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House of Lords

Wednesday, 4 February 2015.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Carlisle.

Death of a Member: Baroness Platt of Writtle


3.08 pm

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, I regret to inform the House of the death of the noble Baroness, Lady Platt of Writtle, on 1 February. On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble Baroness’s family and friends.



3.08 pm

Asked by Baroness Uddin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to understand the causes of autism spectrum disorders and speed up diagnosis.

Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl): My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I draw the House’s attention to my declared interest.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, there are a number of current government-funded research projects linked to autism. These include a Medical Research Council study to identify why certain genetic mutations can cause problems during brain development. By following the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines and toolkits, autism diagnosis can be speeded up. NHS England also has plans to use its local audit teams to provide assurance that people’s experiences of the diagnostic process are acceptable.

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that thoughtful reply. He and I agree completely that there have been massive improvements in diagnosis over past decades. However, according to the Government’s Think Autism document, reports by the National Autistic Society and the BME organisation Include Me TOO, the experience of many parents seems to be that there are significant disparities and underdiagnosis, particularly among the BME communities. Given the crucial importance of timely diagnosis to the future prospects of someone with autism, how does the Minister’s department intend to address this currently patchy and inconsistent assessment service for all those who are identified as needing a full diagnosis on time and according to the Government’s own standards, and how does it intend to monitor progress?

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Earl Howe: My Lords, the noble Baroness is right that timely diagnosis of autism is extremely important. I am glad she recognises that progress has been made. I believe that to be true but we know that there is more to be done. The update to the autism strategy, called Think Autism, draws specific attention to the needs of BME communities, and there is a specific action point within that document. I can tell the noble Baroness that we will include that specifically in the statutory guidance that follows on from the strategy. That guidance will be issued shortly.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, where I live, the daughter of a very nice man in the supermarket has just been diagnosed at the age of six. The problem is not the diagnosis—that has been made—but the fact that there seem to be no facilities of any sort to help him. He has been referred to the local borough by his Member of Parliament—an opposition Member, I might add, but a very nice man—and he has taken up the matter with the council, but nothing has happened. Is this, again, a problem of treatment as between care and health services, and what can be done to bridge the gap?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the answer to my noble friend’s question lies in more professionals being trained in autism and services supporting rather better the needs of children and adults with autism, and a lot of work is going on on those fronts. We are also asking local authorities to focus, in particular, on their own performance and to report back on the progress they are making on autism diagnosis, and indeed on other issues in Public Health England’s national autism self-assessment exercise. That process will draw out the shortcomings that exist in certain parts of the country.

Lord Touhig (Lab): My Lords, there is evidence that some 25,000 children in England with autism have not been thoroughly diagnosed. The National Autistic Society, of which I am a vice-president, found in a survey that 34% of autistic people had to wait more than three years for a diagnosis. What are the Government doing to speed up this diagnosis and to ensure that it takes place within three months of a referral, which is the NICE recommendation?

Earl Howe: My Lords, part of this depends on the system working in a joined-up way between the National Health Service, local authorities and all the services upon which they depend. A great deal more training is going on, as I have mentioned. In December the Department of Health, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Public Health England issued a new national autism self-assessment exercise, as I have mentioned. Much can be achieved, as we are impressing on local authorities, through low-level preventive support, and there are duties around prevention in the Care Act that local authorities now have in this area.

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, what is the relationship between the Department for Education and the Department of Health, particularly in spotting those at the higher-functioning end of the spectrum,

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for whom it may not become apparent that they have a problem until later in life rather than in the educational system?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the new statutory framework for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, SEND, is designed to improve the integrated working across health, education and social care so as to deliver improved outcomes for a child and his or her family. Clinical commissioning groups and local authorities will be working together according to that statutory framework.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, the Minister clearly accepts that speed of diagnosis ensures that a child or young person gets into treatment faster. The faster they are in treatment, the more likely they are to make some progress in how they are able to function. However, does he accept that there is a disconnect between that diagnosis and the service delivery, particularly with under-fives, where children are waiting a considerable time for their local authorities to sponsor them into nurseries or facilities? What is happening to ensure that that improves?

Earl Howe: The noble Baroness makes a very good point. That is exactly why we have given clinical commissioning groups new duties to commission services for nought to 25 year-olds and young people to ensure that procedures are in place, to agree a plan of action, to secure provision which meets a child’s or young person’s reasonable health needs in every case, and to work with the local authority to contribute to the local offer of services for children in this position. That is now a statutory duty and I think it is a step forward.

Lord Bradley (Lab): My Lords, the Minister referred to training. Health Education England is one of the bodies charged with delivering the new strategy for transforming care for people with learning disabilities, including autism. Is it not extraordinary, therefore, that it does not keep a record of which universities deliver courses for nurse training in learning disabilities? Will the Minister ensure that such information is available so that training courses are properly monitored, with autism being a key component of such nurse training?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the noble Lord makes an extremely good point. I am very happy to take that back with me to the department.

Electoral Registration


3.16 pm

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to support National Voter Registration Day.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the Government welcome all initiatives to promote engagement and voter registration, particularly Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Day, as well

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as the work of others such as the British Youth Council’s Make Your Mark and vInspired’s Swing the Vote. Among other government activities ahead of National Voter Registration Day, we announced today that organisations that work with people who are underrepresented on the electoral register, including students and other young people, and people from black and ethnic minorities, will share some £2.5 million of additional funding.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): My Lords, I cannot say how much I appreciate the Minister’s Answer and the moves we are making in this direction. We appreciate everything that is happening. I hope that this House will be enthusiastic about enrolling young people and giving support to all these voluntary organisations and to the youngsters who work day and night to try to get as many young people as possible registered. I hope that we will give them support, and with great enthusiasm. We thank those organisations—I am proud to be president of one of them—for all that they have done. They have earned their spurs at this moment.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, it is up to all of us involved in politics and all parties to promote maximum registration between now and May. The Deputy Prime Minister went on “The Last Leg” late last Friday night—I think not a programme that most Members of this House watch, but very popular with young people. I will be talking at an event tonight with a group of young Explorer Scouts from Tower Hamlets to show our support for Scout and Scout leader work in encouraging people to vote with the Cabinet Office’s programme, Rock Enrol!

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, we are now told that there are 7.5 million potential voters missing from the national register. That is up on 2010 yet we have a general election within a few months. Why has that happened?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My understanding is that the adjustment between 6 million and 7.5 million from 2010 to 2012 was in line with the census. I am told by the statisticians that it represents an actual stabilisation. As I have said at this Dispatch Box many times before, the major reason why people who are not registered say that they have not registered is because they are not interested in politics and not interested in voting. I repeat that it is up to all of us to do our utmost in the next 90 days to enthuse particularly young people and those most disengaged from politics to re-engage, to register and then to vote.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, does my noble friend not think that the Government are creating a very dangerous precedent by insisting, in the new powers for the Scottish Parliament, that changes in the franchise—or indeed boundaries—require a two-thirds majority?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am not entirely sure that the Government are creating a dangerous precedent. I suspect that the noble Lord and I may disagree on the age at which people might start to vote.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, first, I declare an interest as the chair of the All-Party Group on Voter Registration. According to Electoral Commission research, 30% of our young people aged 18 to 24 are not on the register of electors. If this was the situation in any other country in the world 93 days before a general election, the British Government would be urging the country to pull its finger out and get people on to the register. The problem is that this is in their own backyard and entirely of their own making. What are the Government going to do to get people on the register before applications close on 20 April?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Government have engaged in a range of activities on social media and are using National Voter Registration Day as a means of raising national attention. Two of my ministerial colleagues are speaking in parallel at a barracks tomorrow to deal with the problem of underregistration among defence personnel. The Government will also, through the FCO, be attempting to raise the amazingly low level of overseas registration. We are working on this, but I repeat that the Government cannot do all of it on their own. I put something out on Liberal Democrat Voice, my own party’s site, two weeks ago encouraging all our activists to engage with local schools and other bodies. I am sure that the Labour Party is doing the same, in so far as it can.

Lord Lexden (Con): In view of the success of the work done in schools in Northern Ireland by its chief electoral officer, will the Government encourage his counterparts throughout the country to publicise the details of the work that they are doing in schools and the results that flow from that?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I have been in active conversation with electoral registration officers over the last year and more. The Government have just provided another £6.8 million for electoral registration officers, targeted on particular areas which have low registration, by and large in the cities. I also stress that the provision of online registration, which has been going now for a year and through which 3.33 million people have already registered, is very much one of the ways we get at young people. Knowing young people, including my own children, I think this is something that young people are likely to register on at the last minute.

Lord Storey (LD): My noble friend may be aware of an electoral registration app that can be downloaded on to smartphones, which was launched in Dundee. Have the Government any plans to use smartphone technology to increase voter registration?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, you can register online on smartphones. The Government are also using social and other media to add links to the registration website and to remind people as they use social media that now is the time to register to vote.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I am sure that we all wish my noble friend success in his mission to Tower Hamlets this evening. Could I ask him to reconsider the Government’s attitude on compulsory

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registration? It would really be very sensible, and I am glad to see noble Lords opposite nodding. I hope the Government will consider it.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Government are not convinced about compulsory voting, which raises some large questions about the relationship between the citizen and the state—

Noble Lords: Registration!

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Excuse me, registration. It raises some large questions about the relationship between the citizen and the state, which perhaps the next Parliament will discuss.



3.23 pm

Asked by Lord Collins of Highbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent progress they have made on tackling Ebola in West Africa.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover) (LD): My Lords, the United Kingdom is leading the international response to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. It is clear that this strategy is working. There are signs that the infection rate is falling in Sierra Leone. This is real progress and a cause for cautious optimism that we can beat this disease. We remain focused on defeating the outbreak completely.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, just before Christmas, Professor Chris Whitty, chief scientific adviser to DfID, said in evidence to the Public Accounts Committee in the other place:

“There is a high chance that when we look back on this epidemic more people who did not have Ebola will have died as a result of the Ebola epidemic”.

Does the Minister agree that this reinforces the case for universal healthcare systems, free at the point of access, and that we should use this language in a stand-alone health goal in the forthcoming UN negotiations to replace the MDGs?

Baroness Northover: It is clear that there have been problems with other diseases in the affected areas, as people have not come forward for treatment, so the noble Lord is absolutely right. It is extremely important that in the future we take forward the strengthening of their health provision—that is clearly necessary. It is essential when the new SDGs are agreed that health is there, underpinning what happens in terms of human development.

Lord Cameron of Dillington (CB): My Lords, do the Government have any plans for a post-Ebola crisis in Africa? Owing to transport and communications breakdown and to movement restrictions, farmers have not been able to sell last year’s harvest and they therefore do not have the cash to buy the inputs for the following year’s harvest. Therefore, it is at the next

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harvest—that is, this year—when the real nutritional crises are going to start in all the countries of west Africa. I hope that the Government are making plans to deal with that inevitable crisis.

Baroness Northover: The international community is well aware of the challenge that the noble Lord has mentioned. The UNDP will complete its regional Ebola recovery assessments by the end of February. Those will be comprehensive and address those kinds of questions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, during a pastoral visit to Sierra Leone in mid-December, I heard affirmation of the extraordinary commitment of British forces and British work in that country. There was much expression of admiration and gratitude. There was also much concern about future outbreaks of Ebola. What thinking have the Government given to how future outbreaks might be prevented?

Baroness Northover: I am very pleased to see the most reverend Primate in his place—a number of us were extremely concerned when he came back from Sierra Leone and was not himself well, so it is great to see him here. He is absolutely right: the international community is focusing on trying to ensure that we do not find ourselves in this situation again. The WHO has looked at its own reform and other international bodies will too, but it is vital that we learn the lessons of this particular epidemic.

Lord Chidgey (LD): My Lords, the pharmaceutical industry claims that the reason why an Ebola vaccine had not been developed was that the number of victims was likely to be small compared to, for example, malaria. Does it have nothing to do with the poverty of the people affected or their inability to pay a market price for the drug? Does my noble friend agree that, but for the heroic efforts of hundreds of mainly local health workers, the Ebola outbreak could have become a pandemic, with possibly millions of victims, all for the want of a vaccine? Are the Government pressing industry to accept, in poor countries, production costs-plus payments for the vaccine, as happens for AIDS treatments in poor countries, with significant success?

Baroness Northover: My noble friend is right that there are models for how this might be taken forward and he is right that there were real risks of a pandemic. The United Kingdom and its NHS workers have actually played a pretty key role in stemming that, so that it did not become a pandemic. Certainly, in terms of the development of vaccines, that is another area that we need to investigate.

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Lab): My Lords, we have known about Ebola for 40 years, yet we still have no vaccine and no cure. Does the Minister agree that the cost of bringing that drug forward and taking it through the necessary regulatory process means that pharmaceutical companies prefer to focus on the diseases of the rich than on poor people’s diseases in Sierra Leone?

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Baroness Northover: I am quite encouraged by what is happening in terms of vaccines for Ebola. As the noble Baroness might be aware, clinical trials have already started in Liberia, and the UK and the CDC are looking at rolling out trials in Sierra Leone.

Viscount Ridley (Con): My Lords, while congratulating the brave volunteers who have done so much to bring this epidemic under control, and while it is good news that there is light at the end of the tunnel, would my noble friend consider asking the World Health Organization to publish its internal review on why the early response to this epidemic was so bad and why it downplayed the problem when it had already become known to other agencies?

Baroness Northover: I am sure that there will be continued discussion as to the lessons we must learn. However, it was welcome that the WHO held a special session to look at some of those lessons and try to take that forward.

Baroness Hayman (CB): My Lords, while welcoming the progress that the noble Baroness outlined and the recognition that I understand is to come of British citizens who contributed to that progress, would she agree that the next phase of the fight in Sierra Leone will be even more challenging: not to let up on the drive to zero cases in the current outbreak; to make up for the healthcare that has not been given in terms of immunisations, maternity and neonatal care, malaria and NTDs; and to provide the structures for robust responses to any outbreaks that might occur in future?

Baroness Northover: Indeed, the noble Baroness is right that we cannot be complacent. As I am sure she knows, we need 42 days of an Ebola-free situation in all the relevant countries. We then need to reconstruct. That needs to be transparent and accountable. When I met the relevant Ministers from Sierra Leone, that was certainly something I emphasised from the UK Government.

NHS: Financial Tariff for 2015-16


3.31 pm

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the rejection by National Health Service Trusts of the financial tariff proposals drawn up by Monitor for 2015–16.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, we recognise the frustration and uncertainty this delay will cause providers and commissioners. My department is working closely with Monitor and NHS England to consider which option to pursue that provides the fairest settlement for different NHS organisations while ensuring that patients continue to receive the best possible care.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that reply. Can he confirm that this is the first time that NHS trusts have rejected the tariff on the grounds that they can no longer provide safe and quality care and meet financial targets next year on the basis of the tariff laid down by Monitor? Can he also confirm that the finance director of the NHS Trust Development Authority told Monitor that he does not consider that the efficiency requirement for next year can be met without risking quality of care? When will the Government take responsibility for the financial disaster coming upon the NHS?

Earl Howe: My Lords, it should not cause us any surprise that, at a time of financial stringency in the NHS and increasing demand, it should have proved more difficult than usual to arrive at a settled position on the tariff. The process is undoubtedly complex and challenging but we will continue to work with and support Monitor and NHS England in managing this in a way that attempts to be as fair as possible to all parts of the system.

Baroness Barker (LD): My Lords, given the historic underfunding of mental health services in this country, will the Government make representations to Monitor to ensure that mental health trusts are not required to make savings at the same rate as other trusts?

Earl Howe: My Lords, we remain absolutely committed to achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health. The proposals for mental health services in the national tariff arrangements for 2015-16 will get us closer to that aim, should they be finally agreed.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, a great deal of concern has been expressed by specialist providers, particularly in the heart field where there is a review ongoing at the moment, that there might well be a reduction in funding. That would be disastrous for services. Can the Minister reassure those groups that there will be a fair assessment in relation to specialist provision?

Earl Howe: It is the view of Monitor and NHS England that providers of specialised services should make every effort to deliver care that is both clinically appropriate and cost-effective in order to manage demand—where, after all, their clinicians have significant influence. NHS England considers the proposed rule to be warranted—this is about the 50:50 split in the tariff—because rapidly growing expenditure that exceeds population prevalence growth is unlikely to reflect efficient and effective services, which, when one thinks about it, are in patients’ best interests overall.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab): Going back to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, I am sure the Minister will have seen recent reports showing that there is a serious shortage of mental health beds in the health service at the moment. Indeed, I believe that at one point in the very recent past there were no more than four or five available in

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the entirety of the UK—or certainly in England. Parity of esteem is a fine phrase, but is it really being played out in practice?

Earl Howe: My Lords, it would require a full-scale debate for me to lay out in full all the things that we are doing to promote parity of esteem in the health service. The noble Baroness is right that in certain parts of the country there has been acute pressure on bed numbers, but bed numbers have been increased in some of those areas, and NHS England is paying close attention to the need to ensure that those who need in-patient treatment receive it.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, will the Minister look carefully at the bureaucratic burden on clinicians? A number of clinicians have raised with me the fact that there is too heavy a burden, and that because of that burden, they are not being as efficient as they might be.

Earl Howe: My Lords, yes of course the bureaucratic nature of commissioning needs to be minimised and we do all we can to achieve that. However, the need to ensure that we make a careful distinction between commissioners and providers does, I am afraid, mean that rather a lot of numerical work has to go along with that and, as is right, discussion between commissioners and providers to ensure that the system works smoothly.

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords, Choose and Book has been a success story for the Government. It is a hidden gem. Will this be affected by the level of tariffs that are to be offered and will patients have a real choice?

Earl Howe: My Lords, no, Choose and Book will not be affected, although NHS England has plans to update it to make it a much richer and more informative system.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, given the appalling performance of ambulance services—certainly in London, and, I suspect, in the rest of the country—what steps are the Government taking to ensure that the tariff means that people will receive the emergency call-outs that they would expect on the basis of the funding that should be being made available?

Earl Howe: This is part and parcel of the discussions going on at the moment. There is a balance of interests here—above all, the interests of NHS patients, but within the system, the interests of those who hold the budget and the interests of those who provide the service. The risks relate, on the one hand, to affordability, and, on the other hand, to financial and service stability, and the need not to sacrifice quality in the process.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, would the Minister care to comment on his former colleague in his department who views the reorganisation of the National Health Service as the biggest mistake this Government made? As we come towards the end of this coalition Government, some of us watch in horror as an increasing number of people within the

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coalition stand up and say, “It weren’t me, guv”, and, “I didn’t agree with it”. Does the Minister accept that his party, this coalition and the Liberal Democrats did not actually ask the people whether they should do this? They told them that they would not do it.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I remain a staunch defender of the 2012 Act. In this context, the 2012 Act did two things that were different. It gave responsibility for setting the tariff to an independent body instead of to the Department of Health and Ministers. I believe that that was a good thing. It also provided a statutory right, which did not exist before, for the NHS to be consulted on the tariff. I believe we should keep those two elements of the Act—as well as the rest of it.

Judicial Pensions Regulations 2015

Legal Services Act 2007 (The Law Society) (Modification of Functions) Order 2015

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Fines on Summary Conviction) Regulations 2015

Motions to Approve

3.39 pm

Moved by Lord Faulks

That the draft regulations and order laid before the House on 8, 11 and 17 December 2014 be approved.

Relevant document: 17th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 29 January

Motions agreed.

Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse


3.39 pm

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

“As the House will know, the Government established this inquiry so we could get to the bottom of whether important institutions—public sector bodies as well as non-state organisations—have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. In my last Statement to the House about the inquiry in November, I said that in appointing two chairmen who had failed to win the trust of survivors, we had got things wrong. I said that as we worked out how to move forward, we would listen to survivors and their representatives, and I said that if we stay patient and

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work together, we will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to find out what has happened in the past and is still happening now, and stop it happening in the future.

Since my last Statement, I have held meetings with young survivors, with adult survivors and with groups that represent thousands of survivors in total. During those meetings many people shared their experiences, no matter how painful or how difficult it was to speak out. In doing so, the young survivors displayed immense courage, as did the older survivors who showed me how abuse that took place decades ago can feel as if it took place yesterday, and how they have had to live with the consequences of that abuse their whole adult lives. I am grateful to all of them.

Throughout those meetings, for every person who told their story there was one common goal—to save others from the abuse they had suffered. So let me be clear: I am now more determined than ever to expose the people behind these despicable crimes, the people and institutions that knew about the abuse but did not act or failed to help when it was their duty—sometimes their very purpose—to do so, and the people and institutions that in some cases positively covered up evidence of abuse. Other common themes emerged from those meetings and from the wider feedback that survivors have given me. While there is no single point of view from the many thousands who have suffered—and that means not every survivor will agree with everything that I announce today—there is a remarkable degree of consensus on what is needed for this inquiry as it goes about its important work.

Survivors have been clear about the type of chairman who would command their confidence. They have said that they want to see powers of compulsion to make all witnesses give evidence. They have said that we need to revise the inquiry’s terms of reference. They have raised the importance of help and support as the inquiry triggers memories that cause great pain. Finally, they have emphasised the importance of prosecuting the perpetrators of these terrible crimes where evidence emerges.

I will turn first to the matter of the chairman. After my last Statement, the Home Office received more than 150 nominations from survivors, their representatives, MPs, Peers and members of the public. In addition, the Home Office contacted Commonwealth countries, via the Foreign Office, to identify any suitable candidates. Each and every name was assessed against a set of criteria, incorporating the views of survivors on the most important factors. These included appropriate skills to carry out a complex task; experience of the subject matter; and the absence of any direct links to any individual about whom they may have concerns or any institution, or organisation, that might fall under the scope of the inquiry. A copy of these criteria will be placed today in the House Library, and published in full on GOV.UK.

Following an initial sift, due diligence checks were carried out on all the remaining names, which included academics, social workers, people from the charitable sector and a significant number of judges and members of the legal profession. This list was narrowed down to a shortlist of those who matched the set of criteria and

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were most suited to taking on this undoubtedly challenging role. I then took the views of a small group of survivors, who are all members of larger groups and who represent more than 100,000 individual survivors in total. As the House may recall, in responding to an Urgent Question on 22 January, I said that I would reach my decision by the end of January and update the House shortly thereafter.

Based on the clear feedback from survivors and the assessment of the nominations against the agreed criteria, I can tell the House that I plan to appoint Justice Lowell Goddard as the new chairman of the independent panel inquiry into child sexual abuse.

Justice Goddard is a judge of the High Court of New Zealand and is a highly respected member of the judiciary who has been at the forefront of criminal law and procedure. As chairman of the Independent Police Conduct Authority of New Zealand, she conducted an inquiry into the policing of child abuse in New Zealand and she is also a member of the United Nations sub-committee on the prevention of torture. She will bring a wealth of expertise to the role of chairman and, crucially, she will be as removed as possible from the organisations and institutions that might become the focus of the inquiry.

I can confirm that I have discussed Justice Goddard’s appointment with the shadow Home Secretary, and I am grateful to the right honourable lady for her constructive comments and bipartisan approach. The House will also recall that I agreed with the right honourable Member for Leicester East, Keith Vaz, that the nominated panel chairman would attend a pre-appointment hearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee. This will bring further transparency to the appointment process and I can confirm that the chairman of the committee has agreed that this confirmation hearing will take place on 11 February. I have asked the committee to publish its report as soon as possible.

I would now like to turn to the form of the inquiry. As I said at the Home Affairs Select Committee on 15 December, I am clear that the inquiry should have the power to compel witnesses to give evidence. I also said there were three ways to do this: first, by establishing a royal commission; secondly, by converting the current inquiry into a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, subject to consultation with the chairman once appointed; or, thirdly, to set up a new statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Having taken in-depth legal advice and having discussed the option with survivors, I have concluded that a royal commission would not have the same robustness in law as a statutory inquiry. In particular, it would not have the same clarity over its powers to compel witnesses to give evidence. I have decided not to convert the current inquiry, because doing so would not address the concerns of survivors about the degree of transparency in the original appointments process. I have therefore decided on the third option of establishing a new statutory inquiry with a panel.

I want to make clear that this is by no means a criticism of the current panel members, who were selected on the basis of their expertise and commitment to getting to the truth about child abuse in this country. The fact that the panel is being dissolved has nothing

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to do with their ability or integrity, and I want to place on record my gratitude to them for the work that they have done so far. I have asked the panel to produce a report on their work so far, which I am sure will provide valuable assistance to the incoming chairman.

In order to make sure that the appointment of the new panel is as transparent as possible, I will publish the criteria by which each new member will be selected in the House Library and in full on GOV.UK. I hope that the original members and the expert adviser to the panel, Professor Alexis Jay, will put themselves forward to be considered against these criteria if they so wish. I can also confirm that Ben Emmerson QC will remain as counsel to the inquiry. I will discuss the make-up of the new panel with Justice Goddard, but I am clear that each member must have the right skills and expertise to do the job, satisfy the statutory requirements of impartiality and also command the confidence of survivors.

So the process is being reset and that means that I will also revisit the terms of reference. In accordance with the Inquiries Act, these will need to be discussed with Justice Goddard, but I want to assure survivors and the House that I have heard the strong call that the inquiry’s remit should go back further than the current time limit of 1970.

There are, however, good reasons for confining the inquiry’s scope to England and Wales. The Hart inquiry in Northern Ireland and the Oldham inquiry in Jersey are already underway, while the Scottish Government have announced their own inquiry into child abuse, but I shall discuss this with the new chairman. In the event that the geographical scope remains the same, I propose that a clear protocol is agreed to make sure that no information falls through the cracks, and no people or institutions escape scrutiny, censure or justice.

I wish once more to reassure the House that the Official Secrets Act will not be a bar to giving evidence to this inquiry. I am clear that the inquiry will have the full co-operation of government and access to all relevant information, including secret information where appropriate. I shall be writing to Secretaries of State to ask for their full co-operation, and will ask the Cabinet Secretary to write to all departments and agencies—and public sector organisations, including local authorities—setting out the need for full transparency and co-operation with the inquiry.

I turn to the important issue of support. Survivors have fought hard for this inquiry, knowing the intense emotional toll that it will take. Charities have already reported a huge increase in demand for their services as more and more people come forward, many for the first time. That is why in December I announced a £2 million fund available to non-statutory organisations that had seen an increase in demand as a direct result of the announcement of the child abuse inquiry. A further £2.85 million fund for non-statutory organisations providing support across England and Wales was also announced. I am pleased to announce that these funds are now available and organisations can bid for them. Going forward, further support will be needed for those who wish to give evidence to the inquiry and for the many thousands of people who may be affected by its work. It is essential that these people are given the

4 Feb 2015 : Column 657

help they need, and I expect appropriate government funding to be made available at the next spending review.

The final issue that survivors have raised with me is the need to do everything we can to ensure that the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are prosecuted wherever possible, and of course I share that aim. I confirm that there will be a co-ordinated national policing response that will link directly into the inquiry and will be able to follow up any lead that the inquiry uncovers which requires a policing response. This will be led by Simon Bailey, the national policing lead for child protection and abuse investigations, as part of Operation Hydrant, which will co-ordinate all child abuse investigations concerning people of public prominence or those offences that took place in institutional settings. The Hydrant team will be responsible for the recording of all referrals from the inquiry that relate to potentially criminal abuse and failures to act. It will also oversee the quality of responses from police forces to any requests for information from the panel. It is also important that there is a central point of contact within the Crown Prosecution Service for any referrals resulting from the inquiry. I confirm that the Director of Public Prosecutions has appointed her legal adviser, Neil Moore, to this vital role.

There is one separate but related matter on which I promised to update the House. As part of the review that the Home Office commissioned from Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC last July, we asked a number of other government departments, as well as the Security Service and the police, to undertake a careful search of their records. Following reports in the press last month about a Cabinet Office file title listed in the National Archives, the Cabinet Office has undertaken urgent work to establish why this file was not identified as part of the original search of the Wanless and Whittam review, and whether it was a duplicate of a file that was held by the Home Office and seen by Wanless and Whittam during their review. This work has established that it was not an exact duplicate; the two files are different, but contain much of the same material. The Cabinet Office file has additional material that the Home Office file does not, and vice versa. The additional Cabinet Office material falls within in the scope of the Wanless and Whittam review. My officials have spoken to Peter Wanless and summarised the additional information that it contains, and he has confirmed that it would not have changed the conclusions of his review.

None the less, this file should have been identified when the Home Office first asked the Cabinet Office to conduct searches in connection with the Wanless and Whittam review. My right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office will today lay a Written Ministerial Statement explaining that as a result of the discovery of this file the Cabinet Office has undertaken additional searches of its papers and files. As a result, Cabinet Office officials have identified a small number of additional files that should also have been identified and passed to Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam last summer. I have said that they must be shared with Wanless and Whittam immediately; with the Goddard inquiry and the Hart inquiry, should they wish to see

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them; and with the police, which my right honourable friend has agreed to. It is imperative that the whole Government co-operate fully with the independent panel inquiry into child sexual abuse and provide full access to any information that is requested. I have of course asked for these files, in common with all other relevant documents held by the Government, to be made available to the inquiry so that it leaves no stone unturned in its bid to get to the truth.

This brings me to my final point. I have said before, and I shall say again, that what we have seen so far in Rotherham, Oxford and Greater Manchester and elsewhere is only the tip of the iceberg. This afternoon, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will give a Statement on Louise Casey’s report into Rotherham Borough Council, which will contain further evidence of its failure to protect vulnerable children. With every passing day and every new revelation, it is clear that the sexual abuse of children has taken place, and is still taking place, on a scale that we still cannot fully comprehend.

What we do know is that the authorities have, in different ways, let down too many children and adult survivors. In many cases, people in positions of authority have abused their power. Now those of us in privileged positions of public service must show that we have listened, we have heard and we have learnt, and that we will come together not to avoid difficult questions but to expose hard truths. Most importantly, we will keep in mind the people on whose behalf we seek justice—the survivors of these appalling crimes. On that note, I would like to end by thanking survivors for their patience, their determination and their willingness to help us to get this right.

I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.55 pm

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, we welcome the Home Secretary’s Statement, and I am grateful to the noble Lord for repeating it for us today. There can be few things worse for a child than to be sexually and violently abused by adults, but one of those things has to be not to be believed that it ever happened. However, the most shocking thing has to be for someone, somehow, to muster the courage to speak out, and when they are believed, to be ignored because of that belief, and for the crime to be covered up to protect the guilty. That this abuse and lack of justice has involved well known and establishment figures and institutions compounds the pain, horror and disgust.

In her Statement the Home Secretary said that,

“what we have seen so far … is only the tip of the iceberg”.

She added that it was,

“on a scale that we still cannot fully comprehend”.

She is absolutely right. What is emerging is a catalogue of serious, systematic abuse over decades and across the country by those who believed they were above the law. But however distressing, however uncomfortable and however shocking, we have to comprehend it, because only then will we be able to get to the truth, and justice, for the survivors of that abuse, and also for those who have not survived.

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However, we need to do far more than just understand the truth. It was quite moving to hear the part of the Home Secretary’s Statement where she reported that the common goal, and one of the factors that motivates and drives survivors to relive the horror of their experiences, is, as she put it, to protect and save others. The challenge for the inquiry is not only to meet the expectations of the needed investigation but to make recommendations for the future.

We called for a full statutory inquiry more than two years ago. The Home Secretary announced an inquiry more than six months ago. The false starts, the confusion and the problems have been hugely damaging. There have been issues around personnel and about the remit and the purpose, and survivors have not felt fully engaged in the process. We want this inquiry to be as effective as possible and to have the confidence of survivors and the public. So we welcome that it will now be a statutory inquiry, and we welcome, as hinted in the Statement, the extension of the remit to cover pre-1970 offences. If the Minister could clarify that further, it would be helpful.

We welcome the discussions that the Home Secretary has now had with survivors prior to appointing Justice Lowell Goddard to chair the panel. We certainly welcome the agreement that the Home Affairs Select Committee should hold a pre-appointment hearing. I have just a few questions for the Minister. Clearly, the confidence of abuse survivors is absolutely essential. Will there be any consultation and engagement with survivors regarding the appointment of the new panel and the ongoing shape and work of the inquiry?

Noble Lords are well aware of the very serious and quite devastating allegations of cover-ups and conspiracies in Whitehall and Westminster regarding the most serious crimes of sexual and violent abuse. Even today, the Home Secretary has had to update Parliament and the Minister for the Cabinet Office on the continuing chaos of missing files, and possibly duplicated files, after a Cabinet Office file was accidentally found by the press in the National Archives. Can the Minister confirm that the files of all government agencies and departments, including Downing Street and the security services, will be searched, and that Justice Goddard will have all the access that she requests?

The Home Secretary was direct and robust when she was asked about a cover-up. What will be the investigative capacity of Justice Goddard’s inquiry? Will she be able to select her own advisers and counsel? I note from the Statement that Ben Emmerson has been reappointed. Was that done with the approval of the new chairman? We all want to see those who are responsible brought to justice wherever possible, but noble Lords will be aware, as it has been raised before, of those who are responsible for online sex abuse not being interviewed by the police quickly enough. I have raised this issue with the Minister before in Questions and debates. If in the past we have had the problem that the police have not acted quickly enough against those who are now abusing children or looking at online images, can he be confident that they have the resources they need fully to investigate and prosecute past crimes while still policing the present and protecting children from abuse today? Can he explain something

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about the relationship and co-operation with Simon Bailey’s work and that of the National Crime Agency and CEOP?

Finally, the Minister will be aware of the issues that can arise when an inquiry which, of necessity, is thorough and meticulous, takes a long time, even years, to complete its work. What monitoring and progress-reporting arrangements will be in place? Can he confirm that if evidence comes to light before the conclusion of the inquiry that could lead to a prosecution, that evidence will be acted on without delay?

We welcome the Statement, and I hope the noble Lord can clarify some of the points I have raised today.

Lord Bates: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her characteristic bipartisan approach on this. I know from my right honourable friend the Home Secretary that one of the most important things for survivors, particularly as we approach the end of this Parliament, is confidence that we are acting in a cross-party way so that there will not be disruption thereafter. That will be welcomed by them.

I shall deal with a number of the points that the noble Baroness raised. In relation to the missing files, as I have said, my right honourable friend has been very clear that we do not know whether there was a cover-up. That is one of the things that we need to get clear. We need to focus on it and get to the bottom of it. The Home Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary have written round, and we expect early and full compliance with that inquiry, as should have been the case with the earlier Wanless and Whittam review.

The noble Baroness asked about Ben Emmerson QC as the counsel. That was discussed with Justice Goddard and she is content with that approach. The noble Baroness also asked about the important issue of timing. We have been hearing evidence lately about the Chilcot review dragging on. That is not something that we want to do. The Home Secretary has said that she is considering—but will first discuss with the chairman of the panel, of course—whether there might be a target date. However, we would certainly expect to get regular updates and for survivors to be kept updated about the progress being made. Any evidence that comes to light must be passed immediately. That is the crucial role which Chief Constable Simon Bailey will play. He will be the link, the conduit, and the link with the Director of Public Prosecution’s office, so that we ensure that any prosecutions and information are dealt with immediately.

I think those were the principal points that the noble Baroness raised. If there are other points, I will come back to them later. I am grateful for her support.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, before the clerk starts the Clock for Back-Bench contributions, and as there are many noble Lords in the Chamber today for this very important statement, I thought it might be helpful if I reminded the House that Statements are an opportunity for brief questions. We want to ensure that the maximum number of noble Lords who are interested and wish to ask my noble friend Lord Bates a question get an

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opportunity to do so. If we could ensure that we follow the guidance in the


and keep to brief questions, I would be grateful.

4.03 pm

Lord Laming (CB): My Lords, this is a welcome Statement which makes clear that the Home Secretary has given a great deal of thought to this important matter. We wish Justice Goddard great success. We are particularly pleased that it is going to be a statutory inquiry, which is a great achievement. I notice from the Statement that the Home Secretary intends to revisit the terms of reference. Does the Minister agree that it is very important that great precision is attached to the terms of reference for an inquiry that will perhaps cover more than 50 years? To avoid disappointment and possible legal challenge, the terms of reference are the essential component for the success of this inquiry.

Lord Bates: The noble Lord, Lord Laming, speaks with great experience in these areas, and he is absolutely right that the terms of reference are critical. The Inquiries Act 2005 stipulates that the terms of reference must be drawn up with the chairman of the panel. I know that one of the first things that the Home Secretary will turn to is what the scope of the panel should be, so that we can ensure that we get to the truth as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am afraid that this is not a question but a brief statement, if I may. On behalf of the Church of England, we welcome—

Noble Lords: Would the Minister agree!

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: Thank you very much. Would the Minister agree that we in the Church of England welcome this inquiry hugely as well as the appointment of a new chair? We acknowledge our own failures as a church in the past, and assure the House that we have already instituted our own inquiries well in advance of the establishing of this panel. We will of course co-operate with the panel in absolutely every way we can.

Lord Bates: We are grateful for the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle’s statement on that. I do not think that any of us can claim to have got it absolutely right. The important thing is that we get it right going forward for the survivors.

Baroness Walmsley (LD): My Lords, may we commend the Home Secretary for her persistence, because I think that she has got it right this time? We, too, have been calling for a statutory inquiry and we very much welcome that. I welcome the greater transparency—for example, the confirmation hearings that we are getting now—and I particularly welcome the direct line to the police and the CPS which we have with this structure. However, I have one concern, and that is the terms of reference and the structure of the inquiry. The scope of the inquiry is absolutely enormous. Although the

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inquiry is not likely to take 50 years, it will go back 50 years and it will take many years. Now, justice delayed is justice denied, and what I am concerned about is whether the Government will liaise with Justice Goddard and try to come up with a structure that will allow periodic reports—of considerable substance—upon which the services across the country can act. If we have to wait until right at the very end, many opportunities for improving what we do will have been missed.

Lord Bates: My noble friend is absolutely right that we do need to get it right and the terms of reference are key. When we set up the initial independent panel, she will recall that we planned to have six-monthly statements. I thought that was a good arrangement, but one of the whole points of setting it up under the independent Inquiries Act is that the terms of reference have to be agreed with the new chairman. That will be very important, but the fact that we have a former High Court judge—a member of the judiciary with great experience of getting through complex and difficult situations and getting to the heart of the truth—should help us in that task.

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): My Lords, I, too, join others in congratulating the Home Secretary on this appointment. Justice Lowell Goddard is someone known to a number of us in the legal profession, and I am sure our judges know her well. She is highly respected and has a great deal of experience. New Zealand has particular experience in dealing with these very problems—indeed, another judge, Carolyn Henwood, led an inquiry into child abuse in children’s homes—so there is a wealth of experience there.

I want to ask this question, because I heard mention of whether the appointment of Ben Emmerson was something that would be agreed to. Ben Emmerson QC is a fearless counsel. Surely the Minister would agree in appointing him that there is a very important role for there to be someone who understands the British system—the British class system, the nature of the British establishment and matters which might not be as quickly understood by someone from a different jurisdiction.

My second question is about the Official Secrets Act. As I understood it, the Minister said that no one would be able to hide behind the Official Secrets Act so as not to answer questions in relation to the inquiry. I should like reassurance about that, because a number of the victims say that, in having their desire to pursue complaints dismissed, they were at times told that matters of national security or public interest meant that inquiries should not proceed. That would be a detriment to the kind of inquiry which is sought by survivors and all of us to clear these matters up.

Lord Bates: I welcome the noble Baroness’s support for Justice Goddard from her personal experience of her, and for Ben Emmerson QC. We have been very clear that the Official Secrets Act should be no bar to anyone coming forward with evidence. There are means under the Inquiries Act whereby, if need be, certain evidence can be supplied to the inquiry with restrictions around it, but the Official Secrets Act cannot be used as a screen to hide behind.

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Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, the inquiry will have a start date in terms of looking back, but will it have an end date in terms of when it starts now? My concern is that abuse is happening now. I am grateful to the Minister for announcing that there will be funds to help organisations that are working in the field, but during the years when the inquiry is making its judgments, other cases will come forward. How will the inquiry deal with present abuse, because we will not stop it now unless we really make a huge effort?

Lord Bates: That is perhaps why other inquiries are there. We have seen the incredible inquiry that has been taking place in Rotherham. There is no reason why action cannot take place. Justice Goddard will appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee on 11 February. We would not want to prejudge that, but assuming that she is cleared, thereafter the terms of reference and the appointment of the panel will be a key part of her initial objectives, and then to just get on with it as quickly as possible.

Baroness Benjamin (LD): My Lords, in the 1960s, the 1970s and up to date, many children from BAME backgrounds were placed in care and were sexually abused—that is a known fact—and many have gone on to suffer greatly with mental illness and have never spoken about it. They need to do that with someone whom they can identify with culturally. What representation will there be on the panel with whom those older people will be able to identify, so that they can finally speak out about the horrific abuse that they have had to go through? They need to have someone whom they can identify with before they can come out and say exactly what has happened to them. Will there be BAME representation on the panel?

Lord Bates: The panel’s composition has not been agreed yet; that is something on which Justice Goddard will rightly take the lead, but it is also very important that BAME community leaders and other senior figures in those communities urge people to come forward. I know that it is painful, but there is support. The greatest contribution that they can make from the experience that they have been through is to try to do everything they can to ensure that it does not happen to other people.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Lab): My Lords, in commending the Government for now coming forward with a statutory inquiry, can I ask the noble Lord whether he agrees that it is a matter of great regret that it has taken so long? There are a number of lessons therefore to be learnt about the issues that any Government should take into account when considering whether to have a statutory inquiry. Particularly on issues pertaining to vulnerable children, does he further agree that now is the time to set out a proper procedure to assist any new holder of an inquiry to know how efficaciously to put in place the preparatory processes which should be in place if anyone is to undertake a job as huge as this one will undoubtedly be?

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Lord Bates: The noble and learned Baroness is absolutely right, in the sense that we all learnt a huge amount through this process. The Home Secretary has apologised—she apologised in October because she felt that she had got it wrong and let down the victims. That was a key point. When it was initially set up, the model was the Hillsborough inquiry, which had been quick and effective, got to the heart of the issues, identified some issues for the police to follow up and managed to command the confidence of those people who had suffered because of those events. That was the model. It did not work on this occasion, so we now have a statutory inquiry. We are learning as we go, and the sadness is that sometimes you learn through not getting it right.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, I thank the Government for setting aside £2.85 million and other additional funds to meet the therapeutic needs of those touched by this inquiry. However, can the Minister make it quite clear whether the inquiry’s remit includes recommendations on what therapy should be available to adults who experienced sexual abuse and that if, for instance, the recommendation is for long-term talking therapy, either individually or in a group, there can be some expectation that resources will be found to meet those therapeutic needs?

Lord Bates: I think there is some very deep expertise among those in the charitable sector who have been working on this. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has had conversations with the Health Secretary about what mental support can be made available to victims and survivors of these crimes. We are learning about that process, but we will provide that additional support as well as the support that we have provided to the voluntary organisations which already do tremendous work in this area.

Lord Morris of Aberavon (Lab): My Lords, will there be updates to Parliament from time to time on target dates for reporting in order to try to avoid another Chilcot?

Lord Bates: That will be very important, and of course your Lordships can routinely hold the Executive to account through the provision of reports. Given that this inquiry is independent of government, it will also be important that systems and processes are in place by which both Houses of Parliament can be regularly informed about progress.

Lord Scriven (LD): My Lords, the Minister mentioned the Rotherham report. The report out today finds that Rotherham Borough Council has been involved in covering up information and suppressing whistleblowers, and it concludes that those closely associated with past failures need to let others make a fresh start. Does the Minister agree that any officer or councillor who is implicated in that report, or who stood back and did nothing, should resign immediately from Rotherham Borough Council?

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Lord Bates: The Statement made in the other place by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was a damning critique, based on Louise Casey’s work. I understand that in fact the entire cabinet of Rotherham Borough Council today resigned en bloc, and commissioners are in the process of being appointed while the position is resolved. In doing so, cabinet members did the right thing in recognising their culpability and their failing of the children of Rotherham.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab): My Lords, following the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and the possibility that there may be some interim reporting as this inquiry progresses, and reflecting on the disappointment that everybody feels about how the Chilcot report has evolved, can the Minister say what effect the so-called Maxwellisation process is likely to have on the progress of this inquiry? I assume—although I may be wrong—that people who give evidence and are subsequently criticised by the report will have to be consulted about how that criticism is made public.

Lord Bates: Of course, a lot of the work which will be done by the inquiry will be in the public domain. That is one of the major differences that we will see between the two inquiries. However, it is very important that it does not drag on and that we get to the heart of the issue as quickly as possible, learn the lessons and ensure that those who are responsible for the failures and for the deeds that took place are actually brought to justice.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Ind Lab): My Lords, can the Minister clarify, for the avoidance of all doubt, that this inquiry will not be delayed when it is ready for publication by having to consult those who might be named critically, ensuring that they have the opportunity to see what is said about them?

Lord Bates: That was the point raised by the noble Baroness. In many ways, this highlights one of the difficulties that we have had to wrestle with. Because of the way in which the independent panel was set up before, the Home Secretary had a degree of control over it, but that was felt not to give confidence to the survivors. Then it was set up under the Inquiries Act 2005, and that degree of control was lost. There are no easy solutions to the problems that we are having. That is why the appointment of the chairman is so critical; she is somebody who is very focused on getting to the heart of the truth and doing so expeditiously.

Lord Elystan-Morgan (CB): Is it not the case that delays such as these, particularly in the case of the Chilcot inquiry, are very much to be regretted? Nevertheless, all such inquiries are bound by the rules of natural justice, and Maxwellisation is only a crystallisation and a spelling out of those particular rules, and cannot be avoided.

Lord Bates: That natural justice element is there. Also we are very conscious that sometimes people have been wrongly accused and their lives have been destroyed as a result. So it is an onerous responsibility

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on all of us to make sure that we get this right and do so in a calm and focused but absolutely resolute way so that we learn the lessons of how we can protect our children in future.

Lord Laming (CB): My Lords, does the Minister agree that people who are giving evidence to this inquiry may expose things about their earlier lives that are extremely painful for them? Reliving those experiences can be very traumatic and damaging if not handled properly. Would it be the Home Secretary’s intention to make sure that there is proper support for those who are invited to give evidence to the inquiry?

Lord Bates: The noble Lord is absolutely right. There are two elements here—one is the emotional price and the other is a financial price which people pay in coming forward. We want them to come forward; we do not want anything to be a barrier, so the Home Secretary believes that it is absolutely critical that we have in place sufficient resource to be able to meet their needs and care for them when they do the courageous thing of coming forward and reliving those horrific experiences.

Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

Report (2nd Day)

4.22 pm

Clause 25: General duty on specified authorities

Amendment 13A

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

13A: Clause 25, page 17, line 17, leave out “due”

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 13B. Clause 25 provides that “due regard” must be given—I emphasise the word “due”—to,

“the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

I have to say, preliminary to speaking to the detail of this amendment, that the more that I have thought about it, in one sense the less concerned I am about Clause 25(1). It is not the heavy duty that in some ways it has been presented as, but probably in some ways it simply encapsulates common sense. That is in one sense. Where I find a real problem is in the elaborate infrastructure or superstructure—I am not sure which it is—that has been built around this simple proposition and the context in which the clause, and the whole of Part 5, is now being viewed: the feeling among the Muslim communities that they are being got at. That is why I am still of the view that it would be far better not to have a statutory duty with all the bureaucracy, costs and difficulties that that carries. However, my amendment is much more modest than that principle.

As I said, Clause 25(1) provides for “due regard”. Under Clause 28, the Secretary of State is to issue guidance, and under subsection (2) of that clause the authorities must “have regard” to the guidance. Therefore,

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is the heavier duty the duty in Clause 25? Is there significance in the difference? Is it technical perhaps that Clause 25 is about a statutory duty and that Clause 28 is about guidance, which does not have the same status as legislation and therefore less regard might be had to it? However, what was a two-faceted question became triple-faceted when the Government laid an amendment on freedom of expression in universities. I do not want to anticipate the debate on that issue but I note that the institutions are to pay “particular regard” to the freedom of speech duty in the 1986 Act. So we now have three levels. Indeed, the Secretary of State is to have “particular regard” to that duty when issuing guidance and considering directions.

It is clearly important to understand the relative weight of these terms. In respect of education, perhaps the freedom of expression duty, because it prompts particular regard, trumps the duty concerning preventing people being drawn into terrorism. On reading all this again, I have to say that, as well as being about the relative weight, it is about which duty is the one in the new clause. In other words, the hierarchy seems to be particular regard, due regard and then plain regard. I am looking for assistance from the Minister on this.

Amendment 13B provides that,

“each specified authority shall have”—

why not?—

“regard to the impact … on local communities”,

which I have put in the plural, and on people connected with the authority, and,

“of the manner of the exercise”,

of this on local communities.

Among various briefings over the past few days, I have received the response to the Prevent duty guidance consultation from the London Borough of Sutton. I should like to share with your Lordships some of the comments that have been made. It states:

“There is a further issue of risk of negative impact from the duty if it is undertaken without careful consideration of local context. There is already evidence to suggest that the delivery of interventions such as around female genital mutilation and honour based violence adding to polarisation of communities. The interventions are important but must be delivered with understanding”.

In the response, a young Muslim woman is quoted as asking,

“‘why in my class are the girls taken out and spoken to about FGM and honour based violence and everyone looks at me and the other girl in a headscarf—these things have nothing to do with my life and are not risks I’m interested in. I’d rather know more about how to stay safe walking across my park’”.

As the London Borough of Sutton response says:

“The guidance is silent on such issues”.

The phraseology of this amendment was prompted by an amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, towards the end of the last day in Committee on the new Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. We have quite properly spent time in our debates emphasising the importance of a positive approach to community engagement—in other words, engagement, not disengagement—and it being a continuing process. Time and again, it has been put to Members of your Lordships’ House that the Muslim communities feel that they are viewed as the problem; namely, that if

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you are a Muslim, if you are not a terrorist you are a potential terrorist and you need to prove that you are not. Obviously, that is the most enormous slur or slander on the vast majority of Muslims, and it is very counterproductive in that it is polarising and alienating.

My amendment refers to the impact on communities, pupils, clients, patients and so on. As has been said to me, there are questions about workability, functionality and encroachment into the private sphere by the state. I mention the manner in which the duty is exercised because attitudes show in actions and words, and we all know that it is not only what we do but the way that we do it. I beg to move.

4.30 pm

Baroness Sharp of Guildford (LD): We had a considerable debate in Committee on these issues. I shall speak to Amendment 13B and about the danger of making the Prevent strategy statutory rather than voluntary and the fear that it might prove to be counterproductive. It is clear, however, that the Government feel strongly that these powers need to be statutory to ensure that those authorities which to date have lagged behind in their observance of the Prevent strategy recognise their obligations.

Amendment 13B, therefore, takes a somewhat different tack, as my noble friend mentioned. We had some discussion also about the importance of community involvement and working with the grain of community culture and the mores in different areas. In other words, it is vital that the implementation of the Prevent strategy should be flexible in approach and take into account the sensibilities of different communities.

These points were stressed, in particular, by the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, and my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece—neither of whom is in the Chamber today—in relation to Muslim communities. Again, this point was raised in the example quoted by my noble friend Lady Hamwee of the advice given by Sutton. However, it applies just as much to other communities, where institutions and customs will vary from one to another. In some, the civic organisations—the mayor’s office and the agencies run from that office—may be the dominant players; in others, organisations such as the YMCA, third sector youth groups or faith groups may be most influential. It is a matter of recognising that one size does not fit all. Those behind the Prevent strategy must work with the grain of each community rather than trying to impose a standardised agenda on all.

Baroness Afshar (CB): My Lords, I should like to speak in defence of the amendment, because, more and more, parliamentary legislation is identifying Muslims as “the others”, or the enemy within. The “otherisation” of an entire community through insensitive approaches which do not give them the leeway to fit in is the surest way of driving them away and towards actions that are undesirable on all sides, and which their religion forbids.

If people are defined by their religion, and if the strategy is such that they cannot find a person to whom they can comment or a position to which they can adhere, then, given the difficulty of the alienation

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created by these labels, I fear that violence will become an alternative. I hope that the House will take heed and offer a far more inclusive approach rather than one which is intent on labelling certain groups and faith groups as “others”.

Baroness Buscombe (Con): My Lords, I support my noble friend the Minister as I suspect—I do not know—that he will not agree to the amendment.

First, I say to the noble Baroness who has just spoken that there is no mention of a particular community in the legislation. It is because, as we all know, it is predominantly people from the Muslim community who have been carrying out these appalling atrocities that those labels are being banded about. The Muslim community has to accept and understand why that is.

Furthermore, the other day I heard about something which I think amplifies why what the Government are seeking to achieve is incredibly difficult. I understand why they want to put this duty on a statutory basis. What I am going to say is almost more shocking to me than what happened in Paris. Somebody I know quite well was telling me the other day that his wife was shopping in a supermarket about three weeks ago in Manchester. She was scouring the shelves, as we do, when she stopped because she could not help overhearing a group of young British Asian Muslim girls talking about going to Syria.

This makes my heart jump when I talk about it and when I think about it. What does that say? It says that there are young people out there of different ages, and probably from different financial backgrounds, who have varying exposure to other faiths and so on and who, we are now hearing, find the idea of going to Syria quite cool. In other words, the importance of Prevent and of the need to try to deter these young people from thinking that somehow it is the right thing is absolutely paramount now. Therefore, we have to find every which way to send out a message, even though it may seem rather severe because it is on the face of the Bill. The threat that we face is severe.

Some of the people coming back from Syria now have carried out the most appalling atrocities. We do not want them talking to these girls, whether it is in supermarkets, in schools or in clubs—wherever it is—and encouraging them to think that it is cool. There has to be another point of view. There has to be a way that we encourage—we urge—all public authorities to do what they can to help these girls and many others like them who may be taken down the wrong path. I understand where my noble friend is coming from and the spirit of these amendments, but I do not think that we should shy away from sending a powerful message through this legislation that we have to do everything to support young people in preventing harm.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, my name is attached to Amendments 13A and 13B. I want to comment on my noble friend Lady Buscombe’s contribution a minute ago. I am not sure that it helped the Minister. I think it explained why we need Amendments 13A and 13B, because the most important thing about implementing Prevent is to recognise that each of our communities differs and that each community,

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area and specified authority should have due regard to the impact in order to understand it and to pass that message back to central government to understand the change in the nature of terrorism and radicalisation.

That is why I believe that Amendment 13B is valid. It is an extra tool in the box to make sure that we are monitoring what is happening, at whatever level and in whatever specified authority, to the range of people it is going to affect—including, interestingly, pupils who are under sixth form and under student age. What is happening is not consistent across the country. There may be young girls in one area talking about going to Syria; there are young Muslim British girls in other areas who are appalled by that. As a society we need to understand the nuances of that. The briefing that we have had from the Muslim Council of Britain sets that out very clearly. The one thing that we must do is to make sure that we do not have alienation on a grand scale. We need to understand that what is happening is not the same in every single community.

Lord Scriven (LD): My Lords, I, too, support my noble friend in Amendment 13A. I want to share my experience as a former leader of Sheffield City Council to say how difficult this is. We make a grave mistake by talking about the Muslim community as though it is a homogenous group of people. They are people with many different beliefs, different processes and different understandings of what is happening worldwide. When I was leader of Sheffield City Council, very strict central guidelines came in with Prevent. That ended up setting not just community against community but different people of the same community against each other, because we were not allowed to have leeway to make judgments or to put in place policies and practices that were relevant to our local context.

What became clear to me, and to many other council leaders across the country, was that unless we got it right from a bottom-up approach, by working with and for those different people in the community, we would alienate more people than we brought in. One of the key findings of the Audit Commission report on the last Prevent programme back in 2008 was that there should be more of a bottom-up than a top-down approach. I have no doubt that the Government’s intentions are well meaning. I have no doubt that there is a view that if you have a set of guidelines from somebody in Whitehall, it is applicable across the country. However, my personal experience tells me that it is best to be more bottom-up than top-down on these issues, otherwise we will not just set community against community but cause tension because of the people within those communities who have different opinions.

I ask the Minister to consider this amendment very seriously. Past experience of my own and the Audit Commission report of 2008 make it very clear: a top-down approach which does not take this into consideration as a major part of implementing Prevent will have unintended consequences and will mean that we have good intentions but bad implementation of something that we all support.

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, I, too, commend this amendment for very serious consideration by the Government. We all have different experiences in life.

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As the House will know, I have spent a good deal of my life with the developing world, and have learnt a great deal from the experience. To put it as succinctly as I can, if I have learnt one overriding message above all, it is that if you are trying to strengthen communities you must not talk at them or about them but with them.

I may have mentioned this in the House before and, in that case, I do not apologise for repeating it. I remember the Bishop of San Cristobal making a brave stand for the Indians in Chiapas, in Mexico, who were being persecuted very badly. I said to him, “Have you got a message for us back in Britain?”. He said, “Yes, I have. What is important is solidarity. You speak about people, you talk to them, but how often do you really listen to them, work with them and build with them their strength and future?” We cannot overemphasise the danger and the urgency in this situation, but whatever we do, we must not inadvertently stereotype people and put them on the defensive, because that does not help. Even in the most normal times—if we can talk about normal times with all our recent experiences—successful policing always seems to me to be the policing that works with the community and not just in it. From that standpoint, this amendment touches on very important principles about building confidence and building upwards.

It strikes me, just from my experience as a citizen, like most other people in this House, that the great horror of terrorism is that it involves a very small number of people. Terrorism works most effectively when there is a climate of ambivalence around the people who do the terrible things. There are people who sometimes feel, “I could never do that, and it’s horrible, but I can understand people doing that because of how they find the reality of living in this situation”.

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We must not build up that constituency of ambivalence by taking action that is unnecessarily heavy-handed and authoritarian. The greater the dangers, the greater the urgency and the more essential it is to work with the community and be seen as friends of the community, working with it to strengthen it; to build a situation in which those people are not being told, “After all, they are good decent citizens”. They can feel that they are ordinary, decent citizens in society. That is the point: it is creating an ethos and social reality that people experience in their everyday lives. We must be careful that we do not give extremism a victory by allowing it to provoke us into doing things that do not help.

Lord Hussain (LD): My Lords, as somebody who has been deputy leader of Luton Borough Council, I support my colleague’s amendment. Luton has been in the media because of its extremists, and we do have a small number of people who hold extreme views. Nevertheless, it is on record that out of the 22—or now perhaps 24—mosques in the town, none of them allows those few extremists to use its platforms to spread their messages. Some of them have worked with ex-offenders and those who might have been involved in other activities.

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Might I give an example of how this is going to affect them? One of the imams of those mosques, whom I knew very well, was working on a project with ex-offenders. It was a successful, well recognised piece of work that he had been involved with for years. He had worked with internationally recognised charities in Syria. Recently, when he gave in his passport to be renewed, the passport was held. We do not know the reasons; he has approached me and said, “Can you help me?”. He has tried to speak to the Passport Office; he spoke to the crime commissioner and his local Member of Parliament, but he is not getting anywhere. He said to me, “Lord Hussain, if I have done something wrong, just tell me that I have done something wrong. If it is wrong for me to go to work with a charity in Syria, I will not go to work with those charities in Syria, much as I would like to. But I don’t think I have done anything wrong”.

We have to give proper training to our staff in order to carry out these laws. Experience shows what went on when we tried to implement stop and search, a piece of legislation that the police actually admitted that they were not sufficiently trained to carry out. My fear is that we are going to alienate communities if we do not accept the amendments, which I support.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I rise briefly on this. I was reflecting on my own student days when we had serious problems with extremists in Leicester, but extremists as referred to in the Prevent draft guidance—from the extreme right-wing. We had numerous problems and things were at times quite frightening. I also recall attacks on gay bars in London by extremists who were anti-gay. We have to be very equal and balanced when we talk about extremism.

I was grateful for the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, when he talked about Muslim communities as being as broad and wide as any other communities that share a set of beliefs or religion. I can equate that with some Muslim friends of mine who do not all think the same. I was slightly disappointed by the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe. In my experience, when there have been attacks where Muslims have been blamed or some Muslims have been responsible, the greatest condemnation has come from those who are Muslim.

Baroness Buscombe: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I never in the least bit insinuated that that was my point of view. I was just trying to explain why people out there have applied labels to the people who have carried out these atrocities. That is nothing to do with my point of view. I would never label that community as being one. I think that various noble Lords misunderstood me and I am sorry if they have misunderstood me. That was not what I was talking about. I was talking about the fact that this legislation does not actually mention any particular community—that is nowhere in the Bill—and therefore presumption should not be made in that regard.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: That clarification is helpful and I am grateful for that. I did not know that the noble Baroness was able to intervene on Report

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and was unsure whether to accept the intervention, but it was a very helpful clarification.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, I first raised this issue about the impact on communities when talking about the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. On this issue the Minister and other noble Lords have in numerous contributions made it clear that the views of communities and the impact on them must be taken into account. Looking again at the guidance we are debating—I sent out for copies—it goes some way to doing that but, given the comments that have been made, it may be that the guidance could be a little clearer and more explicit on this issue. I am sure that when exercising this duty under Prevent we will all be seeking the same objective, which is to prevent people turning to or being drawn into extremism that could lead to violent behaviour. The sentiments are exactly right and what every Member of your Lordships’ House has said since the beginning of the debate, but if the noble Lord could clarify that and put it on record, and perhaps consider how the guidance could be made more explicit in that regard, that would be helpful.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, this has been a good curtain-raiser debate because we will come back to this issue in five successive groups, looking at different aspects of the Prevent strategy. I was lulled into a slightly false sense of security by my noble friend Lady Hamwee when she said that the more she read, the more she felt that the clause made sense and her amendment was perhaps not necessary. She then elaborated on it in a way that provoked a very helpful debate.

I should say two things in the context of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and my noble friend Lady Buscombe. When we talk about communities here, it is helpful to start from the position that everyone is equal before the law. Everyone is of equal value and they have the same vote and the same rights. Everyone is equal in our society. That is part of what a democratic society is about and what we are seeking to protect and uphold through this strategy. In a sense, to overfocus on particular groups is sometimes not helpful. All these measures are about prevention of terrorism and extremism. As the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, mentioned, there is far-right extremism, such as the murder of Mohammed Saleem, an 82 year-old, and bombs being placed nearby. Some 25% of the people on the Channel programme at present are from extreme right organisations. We have faced a lot of violent threats such as violence in Northern Ireland. We fear violence from animal rights groups and far-right groups. There are a range of people who would seek to attack that central principle that all people are equal, and are of equal value and worth in our society. That is what is really under attack.

We must never be drawn into a situation where, for fear of offence, we are not able to speak that truth. I do not want to link too far back, but I am afraid my mind is still full of the horrors of what we were talking about before—

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Lord Lamont of Lerwick (Con):I apologise. I have just rushed into the Chamber and caught my noble friend’s words. What interests me is the phrase used in the guidelines to which we shall come later. That phrase is “non-violent extremism”. My noble friend has talked about extremism and terrorism, but will he talk specifically about non-violent extremism? We heard the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, about the teaching of Plato and other people talked about classes in which they had discussed the pros and cons of authoritarianism versus democracy. I once attended a meeting at Queen Mary College where a lot of Muslim students said—very politely and while making it clear that they opposed violence and terrorism—that they did not believe in western-style democracy. That was what the discussion was about. What sort of non-violent extremism are the Government worried about? Some people might consider some forms of modern art to be non-violent extremism.

Lord Bates: The definition that we are working to—I shall put it on the record for my noble friend as we have been through this a number of times in Committee—is,

“vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our Armed Forces. People may want to argue with that or take issue with it, but that is the definition we are working to.

The point that I wanted to make, in referring back to the earlier Statement, relates to something that the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, asked me about. In Rotherham, one of the central findings of Louise Casey’s report was that because of “cultural sensitivities”, people had failed in their duty to protect children at risk in that area. We cannot be in that position. All that we are interested in here is protecting the liberty of the entire community of the United Kingdom. That includes people of all faiths and none, from a range of different backgrounds and traditions. I wanted, first, to put a marker down for that principle—that we need to focus above all on the values of democracy and individual liberty, which some people would seek to undermine.

The second point made was a fair one—that what we should be doing with Prevent is, at best, not something imposed from the top down. The noble Lords, Lord Hussain, Lord Scriven and Lord Judd, and my noble friend Lady Hamwee made that point. That is why, in the consultation on the guidance, we have said that we want people to come up with their own plan. We cannot not have a plan for dealing with something that is focused on trying to undermine the things that free speech, universities, schools and British values are all about. We cannot step aside from that. But if ideas come from the bottom up, so much the better. That would be entirely compliant with the spirit and the letter of the Bill.

I shall now deal with a couple of the specific points in the amendments. Amendment 13A probes the use of the word “due ” in the context of the requirement in Clause 25 to have “due regard” to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. The amendment probes why the word “due” appears here but not in

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Clause 28, which requires specified authorities simply to “have regard” to guidance issued relating to compliance with the Prevent duty. This is quite a technical drafting point, but I will seek to address my noble friend’s concerns. The term “due” in Clause 25 indicates that, in the exercise of their functions, specified authorities will need to have regard to a number of different factors and the intention is that by stipulating that they must have,

“due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”,

they place sufficient, proportionate weight on this consideration among the many that are relevant to the performance of those functions. In complying with the Prevent duty, however, authorities should have regard to only one guidance document, so there is not the same requirement to weigh up competing guidance and “due” is therefore unnecessary here.

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Amendment 13B would require specified authorities to have regard to the impact of this part on local communities and on pupils, students, clients et cetera of the authority. The duty in Clause 25 is to have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Implicit in that is the consideration of all relevant factors, which may include the impact of it on local communities and so on. That would certainly be a relevant factor. If an authority was contemplating an action in compliance of the duty which it believed would have a demonstrably negative effect on community relations, it would be open to that authority, for that reason, not to take the said action.

Accordingly, with these additional reassurances and those key points of context and purpose, which we must never lose sight of—as my noble friend Lady Buscombe said, the threat we face is real and severe, and it is directed against all people’s liberty and mutual respect—I hope that I have reassured my noble friend enough for her to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: Before the Minister sits down, has he had any inspiration about the term “particular regard” which might help the House?

Lord Bates: The short answer is that that inspiration is perhaps on its way to me. Perhaps I may come back to that on a later group of amendments, if the noble Baroness would allow me.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thought that I gave notice to the Bill team, whose heads are no doubt spinning with the speed, but something may be on its way.

Lord Bates: I can tell the noble Baroness that the “particular regard” element is actually in relation to the Secretary of State’s duty. It is to say that she must have particular regard to the duties under freedoms of speech. The difference between due and particular in this context is that the latter, in all cases, elevates the freedom of speech consideration among all the considerations that must be borne in mind, whereas specifying that due regard must be had to a factor simply underscores the importance of that factor while

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leaving the degree to which it must be elevated by the specified authority to be determined by the circumstances of the case.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LD): I cannot resist asking: how is this going to go down with schoolmasters and the rest?

Lord Bates: I will leave that to the schoolmasters. However, in this regard, my noble friend should find this reassuring because we are saying that the Secretary of State should have a particular regard. That is a higher threshold to be aware of: the importance of academic freedom of speech within universities. It is a higher test and it is appropriate to say that before she offers direction, she ought to be able to satisfy whether that test has been met. I shall hand back to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, as I said, there is something of a hierarchy in this. “Having regard” implies proportionality, whether it is “due regard” or simply “regard”. I am grateful for the Minister’s explanation. However, I should like regard to be had to the impact of this part of the Bill and to the manner of the exercise of the duty. I am grateful to noble Lords who have commented and who have supported that proposition. The bottom-up approach is precisely what I am seeking to articulate.

The Minister and other noble Lords have referred to far-right extremism. I have acknowledged that in previous debates as well. In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, it is the current context that has caused so many comments from members of Muslim communities. That is why so many of us have made such reference to it. I too am shocked—but not surprised—by her report of girls talking about going to Syria. She asked, “What does that say?”. To me, it says let us look for the best way of addressing this issue. All the comments I have made about a bottom-up approach are directed to doing that. The noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, said that, and she is nodding vigorously now.

I am sorry that the Minister has not been able to suggest further ways of acknowledging this approach and these concerns. However, the guidance is not complete. Although the consultation is closed, over the last few days responses have indicated that points made by Members of your Lordships’ House will be taken into account in finalising the guidance. I hope that this approach will have at least that status, as the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, suggested. That would give a degree of comfort. I beg leave to withdraw my pedantic amendment.

Amendment 13A withdrawn.

Amendment 13B not moved.

Amendment 14

Moved by Lord Hope of Craighead

14: Clause 25, page 17, line 31, at end insert—

“( ) The general duty under subsection (1) is subject, in England and Wales, to the duty in section 43(1) of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 (freedom of speech in universities, polytechnics

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and colleges), and in Scotland, to the need to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured in universities and other further and higher education institutions.”

Lord Hope of Craighead (CB): My Lords, it falls to me to move Amendment 14 which is the first of five amendments in this group. I want to make it clear that the fact that I am speaking first and that my name is listed first on the amendment has nothing to do with the relative quality of the contributions which I and the three noble Baronesses who have added their names to this amendment made in Committee. My contribution was much lighter than theirs and I am sure they will have much more to say as the debate develops.

This group also contains Amendment 15, in my name and in the names of the noble Baronesses, as well as government Amendment 15D which is a significant amendment. It has been designed to meet some of the concerns which have been expressed about freedom of speech—especially academic freedom of speech in higher education institutions and, in particular, in universities.

As became clear in Committee, there are three aspects to this problem. The first is how to reconcile what the Government are proposing in the Bill as it stands—the duty which is being imposed on universities and other higher education institutions by the provisions of Section 43(1) of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. This is a duty to secure freedom of speech in the institutions listed in this subsection. That is the first chapter, on how to reconcile these apparently competing duties.

The second deals with how to achieve the same reconciliation in relation to Scotland, bearing in mind that Part 5 of the Bill applies to Scotland just as it does to England and Wales, and that the 1986 Act does not extend to Scotland so there is no statutory duty on the universities and other institutions in those terms. Nevertheless, one would think—having regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, among other things—that the right to freedom of speech was just as powerful in Scotland as it was in the other jurisdiction.

The third point relates to how to reconcile the duty to secure freedom of speech with the guidance being proposed in the consultation paper. On the first point, I pay particular tribute to the Minister and his team for the way in which they have responded to the particular problem about reconciling the two competing statutory provisions. They have done so with commendable speed, given the rate at which we have been proceeding from Committee to Report. For my part, it seems that Amendment 15D, which the Minister will speak to later in the group, deals exactly with that point and makes it clear that the two duties can live together in the way in which the amendment describes. I express gratitude for what the noble Lord is proposing, which is a step in the right direction, although a small one.

My amendment is divided into two parts. The first deals with the position in England and Wales in relation to the 1986 Act; the second deals with the position in Scotland. That matter is not addressed by Amendment 15D, nor was it mentioned in the very

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helpful letter that the Minister wrote on 3 February which explains the reason for Amendment 15D but does not deal with the points that I raised about Scotland. I shall briefly repeat what I said in Committee. I drew attention to a fact that we are all aware of: that education north of the border is a devolved matter. We are dealing with a statute that deals with a reserved matter, the prevention of terrorism. There is an obvious need to reconcile these two matters, which no doubt is being achieved by discussions with the Scottish Government and consideration as to how best to meld the Scottish position with that for England and Wales.

The problem to which I tried to draw attention was this: the vehicle that is being used for the Prevent system, both north and south of the border, is all built into Part 5 of the Act. One would like to think that one would find everything one needed in statute to deal with the Scottish position, as one certainly does for dealing with the position in England and Wales. It is the absence of a reference to Scotland and the need to preserve freedom of speech, and at least respect the right to it, that have caused me concern. I raised this in Committee but so far there seems to be no answer.

There is a real puzzle about what exactly the Government’s thinking is about the position in Scotland, because the Bill is silent about it. It may be that because of the shortness of time the necessary discussions with the Scottish Government have not yet been completed; indeed, I would understand the need for those discussions to proceed to a solution. If that is the reason, then my fears would be allayed to some extent. But one is still left with the problem that the Bill will leave this House—and, if nothing is done about it, will no doubt leave the House of Commons as well—without anything in it that addresses the problem. With respect, that seems to be an unsatisfactory situation, bearing in mind that one is trying to achieve exactly the same thing in Scotland as one is seeking south of the border.

So there is something missing here, and I would be very interested to hear the Minister’s explanation of what is being done to address the situation. My suggestion when we talked about this last time was that once the Bill is enacted, I imagine that the only way one can deal with the Scottish position, if it needs to be dealt with, is by fresh enactment, which is a very heavy-handed way of dealing with the problem. One would rather see the matter dealt with now before the Bill leaves Parliament and is enacted.

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On the third point—the question of reconciling the duty to secure freedom of speech with the consultation document and the guidance given in it—there is an interesting contrast between the document which is being produced for Scotland and the one which we are all familiar with, the one for England and Wales. We have all seen and referred to paragraph 68 of the England and Wales document, which states:

“Universities must take seriously their responsibility … We would expect the policies and procedures on speakers and events to include at least the following”,

after which there is a series of four bullet points which dictate to the universities what they need to do. It is those provisions which caused some alarm among

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those who were concerned about the problem universities would face in dealing with speakers who come along at short notice with incomplete speeches, or would prefer not to reveal what they are going to say before they say it, and so on.

The Scottish consultation paper deals with the matter in a different way, which is worth noting. Much of it repeats, almost word for word, what we find in the English paper, but at paragraphs 63 to 65 it is strikingly less prescriptive. I shall read these two short paragraphs, since this paper is not in the Printed Paper Office and not available online, as I understand it. It was given to me by Universities UK, to which I am grateful. Paragraph 63 says:

“Institutions must demonstrate that they have regard to the duty in the context of their policies and procedures on speakers and events. We would expect this to include a system for assessing and rating risks associated with any planned events, providing evidence to suggest whether an event should proceed, be cancelled, or whether mitigating action is required, for example, a guarantee of an opposing viewpoint in the discussion or someone in the audience to monitor the event. There should be a mechanism in place for managing incidents or instances where off campus”.

Paragraph 65 says:

“Where appropriate and legal to do so, a university should also have procedures in place for the sharing of information about speakers with other institutions and partners. In many instances this could be achieved through engagement with the Association of University Chief Security Officers who will provide a member to the Prevent subgroup. However, the sharing of information is expected to be on a case-by-case basis with appropriate procedures adopted by the relevant partners”.

I draw attention to those paragraphs because they are notably less prescriptive than the provision in the English consultation paper. There is an element of trust, of the Government and the institutions working together, which one would prefer to see more plainly demonstrated in the consultation paper for England and Wales. I draw attention to this as background to what others will say in the course of this debate. A lot of the concern is due to the way in which the consultation paper for England and Wales is at present framed.

I think I have said all I need to say in support of my amendment, which was drafted with very particular concern about the position in Scotland. Without developing the point any further at the moment, I beg to move.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I support Amendment 14, to which I have added my name. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, for combining his original amendment with the amendment by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Once again, I declare an interest as emeritus professor at Loughborough University.

In Committee, the consensus in favour of amending this part of the Bill was striking. Noble Lords did not consider that the Government had made a persuasive case for putting a statutory duty on higher education institutions—moving “from co-operation to co-option”, as the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, put it. Where was the evidence base? Until the evidence for the necessity of such a statutory duty is marshalled, to use the Minister’s phrase, it is not possible to assess it.

Concerns were raised on grounds of both practice and principle. Warnings were given on unintended consequences and counterproductive effects, including

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the erosion of trust between staff and students, which could undermine any attempts to engage with students who might be tempted down the road towards terrorism. I do not think that anyone was reassured by ministerial assertions that academic freedom and freedom of speech would not be endangered. Indeed, I think that it is fair to say that the majority of those who spoke were in favour of the total exclusion of the HE sector. However, I am a realist, and, given the Minister’s welcome commitment to reflect and bring forward an amendment, which he has done, in a spirit of compromise, I have not retabled the JCHR amendment designed to exclude HE institutions from the duty altogether, or to provide a narrower exemption for their academic functions.

We all agree on the value of academic freedom and freedom of speech. As yesterday’s letter to the Guardian, signed by 524 professors—I can tell the House that trying to organise 524 professors is like herding cats, so to get them all to sign was quite an achievement—put it:

“One of the purposes of post-compulsory education is to foster critical thinking in staff, students and society more widely. Our universities and colleges are centres for debate and open discussion, where received wisdom can be challenged and controversial ideas put forward in the spirit of academic endeavour”.

Since last week’s debate, I have received a copy of a legal opinion provided for the University and College Union—my former union—by Robert Moretto QC, who has advised government departments, including the Home Office, in the past. I pay tribute to UCU for showing leadership on this matter. The opinion states:

“It is difficult in my view to square the Prevent duty with academic freedom enshrined in, for example, the Education (No. 2) Act 1986”,

and that,

“the Prevent duty as set out in the Draft Guidance appears to envisage that decisions may be taken”,

which prevent lawful speech.

The opinion also raises questions about possible incompatibility with the Human Rights Act in particular situations. This opinion lends weight to the JCHR’s concerns that the legal uncertainty created by the new duty in relation to existing duties concerning academic freedom and freedom of speech will have a seriously inhibiting effect on bona fide academic debate.

This takes us to the nub of what we have to decide today. While I very much welcome the fact that the Minister has tabled an amendment which makes explicit reference to the freedom of speech duty in the Education (No. 2) Act, it does not provide the clarity that HE institutions need. Here I am afraid that I part company with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. An obligation to have regard is a familiar device of the legislative drafter when faced with duties which might conflict in practice. We see it in Sections 12 and 13 of the Human Rights Act, for example. The problem is that it still means that the Bill says nothing about the hierarchy of duties, and it leaves it to other things to influence decisions where the duties come into conflict. In effect, this means the Home Secretary’s guidance.

I note that the amendment in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Macdonald and Lord Pannick, refers to “due regard”, as does the new Prevent duty in Clause 25(1). There was an exchange a moment ago

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about “particular regard” and “due regard”, and I have to admit that I did not understand the Minister’s explanation of where he saw the difference. I am not quite sure why the Government have chosen “particular regard” in this instance as opposed to “due regard”. I think that the Minister said that he regards “particular regard” as stronger than “due regard”. It would be helpful if he could confirm that later, because my understanding is that “due regard” carries greater legal clarity because of the case law interpreting the same phrase in the public sector equality duty. If he can confirm that by using “particular regard” he wants it to be stronger than “due regard”, I would be happy with that.

Amendment 14 provides the necessary clarity by making it explicit that the new Prevent duty is subject to the existing freedom of speech duty. In Committee, the Minister said there are good reasons why the freedom of speech duty should not be elevated above the Prevent duty, principally that freedom of speech is not open-ended or absolute. Of course the existing freedom of speech duty is subservient to the laws the Minister listed in Committee, including criminal law on the use of threatening words or inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organisation, and the civil law on defamation. In other words, there is already a duty to secure freedom of speech within the law.

This amendment would not change that, but it would make it clear that the Prevent duty could not be used to prevent lawful speech, and the importance of protecting lawful speech is underlined by Universities UK in its response to the draft guidance. I cannot see why the Government should resist that if they genuinely believe in protecting freedom of speech and academic freedom in our universities. Universities are looking for clarity and an explicit statement in law that in the context of higher education, freedom of speech and academic freedom within the law carry greater weight then the Prevent duty. The amendment has the support of Universities UK, UCU and million+.

We have an important decision to make today. Universities and other institutions are looking to us to provide them with the clarity they need to operate the new Prevent duty in a way that does not have a chilling effect on academic freedom. When he has heard the debate, and in light of the strength of feeling expressed in Committee, I hope that the Minister might be prevailed upon to reflect further before Third Reading, even though I accept that he has already moved some way from the original position of the Government—and once more I thank him for that.

Baroness O'Loan (CB): My Lords, I speak to Amendment 14 in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead. I have put my name to this amendment, which is designed to give absolute clarity to the continued protection under the law of freedom of speech in our universities, something which the Joint Committee on Human Rights strongly recommended in its legislative scrutiny report. This amendment is very simple. The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has spoken clearly on its effect. It locates the statutory duty to protect freedom of speech squarely in Clause 25. It gives clarity to the fact that the new

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statutory Prevent duty, subject to the existing obligations of universities, polytechnics and colleges to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure freedom of speech within the law, is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers.

I thank the Minister for his movement and recognition of some of what was said in Committee. However, throughout his amendment he adverts to the duty in relation to freedom of speech in universities which is imposed by Section 43(1) of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, in terms both of the relationship between the new duty and the duties imposed under that Act on the universities, and of making the Secretary of State have “particular regard” to that duty in any guidance or directions issued. The difficulty I have is that surely universities must not only have particular regard but also comply with their obligations under Section 43. Therefore if they are trying to have due regard to a duty to prevent people being drawn into terrorism at the same time as having particular regard to something which they must do anyway, there is a conflict for them in the hierarchy, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, referred.

With respect, the amendment tabled by the Minister, Amendment 15D, is not as clear or effective as Amendment 14. I urge him to think very carefully about its limitations, and to accept the very real concerns articulated by so many leading academics and university vice-chancellors and chancellors that this Bill will seriously affect freedom of speech in the country. It will also affect our international reputation as the guardians of freedom of speech. The Prevent duty, as articulated in this context, would be a very blunt instrument. It will not prevent terrorists from using our universities as breeding and grooming grounds. That is best done by using more sophisticated means to identify and infiltrate groups who seek to recruit to terrorism through coffee shops, bars and things like that. We have a real battle to fight, but we must be cautious in the processes that we use so as to secure maximum impact in the fight, not to generate further unnecessary problems.

5.30 pm

Lord Elystan-Morgan (CB): My Lords, there is no doubt that freedom of speech in universities is utterly essential. Without it, there can be no concept of a real university. Freedom of speech is of course a basic human right, but in a university it is the very bedrock on which its concept is founded.

A week ago, in Committee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, reminded us that if a university loses freedom of speech—the right to discuss, examine, disseminate and comment on all manner of opinions in the widest possible range—it becomes an intellectual closed shop. I do not think that it could be better put than that. It is against that template that one has to consider all these matters.

I raise a point which follows very closely that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead. It relates to Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. The question is whether what is proposed by the Minister in Amendment 15D goes far enough. The

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fact that “particular regard” has to be paid leaves an open question as to exactly how the two concepts can sit together: the concept in Section 43 of freedom of speech in a university and the concept of statutory guidance, around which the clauses of Part 5 are built. To my mind, it still leaves a dubiety. That is why I support Amendment 14.

I am not sure exactly what wording should be used to improve the situation—it is always dangerous to try to make legislation on the hoof—but I should have thought that one could look to a different precedent. In Section 1 of the Children Act 1989, a court is enjoined, in dealing with a child’s case, to consider seven or eight different situations, but it is stated that the welfare of the child shall be regarded as the “paramount consideration”. Whether the word used is paramount or prime it could so be made clear that, where the two matters—the principles of Section 43 and those set out in the statutory directive—are in conflict, Section 43 should remain paramount.

Section 43 does not stand alone. Another very relevant section is Section 202 of the Education Reform Act 1988. That protects the employment of a person who may be teaching out-of-the-way subjects. Section 202 states that university commissioners,

“shall have regard to the need … to ensure that academic staff have freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at their institutions”.

Why has Section 202 not been included in the same bounty as Section 43 of the 1986 Act in the Minister’s amendment? I am sure that he will pay close attention to that situation.

I also wish to raise a point which may or may not have relevance, which is the position of Wales. Like Scotland, Wales enjoys devolved powers in relation to higher education. Does the problem identified by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, apply to Wales? I do not think so, but I would like to be totally reassured on that point. These are not simple matters, but they are well worth our best and most detailed and concentrated attention at this very moment. I have very great respect for the Minister and indeed I have some sympathy with him, because 47 years ago—hard as that is to believe—I held exactly the same position in the other place as he does now, and dealt with the same subjects. These are matters which deserve our very best concentration.

Lord Macdonald of River Glaven (LD): In speaking to my Amendment 14A, I again declare an interest as warden of Wadham College, Oxford. Last week in Committee I put my name to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, the purpose of which was to remove universities entirely from the ambit of the Bill. I did so because of what seemed to me to be the self-evidently paramount importance of free speech in universities, and because the obligations that the Bill placed on universities appeared to conflict with their statutory duties under the Education Act 1986 to secure freedom of speech, not only in their institutions but for visiting speakers.

It is fair to say that in debate in Committee there was overwhelming support for the proposal that universities should be removed from the ambit of the

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Bill. I remain firmly of the view that the definition of “non-violent extremism”, which the Minister has recently set out again, is absolutely hopeless in its application to universities. This is because one can with the greatest of ease imagine all sorts of discussions, lectures and seminars taking place on topics which would be caught by the Government’s definition, and people in those lectures and seminars expressing intellectual views which would also fall under the definition. As far as I am concerned, it is hopeless for the Government to seek to apply such a definition to universities, which are particular places of debate, discussion and intellectual inquiry.

There was overwhelming support in debates—virtually every Peer who spoke did so in favour of the removal of universities from the scope of the Bill—yet, when winding up, those on the Opposition Front Bench made clear that they would be unable to support such a proposition, so last week I tabled a further amendment. The purpose of this Amendment 14A was to secure some reassurance that any risk that the Bill would undermine academic freedom would be mitigated, by placing in the Bill an obligation on universities to approach their duties under it in the light of their pre-existing free speech obligations under the Education Act. Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, obviously I was pleased when on Monday the Government tabled their own amendment, which in effect secures the same thing.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, I should have liked much more on this, for all the reasons which she articulated so ably. I should be delighted if the Government were minded to accede to her amendment. Nevertheless, it seems to me to be important that we secure the Government’s acknowledgment—and an acknowledgment on the face of the Bill—that these provisions apply to universities only within the critical context of their statutory freedom of expression duties. This is so that in future it cannot be argued that those duties are displaced by the passage of the Bill: they are not. The Government’s amendment seems to me to make explicit that they are not. I am grateful to the Minister for securing the Government’s movement, such as it is, on this important and fundamental issue.

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): Today I found a piece of satire that said:

“Top universities a ‘breeding ground’ for Tories, warn Islamic groups”.

Accompanying this, there was a photograph of the Bullingdon Club from a certain era.

In my experience—and I, too, declare an interest as being the principal of Mansfield College, Oxford—universities are more or less breeding grounds for people who want to get a job. In fact, in many universities, there is not enough debate and sharing of ideas, because the real drama is around acquiring the kind of qualifications that will do well in the job market. Universities, as has been said, should and must be places for the exchange of ideas. Yet already there are concerns that, even as it stands, there are real pressures on universities around the issue of inviting speakers. For example, there was a piece in the Guardian’s online comment pages by Dr Karma Nabulsi, an academic at Oxford who speaks regularly at other universities,

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saying that constraints are already felt by universities—that if, for example, someone seeks to invite in a speaker on Islam, for comparative religion, some universities become very sensitive and anxious. If there is an invitation to a speaker on Islamic studies or the history of religion, anxiety is expressed and often the support of the police is encouraged and advice is sought from external sources. So the chilling effect is very worrying for the academic world.

When I chaired the British Council in that period from 1998 to 2004, we did a lot of work in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. One of the great things about going to universities there, when we did various projects, was how academics talked about the iconic value of academic freedom, which they associated with Britain and of which they had been deprived for so long. That is something that we should feel proud of. In this Chamber, particularly, we often go back to this business of the pride that we take in British values and wax lyrical about the importance of freedom and liberty—yet, at the same time, here we are, when it comes to the bit, going into retreat.

I support the position taken by my noble friend Lady Lister. I feel that universities should not have been included in this legislation and that voluntarism is the way forward. We should not be creating a statutory duty because adult institutions of learning are different. They are where the great debates happen—the exchange of ideas—and they are the crucible in which people formulate ideas and in which ideas can be challenged. You could create a different set of arguments as to why you exclude universities. However, given that that is not going to be the direction of travel—and I greatly regret that my Front Bench is being required to retreat from taking that principled stand—I urge on this House to consider the amendments proposed by my noble friend Lady Lister. I welcome and pay tribute to the Minister for seeking to keep pushing this issue to a better place, and I thank the Home Office for doing that, and for the efforts of those involved. However, we are still not there. We are getting a parity as between the duties, when we should be saying that academic freedom has to be prioritised; it should be the duty which has primacy, because it is so important and something that we value so greatly when we talk about “British values”.

I know that we are getting towards the closing days of this Parliament and that there is anxiety about not spilling over in our time, but I urge the Minister to go back before Third Reading and see whether we cannot have a formulation that gives primacy to academic freedom. The complaints and anxieties of the many academics as well as others in the academic world who have expressed concern are not trivial; they are being expressed for a reason. That is one reason why our institutions of higher and further education are respected around the world. We have to be the protectors of this, and I hope that we can find a formulation that is better than the one that we currently have.

5.45 pm

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment 14. This is one of those moments when I feel, as I suspect other noble Lords also feel,

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quite frustrated by the procedures of this House. In a way, it is a pity that we cannot hear from my noble friend the Minister about his amendment ahead of the debate. If that were possible we could perhaps give our reasons why some of us feel that, although we are hugely grateful to him for tabling it, his amendment is still—to put it politely—a little timid. There remains a lack of clarity. But there we are; we have the situation as it stands.

Obviously, I support Amendment 14. As a fellow member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I will not seek to repeat everything that other JCHR members—including the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister, Lady O’Loan and Lady Kennedy of The Shaws—have said already. We looked at this subject extremely carefully when we considered the legislation as a committee.

Although we are, as I say, grateful that my noble friend has brought forward his amendment, he will not be surprised to hear that there is still a lack of clarity. I think that that was demonstrated by the letter in the Guardian yesterday. It was sent by 500 signatories who are genuinely concerned about academic freedom. I would point out one part of the letter in particular. It states:

“Ensuring colleges and universities can continue to debate difficult and unpopular issues is a vital part”—

of responding—

“to acts of terror against UK”,

citizens. It said that it is important,

“to maintain and defend an open, democratic society in which discriminatory behaviour of any kind is effectively challenged”.

We want to be sure that when this legislation leaves your Lordships’ House, there is real clarity and an acceptance and understanding among the academic community and others that we have done all that we can to ensure that the Prevent duty cannot be used to prevent lawful speech. As I said on Second Reading and again in Committee, for so many young people, university is their first opportunity away from home to be able to debate openly and freely and to hear other points of view from different cultures. Therefore, to send out a message that that possibility has been diffused in any way would be a great mistake.

I wonder why—as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, has said—my noble friend the Minister’s amendment does not deal with Scotland. Perhaps that silence is due to the Bill team’s lack of time to respond to our request for referencing Scotland. Perhaps it is to do with negotiations; perhaps it is because the Minister has a strong argument for why Scotland should not be included. We are, as I said, somewhat compromised, because although we will hear from my noble friend, we will not be able to respond.

I hope my noble friend is able to take on board the fact—I think that this feeling is shared around your Lordships’ House—that we have come an awfully long way since the meeting that took place only, probably, three weeks ago. My noble friend as well as the Minister from another place came and gave us and others in another part of your Lordships’ House the time to listen to the concerns of the academic community and

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others about these clauses. I should perhaps declare that I am not a member of the academic community. We very much hope that we can be more persuasive today.

Lord Morgan (Lab): My Lords, this has been a long and fascinating debate and, like other speakers, I pay tribute to the Minister for his rationality, willingness to conciliate and awareness of the seriousness of these issues. Like my noble friends who have spoken, I wish that we were able to go further and to have a government amendment which expressed terms such as “statutory duty” and “the role of university personnel” with much greater clarity. As on previous occasions, I wish our Front Bench had not been less than wholehearted on this matter and taken a view, which many of us knew nothing about, which apparently has guaranteed academic freedom—so that is all right then. It is not a satisfactory position.

I speak not as a party person but as someone who has spent his entire career in the university world. I was a university teacher—I am a university teacher now in my retirement in King’s College—and I was a vice-chancellor for seven years. Universities are a unique marketplace for ideas—that is their ultimate purpose. They may additionally assist with creating wealth and giving local employment but their main function is to be uninhibitedly and courageously involved in ideas, particularly language. If we are talking about terms such as “terrorism” or elements which are conducive or similar to terrorism, you need extreme clarity, including the capacity to debate these matters.

I was concerned when we had a helpful meeting the other day that the reasonableness of the Minister was not paralleled by his government colleague, who talked not about terrorism but about pathways to terrorism. It seems that if you produce a concept which is in the mind of terrorists you are automatically creating a pathway. However, pathways cover many things. They can emerge in an unexpected way and can lead nowhere or everywhere. My friend, the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, referred to the University of Wales, where he knows I had the pleasure of working with him, and how a pathway, when we were talking about the theme of nationalism, led to one or two misguided people blowing up buildings. That was not a necessary consequence of that debate. The effect of opening up the theme of what nationalism was—its different political and cultural expressions and so on—had a civilising effect and nationalism resulted not in bombs but in devolution being debated in this House and on the statute book. Pathway is a dangerous concept. Non-violent extremism has been dismissed as nonsensical by other noble Lords and I need not stress that again.

I wish to make two more points: this duty is unworkable and it is wrong. It is unworkable because I can say that as a vice-chancellor—perhaps other vice-chancellors will disagree—it would not have been possible to carry out this role, this statutory duty: we would be obliged by the nature of our professional role not to apply it. As I say, the purpose is for universities to be free to debate ideas. You would be forced to discuss with student societies who they were going to invite, whether alternative views would be presented and what the general tone would be. You would, in effect, be censoring

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or monitoring the interchange of ideas in a way which is not compatible with being the head of or a senior figure in a university.

The nature and the force of the statutory duty and the way in which it would be exercised are still not clear in the Bill. It appears to have satisfied our Front Bench but it has not satisfied me or people such as my noble friends who have first-hand experience of working in universities. So, first, it is completely unworkable. It would destroy the very essence of collegial collaboration within a university institution and the element of trust which is absolutely essential to the way in which a university operates.

Finally, this duty is wrong. It is trying to undermine precious, unique and special institutions in this country which are honoured all over the world. These institutions do different things: they are impressive for their intellectual standards, which are widely acknowledged and admired, and for their internationalism. The whole point of being in a university is that everyone is equal there; you do not identify or marginalise any particular minority groups. To even suggest that universities should do anything other than what they do and act as a kind of thought police is deeply damaging to something which has been a pride of the history of this country for many centuries.

I hope that the Minister, with the tolerance, rationality and courtesy that he has shown, will feel able to go further and pursue the path suggested by other noble Lords of removing universities from the Bill.

Baroness Deech (CB): My Lords, I declare an interest as the former Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, in which role I received complaints from students from every university. So I have that experience in addition to having spent decades at Oxford.

I take the unusual position that whether or not these amendments are passed it will make absolutely no difference to the law. They are tautologous. They say that one has to have regard to freedom of speech within the law. However, if the Bill is passed, freedom of speech within the law will mean that the law in this Bill is incorporated, so it will not take you any further.

Sadly, over the past 30 years academic freedom, which is one thing, and freedom of speech in the universities, which is another, have been savaged. I wish I could share the rosy view of academic freedom put forward by the noble Lords, Lord Morgan and Lord Elystan-Morgan. Some noble Lords may recall that in 1988 all university statutes were arbitrarily removed and new ones imposed without consent which removed academic tenure. The House must know that the selection of students is controlled, one way and another, by the state to the nth degree, as is the direction of research. I do not have the time to go into it but academic freedom has been greatly undermined.

As to freedom of speech, again, sadly, there are umpteen laws that reduce it in the university. I do not have time to go into all of them but they include protection against harassment and racial and religious hatred. Can your Lordships imagine what would happen if someone turned up as a lecturer or as a visitor to say that one race was inferior to another? They would not get to the end of their lecture, I can assure you. There

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are some things that ought not to be said—and, indeed, are not said—but there is no absolute freedom of speech. The Equality Act 2010 put special duties on universities to promote racial harmony between different groups on campus and the Terrorism Acts of 2000 and 2006 likewise curbed freedom of speech. I am sorry to shatter the illusion but it is not there any more, not as we would wish it to be. To say that in promoting the objects of this Act, as it will be, the universities will have to have regard to freedom of speech within the law simply means that they will have to have regard, whatever that means, to freedom of speech as already curtailed as I have described, plus as it will be curtailed, for good or ill, by this Act. So I do not mind whether or not the amendments are accepted because they do not mean much legally.

I remind the House that it is not in the academic arena where the trouble, if any, arises; it is with the visiting speakers and the societies. Under the Education Act 1986 universities already have onerous duties in regard to risk assessment, stopping speeches if necessary and checking on visiting speakers. They have codes of practice on this which, I have to say, are very often ignored. There is nothing new about this. They chafe, but it has been the law for 20 or 30 years that there have to be checks on visiting speakers.