There is real food for thought there for policymakers and service designers. We need to learn from the strength of faith-based work but recognise that there are risks,

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1035

both to the state and to the groups, of drawing faith-based groups into delivery. In the past, the state has sometimes sought to bank the advantages and mitigate the risks by somehow trying to separate the activities from the faith community, and that simply does not work. The research shows that.

On community, if Britain is not secular, it is also clearly not solely a Christian country any more and the relations between the various communities are crucial. However, I see some encouraging signs here. I see increasing evidence of religious communities tending to facilitate community-wide dialogue of the kind that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham described. When I went with the riots panel to Birmingham in the wake of the 2011 riots, I was hugely impressed to see the group that he chairs bringing together people from right across the community—from different faith, ethnic and local groups—to work together to tackle their problems. We were all hugely impressed by what we saw there.

Another example would be community organising, which brings together the members of mainstream churches with other religions but also with trade unions, parent bodies, homeless charities and a wide range of organisations. London Citizens is the most notable example, but it was the experience of its members that brought together ideas such as the living wage, which have gone on to be so successful. However, one of the things that citizen organising taught us was to recognise that talking about difference is not necessarily a problem and ignoring it does not necessarily work. When it comes to religion, particularity is everything. It is by talking about our own individual experiences and differences that we get to understand one another and go on to make a difference. At a time when, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich reminded us, politicians are struggling so hard to engage with people, finding faith-based organisations and talking to a wide range of communities might give us a lesson that we can all learn.

1.53 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, I join all other noble Lords in thanking the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, for bringing this debate to the House today. It is an important issue. In doing so, I pay tribute to his enduring contribution to promoting our national heritage and his work, particularly with the Woolf Institute—a point also acknowledged by other noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Blair. I warmly welcome the Woolf Institute’s consultation and look forward to the report next year. I thank the noble and right reverend Lord for his hard work in ensuring that this consultation is shared widely among those of all faiths and none. I also welcome his reference to the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, who could not join us today and I particularly welcome the contribution that he has made to the promotion of understanding faiths across the board.

We should never lose sight of the most significant element of any faith—what it means to each person of any faith. Faith touches on matters of great, fundamental

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1036

importance to the individual—questions of eternal significance. I assure noble Lords that the role of government is not to intrude on those questions, but rather to assert boldly the right of each person to hold his or her own beliefs. Therefore, religion and belief are topics that governments should always approach with great sensitivity—a point well made by the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, and my noble friend Lord Alderdice in their contributions. However, governments have a profound responsibility to provide a just and tolerant framework of laws that enable people of different faiths or of no faith to live side by side. That is a great strength of our nation. Too often, diversity is thought of as a weakness; nay, it is indeed a strength of our great country

Many noble Lords, including the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham, reflected on our Christian heritage—a heritage that has been built over 14 centuries. Earlier this year, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister used his Easter address to speak about the importance of Christianity and Britain’s status as a Christian country. Speaking from personal experience of our country, my foundation in education was at a Church of England school. That did not make me less of a Muslim or more of a Christian, but it taught me a profound respect for beliefs, religions and traditions. It is a tradition that we should continue with. I feel strongly in that regard.

I believe that faith is a force for good. As the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, reminded us, many a prophet of yesteryear would be regarded today as radical as they were then. Let us not forget that they set the ball rolling in terms of teaching greater compassion and wrestling with the things that we are still wrestling with today such as the abolition of slavery, which was very much their pretext. I agree that people of faith sometimes need to wrestle back certain terms to ensure their true meaning.

An article in the Telegraph recently, written by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, warned of secularism, while it has a place, becoming so aggressive that it attacks religion in all respects and encourages intolerance towards others. I reinforce the Secretary of State’s words that the best response is to champion values that define our country, many of which are founded in faith. At heart, we are a Christian nation—from the established church in England to the language of the King James Bible, deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. But most importantly, we are, as several noble Lords mentioned, a place of justice and tolerance towards others. My noble friend Lord Alderdice mentioned that. Our defence of freedom, the rule of law and the evolution of our democracy have all grown from the seedbed of faith.

It has been interesting to see the role that faith has played in helping our immigrant communities to integrate into British society. As Minister for communities, including faith and integration, I wrestle with the challenges that communities pose. Since time immemorial and even in the past 100 years, communities of different cultures and faiths have settled here. Yes, we have had a few challenges and we have had ups and downs, but we have

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1037

determined together to emerge and we have done so as a more resilient, stronger and more diverse nation, and we shall continue to do so. We need only look at the Christian community, with the migration of the Irish and Polish communities, which have seen a strengthening of practice at Catholic mass.

Turning to this Government’s record of engagement, my noble friend Lord Singh of Wimbledon—I call him my noble friend because we share Wimbledon in our titles—mentioned one Government saying that they had done more than another. I think that we can agree across the Chamber that this is about recognising what others have done and building positively on those foundations for our future. But I am mindful of the fact that this Government have taken certain actions in recognising minority communities—and, indeed, minority communities within minority communities. I was delighted to join the Secretary of State at the Hounslow Big Iftar with the Ismaili Muslim community, which is a great example of what is best about being British and proud of your faith—great company, food and music and concern for humanity, which is what we find across many faiths.

My department also has a strong record of engagement with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a community that has provided a beacon of hope, perseverance and charitable giving in our country. In addition to the Secretary of State’s visit to their Tower of London event marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I recently took part in their annual peace symposium. The event brought together more than 800 people and amplified the Ahmadiyya community’s resounding and heart-warming maxim, “Love for all, hatred for none”.

It was an honour also recently to meet Dr Rajesh Parmar, of the International Siddhashram Shakti Centre, and Satya Minhas, of the Hindu Council UK and the Metropolitan Police Hindu Association, at the International Siddhashram Shakti Centre in Harrow earlier this month, an occasion to mark the sterling and often forgotten contribution of soldiers of minority faiths who served so gallantly in the First World War. It has also been a great pleasure, in my first few months in this role, to meet some of the key people in British faith circles today. Prominent among those were the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Nichols the Archbishop of Westminster. I look forward to my meeting in early December with the Chief Rabbi. These people are at the apex of their respective faiths and I look forward to working with them as we look at some of our challenges, building on how faiths can work together.

My noble friend Lord Cormack talked about the church and its ideas for a new charter in celebration of the anniversary of Magna Carta. The noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, alluded to this as well. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, that perhaps a sign of the importance of the role that the Bishops play is the fact that my noble friend directed his question not to the Minister on the Front Bench but to the Bishops on the spiritual Benches. I look forward to working with them as an extension of my work in this area. Again, that underlines the importance of faith communities and, as many noble Lord recognised, the diversity of faith representation in this House.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1038

I turn to the church communities and their role. Let us not forget that the heartbeat of many communities up and down the country is the parish church, where people go not just to worship but to raise money for charity, take part in recreational activities and, indeed, socialise.

Let me assure all noble Lords—I shall come on to the challenging issue of extremism in a moment—that I recognise the importance of education, a point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, my noble friend Lady Falkner and the noble Lord, Lord Blair. I am sure that noble Lords are aware that the Government have opened a consultation on the teaching of faith at GCSE and A-level. I encourage all noble Lords to contribute to the consultation, which I believe closes on 29 December. I feel a bit like the noble Lord, Lord Stone, plugging the mindfulness course—I am sure that that was also noted by many a noble Lord and that they will be lining up to sign up after this debate.

Parish churches are joined by many places of worship and faith communities in weaving the moral fabric, as the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, said, of what Britain is today, providing comfort to those who feel isolated, responding in times of trouble to relieve hardship and building communities of trust. Ultimately, the crucial element in building a society which is cohesive is that of respect. The Government actively celebrate the vital role of faith in our national life, guiding the moral outlook of many, inspiring great numbers of people to do public service and providing help to those in need, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham reminded us.

This has been most apparent through some of the work this Government have been directly supporting. Our integration policy and projects aim to break down barriers, emphasise local action and bring people together—celebrating what we have in common rather than what divides us, as my noble friend Lord Cormack said so eloquently. Recognising the catalyst of building on the hard work that happens not just in countless churches but in mosques, temples, gurdwaras and synagogues, as well as in many church and community halls, the Government are working together with communities locally to set in motion successful projects for further developing effective, friendly, working and respectful relationships between people of different faiths and none, so as to tackle social challenges.

We have therefore invested, for example, £8 million in the Church Urban Fund’s Near Neighbours programme. I notice that my noble friend Lady Eaton, who is involved in that project, is in her place. That programme is using the Church of England parish system to build productive local relationships between people of different faiths in areas of high deprivation. Only last month I was fortunate enough to visit the city of Bradford, a diverse city of many faiths, where I saw several social action projects on the ground, including one of the 721 Near Neighbours projects happening in England and Wales. The “Thank U Bradford” project, led by the energetic Pastor Ben Ayesu, is taking asylum seekers around Bradford to clean up the town in terms of graffiti, changing perceptions in people’s minds. Such projects encourage cross-cultural and cross-faith friendships while enabling participants to make a positive contribution to the local area.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1039

I also had the opportunity to meet representatives of Bradford’s Muslim community, including the very dynamic Imam Asim, as well as representatives of various Sikh communities in the area. In addition, the Government are supporting the Together in Service programme, launched last year, to further strengthen faith-based social action throughout the country. We are investing more than £300,000 in this programme over two years. There are 43 projects now running, from Nottingham to Blackburn and Ealing. The list is quite extensive.

Perhaps nowhere is this reflected more than in our recently celebrated national Inter Faith Week. I am pleased to say there were more than 200 organised events across the country during Inter Faith Week in 2014, with more events still being reported. The noble Lord, Lord Singh, talked about interfaith matters with great compassion and great presence, as he always does. He talked of the satnav of religion. I say to him, and I am sure that many of all faiths would agree, that we may have satnavs of different models, which probably tell us to take different directions, but we hope that the starting point and the end point are always the same.

Poignantly, at this time of year, we remember those who gave their lives on foreign battlefields. We must not forget those from the Commonwealth who fought so bravely for our country. I was pleased to have been part of We Remember Too, a project to acknowledge and commemorate the role of soldiers of minority faiths, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Zoroastrians and others, who answered the call to arms. We remember and commemorate the bravery of the likes of Frank Alexander de Pass, Darwan Singh Negi and Khudadad Khan, the first soldiers of the Jewish, Hindu and Muslim faiths to receive the Victoria Cross as a result of brave activity during the First World War.

Highlighting the part played by the 400,000 Muslims —it is pertinent in the modern age to reflect on that—who fought for Britain in the First World War, for example, is one of the ways this Government are committed to showing that you can be proudly British and proud of your faith. I am testament to this; I am not self-conflicted and, in my case, I am proud of my faith in Islam. We recognise that people of all faiths are crucial to Britain’s history and British life today, as the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, mentioned.

The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, talked about the reading of the Koran in the cathedral. Let me share with noble Lords that during the recent Big Iftar, the month-long celebration of Ramadan, we saw Jewish synagogues open their doors to the community for the opening of the fast. That is the strength of our country. Our many faith groups live and breathe alongside each other; indeed, they give oxygen to each other, showing the extent of diversity in our great country. Together we are one family and that is where we reveal our greatest strength. As we build a strong nation, united in our belief in the primacy of our shared values, while celebrating the fact that our differences enrich us, as the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, said, we challenge those who have no wish to contribute to our society or, worse still, to disrupt and attack our very way of life.

I turn to the issue of extremism. Let me make it absolutely clear—I am sure that it is a sentiment shared by all—that extremism has no place in Britain

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1040

and will not be tolerated. It creates environments conducive to violence and terrorism; it encourages segregation, disrespect for other cultures and restricted rights for women and for minorities. As my noble friend Lord Fowler said so passionately, differences, not just on gender or religion but on sexual orientation, cannot be allowed to destroy what Britain is today.

Turning to some specific questions, the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, and the noble Lord, Lord Singh, talked about the international day of non-violence—perhaps it is apt that I answered a Question on that a few days ago. I commend my right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary for their work in this area. We are working across government to ensure this issue is given full focus.

The noble Lord, Lord Warner, talked about indoctrination and abuse in schools, including elements of extremism. I agree with his assertion about the value of a broad-based education and commend the work he does. I remember answering a debate on the contribution of humanists to our great country.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham and the noble Lord, Lord Warner, raised the Trojan horse issues arising in Birmingham. I assure noble Lords that the Government are supporting institutions to identify and confront extremist influences. For example, we are improving inspection regimes, strengthening the rules for schools and demanding more from universities to prevent radicalisation on campus.

My noble friend Lord Alderdice talked about not oversimplifying interpretations of religion which can contribute to the risk of radicalisation and extremism. I assure my noble friend that the Government are developing a strategy for tackling extremism. We know that an important part of that strategy will be engaging with faith leaders of all denominations to ensure that the right voices, the voices of tolerance, moderation and respect, gain greater influence.

My noble friend Lady Falkner of Margravine spoke passionately about faith schools and education. It is essential that all schools prepare children for modern life. The recent Ofsted reports highlighted important failings in some Tower Hamlets schools. The Government are working with local school leaders and governors to ensure that children are not put at risk by the rise of extremism.

The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, also talked about faith schools, divisions and extremism. I recognise the serious points he made in this regard. The counterterrorism Bill announced by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary this week includes important measures to tackle internet radicalisation by extremists and terrorists. We acknowledge the value and challenges of online. That is where faith communities have a role. The right voices, the moderate voices, the voices of respect, should come forward and beat that challenge on the internet.

In my last few minutes, I shall turn to a few other points that were raised. My noble friend Lord Fowler spoke passionately about extending what we do internationally. It is important that the Government play their role. The noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill, also spoke with great expertise and insight. The right to equality of belief must be afforded to all. It is deeply regrettable that

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1041

religious minorities, including Christians, are suffering great persecution around the world. The Government are committed to supporting the fundamental human right to freedom of religion or belief abroad, and we stress to Governments around the world the importance of respecting universal human rights, including religious rights, and the rights of all minorities, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, pointed out. The Government have taken a strong lead in promoting equality and challenging prejudices abroad.

Recently, I had the honour and the emotional experience of going to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I stood on that barren land, it reminded me of some of the challenges that confronted faith communities from someone who sought to eradicate a particular faith at a particular time. Britain has stood strong against such tyranny and will continue to do so. In the process of countering extremism, whether tackling anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim hatred, projects such as Tell MAMA, Remembering Srebrenica and the £2.1 million we allocate to Auschwitz-Birkenau ensure that these issues are not taken off the agenda. Strength in the face of adversity is something that all faiths give us as well as the strength to overcome tyranny. Standing in the barren grounds of Auschwitz just two weeks ago reminded me how far we have come and also of how important it is to continue to eradicate bigotry in all its forms.

In this ever-changing world we live in, one thing remains constant, and that is faith. It has survived the test of time and continues to breathe life into communities up and down the UK. We should be proud of how many faiths contribute to our national life today. What faith provides is unique, pure and, for many, irreplaceable. For millions, the faith they hold, whether based on the Torah, the Koran or some other source, is not only a personal, internal matter but a great motivator towards social action and a powerful impetus to change the world for the better.

Let us not forget those of no faith who feel equally as passionate about their position in society and who are equally passionate in serving humanity and their country. Those who expound a more secularist view also have deep respect and compassion and wish to make the world a better place.

This is a view we all treasure to help build the Britain we all treasure. This is what the Government support and will continue to support because it is a key element of the kind of society we want to build. I have no doubt whatever that the world of faith and those who follow the true teaching and the true meanings of a peaceful faith will continue to do good, as has been the case for centuries, and will rise to the challenges of today in providing hope to millions, in particular in ensuring unstinting service to humanity.

2.15 pm

Lord Harries of Pentregarth: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate. There was a wide range of contributions, some very analytical and thoughtful and others which were very deeply felt about particular issues. I shall not mention noble Lords by name, but I thank the Minister for his clear personal commitment to this area.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1042

A few noble Lords were worried about the words “religion and belief” in the title. I understand that, but the commission was advised that all the most authoritative documents in this field now use that phrase, which is why it was chosen.

A number of noble Lords mentioned the positive role religion plays in our society at both local and national level. That was good to hear. Equally, there was a wide range of criticisms of the role of religion in education and, in particular from the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, about its attitude to same-sex relationships. Justified criticism of religion should be encouraged for the sake of religion itself. It is quite unequivocally in the interests of religion that justifiable criticism be encouraged.

I do not believe that humanism—many noble Lords are humanists—should be seen purely in negative terms as a criticism of religion. The word “humanist” goes back to renaissance times when all those who designated themselves humanists were Christians. For them, it meant not just a revival of classical learning but a belief in human flourishing. I suggest that the great national gathering recommended by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, which no doubt he would like to take place in Lincoln next year, should be a gathering not just of people with religious views but should include people from the British Humanist Society, as 25.1% of people in the country now define themselves as having no religion and many of those define themselves as humanists.

We have talked a lot about trying to build common ground between religions, but there is a need in our society to build common ground between religious believers and those who have no religion but regard themselves as humanists. This is particularly important at the moment because, as Michael Sandel has pointed out, for the past 30 years, our society has been dominated by a combination of social and market liberalism. In other words, people have believed only in one value: unfettered individual choice. This is because we lack any proper concept of the common good and what it is to be a good society. As he said, if as liberals we are frightened of getting into that debate because we disagree about it,

“Fundamentalists rush in where liberals fear to tread”.

I very much hope that this great national gathering will invite humanists and that we will be able to work at getting a much stronger, thicker understanding of what it is to live in a good society.

Motion agreed

Scotland: Smith Commission


2.19 pm

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Statement is as follows.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a Statement to the House about the further devolution process in Scotland and the publication of the heads

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1043

of agreement resulting from Lord Smith’s five-party talks. As the Prime Minister has already said this morning, we back the agreement and its recommendations and will produce draft legislation in January. The referendum on independence held on 18 September 2014 saw Scotland vote decisively to remain within our UK family of nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, backed by the strength, security and stability of the United Kingdom. The turnout across Scotland was nearly 85% and more than 2 million people made a positive choice for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

During the referendum campaign, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition made a joint commitment to deliver more powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Smith commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, was up and running on 19 September. Lord Smith convened cross-party talks to reach agreement on the proposals for further devolution to Scotland. This process has been thorough and extensive. The party representatives were drawn from the five main political parties in Scotland; the first time ever that all five have participated in a devolution process. I would echo the comments of Lord Smith himself in the foreword to his report. He said:

‘This agreement is, in itself, an unprecedented achievement. It demanded compromise from all of the parties. In some cases that meant moving to devolve greater powers than they had previously committed to, while for other parties it meant accepting the outcome would fall short of their ultimate ambitions. It shows that, however difficult, our political leaders can come together, work together, and reach agreement with one another’.

In preparing the report, Lord Smith heard from a wide range of Scottish civic institutions and members of the public. Over 400 submissions were received from organisations and groups and over 18,000 submissions, including e-mails, letters and signatures to petitions, from people right across Scotland. The Smith commission has today produced a comprehensive heads of agreement ahead of the St Andrew’s Day deadline contained in the timetable set out. This is a significant achievement and is an historic moment for Scotland. I would like to thank Lord Smith and the party representatives for their work. They have worked hard against a challenging timetable covering an enormous area of ground. This work will deliver a substantial package of new powers to the Scottish Parliament. The heads of agreement provides for a durable but responsive constitutional settlement for Scotland within the United Kingdom. It gives greater financial responsibility to the Scottish Parliament with an updated fiscal framework for Scotland, consistent with the overall UK fiscal framework.

For the first time, over 50% of the money spent by the Scottish Government will be funded by the Scottish Government. This is an important step which builds on the measures brought forward by this Government in the Scotland Act 2012 and further increases the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament to the people of Scotland. The recommendations provide for key welfare measures to be designed by and delivered in Scotland. This will give the Scottish Parliament the tools—and the responsibility—to tackle a range of issues with specific consideration of local circumstances, including those related to social care, long-term unemployment and housing, while continuing to benefit

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1044

from the strength and stability of the UK-wide system. The recommendations build on the already significant powers of the Scottish Parliament in social justice and a range of other policy areas. Together, these recommendations give greater responsibility for more decisions affecting Scotland to be made in the Scottish Parliament and paid for by revenue raised by the Scottish Parliament.

Further devolution is just one part of this story. People in Scotland were unequivocally clear on 18 September that Scotland should retain the security of being part of our United Kingdom. The Smith commission’s remit was clear—to set out proposals for further devolution within the United Kingdom—and this remit was signed up to by all parties participating in the process, including the Scottish Government. The conclusions reached by the parties ensure a set of proposals that do not cause detriment to the United Kingdom as a whole or any of its constituent parts. The Government are committed to ensuring that Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom continue to prosper from our single domestic market, our social union and the strength that comes from the pooling and sharing of risks. People in Scotland voted on 18 September for the jobs and opportunities that are created by being part of a larger United Kingdom with one currency, no borders and more money to spend on public services in Scotland. People in Scotland want to keep the advantages of a UK pound, UK pensions, UK Armed Forces and a strong UK voice in the world. The package that has been announced today allows that to happen.

As the Prime Minister has already made clear, the Government back the heads of agreement and its recommendations and we will get on with producing draft legislation. The draft clauses will be produced by Burns Night, 25 January, meeting the next phase in our commitment to the people of Scotland. That work begins today. A team has been set up to bring together lead officials in the Scotland Office, HM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Cabinet Office. This team will work closely with all lead policy departments within the United Kingdom Government and the team will remain in place ready to deliver a Bill in the UK Parliament following the UK General Election. To support the preparation of the draft legislation I have invited key Scottish stakeholders representing a wide range of different sectors to form a stakeholder group. I will provide further details of the membership and terms of reference of the group in due course, but it is my intention that it will support the Government’s work translating the heads of agreement into the draft legislation that we will publish by 25 January.

As Lord Smith said in the foreword to his report:

‘Through this process I have worked closely with people who can argue passionately with one another while sharing an equal concern and love for their country. I would like to thank them all for their input, challenge and support. I hope that, in the end, they can work together, maintain their energy and use it to create a Scotland which is even stronger and even better’.

Having a more powerful Scottish Parliament inside a strong United Kingdom is the best outcome for the people of Scotland. This is what we voted for on 18 September. Today’s report is an affirmation of the vow that was made in September. It is an historic moment for Scotland.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1045

The cause of home rule has been at the heart of Scottish politics since the days of Gladstone. This agreement provides a modern blueprint for Scottish home rule within our strong United Kingdom. Home rule for Scotland can open the door to constitutional reform for the whole of the UK. We can deliver home rule all round”.

2.26 pm

Lord McAvoy (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for advance sight of the Statement and join him and the Secretary of State in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Kelvin, for his work and for this report. I pay tribute to the right honourable member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, whose proposals during the referendum set us on the way to delivering this historic agreement. Anyone who witnessed the towering statement by Gordon Brown that day will always remember it.

As the Secretary of State said in the other place, this is an historic day for Scotland. Ten weeks ago the people of Scotland, in overwhelming numbers, confirmed Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. That mandate was received from the people of Scotland, but it is not to say that we should not take into account the people who voted yes. However, it should always be remembered that the people voted for Scotland’s place in the UK. It was also a decision made on the highest turnout ever seen in this country. It was a vote for change: a change in the way Scotland is governed; a change that will see more decisions taken closer to people; but safer, faster and better change as part of the UK. This is a promise kept and an agreement delivered. The Labour Party was very clear that it would honour the promises made during the referendum. This has been achieved in a co-operative and constructive process, working in the spirit of consensus that people across Scotland had the right to expect. That is why we wholly endorse the recommendations of the Smith commission and we give our guarantee to the people of Scotland that, if we are in government after May, we will legislate for these powers in our first Queen’s Speech.

This agreement will see more powers over tax, welfare and jobs transferred to the Scottish Parliament. We have secured guarantees over the voting rights of Scottish MPs on the Budget and on the continuation of the Barnett formula. We believe this provides the best deal for the people of Scotland. The agreement also means £3 billion of welfare spending at Holyrood. This is an extensive package of powers, which many people said could not and would not be delivered. Today’s deal is in fact more radical and goes further than many had anticipated. Very importantly, it also respects the outcome of the referendum in ensuring that Scotland still benefits from pooling and sharing across the UK.

On this side of the House, we believe that the principle we have worked to today—pushing power closer to people—should be followed for the rest of the country. That is why we will continue to call for a constitutional convention to be established to consider how this can be achieved, working with all the nations and regions of the UK.

Now that agreement has been reached, will the Minister tell the House how the recommendations of the Smith commission will be implemented, what the

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1046

timetable will be and how noble Lords will be involved in the next stage of the process as the draft clauses are produced? We want to know how the timetable will be put through both Houses. Given the success of cross-party working, will he tell the House how the parties involved in the Smith commission process will be involved in this next stage?

As the noble Lord, Lord Smith, pointed out in his statement this morning, these additional powers will also mean that the Scottish Parliament’s own processes will need to be strengthened to enable it to hold that Government to account. What consultation will there now be with the Scottish Parliament to ensure that it is well prepared for this transfer of powers? Lastly, the noble Lord, Lord Smith, also recommended closer working between the Scottish Parliament and Government and this Parliament and the UK Government. How do the Government intend to take forward this recommendation?

For the past two years our country has divided along yes and no lines. As Scotland’s five political parties come together, today marks an important moment for us to look forward. I am confident that Labour will deliver these new powers in our first Queen’s Speech next May. More power is now in Scotland’s hands, and it is for all of us to work together to create the better country we want.

2.31 pm

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, for his remarks, his welcome of this and the commitment of the Labour Party to the implementation of the heads of agreement and recommendations. I pick up what he said about this having been a co-operative and constructive process; that is very much to be welcomed, and I know that there are those in your Lordships’ House today who have the T-shirt from the Scottish constitutional convention and took part in the Calman commission. What was missing from both of those was the engagement of all the political parties in Scotland. It is therefore significant that this is an agreement in which all five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament were involved.

The noble Lord asked me about the timetable for implementation. As has been made clear, there is a commitment that the draft clauses will be available by 25 January, Burns night. The Prime Minister indicated today, and the Secretary of State indicated in the other place, that that is a timetable we intend to stick by. The Secretary of State also indicated that he intends to set up a stakeholder group, which presumably would include political parties but go beyond the political parties for involvement. He said that that group should support the Government’s work in translating the heads of agreement, which I hope again will involve the parties.

I certainly share the view of closer working between Governments and between Parliaments. The Calman commission did a bit of work on that, so some thought has already been given to it. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Smith, also recommended that the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament should meet to address some of the issues, not least regarding an explanation of what the powers of the respective Parliaments are.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1047

Public education and information is required on that. I think I am right in saying that the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament has already set in train a report or some mechanism to look at the way in which the Scottish Executive—the Scottish Government— can be more accountable to the Scottish Parliament. It is also worth noting that, whatever seems to play out on the public stage day in and day out, there is very good co-operation between officials in the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and between Ministers, over a whole range of issues. There is a lot of good work to build on.

2.34 pm

Lord Higgins (Con): My Lords, this important report brings forward further proposals implementing the three commitments made by the three main party leaders in the final days—some may think that they were somewhat chaotic or even rather panicky days—of the referendum campaign. Does my noble friend agree, though, that the crucial sentence in this report states that,

“rules will ensure that neither the Scottish nor UK Governments will lose or gain financially from the act of transferring a power”?

That is very important but, if that is so, where is the point in transferring some of the VAT revenue to Scotland if it will then be offset by a change in the block grant, which is the obvious implication of that sentence? The other important sentence states:

“The Barnett Formula will continue to be used to determine the remaining block grant”.

Lord Barnett himself said that that formula was defective. Indeed, if it continues in the way in which the report suggests, that will effectively solidify the situation embodied in the Barnett formula, which I believe is unfair for UK taxpayers. We ought not simply to solidify that position.

The Scots Parliament would be given power over income tax rates and allowances. Why should that be any different in Scotland from the UK if it has no implication for the allocation of resources? There is no real reason to believe that.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, my noble friend raises a number of important issues regarding the tax proposals in the heads of agreement. He is right to draw attention to the fact that there should be no detriment as a result of the decision to devolve further power. What is intended is that at the point of transfer, the value of the tax receipts that have been transferred will be deducted from the block grant. Thereafter, it is a matter for the Scottish Parliament to determine the tax rates and how the books are balanced. Under the Azores judgment in the European Court of Justice we cannot do anything other than that. With regard to VAT, it is obviously in the interest of the Scottish Government to propose policies that will raise the buoyancy of the Scottish economy so that VAT receipts would be greater. Likewise—depending on how well their policies go—the more economic activity, the greater the income tax receipts that they will receive. Of course, the counter is also the same: if they screw it up, the tax receipts are liable to be less and there will be consequences for that, which is an important point of accountability.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1048

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, as we make progress with Scottish devolution, as we consider the clauses and as these meetings take place, do we not all agree that it will be understandable if resentment grows in England because of the English democratic deficit? If we can agree the vow effectively overnight, and if the Smith commission can be set up so quickly, why is it that the parties—the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Labour Party—cannot get together and get the UK constitutional convention up and running as quickly as possible so that we can look at the situation in the whole of the UK in a comprehensive and holistic way?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I know that the noble Lord has regularly put forward the case for a UK-wide constitutional convention. As I said when your Lordships’ House debated these issues on 29 October, the Government will consider proposals for the establishment of such a convention. While it is important that we debate these things, it is also important that we engage with the wider public. Let me make it clear that today’s heads of agreements should not in any way be held up by any constitutional convention, but I am sure that there is no shortage of issues that could be sent to such a convention.

Lord Maclennan of Rogart (LD): My Lords, bearing in mind that the Smith commission had only 11 weeks in which to prepare its report, the outcome should be regarded as a useful first step towards further devolution to the Scottish Parliament and Government. Do Her Majesty’s Government agree, however, that since its proposals cannot be enacted before the general election in May, and since the commission itself referred to,

“the additional variability and uncertainty that further tax and spending devolution will introduce into the budgeting process”,

it would be wise for the three parties, in support of what the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, has said, now to set up a commission to appoint a convention involving the public on the future constitution of the United Kingdom? This would enable consideration and analysis of this report to be given by those affected in order to seek a real consensus across the United Kingdom on the Smith commission’s recommendations.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, as I indicated to the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, there is clearly an agenda that could go to a UK-wide constitutional convention. It is certainly not the policy of the Government—nor, I think, of the Labour Party—that the matters in the Smith commission report should be the subject of a subsequent constitutional convention. If we were to do that, we would be accused of breaking the vow. It is not our intention to do that; the intention is to have the draft clauses by 25 January, and that will pave the way for commitments in respect of party manifestos and for legislation to be pretty well ready for the incoming Government after the May election. I know that my noble friend has regularly put forward the case for a wider UK constitutional convention. As I said, and as the Leader of the House of Commons said in a debate on 14 October, there is merit in that idea, given that the British constitution is a living entity. No one will pretend in the coming months that it has reached a perfect form, whatever we decide on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1049

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, while the fact that there is an agreement is certainly welcome, the content of the agreement will perhaps prove that allowing 11 weeks to make decisions of this nature is not necessarily the best strategy. I think that in the longer term everybody involved may come to regret putting all the eggs in the income tax basket rather than looking at a spread of taxes.

I want to ask two specific questions of the Advocate-General today. First, given that the assignation of VAT is not the devolution of a power to vary tax, will he, or the Secretary of State, publish the calculation that leads to the claim that 50% of taxation is now devolved to the Scottish Parliament? I cannot see how that calculation has been made. Secondly—partly endorsing the points made by my noble friend Lord McAvoy—the four additional points made by the noble Lord, Lord Smith, in his introduction to the report seem to be almost as important as the actual devolution of more powers. Will the Government give an unequivocal statement of support for those four additional points and do everything they can to support the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and, indeed, Scottish civic society to ensure that they are implemented alongside the new powers that are now on the way?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I hope that we will be able to set out some infographics—if that is the current “in” word—showing how the tax take of the Scottish Parliament will relate to spending, bearing in mind that the spending of the Scottish Parliament is going to go up as a result of these proposals. The denominator is an important factor in that. I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Kelvin, on the TV broadcast of his announcement this morning. I hope that nobody is going to ask me to remind them what the four points were, but, like the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, I thought that they were all very pertinent. They were points that had been made by many people in your Lordships’ House and by others. The one that sticks out in my mind—because it has been a theme in a number of our debates—is the importance of decentralisation generally: that to devolve power from Westminster to Edinburgh is only part of the story. There has to be further decentralisation within Scotland because the last seven years have seen considerable centralisation within Scotland.

Lord Baker of Dorking (Con): My Lords, this is a very important Statement, which is worthy of longer consideration than a short question period late on a Thursday. I hope that the Leader of the House recognises that we expect a very full debate on this matter in this House.

Will the Minister reply to what I describe as the “Dorking question”? If the Member for Glasgow Central in the other place, who has no control over the taxation affecting his constituents, none the less has the power to affect the taxation of my former constituents in Dorking, how will this be reconciled with any democratic process? It is a topsy-turvy situation. In the 18th century, the great cry was, “No taxation without representation”; the cry today would be, “Without representation, no taxation”.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1050

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My noble friend makes a point that a number of people and commentators have been making. When we had our debate, my noble friend Lord Lexden said that in the days of Joseph Chamberlain and Gladstone that very issue was being debated in the Irish context. We have gone beyond the stage of saying that the best answer to the so-called West Lothian question was not to ask it. Those days are past, and the Prime Minister said this morning that there will be a publication of proposals on what is now called “English votes for English laws”. I resist using the acronym EVEL, because that might sometimes be a misrepresentation, but a publication of proposals will be out before Christmas and we will wait to see it. It is a proper question and a fair one, but some of the answers are not entirely straightforward.

Lord Richard (Lab): My Lords, I should like to ask the Minister a question in a slightly different Celtic context. He will recognise that detailed proposals are being produced for Scotland. He will also recognise that, in that event, the situation in Wales cannot be allowed to continue as it is at present. I draw attention to two points. First, do the Government have any proposals that they wish to make to the people and the Government of Wales in respect of tax powers being devolved to Wales on a similar basis to those being devolved to Scotland? Secondly, how on earth can the Government justify saying that the Barnett formula should continue to apply? I listened to the Secretary of State making his Statement in the Commons this morning and he said at one stage, “Well, nobody has been able to think of anything better”. Would the Minister care to pass on to the Secretary of State the report of your Lordships’ committee on the Barnett formula? He will find that we went into it in great detail and produced an alternative that, in my submission at any rate, was clear, cogent and practicable, and it would have been effective. For the Government now to accept that the Barnett formula should continue seems to me absolutely preposterous.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I know that the noble Lord is well aware that the Wales Bill, which had a Third Reading in your Lordships’ House on Monday of this week, makes provision for the devolution of tax powers to Wales. They are subject to a referendum, but of course Scotland had a referendum on the principle of tax powers back in 1997. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales has also indicated that he will produce a reserved powers framework for Wales by St David’s Day. I think someone said that it was just as well that St George’s Day is during “purdah” or we would have yet another commitment for England.

On the question of the Barnett formula, the leaders of the three UK political parties made it clear that the formula will continue; but with regard to Wales—and I am aware of the importance of this, having been the spokesman for the Wales Office in your Lordships’ House for two years—the United Kingdom and Welsh Governments have established a joint process to review relative levels of funding for Wales and England in advance of each spending review. That process is not affected by the commitments contained in the Smith commission proposals.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1051

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, does the Minister accept that, while of course promises given by leaders must be honoured, and we accept that clauses—which I hope will be debated in this House in detail—will be produced by 25 January, there is a real danger in deadline democracy? There is no situation in politics or any other aspect of life that is not made worse by panic.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I heed what my noble friend says. It is also fair to say that much in the heads of agreement that has emerged today is based on previous work. In my party’s case, it was done by a commission under the chairmanship of my right honourable friend Sir Menzies Campbell. Proposals came from the work done by the Labour Party. The Conservative Party produced proposals through a committee chaired by my noble friend Lord Strathclyde. So the Smith commission had a considerable volume of work available to it to help to formulate its proposals. My noble friend, and my noble friend Lord Baker, mentioned the opportunity to debate. My noble friend the Leader of the House is here, and the understandable wish for further debate will certainly be taken on board by the usual channels.

Lord Soley (Lab): My Lords, this is a very clear Statement by the Minister on the way forward for Scotland. Does he accept that this also provides a great opportunity for all four parts of the United Kingdom to look at how we organise our government, both devolved government between the four parts of the United Kingdom and government of the United Kingdom itself? That is why so many of us say that there needs to be a constitutional convention. If we do not take it forward in that way, there is a real risk that we will drift into making short-term amendments to our constitutional arrangements which do not solve some of the problems that exist not just within England but within Wales and between the four parts of the United Kingdom. I know that the Minister is treading a fine line here, but I strongly urge that a constitutional convention is considered as taking an opportunity, rather than leaving the risk that we begin to make back-of-a-fag-packet amendments.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soley, who I know has had a strong interest in these issues and how they affect not only Scotland but other parts of the United Kingdom. I repeat that the Government have made it clear that they will consider proposals for the establishment of a convention. As my noble friend Lord McConnell, who is sitting beside the noble Lord, knows, a convention is not necessarily a quick answer, but nor should it be an excuse for kicking things into the long grass.

Lord Shipley (LD): I ask the Minister a specific question about air passenger duty. I refer to paragraphs 86 and 95 of the Smith commission report. Paragraph 86 gives the Scottish Parliament the power to charge tax on air passengers leaving Scottish airports, or it can decide to abolish it. That is the existing policy under the Scottish Parliament. However, the abolition of APD in Scotland but not in England would give a huge competitive advantage in the cost of air fares to those flying from Scotland compared to those flying

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1052

from the north of England. I wonder whether, in line with the no-detriment principle in paragraph 95, the Government have any plans, should Scotland abolish APD, to abolish APD across the north of England.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My noble friend makes an interesting point, which I am sure my colleagues in the Treasury will note. I recall considering APD during the Calman commission. First, there is no guarantee. My noble friend says that the current policy of the Scottish Government is to abolish it or change the rates, but if they reduce one tax, they have to find the money for some of their spending commitments, which are not small, somewhere else. Therefore, I do not think we can necessarily be sure how that power, when devolved, will be used. Many other factors will come into a passenger’s choice of airport other than APD. If one was travelling, let us say, from Hull, I am not sure that one would want to take on the extra journey to go to Edinburgh, bypassing Newcastle, to start a journey. APD is only one part of a passenger’s choice.

Lord Hamilton of Epsom (Con): My Lords, if my noble friend Lord Maclennan is right and this is the first step towards devolution—I must say that I thought that we had had a few already and that there are more to come—are not those steps all a ratchet turning in one direction, which is towards the independence of Scotland? Secondly, if we are granting the right to raise income tax in Scotland and, incidentally, corporation tax in Northern Ireland, does that not completely undermine the single currency of the United Kingdom?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I do not believe that this is a one-way street to independence—far from it. The majority of the Scottish people on 18 September clearly indicated that they wanted to be part of the United Kingdom. The terms of reference of the Smith commission were that these proposals should be consistent with the integrity of the United Kingdom. The principles agreed by members of the commission were that the proposals had to be in the context of a United Kingdom.

That leads into the second part of my noble friend’s question. With regard to Scotland’s fiscal framework and borrowing powers, the report states:

“Borrowing powers should be set within an overall Scottish fiscal framework and subject to fiscal rules agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments based on clear economic principles, supporting evidence and thorough assessment of the relevant economic situation”.

Therefore, considerable tax powers, including on income tax, the definition of a taxpayer, personal allowances, taxation of savings and investment income, will all still be the responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament. The proposals have to be considered in the context of the remit that was given: to be consistent with maintaining our United Kingdom.

National Lottery: 20th Anniversary

Question for Short Debate

2.56 pm

Asked by Baroness Rawlings

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the National Lottery in the United Kingdom on its 20th anniversary.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1053

Baroness Rawlings (Con): My Lords, it is a pleasure to return to a topic that I spoke on for the first time in your Lordships’ House 20 years ago. I am conscious of the wealth of expertise and knowledge that noble Lords bring to the subject, and I look forward to their contributions today.

The National Lottery has undoubtedly been a huge success, operated successfully by Camelot since its inception, making a tangible difference to organisations and communities across our country, protecting and enhancing our heritage, and supporting the arts and sport since it began in 1994. The fact that it exists and has had such a positive, enduring impact is down to the foresight and leadership of Sir John Major. In a recent article, Nigel Farndale compared Sir John to the Cosimo de’ Medici of our age. We all have reason to be very grateful to him.

The National Lottery’s record of success is impressive by anyone’s standards. With 28% of its take going to good causes, that has totalled more than £32 billion since 1994—a phenomenal sum. A few facts demonstrate the scale of that success: on average, each week, more than £33 million is raised for good causes; more than 450,000 individual awards have been made across the United Kingdom; £12.6 billion has been paid to the Exchequer in lottery duty; those who have benefited include 700 playing fields, 1,400 museums and galleries, more than 37,000 heritage projects, from grand ones such as Tate Modern to funding 90% of Great Britain’s Olympic 2012 medallists—and many more.

How has this changed society? We should not forget that what is now part of our national weekly life was not without controversy when the idea was advanced in the early 1990s. Many at the time argued that for several decades, we had had smaller lotteries. We also faced the risk of competition from European lotteries and that our National Lottery would change society. It has, but not in the negative way that many predicted. A piece in this week’s FT described it as possibly the most successful example of crowdfunding ever. I confess that for many years, I looked forward to a lottery ticket from Father Christmas in my stocking. We are given the opportunity to dream about what we might do if we won and, through millions of individual ticket purchases, as a society we have achieved a revolution in the funding of good causes.

With success come challenges. In a legitimate desire to broaden access, we must make sure that, in increasing appeal, we do not create a crude market price that does not fully capture the true, often intangible, value. The popularity and increasing awareness of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will distribute £375 million next year, has also driven up the number and quality of bids, meaning that only 35% will be funded, compared to 70% in 2006.

The filling-out of an application can be a labour-intensive and costly business. I encourage all those bodies distributing money from the National Lottery to reflect on how they might make their membership and decision-making process more transparent, simpler and more user friendly, without losing rigour and financial assurance. Much of the success and popularity of the National Lottery has been down to the combination of a chance to win and dream, the fact that buying a

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1054

ticket helps to fund good causes—not, I repeat, not, to its being a substitute for core spending on such things as education and roads—and to the simple fact that there is only one National Lottery.

I feel very strongly that the National Lottery should remain true to these founding principles, that it should remain the only true national lottery, and that, despite some of the changes made by the previous Government, it should hold true to the additionality principle. As the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund look towards future funding priorities, I counsel them to resist mission creep. With regard to society lotteries, perhaps more commonly seen as charity raffles, they can and should exist alongside the National Lottery, and they do fantastic work. However, I support the view of the Minister, who has acknowledged that careful consideration and wider consultation on this issue need to be undertaken.

Similarly, while I know that the scale of the National Lottery leads many to suggest it is invulnerable to competition, I feel that the Health Lottery has begun to blur boundaries. I am wary of the precedent it sets. My counsel is one of caution: considerable good is already being done by the National Lottery and charity raffles or lotteries, and we should avoid anything that could harm that.

I conclude by returning to my speech on 17 November 1994:

“The National Lottery is expected to provide huge additional resources for our national heritage, the arts, sport and charities. I agree with my noble friend Lord Rothschild who said recently that the National Lottery Act 1993 could easily overtake the National Heritage Act 1980 as being the most important piece of legislation in the heritage field since the Second World War. In boosting our arts, heritage and sport, we are underpinning our culture, which for most of us is the core of our identity and a source of security”.—[Official Report, 17/11/94; col. 64.]

I am proud that those words, spoken in hope in 1994, have been borne out. In an age when many people and groups seek to highlight those things that divide us as a country, we are reminded of the ability of culture and sport, our shared heritage, to transcend differences and bring us together, and that so much more unites us as a nation than divides us. The contribution of the National Lottery to that cause is something of which we, as a country, can and should be immensely proud. We must make certain that it continues for many decades to come.

3.04 pm

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for bringing this subject to the House. It is a very appropriate one for us to discuss, particularly on this anniversary of two decades of the National Lottery.

When we cast our minds back, we should remember why we had a National Lottery: we were failing to fund important parts of our society and structure properly from the centre. Voluntary contributions were not doing it. Private contributions and sponsorship were not doing it. We had to do something else.

In this area, sport is the activity in which I have been most keenly involved. We had an infrastructure for sport at grass-roots level that was effectively falling apart. This is probably the most effective sticking-plaster,

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1055

in government terms, you have ever seen. It has gone in there and become something solid. It has given a structure, support and point of reference that it is almost impossible to see us doing without, because finding government money to replace it is something we cannot see happening. I cannot see the Department for Education taking over those sports facilities and that structure which happened outside it, as it was supposed to do before and always failed to do. It never did enough, because there was always another priority that was that little bit politically sexier, which had to be done first. When sport was within the Department for Education, you suddenly discovered that its priority was a new literacy scheme. It usually got that wrong as well. However, the National Lottery came in and gave us a new pillar on which to build these things. The same is true of the arts and heritage.

We must never forget why we introduced the National Lottery. We brought it in to give a structural point whereby funding is generated by the general public, effectively on a voluntary basis, so that they will say, “This is for you”.

Having said that, the success stories that go with it are wonderful. Going back to sport, the improvement in funding for the elite level is almost unanswerable. That said, I say: change the way you fund sport, because you are not fair to team sports. I would also say: yes, you have succeeded; now, be brave and do something else. There will always be discussion about how we go forward with our heritage projects. Now there is greater awareness that we have enough stately homes and that we should also preserve industrial heritage. All this has proceeded from this great central fund. It is something we must do.

These become very short speeches if you just say, “Yes, it’s great”, and do not look to future problems. The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, is the not the first and she will not be the last person to speak about the introduction of the Health Lottery. My statement when I contributed a Starred Question in this House was to the effect that if it is not against the law, it is against the spirit of the law—something, I discovered, that has been said again. Can my noble friend give us some idea about what the Government are going to do to prevent, going with the Health Lottery, the sports lottery, the heritage lottery, the “Let’s pick up litter lottery”, using the same legislation and the same way forward? That is what we are worried about: the idea that this central pillar of funding that we have built and that we cannot see being done somewhere else, gets changed. If these lotteries are to come in, what responsibility will they have to the causes that are dependent on them? That is a very fair question. Will UK Sport be guaranteed the future funding it needs if we have another lottery that starts to hack into its funding stream? We must hear the answer to that. If the legislation needs to be changed we know how to do it—indeed, we are apt to change legislation rather too quickly. However, making sure that we have this guarantee of lines of progress is essential. If the Health Lottery is prepared to play ball, to become involved and to take on some of this responsibility, some of my objections start to be removed. If not, my objections start to grow. How are we going to bring this together?

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1056

Having dealt with that central point, will the Minister give me some reassurance about the eternal temptation for all Governments to cut the pie again and again, and to rebrand it? We have seen this in the past and there will always be a temptation to say that we should go on, saying, “We’re making quite a lot of money here, let’s put some more somewhere else”.

This is an argument that has gone on throughout the history of the lottery. I forget how many good causes there were supposed to be at first but then we stuck another one in. I think the noble Baroness was putting up five fingers but I cannot remember exactly how many there were at first. It becomes a blur. There has been a constant argument about how it is done and redistributed. What have the Government done to make sure that there is some consensus about what happens here? Unless we are all involved in that discussion, there may be a new and wonderful scheme that sounds terribly good, and for which you get a little applause, and then you realise that you have done damage to the other things. You will also have cut off the necessity for other bits of government and public funding to be channelled to do that job in the future. The National Lottery finds it difficult to give up a responsibility once it has had it. If my noble friend can give me some assurance on that, I would feel more comfortable.

We probably have, in the National Lottery, something that has done a good job, but I feel that there was an admission of failure when it came in to do that good job. What we can say to Camelot is, “That’s 20 years well done, but there’s no guarantee”. If we can make sure that the National Lottery, under whoever funds it, has this guarantee of funding from this one source, I will be slightly more comfortable. We must make sure that we, first, say what the responsibilities are in the future and, secondly, give an absolute assurance about the process of discussion and negotiation we will have before we expand the responsibilities of that type of funding. I would then feel much more comfortable on this subject.

3.11 pm

Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con): My Lords, it is a complete privilege to speak in this debate. If there were a medal competition, the National Lottery would certainly be a serious podium finisher for me. I thank my noble friend Lady Rawlings for initiating this debate. She covered the ground in glorious Technicolor. It has been 20 years, and what a journey. There were many who said that it would not last and some who said that it would undermine the moral fabric of our nation. Twenty years on, it is tremendous to see that both the lottery and the moral fabric—and moral fibre—of our nation are in rude health.

I would like to speak about my experience of the National Lottery as a recipient, as a distributor and as an administrator. While I was competing for Great Britain, the lottery came in midway through my career. Until that point, success happened but it happened largely in spite of, rather than because of, any direct support. The Sports Aid Foundation did an excellent job but it was as nothing, compared to what the National Lottery promised.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1057

When it first arrived, funding was limited to capital projects. There was nervousness about revenue funding and direct awards to athletes, which was understandable with such a new lottery. But when we came back from Atlanta in 1996, it was clear that moves were afoot to get that revenue funding directly to athletes, to enable world-class performance through world-class services being wrapped around us as athletes. The lottery athlete personal award enabled that physio care, that sports medicine or that biomechanics—whatever we needed—to be a reality. It was such a change and it was phenomenal to know that through being part of sport before and after the National Lottery arrived. It is fantastic to see now that athletes starting their careers take sport lottery funding for granted, as they should. They are athletes and their job is to perform; that is what the athlete’s personal award is about.

I was then lucky enough to be on the board at UK Sport, to drive a really tight ship with low costs—the lowest cost of any lottery distributor—and to get that money out of the door to sport. It is the national governing bodies and the athletes that give the performances which win gold, silver and bronze medals. Our job at UK Sport was to ensure efficient, effective distribution of that funding with the right level of assurance, as your Lordships would expect with such funds.

I then went to the Paralympic Games to administer a serious grant of tens of millions from the Olympic lottery distributor. Look at east London: at that park and those stadia of concrete, steel and glass. A new community was developed as a result of significant National Lottery funding through the Olympic lottery distributor. The Paralympic Games could not have happened in the way that they did without the Olympic lottery distributor. To connect the lottery brand to the Paralympics was fantastic—to know that it was on board, enabling us to have a sell-out and to broadcast the Games to hundreds of millions around the world. It enabled us to have a Paralympic Games that were a games-changer.

I do not want to be the spectre at the feast, or to draw a long shadow, but I feel that I must for a moment mention what happened to the lottery under the previous Government and the disgraceful diverting of funds into areas of the public sector which were never intended to be the destination for lottery funding. Health and education are good causes; of course they are. It had a fair amount of popularity; of course it would. It was obvious that it would but was that the right thing to do with lottery funds? Was that what the National Lottery was set up for? Absolutely not, and it is right that the percentages for those initial good causes have been put back exactly to where they were always intended to be.

So to the man who was the father of the National Lottery, and who has already been mentioned by my noble friend Lady Rawlings. What courage and commitment there was from Sir John Major, and what a bold and brave decision. Now, 20 years on, it seems an obvious and natural part of the United Kingdom but his courage and commitment—the bravery he showed in having the political courage to take that decision —were absolutely superb. I remember talking to Sir John years later. He said that when the lottery was launched,

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1058

he went to Victoria Station after the launch and bought some tickets. He then spent the rest of that week in a cold sweat, thinking not just of what would happen if he won but how he would possibly explain to Norma and the family why he would not be able to claim the prize. Ah, Sir John: heavy is the head that wears a prime ministerial crown.

What careers there have been, launched off the back of the lottery. There was Mystic Meg and who would have thought that somebody would have the title “The voice of the balls”? Here’s to you, Alan. Add to that the original catchphrase or slogan, “It could be you”. For many thousands of people—in terms of multimillion -pound prizes, hundred thousand-pound prizes, scratchcards and so on—it has been them. More important, though, for sport, the arts, heritage, for charities, for the cultural foundations of our nation, it has been you, it is you and will continue to be you for decades to come.

3.20 pm

Lord Smith of Finsbury (Non-Afl): My Lords, I should begin by declaring an interest as chairman of the Wordsworth Trust in Cumbria, which has been the recipient of a number of grants that were very handsomely and generously provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund. As the shadow Secretary of State, I was present 20 years ago at the Tower of London when the National Lottery was launched. I join heartily in the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, whom I congratulate on choosing this topic for debate this afternoon, in her tribute to the former Prime Minister, John Major. I am not sure that he has all the attributes of Cosimo de’ Medici, but certainly, in conceiving and bringing to birth the National Lottery, he gave significant service to this country and I trust that it will be part of what history remembers him for with admiration.

Over those 20 years, the lottery has made an incalculable difference to our nation’s life: to arts, sport, charities, voluntary organisations, heritage, museums and the countryside. Here I shall differ, just for a moment, from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes. There was a change some 17 to 18 years ago in the number of causes supported by the National Lottery. That change was possible because so many more people were playing the lottery than had originally been anticipated, so the funds were there to enable an expansion in the range of good causes that it was possible to support, while not substituting—on this I absolutely agree with all the previous three speakers—the principle of additionality, which is that the lottery should not be supporting things that ought to be part of normal, government-supported activity. That is absolutely crucial. If we were able to extend the lottery into some areas related to fields of education, health and the environment, those were things that it was not possible to support by straightforward, direct government grant. That should always be at the heart of what the lottery is all about.

The way that the lottery was initially established did lead to one or two perversities in the early days. The first of those was a tendency to support buildings rather than people or activities. That has long since been put right. There is now a wide range of activities that the National Lottery supports, and rightly so. Indeed, applications now are looked at in the round, not just the capital construction work that is proposed

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1059

but, alongside that, the activities that will be generated, the income that will come from that and the costs that will arise. The whole package is looked at and encouraged by the lottery distributors.

One of the other perversities that emerged in early days—and I think that we have not yet quite got this right—is that the process of applying for lottery funding, as the noble Baroness alluded to, can be difficult, complex and a hassle. For those who are not well advised, not well heeled and unused to putting in applications, that can make for problems. It is one of the reasons why some of the geographical distribution of lottery largesse has been a bit skewed in some parts of the country. When I was Secretary of State we tried to put that right by dreaming up what we called the “Brass for Barnsley” scheme. We earmarked a portion of funding that we said would go to Barnsley. We then assisted all the voluntary, charitable and third sector organisations in Barnsley to put in applications by making available facilitators and co-ordinators to ensure that they were able to put in the complex applications that were needed. The result was spectacular. A flow of applications for incredibly good schemes came forward and we were able to make sure that Barnsley got its fair share of lottery funding across all the various lottery distributors. We need more such schemes. We need to enable and facilitate organisations in some of the most deprived and worthy areas of this country to put in applications and to be successful in doing so.

As Secretary of State and chairman of the Millennium Commission, I was very proud to see many of the spectacularly successful projects that we have now in this country coming to fruition, whether it was the British Museum Great Court, the breathtaking Tate Modern or the Eden Project in Cornwall. But in some ways it was the smaller schemes, the little things and the individuals who were able to be helped that meant the most. All noble Lords who have contributed to the debate have mentioned the support for individual elite athletes and the dramatic impact that that has had on our performance in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I was very proud to help put that in place. It has made a huge difference. In addition to that, there is the transformation of village greens, church floodlighting, renovating village halls, putting church bells back into working order, ensuring that local Victorian parks can be restored to their former glory and rebuilding footpaths on highland mountains. One of my favourites is a little bit of what I like to think of as democratic socialism, smuggled past Tony Blair when he was not looking: the Scottish Land Fund, which has helped local communities in parts of the Highlands and Islands to purchase collectively their land, their crofts and their villages, and to make a huge success of running that.

The lottery has much to be proud of. It hardly seems to have been 20 years; but in the course of those years it has helped to transform Britain much for the better.

3.28 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Baroness for initiating this very important debate. Earlier this week, in Grand Committee, I was reminded by my noble friend Lord

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1060

Rooker that when the National Lottery was launched, many in my party had strong reservations and concerns about it and even opposition to the principle. The concerns have been mentioned already. Would the funds raised replace government expenditure on things that should be paid for out of taxes, such as nurses, teachers and road repairs? To address such concerns John Major’s Government adopted the principle of additionality, which meant that the funds would go to projects that would not happen without them and would have to be spent on capital projects. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Smith, that the expansion of the good causes under the previous Government did not breach that principle; it maintained that principle, which allowed a broader range of schemes.

The approach of the millennium saw a focus on grand building projects which it was hoped would result in a “culturally led regeneration” of inner-city areas. The Dome may have failed in terms of its broader cultural and educational objectives but it has led to regeneration of a depressed part of London, with most Londoners today being pleased with its subsequent use as the successful O2 entertainment centre. However, that success came with additional investment of £350 million from the private sector. Rowan Moore, in his recent excellent piece in the Observer,reminds us of some of the successes. The noble Lord, Lord Smith, has also reminded us of some. The Tate Modern now attracts about 5 million visitors a year. The Eden Project, Cornwall, captured the public imagination and earned impressive visitor numbers. Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North was firmly established as a symbol of Gateshead, and other towns seek to emulate it. We also have the American Air Museum in Duxford, designed by Norman Foster, which won the Stirling Prize. These are just a few examples of the remarkable range of new-built and refurbished cultural buildings. However, with local authorities being so severely constrained in their ability to support the arts, we could find, if we are not careful, that many of these facilities are empty and simply going to waste.

As we have heard in the debate, the National Lottery has delivered more than the iconic projects that I have highlighted. More than 450,000 individual awards have been made across the UK, with 12 independent specialist organisations awarding the money; 70% of National Lottery grants are for £10,000 or less, helping, as the noble Lord, Lord Smith, identified, small projects that make a big difference in their community. National Lottery funding has saved more than 700 playing fields, supported 1,400 museums and galleries, restored 6,000 village halls, enabled 57,000 World War II veterans to go on commemorative visits, bought and restored 72,000 hectares of land to protect key habitats and rare species, and given more than £750 million to regenerate public parks. As we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, at the London 2012 Olympics, nine out of 10 Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists were lottery funded. Eighteen lottery-funded films have gone on to win a total of 31 BAFTAs and 14 Oscars.

It is a well established requirement that lotteries should be the exclusive preserve of good causes, an issue which has been raised in the debate. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the prevalence of gambling products that do not clearly differentiate

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1061

themselves from lotteries and appear to trade on the good name of lotteries for commercial gain. Can the Minister reassure me that the Government will take steps to maintain the important distinction between lotteries and gambling? The use of external lottery managers—ELMs—and umbrella brands have historically been a means, as the noble Baroness pointed out, by which society lotteries can maximise their returns to good causes, without competing substantially with the National Lottery. I, too, have raised in recent times my concerns with the Minister over the use of ELMs by the Health Lottery. It is supposedly made up of 51 separate companies, yet has the same three directors, the same office and the same branding—in effect enabling it to operate as an alternative to the National Lottery. It is competing with the National Lottery and people think that it is a national lottery. It is even called a “national lottery”, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, is in breach of the spirit, though not the letter, of the law. While many might say that the Health Lottery’s turnover is a fraction of that of the National Lottery, I am concerned that such a loophole might lead others, such as a big retail chain, to be tempted into the market because they have the infrastructure capability to do it. Does the Minister believe that operations such as the Health Lottery which utilise ELMs to run multiple society lotteries under one brand remain within the spirit of the original legislation? We need an answer.

The success of the National Lottery over the past 20 years is testament to the monopoly model designed by Parliament which encourages a lot of people to play a little, and has created a national institution. More than £32 billion has been raised since the National Lottery began in 1994. More than £12.6 billion has been paid to the Exchequer in lottery duty. Around 70% of adults in the UK play on a regular basis. This year, Camelot commissioned Frontier Economics to re-examine the case for this monopoly, and its findings continue to support this model. Evidence from a number of countries shows that larger jackpots attract more players. By concentrating sales, a single lottery provider maximises the available jackpots, and thus maximises sales and returns to good causes. It is the good causes on which we need to be focused. Uncertainty in the market could lead to operators being less willing to bid for future licences to run the National Lottery or demanding increased margins to do so, which could reduce returns to good causes.

I hope the Minister will state clearly the Government’s ongoing commitment to maintain and protect this model for the foreseeable future.

3.36 pm

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on securing this debate so soon after the 20th anniversary of the first National Lottery draw, and thank all noble Lords for such an exceptional debate. They have come with such experience across the House.

As my noble friends Lady Rawlings and Lord Holmes of Richmond remarked, when a national lottery was first proposed, it is fair to say that there was scepticism, verging on strong opposition, about the proposal. We can now see what a success it has been. In preparation

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1062

for the new lottery, Sir John Major’s Government did some work to assess how much it could raise for good causes. The best-case scenario that officials envisaged was a lottery raising £1 billion a year. In fact, more than £32 billion pounds has been raised for good causes since the start of the lottery. This is a truly staggering sum of money, equating to £4.5 million every day.

However, as a wise man once said, it is not necessarily the size that matters but what you do with it that counts. More than 450,000 grants have been made to good causes. That is an average of 692 per parliamentary constituency. My noble friend Lady Rawlings and the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, have already set out many of the facts and statistics regarding the scale of benefits of the National Lottery. As a result, one sees the National Lottery crossed-fingers logo right across the country in galleries, museums, churches, sports facilities, villages, market towns, suburbs and cities. Some of those buildings have been built, saved or renovated thanks to lottery funding.

The National Lottery has enabled the fulfilment of very large projects in major cities. In London, the National Lottery has funded the rebuilding of the Royal Opera House and put a new roof on the British Museum. The lottery has funded the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts and the Sage—both in Gateshead—the Museum of Liverpool and the Lowry Centre in Manchester. In Scotland, it has funded the refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh and access to the Glasgow School of Art. In Wales, it has funded the Millennium Centre and, in Belfast, the refurbishment of St George’s Market.

The National Lottery also funds events of national significance. There were, of course, the unforgettable 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. How fortunate we are to learn from the experience of my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond as a recipient, distributor and administrator. The National Lottery funded not only the infrastructure and staging of the Games but the athletes who competed so memorably and successfully. How proud our country was of them. One cannot adequately describe the euphoria felt across the whole nation, let alone in the stadia of the Games and the sense of a proud, tolerant and united country. So, onward to Rio. In addition, the lottery funded the cultural Olympiad and continues to fund Olympic legacy projects to this day through the Spirit of 2012 Trust. The noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, raised this particular point.

Recently, the National Lottery has been integral in the commemorations of the centenary of the start of the First World War. The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded over £60 million to more than 1,000 First World War centenary projects, covering nearly three-quarters of constituencies across the UK. One grant for over £12 million enabled the National Museum of the Royal Navy to turn HMS “Caroline” into a visitor attraction in Belfast in time for the centenary commemorations of the 1916 Battle of Jutland.

Those projects are but the tip of the iceberg. In fact, less than 1% of all National Lottery funding is spent on projects over £1 million. The overwhelming majority of people have benefited from the National Lottery at

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1063

community level, to which your Lordships have alluded. People across the country have had their lives enhanced through grass-roots organisations in villages, suburbs and towns. I urge noble Lords to visit the National Lottery Good Causes website, where the projects that compete in the National Lottery Awards can be found. The successful projects give a sense of the extraordinary range stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury.

I will give a flavour of some of the projects that were nominated for awards this year. Come Eat Together is a project helping older people to get together and enjoy healthy food as a community in County Durham. Active East is a project in the east of Glasgow encouraging young people to engage in more sports and activities. Hooray for Homework, a project in Mansfield, gives children a safe space where they can go after school to do their homework. I hope that my noble friend Lord Addington will be pleased to hear about Carry a Basketball, Not a Blade, a project in east London helping to reduce knife-crime-related violence among young people. The Jubilee Sailing Trust gives disabled and able-bodied people the opportunity to sail tall ships together. The noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury, mentioned the work of the Wordsworth Trust, with which he is most familiar.

However, even these awards fail to capture the impact that the National Lottery has had at the grass-roots level. In the constituency of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, in which I live, the National Lottery has funded this year: the refurbishment of the Debenham community swimming pool; two community events aimed at involving people with disabilities in fun activities; a project remembering the First World War in Bramford; the staging of the Hoxne music festival; the refurbishment of Bredfield and Cotton village halls; purchasing computers for Worlingworth Primary School; and a number of other art and community projects. This is a snapshot of what is happening across the country. The National Lottery is supporting projects that are put forward by local communities for the benefit of their communities. Over 90% of grants from the National Lottery are for projects less than £100,000, and most projects receive a great deal less than that.

I thank my noble friend Lady Rawlings for this debate because it has provided an important opportunity for your Lordships’ House to mark the National Lottery’s extraordinary success. It has benefited thousands of people across the country and transformed their lives over the past 20 years. Furthermore, the prospects for the future look positive. Ticket sales are strong, on track to be at least the second highest ever. Camelot, the National Lottery operator, continues to build on the success that it has had in running the lottery for 20 years, managing one of the most widely-played and cost-effective national lotteries in the world.

My noble friends Lady Rawlings and Lord Addington and the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, expressed some caution—perhaps I am understating that—about competition from society lotteries, with particular reference to the Health Lottery. The Government agree with this sense of caution. We will shortly issue our call for evidence on society lotteries, which explores how we can ensure that society lotteries continue to raise funds

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1064

for good causes but only in the context of a single, successful National Lottery. We must not, and will not, put the National Lottery at risk. The noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, mentioned gambling products, external lottery managers and the Health Lottery. We will ensure that these important points are involved and fully represented in our call for evidence.

My noble friend Lord Addington asked about the “cutting of the cake”. The Government do not have any plans for changes. It is fair to say that at the beginning of this Parliament the Government restored the shares of the arts, heritage and sport good causes to 20% each, up from 16.7%. That, along with ticket sales growth, meant that arts, heritage and sport together received more than £200 million in 2013-14 than was predicted in 2010. This afternoon, all of us have stressed the enormous benefits that have been seen across the country because of that.

My noble friend Lady Rawlings and the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury, mentioned distribution bodies and making decision-making more transparent, simpler and more user-friendly. Again, the Government agree with that, and we will continue to work with distributors to improve application processes. Distributors are currently running a pilot in Doncaster—not far from Barnsley, of course—to encourage more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access National Lottery funding. That is extremely important.

The Government will work to ensure the continued success of the National Lottery. We want to build on the success of the last 20 years for the next 20 years and beyond. We started this debate by referring to Sir John Major. There can be no doubt that we owe him all the accolades that he richly deserves. We now witness the extraordinary contribution that the proceeds of the National Lottery make to the lives of so many people. Sir John’s legacy extends to every part of this country—it is a force for good. I cannot think of a better legacy for a Prime Minister.

Schools: Arts Education

Motion to Take Note

3.48 pm

Moved by The Earl of Clancarty

That this House takes note of the case for arts education in schools.

The Earl of Clancarty (CB): My Lords, I am very pleased that we are having this debate today concerning arts education in schools. I welcome to this Chamber the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, and I very much look forward to hearing her maiden speech. I also look forward to hearing the speeches of all noble Lords, as we have represented in this debate a wide range of experience of the arts as well as expertise in education. I come to this debate as someone with two points of view: as an artist, and therefore with a particular concern for arts education—I declare an interest as a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design in Education—but also, as is true for other noble Lords, as a parent.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1065

A week ago today my noble friend Lady Kidron led an important debate on children’s digital rights on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 31 of the convention, which is quoted at the top of the Cultural Learning Alliance’s manifesto, states that nation signatories shall,

“respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity”.

Comparable wording stressing a minimum level of arts education is expressed by Darren Henley in the first recommendation of his 2012 cultural education review, which has been fully endorsed by the current Government.

Implicit in the UN definition is that arts education is a good in itself. I would go further: education is a good in itself. It is not merely a preparation for work, nor even necessarily a preparation for life, if we consider that a good education will instil in the child a constant curiosity and questioning about the world—a love of lifelong learning. The arts are and should be an integral part of that vision.

The excellent Library briefing states the Department for Education’s definition of the arts as comprising art and design, music, drama, dance and the media arts. More particularly, we might also cite literature—English literature having a special place in the curriculum—the decorative arts, including craft, and architecture, as well as film and the digital arts. “The arts” is a traditional term, but the arts themselves are both old and brand new. Indeed, as we speak, artists in many media are making new work in new forms, reacting to the world as it is today and discovering new technologies. At the outset, then, I say that it is vital that schoolchildren are exposed to contemporary art and contemporary drama—for instance—as much as to Michelangelo or Shakespeare. The teaching of visual literacy in schools, which many, including Sir Nicholas Serota, see as an essential aspect of life in the 21st century, should involve a critical understanding of new art as well as old.

However, when as a parent I ask myself what I want from a school education for my nine year-old child, I would say yes to access to the sciences, the arts, the humanities, to languages—I would love my child to learn a second language fluently—and access to sport. As a parent, then, I want to see a broad-based education where my child is exposed to a range of subjects. If we are thinking about the whole child, as I certainly am, we should be giving careful thought to what goes into the making of that whole child. As Clara Oswald in “Doctor Who” says:

“The soufflé isn’t the soufflé. The soufflé is the recipe”.

Eggs are good and milk is good, but it is that mix of ingredients, the interplay between contrasting subjects, that is the vital heartbeat of an excellent education.

That is why the Education Secretary is so wrong when in her recent speech at the launch of the “Your Life” campaign she stated that arts and humanities subjects will not give young people the skills that they need to pursue a career. She is wrong because she seems to understand education only through the narrow prism of the labour market. An attack on the arts is an

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1066

attack on education as a whole and on the fundamental importance of a balanced education. Denigrating the arts means also devaluing the sciences, as would be true the other way round.

Her speech also contradicts what employers in the UK are beginning to understand. The CBI said last year that a significant number of firms needing employees with STEM skills and knowledge had difficulty recruiting because they were not rounded or grounded. The Royal Bank of Scotland said only last week that it now wanted to employ arts graduates because it believed that its economists and mathematicians showed too much so-called linear thinking, which the bank had the temerity to suggest was in part responsible for the financial crisis—and it might be right. For this kind of education to take place in schools, which is where it starts, the arts, sciences and humanities subjects need to maintain their integrity as identifiable subjects in their own right. That is why I am talking about arts subject, not about creativity. The arts need to be treated as significant equal elements within the school educational system.

It is a sad reflection on our educational system that the case for an arts education in schools needs to be made, because arts subjects are under threat in a number of significant ways. To be fair to this Government, although there are specific current issues which need to be addressed, this has been true for a while. Since 2003, the number of students taking art and design GCSEs has fallen by 13%, music by 10% and drama by 23%. Overall, the take-up of GCSE arts subjects has fallen by 28%.

Then there is the question of the national curriculum itself. It currently makes very little mention of either dance, which is only included in PE, or drama, which has been removed from English and, unforgivably, given no curriculum place from the ages of five to 14. Film and the media—and I have already mentioned one of the country's great broadcasting exports—now receive no mention at all. It is excellent that the Government are introducing computer coding into schools, but there is no mention in the curriculum of the digital world in relation to the arts, although in various ways this is already an important aspect of the arts and creative industries. The status of arts subjects is also plummeting in other ways. We are seeing the continuing development of an ever more layered hierarchy of subjects within the system of performance measures. This is already having a real effect on the take-up of exams and indeed on the choices on offer in schools.

The EBacc has not gone away. Early last year we had a full and public debate on the EBacc when it was rightly criticised from all sides for its prescribed bias against the arts. Its effect remains as insidious as if it had become a full-blown qualification. In the debate in your Lordships’ House on 14 January 2013, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones said:

“I have never seen the creative sector so united against what appears to be a two-tier approach by the Government to educational qualifications”. —[Official Report,14/1/13; col. 551.]

Now, with Progress 8 and the double weighting of maths and English, arts subjects will lie at the third and bottom tier of the new system. The University of the Arts London has said that this has damaged the

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1067

perceived status of art and design in the eyes of parents and within some schools. In its 2014

Educator Survey

report, the National Society for Education in Art and Design says that more than half the heads of departments agree that the EBacc has played an important role in the organisation of the art, craft and design curriculum. The take-up of arts GCSEs has declined by 13% since it was introduced in 2010. UAL, the NSEAD and the Cultural Learning Alliance all recommend that the Ebacc performance measure be dismantled. How can the Minister defend this hierarchical system now so hugely biased against the arts? In terms of accountability, are there any plans for Ofsted to recognise and comment on the quality of the arts in its reports?

There is also the effect of the amalgamation in 2013 of many arts subject discount codes, a further performance measure that is having a serious effect on options. For noble Lords who do not know, subjects given individual codes count individually, while those with joint codes do not. We are grateful to the Government for listening to the arts education community so that this year dance and drama and fine art and photography were separated, but it is a case of two steps forward following numerous steps back. UAL and the NSEAD point to the still unseparated GCSE and AS-level fine art, graphic communication, textile design and 3D design subjects. Comparing these and certain closely related but separated maths subjects, for instance, it is illogical that the maths subjects can often be taught by the same person while the arts subjects are distinct specialisms that may well need different teachers for those subjects to be taught to an adequate standard.

Over the past four years, there has been a decline of 7% in arts teachers and, crucially, a 6% decline in arts teaching hours. The last month showed an increase in the number of allocated places for arts teachers, but the significant flipside to this is that many of the teachers will be taught within a school setting rather than coming through university PGCE courses. The Government talk about good teachers as though somehow they drop from heaven, but good professional specialised teachers provide a necessary value for teaching that would not otherwise occur. It will increase the possibility that teachers can teach more than one specialism in the arts when the need arises. They are more likely to provide a greater in-depth knowledge of the subject and an understanding of both the wider educational and arts professional frameworks.

I want to say something about the initiatives, programmes and partnerships that this Government are encouraging and/or funding. They vary in scale and scope from smaller ones, such as the BBC's partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation to bring real paintings into the classroom and the new partnership between the Tate and the popular computer game “Minecraft”, through to the Sorrell Foundation art and design Saturday clubs and the ambitious setting up of the 123 music hubs. Many of these programmes are imaginative and to be welcomed, as is the money that the Government are putting into them, but I argue that they should be the icing on the cake. They are in some cases very good icing but they are not the cake, and should not be the basis for a national school

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1068

arts policy. As a means of solving the problems that exist in schools, they are inefficient because the money does not go directly to the schools themselves. None of these programmes addresses all schools, either in terms of the curriculum itself or in terms of the provision of resources. Some funding will be intentionally selective in its application, such as for the National Youth Dance Company, which will target only the “brightest young dance talent”. The point then is not one of quality but, as UAL says,

“additional programmes ... do not have the capacity or reach to engage with young people across the country and should not be considered a substitute for a high quality art and design offer in schools”.

National Drama says that the RSC Learning Toolkit, while useful,

“is not an acceptable substitute for a national curriculum for drama, with a broad programme of study for Drama that needs to be arrived at through democratic consultation”.

In the excellent music debate led by my noble friend Lord Aberdare on 24 October, two major related themes emerged. One was a concern about the patchiness of the reach of music hubs and, secondly, that deprived areas in particular would not be sufficiently addressed. The problem is that music hubs will always be inherently patchy. They simply do not directly address the real concerns, which are the funding, provision and encouragement of music and the necessary resources, including costly instruments, within schools themselves. A comparable problem, of course, exists for the provision of art materials and resources for art and design courses. As the Cultural Learning Alliance points out, the money put into these programmes does not replace the funding that in other ways is being removed, with education funding in real terms dropping by 13% between 2010 and 2014. There are also the knock-on effects of cuts to the arts themselves and the reduction in Arts Council portfolio organisations, the reduction in outreach and the inevitable isolation of some schools as a result.

The DfE states that 21% of schools with a high proportion of free school meals withdrew arts subjects in 2012. The Child Poverty Action Group said in a report earlier this year that, for poorer children, cost—that is to say, the increasing hidden costs now occurring within state schools—was a factor when deciding whether to study subjects such as photography, art, music and design and technology. There is a real danger, highlighted recently by the acting profession, that the arts will become a province only of the rich. We need to get the emphasis back to schools and the funding and provision for arts subjects within them so that there can be universal access to arts education, replacing a current policy based on piecemeal initiatives. We need to reform performance measures so that arts subjects have a proper place again within the school curriculum. This will be healthy for education, for society and for the labour market. I beg to move.

4.04 pm

Lord Cashman (Lab): My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his eloquence in introducing the debate. I, too, look forward to the speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park. I declare an interest as a member of British Actors’ Equity; I have held that membership for some 50 years.

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1069

I want to make the moral case for arts in education—first, by giving a personal perspective. Growing up in the East End of London, the son of a docker, from the very day I was born my life was set out before me. I failed my 11-plus and I went off to my secondary modern school as a rebel in search of any cause. It was then that I discovered drama—or, rather, a drama teacher discovered me. Then there was the wonderful experience of going to see “Oliver!” in the West End of London when I was 11 years old, leaning forward in those cheap seats that we used to call the gods, and thinking, “I never, ever want this to end”. The irony was that I was discovered in a secondary modern school singing in the end-of-term school show, and within three months I was playing Oliver in that very same West End production.

That changed my life for ever. Before that I had no concept of theatre, performance arts or even of drama as a subject. Suddenly there was a focus for the energy that made my father boast—at least, I think it was a boast—that if I had not gone on the stage I would have ended up in prison. I began a career as an actor that lasted 37 years. It taught me so many things. This is why the arts, drama, music, film and media studies—everything that the noble Earl outlined—are so important in education, because they affect every single thing that we do.

I am talking not only about communication skills, which some of us have and some of us do not, but about confidence skills. At how many moments during the day do we stand up thinking, “I can’t do this”? Somehow, though, we have learnt to masquerade and pretend that we can, and we carry it off because we have the ability to imagine that there is another idea, another option. The team-building and discipline that come from the arts in education last for the rest of people’s lives.

The idea that we have to choose between arts and sciences is utter nonsense. The two are married together. Indeed, it was learning the disciplines as a young actor that allowed me, in my mid-20s, to study science and to achieve, in 11 months, my O-levels and A-levels. I could never have done that if I had not had the courage, the confidence and the ability to imagine.

I am going on far too long about me, though, and it is vital that I say some of the things that I have properly prepared to say. What I have said so far explains why I believe that all students should have access to drama as a subject in schools, taught by specialist trained drama teachers with qualified teacher status. Drama is a distinct art form and should have its own subject status, separate from that of English, in both primary and secondary schools. If drama is to be engaged in before GCSE level, that requires trained and qualified drama teachers in secondary schools, and in primary schools it requires high quality in-service drama training as a minimum.

Currently there is a significant and deepening inequality of drama provision in schools, and some schools provide none. There should be equality of national curriculum status for at least the five main art forms in schools: art and design, music, dance, drama, and film. The Department for Education has never given any reason why the different art forms are given differential

27 Nov 2014 : Column 1070

status and attention. It is vital that we be told why it has that opinion, because it affects not only us but generations to come.

Children and young people can now go through education and receive no direct or specialist drama teaching at all. There is a real concern that drama could get parcelled out as “vocational”, to the financial benefit of theatres. We could see only children whose parents can afford it being able to study and engage in drama and the creative arts. That is why my right honourable friend Harriet Harman has said so often that creative and cultural learning supports attainment in all subjects, including literacy and maths. Research has shown that taking part in arts activities at school can make up for an early disadvantage in terms of likelihood to progress to further education as well as in employment outcomes.

I say with due respect to the Minister that I believe the Government are going in the wrong direction on art and culture, and the arts are in danger of becoming more remote from children from working-class backgrounds, such as me, and children in disadvantaged communities, as well as remote from young people in our regions. The whole government narrative around the English baccalaureate, as the noble Earl has said, which the arts community fought so valiantly against, sent a damaging signal to downgrade the arts in education. The number of children sitting arts GCSEs is declining—music is down 9%, drama is down 13% and film is excluded from the curriculum altogether. Teacher training places in arts education have been cut by 35% and the number of specialist arts teachers has fallen. This makes no sense in terms of the creative industries and the arts. It makes no sense in wider educational terms.

We do not want the children being educated now to live in silos. We want them to imagine and to connect. We want them to imagine that there are other ways and other approaches. In the end, it is art that defines us as human beings. Therefore, we underinvest in these subjects, and in this generation and future generations, at our cultural, moral and economic peril.

4.11 pm

Baroness Sharp of Guildford (LD): My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for introducing this timely and interesting debate on the arts in education. I declare an interest as a patron of Creative Skillset, the creative industries’ sector skills council.

On Tuesday this week, I had the privilege of attending a service at St Margaret’s for the Girls’ Schools Association where the school local to me in Guildford, St Catherine’s School, provided the choir for the service. It sang among other things an especially commissioned motet taken from excerpts from poems of Maya Angelou. It was both moving and beautiful. As the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, said, the children of those parents who can afford it have a very broad education. They often have a longer school day and highly specialist facilities, which provide them with an excellent and outstanding education in all areas, including the areas of the arts.

As far as state schools are concerned, I was cheered by reading the foreword provided by Michael Gove and Ed Vaizey to Cultural Education:ASummary of

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1071 

Programmes and Opportunities, published in July 2013—a very recent statement of the Government’s ambition is for arts education. It states:

“The arts are the highest form of human achievement. Through art we not only make sense of ourselves and the world, we also make our lives enchanted. Art allows us to celebrate our common humanity and communicate across boundaries. Artistic endeavour marks us out from the rest of nature as creators and celebrators of beauty. That is why no education can be complete, indeed no programme of education can even begin, without making the arts and creativity central to a child’s life … England’s many successful schools put culture at the heart of their curriculum and we want all schools to be able to emulate, indeed surpass, those which are currently outstanding … We will encourage more schools to offer a wider spread of creative subjects with a new accountability framework for secondary schools”.

Why, then, have we now had two speeches pointing out the drop in the number of GCSE arts subjects being taken, the very substantial fall in the number of teachers being trained in arts subjects, and the real decline in drama, dance and the graphic arts in our schools? It is not necessarily down to the national curriculum. As far as the national curriculum is concerned, the briefing paper we have received tells us very firmly:

“Arts subjects are compulsory in maintained schools in England until the age of 14. They are not compulsory national curriculum subjects after the age of 14, but all pupils in maintained schools in England have a statutory entitlement to be able to study an arts subject as part of their key stage 4 education”.

It is not the lack of the arts in the national curriculum, or even the lack of concern for the arts. It is, I think, an unintended consequence of the accountability measures that we now impose upon our schools.

Mention has already been made of the EBacc. The subjects that fall within the EBacc are English and maths, two sciences, history, geography and a modern foreign language or a classical language. I, for one, am very pleased, in some senses, that there is a broader education within the EBacc, but it is sad that the arts have been downgraded and not given the same status. I have to confess that I am very concerned indeed about what is happening with the arts in our primary schools, where emphasis on SATS in year 6 often drives the curriculum. Lots of very good primary schools get over it, but some that are less good are absolutely terrified by the need to get good SATS results and have narrowed down the primary school curriculum to the three Rs to too great an extent. We want to expand it but at the moment it is not expanding.

As we all know, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl. It is vital that we feed a love of creativity in to our young people. The development of their imaginations in primary schools comes from play, but too much of that play has gone out due to the emphasis on phonics and achieving the required standards in phonics at the age of five or six. There is too much testing and too much teaching to the test, pushing out the creative parts of the curriculum.

As everybody emphasises, the creative industries are now expanding faster than other industries. For many years people poured scorn on media studies, yet actually, as the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, mentioned, with the bringing together of computerisation and digital technologies and the arts technologies, institutes such as Arts University Bournemouth and Bath Spa University, which concentrate on these things, are finding

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1072 

it very easy to find jobs for their graduates. It is graduates in geography and history who often have difficulty in finding jobs.

Many times from these Benches I have called for more emphasis on maths and science education. I have been very much a champion of the STEM subjects because I have been very worried about the drop in the numbers of young people taking STEM subjects. However, I have also been somewhat critical of the narrowness of British, and particularly English, education, and the fact that at age 16 we have to narrow things down to three A-levels. This has led to a divide between the arts and the sciences. I would have liked to have seen us move in the direction of a broader curriculum for 16 to 18 year-olds—something equivalent to the international baccalaureate.

I therefore end with a plea not for STEM but for STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. We want them all together. We want to provide a broad education for our young people—one which gives them the best foundation for moving forward in life.

4.20 pm

Lord Berkeley of Knighton (CB): My Lords, I agree with everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has said. I regard this subject, the provision of arts—and, in my case, music in particular—in schools as vital. Thus I am much indebted to my noble friend Lord Clancarty for securing this debate. I cannot endorse more warmly his plea for the appreciation of contemporary arts, because it is not just in Shakespeare that we find out about ourselves and the society we live in; it is in the contemporary arts as well, and Shakespeare would have been the first to say so.

I take this opportunity, since it is the first I have had, to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, to our midst. It is great to have another member of the artistic community, and one who has done so much for the gay community through the auspices of Stonewall, which I have long supported. It is also wonderful to be able to welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park. I look forward to her maiden speech with anticipation.

Why do I see this debate as so important? It is because I have seen the quite magical effect that music and the arts can have on young developing minds. Furthermore, objective research supports the fact that music, in particular, often gets through where other things fail. Yet, as we have heard, we have to set against that the fact that in the period from 2010 to 2013 there was a drop in the number of GCSE students taking art and, in particular, music and drama, according to the Department for Education’s figures. I wonder whether this is something that causes the Government concern. I very much hope that it does.

There are schools in which children get no exposure to music or theatre or to singing in a choir—that quintessential activity that many noble Lords still partake of in the Parliament Choir. Singing collegiately is a quite wonderful way of developing the ability to be a team player, to listen to others, to blend in and to communicate. Singing a great choral work with a lot of your friends can be a completely overpowering and binding experience.

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1073 

Not all children conform, thank goodness, to stereotyping, and it is in the arts and music that many find nourishment and a natural home. Let me give my own experience as a somewhat unusual child. I did not initially thrive academically—I am clearly a late developer—but the music master, a Mr Lambert, saw something in me and encouraged my composition and my playing of the organ in the school chapel. At the same time, I took part in drama productions, and there I learnt to speak in public with a degree of confidence and even extemporisation—a quality that some noble Lords may have cause to regret on occasion—so when I presented the Proms on BBC television, for example, I was not so afraid of the camera. Indeed, I rather relished it. My point is that the faith that two schoolmasters involved in the arts showed in my potential saved me from a possible scrapheap—perhaps not, like the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, prison. The number of successful people who have appeared on my Radio 3 programme “Private Passions” who have ascribed their chance in life to visionary arts and music teachers is quite staggering.

I know the Government are receptive to wide educational remits, but there are real gaps where theatre and music, in particular, are concerned, so here are three definite and distinct questions for the Minister which he might be able to help me with. Will the Government aim to make singing a weekly event in every school? Will they aim to make music and drama part of the curriculum in every school? Will they aim to help disadvantaged children to get musical tuition, currently the privilege of the rich? It is true that the hubs have begun to have some patchy success in this area. The Government have rightly saluted the income which the creative industries bring to the economy of this country. However, to secure that income for the future it is essential that the children who will be the performers of tomorrow—string players, for example—are able to start young. We have to get to young minds, young fingers, and young, still-developing muscles.

Beyond these practical points, there is the aesthetic, spiritual, transcending outlet that music and the arts afford young, and sometimes turbulent, minds. There are, of course, many calls on the Government for funds in different directions, but I passionately believe that they discard this particular call at their peril.

4.26 pm

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it is a privilege to make my maiden speech on the important subject of education. I declare an interest as the director of New Schools Network, an educational charity that helps groups set up new, independent state schools. I begin by thanking all noble Lords and the staff of this House for the warm welcome they have given me. In the few weeks that I have been here, I have experienced the genuine kindness and tremendous assistance for which the House has such a well deserved reputation. I particularly thank my two supporters, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish of Furness.

My first challenge on being given this honour was to select my title; not something I ever expected to do. I chose Bowes Park, the area in Haringey in which I have lived for over 10 years. The heart of Bowes Park

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1074 

is Myddleton Road, named after the constructor of the New River, which flows through the area and was built in 1613, providing London with fresh drinking water ever since. Once a bustling high street, Myddleton Road fell into decline for many years but it is now showing encouraging signs of regeneration, thanks to a passionate local community. A new open-air gym—part of our Olympic legacy—a regular street market and, most excitingly, the opening of a café and gallery by two local entrepreneurs, are all playing their part in helping to revitalise the area.

I am delighted to become the youngest female member of the House, an honour passed on to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox. In doing so, I am also delighted to have doubled the number of noble Lords sitting in this House under the age of 40. In the 1984 presidential election campaign, a 73 year-old Ronald Reagan said that he would not make age an issue and exploit 56 year-old Walter Mondale’s youth and inexperience. I hope your Lordships will show me a similar indulgence.

I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating this debate. I was fortunate enough to go to Henrietta Barnett, an excellent state school, and am well aware of the advantages it gave me. I already know from this debate that your Lordships will agree that all children are entitled to a good education. Because of this, it has been a privilege for me to be involved with free schools: first at Policy Exchange, helping to develop the programme, and most recently at New Schools Network, supporting teachers, parents, charities and community groups in actually setting them up. I am all too well aware of, and have seen at first hand, the passion and dedication of those committed to improving education in their local communities. Across the state education system we are seeing the real, positive impact that giving freedom to our best teachers is having on raising standards, particularly for some of our most deprived pupils. There is exciting innovation: to name just a few of these, we are seeing the first bilingual schools; new approaches to teaching maths, drawing inspiration from the Far East; and schools that have a no-excuses culture, which helps raise the aspirations of their students.

On the subject of this debate, Britain has an unparalleled cultural heritage. Today, as has already been mentioned, our creative industries are worth more than £70 billion a year to our economy. It is imperative that our education system equips young people with the skills and knowledge to take advantage of the opportunities in this dynamic sector. At New Schools Network we have been delighted to support a number of new schools which have taken an innovative approach to arts education.

East London Arts & Music is a school that has direct involvement from some of the biggest names in the music industry. Its mission is to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in that industry, be it as technicians, producers or artists. The world class Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts has opened a primary school whose creative curriculum draws on that city’s rich heritage. Wac Arts uses the performing arts to re-engage young people who have struggled in mainstream education. As has already been made

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1075 

clear in this debate, a well rounded education is fundamental to ensuring that young people make the best possible start in life. It should be available to all, regardless of their background, and must not become a luxury for those who can afford it.

In this globally competitive world, young people need to develop confidence and resilience. They need to be able to communicate effectively and think creatively. Research demonstrates that participation in the arts can help pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, develop those characteristics. The importance of arts education across the state sector must not be underestimated. I hope that my short contribution today shows my commitment to ensuring that all young people get the best opportunities in life. I look forward to contributing to the work of the House in this and many other areas.

4.31 pm

Baroness Kidron (CB): My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak after the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park. Her absorbing maiden speech was dignified by her commitment to education and her history in public policy and both will be of great benefit to this House. I was particularly glad to hear her speak of the value of arts to those young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I join all Members from all sides of the Chamber in welcoming her to this debate and more broadly to the work of the House, in which I am sure she will play a formidable role.

I also must thank my noble friend Lord Clancarty for making such an excellent introduction. I want to associate myself with absolutely everything he said. He is tireless in bringing this subject to the House and admirable in the way and the seriousness with which he does so. I have many interests in this area, which are all recorded on the register.

I have considerable sympathy for the Secretary of State for Education, the right honourable Nicky Morgan MP, who earlier this month made a clarion call for girls to take up science and maths at school. As a camerawoman and film director of 35 years’ standing, I am familiar with the obstacles inherent in stepping outside traditional gender roles. However, in valorising the sciences she chose to pit art and science against each other. Her given reason was that the,

“world is changing beyond recognition, at a pace unmatched by any other point in history”.

In that explanation, I felt that she was mistaken. Rather than requiring this binary opposition, the new world demands a mix of skills. A world with infinite information requires us to filter what is useful and to imagine the content and source of that information. A world delivered digitally not only requires digital literacy but visual literacy in order to understand and to contribute to its predominantly visual language. A world in which user-generated content is a primary economic driver demands one to be one’s own photographer, publisher, graphic artist and computer programmer, whether one is a hotelier, an academic or a journalist.

Perhaps not surprisingly for a world designed as a network of networks, there is an emphasis on teamwork. Global companies which invent “disruptive” businesses with their flatter, leaner hierarchies work across projects

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1076 

deliberately in cross-functional and multidisciplinary teams. In schools, young people learn to work together in drama, sport, dance and film, all of which are disciplines in which a common objective and not just individual attainment is key. In the GCSE drama course, one’s grade actually depends to some degree on the performance and discipline of one’s peers. For our new world, that is indeed a precious lesson.

At school, the young learn visual literacy from graphics, design, art, photography and film, though, as other noble Lords have said, film is no longer mentioned in the national curriculum for the first time in almost two decades. In school, critical thinking is developed across all of the humanities and the arts, as well as science and maths. In short, the skills necessary for our world are present right across the curriculum.

This text from the home page of the MIT Media Lab embodies the culture of the rapidly changing world to which the Education Secretary refers:

“The MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas”,


“in more than 25 research groups on more than 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to a stackable electric car for sustainable cities, to advanced imaging technologies than can ‘see around the corner’”.

On a visit to the Media Lab last year, I met musicians, philosophers, social scientists, mathematicians, medics and linguists. There was one woman whose entire research trajectory was about the colour of words. This is the world into which schoolchildren of today will emerge.

However, the narrative from Her Majesty’s Government appears to be that the arts are not central pillars in their vision of education. The EBacc, the emphasis on STEM subjects, discount codes and the new Progress 8 all structurally devalue and destabilise the place of arts in the curriculum. As a result, we are witnessing the inevitable gravitation, even in good schools, towards those subjects against which their performance is judged. The Department for Education’s own figures indicate a disproportionate fall in the hours of arts teaching and the number of arts teachers since 2010.

I am not arguing for the arts alone; I am, as the Minister knows, a passionate advocate of digital literacy across the entire curriculum and have argued for greater investment in teachers’ professional development to deliver the Government’s excellent computing curriculum. As I have said, I support wholeheartedly the Secretary of State’s call for girls to do science and maths, but it is simply the case that many, if not most, of the new workforce will have to have a complex matrix of skills and the fluidity to move between them.

I hope that other noble Lords will refer in detail to the extensive evidence on the role of arts in supporting social mobility, but I will briefly make this point: if we deprive disadvantaged young people of access to the arts on a measurable basis in school, we will create a situation where cultural capital will be the preserve of the already privileged. This will, in the future, decimate the pool of talent that we now enjoy right across all the art forms.

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1077 

I also put on the record the value of the arts in and of themselves: they are transformative and life enhancing and reflect what it means to be human. In their own right, moreover, they are a major contributor to GDP. Like top independent schools that see no reason to privilege one discipline over the other, the Government should not present a binary choice, but promote arts and science as single virtuous circle.

I therefore ask the Minister: given that our new world requires young people to have multiple skills, should not an arts subject be explicitly included in the Progress 8 measure? Should not the EBacc be dropped as a supplementary accountability measure? Should not the Government narrative be “STEAM not STEM”, because it is this narrative that determines funding, training and infrastructure, and ultimately the provision of arts in our schools?

4.40 pm

Baroness Nye (Lab): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Earl for securing this important debate, congratulate the noble Baroness on her maiden speech and thank other speakers for their contribution. I, too, am a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design in Education, which is so well served by the noble Earl and our chair, Sharon Hodgson. The APPG was set up to champion high-quality and inclusive arts education in our schools in the belief that art, craft and design are essential not only to our economy but to the cultural, creative and social well-being of everyone.

The Labour Party has always recognised that the arts are for everyone, for each and every individual and all our communities. However, I think that we all share a vision of every child having the chance to learn about the value and thrill of culture. I look forward to the speech of my noble friend Lord Smith of Finsbury because, under his stewardship, the previous Labour Government were able to ensure free admission to all our national museums and galleries which, I am pleased to say, the present Government have continued to support—although it is sad that museum visits by schoolchildren have decreased by one-third.

As has been said, the Government’s thinking in this area has been a little muddled, to say the least. The previous Culture Secretary supported STEM to STEAM, but that was at the same time as the then Education Secretary was busy devaluing creative education through the introduction of the EBacc. The new Education Secretary has waded in and compounded the problem by announcing that the best way to get a job is to drop arts and humanities, although the Culture Select Committee said in a recent report that,

“the crucial role of arts subjects … should be recognised and that art subjects should be added to the STEM subjects”.

Surely no one wants our young people to be denied fulfilling their unique potential, nor do we want the creative industries’ success story to stall. The Select Committee also recommended that a Minister from the Department for Education should attend the Creative Industries Council. Will the Minister say whether that has happened or will happen?

A quarter of schools withdrew non-EBacc subjects from their curriculum this academic year, and art was one of the most commonly withdrawn, according to

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1078 

Ipsos-MORI. Figures from the National Society for Education in Art and Design show that, since the introduction of the EBacc and changes to the discounting codes, the number of young people sitting arts GCSEs is in decline. The reduction in arts training places has resulted in fewer specialist arts teachers, and fewer hours are taught. The number of design and technology teachers has also been hit.

As the noble Baroness just said, it should not be a binary choice between STEM and art and design: both are important. For example, the Royal College of Art is running highly sought-after joint masters degrees with Imperial College London. According to Steve Jobs,

“technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

In that regard, I welcome the Government’s introduction of coding into the curriculum, but the video games industry needs artists as much as computer experts. That is why the Labour Party has commissioned an independent review, led by John Woodward, the former head of the UK Film Council, to consider, among other things, how better to link up education and training with the needs of the creative industries and the digital sector.

Literacy, numeracy and creativity are what the modern global economy demands, and I am sure that we have all enjoyed the excellent book, The Virtuous Circle, by John Sorrell, Paul Roberts and Darren Hanley, which has been sent to all of us for this debate. Sir John and Lady Frances Sorrell’s work on education, particularly in the area of design, have helped successive Governments, and I welcome their support for the newly formed Creative Industries Federation, because design is the bridge between arts, science, technology and business. Design has been defined as the,

“specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints”—

I apologise, because the last clause could have been written by the Treasury. However, it shows that design is relevant in almost every situation or environment.

For many years, I have been visiting the New Designers exhibition. It is the UK’s largest graduate design exhibition, showcasing the work of more than 3,000 of the very best graduates across a host of disciplines from 200 of the UK’s top art and design universities and colleges. It helped launch the careers of Thomas Heatherwick, Bethan Gray and Matthew Williamson, to name a few. I strongly recommend that your Lordships take the opportunity to visit the exhibition next year. You cannot walk away from that exhibition without a smile on your face after being enthused by the talent, potential and enthusiasm in the hall. A poll of this year’s students showed that almost half of them see themselves setting up their own creative businesses in the next five years, thereby adding to the creative capital in the UK. However, if the trend for young people at key stage 4 not to be able to access art and design courses continues, where will the new designers of the future come from?

This year the New Designers exhibition hosted two “creative Saturdays”, which offered children and young people their first taste of the professional design world.

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1079 

This was part of the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club, which offers young people aged 14 to 16 the opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university—free of charge, with half of them located in the most disadvantaged areas. They hope that 2,500 youngsters will be taking part by 2018. However, this is a programme aimed at complementing the curriculum, and it is not a substitute for one.

As Europe’s largest specialist art and design university, UAL, has said, the additional programmes funded by the Department for Education, like Saturday clubs, do not have the reach or capacity to engage with young people across the breadth of the country. Those young people need teachers who have had access to professional development. Ofsted has recommended that the Department for Education should explore how teachers could,

“improve the teaching of drawing and widen the impact of contemporary crafts-based initiatives”.

Craft skills generate over £3 billion for the UK economy and it is exceptionally worrying that GCSE craft courses have fallen by a quarter and higher education courses by a half. Will the Minister say whether the department is taking up the Ofsted recommendations and whether he is in favour of an annual subsidised entitlement to professional development programmes in art, craft and design?

Michael Gove said that he wanted state schools to be indistinguishable from the best fee-paying schools. The Cultural Learning Alliance interviewed the heads of some of the leading fee-paying schools in the country. All were of the view that cultural learning improves children’s attainment and that it is a duty to their children and their parents. Tony Little, of Eton College, told the Cultural Learning Alliance:

“By limiting the subjects that are valued, the EBacc is downgrading and reducing the potential for achievement”.

Does the Minister think that by not adding art to the STEM subjects we are on course for making state schools indistinguishable from fee-paying schools? Is it not strange that parents who pay for education expect a cultural offer but there are different expectations for the education provided through taxation? Unless art and design education is supported and encouraged at the very beginning of a child’s journey, there will be untapped potential for that child and for our country.

4.47 pm

Lord Bichard (CB): My Lords, this is a very timely debate and I too thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating it, and I certainly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on a maiden speech full of passion and commitment for education—which I very much applaud.

I am not an artist. I am not a designer. I am certainly not an actor. In fact my art teacher described me as the most boring pupil he had ever encountered. I thought this was a touch overstated, but it was a setback to my creative ambitions and left me with few options but to become a bureaucrat—which I did. I subsequently sought to rehabilitate myself and have been vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts London,

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1080 

which has already been mentioned, the chair of the Design Council, the chair of FILMCLUB, with the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, helping me, and I am now vice-chairman of Shakespeare’s Globe—an organisation which, without public money, works with more than 120,000 young people every year, creating productions with and for students. In those various capacities, I think I have come to understand the power of arts education, as well as its importance to young people, to society and to our economy. I want to give some specific reasons why we should champion the cause of arts education.

For a start, it enables young people with talent for the arts to develop their potential. Not everyone excels in the traditional academic subjects—as we have heard—but education must be about ensuring that every child fulfils their potential. We have a responsibility to ensure that our young creative talent has that opportunity, too. As the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, said, it also develops confidence. It develops the capacity to communicate and to present effectively. These are essential social and employability skills, which we know that many school leavers lack. As a result they struggle to engage, to find work and to assert themselves in society.

Arts education often helps children with learning difficulties to participate on a level playing field. I have seen countless moving examples of pupils who generally find school difficult coming alive in drama classes, in dance classes and in the arts generally. They are excited by the chance to play a full part in class activities, at last feeling a true equal. It also builds our creative engine for the future. Our creative industries fuel our economy, not least in London. They not only produce GDP, from a sector which is growing three times as fast as the rest of the economy, but provide the UK with a major international profile. That does not happen by accident. We have to develop the creative skills that we need, and we have to do that early. We cannot leave it to further and higher education.

Arts education helps to develop an understanding and an appreciation of the creative arts, which will enrich lives throughout the adult years, not only improving immeasurably people’s quality of life but building in our society a demand for the arts. In effect, arts education builds tomorrow’s appreciative and discerning audience. It teaches pupils the importance of resilience, determination and, yes, the need for courage. People used to be surprised when I spoke about courage at the university. However, what struck me quickly upon taking up that job was that arts students needed to have not only application and sustained effort but the courage to expose their work to criticism, some of it ill informed. That may, after all, be very good training for the next generation of politicians.

It helps pupils to work effectively in teams because art is rarely an isolated experience. Drama, dance, music and design are examples of where you need to work together to be successful, and that equips young people with another key life skill. It helps people to develop the ability to innovate and be creative beyond the boundaries of the creative arts. Our businesses need people who can be creative and think laterally. They need people capable of using their initiative—with the possible exception of the banking sector. They need

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1081 

people who have learnt the importance of challenging the accepted wisdom. Exposure to the arts and to the mindset of artists at an early age begins to build those invaluable capabilities. It also teaches you how to solve practical, not theoretical, problems. There is a danger that education can, too often, become concentrated on theories and not on practices.

Finally, your Lordships will be glad to hear, it provides the sheer joy of creative achievement. What can compare, for example, with being involved in a successful performance after weeks or months of rehearsals, setbacks, challenges and learning? That is a unique feeling, and one which will stay with you for the rest of your life.

I do not think that there is another subject which provides the same return on investment but it is essential that government recognise that, and recognise the arts as a core exam subject, as others have said, if that subject is not to become seen as second class. If it is seen as second class, teachers and students will walk away from it. They will vote with their feet. We have already had some statistics but it is worrying that the numbers of GCSE drama students has fallen by 25% in the past six years. Equally, it is important that Ofsted gives due regard to arts education in its inspections and more clearly defines what cultural development means, within the Ofsted guidance for inspectors, because we all know how significant Ofsted inspections are to schools. At present it is just one part of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and that is not good enough. We need to do better than that.

But I am in danger of proving my art teacher right and I do not want to detain the House unnecessarily; I want to end on a slightly lighter note. One of the things that people often tell you is that the arts cannot really cope with complex and difficult issues. Let me tell you that the arts are a way of helping young people to address the really complex and difficult issues. I have always loved the story, told by Sir Ken Robinson, of his going into a drawing class one day, sitting down alongside a young lad and saying, “And what are you drawing?” The young lad said, “I am drawing a picture of God”. Ken said, “But no one knows what God looks like”. The young lad responded, “Well, they will do in a few minutes’ time”. Never underestimate the power of the arts.

4.55 pm

Lord Maclennan of Rogart (LD): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for a most informative speech. He gave us a lot of statistics about the decline in the teaching of the arts in recent years. I do not want to repeat what he has said, but the points that he made were very forceful and I hope that they will be noticed and taken into account by the Government in considering what their policy towards education in the arts should be.

Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, I was a very privileged schoolboy. I should like to speak about that and how it has affected me and my outlook. Before I do so I want to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on a most passionate and informative speech. I look forward to hearing her in the future.

  27 Nov 2014 : Column 1082 

The privilege that I enjoyed was to be educated as a schoolboy at a private school in the west of Scotland, the Glasgow Academy, which at the time was the sole private school. The interest in the arts in that school was enormous. We had a school choir and when I started in it, it was led by the organist of Glasgow Cathedral. Subsequently we had another man who went to the University of Aberdeen and focused greatly on outreach, bringing in people who otherwise would not have the opportunities of the wider possibilities of the arts. I was entranced by the possibility of acting, but, with it being an all-boys’ school, as a young boy I was given largely female parts. I have acted as queen to King Richard II, Olivia in Twelfth Night and, in my last year, as Cinderella; but I also had the good fortune to be cast as Hamlet in my last year at school. I believe that this whole experience over the years gave me a greater degree of confidence than otherwise I would have had.

On the musical side, the head music teacher gave us all a big surprise when we came in on the first day of the first term, saying, “Under your desks there are 25 violins. I want you all to take them out and we will try to engage you in this”. The result was that a great many people went on to learn stringed instruments. I was lucky enough to become the leader of the school orchestra. I was very conscious of how privileged I was, and having heard this debate, which has been unanimously supportive of the arts in education, I would like to hear from the Minister in his reply how the Government will systematically restore the arts to their proper place in wider schooling and education.

We have had indications of the importance of creativity and the creative industries to the economy. It is not only true that this subject occupies many people and that there is a risk that this will decline if we do not stimulate education at the beginning, there is also another aspect: the arts bring in visitors from abroad and are hugely advantageous to our tourism. There is no city in the world like London in respect of its broad spectrum of arts, which cater for all visiting interests.

The extraordinary decline in professional arts teaching is something we must seriously regret. There are Ministers within the Government who are helpful in this. Edward Vaizey constantly talks about it and was reported earlier in the context of an article he had written with Michael Gove. However, the present Secretary of State for Education seems to be opposing the arts in favour of science. That is a great mistake. They are not exclusive. Indeed, music is highly mathematical. I cannot understand why the Secretary of State is indicating that if you do one, you cannot do the other. It is not inevitable that someone advantaged by education in the arts will be tied into an artistic career. For my part, I thought about it but decided to become a public international lawyer. Such a career was not excluded because I had spent a lot of time being involved in the arts. Even so, it is possible for people to proliferate their interests by becoming public international lawyers but also writing librettos and operas.

I commend that renaissance attitude to the Government and look forward greatly to hearing how the Minister believes that they should stimulate arts in education.