for the reasons that we have heard today. As the 35th speaker, there is nothing new for me to say, but I think that one or two themes have emerged. The first is the absence of evidence for some of these changes. The second is the inadequate consultation that took place, particularly with local authorities over both alcohol and minicab licensing, or with the taxi industry over the clauses that put the safety of passengers at risk. Indeed, there seems to be a lack of consideration for consumers, just six days after the Second Reading of the Consumer Rights Bill.

I start with Clause 1. Apart from the points elaborated by my noble friends Lady Andrews, Lady Donaghy, Lord Monks, Lord Collins, Lord Whitty, Lord McKenzie and Lord Rooker, as well as the noble Lords, Lord Stoneham and Lord Fowler, I wonder how the Bill provides for the interests of those, mostly the elderly, whose hairdresser visits them at home; those who are passengers of self-employed drivers; and myriad others who are protected by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. That legislation places duties on the self-employed to ensure that they do not expose themselves or others, including non-employees, to health and safety risks. That includes customers, clients, visitors and the public. Who asked those people whether they wanted to lose such protection?

Similarly with taxis and minicabs, serious concerns have been raised by my noble friends Lord Monks, Lord Whitty, Lord Collins, Lord Davies of Oldham, Lady Turner and Lady Thornton, as well as the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, and the noble Lords, Lord Tope and Lord Hussain. Like everyone on the government and opposition Benches—not, I have to say, the Bishops’ or the Cross Benches—I have visited

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Brighton many times for the wonderful delights of party conferences. We arrive at the station and jump into those very familiar Brighton and Hove cabs, and we know that we are going to be safe. We know that they have been tested for safety and that their drivers have been tested for competence, insurance and trustworthiness. Brighton and Hove, by way of example, now worries that ending annual relicensing will diminish its effectiveness as a regulator, while having out-of-area cabs on its streets—over which the authority has no control—will pose a risk to customers. As my noble friends have already said, it will be women who will be the most vulnerable to illegal pick-ups by unlicensed drivers in minicabs or even from licensed drivers, who will no longer be checked annually. So just who asked for this measure, introduced with minimal consultation? It was certainly not women or passengers, nor, as we have heard, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust or crime commissioners.

As for banning CCTV for parking, this comes from the same Government who brought in the Localism Act but now decide to dictate to local authorities how they can enforce, or not enforce, parking as they think best, and despite six of the eight consultation responses opposing a CCTV ban. As the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said, it is, after all, local government that knows its area best. In my own borough of Camden, more than 85% of CCTV enforcements cover major junctions, bus stops, pedestrian crossings and no-waiting areas. In a busy urban area these are key to keeping traffic moving and for safety, as the noble Lord, Lord Low, the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, and my noble friends Lord Davies of Oldham and Lord Whitty said.

On alcohol licensing, my noble friend Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, outlined the worry that the new ancillary licences might allow virtually any business, when serving drink is not its primary purpose, to sell alcohol. Health groups fear that this could lead to virtually unlimited alcohol premises. Who demanded this? Why were local authorities, health bodies and others not properly consulted? What research was undertaken on any downside, including any impact on the emergency and ancillary services? Why is there no requirement to make public health a licensing condition? Why is there no minimum price legislation? And why piecemeal changes rather than making this part of a proper strategy, which the Government had laid out in 2012 but seem to have abandoned, to tackle the million crimes linked to alcohol, let alone the cost to our health service?

Turning to insolvency practitioners, here the Government, I think, have got it wrong with their suggested regime of partial authorisation for insolvency practitioners, as my noble friend Lord Rooker, the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, said. Splitting the regulation of this tiny profession into two—for company and for individual insolvencies—would particularly harm small firms, two-thirds of which do both corporate and personal insolvency work, just at the same time as the Government’s small business Bill is meant to be helping small businesses.

Furthermore, it would require the development, delivery and oversight of new, additional systems of exams and qualifications. It would also allow some

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insolvency practitioners to undertake corporate bankruptcies, which almost always also affect the status of the individuals involved, with no qualification over the needs of the latter. In Committee, we will seek to ensure that this does not become the case. Regulation is usually for the consumers, the community or the vulnerable, as my noble friend Lady Turner said. It used to be the Tories who argued that the City was overregulated, and look where that led us.

More locally, as a cyclist—albeit not today in lycra cycling from Cambridge and across Westminster Bridge—I take great comfort from knowing that lorries on our roads are not overloaded, that their tyre pressures are checked, that their drivers are qualified, that their insurance is in place, that their fumes are not excessive and that their brakes work. All of that, of course, is as a result of regulation. However, that does not seem to be enough for this Government. They now want all regulators to include the growth duty, including, I presume, the Health and Safety Executive, the Information Commissioner, the Gambling Commission, the Charity Commission, the Electoral Commission, the Health and Care Professions Council, Monitor, the Legal Services Board and Ofsted—soon to be headed, we gather, by a Tory donor if the papers are to be believed. All those will now have the growth duty. It will be essential that the economic growth strategy does not trump the principal objective of those regulators, because that surely is the protection of the public interest.

Will the Government heed the words of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro, my noble friends Lady Andrews and Lady Thornton, the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, the ICC, the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill of Bengarve, and indeed the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which said:

“Applying the economic growth duty to the EHRC poses a significant risk to the EHRC’s independence”,

because it would be compelled take directions from the Secretary of State? Has dogma trumped common sense and good governance? Anyway, is this really deregulatory, as my noble friend Lady Andrews asked?

There are other issues on which we will await with interest the response of the Government, including the proposal from my noble friend Lord Macdonald to amend the copyright Act 1988 in relation to broadcasting. That attracted the support of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and my noble friend Lord Dubs, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Grade.

In the light of comments by the noble Lords, Lord Fowler, Lord Grade, Lord Stoneham, Lord Sharkey and Lord Clement-Jones, we also seek reassurance from the Minister that no decision on decriminalising BBC licence non-payment will be taken prior to the review of the royal charter.

We also look forward to the Minister’s response to other issues raised by my noble friends Lady Donaghy, Lady Turner, Lady Andrews, Lord Whitty, Lord Davies, Lord McKenzie and Lord Rooker and the noble Lords, Lord Stoneham, Lord Grade and Lord Clement-Jones, on a range of issues, such as right to buy, London short lets, gangmasters, maritime investigations and even school holidays.

Despite the words of the noble Lord, Lord Sherbourne, there is no demand from consumers for a relaxation of the settled position on Sunday trading. Let us leave

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well alone something that balances family shopping preferences with workers’ rights, the interests of corner shops and the legitimate expectations of churchgoers.

Like the noble Lords, Lord Bew and Lord Brabazon, I welcome paragraph 40 in Part 8 of Schedule 20—and yes, I did read it. It repeals sections of the Defamation Act 1996, as would have been the case with the Private Member’s Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Lester, to which we gave a Second Reading on 27 June, but which now will not be needed in the light of this legislation.

I turn finally to knitting yarns. Perhaps I see myself as une tricoteuse at la Place de la Révolution, or Place de la Concorde as it is now, watching the guillotine fall on the supposed red tape. But this is no revolution. It is a slightly tacky hotchpotch of a Bill, conceived for effect and designed by committee. We will bless the bits that do no harm and welcome the few that help, but we will seek to amend those that pose risks to workers, consumers and to the public at large.

8.25 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I start by declaring an interest of which the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, in his opening speech reminded me. My wife was a member of the previous Government’s Better Regulation Commission from 2006 to 2008. She reminds me that after the change of Prime Minister the previous Labour Government abolished it.

The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, reminded us that what the House of Lords does best, and what is indeed becoming our core role, is to examine the details of legislation placed before us. We can all agree that this Bill has a wealth of detail. Those who got all the way through to Schedule 20 understand that fully and thus we shall have lots to explore at the Committee stage. It is evident from today’s debate that there is particular concern over Clause 1 and Clauses 10 to 12. Many other clauses and parts of schedules have been warmly welcomed. Some have been queried, with much more information requested, and there will indeed be much to explore in Committee which will start when we return in October. I note what is being said about generous time being needed for that stage.

Between now and then the Government, as always, are open to consult off the Floor, with all those who wish to do so, including the Local Government Association, although not within this Bill taking on the whole universe of local licensing, which the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, perhaps suggested. The noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, requested hyperlinks to previous legislation. In informal consultations the other day, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, asked for a Keeling schedule for the entire Bill. We have noted both of those requests and will see what we can do. The noble Lord, Lord Tope, talked about the distinction between better regulation, smart regulation and fit regulation. As the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and others said, there is a difference between deregulation and re-regulation.

One of the things we have learnt over the past few years is that there is a constant need for adjustment and adaptation in regulation. We need to look constantly at what is no longer necessary, even as we look at what is now needed. We need a great deal more regulation

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of the internet, for example. If the noble Lord, Lord Maxton, were here, he would have linked the transformation of broadcasting with that of the transformation of the taxi market by things like Uber and the transformation of short-term lets by the arrival of Airbnb. These are all new phenomena that technology has pushed on us in what one of the contributors remarked as being this fast-changing digital world.

I note, however, that excessive regulation does sink economies. It was not until the crash of the Greek economy and finances that we discovered just how amazingly overregulated the Greek economy was and how much that held it back. I remember as a student the beginnings of the deregulation of the British economy by that nowadays underestimated politician, Edward Heath, in his deregulation of the retail market. The growth agenda is important and we always have to look at it in making sure that old regulations go even as new regulations are sometimes needed.

Underlying some of our discussions there have been suspicions of a hidden agenda: whether or not the health and safety culture is threatened—I wish to assure noble Lords that it is not; whether the BBC is about to be undermined; whether the proposals on marine accidents are really an attempt to get away from marine accident investigations. Again, I can assure noble Lords that they are not. We will come back to those issues in detail in Committee.

A number of other issues have been raised that are not currently within the Bill. The noble Lords, Lord Dubs, Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Grade and Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, referred to the issue of retransmission revenues. I listened with interest to some of this. I think I have received nearly a dozen communications from Virgin Media in Saltaire over the past 12 months. Since it put cable through Saltaire it is extremely keen for us all to subscribe and is sending me some extremely generously printed brochures almost every month.

I take the point that public service broadcasters should not be subsidising commercial enterprises. We are of course willing to talk to others about how and within what framework we address Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, although the Government may be reluctant to concede that that fits appropriately within this Bill.

I noted in Schedule 20 that anyone who keeps a pigsty is part of what we are now repealing. I am just old enough as a small boy to have visited farms where they still had pigsties and indeed once visited a farm where they were in the action of killing a pig. That is part of the thing that no longer takes place and therefore we no longer need it.

We also touched on busking and Sunday trading. I share the feeling of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, that it is probably quite a good thing that we are not tackling Sunday trading as well as everything else on this occasion. Perhaps the next Government will wish to reopen that immediately.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked where the figures for savings from the Bill came from. Officials have prepared a summary table of the Bill and I am very happy to share this with the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, following the debate and to put it in the

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Library for all noble Lords. It is part of the Red Tape Challenge. Many of these are estimates but we are fairly confident that they are not too imprecise.

Clause 1, the health and safety clause, has clearly set a number of concerns running. The prescribed list of high-hazard activities is now being consulted on. The consultation went out today and is available online. It will run for 12 weeks which means that it will be completed by the Committee stage and the regulators will thus be able to issue at least some guidance towards that by the time we are in Committee. The new regulations will use definitions of health and safety already present in law, which means that we are not changing the context of health and safety. In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy, I am informed that Professor Löfstedt wrote to the Commons committee in support of the clause as drafted. We will both investigate further to see who is quoting Professor Löfstedt more directly.

On the question on whether the number of self-employed workers is growing because of the expansion of bogus self-employed contracts, the Government are taking parallel action in other forums to stop the use of such bogus contracts. For example, in this year’s Finance Bill, the Government introduced changes to the agency tax rules to put a stop to the growing use of those requirements. This is not intended to allow any expansion in that area. We are looking at professional people who work at home and do not employ others. That is the category from which we hope to lift unnecessary regulations.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and other noble Lords raised the question of tribunals. There is no evidence to suggest that the wider recommendations prevent reoffence. That is why the Government decided to remove this burden. In one very clear recent case involving the Metropolitan Police and a diplomatic protection officer, the tribunal made no wider recommendations but the Metropolitan Police has made it clear that it recognises that there are wider concerns. I do not think this is such a difficult issue. There is some evidence, which was presented to the Government in the consultation, that this involved additional cost for smaller employers and did not produce great benefit for others.

A lot was said about taxis and private hire vehicles and I am sure that we will have an impassioned debate on this issue in Committee. We are conscious that there is a range of concerns including, as a number of noble Lords have said, questions of safety. The question of the use of private hire vehicles by others when they are off-duty clearly needs to be examined. However, we have looked at the Law Commission recommendations and are satisfied that taking these measures forward neither undermines the Law Commission review nor necessarily means that we will not take the Law Commission proposals into account at a later stage when it produces its Bill.

Parking has also raised a lot of issues for many noble Lords, with the question of CCTV and parking fines. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, that we have not considered the risks of removing the use of CCTV as we are not talking about doing that. There were a number of questions about how CCTV is

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used at a local level, on which all of us have slightly different and ambivalent views. Again, we will come back to that in detail in Committee.

On short-term lets, as someone who had never really thought about this problem previously, I listened with interest. I live close to Wimbledon where, every year, a number of well-off local people seem to let out their houses for two weeks at a time for remarkably large sums. I have to admit that the Wallaces had considered whether we should go away for two weeks. My wife, however, said no, because she actually likes going to Wimbledon herself rather than sitting and watching it on TV. There are some important issues about, first, what is now happening; secondly, why the regulations in London are different from those in the rest of the country; thirdly, how far the evolution of short-term letting through the internet is beginning to change the situation anyway; and fourthly, therefore, how we respond to that.

On the right to buy, we recognise worries about whether there is an underlying agenda and how this will affect the future provision of social housing. A problem we all face with social housing is that the previous Government did not build enough social housing and this Government have so far, disappointingly, not been able to build as much social housing as we would like. Part of what is required under the Bill is that councils which sell houses use the money to build new social housing as part of the deal.

On optional building regulations, Clause 32 will not amend standards related to safety. It will allow for certain requirements to be adapted locally, but will provide for the range of what standards are permissible to be set nationally. I am happy to discuss this further with the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, and others as part of the consultation between now and Committee stage.

Lord Rooker: The Minister referred to 12 weeks earlier. We are going to have at least 12 weeks between Second Reading and the start of Committee stage. That is very unusual. I can see at least 800 or 900 amendments. If events take their course, they will not be tabled until 10 October. Would it not be a good idea for the staff of the House, and the Minister’s own staff who are providing those responses, if we were able to table amendments from, say, 1 September rather than have to put them all in on the day we come back, which would not be conducive to having a decent debate on the Bill? It is a bit unusual, but we are in unusual times. We can do it if we decide to do so. Perhaps the Minister could take some advice and come back on that.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: That is a very constructive suggestion. I will take it away and we will discuss it.

On short-term lets in London, I am told that the question was included in the consultation issued in February last year on a review of the property conditions of the private rented sector. Nearly 100 responses were received and the Government will publish their response shortly.

One of the happy surprises I have in facing this Bill is that my initial feeling that the rights of way clauses of the Bill would be the most difficult turns out not to

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be the case. The Ramblers, the Country Land and Business Association and others have written to me to say that they are united in asking for no further amendments to this part. I hope that we can all hold to that. It is remarkably unusual to find a situation in which all those involved in a deeply contentious area, which has been contentious for a very long time, have come to an agreement and are asking us to put it into law. Let us see how far we can get on that following their consensus.

The noble Lord, Lord Stoneham, and others asked about the TV licensing review. As a matter of course, I can tell him that the terms of reference will be laid in the Libraries of both Houses and the review itself must begin within three months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: That was not the main purpose of most of the comments, which was to allow for a discussion of the terms of reference of that review on the Floor of the Chamber. Simply to place them in the Libraries is not sufficient. Will the noble Lord reconsider that?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I am told that the Government are currently committed to putting the terms of reference to both Houses at a later stage. I think that the noble Lord is asking for an early consultation. Again, let us talk off the Floor and see how far we get on that. My noble friend Lord Gardiner speaks for the DCMS and it may therefore be particularly appropriate that he would speak on that.