I am not saying that we are at this point ruling out a new offence in perpetuity or even in the very short term. We have said that we will go back to the Crown Prosecution Service, the DPP and the National Crime Agency, which is taking an increasing lead in this area, and say, “Listen, what is your experience? Does this need to be tightened? Does it need to be strengthened? Can you bring forward the prosecutions?”. We will try to get that review undertaken before Report, so that, should my noble friend wish to come to your Lordships’ House at that point, we might have more information available.

The new clause proposed by my noble friend Lord James in his Amendment 29 seeks to address behaviour related to the movement of children where there is no parental or guardian consent for doing so. I recognise

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that there are a number of scenarios where a child could be removed and placed in residence away from their parent or guardian without their consent, and not always with the apparently beneficial effect that my noble friend referred to in his father’s case. The Bill focuses on the high-harm crime of human trafficking, where a person is moved with a view to exploiting them. In cases where a child has been moved without the consent of parents or guardian, but where there was no intent to exploit the child, the individual who has moved the child may be charged with illegal adoption, immigration offences or kidnapping, depending on the facts of the case.

We want to keep these matters very much under review. We have questions based on the availability of evidence and still have some time between now and Report to review that. We will continue to be open to that and will look forward to looking at it again at that point. In the mean time, I ask my noble friend to consider withdrawing her amendment at this stage.

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps I may seek clarification on one point. One of the reasons for introducing the Modern Slavery Bill was a desire to have in one place all the offences that relate to slavery and servitude. In his response to the gaps identified by the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, he referred to other Acts—which are therefore not in the same place. If the objective of the Bill was to get clarity and to put all the legislation in one place, is that not a strong argument for the review and for separate offences? From the Minister’s answer, it sounded like the gaps identified are not covered by the Bill.

5.45 pm

Lord Bates: It is an argument not so much for the amendment as for the Bill. The argument for the Bill bringing together in one place all the offences relating to modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation is something with which we all agree. We are discussing whether there should be a specific child exploitation offence, which, as the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, highlighted, raises particular issues in relation to the Bill, but the whole purpose of the Bill is very much what my noble friend seeks, which is to bring the offences into one place, to provide one strategy and then to make sure that those who are responsible get out there and go after the people who commit these appalling crimes.

Lord James of Blackheath: I am prepared not to press my amendment provided that the Minister can confirm to me that he is satisfied—he may do it outside this meeting if he will—that the moral hazard of allowing any form of institution to sweep away the flotsam and jetsam by sending them abroad is outlawed by this Bill.

Lord Bates: Yes, I would be happy to do that. Perhaps the best way of doing so would be in writing to my noble friend. My noble friend has done a service to the Committee by reminding us of this country’s dark history regarding certain aspects of child exploitation,

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and it behoves us to have an element of humility when we look at other countries in that regard. I am happy to undertake to write to my noble friend.

Lord James of Blackheath: In view of that, I shall not press my amendment.

Baroness Doocey: My Lords, I am very grateful to all noble Lords for their contributions to this debate. It is an emotive topic, which absolutely everyone around the Committee wants to get right. We are all on the same side; this is not a question of one person versus another.

I feel strongly that we need a child exploitation clause. I have no doubt about that but will deal with a couple of points. The Minister gave an example of where the CPS had prosecuted somebody who was begging. I can give the Minister a number of examples where the CPS has not prosecuted in the case of begging, because it was advised that it was not possible to do so. The Minister also said that bringing babies into this country from baby farms with a view to illegal adoption would, under our laws, be illegal. I do not think that anyone would disagree with that, but you would have to find the people who had adopted those children illegally, and unless you did, how on earth could you prosecute them? We need to stop it happening. The Minister also said that it would be necessary to encourage the police to prosecute, but I worked with the Metropolitan Police for eight years and do not believe that they need any encouragement to prosecute. What they need are the tools of their trade in order to do so.

I certainly would not consider trying to argue points of law with the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and other noble and learned legal eagles, because I do not know the law. However, what I do know is that every single NGO that works on the ground with children says that what we have at the moment is not working. In this Bill, we have a cut-and-paste from lots of other Bills, putting it all in one place. But there is a major gap in the lack of a child exploitation clause, because it is not possible to prosecute somebody for exploiting a child under the Bill unless you can also prove that they were trafficked with a view to exploitation.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): Before the noble Baroness goes any further, I wish to reinforce the point that she made. She referred to the work that she has done with the Metropolitan Police. I suspect that she will have seen the debate in another place that took place on 4 September. I will cite the quotation given during that debate from a chief inspector of the Metropolitan Police who pointed out the flaws of the current proposals from a prosecution perspective. These were his words:

“If I was reading this from a lay perspective, I would not read into this Bill that a child begging, or using children to obtain fraud which is to their detriment, or putting a child out on the street to steal for sometimes 12 to 18 hours a day is trafficking and exploitation”.

Is that not the main thrust of the argument of the noble Baroness and why, between now and Report, we need to take very seriously the amendment that she has moved?

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Baroness Doocey: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for that interjection, which is very timely and demonstrates clearly the points I am trying to make. The other important point is that almost every senior barrister working on these prosecutions, whether advising the CPS or the police, takes the view that it is absolutely vital to have a separate child exploitation clause. Therefore, I am pleased that the Minister has said that the Government are willing to see more evidence, which we will make sure is provided, and to look again at this, because I have absolutely no doubt that we need it as a matter of urgency. How many times have we heard about a major scandal, where we then have a major investigation and hear lessons have been learnt, only to find a couple of months later that something very similar happens? Lessons are not learnt. Let us legislate to make sure not just that there is the corporate memory that is needed but that we can actually prosecute people for this.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: Is the noble Baroness absolutely convinced—because she sounds as though she is—that simply having a new law on the statute book will change this? We have a plethora of laws on the statute book at the moment and children languish in situations of neglect and exploitation—a range of different situations—simply because there is poor practice, a lack of resources and a total lack of understanding. Does she really believe—she probably does but needs to convince me—that another statute will actually change all that?

Baroness Doocey: Yes, the answer is that I do. The reason I do is because everyone who works with children and works in this field on a daily basis, and whose job or life is about trying to deal with child exploitation, believes that it will make an enormous difference. Therefore, I have no need to be convinced because I am utterly convinced. However, having listened to the Minister say that the Government are listening and are perhaps willing to moderate what they are going to do, I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 9 withdrawn.

House resumed.

NHS: Five Year Forward View


5.53 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, I shall now repeat a Statement made earlier this afternoon by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health about the NHS. The Statement is as follows.

“I wish today to make a Statement about the future of our NHS, one that I hope everyone in this House will welcome. In October, NHS England and its partner organisations published an ambitious Five Year Forward View that was welcomed across the political divide. Today, I will announce how the Government plan to implement that vision.

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Our response has four pillars. The first pillar is to ensure that we have an economy that can pay for the growing costs of our NHS and social care system: a strong NHS needs a strong economy. Some have suggested that the way to fund extra cost pressures is through new taxes, including on people’s homes. However, through prudent economic policies, the Government can today announce additional NHS funding in the Autumn Statement without the need for a tax on homes. The funding includes £1.7 billion to support and modernise the delivery of front-line care, and £1 billion of funding over four years for investment in new primary care infrastructure. That is all possible because under this Government we have become the fastest growing economy in the G7.

The NHS itself can contribute to that strong economy in a number of ways. It is helping people with mental health conditions to get back to work by offering talking therapies to 100,000 more people every year than four years ago. But the NHS can also attract jobs to the UK by playing a pivotal role in our life sciences industry. We have already attracted £3.5 billion of investment and 11,000 jobs in the past three years, as well as announcing plans to be the first country in the world to decode 100,000 research-ready whole genomes. Today, I want to go further by announcing that we are establishing the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership to bring together external researchers with NHS clinical teams to interpret genomic information so that we go further and faster in developing diagnostics, treatments and therapies for rarer diseases and cancers. Too often, people with such diseases have suffered horribly because it is not economic to invest in finding treatments. We want the UK to lead the world in using genetic sequencing to unlock cures that have previously been beyond our reach.

The second pillar of our plan is to change the models of care to be more suited for an ageing population, where growing numbers of vulnerable older people need support to live better at home with long-term conditions like dementia, diabetes and arthritis. To do that, we need to focus on prevention as much as cure, helping people to stay healthy without allowing illnesses to deteriorate to the point where they need expensive hospital treatment. Some have argued that to do that we need to make clinical commissioning groups part of local government and force GPs to work for hospital groups. Because this would amount to a top-down reorganisation, we reject this approach. We have listened to people in the NHS who say that more than anything the NHS wants structural stability going forward, and, even if others do not, we will heed that message.

We have already made good progress in improving out-of-hospital care. This year, all those aged 75 and over have been given a named GP responsible for their care, something that was abolished by the previous Government. From next year, not just over-75s but everyone will get named GPs. Some 3.5 million people already benefit from our introduction of evening and weekend GP appointments, which will progressively become available to the whole population by 2020. The better care fund is merging the health and social care systems to provide joined-up care for our most vulnerable patients. Alongside that, the Government

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have legislated, for the first time ever, on parity of esteem between physical and mental health. To deliver world class community care, we will need much better physical infrastructure. Today, I can announce a £1 billion investment fund in primary and community care facilities over the next four years. This will pay for new surgeries and community care facilities in the places where people most want them: near their own homes and families. These new primary care facilities will also be encouraged to join up closely with local jobcentres, social services and other community services.

Additionally, from the £1.7 billion revenue funding we are also announcing, we will make £200 million available to pilot the new models of care set out in the Five YearForward View. To deliver these new models, we will need to support the new clinical commissioning groups in taking responsibility, with partners, for the entire health and care needs of their local populations. So as well as commissioning secondary care, from next year they will be given the opportunity to co-commission primary care, specialist care, social care, through the better care fund and, for the first time, if local areas want to do it, public health. The NHS will therefore take the first steps towards true population health commissioning, with care provided by accountable care organisations.

A strong economy and a focus on prevention are the first two pillars of our plan. The third pillar is to be much better at embracing innovation and eliminating waste. We are making good progress in our ambition for the NHS to be paperless by 2018, and last month the number of A&E departments able to access summary GP records exceeded a third for the first time, while from next spring, everyone will be able to access their own GP record online. However, today, I want to go further: £1.5 billion of the extra £1.7 billion revenue funding will go on additional front-line activity. To access this funding, we will ask hospitals to provide assured plans showing how they will be more efficient and sustainable in the year ahead and deliver their commitment to a paperless NHS by 2018.

We also have to face the reality that the NHS has often been too slow to adopt and spread innovation. Sometimes this is because the people buying healthcare have not had the information to see how much smart purchasing can help contain costs, so from next year CCGs will be asked to collect improved financial information, including per-patient costings.

The best way to encourage investment in innovation is a stable financial environment, so I can today announce that the Government, in collaboration with NHS England, will give local authorities and clinical commissioning groups indicative multiyear budgets as soon as possible after the next spending review. We expect that NHS England and Monitor will follow this by modernising the tariff to set multiyear prices and make the development of year-of-care funding packages easier.

The NHS also needs to be better at controlling costs in areas such as procurement, agency staff, the collection of fees from international visitors and reducing litigation and other costs associated with poor care. I have announced plans in all these areas and we will agree the precise level of savings to be achieved through consultation with NHS partner organisations over the

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next six months. That will lead to a compact signed up to by the department, its arm’s-length bodies and local NHS organisations, with agreed plans to eliminate waste and allow more resources to be directed to patient care.

The final pillar of our plan is the most important and difficult of all. We can find the money, we can support new models of care, and we can embrace innovation, but if we get the culture wrong, if we fail to nurture dignity, respect and compassionate care for every single NHS patient, we are betraying the values that underpin the work done every day by doctors and nurses throughout the NHS. We have made good progress since the Francis report, with a new CQC inspection regime, six hospitals being turned round after being put into special measures, 5,000 more nurses on our wards, the My NHS website and 4.2 million NHS patients being asked for the first time if they would recommend to others the care they received.

In the next few months, however, we will go further, announcing new measures to improve training in safety for new doctors and nurses, launching a national campaign to reduce sepsis and responding to recommendations made in the follow-up Francis report, tackling issues around whistleblowing and the ability to speak out easily about poor care.

Under this Government, the NHS has, according to the independent Commonwealth Fund, become the top-ranked healthcare system in the world. In 2010, we were seventh for patient-centred care, and we have now moved to top. Under this Government, we have also become the safest healthcare system in the world. But with an ageing population, we face huge challenges.

How we prepare the NHS and social care system to meet those challenges will be the litmus test of this Government’s ambition to make Britain the best country in the world to grow old in. We are determined to pass that test and today’s four-pillar plan will help us to do just that. Our plan will need proper funding, backed by a strong economy, so I welcome yesterday’s comment by Simon Stevens that when it comes to money,

‘the Government has played its part’.

However, we also need ambitious reforms to the way we deliver care, focusing on prevention, innovation and a patient-centred culture that treats every single person with dignity and respect—proper reforms not as a substitute for proper funding but as a condition of it, with a long-term plan for the economy and a long-term plan for the NHS. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

6.04 pm

Baroness Wheeler (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for reading out the Statement. This weekend, a 16 year-old girl in need of a hospital bed was held for two days in a police cell because there was not a single bed available for her anywhere in the country. As we have warned before, this is by no means an isolated example. The BBC reported on Friday that seven other people had died recently waiting for mental health beds, and it is not just mental health. Last week, we were told of a stroke patient being ferried to hospital by police on a makeshift stretcher, made from

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blinds in his house, and who later died. This was one of a number of alarming reports of people waiting hours in pain and distress for ambulances to arrive.

To listen to the Statement today, you would have no idea that any of this is happening. That is the problem. Nothing the Minister has said today will address these pressures ahead of this winter. On mental health, does the Minister not accept that there is an undeniable need to open more beds urgently to stop appalling cases like the one at the weekend? What assessment has he made of the ability of the ambulance service to cope this winter and is there a case for emergency support on top of what has been announced? This Statement offers no help now to an NHS on the brink of its worst winter in years.

However, there is another major problem with the Statement. This weekend’s headlines promised £2 billion extra for the NHS but the small print revealed that it is nothing of the sort. It is interesting to note that the figure of £2 billion has not been used in the Statement today but is what the NHS is being led to believe it is getting. Will the Minister confirm that £700 million of the £1.7 billion that he talked about is not new money but already in his budget? A few weeks ago, his department told the Public Accounts Committee that it expects to overspend this year by half a billion pounds. If this is the case, would the Minister care to tell us where this £700 million is coming from and what services are being cut to pay for it? At the weekend we exposed NHS England’s plans to cut the funding for clinical trials, which would have affected thousands of very poorly patients. Is this one of the planned cuts to pay for this? Will the Minister now guarantee that funding for research and clinical trials will not be cut?

Not only is the £700 million recycled; we gather that another £1 billion will be funded from cuts to other departments. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned of “staggeringly big cuts” to local government in the next Parliament. The NHS Confederation has said that:

“If additional NHS funding comes at the expense of tough cuts to local government budgets, this will be a false economy as costs in the NHS will rise”.

Have the Government not learnt the lessons of this Parliament, namely that the NHS cannot be seen in isolation from other services and that cutting social care only leads to extra costs for the NHS?

Figures released on Friday revealed record numbers of older people trapped in hospital because the care was not there for them at home. This is the human consequence of the severe cuts to social care in this Parliament, and it is clear that the Government are preparing to do the same again in the next. Hospital A&Es have now missed the Government’s own target for 71 weeks running. Cancer patients are waiting longer for treatment to start. Everyone is finding it harder and harder to see a GP. Is it not the case that most of what the Government have announced will go to patching up the problems they have created, leaving less than a quarter for the new models of care outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View? The reality is that what has been announced provides nothing for the NHS now, is not what it seems and, because of that, will not be enough to prevent the NHS tipping into full-blown crisis if the Government are re-elected next year.

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It is impossible to see how the Government can find any more for the NHS than this because they have prioritised tax cuts for high earners and have not yet found the money to pay for those. That explains the desperate attempts to inflate these figures and make them sound more than they are. I ask the Minister: is it not the case that, to deliver the Five Year Forward View, the NHS needs truly additional money on the scale that Labour is proposing—an extra £2.5 billion over and above everything that he has promised today—and an ambitious plan for the full integration of health and social care?

The Government have said that they would be the Government who cut the deficit, not the NHS, but it is this Health Secretary who has created a deficit in the NHS and it is because of that deficit that cancer patients are waiting longer, A&E is in crisis and children are being held in police cells, not hospital beds. The reality is that the Statement has nothing of comfort to offer to these patients.

Finally, I want to comment on the terrible irony of the reference in the Statement to the Government rejecting the top-down reorganisation approach. The Statement says that the Government,

“have listened to people in the NHS who say that more than anything the NHS wants structural stability going forward”.

I am sure that the House would be very pleased to hear how the Government consider their £3 billion, top-down reorganisation has delivered structural stability and whether, with hindsight, the Minister can admit that the money would have been much better spent on improving patient care.

6.10 pm

Earl Howe: My Lords, I normally thank the Opposition spokesmen for their comments, but that was an absurdly negative response, if I may say so. It does the noble Baroness no credit to do that amount of shroud-waving. She knows perfectly well that the case that she has put is grossly overegged. Yes, of course, the NHS is under pressure; we all know that. There is rising demand on a scale that we have never seen, but it ill befits the party opposite, which agrees that more money is needed for the NHS, to take issue with the money that we are announcing today. I would have hoped that she would have welcomed that, but she has not.

I shall answer the noble Baroness’s questions about where the money has come from. We never pretended that the whole £1.95 billion was new money. Some £550 million comes from reprioritised programme work that we have reallocated from the department; £150 comes, similarly from work that NHS England has reprioritised. So the Treasury is providing an additional £1 billion of funding; the department, as I say, is doing its bit; and the Treasury is also providing additional funding of £1 billion over the next four years, to support investment in out-of-hospital infrastructure and facilities. The £700 million that the Treasury is not providing as new money is made up of savings from a number of programmes which come to a natural end in 2014-15. There are back-office savings and there is contingency funding which is no longer needed. These savings have been found

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without impacting on existing front-line services, so this funding provides a genuinely additional boost to the NHS.

As for the Treasury’s new money, £1 billion from the forex fines will fund the £1 billion fund over four years to invest in out-of-hospital infrastructure, but the Government’s tight financial management has seen departments continue to exceed savings targets. Historical underspends have been quite considerable. The largest were generated by the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Education and the Department for International Development. These underspends demonstrate the Government’s firm grip of the public finances and continued improvements in spending control and financial management. They allow us to be confident in reallocating spending within the overall totals for 2015-16 to priorities in the health service.

The noble Baroness mentioned mental health. We remain committed to investing in mental health services. The Deputy Prime Minister will be making a full announcement soon, outlining how we will invest an additional £45 million on mental health services. As for the current year, to which she also referred, we have already made significant additional funding available for the NHS this year to support winter and system-resilience planning and to tackle long waits for operations. Robust plans are in place to maintain and improve NHS performance through the rest of this year and we are confident that the NHS will live within its budget this year.

The noble Baroness also mentioned social care and the pressures on those services. Through the better care fund we are moving to a position where we see health and social care no longer as separate budgets and services, but rather as the same thing—a position the patient and carer have been in for a number of years. Any investment in the NHS will provide benefit to social care and, as the Five Year Forward View sets out, the NHS will take decisive steps to break down the barriers in how care is provided between health and social care. This funding will help kick-start that.

As for the noble Baroness’s final barb about the Government’s reforms, I put it to her that the NHS is now set fair to work with the system that we have established. In other words, we have established a system that has health and well-being boards looking at the health priorities of a whole area, with clinicians embedded in that prioritisation process, commissioning for the health needs of an area, and public health centred on local authorities, which many regard as its natural home. We have clinical leadership in those clinical commissioning groups, something we did not have before these reforms, and we have saved a packet of money. The noble Baroness referred to the £3 billion cost of the reforms. That figure is fiction, as I am sure she knows because I have said it many times. The gross cost of the reforms was roughly £1.5 billion. During this Parliament, we will be saving, net, £4.9 billion as a result of the reforms, with £1.5 billion recurring year after year. This is a massive boost to front-line capacity in the NHS and nobody should forget that. This was a set of reforms designed to benefit patients and, by that measure, I put it to the House that it has succeeded in spades.

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6.16 pm

Lord Willis of Knaresborough (LD): I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement. I echo the point that, while many of us on all sides of the House may have disagreed with some of the structural changes in the Health and Social Care Act, the last thing the health service wants is another structural reorganisation. The plan by the party opposite to scrap the Health and Social Care Act is a real worry to many professionals. I say to my noble friend that no matter how much money the Chancellor promised today, it will not be enough to meet the demands of a changing healthcare system, where we are seeing, year on year, because of the success of the NHS, people living longer and with lots of different comorbidities.

I have a concern about the Statement. I actually think that Simon Stevens’s report is an excellent report and one that should have united this House rather than dividing us. After all, his pedigree comes from working with the Labour Party on the early reforms in the last Parliament. What really worries me is that neither in Simon Stevens’s report, nor in the Statement, is there a mention of the other crucial element, which is the workforce. The workforce and, indeed, the work of Health Education England, is not even worth a mention in the Statement—yet it is the 500,000 nurses and the 1.4 million care workers who bind the health and care system together and who will deliver the integrated health and social care which all of us in this House want to see.

Will my noble friend make it clear today that no savings will be made by reducing Health Education England’s budget? Will he state clearly that there will be investment in the skills of our staff in order that Simon Stevens’s plan actually works and that we can make it a realisation rather than a hope?

Earl Howe: My noble friend is absolutely right. One of the critical elements of the Five Year Forward View is to ensure that we have the right number of staff with the right qualifications in the right places. While Health Education England is the body charged with ensuring that that happens, it is up to us in government to ensure that there is adequate funding to enable it to do that. I can assure my noble friend that Ministers are very clear that Health Education England should be fully supported to deliver the programme that it has mapped out for itself. That programme is an exciting one. It involves more doctors and nurses in training over the next few years. Our ambition is to see by 2020 an extra 10,000 people working in primary care, for example—and that is only one detail.

As a result of the Government’s reforms to the health service, we have been able to afford a large number of extra posts in front-line care, including doctors and nurses in both primary and secondary care. We have done that by reducing the number of administrators in the system—20,000 fewer than there were in 2010. My noble friend is right to draw attention to this issue; it is one that is very much in our focus.

Lord Liddle (Lab): My Lords, pursuing the point about the integration of health and social care—I declare an interest as a member of Cumbria County Council—we in Cumbria face a situation where already

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our budget has gone down by over £100 million, we face another £80-odd million of cuts in the next four years, and this does not take account of the cost of the tax reductions that the Conservative Party is promising. The numbers of staff will have declined by 2,500 from 2010 to 2017, out of a staff of about 8,000. In this situation, it is impossible to protect social care. It is interesting that the Government are promising a longer-term perspective on health funding. Does this perspective apply to social care funding as well? What guarantees are the Government able to give that they will continue to fund local councils adequately in order to meet the rapidly growing demands of social care?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the noble Lord makes a very good point. It is for precisely that reason that we have looked at the mechanism that we have called the Better Care Fund to bring together budgets for health and social care. It will amount in practice to a transfer of funding into social care from the NHS. We are clear that that is the best way in which we can realise the vision that we have set, which is a preventive one for people—in other words, to forestall admissions to hospital.

Local government is feeling the strain—I do not seek to deny that—but so are many other areas of our national life. Up to now, the Better Care Fund aside, we have found an extra £1.1 billion from the NHS budget to bolster local authority budgets, and we are maintaining public health allocations at the same figure as before, so no cuts there. I realise that the strains are considerable and that local authorities are having to find ingenious ways of moving forward, but I am encouraged by the Better Care Fund plans that are coming forward; they look credible and exciting in terms of the quality of care that local authorities are now looking at.

Lord Walton of Detchant (CB): My Lords, it may be thought inappropriate that someone of my age should comment upon what is called a forward view but which is in fact a five-year plan. Having said that, I have listened carefully to the Statement repeated by the Minister with his characteristic lucidity and authority, and although I have heard many five-year plans discussed by Governments of all parties over the past 66 years since the NHS began, I think that there are features of this one that are quite important, not least the crucial importance of integration between medical and social care. Will the additional funding that the Minister announced be capable of introducing and maintaining a seven-day week in the NHS, in the community and in the hospitals, which has been long awaited? That is a very important point.

I welcome what the Minister said about developments in the training of healthcare professionals; that is a crucial point at this stage in NHS development. I also welcome what he said about developments in biomedicine. In what way are the Government going to be able to handle the many new orphan and ultra-orphan drugs that are now coming on stream for the treatment of rare diseases, as a result of research in the NHS, which are going to be extremely costly? Is this going to be handled by NICE or do the Government have any specific plans regarding that problem?

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Earl Howe: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Walton, for his welcome of the Statement and indeed of the Five Year Forward View, which I think commanded a great deal of support from many quarters. He asked about the seven-day working plans for the NHS. Part of the Better Care Fund plans involves local areas committing, in one form or another, to seven-day working. Unless we have seven-day working in hospitals, we cannot hope to achieve the smooth and timely discharge of patients. That means a change in approach by a number of professionals. It does not mean that every professional will need to work seven days a week—no one has ever suggested that—but it means a shift in approach by social services, and by consultants in hospitals, in a way that in some areas we have not seen. In other areas this is already happening, and we can build on those models.

On the noble Lord’s question on biomedicine and orphan drugs, he is of course as well informed as he always is on these matters. Orphan drugs, as and when they come forward, can indeed be expensive, particularly if they are termed a stratified medicine applicable to only a narrow cohort of patients. In those instances we will expect NICE to make an assessment of these high-cost, low-volume treatments under its new methodology for those drugs. NICE is already engaged in a number of work streams in those areas. It is right that we take that approach. We have to have some methodology that commands confidence, to ensure that the NHS receives treatments that are not only clinically effective but provide value for money.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I thank the Minister and congratulate him on what he has said. However, does he not accept that at the end of five years, welcome though this new injection of money is, there will be even greater demands and greater needs? Will he reflect on the debate introduced last year by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, where almost every speaker from all sides of this House indicated that there is a need for a plurality of funding if our National Health Service is to avoid further problems and disasters? Will he therefore reflect on the wisdom of establishing, with all-party support, a royal commission on the funding of the NHS that can look at everything and rule nothing out? If we are to have a world-class service through this century, we cannot resort to sticking plasters from time to time; we must have a new model of funding.

Earl Howe: My Lords, my noble friend, as ever, has rightly identified the likelihood of greater and greater demands on our health service over the coming years. Certainly, building a non-partisan consensus is something to be desired regarding the way that we fund our health service. Having said that, I can tell my noble friend that there has been no thinking whatever on the part of Ministers to depart from the current model of funding for the NHS. We believe passionately that the NHS should be free at the point of use, regardless of ability to pay. That is one of the core principles on which the NHS has been founded since 1948 and it is paid for out of general taxation. While I take on board my noble friend’s desire to look afresh at this area, I think that we have

1 Dec 2014 : Column 1164

some way to go before cross-party talks need to take place. We are clear that we can proceed on the current basis.

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): The noble Earl has always taken a very serious attitude towards his ministerial responsibilities and he has just spoken about the desirability of moving to an all-party consensus on health matters. Does he not therefore rather regret, in retrospect, that the Government decided to spin this announcement, leaking it in advance of the Statement in the House of Commons and putting it about that there was £2 billion of new money for the NHS—the implication being that this was the result of more buoyant government revenues because of a higher growth rate? In fact, it is nothing of the kind as the noble Earl has now revealed to the House. It is roughly £1 billion being reallocated within the NHS budget and £1 billion being reallocated from other department budgets, including from defence where there has been underspend, which is very damaging to this country’s interest. Would it not have been better, and easier to develop a consensus in this country—to which the noble Earl quite rightly looks forward—if in fact the Government were slightly more straightforward and candid with the public over announcements of this kind?

Earl Howe: I do not think one can develop a consensus prior to a government Statement—that is probably wishing for the moon. The charge that the noble Lord levels against the Government is also, if I may say so, misplaced. We have never pretended that all the money being announced today is new money. I do not seek to suggest that, as I have already explained. As regards the timing, I think it is standard practice for key elements of the Autumn Statement to be trailed ahead of the formal announcement. However my right honourable friend the Chancellor will confirm everything we have said today in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, and that is as it should be.

Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB): My Lords, the Minister has not said anything about specialised units. I declare an interest as president of the Spinal Injuries Association. Spinal units are vitally important when patients need treatment, yet some spinal units have cut the services of physiotherapists and occupational therapists, who are vital for rehabilitation. The answer is always, “It is up to the trusts”. The trusts can be wrong and in this case they are. Can the Minister give an assurance that there will be enough trained doctors, nurses and therapists for the next five years in spinal units?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I will have to take advice about that question. What I can say is that we now have in place a system of workforce planning that is better than its predecessor. I do not think there can ever be such a thing as a perfect system of workforce planning. We now have a national body, Health Education England, that is responsible for making sure that we have adequate numbers of professionals with the right skills. However, we also have local education training boards whose members include representatives from the acute trusts. It is up to those boards to make clear

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what the requirements are for trained staff and feed those requirements up to Health Education England so that planning over the coming years can be done in a rational and sensible way. I would expect that spinal units should make their case in that fashion so that if there is a need for physiotherapists in spinal units, and those physios are—for any reason—not available, then they will come forward in adequate numbers in years to come.

Lord Patel (CB): My Lords, the Minister started his Statement by saying that the Government recognise the importance of life sciences in both economic growth and in delivering mental health care. Of course, I would agree with that and I take it from the Statement that the Government therefore have no intention of cutting the budget of either clinical or medical research in the spending review to come. I welcome the suggestion that the Government will recruit more people to decode genetic information. Of course, we will need that if we are to develop better biomarkers or drugs for treatment, but the personalised medicine that would lead to is expensive and the budgets it will require will be far greater that what we have now.

I also welcome the idea that we integrate the care of patients and do not have a demarcation between primary care, community care and hospital care, but the model that he suggested might not quite do that. He might like to reassure us that the model he has in mind is of complete integration of care, otherwise we will not win the battle for better care for people suffering from long-term conditions.

The comment about future budgets requires a greater debate. I have read the review in detail and it is a bold statement to say we can conduct a five-year review of healthcare without any further restructuring. I, for one, do not mind some restructuring if it will lead to better delivery of healthcare.

Earl Howe: I think that the restructuring the Government believe is necessary is the restructuring of the delivery of care and the culture, as the Statement made clear. What we do not think necessary is a restructuring of the architecture of the National Health Service. That has been done and, as I have said, we are set fair for the future. As regards integration, will it be complete integration? “Integration” is a word that is bandied about and it will mean different things in different areas, depending on what is necessary. We are clear that the better care fund plans, for example, which focus on this idea of integration, should most definitely involve the acute sector and social care along with primary and community care, and in many cases other disciplines as well. Pharmacy, for example, has a major part to play in reducing unplanned hospital admissions and I could cite many other professional disciplines. It depends on what each area requires.

I cannot give an answer on the research budget in the next spending review because that spending review will be conducted by the next Government, whoever they will be. Meanwhile, we are clear that the research budget is an absolutely essential part of the NHS’s future ability to provide quality care for patients over the long term. As the noble Lord knows, we have protected that budget during this Parliament.

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Modern Slavery Bill

Committee (1st Day) (Continued)

6.38 pm

Clause 2: Human trafficking

Amendments 10 to 12 not moved.

Amendment 13

Moved by Lord Bates

13: Clause 2, page 2, line 4, at end insert “(whether V is an adult or a child)”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): The noble Baroness, Lady Goudie, has caught us slightly on the hop with her amendments, so we have got to government Amendment 13. This is one of a number of amendments I have tabled to ensure that we are clear and consistent in showing that the offences in the Bill are effective for children. The amendment makes clear that the consent of a victim to their travel is irrelevant, regardless of whether they are an adult or a child. This reflects the fact that many adult victims of trafficking believe, for example, that they are travelling into the UK to do a job or for a better life, and so they consent to that travel without knowing the severe abuse which may lie ahead of them. This provision has been in the Bill throughout, but we thought it helpful to spell out that it applies to all people, including children.

I now turn to a number of amendments further on which relate to trafficking. The approach we have taken in the Bill in defining trafficking reflects the same broad approach that has been taken in our legislation since trafficking was first created as an offence here in 2002, an approach that is tried and tested and well understood by law enforcement. I acknowledge the real concerns that defining the offence differently in the Bill would add unnecessary confusion for law enforcement and prosecutors, who understand and use the trafficking offence, when we want them to focus on gaining more convictions in practice. When giving evidence to the Public Bill Committee in another place, the Director of Public Prosecutions highlighted that the offences in the Bill are clearer than the alternatives which the pre-legislative scrutiny committee suggested.

Both alternative approaches to defining trafficking also, probably inadvertently, could make prosecution harder than under the offence as set out in the Bill, because they seek to tie the conduct element of the offence to the specific means set out in the EU directive. There is no requirement for any particular means to be involved in the conduct element of the offence in the Bill or in existing law, so replacing this approach with an exhaustive list which indicates the means through which someone may be trafficked would have a narrower effect than the current provision. I doubt that anyone would want to see that happen. That relates to Amendment 13, which stands in my name. I am happy to respond to other amendments as they are spoken to by other noble Lords. I beg to move.

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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for moving his amendment, which I am happy to support, but I wish to discuss some profound changes in relation to the offence of trafficking and will therefore speak to Amendments 23 and 25. Our opposition to Clause 3 standing part of the Bill is of course consequential on those two amendments.

Amendment 23 aims to delete the current definition of human trafficking and insert a new one based on international definitions, while Amendment 25 would create a separate offence of exploitation to ensure that a conviction can still happen without the element of travel. We have a unique opportunity here to strengthen the law, with a view to protecting victims and to securing more prosecutions. The fact there are so few prosecutions shows that the current definitions do not work, although I well understand the view expressed earlier by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, that the Bill must be a means of prevention, not just a means to more prosecutions.

I do not understand why the Government have decided, as the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, said earlier, to copy and paste existing offences into this new Bill. If the offences have not worked in the past, I do not believe that they will work after the Bill has been enacted. At Second Reading, various examples were given by my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe—more have been given today—of perpetrators who should have been prosecuted but who were either not prosecuted or prosecuted for lesser offences. In the discussion on the last group, the Minister said that we must not make it more difficult to secure prosecutions, which of course I agree with, that we need to increase awareness, which is absolutely right, and that we need more training, which I certainly agree with. Given that in debates on other Bills we have talked about the need for training, but it has simply not happened, I wonder whether in due course we should make certain sorts of training mandatory. However, that is for another day. Notwithstanding those facts, even if there were increased awareness and better training, it would not be enough, although I note that the noble Lord will have further discussions with the DPP and CPS between now and Report.

6.45 pm

My noble friend Lord Rosser and I are not alone in our views: many noble Lords spoke of these things at Second Reading, as have many of our colleagues in the House of Commons. A wide range of groups have been pushing for a new definition of human trafficking and a separate offence for exploitation, including the coalition of groups that have come together to form the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group with the help of legal experts in trafficking, including barristers. The Joint Committee on the draft Bill was concerned about existing gaps and loopholes. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation noted that the current clauses,

“do not capture the full array of situations linked to”,

slavery and exploitation. Particularly where it may be difficult to prove slavery, we have to ensure that another offence is available to secure a conviction. If not, these crimes will go unnoticed and will only materialise over time as more severe forms of exploitation, which would subsequently amount to forced labour and slavery.

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We have concerns as regards the current definition of human trafficking in the Bill and the weight it places on travel and movement. Trafficking does not always require movement. In reality, it is conducted through acts which include recruitment, harbouring and transferring, and the receipt, exchange or transfer of control over another person. The absence of these specific terms is problematic in cases involving large criminal networks, where different people take different roles in the trafficking process. It is also a problem where victims arrange their own travel into and around the UK and to the site of exploitation, which often occurs when individuals are deceived about work conditions or when conditions deteriorate over time.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission says that the prerequisite of travel in the offence means that,

“it may not be possible to prosecute those involved in the trafficking chain where there is no movement”.

Therefore, those involved in the initial stages of trafficking—for example, those who recruit victims—may not necessarily be convicted under the current definition. The draft Bill committee also pointed out that under the current definition it would be hard to convict someone who trafficked a victim—that is to say, moved them—but did not care how the victim would be treated by the person they delivered the victim to. In that case, the defendant does not intend or believe anything about the future treatment of the victim, and therefore would not be caught by Clause 2.

The language in our definition of human trafficking reflects the language used by the International Labour Organization, in article 2 of the EU directive on trafficking, Article 4 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and Article 3 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, also known as the Palermo Protocol. As noble Lords will know, the human trafficking definition was established in an internationally binding treaty integrated into the national laws of some 134 countries. We are an international player, we live in a globalised world and we have to ensure that our definitions are in line with our international obligations. Focusing on travel and movement could incorrectly be linked to immigration—I think we will look at that sort of problem later. Moreover, it fails to capture the reality of modern trafficking. The words,

“arranges or facilitates the travel of another person”,

are far too simplistic to enable effective prosecutions. The draft Bill committee concluded that the offences in Part 1,

“fail to capture current or potential future forms of modern slavery”.

As the Bill is currently drafted, there is no separate offence of exploitation; it would only be part of Clause 2 and should fall within the criteria of Clause 3. Clause 3 cannot even be looked at unless the conditions of Clause 2 are fulfilled. Clause 3 fails to include two of the most common forms of exploitation: forced begging and exploitation for the purpose of begging, as discussed earlier. The draft committee recommended a separate clause on exploitation that would apply in situations where the victim is an adult, there is no travel and the standard need to secure a child exploitation offence has not been secured by the prosecution.

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The creation of separate offences for adult exploitation and trafficking and for child exploitation and trafficking would create an overlapping pattern to ensure that the offences were watertight and to give the courts—both judge and jury—a selection of offences to consider. The then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales—the most senior criminal judge in the country—the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said,

“that is another aspect of the Bill that troubles me. We are making provisions for slavery, servitude and compulsory labour in clause 1 of the Bill. In clause 2, trafficking is the offence. It becomes an offence because you do it with a view to exploitation—knowing, believing or whatever words are chosen to be used. You could have an offence of trafficking, full stop, and a separate offence of exploiting. As it stands at the moment, you have a single offence with two parts—here is the trafficking, and it is with a view to exploitation”.

He goes on to say:

“My concern reading clause 2 and the various subclauses is, ‘Is this really what we want?’—a single offence that has two ingredients, rather than two separate offences and, possibly, a third offence, which would put the two together”.

We take the same view.

In giving evidence to the draft Bill committee, Detective Inspector Roberts of Kent Police gave the example of the Lithuanian chicken catchers who were living in squalid conditions and paid very poorly. Even though their experiences were dreadful, their case did not amount to slavery or forced labour, as the bar was too high in current legislation. This is a prime example that proves how the current law is not working. So why duplicate it when here we have an opportunity to make it more effective? We believe that we need a separate exploitation offence that captures vile criminal behaviour which does not quite meet the threshold of the other offences in the Bill and in current legislation.

I know that the Minister will say what he said earlier in respect of children, that creating two separate offences can create risk and confusion, and there is a plethora of legislation already in place, but we believe that having the two new offences will create certainty and clarity and, most importantly, will lead to more prosecutions. I well understand if the Minister and others think that the definition in our amendment might not be perfect, and I know that reaching a definition on exploitation is extremely difficult, but the amendment provides a sound basis for further work.

Leading judges, barristers, legal experts, members of the CPS and senior members of the police are all telling us that there is a problem with the current drafting of the offences in the Bill and that the current legislation is not working. I believe that we have to listen to them. As the Minister will know, the modern slavery strategy has four main components, the first of which is “pursue”—that is, prosecuting and disrupting individuals and groups responsible for modern slavery. We agree with that aim, which is why I am speaking to these amendments.

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, on that last point—on Amendment 24—the noble Baroness and the House will understand how much I support the need to look at an offence of exploitation, because that, after all, was the rationale for my Amendment 100 in the earlier group.

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However, if we take the point—which I absolutely do—about fitting in with international legislation, I wonder about the suggestion of a separate offence of trafficking and exploitation, because Article 2 of the directive, which has been referred to, is about trafficking “for” exploitation. So one has to be careful about making sure that we do fit in. However, on the point of whether there should be a separate offence of exploitation, yes, I am absolutely in agreement with that.

Whether, as the noble Baroness says, the list is the one that one would want to end up with—and, I have to say, whether it is something one would want to go to without the opportunity of consultation, which is why I had my amendment in the form that I had it in—I am not sure. The term “on the hoof” was used earlier. I would not quite say that, because we have all been thinking about this for some time, but we have to be quite careful before creating more offences, important as they are.

The issue of the international—the European, at any rate—definitions concerns me greatly. The Government have reassured us that all our international obligations are covered, and I do not doubt for a moment their good faith, but I wonder whether there is a sort of natural, human reluctance to change a provision to something that was “not invented here”. I am sorry if that is cruel.

I would accept, at least as an argument to be explored, being told that because the offences in the Bill repeat offences from earlier legislation, there was case law that we did not want to lose. However, I put that to members of the Bill team and they said that at that point it was not in their thinking.

I wonder, and I ask the Minister, whether there could be a direct reference to Article 2 of the directive, such as to any act proscribed by that article—or, to put it another way, to say that “travel” shall be construed as including the intentional acts punishable under that article. This is drafting on the hoof, but the article deals with harbouring and reception, which are among the items that are causing us all quite a lot of trouble.

I will put a specific example to the Minister. A man who is grooming a young woman arranges to meet her when she is travelling—undertaking travel in the normal sense of the word—and then his mates or customers, whatever you want to call them, happen to be at that meeting point and he passes her on to others to be raped. If he said, “See you at the Station Hotel. Come and have a drink—you get there under your own steam—and we can hang out”—is that arranging travel within Clause 2, the trafficking offence? I am concerned that there may be a distinction between that and, “I’ll pick you up at nine on the corner and we will go—I will drive you—to the Station Hotel and we will have a drink and hang out”. That is the sort of thing that worries me as to whether Clause 2 is sufficiently extensive.

I have Amendment 27 in this group. That would add in, at the end of the first subsection of Clause 3, actions or offences that are planned or in contemplation. This is simply probing. Clause 2(1) covers travel with a view to exploitation. Clause 3 seems to require the commission of an offence, not just having it in view. So if people are transported with a view to their being exploited but, for instance, are found at a port of entry

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before they have been exploited, is that covered? I think that that is what is meant by Clause 2(1), but I want to be certain and this seemed to be the time to raise the point.

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has looked at the directive. I have gone back to the convention of the Council of Europe, which comes before the directive but is couched in very similar terms. I am somewhat surprised that the noble Baroness, Lady Goudie, did not pursue her amendments, because they seem to me to be closer to what is needed. They wanted to put in the phraseology that is in the convention and the directive: “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons” and so on. Clause 2 is fine so far as it goes, but it does not go quite far enough.

We seem to have an extraordinary English desire for the word “traffic” to mean movement. However, that is not how it is seen across Europe. What worries me about that is that this is going to be a flagship Bill of great importance which may well be followed by countries round Europe and far beyond. However, we may not fall in line with all the conventions from the Palermo Protocol through to the Council of Europe convention and the directive of the European Union and we may want to use the Bill internationally—I hope we may—to persuade other countries to send their offenders to us, or to ask them to send over our offenders.

7 pm

The offences with which we are concerned—for example, offences covered by the European arrest warrant—may involve movement. A group of men may be trafficking in the English sense—that is, trafficking men, women and children right round the world to England, but doing so in order to sell them on. Their job is to get them here; once they are here, other groups take them over. I hope that Clause 1 deals with that situation but I am not entirely sure. However, if you put into Clause 2 the Council of Europe definition of trafficking, you will be absolutely safe on that.

The point that is worrying me is that we have produced a much more defined and limited version of this. Article 4 of the convention—oddly, it is Article 4 of both the convention and the directive—explains in paragraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) what paragraph (a) actually means. Interestingly, the word “exploitation” appears in an explanation of trafficking. If I may respectfully say so, that is where the Government have got this right—because one wants to include trafficking for the purposes of exploitation.

Taking account of the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Goudie, which were not moved, my only issue on this is that we ought to include in Clause 2(1) the extended wording of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt. I appreciate that, if we do that, the Bill team may say that we are covering part of Clause 1. That may be a problem. However, I do not think that the fact that it is repeating something in different words is the end of the world—because, if you are to use the word “trafficking”, you may have to explain to a jury that you do not have to move somebody from A to B in order to traffic them. If you put in

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the offences of Clause 1 as the alternative offences, I expect you would be covered anyway. However, I am unhappy that we are limiting the word “trafficking”, given its important European meaning, and that we are one step behind the Europeans in a Bill which we hope will be taken up, particularly by eastern European countries.

Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, I want to underline what the noble and learned Baroness has just said for a particular reason. The Government have been keen on saying that, in accepting the European arrest warrant, they want to make clear that they will not allow it to be used for offences committed in other countries which are not offences here. In those circumstances it is most important that we get the offences here right in parallel with what is an offence in another country. It is that point which I think the noble and learned Baroness has put her finger on and it is that which we have to get right.

I question the Government’s view on the restriction of the European arrest warrant. However, if they want to do that, they have to make sure that we do not find ourselves in a position where we have ill defined a particular offence so that it does not operate in the way we would like it to do in any complementary legislation in other countries. I hope that my noble friend will consider this suggestion very carefully, probably not at this moment, but between now and the next stage of the Bill, as it is worth trying to get this matter right.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab): My Lords, I will comment on a slightly wider point and back up my noble friend on the definitions of trafficking and exploitation. She spoke about the benefits of having stronger definitions of trafficking and exploitation and referred to the comment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, that stronger definitions could lead to the prevention of trafficking and exploitation. I will add that a benefit of having clear and strong definitions is in the identification of trafficking. Here I am talking specifically about identification when one is in court.

As noble Lords may know, I sit as a magistrate in both adult and youth courts. I have sat in youth courts on quite a few occasions where a young person has been brought in for either pickpocketing or shoplifting and a man is sat at the back of the court who we are told is the young person’s uncle. We have received training on what to do when our suspicions are raised with regard to the status of the person sitting at the back of the court, who is there supposedly in the interests of the youth appearing before it.

I know that the YOTs, the probation service and the police have also received training on this matter. It is important that we have clear identification and that the courts can act quickly when they think this issue is being raised, because when one is actually going through the court process, one does not have very long to identify potential victims of either trafficking or exploitation. Therefore, it is important that this definition is as clear as possible and is well known by the various agencies that deal with young people—and not so young people—who may have been trafficked.

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Lord Bates: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, for speaking to the amendment and, as is so often the case, expressing sentiments and views which are shared on all sides of the Committee. It is perhaps not unusual that we are rehearsing some of the general principles discussed on previous groups of amendments. It is interesting to note that paragraph 2.3 at page 15 of the Modern Slavery Strategy document underscores the point made by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. It states:

“However, we also know that a high number of victims are UK nationals, including children. Not all victims of modern slavery are trafficked across the border. We know that the internal trafficking of victims to other parts of the country takes place, and other forms of modern slavery take place that involve no movement of the victim at all”.

My noble friend Lord Deben made a very interesting point. We want to see the Palermo Protocol used as a basis for harmonisation. The Palermo Protocol sets out an international definition of trafficking in persons as,

“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.

That definition is relevant to the point made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee. She asked about a particular set of circumstances. I will look at that case study. Case studies are extremely helpful in this world, because they provide us with an opportunity to explore the options. All case studies will be matters for the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and ultimately the courts to adjudicate on. I would certainly have thought that the individual to whom she referred would, at a minimum, be caught by Clause 4, “Committing offence with intent to commit offence under section 2”. It states:

“A person commits an offence under this section if the person commits any offence with the intention of committing an offence under section 2 (including an offence committed by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring an offence under that section)”.

I will be happy to come back to this and look further at it, but that is my initial thought in relation to that question.

I turn to the specifics of the amendment and some of the questions which were raised. The alternative trafficking offence set out in Amendment 23 also removes the reference to travel. I fully appreciate the intention behind the amendments. However, I am confident that the language used in Clause 2 is already entirely consistent with the EU directive—the point made by my noble friend Lord Deben. The offence of arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation includes all the ways through which human trafficking may be committed, as set out in the Palermo Protocol and EU directive, to which I have already referred. Those international instruments are explicitly concerned with human trafficking. The serious evil they rightly identify is trafficking and clearly trafficking involves some element of movement or travel of the victim.

The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, referred to Clause 2. I must pay tribute to her incredible sharpness of mind, despite her having flown in from sub-Saharan Africa and arrived at something like

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5.30 this morning. I just got the train down from Newcastle and I have to say that I am feeling a little bit groggy. I think that probably reflects the difference in mental capacity between the two of us, but we will carry on. In Clause 2, we have already responded to concerns during pre-legislative scrutiny and made clear on the face of the Bill that a person may arrange or facilitate travel by recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving, or transferring or exchanging control over a person—words which are used in the protocol.

The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, asked specifically whether we needed a general exploitation offence, because forced begging is not covered in the offences of the Bill. Forced begging is an offence under Clause 1 as it amounts to forced or compulsory labour and therefore our view is that it would be caught by that.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee asked whether the trafficking offence covers incitement of the victim to travel to a particular location, which was the example that was given. The trafficking offence can cover inciting a victim to travel somewhere with a view to exploiting them—for example, the perpetrator telling a victim to meet them at a particular time and in a particular place with a view to exploiting the victim. There is no requirement that the perpetrator physically moves the victim. Any kind of arranging or facilitating their travel is enough.

In the case of grooming a victim for use in prostitution or for rape, as in my noble friend’s example, then telling the victim to meet them at a hotel—to hang out, as she asked—would certainly be covered by the trafficking offence. Inciting a victim for prostitution is a form of exploitation under Clause 3 and such conduct is an offence under Part 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. As I referred to from the strategy document, any arranging or facilitating a victim’s travel, including travel within the UK, for that purpose will amount to an offence under Clause 2.

My noble friend also asked whether the trafficking offence covers all the acts proscribed in Article 2.1 of the EU trafficking directive. The UK is fully compliant with all our international obligations in relation to human trafficking, including in relation to the EU directive. It is not inconsistent with the international instruments to retain the concept of travel in the offence. Our offences, ever since they were created, have had that element. The international instruments are explicitly concerned with human trafficking. The evil that we are trying to tackle is trafficking and clearly trafficking involves some element of movement and travel of the victim. Following pre-legislative scrutiny, we took the opportunity to make clear in Clause 2(3) that a person may,

“arrange or facilitate V’s travel by recruiting V, transporting or transferring V, harbouring or receiving V, or transferring or exchanging control over V”.

The words reflect those used in Article 2.1 of the EU directive. Therefore, we do not think that there is a need for a specific reference to Article 2, as suggested by the noble Baroness.

7.15 pm

The alternative offence set out in Amendment 23 provides no definition of exploitation and suggests removing the clause that defines exploitation. We have

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real concerns about failing to define a key part of a very serious offence which, if the Bill is passed, could result in a life sentence. The offence would be unclear and potentially extremely wide. The public rightly expect clarity on what conduct Parliament has decided should be potentially punishable with life imprisonment.

Amendment 27, proposed by my noble friend Lady Hamwee, seeks to ensure that the definition of exploitation in relation to trafficking includes where the offender is contemplating or planning to commit the forms of exploitation set out in Clause 3. This is an important point to raise and I welcome the chance to provide reassurance to the House. If we catch traffickers in the act of moving victims and we have evidence that they are planning to exploit those victims, we can prosecute and convict those perpetrators for human trafficking under the offence in this Bill. A human trafficking offence simply requires that someone arranges or facilitates the travel of another person with a view to exploiting them. There is no need to wait for the exploitation to actually occur.

I turn to the question of whether we should consider new criminal offences around exploitation. I have listened carefully to the debate and I want to explain the Government’s approach to exploitation, where there is no trafficking. We have touched on these points already in relation to child offences. I believe that the Bill should target really serious wrongdoing. Where the exploitation hits the seriousness thresholds required by the slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour offence, it is already covered by the Bill under Clause 1.

The criminal law also provides for a series of other offences to deal with forms of exploitation which should rightly be criminal. Some are very serious offences indeed, such as offences around sexual exploitation. A very wide range of other offences can be used to tackle benefit fraud, begging, petty theft, and in cases where the Clause 1 offence is not clearly made out.

Amendment 25 proposes an alternative approach including a general exploitation offence. The offence would be potentially too broad in scope, as I have already pointed out, if Parliament does not explicitly say what it should cover. After cases have gone through the courts, we might well find that it captures behaviour that would not be the behaviour that we are aiming at today, and which would certainly never justify a life sentence.

I am also concerned that introducing a potentially vague new offence would create more uncertainty and confusion for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, has already referred to the importance of training for agencies to understand fully the warning signs of when an offence has taken place and to ensure that those prosecutions come forward. In this regard the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, drawn from his experience in courts, were particularly valuable, because they highlighted at what point responsible agencies have an opportunity to identify potential victims and intervene. Training magistrates will be a very important part of that.

I am drawing to the end of my remarks. The Director of Public Prosecutions has been clear in Parliament that additional offences, such as this one, would not be

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helpful to prosecutors and that existing offences are clearer and more workable. I take that advice seriously—as I am sure do all noble Lords. Given this explanation I ask noble Lords not to move their amendments.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: I believe that the noble Lord’s amendment will come before mine in the pecking order. I want to make two points. Of course, I hear what he says about the views of the DPP, but a huge number of lawyers and other people involved in the system are looking at these issues, including charities and various organisations. They are all deeply concerned that notwithstanding the fact that we have this plethora of laws at the moment, as was said at Second Reading, the UK Human Trafficking Centre last year identified 2,744 victims of trafficking, including 600 children. Yet, since the introduction of that offence there have been no prosecutions when the victim was a child, and there have been very few prosecutions at all. I agree with the noble Lord that awareness training is terribly important but there must be something wrong with the current offences if they cannot be used to prosecute people who are perpetrating the most evil of crimes. Therefore, I ask him to look at this again.

In relation to the definition of trafficking, I listened carefully to what the noble Lord said, but it would be very good if he could respond on Report to the points made by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. I still think that there is something missing, and it is not in the Bill that we are absolutely in tune with our European partners. That needs to be on the face of the Bill. I would be content with that in terms of human trafficking but I certainly want to come back to the issue of an offence. We have to do something about getting more prosecutions for these heinous crimes.

Baroness Hamwee: I remain concerned about the definition of trafficking, and I am sure that we will come back to that. I want to ask the noble Lord on the narrow point of whether I am right in understanding that he is saying that incitement falls within arranging. He referred to Clause 2(1), which states,

“if the person arranges or facilitates the travel”.

He may not want to answer that now but I ask the question now whether incitement is within that term. The answer may come later.

Lord Bates: I think that “incitement” is a new word here. Whether it will be covered by aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring—

Baroness Hamwee: The Minister used the term “incitement”. That is why I picked it up.

Lord Bates: The incitement element is important from the general definition in the Palermo Protocol, and I referred to that part of it. We will certainly get clarification on that point and return to it. Of course, we are always open to look at new evidence that becomes available, or evidence that comes from speaking to the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Crime Agency, as well as the stakeholder group. If we draw the offence too widely, it becomes more difficult

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to prosecute. We are totally on the same side when we talk about the number of prosecutions being woefully low, as I said previously. We need that number to increase, and for that reason we have taken the view that we need to be very explicit about the offences that we have in mind. The noble Baroness has invited me to reflect on her arguments and the remarks made by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. I will certainly do that ahead of Report.

Amendment 13 agreed.

Amendments 14 to 23 not moved.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed.

Amendments 24 to 26 not moved.

Clause 3: Meaning of exploitation

Amendment 27 not moved.

Clause 3 agreed.

Amendment 28

Moved by Lord Hylton

28: After Clause 4, insert the following new Clause—

“Access to employment tribunals

It shall be an offence to deny access to an employment tribunal to a person entering the United Kingdom on a visa restricting the person to a single employer.”

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I will refer briefly to Amendment 94, to which I have added my name. That goes to the root of the problems of foreign domestic workers in the United Kingdom. Amendments 28 and 95, which are both in my name, and in this group, try to improve the nuts and bolts of the situation as it presently is here.

I submit that it is a fundamental right of all employees in this country, whether citizens, residents or visitors, to have access to an employment tribunal if they have serious complaints about working conditions or pay. At Second Reading I raised the cases of foreign domestic workers whose visas tie them to a single named employer. They are usually resident on the employer’s premises and are thus wide open to exploitation. In too many cases, their passports are removed and they are confined to the house or allowed out only under close escort. In such circumstances, they cannot get essential legal advice and they cannot reach a tribunal. The result is that serious exploitation, maltreatment and non-payment of wages go unpunished.

I detailed at Second Reading some of the abuses recorded over many years and I will not repeat them now. Since then I have heard nothing from the Home Office about better protection and remedies. I have therefore tabled Amendment 28 to make it an offence to deny access to a tribunal to anyone on a restricted visa. Perhaps the proposed offence should be wider still. It may be that I should have specified penalties for summary trial and on indictment. That is something to which we can come back at a later stage. Meanwhile. I commend the amendment.

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I should also speak to Amendment 95 in this group, which also relates to something I said at Second Reading. There have been a few cases where embassies or foreign diplomats have failed to observe best practice in relation to their domestic workers, who are often recruited overseas. Some cases may not have reached legal decision, and in others, enforcement may have failed—in both categories because of diplomatic immunity. In my understanding, such immunity is given for the protection of diplomatic functions and not as a cover for employment malpractice. I was therefore encouraged to read in the Irish Times of 26 November that an employment appeals tribunal in Dublin awarded €80,000 each to three Filipino women against an ambassador and his wife. The women had been paid less than the national minimum and their conditions were described as “horrific”. If this can be done in Ireland, it should be possible here.

7.30 pm

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has undoubtedly drawn attention, as he did at Second Reading, to the abuse of people who are under tied visa arrangements. We await with interest the Government’s response to the points that he has made. We are associated with Amendment 94, which will be debated much later, to which the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has added his name, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, as well as my noble friend Lady Royall of Blaisdon. The amendment seeks to insert a new clause entitled “Protection from slavery for overseas domestic workers”, which would enable such workers to change their employment and not remain under the tied visa arrangements. That is the goal that we, and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, and others, seek to achieve. Amendment 94 will be debated later. For the moment, we await the Government’s response to the two amendments to which the noble Lord has spoken.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, I would very much like to support my noble friend Lord Hylton, and I follow the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, in his support for Amendments 28 and 95. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has rightly reminded us that when we get to Amendment 94 there will be a chance to have a wider debate about the whole question of the overseas domestic worker visa.

Many of us would say that the subject of denying someone the right to go to an employment tribunal—that is what my noble friend’s Amendment 28 specifically deals with—is a sort of curtain-raiser to the debate that will come later. Enabling migrant domestic workers to change employer, to apply to renew their visa annually if in full-time employment, and to have the right to go to an employment tribunal, would be a significant step towards preventing abuses against migrant domestic workers, including forced labour for their employers, and would enable them to seek redress without fearing deportation from the United Kingdom.

My noble friend Lord Hylton has a long and honourable record of raising this question for all the years that I have been in your Lordships’ House, so it comes as no surprise to me that he has tabled these

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amendments. He is not, of course, alone in raising this question. Amnesty International UK, the Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit, the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, Human Rights Watch, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, Kalayaan and Liberty are among those who support moves in this direction.

Evidence since the introduction of the tied ODW visa in 2012 demonstrates how the current tied visa system facilitates the abuse of migrant domestic workers in the UK and therefore undermines the objectives of this timely and very welcome Bill and the Government’s efforts to fight modern slavery. Because of its deleterious effects, the 2012 decision, whether it was made wittingly or otherwise, is something we need to return to in the course of our deliberations, to see what we can do about it.

The Joint Committee on the draft Modern Slavery Bill identified the 2012 policy as having,

“unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave master against the victim of slavery”,

and said:

“Tying migrant domestic workers to their employer institutionalises their abuse”.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights reported that it,

“regards the removal of the right of an Overseas Domestic Worker to change employer as a backward step in the protection of migrant domestic workers, particularly as the pre-2012 regime had been cited internationally as good practice, and recommends that the Bill be amended to reverse the relevant changes to the Immigration Rules and to reinstate the pre-2012 protections in the Bill”.

We have heard a great deal already today about the importance of having what my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss described earlier as flagship legislation. I know that it is the Government’s wish that this should be seen as an international gold standard piece of legislation that others will be able to imitate, and that they hope it would be capable of implementation worldwide. But that is in doubt unless we put right this defect that was incorporated into our legislation. I recognise that it may not be possible to do that today, but I hope that when the noble Baroness replies to the debate she will indicate to my noble friend that we will continue to discuss this issue to see what we can do to remedy something that was done in 2012 and has, wittingly or unwittingly, brought about these consequences. One of those consequences is, as is highlighted in Amendment 28, that people are prevented from having access to employment tribunals.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, one of the things that has struck me in our discussions about the rights of overseas domestic workers is the importance of enabling them to enforce their rights. That is what the amendment aims to do. This should not need saying, but it has come through to me very strongly that we need to give people the tools and make sure that they are available.

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): My Lords, I have been trying to think of the adjectives that would best describe my noble friend’s amendment, and I have come up

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with “reasonable”, “ingenious” and “brave”. It is reasonable because we all feel indignation about this issue; there is no question about that. It is ingenious because I think my noble friend is anticipating the result of Amendment 94. We must not be drawn into that today, but it will be interesting to see whether this presents a way out for the Minister in relation to Amendment 94; I hope it does not. The amendment is brave because my noble friend is trying to tackle the question of diplomatic immunity. I think that the Government would like to do that on many fronts at the moment. My noble friend is to be commended.

Finally, I have to say that the Bill does nothing to release domestic servants from their bondage. They are, fundamentally, in this Bill, so I do not know—the Minister may like to reflect on this—why this category has somehow been left out or gone unnoticed. We will wait and see how the Bill can correct the situation at a later stage—but this amendment is a very clever alternative.

Baroness Garden of Frognal (LD): My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for tabling these amendments, and I echo the comments about his distinguished record on such matters. I thank, too, the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Alton, my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for their comments.

These amendments raise the important issues of ensuring equal access to employment tribunals, and of diplomatic and state immunity, with particular reference to overseas domestic workers. I welcome the opportunity to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to protecting individuals who have come to work in the UK as overseas domestic workers—or indeed in any other capacity —who, while they are here, are subjected to abuse. I know that Members of the Committee feel strongly about this. The Government share the commitment to ensure that no individual in this country is subjected to abuse and exploitation.

Holding anyone in modern slavery is totally unacceptable. Overseas domestic workers, like anyone else, deserve protection from modern slavery, as well as support and help if abuse takes place. The Government intend that the Bill should give that protection to all victims, regardless of who they are, why they are in the UK and for whom they are working. This intention must none the less take account of this country’s existing international obligations, and I will address the point concerning immunity in a moment.

The Committee will wish to know that overseas domestic workers, in common with any other employee in the UK—irrespective of whether they can switch employers or not—already have the right to access employment tribunals and the courts, where the tribunal or the court has jurisdiction.

Perhaps I may turn to the new clauses tabled by the noble Lord. Amendment 28 would create an offence where a person whose visa restricts them to a single employer is not permitted to access an employment tribunal. Employees and workers in this country, including people from overseas who are working legally in Great Britain, are entitled to the rights and protections of our employment law. If those rights are breached, the individual can bring a claim to the employment tribunal.

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Access to employment tribunals is a matter of law and it is for the tribunal to decide whether it has jurisdiction. An employer therefore cannot dictate whether someone working for them can bring a claim, as this is not in the employer’s control. They also cannot decide when the tribunal has jurisdiction to process the claim, so the offence created by Amendment 28 is unnecessary and would have no impact on employers. Where diplomatic or state immunity applies, this operates in relation to the offence, so it would also have no effect.

The Government take seriously the ability of individuals to access the justice to which they are entitled and fully support the aims that the noble Lord is trying to achieve. I can reassure the Committee that the current system of dealing with complaints in relation to employment rights is generally available to those legally working in the country. Noble Lords may be interested to know that we are currently trialling a system at Heathrow Terminal 5 whereby employees are handed a card about knowing their rights, and with numbers to call. We shall be monitoring how helpful and effective the trial proves to be.

The effect of Amendment 95 would be to disapply state immunity in respect of the enforcement of judgments against diplomatic missions where the judgment is made under the proposed Act. I noted the noble Earl’s comment that the words, “reasonable”, “ingenious” and “brave”, might be applied to this amendment. Immunity from jurisdiction is a well established principle of customary international law. The fact that this is a principle of customary international law means that the UK is bound by it. The aim of the amendment appears to be to remove in certain circumstances the immunity from enforcement jurisdiction. This could put the UK in breach of international law, and I do not believe that that is the intention of the noble Lord. The Committee will understand the need carefully to consider the implications of this amendment.

It may be helpful to explain the role that diplomatic immunity plays in cases of alleged mistreatment of overseas domestic workers and the measures that are in place to deal with such allegations. Diplomatic immunity is an important part of a package of principles within the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that are designed not to benefit individuals, but rather to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions. They provide diplomats with necessary protections from the authorities in the receiving state to enable them to carry out their functions effectively. They work on the basis of reciprocity, and if UK diplomats are to be protected overseas, it is important that the UK respects the law of immunity as regards diplomats serving here. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations requires all diplomats to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state. This applies to the terms and conditions of employment for all domestic staff, which employers have to agree with their workers in accordance with a prescribed template before the worker applies for an overseas domestic worker visa to come to the UK.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office treats any allegation of mistreatment of domestic workers in diplomatic households very seriously. Few such allegations are brought to the FCO’s attention by the police, and when they are, the FCO liaises as necessary with the

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relevant diplomatic mission, UK Visas and Immigration and the UK Border Force to work for an appropriate response. If an allegation of mistreatment requires further investigation by the police, the FCO will request from the diplomatic mission concerned on behalf of the police a waiver of the diplomat’s immunity, and failure to provide a waiver may result in the FCO demanding the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat. It is not appropriate to seek to impede the operation of or amend the State Immunity Act 1978 or the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 through the creation of criminal offences or exceptions in the Modern Slavery Bill without reference to the underlying legal obligations they reflect.

Overseas domestic workers should feel confident that if they are abused while they are in the UK, they can come to the authorities and will be treated and supported as victims. However, I do not believe that these amendments would add to the existing protections, or that they are appropriate having regard to our existing international obligations. I am confident that the current legislation covering employment, the measures in this Bill and the measures the Government are looking at to enhance protections for overseas domestic workers represent the best way of tackling any abuse of such workers. We are working to see that they are implemented. Given this response, I hope that the noble Lord will feel free to withdraw his amendment.

7.45 pm

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the four noble Lords who have spoken in favour of my first and, to some extent, the second amendment. I think I can reasonably claim that Amendment 28 has received support from all around the Committee. I was glad to hear from the Government that they believe that overseas domestic workers on short-term visas deserve protection. However, I fail to see how the Bill increases any protection, which at the moment is to a very large extent lacking. Will Clause 3(2) give additional grounds for prosecuting those who exploit and abuse their domestic staff?

Further to that, the noble Baroness referred to the card that is supposed to be given to overseas domestic workers before they leave a foreign country to come here. While that may be helpful to some extent, particularly if the card spells out what the minimum wage levels are in this country, it would be stronger still if a model contract was in existence. This is a point on which I have already written to the noble Lord, Lord Bates. A model contract would give both the employer and the employee a much better idea of what we expect to happen when they both come to Britain.

If the Government could give me some encouragement that it would be possible to have a meeting on these subjects between now and Report, I would be somewhat readier and more willing to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord that, yes, indeed, a further meeting would certainly be possible. The card that is handed out states what the minimum wage should be and that workers should have a written contract of terms and conditions. Moreover, there are emergency numbers

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that can be called. These are elements of information which should be helpful, but obviously the question then is getting workers themselves into a position where they are able to access and implement the information.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, it would be a great help to everyone concerned if there could be a model contract, but with the encouragement I have been given by the Government, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 28 withdrawn.

Amendment 29 not moved.

House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.45 pm.

Electoral Conduct

Question for Short Debate

7.49 pm

Asked by Lord Alderdice

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct, and its various recommendations.

Lord Alderdice (LD): My Lords, as a result of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, we know that it will be five months until the next Westminster election. Those of us who observe the culture and feel of politics also know that this election will find immigration as one of the top priorities and concerns of the voters and therefore of the political parties. When there is this degree of polarisation in politics, not just in this country but much more widely, one cannot but be concerned that the conduct of the next election may not particularly distinguish politics in this country. That is because of the possibility that, in the conduct of the election, some of those involved—whether in newer or more traditional political parties—might expose many of our people to unseemly conduct, behaviour and remarks. It therefore seemed to me appropriate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what their response is to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct, which was chaired by Labour’s Natascha Engel MP, chair of the Backbench Business Committee in the other place.

It may be helpful to your Lordships’ House if I reprise the history of this report. Back in 2005, John Mann, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, commissioned a report on anti-Semitism in elections, because there had been a number of complaints. The report was produced in 2006. There were some 35 recommendations. In particular, the report suggested that the Electoral Commission should draw up a contract of acceptable behaviour outlining the duty of all election candidates to exercise due care when addressing issues such as racism, community relations and minorities during political campaigning. In the Government’s 2007 response to that inquiry, they advised that the matter was one for the Electoral Commission. However, in its submission

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to the inquiry, the Electoral Commission advised the panel that it believed that codes beyond the reach of the law were unenforceable. The committee essentially concurred with this.

As time went on, John Mann was increasingly frustrated by the lack of action on the basis of that report. It was clear that there was reason to be worried about racism, sexism, homophobia and discrimination against candidates on the basis of their mental health. He commissioned an inquiry that would go much more widely into all aspects of electoral conduct where these matters might arise. I declare an interest, as one of the Members of your Lordships’ House who took part in that inquiry. It had participation from across our parties in the two Houses. Its aim was to investigate electoral conduct with a focus on discriminatory behaviour, to assess current rules, to uncover models of good practice and to make recommendations for change. At all times, we were explicitly clear that we did not seek to inhibit freedom of speech. The report included 11 obvious and self-evident basic principles for free speech in campaigning, which drew heavily on the report of my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Political Speech and Race Relations in a Liberal Democracy, produced in the early 1990s. Its principles still stand.

The response to our call for evidence was strong. We secured 50 responses from a wide range of concerned parties including, but not limited to, domestic and international elections agencies, the police, academics, trade unions, councils, elected officials, community groups and leading NGOs. We held two oral evidence sessions. At these we heard disturbing stories of racism from former Minister Parmjit Dhanda and the honourable Member for Ilford North, Lee Scott MP. We also heard from political parties including UKIP, the SDLP and the Liberal Democrats. In fact, all the political parties represented in Parliament, with the exception of Respect, submitted evidence.

When our report was published in October 2013, it received public praise from the Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the President of the Liberal Democrats, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, the General Secretary of the Labour Party and key stakeholders. So there was a good deal of encouragement, but it seems to me that it is now time to ask Her Majesty’s Government what their response is.

There were four main areas, the first of which was policing, regulation and the law. The response from the Association of Chief Police Officers was extremely positive. It already had a strong set of plans and a good programme and it wrote to advise that it would be implementing nearly all our recommendations. However, we found that, while in many ways there was sufficient legal provision to address incidents of racism and discrimination in UK elections, the law was underused or, perhaps in some situations, misunderstood. We recommended that some of the language of electoral law might be updated. We were advised by the Law Commission that it was undertaking a consultation on such a change. It wrote to tell us that our recommendations would help in the design of its consultation. It would be helpful if my noble friend the Minister could indicate whether the Law Commission has made any representations to the Government.

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The Commission for Racial Equality had been very helpful in producing guidance and demystifying the law in the past, but the successor body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, had perhaps been less impressive in that regard. However, at our urging a meeting was held between the Minister, Helen Grant, the EHRC and the committee chair Natascha Engel. The Minister said that an application for funding from the EHRC would be carefully considered, because the EHRC had said that it would have to access a project fund if it was to be able to take forward work on electoral conduct and on a guide for local authorities, as that was outside its core business plan. It would be helpful if my noble friend could update us on the progress of that bid and any consultations that there have been.

Press and advertising are another key element of the problem. We addressed concerns about discrimination in the media, having heard evidence of homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Under the former Press Complaints Commission code, if a group of, for example, Muslims was subject to alleged discrimination, an individual from that group would be required to complain under clause 1—accuracy—of the code and not under the relevant part on discrimination. The committee saw this as illogical and outdated. Since the inquiry, we have made representations to the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee. At the end of September, we were told that updating the code would be a key priority for the newly formed Independent Press Standards Organisation. We believe that attempts to secure a sensible balance between the defence of freedom of expression and the protection from discrimination should be possible. It would be helpful if my noble friend could reassure me that Ministers will reiterate these concerns to IPSO.

Another concern is the development of new communications media, which enables broadcasting on the internet, and, of course, the use of Facebook, Twitter and so on. This is a challenge for us all and the issue was raised by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. I declare an interest as a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. In its 13th report, Command Paper 8208, on party funding, the committee expressed a concern about the impact of new media that went beyond the question of funding. Do the Government have any thoughts on this issue?

The key agents in elections are the political parties themselves. In order to ensure that there is appropriate behaviour, a draft framework has been put together for the parties. We will continue to seek cross-party agreement. This is something with a historic precedent. In the 1990s, the three major parties at that time agreed a compact on how they would behave, which was subsequently extended to the nationalist parties. Now, however, we are in a situation where there are even more parties which are significant in the electoral process and which may be considered significant in this matter. If my noble friend the Minister could take back the group’s shared, cross-party desire for a draft framework agreed by the various parties, and for the Government to encourage the parties to reach such an agreement, it would be most welcome.

Finally, we registered a concern, which was also mentioned by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its report, that non-party campaigning groups

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may become an increasingly significant aspect of elections in this country, as they have in the United States of America. The Committee on Standards in Public Life was looking at this question particularly in terms of party funding, but we believe that the ability of parties to depend on third parties to behave in a way that would not direct opprobrium and guilt towards the official party but would nevertheless be inappropriate behaviour is a significant dilemma. We would welcome an indication from my noble friend the Minister as to whether this is an issue that the Government are also monitoring and addressing in the upcoming elections. It is timely for the Government, having had the report for about a year, to now give us a response. In view of the upcoming election, such a response would be very welcome.

8 pm

Lord Lexden (Con): My Lords, I can hardly conceive of circumstances in which I would find myself seriously at odds with my noble friend Lord Alderdice. No one has a fuller understanding than my noble friend of the situation in Northern Ireland and of how stability can be preserved there. I almost invariably agree with his views on the affairs of the Province, in which I take a particular interest, and I am largely at one with my noble friend again this evening.

The report before us is a formidable document, based on wide inquiry and careful research. It is all the more persuasive because it does not overstate the problems with which it is concerned. In paragraph 9, for example, the report makes it clear that,

“the UK is not out of step with international good practice. Taking a wider view, the UK is also performing well in a European and global context”.

The report’s introduction emphasises the overwhelming importance of preserving free speech. It endorses the fine description of free speech produced some years ago by my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill, to which my noble friend Lord Alderdice referred. The report reminds us that,

“free speech must not be misused in the name of political freedom or prejudice and intolerance as a political weapon to instigate hatred”.

The report is a balanced and measured document, which keeps the issues of discrimination and racism in proportion but rightly recalls some truly dreadful incidents, to which my noble friend has already referred, that have occurred at recent elections. They remind us that everything possible must be done to diminish the possibility of similar occurrences in future. No one should be satisfied with anything other than the highest standards of electoral conduct in all parts of our country.

Of course, that expectation is a comparatively modern phenomenon in British electoral history. Until the late 19th century, rowdiness, riot and rudeness were the chief characteristics of British elections. Disraeli had to endure unbridled anti-Semitism in the 1830s and 1840s before he became the representative of the comparatively well behaved and courteous electors of Buckinghamshire, although he rather enjoyed answering back his would-be tormentors from the hustings.

The days of uncontrolled misconduct are firmly over and none mourn their passing. Nevertheless, elections are and will always remain highly charged

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occasions in which strong feelings will be vigorously expressed, often in indecorous language. The report fully accepts that. Its aim is to prevent the kind of crude, base insults and racial intolerance which have on some recent occasions inflicted appalling distress on candidates and their families, undermined good community relations and damaged the reputation of British democracy. Now the very rapid expansion of social media, particularly since the last election, creates new and formidable challenges, to which my noble friend Lord Alderdice also referred.

In those respects, the coming election—now just a few months away—will be a testing time. We need to consider strengthening our arrangements to guard against the extreme campaigning, to which the report refers in paragraph 38, which has the potential to “fracture communities”. The recommendations it makes to try to avoid such an eventuality require the most careful consideration by the Government and political parties.

It is more than a little disquieting to find in the report considerable disappointment with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In the report’s summary, it is described as having,

“neglected its responsibilities and lost some of the good practices carried out under its former guise as the Commission for Racial Equality”.

There are more strong words of criticism in paragraph 23 of the report. The report’s first and most important recommendation is that,

“the EHRC produce a plan for engaging in work on electoral conduct and specifically that it continues to update and issue the election toolkit which embodied good practice, providing clarity in what can be complex legal and procedural matters”.

In other words, the all-party inquiry is very strongly of the view that the EHRC should do at the next election what its predecessor body did in the past.

Since the report was published, those involved with the all-party inquiry have continued to express concern about the approach of the EHRC. Critics give the impression that in the absence of the kind of EHRC initiative they believe to be necessary, standards of electoral conduct may be seriously impaired. But there are some who seem to take the view that the role of the EHRC has been largely superseded by the Electoral Commission. This is an issue that needs to be clarified and resolved.

Clear codes of conduct, such as that produced by the Electoral Commission and agreed with the Statutory Parliamentary Parties Panel, have in the past few years come to occupy a significant place in the arrangements designed to combat discrimination and racism. The political parties produce internal codes of their own. The report contains a number of proposals to secure more effective enforcement of those codes through training, disciplinary action and other means, such as a common framework accepted by all parties for reporting discrimination during elections.

The list of recommendations directed at the political parties is a long one and perhaps there is a danger of seeking an unduly elaborate set of requirements. It is hardly realistic, for example, to imagine that party officials would be able to vet every single leaflet before

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it is issued during the coming campaign. What is important and pressing, surely, is that the parties make their codes crystal clear as the election approaches, and explain how they will be enforced.

I have ceased to be involved with the central organisation of the Conservative Party—no longer known as Conservative Central Office but as Conservative Campaign Headquarters. In the tightly organised era of Mr Lynton Crosby, there is unlikely to be any lack of resources to ensure adequate training for candidates and agents or for the enforcement of a rigorous code of conduct. The Conservative Party makes no secret of its intention to mount a hard-fought, remorseless campaign at a time of heightened concern about race relations. That makes it more important to keep standards of conduct high and to bear down heavily on any breaches of them in a manner that commands public confidence. The same, of course, goes for the other parties.

We know that the Electoral Commission’s essential role in this area is much valued by the political parties. The commission is in the process of revising and updating its code of conduct for campaigners. It is a pity, perhaps, that the commission does not seem to have supplied a background briefing note for this debate. It would be hard to overestimate the advantages of having one single code of conduct to which all parties fully subscribe in place of the present plethora of individual party documents. Perhaps the time has now come to consider that. When the inquiry into electoral conduct was announced last year, Mr John Mann MP, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, said that he hoped to see considered thought given to a transparent, workable and enforceable framework on electoral conduct which can be agreed by the political parties. Surely that is a goal worth striving to achieve.

8.10 pm

Lord Rennard (LD): My Lords, I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Alderdice—who, as he said, was a member of the all-party inquiry into electoral misconduct—for bringing these issues to the attention of the House as we approach the next general election, as well as local elections in much of England next May. This is therefore a very timely debate.

I was pleased to be able to provide evidence informally to the inquiry, based on my experience of involvement in election campaigns over more than 40 years, since I first became an active member of the Liberal Party as a teenager in the 1970s. I believe that the inquiry raised important issues for debate and action. I also thank John Mann and his assistant Danny Stone, who I met, for their work in initiating this, and also for the earlier report by a cross-party group of MPs concerning anti-Semitism.

The inquiry chaired by Natascha Engel helped to illuminate continuing problems with prejudicial behaviour, such as discriminatory language, in the conduct of our elections. I believe that the most blatant use of discriminatory language by candidates from the major and most established parties in this country is fortunately now very rare. However, all the major parties had severe embarrassment in the past. I remember being

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personally very deeply unhappy and distressed about the use of the phrase “secure family background” in the Liberal Party leaflet for the Brecon and Radnor by-election of 1985, in which neither of the other two major candidates were married. My late noble friend Richard Livsey had to apologise immediately for a leaflet that he had had no involvement whatever in producing.

When I took overall responsibility for parliamentary by-elections for the Liberal Democrats a few years after this incident, I helped to ensure that we took great care in those campaigns to avoid even the kind of unconscious discriminatory language that could otherwise have slipped through. However, it is not possible for a national party to monitor every leaflet produced at local level. In 1993, I was enraged when some of the literature that my party produced for a council by-election in Tower Hamlets was clearly pandering to racism. It was also clear in that campaign that Labour literature had had the effect of boosting the BNP vote, enabling a BNP councillor to be elected. This controversy led Paddy Ashdown, who was then the leader of my party, to ask my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill to conduct an investigation and to produce a report. I believe that what he said in his report, Political Speech and Race Relations in a Liberal Democracy, was very pertinent to this inquiry. He wrote:

“The right to free and unfettered political speech and debate is fundamental to democracy”.

However, he added the important rider:

“Whilst essential to political speech and public debate, free speech is not an absolute right without limits. Other fundamental values must be of equal value, including the unequivocal commitment to the principles of religious and racial acceptance and cultural diversity in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect”.

This inquiry sought to address the problem of how to deal with people when they go beyond the tolerant norms of society and, often, beyond the scope of what the law can allow in a civilised society, because to do so unfairly demeans others and may incite hatred, or even violence.

One of the most shocking cases of such behaviour that I have come across in recent years was during a council by-election in the London borough of Waltham Forest. One of the sitting Liberal Democrat councillors was in an openly gay relationship, but the Labour candidate in that campaign put around false rumours that he was a paedophile. There were no leaflets, but the rumours were effectively spread by word of mouth. As a result the councillor was harassed, his property was attacked and he lost the election to the candidate who spread the vile rumours.

After the election, some of the truth came out when local residents who were aware of the real facts revealed what they had been told and identified the source of it. The new Labour councillor was prosecuted, convicted and forced to stand down. The Liberal Democrats won the by-election that followed, but by then our shattered ex-councillor had been forced to leave the area. Such legal action will always be rare, and it could not provide proper redress in this case.

I have described this particularly unpleasant incident in order to highlight my belief that the greatest responsibility must be on all the political parties to take sufficient care in their approval of candidates, so

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that none of them could behave as this particular Labour candidate did. All parties must make it plain to all concerned that such behaviour is not remotely acceptable, that candidates and those working for them should be governed by proper codes of conduct, and that they may also be subject to prosecution.

The point was well made in the inquiry that, while the major parties may have greatly improved their assessment, approval and training of parliamentary candidates, generally they lack the resources to do this sufficiently well at local level. The task of vetting local council candidates is generally done by volunteers. The inquiry report calls for funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to provide support, training and guidance to the parties about non-discriminatory campaigning. I believe that it could again undertake some of the useful work that was done by the Commission for Racial Equality, with which I have worked previously.

However, a significant problem is one of resources for the parties themselves. If we are to improve the quality and diversity of candidates standing for public office at all levels, and to ensure that they behave as they should, there is also a case for public funding to assist parties with the tasks of identifying, approving and training candidates at different levels to prevent such problems occurring.

When problems do occur, legal remedies may apply in the most serious cases. Candidates always have the protection of the law in relation to defamation, but legal routes are neither quick nor affordable for most people. Candidates and agents should in future be rather wary after the case brought by my friend Elwyn Watkins against Phil Woolas at the last general election. The election court that met in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency after the 2010 general election agreed that false statements had been made by Mr Woolas, who was thereby disqualified from Parliament and a parliamentary by-election took place. The court case revealed that the intention of the then Labour agent—now, I am told, a member of UKIP—had been to,

“make the white folk angry”.

The court was able to obtain and to see the chain of e-mails within the Labour campaign that revealed a blatant attempt to appeal to racism. As a result, an MP was disqualified from public office and the costs to him and the Labour Party may well have been in excess of £1 million.

Serious malpractice therefore still exists, but my own conclusion is that the major responsibility for dealing with it must lie with the political parties. They must make sure that their agents and organisers are fully aware of their responsibilities, both legally and according to appropriate codes of conduct, and that they are subject to party discipline.

As Natascha Engel concluded in the debate on the report in the other place:

“I hope we can foster an atmosphere of fairness so that we fight elections on policy, not on personality or people’s sexual orientation or religious or ethnic background”.—[Official Report, Commons, 7/5/14; col. 102WH.]

The political parties have a responsibility to promote these values. I hope that government and all appropriate independent bodies will work with all the parties and help them to do just that.

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8.19 pm

Baroness Thornton (Lab): My Lords, I join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, on putting down this Question for debate and thank those Members of the House who have taken part in the inquiry and have spoken today.

As we have all agreed, the report that they have produced is an excellent document, and its recommendations give all political parties and the Government issues to reflect on. The need to address the recommendations and conclusions of the inquiry is as urgent as other noble Lords have said, as we are coming up to the general election. As my honourable friend Sharon Hodgson said in the debate in May in the Commons, we support the report’s recommendations.

As noble Lords have said, the inquiry was chaired by my honourable friend Natascha Engel. In addition to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, it also included my noble friend Lord Beecham among its members. I was very struck, as were other noble Lords, by some of the things that are in the report. Natascha Engel said in that debate:

“Our inquiry found that people in some areas were not putting their names forward as candidates out of fear for their lives, which happened across the board. Whether the tensions were religious, ethnic or based on their sexuality or gender, we found that people who would have been good candidates for elected office at any level were not putting their names forward”.—[Official Report, Commons, 7/5/14; col. 97WH.]

I think that we would agree that this is unacceptable in a modern UK and a modern, mature democracy.

We can all cite, as did the noble Lord, Lord Rennard—although I notice that he cited only Labour cases—examples of malpractice.

Lord Rennard: I referred also to the Liberal campaigns in the Brecon and Radnor by-election and in Tower Hamlets. I was not being one-sided. I cited examples of bad practice by both my party and the noble Baroness’s.

Baroness Thornton: I accept that rebuke, although I have to say that the noble Lord went into some detail.

I remember being Harriet Harman’s “minder”—as they are called these days—during a by-election in 1982. She was pregnant with her first child, and the Liberal candidate, who is now a Member of your Lordships’ House, used the fact that she was pregnant all the way through the campaign as an argument for her not being fit to be an MP. As we all know, Simon Hughes has apologised for the campaign that was mounted against Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, during the by-election in Bermondsey. We all have issues that need to be addressed. Even today, none of us can cease to be vigilant as party politicians to ensure that every single word that we utter and every single word that is printed in our name is appropriate.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, that, as far as I can tell—and it was certainly what I was taught as a Labour activist and someone who has run lots of elections—that you have the responsibility to make sure that every single word that is published and every single leaflet that is put out in the name of your party is proper and correct, and does not contravene any rules. That is difficult, and people will make mistakes,

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but there is no doubt where the responsibility for those things lies. It is true that we have a proud history in the UK of fair and free elections with proportionate regulation, and broad agreement that discrimination and racism have no place in society in general, and certainly not in our democratic processes. However, as we all have agreed, we know that racist, homophobic and other discrimination takes place during election campaigns.

The committee produced a series of recommendations and we give our full support to those, tackling, as they do, discrimination as it affects our democratic process. Like other noble Lords, I am puzzled as to why the Equality and Human Rights Commission has to be urged in the way it is being in this report—and by noble Lords—to produce a plan for engaging with electoral conduct, which is clearly an excellent idea. It would pick up on the work carried out by the former CRE. This should be done as a matter of course. It makes sense that the EHRC, the Electoral Commission and the police should work together to make sure that the guidance produced for our elections and election procedures is clear; makes it easy for people who are running elections, particularly in local elections where it is being done by volunteers; makes it clear what our responsibilities are; but also tells everyone how to deal with issues of redress.

Since the political parties’ annual briefing from ACPO and the Electoral Commission focusing on voter fraud takes place, the report is right in asking: why not expand that sort of event to include discrimination? I think the Electoral Commission trialling an online briefing for candidates seems an excellent idea and, where possible, should be integrated into the work political parties are undertaking with their candidates. However, as the report rightly points out, it is new parties, as the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, mentioned, and independent candidates, who are the ones who may not know their responsibilities and what they should or should not say. Of course, parties from a racist background are the ones we need to be particularly wary of and which need to be watched most carefully.

All police forces appoint a single point of contact for matters concerning electoral fraud. This has proved invaluable. Expanding that role and appointing a second officer may be one way to deal with these issues. One of the other issues not referred to in quite the same way in the debate is the code for parties to work within concerning non-broadcast media. While it is the case that generally parties and candidates have behaved responsibly, surely there will be those who have pushed the boundaries. What does the Minister think should happen in those cases?

I turn to new media. We face an election where social media and online campaigning will be present in a way that it never previously has been in our general elections. I remember a few years ago being targeted by the online discussion in our local newspaper in Bradford—I think it was by UKIP, to be honest—in a vile and horrible way. The problem was that the newspaper was not mediating the online discussion properly. When eventually it was pointed out to the editor that they had a responsibility not to allow people to be vilified in this fashion on the website of

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their newspaper, they took action. Multiply that by hundreds and hundreds of other incidents and I think all noble Lords would agree that we potentially have some very serious problems.

It will take concentrated and co-ordinated action to deal with such issues. I believe the Government have a responsibility to make sure that those things are pulled together. Every single political party has a responsibility, as the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, said, for the behaviour of its own candidates. Certainly in the Labour Party we take this extremely seriously: we have no hesitation in referring people to our disciplinary committee. We carry out the appropriate punishments, including expulsion from the party, and occasionally involve the police. We have no doubt that those are our responsibilities as a political party, but also that we all need to work together to ensure that our free and fair elections continue to be so.

8.29 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, we are all aware of the difficulty of distinguishing between free speech, robust campaigning and incorrect and improper speech. I think all noble Lords in the debate have taken part in some fairly robust campaigns. The first campaign I took part in, in 1970, had National Front candidates. To say the least, they stretched the boundaries of acceptable campaigning in a whole range of ways. The Liberals in Huddersfield did our best to stand up to them. We were complimented by our Conservative and Labour counterparts for so doing. They were not quite so explicit but they captured more votes; that is always part of the delicacy of campaigning. We have to remember that the electorate do not solely consist of liberally, openly and tolerantly minded people, which means that the sort of robust campaigning we are talking about often has real appeal and gains great political dividends. When she presented this report in a Commons debate, Natascha Engel said:

“We tried to achieve balance in our report”—[Official Report, Commons, 7/5/14; col. 98WH]—

between “where … robust political campaigning” ends and discrimination begins. That is the problem we all have.

All parties have suffered embarrassing moments, usually from local election candidates and campaigns but sometimes also from parliamentary candidates and campaigns. As has been said in the debate, all parties have done their best to tighten up their procedures: to produce internal codes of conduct and to vet, assess and train their candidates and agents in advance. That does not always succeed and there are occasions when our local representatives slip beneath the standards that we would like. We are also aware that there are parties outside what one might call the consensus of established parties. We are going to have an election in which there will be a large number of candidates from a range of different parties, some of which will not want to accept the current consensus. They will decry what they will call political correctness and wish to be politically incorrect. We are going to have to cope with that when the next election comes along but it is much easier to cope with through the established procedures when conventional methods of campaigning take place, through leaflets and so on.

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The new media, all the way from telephone canvassing through to the internet, with Twitter and so on, are much more difficult. In one of the seats where I was campaigning in the last election, I was very conscious that telephone canvassing appeared to be putting out messages that the Liberal Democrats were in favour of uncontrolled immigration into this country. That message was clearly coming back at us in the last week on the doorsteps; it clearly came, I suspect, from a script provided by one of the other parties for telephone canvassing. Of course, that is very difficult to get hold of and when you then move on to social media, we are all familiar with the internet trolls who exist and the dreadfully negative comments that are attached to so many of the media areas that we see. How you get hold of those politically minded internet trolls is, again, going to be very difficult for us all.

The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, has done us a good favour by raising a range of questions. Let me try and answer the government questions because, of the 30 recommendations in this report, only five were really addressed directly to the Government. Some were directed to the parties themselves; others were to the Law Commission, the EHRC, the Electoral Commission and so on. On the question of issuing a voluntary code of advertising, the Government are certainly prepared actively to encourage political parties themselves to agree such a code. Recommendations 25 and 29 suggest that the requirement for an imprint for parties and non-party campaigners should be extended to incorporate online and other election communications. We are certainly willing to look at that. The Electoral Commission is of course directly responsible for looking at such issues but it will be very complex to devise workable rules that would extend to online materials, let alone in primary legislation. That is part of what we are all going to have to struggle with in this coming campaign.

Recommendation 27 suggests that non-party campaigners in local campaigns should register with the returning officer and submit spending returns. We went through the issue of non-party campaigns on the transparency of lobbying Act. I bear the scars of that Act, during the passage of which a number of non-governmental organisations refused to accept that there were real problems with non-party campaigning groups and that we needed to take a degree of action to limit them, as the Act has now done, in spending limits and in requiring them to retain receipts for expenditure, both nationally and within constituencies.

Recommendation 28 proposes that non-party campaigners be required to maintain a database of election campaign literature to assist the police when accusations of misconduct arise. That would be ideal, although I am not entirely sure that every established political party maintains a correct library of all the leaflets that they have put out.

I now address some of the other issues touched on. There are recommendations to parties on the diversity of candidates—women, the disabled, ethnic minorities. My party has had a particularly worthwhile scheme, led by my noble friend Lady Brinton, who I am happy to say has just been elected our party president, to encourage candidates from those groups. I have no

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doubt that the other two parties have been doing the same—indeed, the evidence is there in some of those elected last time. It is very important that all the parties—at least, all the three parties—now have clear internal codes and elements of training for candidates and agents.

I turn to the EHRC, which has been criticised. First, the EHRC is not the CRE; it has a more limited remit. Some of the areas where the CRE worked are now being managed by the Electoral Commission and a number of these are matters for the police. We are all aware that there have been concerns that the police, in past election campaigns, have not treated allegations of this sort with sufficient attention. I am very glad that this report has drawn attention to the need for ACPO to pay much more attention to problems of electoral fraud and campaigning of the sort which we have seen evidence of in parts of London and elsewhere in recent years. Certainly, from my limited experience of talking to police in Yorkshire and elsewhere, the police are now more aware of this as a problem, so we hope that there will be greater attention to this in the coming campaign.

The noble Lord, Lord Lexden, suggested that a single code of conduct would be better than a proliferation of different party codes. I have to say, speaking on behalf of the Government, that that is a matter for the parties to agree among themselves. The Government should not interfere too sharply in what parties do among themselves, but it is something we encourage the parties to talk further about. On the question of guidance for campaigners from the Electoral Commission, I say that the Electoral Commission will be publishing its guidance in time for the 2015 election, and the chair of the commission has written to Natascha Engel to say that it will engage with those parties which are not part of the statutory parliamentary parties panel on the form of this guidance. We are all conscious that five, six or seven significant parties will be fighting a wide range of constituencies in the coming election, so we need to engage with a wider number of participants.

The EHRC is now looking at how best to update its guidance on elections for local authorities and other organisations for use in 2015. That is thought to provide the sort of guidance that others have been asking for.

On the question of the role of IPSO, clause 12 of the editors’ code of practice, which is administered by IPSO, deals with discrimination. It is vital that editors adhere to the code at all times, not just in elections, and we look to IPSO to ensure that the code is obeyed by the media during the course of the campaign.

Lastly, I touch on the role of the Law Commission. The commission will be publishing a consultation setting out its proposals for electoral reform early this month, with a report to be published with recommendations in the summer of 2015, which thus will not be of use to us in this coming election but means that we are moving forward for the campaigns after that.

The Government are extremely grateful for this report because it raises a whole set of questions that all parties need to think through. I hope that this

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conversation will continue and that all those who are consulting on this, with the Electoral Commission and elsewhere, will ensure that the three parties we now refer to in some ways as the established parties, and indeed which UKIP loves to accuse of being the established parties, will draw in others as well—the regional parties, the other national parties—to ensure that we have a robust but clean campaign and do not stretch the boundaries of free speech too far.

8.41 pm

Sitting suspended.

Modern Slavery Bill

Committee (1st Day) (Continued)

8.45 pm

Amendment 30

Moved by Baroness Young of Hornsey

30: After Clause 4, insert the following new Clause—

“Legal liability for the beneficiaries of slavery

(1) The Secretary of State shall within six months of the coming into force of this Act make regulations to ensure that a person benefiting from an offence under section 1 or 2 of this Act committed by a third party shall have committed an offence where—

(a) the third party acted for that person’s benefit, and

(b) that person’s lack of supervision or control made possible the committing of the offence by the third party.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) shall be made by statutory instrument and shall not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by each House of Parliament.”

Baroness Young of Hornsey (CB): My Lords, first, I would like to thank Klara Skrivankova from Anti-Slavery International for her work on this issue. The proposed new clause requires the Secretary of State to bring forward measures along the lines set out in EU directive 2011/36/EU on preventing trafficking in human beings, which I mentioned at Second Reading a couple of weeks ago. The amendment is designed to penalise those individuals and companies that benefit from the use of slave labour in their business dealings. The amendment will make clear in the Bill that those businesses that benefit from slavery are legally liable and deemed to have committed an offence if a third party has acted for their benefit and that the third party’s offence was made possible due to a lack of control or supervision on the part of the person.

I shall give an example of what is meant here. In November 2012, the management of Carestel—a former motorway and airport caterer—was condemned by a Belgian court as accessory to the crimes of human trafficking and organised fraud. There were two defendants in the case. One was Charalampos who, as anticipated, did not appear in court. He has been awarded the contract to clean the petrol stations and directly employed the women involved. The other defendant was Carestel, which at the time was a substantial operator of motorway and airport services where the women were working. The conditions under which

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these eastern European women were employed as lavatory cleaners at petrol stations were all too shockingly familiar. They worked up to 17 hours a day, in appalling conditions and were paid well below the minimum wage at €3 an hour, all of which added up to what the court described as constituting modern slavery. Charalampos was accused of recruiting women on deficient contracts that allowed his company to circumvent Belgian employment laws, but, importantly in the context of this amendment, according to the prosecution he could not have continued his operation without the active co-operation of Carestel. So not only the subcontractor but also the main company was condemned, in spite of the latter’s defence of ignorance and in spite of it claiming not to have had any idea that its cleaners were trafficked and abused.

Of course we have Part 6 of the Bill and the transparency provisions are a good starting point, but without other provisions that would ensure penalties for non-compliance or for continually reporting that a company has made no improvement in its monitoring, it is hard to see how progressive change can be achieved in some businesses. There are no incentives for companies to work to improve conditions in the supply chain and, perhaps more tellingly, no deterrents or any actions that would discourage persistent attempts to thwart the intentions of Part 6. There is an absence of an enforcement mechanism in the transparency clauses too. This provision would reinforce the potential impact of the transparency provision, as would the civil liability clause to which we will come later.

In his letter to noble Lords responding to the issues raised about the Bill at Second Reading, the Minister stated:

“We expect compliance with this measure—

the transparency measure—

“to be driven mainly by consumer, investor and campaigner pressure. If businesses do not provide disclosures which demonstrate real action, it will be evident to both customers and shareholders who will apply pressure to the company to comply or do more”.

That is a fair question to ask of investors, shareholders and campaigners, who are categories of activists, but I am not sure that it is fair or realistic to expect hard-pressed consumers to track down the statements of all the companies that provide them with their goods and services. It would be a particularly onerous task for those who are enduring financial hardship, where their priority is to buy whatever is cheapest. When company executives begin to worry about being held liable, a real shift in attitudes and behaviour will occur.

At Second Reading, many noble Lords referred to the need to strengthen Part 6, which relates to transparency in the supply chain. This amendment would also be a safeguard for businesses that are trying to operate ethically and would give assurance that those that undercut them by drawing unfair advantage through using forced labour can be held liable. It is a measure designed to improve the ways in which we can, to appropriate the words of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation,

“disrupt the business of forced labour”,

and constitutes an effective step towards regulating slavery and forced labour out of the EU. I beg to move.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, I welcome this amendment as an opportunity to look at the financial proceeds of this wicked crime. We will deal with this in subsequent groups and amendments, and I have no doubt that we will return to it at various stages on the way through. Amendment 30 allows us to debate how the Modern Slavery Bill will ensure that committing modern slavery offences does not benefit the offenders or third parties who either benefit or look the other way when these crimes are committed. It would place a duty on the Secretary of State to make regulations to ensure that legal persons benefiting from modern slavery offences or whose lack of supervision makes them possible will have committed an offence.

I greatly welcome the opportunity presented by the amendment to debate the role of legal persons, such as companies, in modern slavery. We will return to that subject in more detail—in particular, as the noble Baroness referred to, when we come to the section on supply chains. It is absolutely right that companies who profit from modern slavery can be held responsible, so it is right that the offences in the Bill can be committed by all persons, including legal persons. That means they can be committed by companies provided that the usual legal principles of corporate criminal liability apply. As the noble Baroness mentioned, companies can also be held liable under the civil law —such as negligence and proceeds of crime legislation—where they benefit from modern slavery committed for their benefit. Therefore, companies that make money as a result of modern slavery committed for their benefit can be deprived of those profits and pursued for damages by the victims. Article 5.2 of the EU trafficking directive does not require legal persons to be criminally liable; liability for the commission of offences by third parties that occur as a result of lack of supervision can be criminal, civil or administrative.

We are confident that currently—and under the Modern Slavery Bill—we are fully compliant with the requirements of the trafficking directive around the liability of legal persons. We want to make sure that we recover the ill gotten gains of slave-masters and traffickers. That is why Clause 7 subjects those convicted of slavery and trafficking to the most robust available asset recovery regime. That element of recovery of assets was also a provision of the Serious Crime Bill, part of the Proceeds of Crime Act, and all those provisions will of course apply in the case of modern slavery. It is absolutely vital that modern slavery should be viewed as no different from any other organised criminal activity in that where we can obtain the proceeds of that—so that criminals do not see the profits—and use it to help the victims of these evil crimes, that is what the Government want to do. We are satisfied at this stage that the law provides for that, as currently drafted in the Bill, but we have listened very carefully to what the noble Baroness has said and we will continue to review this in the light of that. Perhaps, therefore, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Young of Hornsey: I thank the Minister for his reply and I am glad that he also said that this is still open to review. I agree with him that it complies to

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some extent with what we have to do and with all the other bits of legislation to which he has referred. However, it is a question that goes a bit wider than that and links it to the issue of transparency in the supply chain, which many people feel does not have any teeth—there are no sanctions and no real deterrence embedded in it. So to have something else in the Bill that would make a real statement about that would be very useful. None the less, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 30 withdrawn.

Amendment 31

Moved by Lord McColl of Dulwich

31: After Clause 4, insert the following new Clause—

“Paying for sexual services

(1) The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is amended as follows.

(2) For section 53A (paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc) substitute—

“53A Paying for sexual services of a person

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if A obtains sexual services from a person (B) in exchange for payment—

(a) if the payment is made or promised by A; or

(b) if the payment is made or promised by a third party.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both.

(3) For the avoidance of doubt, person B is not guilty of aiding, abetting or counselling the commission of an offence under this section.”

(3) The Secretary of State shall, at least once in every year, publish a strategy, to ensure that a programme of assistance and support is made available to a person who wishes to leave prostitution.”

Lord McColl of Dulwich (Con): Amendment 31 would make it an offence to pay for the sexual services of a person. This is to address the demand for commercial sex, which feeds the trafficking of individuals, particularly women and girls, into and within the United Kingdom.