In education, the same thing is true. We can make a huge contribution in education and have and will, I am sure, but its real effectiveness is related to what people see as our own educational priorities. How far have we got locked into a quantitative approach to higher education and universities as distinct from a qualitative approach to universities? How much importance do we give to ethics, philosophy, history and the humanities in our education system as distinct from how far it is contributing to the economy—that is vital, of course—but just in the immediate sense, in a measurable, material sense? I believe there is an

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indivisible line there, but if we are to go on being a successful economy, the values of our society and the other dimensions of our society feed into that because they lead to richness in personality and originality which are crucial to our future.

I mentioned the BBC at some length. The same is true for the British Council. It has a splendid record, but it should not let the importance of the arts and literature become diminished because they can make a terrific contribution to the quality of thinking throughout the world.

The non-governmental sector must have a mention; I plead guilty because I have worked in it a great deal. Let us listen to the non-governmental sector. It is not just what it is contributing but what it is hearing because it has the credibility of its involvement and engagement. Its voice in helping us to shape policies for the future is crucial. It is not a threat or something to be kept disciplined; it is something to encourage because it is central to its work.

Above all, in all we are doing, the word “solidarity” matters. Do we see living out our lives and our children living out their lives as a mutual experience? Is it humanity as humanity facing the issues that face us all or is our position still too much the old, traditional, paternalistic approach that we make a contribution, but as Britain, to the world? It is not the road to success. The road to success is to ask how we join the world. In joining the world and playing our part as a partner in the world, how do we help to build success for everybody? In that, languages cannot be overemphasised.

5.37 pm

Baroness Kidron (CB): Like other noble Lords I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell, for an excellent, fascinating report. I shall confine myself to two issues: the BBC in another form, and how the current status of the arts in our education system endangers our future influence on the world stage. I have to declare my interest. As a freelance film-maker, I work from time to time at the BBC and I am involved in several arts initiatives in schools.

Despite its flaws, the BBC remains, as others have said, the most trusted disseminator of factual programming in the world. For decades, it has distributed much loved drama and films throughout the world. Who is to say whether News 24, “Pride and Prejudice”, “State of Play”, “World Business Report”, “Philomena”, one of the BBC’s 28 language services, “Billy Elliot” or “Doctor Who” is the most powerful representation of our national identity and those values that we most wish to share? All are loved and disseminated across the globe. It is an arena in which we display great flair and confidence. My concern is, like that of my noble friend Lord Birt and others, that the battle of charter renewal and the absolute certainty in some quarters that the BBC is too big for its own good could inadvertently deliver a devastating blow to what is arguably our greatest international asset. To be frank, it is not only its detractors who cause me concern. After a sustained campaign from international sources against the BBC for more than a decade, even its defenders seem to feel that seismic change is a necessity. Sometimes better is the enemy of the very best.

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Three or four years ago I was in Liberia filming at a women’s radio station. It had been set up post-conflict in a community that was dealing with epidemic rates of sexual violence, and had seen thousands of boys, many as young as eight, abducted and turned into child soldiers. Health services were still unable to deliver routine vaccinations or maternity care, and schooling was scarce. In this context of violence, fear and hardship, the radio station was a beacon of hope, dispensing information, community health, public debate and education. When I asked how they had come up with the idea of a community radio station, the founder said, “From the BBC”. In the time before the conflict she had briefly been taught by a teacher who had recorded programmes from the BBC—children’s programmes, dramas, discussions and interviews in which politicians finally got held to account—and she imagined how powerful it would be to broadcast similarly into her own community, so that she could reach women and children, even those too frightened to leave their homes. She said to me that, for her, the BBC represented what it meant to be free.

And of course, that happens all over the world. A couple of years ago I was contacted by a woman from Afghanistan who, a decade earlier, had used, in a “secret school” for women, a drama that I had directed. That drama, “Oranges are Not the Only Fruit”, raised issues of sexuality, religious intolerance and gender equality. Even in the UK it had been controversial. Imagine how thrilled we were to hear of its use by Afghan women who were determined to be educated, by whatever means. Our cultural output reaches ears all over the world that may not have access to hard fact, and people for whom it is a question of citizenship.

It may be a challenge to noble Lords to imagine that “Only Fools and Horses” and “Doctor Who” play a part in the serious undertaking of global influence but, along with the impeccable credentials and reach of the World Service and other factual output, the BBC is a presence in communities that have more complex attachments and narratives than the reductive cry of the ideologies and violence that surround them. The macho violence of radicalisation absolutely knows how to tell its story—albeit a story that we do not want to hear. In our hyper-networked world, in which half the world is a self-publisher on a potential worldwide stage, the BBC is more rather than less precious.

However we choose to represent our own strategic narrative, and whatever the final charter settlement is, the distribution power of the BBC and the level of trust that it enjoys are things that we diminish, even slightly, at great cost to our values, our reputation, our profile and our relationship with people all around the globe.

I acknowledge and support the recommendations that seek to protect the World Service, and the Government’s recognition that the BBC’s independence is a key element of its credibility, but the true influence of the BBC on the world stage requires us to ensure its future far beyond the specific remit of the World Service. The very essence of the BBC, with its duty to inform, educate and entertain—independent of government, paid for by the public—makes an irreplaceable mark on the wider world, just as it did for a single visionary woman in Liberia.

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While successive Governments have had had an uneasy relationship with the BBC—arguably a sign of its success—it is the coalition Government alone who have systematically degraded the place of the arts in education. I am afraid that that is my second point. The post-war settlement brought artists of all disciplines and all social classes to prominence, giving the UK a cultural dynamism that is the envy of the world. However, in recent years an unintended consequence of the Government’s determination to prioritise STEM subjects has been to devastate arts education. Nowhere have we seen this more clearly than in our schools, which since 2010 have seen a drop of 11% in the number of arts teachers and an even greater drop in the number of children taking arts subjects in schools, as successive formal measurements of success have diminished the status of the arts.

Taking the arts out of the curriculum excludes those from less privileged backgrounds from the possibility of being an artist, a digital designer, a writer, a musician or a cultural contributor—because for the less privileged, unlike their more privileged counterparts, school represents the bulk of their cultural access. Even should a young person beat the system and discover their creativity in spite of this downgrading, student fees and the probability of debt into adulthood still ensure that it will be predominantly the privileged who dare to dream of the uncertain, and in most cases financially unrewarding, life of an artist.

The Select Committee report rightly refers to the importance of diversity, and goes to some trouble to underline the role of diaspora communities in creating a strategic narrative that proudly reflects the richness of our society and models the UK’s reputation and values of inclusivity. The post-war artists across all disciplines who transformed our society made our creative industries cutting edge and world class, and boosted our economy. They made Britain great. But this process is dependent on allowing people like John Lennon, David Hockney, Alan Bennett, Jony Ive, Steve McQueen, Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin an education in the arts.

Every previous age has understood the power of art to tell the national story, as a reflection and purveyor of values and as a communicator across the globe. In no society has art or arts education been left to the whim of the market. Our creative community celebrates difference and reflects on human similarities. Although we have recently seen cartoonists at the centre of conflict, it is far more usual for the creative community to be a source of understanding between cultures and peoples.

Never have the skills embodied by the arts been more useful to commerce, to communication and to international relations. That might mystify the technocrats, but to the rest of us it is merely common sense. As the report says,

“many of the soft power assets that make a country attractive require substantial investment”.

Indeed, the report agrees with the British Academy, which says that,

“governments need to make investments in critical areas such as the BBC, higher education and the arts, and then to hold their nerve when payoffs are not immediately visible”.

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Soft power is a long game, and in the rhetoric about hard choices and what is nice to have but not essential, we must remember that if we are to have international repute, with a clear and compelling narrative about ourselves and our values, both the BBC in its full remit and the support of our arts education must be at the top of our shopping list.

5.47 pm

Baroness Hooper (Con): My Lords, in congratulating my noble friend and the members of his Select Committee on their report, and in thanking my noble friend for his splendid tour d’horizon in opening the debate, my only complaint is that everything has already been said, and very well said too. Nevertheless I would like to focus on some elements of the report of which I have special and recent knowledge.

As a member of the All-Party Group on the British Council, I am aware of the excellent work that the council does throughout the world. Tributes have already been paid to it, notably by the noble Lord, Lord Bach. All that remains for me is to wish the new director, Ciarán Devane, good fortune in developing that important work.

Before I leave the subject of the British Council I shall pick out and underline its diversity programme, as diversity is mentioned in the report. It also deserves special mention because it emphasises not only a multicultural approach but gender issues—which are topical as we have just celebrated International Women’s Day—and disability issues. There is much talk of British values these days, and compassion must be one of them, as must fair play. The British Council’s diversity programme is an example of both those.

Talk of the British Council leads me on to the importance of education, which has already been much mentioned. The value of educational opportunities and exchanges has also been underlined. In her admirable maiden speech, the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, demonstrated the role of our universities. The value of the education industry to the United Kingdom’s economy is huge, as was noted in the report; it is one of our most valuable invisible exports, as has already been said. Therefore, I very much welcome the increase in the number of Chevening scholarships, and indeed of Commonwealth scholarships. However, I point out that other countries also recognise the value of educational exchanges. I am particularly aware that Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, as examples, fund extensive scholarship programmes to this country. That means that the more we do, the more it will be multiplied, with all the advantages that that will bring to future generations. In this context, I am glad to support all that has been said about the need to improve the visa system.

Here in Parliament, we also play our part, with the work of the British groups of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the IPU, and of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the CPA. Not only do they organise bilateral visits but they also now organise seminars and conferences on important themes such as drug trafficking, human rights, ethics and parliamentary procedures, which attract the attendance of international parliamentarians and enable us all to learn from one another. That is what soft power is all about. Yesterday,

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we celebrated Commonwealth Day and the role of the CPA was addressed by the newly elected chairman of the CPA, the Speaker of the Bangladeshi Parliament, which reinforced what has been said today about what the Queen said during a special service at Westminster Abbey.

I should like to refer to a recent visit that I made to Burma/Myanmar, which was part of a capacity-building programme arranged by the IPU to help and support women parliamentarians. We had meetings with that redoubtable lady, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and I think that our sessions and our attempts at explaining the meaning of oversight and accountability, along with the value of Question Time, were greatly appreciated by a full complement of women Members of Parliament and officials. I noted in the report that there was reference to the fact that one-quarter of a million people in Burma use the British Council’s libraries there for uncensored access to the internet. We were able to visit a library close to Naypyidaw, the new capital of Myanmar. While the internet access was greatly welcomed, I have to say that the shelves of the library could do with more books. Anybody who can come up with a scheme to help to use some of the books, magazines and pamphlets that are thrown away—squandered perhaps—in this Parliament would find a great welcome over there.

In this context, and in the context of Parliament’s work, I should also refer to the fact that one of the Commons Library clerks has been seconded to Naypyidaw to work in the Myanmar Parliament and to help to build up the library and other support services. He is doing very valuable work in difficult circumstances. He has been there for a year already—and that is likely to be extended. He is universally known and greeted wherever he goes as “Oliver”. I had no idea that our Parliament provided this type of capacity building, and I am afraid that I could not find a reference to it in the report, although no doubt it was there somewhere.

Other areas have been highlighted, such as the significance of the English language, which does not exclude the need to learn other languages, as the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, pointed out. I would say to my noble friend Lord Forsyth that it is not just in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where people need to speak other languages. Every government department should have that, and all businesses, whether small or large, should be able to communicate with their counterparts and markets in their own language, or at least understand it.

Our health system has been referred to, and the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, covered that absolutely brilliantly. Our legal system is also important, not only because it has been replicated and developed throughout the Commonwealth but also because it leads to events such as the Global Law Summit, which brought lawyers and legal experts from all over the world to London only two weeks ago. Other institutions, such as the British Museum, the BBC, the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet, all close to my heart, are of great value in this area of soft power. Last and by no means least, we have that unique institution, the British monarchy. Last week, the President of Mexico was here on a state visit, accompanied by leading politicians, industrialists and businessmen. To see the

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royal family in action, not just on ceremonial occasions, was to recognise that we have in them a very valuable asset.

In conclusion, in the current electioneering climate, with talk of continuing austerity and budget savings, as well as the suggestion of further cuts of Foreign Office costs, it is vital that the benefits of soft power are recognised and maintained. To those who may be concerned, please can we have no return to the policies of embassy closures and shrinkages? I believe that this debate plays an important part in raising awareness, apart from defining what soft power is, and I look forward to hearing from my noble friend the Government’s view on persuasion and power.

5.57 pm

Lord Janvrin (CB): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, for securing this very full debate on the Select Committee’s report on soft power. Speaking as a member of that committee, I pay tribute to the noble Lord for chairing us with such a clear sense of direction and a limitless supply of patience and courtesy. I also express appreciation for the very effective support and advice that we have enjoyed from the staff of the committee throughout our work.

I share the view that this report is a timely contribution on a subject of increasing importance and relevance. In my view, it deserves to be read widely within and around Government as a persuasive case for the importance of a soft power strategy in a fast-changing 21st-century context.

Like most people in this Chamber, I suspect, I rather like being on or near the top of league tables, but it is not often these days that the United Kingdom finds itself in such a global leadership position. However, when it comes to soft power we are recognised as being extraordinarily blessed and endowed, not least by our history. With the English language, the Commonwealth, our leading universities, the monarchy, the British Council, the BBC World Service, our creative industries, our sporting heritage—if not always prowess—our diversity, and our respect for democratic values and the rule of law, the list goes on and on. How this country deploys this extraordinary list of assets in my view deserves more air time, more blue-sky thinking, more creative analysis and more brainstorming among the policymakers inside and around government. This is why the report is timely. It covers a huge amount of ground and I want to highlight four key points that it contains. The first is the most obvious and, to me, the most important. I join all those who have made the widely recognised point that hard and soft power are not alternatives. What is required is smart power—the ability to use both hard and soft power within the whole range of political, economic, military and diplomatic instruments in pursuit of this country’s security and prosperity. We can only begin to talk about our soft power strategy against an active, adequately funded and committed defence policy

My second point is to add my voice to others who have drawn attention to what the report has to say about the Commonwealth. It is something of an accident of history, yes, but it is invaluable, and it is becoming more and more relevant in the 21stcentury. At government

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level, the Commonwealth focus on strengthening democratic values, good governance and the rule of law remains essential to the whole existence of the organisation. In my view, the Commonwealth is often most effective at the level of civil society—the sub-governmental level. I therefore commend the Government’s support for the work and the importance of the Commonwealth Foundation at this level. The report also draws attention to the huge potential of intra-Commonwealth trade and investment. Here the Commonwealth Business Council has a real role to play.

My third comment is essentially about central government co-ordination. This turned out to be a key recommendation in the report. One of the recommendations was that the Government should set out some kind of audit of our soft power assets, but also address the very important question of how to achieve a more consistent strategic narrative across every government department in support of soft power. Here I associate myself with the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong, that the Government’s role in many cases is not to control these assets, but to encourage, nurture and support them—to co-ordinate and orchestrate.

In the Government’s response to the report it was stated that the National Security Council regularly discusses soft power and much was made of the existing co-ordination initiatives, such as the GREAT campaign, the emerging powers initiative, the work of the Stabilisation Unit, and the international defence engagement strategy. I would be most interested to hear some of the Minister’s comments on how these are brought together under the work of the National Security Council as an integrated whole.

My final point is to draw attention to what the report says about the importance of the UK’s embassy network in ensuring the most effective delivery of this country’s soft power assets. There is reference in the report to embassies abroad being “super-facilitators” when it comes to soft power. If we are to make maximum use of our soft power assets in pursuit of greater international influence abroad, two things are required: orchestration of delivery on the ground and a profound understanding of what works and does not work locally. When it comes to much cultural diplomacy and soft power, what works in Bangkok will not necessarily work in Beirut or Bogota. In other words, having knowledgeable and resourceful people in our embassies and British Council offices overseas is key to the effective delivery of this extraordinary range of assets we have. The report draws attention—in my view, rightly—to some of the consequences of this in terms of the extent of our embassy and British Council network, the pay and career prospects for our Diplomatic Service and for the British Council, and our public diplomacy skills and effective language training—all of which I strongly support.

The Government’s response to the report recognises the importance of this super-facilitator role in what I believe is called the One HMG Overseas agenda. I would like to hear, if possible, more about that agenda and the importance of embassies being empowered to draw together the strands of soft power assets overseas.

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In conclusion, I think it is a key role of the House to draw the Government's attention to political issues that are not getting the attention they deserve. Soft power is one such issue. The fundamental purpose of this debate is to draw attention to this question: how can we make better use of our formidable assets in this area? I share the view so widely expressed this afternoon that this question deserves to move up the political agenda, and is more pressing now than when the report was published a year ago.

6.06 pm

Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Lab): My Lords, this is an important debate on a very valuable report. In plain English, the theme is about how best to develop mutually beneficial relations with other countries. Strength and commitment are essential for policy. The word power, however, as other noble Lords have mentioned, has some rather old-fashioned connotations that I am sure foreigners sometimes find off-putting. Other countries in Europe do not use this word so strongly. I declare my interests and my experiences as a scientist, an academic and a consultant in business. I worked with various UK government departments and agencies in various aspects of foreign relations.

An interesting feature of the debate this afternoon has been the classical references. It seems like one ought to add that to one’s speech. In my case, on my first day as a civil servant at the Met Office, I went to the library and found the meteorological works of Aristotle. I thought that I had better read those if I was going to be a proper civil servant, and they were quite interesting— very analytical with beautiful descriptions —but probably not a very good weather forecast.

We all agree that the UK has a very high reputation for its global contributions in many fields, as other noble Lords have commented. These have contributed greatly to the rising health, well-being, and education worldwide. In many cases, they are done in collaboration with other countries in Europe and with agencies of the United Nations. The achievements include protecting culture, which is a really critical problem at the moment, of course, in the Middle East; pure science, such as the great atom-smashing experiments in Switzerland in the space agencies; applied science, such as weather forecasting, in which the UK excels; health; and the international infrastructure which we participate in through international bodies, in shipping, aviation and space.

The big theme of this report is the importance of the networks of telecommunications and the internet and even the so-called softer ones of intellectual property. It is important to realise that none of these networks has been taken over by the private sector or by individual countries—although there has been some muttering about the internet being owned by one particular country—despite the wishes of some corporations and countries that it should all be handed over to the private sector.

The Government make use of the Civil Service to work with these international agencies. In some senses these government agencies help these international bodies to help countries to help themselves. However, more could be done to encourage and co-ordinate the UK government agencies to perform this vital

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international task. They were hardly mentioned either in the report or in the Government’s response. Over many years, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s United Nations department has been responsible for how UK agencies work with UN agencies. The department has now changed its name, and this morning I tried to find out if anyone on the switchboard knew what it was. I received a negative reply. Neither the Library nor the internet nor even Wikipedia knew the answer. However, I was assured late this afternoon that the name has now been changed to the international organisations department. That is a good idea and is very much consistent with the whole idea of this report.

The importance that the UK foreign service assigns to understanding technical and commercial matters in order to assist UK business is to be welcomed. That feature was strongly highlighted in both the report and the government response. However, instead of making our ambassadors become polymaths in technical matters, perhaps the alternative is not to cut some of our UK government agencies too badly, but to enable them to help the embassies. The United States often does that. US embassies have substantial technical support from their own government agencies, and those agencies support the US private sector much more extensively than we support ours.

Although the government reply to the report was interesting, it was noticeable that it did not address the points about how Parliament should receive information about these international arrangements and bodies. We in this House have had two or three debates on that point, and the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, has previously replied to remarks I have made about it—so this is a repeat performance. However, the issue is important and has been raised again in the report.

The report recommends that UK foreign policy should not only do its own work but support small and large networks around the world. Some UN agencies are dominated by major countries, many of which are in higher latitudes. If one is a meteorologist, one knows that different things happen in the tropics and that the people who are interested in and knowledgeable about the tropics may not be very influential on some of those UN agencies. One example is a new network set up in Cambridge: the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre, with support from some countries and DfID. These regional and local networks, which are touched on in the report, are important. Such networks, international and regional, are important in helping UK SMEs to work in this field. It is also important that when Ministers make announcements about UK technology—two recent examples regarding Heathrow and the Olympic Games were interesting—they refer to the government agencies that do the work and not to the private sector. I declare an interest in that respect. The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, gave some good examples in which the Government are making strong announcements in the field of health.

The report did not strongly link international collaboration in UK science and technology with collaboration in policy and other academic fields. I have had several very frustrating conversations with the directors, officials and chairs of the British Council on this point—and I will return to that issue.

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I should mention one feature of the lack of connection or comprehension between the science and technology fields and the political, cultural and economic fields which I observed when I was director of the Met Office and involved in science and government. I was running the Met Office and represented the UK at the United Nations, where I worked with an excellent technical person whose job was to develop international policies. As is the case with many British scientists, the person’s education in politics, history and international affairs was limited. I asked the colleague, who was working for me, how often she read a newspaper. “Once every three weeks”, she said. I began to realise then that we needed to have a wider education. I raised the question with the Civil Service College, but the situation has not changed. There is not a broad education for technical civil servants in this country, and the number of civil servants with such an education is declining.

I return to the issue of the British Council. I have been on many British Council visits and lectures and found them valuable. However, the council is totally uncomprehending of the fact that although it pays for scientists and engineers to come to the UK, they are real people who will go back to their countries and probably rule those countries—they certainly do in China. It is really important that when these people come to the UK, the council pays for their tea and biscuits on the train journeys to bring them to London to attend our cultural events. Many visiting scientists come to the UK, go to the lab, spend three years there and then go home again. I have found it impossible to penetrate this blockage. However, some visitors—those on the Chevening scholarships—are specialists in economics, politics and so on, and they get the full works. It is important to understand that the technical and scientific people who come to this country will be very important in their countries and they need to receive the best possible welcome, understanding and education.

6.16 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, in debating the findings of this report, we clearly owe a great debt to the noble, Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, and the members of the Select Committee. The ability to produce reports of this quality eloquently underlined the need for an international affairs Select Committee of this House, as the noble Lord said in his introductory comments—and I happily echo that.

In July last year, when introducing a Cross-Bench debate on the importance of the BBC World Service and the British Council, I argued that the deployment of smart power would always consist of a combination of Joseph Nye’s soft power, backed up by the hard power of military capability—a point that my noble and gallant friend Lord Stirrup made so eloquently earlier. I drew on the British Academy’s excellent report, The Art of Attraction. In the intervening nine months, the world has become more fragmented and dangerous, with terrorist webs, rampaging militias and armies posing existential threats. As it emerges from a period of sustained austerity and battle fatigue, following wearying wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Britain in 2015 is a country that has become uncertain about its

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place in the world. This uncertainty is reinforced by jihadist militias and terrorists, the territorial aggression of Russia, the nuclear threat posed by Iran and North Korea, and the unresolved question of what sort of relationship we are to have with continental Europe.

Our world is less tolerant and more violent: from Syria, Iraq and the continued rise of the so-called Islamic State or Daesh, which continues to murder people and eradicate culture and heritage; to the horrors of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where the Sudanese regime has dropped more than 2,500 bombs on its civilian population; to Boko Haram’s abduction of girls in Nigeria; to the burning alive of Christians in Pakistan; to the recent beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya; and to the continuing incarceration of 200,000 people in the prison camps of North Korea. The need to deploy smart power is self-evident. It would be folly in these circumstances to reduce further our military or non-military capability.

The key issue is the battle for ideas, be they secular or religious. In that context, I was surprised to see a reply in another place, just in the last day or so, to Tim Farron, the Member of Parliament for Westmoreland and Lonsdale. He asked the Government what resources were committed to the area of freedom of religion and belief. In that reply, Mr Lidington, the Minister, said that there was just,

“one full time Desk Officer wholly dedicated to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB)”.

He said that,

“the Head and the Deputy Head of HRDD spend approximately 5% and 20% respectively of their time on FoRB issues; one Human Rights Advisor spends 5% and one HRDD Communications Officer approximately 10%”.

This is pretty dismal in the context of the horrors that are being perpetrated in breach of Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which safeguards the right to believe, not to believe or to change belief. All over the world, we can see how that is honoured in the breach. Billions of people are motivated by religious belief and do extraordinarily wonderful things, but as with secular ideologies—such as those of Hitler, Mao or Stalin—they can also do some pretty terrible things. Ideas and beliefs shape our world and our destiny. Smart power must engage directly with that. We have enormous national assets to enable us to do so but we need to build on them. As other noble Lords have done, I will briefly mention three prizes that we have. I so agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, when he said in his introductory remarks, “We are the best-networked state in the world”. He mentioned the role of the Commonwealth, the BBC World Service and the British Council, and I will do so, too.

As we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, yesterday saw the commemoration of Commonwealth Day. The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Sir Don McKinnon, once correctly observed:

“The Commonwealth is a pretty good investment for Britain but it has not always been used at its best”."

In a world where jihadists seek to impose a brutal uniformity, including denying girls an education, the Commonwealth, by contrast, stands for tolerance, diversity, interconnectedness, pluralism and the dignity

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of difference. The Commonwealth charter underlines the aspirations of its member nations to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, and the noble Lord, Lord Soley, both emphasised in their speeches.

I think it was my noble friend Lord Luce, in a previous debate, who once told us that President Nasser of Egypt once said to Prime Minister Nehru of India, “I put my extremists in prison. What do you do with yours?”. Nehru replied, “I put mine in Parliament”. His were the values of the Commonwealth.

We in Britain also know the importance of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition, a concept to share in a world that stifles opposition. Last month, I spoke at the launch of Liverpool’s new Commonwealth Association. I suggested that British cities should declare themselves to be Commonwealth cities and network with other cities which badge themselves in the same way—like the more than 500 universities in the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

When I came to Westminster 36 years ago, I was delighted to become one of the 16,000 members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I suspect all of us here in the Chamber are members of the CPA. For several years I chaired the Council for Education in the Commonwealth. With a combined GDP of £5.2 trillion, some 2.2 billion people live in the Commonwealth’s 53 independent and sovereign states. Sixty per cent of the population are under the age of 30 and 800 million live in poverty. Where better to focus our ring-fenced aid budget than on the Commonwealth, and especially on education? It is lamentable, as the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, said, that we have seen a decline in Commonwealth scholarships. This, along with our visa system, has had a deplorable impact on students from countries such as India.

It is instructive that, despite 250 years of trading with India, it is said that it now has more trade with Switzerland than with us. Smart power would use the power of education and the English language to address such discrepancies. Nelson Mandela once said that the Commonwealth makes the world safe for diversity. He also insisted that education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world. That, surely, is the battle for ideas—a thought echoed by the courageous Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban tried to murder in Pakistan because she insisted on a girl’s right to an education. Her words were:

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”.

Yet, despite what we heard earlier from the noble Lord, Lord Bach, perhaps the most important English language institution that we have, the British Council, has seen its FCO budget reduced to £154 million this year, down from £190 million. I hope that we will hear from the Minister how the Government see the future of British Council funding.

My third example of Britain’s smart power assets are the arms of BBC global news, World Service radio, BBC Online and television news. The noble Lord, Lord Birt, has spelled out many of those issues to us in his sometimes excoriating—but, I thought, to the point—remarks, particularly about the issue of resources, and

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the way we have pillaged the resources of the BBC quite wantonly. The BBC World Service has a global audience of 265 million people and is directed for the first time in its 83-year history by a woman, Fran Unsworth. Kofi Annan called the World Service, “Britain’s greatest gift to the world”.

In its briefing for today’s debate, I greatly welcome the BBC’s statement:

“The BBC is considering whether it can develop a viable news service for the people of North Korea”.

That is an issue I have raised, as co-chairman of the All-Party Group on North Korea, on numerous occasions in your Lordships’ House. I should be grateful if the Minister would say, when replying, whether this initiative will have the blessing of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It would be helpful if he could spell out exactly how the Foreign Secretary will participate in the discussions on the charter review—and hence on the future of the BBC World Service—to which my noble friend Lord Birt referred. Only a week ago the director-general, the noble Lord, Lord Hall, warned that the BBC was at a crossroads, with choices for decision-makers that would be fundamental to the future of the BBC and it global standing. He spoke of,

“a sleep-walk into decay for the BBC, punching below its weight abroad, and Britain diminished as a result”.

In its conclusions the Select Committee says:

“The UK can, and should, act as a serious force for good as the world continues to change”.

However, it also warns that the UK risks,

“finding itself outwitted, out-competed and increasingly insecure”.

If we do not find the resources to back up these wonderful institutions, surely that will come to pass. It would be a huge error for this country to make, and it would not be good for the world either.

6.25 pm

Lord Bilimoria (CB): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and his committee on this excellent report, Persuasion and Power in the Modern World. In fact the report shows why we need a permanent foreign affairs committee in this House.

In his evidence to the Select Committee, Professor Nye said that in today’s international relations it is,

“not just whose army wins, it is also whose story wins in an information age”.

I was in India, speaking on smart power, soft power and hard power—I am glad the committee made those connections—and I visited Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram. I reflected that if you are talking about soft power there is no better example than Mahatma Gandhi. One of his great quotes is “The battle of right against might”. He inspired Nelson Mandela. He has inspired so many people. I am delighted to say that on Saturday 14 March we will be unveiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square with the Indian Finance Minister and our Prime Minister. That is wonderful news.

There are so many examples of India’s soft power. One is yoga. There is going to be an international yoga day on 21 June. We should have yoga in Parliament. Another is Bollywood films. You could go on. We have heard example after example of the soft power that we have here in Britain. There is the BBC, to which

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almost every speaker has referred—and wow, this is the House of Lords, where we have the former director-general of the BBC, the noble Lord, Lord Birt, speaking so brilliantly about it. Then there is the British Council. I have been privileged to work with the British Council. It does amazing work and its budgets keep getting cut.

When we talk about soft power, it is also, in India’s case, the 25 million people of Indian origin around the world who are now reaching the very top—running some of the biggest companies in the world. The dean of the Harvard Business School is an Indian. The head of MasterCard is an Indian. The new head of Deloitte’s is an Indian. It goes on. That is also power. The British diaspora around the world is a huge source of power for us.

However, the worrying aspect of this, particularly in today’s world, is hard power. That is where this country—a tiny country with less than 1% of the world’s population—still has one of the most of the most powerful and effective defence forces in the world. Yet we had an SDSR in 2010 that was appalling, negligent and neglectful. We cut our Armed Forces brutally. We got rid of our aircraft carriers and our Harriers. As one of the world’s leading defence powers, we are without carrier capability in today’s environment. We needed them for Libya and we need them tomorrow. We do not have them. Who knows when they will arrive: perhaps in five years’ time if we are lucky. We also got rid of our Nimrods, while right under our noses the Russians are sending their submarines. We could do with those Nimrods. Yet we physically, brutally, destroyed those aircraft. I was at Wembley Stadium seeing Chelsea win the other day. Our army would not fill Wembley Stadium. That is shocking. To think that we could make this up by recruiting 30,000 reserves is wrong. Reserves are meant to be reserves. It is an oxymoron to say that reserves are permanent forces. We have, in any case, had difficulty recruiting them. That is very negligent. Are the Government committed to spending 2% of GDP on NATO now and in the future, with no further cuts to the Armed Forces going forward?

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is now one of the most powerful people in the world, with an outright majority in India. He is a brilliant orator in Hindi—I would say one of the best orators in the world. In one of his speeches in India he kept using the Hindi word “takhath”, which means strength or power. He was talking about hard power, soft power and smart power.

In this excellent report, almost every one of the witnesses testified that the Government’s new visa policies are harming the assets that build the UK’s soft power. In fact, the editor of the Economist, John Micklethwait, was scathing about how increased visa restrictions and costs have affected UK commerce, describing the system as—I use his words—“bananas” and “suicidal”. He said:

“All you need to do is to talk to businesspeople or, indeed, students in any other country who want to come and spend money here … It is completely useless in terms of recruiting people”.

I can vouch for that. It is the impression that we have created. Today, I was proud to host an event on international students, chaired by my noble friend

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Lord Hannay, with the Russell group in Parliament. Thirty-four per cent of academic staff at our Russell group universities—I am proud to be chancellor of the University of Birmingham, a Russell group university—are of non-UK nationality. Nineteen per cent of the undergraduates at Russell group universities are from outside the UK and—wait for this—47% of postgraduates are international students. That is how valuable they are to us. I know it; I was an international student myself when I came to this country. I know how difficult it was to raise the money to pay for the education over here. Yet, as a percentage of GDP, Britain spends half as much as the United States on higher education. As a percentage of GDP, we spend less than the OECD and EU averages on higher education.

When it comes to research and development and innovation—another great soft power—we way underspend as a percentage of GDP. Cambridge University, with 19 Nobel prizes, has won more Nobel prizes than any other university in the world. That is how well we do as a country. Yet we make it so difficult for international students, who bring in £14 billion. Education is one of our best exports and higher education is one of our strongest areas of soft power. In the United States it was found that of all patents registered at the country’s top 10 patent-generating universities, 76% had a foreign-born inventor. One of the founders of Google is foreign.

Yet you look ahead and you see the difficulty created by and the rhetoric that comes from—I am sorry to name her specifically—the Home Secretary. Forget Nigel Farage—even he objected to the vans telling illegal immigrants to “Go home”. When a £3,000 bond was proposed for all foreigners from countries such as India, alarm bells rang around the world. There were headlines in Indian newspapers when the Home Secretary stated that foreign students should leave the day after they had finished their studies. The Bangalore Mirror said:

“Come to the UK: Graduate, and then get the hell out!”.

The Times of India’s headline was:

“UK to ‘kick out foreign graduates’ to curb immigration”.

Is that the rhetoric that we want from the jewel in the crown of our higher education soft power?

We should introduce exit checks immediately. Can the Minister confirm that exit checks are carried out, whereby passports—EU and non-EU—are scanned for everyone coming into and going out of the country through our ports? When that happens, we will have more control over our borders.

Our music industry and our sports, with the Premier League, Chelsea and Manchester United, produce household names around the world. Does the Minister agree that we should set a target to increase the number of international students? I believe that we should have a specific target to do so every year. Also important are our creative industries. The Royal Family, too, was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper. Seventy-one per cent of Americans rate the Royal Family in terms of popularity. That figure is almost as high as it is here, at 77%.

I hope that the SNP never gets into power, because getting rid of Trident would be the most negligent act in this country.

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My noble friend Lord Hannay said something about Britain punching below its weight. I am sorry; I normally agree with my noble friend but I think that Britain is a country that continually punches well above its weight. Our capability in every area lies at the heart of this debate, whether in high-end manufacturing, aerospace, beer, universities, the creative industries, film, music or our institutions. We are the best in the world.

However, what underpins it all—I conclude with this—is that there is one thing in the world that we are respected for more than anything else, and that is integrity. It was described to me best by our noble and right reverend friend Lord Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, when he said that integrity comes from the Latin word “integer” or “integrum”, which means whole, complete and not fragmented. It means that you can stand up to the light and the fire and be absolutely pure, and this country has integrity.

6.35 pm

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, this has been an excellent debate, led by an outstanding contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Howell, as chairman of the committee, covering the content of a very comprehensive and timely report. At a time when our world is increasingly dangerous and uncertain, it is right that we reflect on these issues in your Lordships’ House and that we take time to think not just about our power and influence but about our responsibility in this world.

I regret very much that I was too late in contacting my Whips’ Office to secure a place on the committee. I would very much have enjoyed being part of its deliberations. I also regret that it appears that the Scottish Government, unlike the Welsh Government, did not take the opportunity to give evidence to the committee. A number of other Scottish institutions which could have contributed to the work of the committee did not take that opportunity either. I want to try to correct that a little bit today by speaking about my time as First Minister of Scotland.

Before I do so I want strongly to endorse many of the recommendations and points made in the report. It is undoubtedly the case that the UK has more widespread opportunities to influence than any other nation in the world. It is not just that we are more networked in international institutions, in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Howell, described, than any other country in the world, it is also that, through our language, our science base, our culture and our cultural activities, we have more impact in the world than any other nation of our size.

The report makes a number of very timely recommendations and very important points. It stresses the importance of the foreign service and our embassies. I would add to that the importance of critical analysis in our foreign service, which has perhaps been diminished over recent times and needs fresh energy and investment in the complex world that we live in today. I wholly endorse the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Janvrin, about the importance of blue skies thinking in this area. Investment and analysis might be a critical part of that endeavour if we are to produce a vision for the 21st century and a role for Britain in the world that meets the purpose.

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I endorse strongly the points made about the visa system and the way that it is damaging our relations around the world and the impression of this country in the eyes of young people across the world. The language about immigration that is used makes us look insular and negative. I also strongly endorse the points made about education and scholarships, as well as the importance of the European External Action Service and our international development aid. I hope that the passing of the Bill yesterday concerning the 0.7% aid target gives us a chance to move on from a debate about the quantity of aid to one about the quality of aid and how we can best use that overseas development assistance not just to change the world but to influence it too.

In relation to Scotland, I want to go back to 1999. Something that I have said very often, both as First Minister and since, is that the Foreign Office has been, by a long way, the best government department in responding to devolution as it has occurred within the United Kingdom. I felt that the Foreign Office, perhaps because it was led at the time by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and also by the late Robin Cook, responded well to devolution. It understood that devolution provided an opportunity to improve UK influence overseas and not diminish it. I travelled around the world to promote Scotland, initially as external affairs Minister in the early years of the Scottish Government and then as First Minister, and I used UK embassies to help me do that, I am absolutely certain that they used me just as much to open doors and to use British influence in different ways. Where perhaps relations with UK Ministers were not as good at any given point in one country, a devolved Minister might open a door instead. In Brussels, devolved Ministers were used to increase British influence with commissioners and decision-makers. It was done very cleverly by Sir Stephen Wall and others back in those days.

I know that the committee did not necessarily look at this issue in its deliberations but I hope that, as we go forward, we can use the diversity of layers of government and representatives in the UK system to be more than the sum of our parts as we try to exert influence internationally. The diversity of the UK—not just the cultural diversity of the UK but the national diversities of the UK—can be a strength in our international relations and one that we could make more of. The diversity of the great historic institutions in Scotland and elsewhere—of law, education and the churches, for example—can be part of that and they should not feel that it is delegated to those based in London or just in England and Wales. I hope that that point is a helpful addition to the recommendations made by the report and one that can be part of our deliberations in the future.

I do not want to repeat what others have said during the debate but I wholly endorse the incredible speech made by my noble friend Lord Judd. To some extent the next point I wish to make moves in the same direction as some of the points that he made. What is really important here is why we are engaged. What is our influence for, what are we are trying to persuade people to do and what battles of ideas are we trying to win—or at least be on the winning side of? Of course, there is always an issue for the British Government to

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promote Britain overseas—British interests, British business and British institutions. But, because of our colonial history, our role as an economic power in the world and our position in the UN Security Council and in the leading nations of the European Union and elsewhere, we also have a responsibility to give something back and to be part of the solution, as well as to look after our own particular British interests. That is partly because being part of the global solution is in our own British interests just as much as those particular concerns about British business, British institutions and so on.

Therefore, as we exercise our power and influence around the world, we need to believe strongly that we can contribute in particular to conflict resolution, to peace-building, to conflict prevention and to post-conflict reconstruction. We may have made mistakes—sometimes big mistakes—in foreign policy and military endeavours down through the decades, but we are still today more trusted and seen as more honest, more reliable and more faithful to our values partners than most nations elsewhere. When we engage—not just inside the Commonwealth but in other parts of the world as well —we engage as a trusted partner.

I have just come back from south-east Asia. I was there five years ago as the special representative for the UK on peace-building when ASEAN was just trying to make the early moves towards having a role in peace and security in that region, the neighbourhood helping itself in the way that so many of the African continent’s regions had begun to do over previous years. In February, in Jakarta, the UK—Wilton Park—organised a conference, with five south-east Asian nations, and some of the rebel groups of those nations, coming together to discuss sustainable peaceful settlements that might be part of their future. Probably only the UK could organise such a conference, in a part of the world where we do not have very much interest or influence directly from our past. People there were trusting Wilton Park—the British FCO—to be part of that discussion and to help them along the right road. It is that influence for good that Britain can contribute to the world. When we exercise power and persuasion in the modern world, I hope that we take our responsibilities as seriously as we take our opportunities.

6.45 pm

Lord Luce (CB): My Lords, this excellent report and this debate, led by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, have really demonstrated the astonishing range of measures at the disposal of this country to exercise influence and soft power. I have noticed that the noble Lord has sat through every single speech throughout this debate, and if he felt that he wanted a short break I would quite understand if he took it during my speech.

I start by endorsing the view, generally expressed, that soft power and hard power must complement each other and that there is no substitute for ensuring that our defences are adequate to deal with any threats or dangers that we face in this country; indeed, Dr Kissinger spoke very eloquently about that over the weekend. But I want to focus my attention solely on the Commonwealth, as one of the most important weapons—as it were—of soft power that is at the disposal of any Commonwealth country. I have here

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in my hand the souvenir copy of the speech made by Harold Macmillan exactly 55 years ago in Cape Town. This copy was given to me by the late Sir David Hunt, who was his private secretary and helped, no doubt, to draft that remarkable speech.

The reason why I draw the House’s attention to the speech is that it shows the vision and foresight of Harold Macmillan with regard to the Commonwealth. It is unusual today for Prime Ministers to quote St Paul, as he did 55 years ago when he said,

“we are all members one of another”.

He went on to talk about “the value of interdependence” and how these Commonwealth nations were voluntarily agreeing to work together. He said that there would be differences that we had to work out together, that the great strength of the Commonwealth was that it had no rigid constitution and that therefore it had a great deal of flexibility in its organisation. He called on everyone to co-operate,

“in the pursuit of common aims and purposes in world affairs”.

It makes me wonder today, 55 years later, how Macmillan would view the way we have tackled our membership of the Commonwealth. I think that he would be disappointed. Indeed, I feel disappointed, because we have missed many opportunities in the Commonwealth. I feel rather like the late Lord Jowett, who was the head of Balliol, who once said about the Church of England that he was a Christian in spite of the clergy. I feel rather like saying, “I am in favour of the Commonwealth in spite of some Commonwealth Governments”.

Here always exists in front of us something that we could not invent but is a unique opportunity for our country. The question to ask is whether we take it; it is there for us to take. We face yet another crossroads in the Commonwealth with the handing over of the chairmanship from Sri Lanka to Malta, and with a new opportunity for Commonwealth Heads of Government in November to set a new direction on relevance to a Commonwealth that will bring benefits to the people of the Commonwealth. Many noble Lords have referred to yesterday’s Commonwealth Day observance. The theme was young people. Sixty per cent of Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 30. Reference was made to the fact that this group of nations is unique in human history. In one of the addresses during that service there was reference to child slavery, and of course the anti-slavery Bill will be very important to the Commonwealth as a whole.

How do we bring influence? It seems to me that there are two ways: first, between Governments, and secondly, between people. Between Governments, of course, we have the Commonwealth charter, which sets out the values to which we all aspire—democracy, rule of law, which has been referred to so often today, human rights, the role of the media, which is vital for the Commonwealth, and good governance, to give some examples. It is through dialogue and trying to resolve differences all the time that we can work towards seeing those values achieved.

I want to stress today the people-to-people aspect because we cannot underestimate the value of the links between people of the Commonwealth. We have this new opportunity on which the noble Lord, Lord Howell, has led, not only in this report but in the book he

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has written about the revolution in technology—the networking that it brings about; the ease of contact that it will help people to have between each other and between organisations; the enhanced information and knowledge which will be at the disposal of people; and the empowerment of people, which is so important now to the Commonwealth.

The battery of weapons that we have within the Commonwealth to exercise our influence and the value of our soft power is astonishing. There is an underfunded and underresourced secretariat at government level which should be sponsoring a greater partnership with the non-official Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Foundation, of which I had the privilege of being the chairman in the 1990s, is there to promote civil society contact and bring about participatory democracy within the Commonwealth. There are at least 85 professional associations or organisations within the Commonwealth and we cannot underestimate the value of that contact. They cover every facet of life. The Commonwealth of Learning uses modern technology to network for distance learning, including massive open-line courses which British universities can influence and play a part in. There is the Commonwealth Universities Association—the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, referred to the value of university links in her excellent maiden speech—and I attended one of its meetings when I was a vice-chancellor in Malta, and the exchange of views and experiences is an example of how valuable it can be.

The noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson—I ought to describe her as my noble friend because she is my sister-in-law—referred to the importance of the Commonwealth scholarships and fellowships scheme. There are 30,000 alumni from those scholarships across the Commonwealth. Think of the soft power value that has. There is the Commonwealth Class, which is the linkage between the BBC, the British Council and the secretariat, to connect more than 100,000 schools on line. Imagine the value of teaching children the link between ourselves and Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth Press Union is extremely important. The Commonwealth Local Government Forum is extremely strong. There is the new Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, in which the noble Lord, Lord Marland, who is not here at the moment, played a leading part in injecting new life into business connections with the Commonwealth, bearing in mind the importance of trade and business. I could go on indefinitely.

We have these opportunities sitting there to exploit. It requires action and imagination. DfID’s role in the Commonwealth and what it does needs to be looked at by the House or by a Select Committee to see how it is using aid to benefit our soft power influence in the Commonwealth. Soft power is an attitude of mind. It is a culture, a style, which involves dialogue and engagement. I hope all political parties in this coming election will feel totally committed to the concept of using the Commonwealth partnership as a means of furthering our strength as a country.

6.54 pm

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): My Lords, this is a fascinating subject for anyone who cares about international development and diplomacy. The noble

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Lord, Lord Howell, has, as always, shown great personal commitment both with the presenting of ideas in the report and in his introductory remarks. The only regret I have is that his powers of persuasion, which are famous, have not extended to the Liaison Committee, which is supposed to approve the formation of an international affairs committee. However, he has 30 signed-up Members today and I think we should make a new approach.

While in principle I am a believer in soft power, I start with some scepticism because it is really yesterday’s concept. It was identified in the late 1980s at a time when, with the end of the Cold War, political theorists were looking for something new. Strange as it seems, we even then expected Russia to drop its military guard and entertain European concepts of soft power.

As Europeans we are all advocates of soft power. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, reminded us, that is how the founding fathers set up the new Europe, not only as an economic community but as a means of achieving peaceful development and of sharing democratic ideals. The European Union has for many years been quietly following its own concept of soft power through the Copenhagen criteria, especially the rule of law. The very process of enlargement and of the CSDP missions, especially in the Balkans, demonstrates this determination.

Having read the authoritative British Academy report last year, I wonder whether the canvas of soft power is so wide that it has lost its central purpose. If translated into government policy it becomes almost meaningless. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, had a similar thought that such reports, unfortunately, end up as a catalogue of alternative ingredients. I therefore sympathise with the Minister in having to cover the whole à la carte menu.

Soft power takes many forms, as we have heard. We all acknowledge the work of the BBC, the British Council and Commonwealth, which is rightly and widely admired. The point of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, was well taken, as was the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie, about Russian propaganda. I am a huge fan of the BBC World Service and I have seen the British Council at work in Africa and south Asia. I know the potential value of the Commonwealth. The monarchy is itself a flagship of soft power. UK plc is another but it has not been mentioned a great deal. Of course, a lot of this is boasting, with some reason, that we are still a soft power superpower punching above our weight.

Having spent most of my time with NGOs I should like to deal mainly with the questions that arise when Governments engage in soft power through civil society, as raised by the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I know that this Government, especially DfID, have tried hard to work with civil society. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, gave examples. The British Council does a lot in this area but I am not sure how far it has succeeded as far as the MoD is concerned. We do not need Clausewitz to understand that our armed services have to be interested in soft power, especially in education and training, as is explained on page 67 of the report, and in stabilisation. Phrases such as “building stability” and “upstream conflict prevention” entered the language

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when this Government started to confront the failures of military intervention with a new concept of peace building.

Before Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, we had at least one European success in Kosovo, in which it proved possible to push back conflict. Sierra Leone was another example. However, the resolution of both these conflicts required strong prior military intervention. Soft power remained in the rear.

In 2011 William Hague, Andrew Mitchell and Liam Fox announced a new Building Stability Overseas Strategy. They forecast that the ODA expenditure on fragile and conflict-affected states would increase to 30% by 2015. They also said that the resources of the joint conflict pool would increase to £1.1 billion over the spending review period. The ODA proportion of the budget was also due to rise to 65%.

In the context of this debate, that has been a considerable advance towards soft power. Learning from Afghanistan became a watchword and an opportunity for the Government to move beyond their own joined-up strategy into working more closely with civil society and organisations with direct experience of conflict prevention. I recognise the critical value of young volunteering and leadership training identified by the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong. My noble friend Lord Janvrin also used the words “nurture and support”. One expert from the Institute of Development Studies has argued that three issues raised by this strategy still need to be addressed:

“The tension between impact … and upstream conflict prevention; … The meaning of stabilisation in upstream conflict prevention”,


“The lack of attention to coordination with NGOs and capacity on the ground at the expense of cross-Whitehall integration”.

The soft power report pays much too little attention to NGOs. This is a pity. It is because of the spectrum of evidence that would have been required. The interface between military and civilian is well covered in the report. Recommendation 24, for example, calls for an analysis of smart and soft power. Can the Minister confirm that this will be carried through in the 2015 SDSR, if the Government win the election? The government response on page 37 twice refers to the Stabilisation Unit as “a key Government instrument” which,

“delivers more effective post-conflict work and actively champions co-operation between military and civilian actors”.

This is some advance but it will be interesting to hear the Minister’s view.

I turn to cultural diplomacy. I am a firm believer in the power of culture and sport in conflict or post-conflict states. Having followed the fortunes and misfortunes of South Sudan, once as a spectator of the famous Dinka dancing, I remember how cultural and sporting events, such as the Shakespeare exchanges and the Twic county Olympics in that country, deliberately created a new sense of dignity among people suffering from a lack of almost anything.

In Afghanistan, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation has demonstrated a similar success. It has played a part in creating an atmosphere of hope in the midst of conflict. I saw how this project had helped to rebuild the old quarter of Kabul and had trained or retrained

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countless artists, designers, craftsmen and those acquiring new business skills for the nation. I declare an interest because my daughter once worked on this project and is now active in a programme called Culture and Conflict which holds seminars and encourages artists in different areas of conflict. It is important to stress that the success and sustainability of these programmes depends entirely on direct engagement of local people and civil society in the country concerned. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, they have credibility.

I have some doubts about the interference of government in the activities of NGOs and the risk of it being misunderstood. One has only to look at the work of NGOs in Afghanistan and how they have had to work at a local level to avoid giving the Taliban the impression that they were somehow agents of foreign powers. There are many examples in developing countries of NGOs resisting such suspicion, especially when they are receiving foreign funds, and of Governments pursuing them for those reasons. The best answer is for NGOs to remain indigenous as far as possible and resolutely to pursue goals which belong to their own communities. That does not mean that our Government cannot work alongside them.

Finally, I pay tribute to my new noble friend Lady Wolf and her rigorous contribution which, will make us all think. I join the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, and other noble Lords who have challenged the Home Office on its attitude to Indian students. The Government’s response to this report takes nothing away from the central argument that the inclusion of students in immigration statistics—whatever the formal necessity of OECD presentations, which is the normal excuse—is both cynical and wrong and should be reversed. That was a key message, widely publicised, and I hope that the Minister will give this House an end-of-term report on that issue.

7.04 pm

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, when you are number 26 in a list of 30, everything you thought you might say that might be original has usually been covered. I shall run through these areas quickly.

The BBC World Service is an incredibly good institution but, as has been said, it would not exist in anything like its current form without the BBC. The BBC’s greatest claim to fame is that it bears the name “British” and has consistently been a pain in various parts of the anatomy of every single British Government that I can remember. Trying to explain that abroad, and the fact that a society such as ours supports such an institution, says more about us than we can imagine from sitting here.

It has been suggested that we should enhance our Diplomatic Service to access the power and influence that we have. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said about power and soft power. I, too, have problems with how much power and influence is concerned, but there must be something that takes it forward. It is also quite clear that hard power still has a role to play—it is probably the backstop to smart power and soft power. You name it, we need it. If we are to be any sort of player in the world and to be sure of our own security, we will need hard power. We can

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argue until the cows come home about exactly what form that should take, but we will need something there.

There is one thing that I do not think has been touched on much, which was something of a surprise to me. The report mentions the Olympics but there is not much mention of sport generally. If ever there is something that goes beyond the normal confines, it is sport. Sport is something you can talk about and relate to. Britain has given the world football. The figure I saw was that the Premier League reaches 212 territories—I am not quite sure what that is in terms of countries. Billions of people watch it. We have the most watched league; that is massive power. In the current row about the placement of the World Cup, if we have not brought the FIFA house crashing down, at least we have shaken its door a bit. We can probably say that, yes, we have power there.

We also have the Rugby World Cup coming up. For anybody who wants to see the comedy version ahead of it, do you know that the British Parliament is hosting a parliamentary World Cup tournament? I do not know if I shall be the only player from your Lordships’ House and, with the amount of hobbling I have been doing, I may not be playing in all of it. This is something else that we have given the world. Other sports have come to us; we have given these. These sports cut across even the high networking worth that has already been spoken about. It goes beyond the Commonwealth Games and it travels beyond the European Union. Even in rugby union, that British-dominated game, France, Italy and Argentina, as full board members, might just object to thinking that they are naturally part of our sphere of influence.

The whole idea of sport as something in which you can compete—where you can join in, participate and have an interaction with others—has not really been touched on, other than in relation to the Olympics. With the Olympics, we were talking about the structure of getting the Games and running them well. That ties in because, if you look at our history, we have had a series of disasters in organising events over the past few years. There was Pickett’s Lock and the Wembley fiasco—projects that had to be publicly taken on. It was not until the Commonwealth Games in Manchester that we got it right. Effectively, we invented a new way of doing things: regeneration, creation and giving something permanent back to society. All of that enhances these events. Our volunteer structure has been widely taken up by others, and it is clear that it allowed us to have the confidence even to bid for the Olympic Games.

The Olympics themselves seem to have become something of a beacon. It was a regeneration project that has proved useful to society since and it gave us kudos. It was also incredibly useful in building up an awareness of disability rights because of the success of and drive behind the Paralympics. That is an incredible achievement. They were the first Paralympic Games for which you could not get a ticket; that is a massive contribution and one that still has repercussions all over the world. You cannot build up a prestigious Paralympic team unless you actually do something with your disabled community. These people are not a

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drag; they are a bonus and a boost to society. We hope that it will go further than that, and the legal framework and the full range of civil rights that are expressed in the rule of law tie in with it.

We must bear in mind that we can take the idea of projecting ourselves as a sporting nation and tie that in with everything else as we go forward. We must build on it, because if we do not, we will miss out on something which, shall we say, carries less obvious baggage than most of what we have been talking about. You have to try slightly harder to misunderstand a sports team going on to a pitch than, for instance, a cultural programme about Shakespeare. You have to go forward and create something positive there. If you do not, you miss something that is universal, in which we are a leader and where we can touch the rest of the world without offending anyone in any way.

7.11 pm

Lord Kakkar (CB): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, and his Select Committee on producing a marvellous report and on having secured this important debate. I also join other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend Lady Wolf of Dulwich on her very impressive maiden speech. In so doing I remind noble Lords of my declarations of interest as the UK Business Ambassador for Healthcare and Life Sciences, chair of University College London Partners and treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health.

It is quite right that this impressive report should touch on health and healthcare because there is no doubt in my mind or in the mind of my noble friend Lord Crisp that it represents an important area of soft power for our country. The reasons for this are clear. Every country in the world, whether it represents a developed or a developing economy, faces similar challenges when it comes to meeting the healthcare needs of its citizens. Those challenges are reflected most clearly by changing demographics in terms of ageing populations, more people living with chronic disease, higher expectations among citizens throughout the world that they should be delivered a reasonable standard of healthcare and that they should have access to it, and that it should be delivered fairly, effectively and safely.

There are also important political consequences with regard to delivering healthcare and, indeed, not delivering it. In our own country, we saw during the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum that when the question of healthcare in terms of the future of the National Health Service was introduced into the debate, particular anxieties were generated and, as a result, there was an impact potentially on the thinking of voters with regard to whether or not they felt confident about the Union separating. This, of course, is also the case in many other countries around the world.

The report of the Select Committee tends to look at health in terms of providing healthcare opportunities through DfID overseas aid funding, and that is an important element. But as we heard from my noble friend Lord Crisp, it is not the only way in which we are able to contribute to healthcare more broadly and,

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through that global contribution, increase our influence and the respect that other nations around the world have for our country and therefore for our soft power. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health has commissioned some work to look at this question. As my noble friend Lord Crisp set out, the group has identified the need to look at the question of influence in healthcare not only in terms of state overseas aid funding to other countries, but across a number of domains and sectors.

When we look at the contribution made by the state, while we have heard an awful lot about the BBC in this debate, one of the most important institutions in this country that commands global respect is the National Health Service. Of course, the health service is open to criticism at times around perceptions about its delivery in our own country, but globally the concept and the philosophy of the National Health Service—providing a healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery; that is, universal access to healthcare—is a very powerful principle that is deeply appreciated and respected throughout the world. As we have heard, the NHS ranks number one in terms of the efficacy and efficiency of its delivery when compared with 10 other healthcare systems, including that of the United States and some of our European partners.

Beyond the National Health Service and the important work that the Department for International Development does in the area of healthcare, being the second largest funder of bilateral healthcare engagements around the world, at £1.2 billion in the most recently reported financial year, we have the important contribution that is made by our university sector. This is sometimes under-recognised not only broadly, but also by the sectors in healthcare themselves, and I think that it is one of the reasons why so few healthcare organisations, universities and others contributed evidence for the Select Committee to consider. However, we have four of the top 10 universities in the world in biomedicine. We have heard about our academic output. We have 1% of the world’s population, but some 12% of all citations for biomedical research. We have many thousands of students from overseas who are studying medicine and dentistry in our 33 universities delivering medical and dental degrees, and of course we have a large number of postgraduate courses not only in medical subjects but also in nursing and in the professions allied to healthcare. These provide important training opportunities for people throughout the world.

Our commercial sector is also vitally important. Two of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world are based in this country, but they operate in at least 200 countries around the globe. Between the two, they employ something close to 200,000 people and they play a vitally important role in our economy, contributing a net surplus of some £21 billion a year. They also, by and large, are providing interventions, therapies and innovations across the world, many of which were discovered here, that are affecting the lives of millions of other human beings day in and day out. That brings great credit to our nation. Then we have the charity and NGO sector which comprises many thousands of organisations. It contributes an investment of around £7 billion of investment abroad in healthcare projects.

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I would now like to build on some of the comments made by my noble friend Lord Luce. There is an ideal opportunity and outlet for us to take forward all of this knowledge, expertise and ability to improve the lives of so many people around the world through the network of the Commonwealth. I should like to declare a further interest here because I have been working with the Commonwealth Secretariat in the establishment of a potential new initiative in healthcare—something that might become known as common health. It seeks to build upon the opportunities provided by modern technology platforms and thus create the world’s largest community of healthcare professionals—doctors, nurses and others—who have the responsibility and the privilege of looking after a third of the world’s population. Through modern mechanisms of communication and sharing, we seek to ensure that advances in knowledge and the most appropriate ways of providing clinical care are promulgated to isolated communities and to practitioners working single-handedly with few opportunities easily to learn from each other and thus develop themselves professionally over their careers. That problem might be overcome through such a network created within the Commonwealth and supported through the recently relaunched Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. It will allow all opportunities for funding to be brought to bear in order to create the largest opportunity for communication and education among Commonwealth healthcare professionals. This will be strongly supported by UK institutions and therefore is a further representation of our potential soft power in this area.

I will finish with two important examples of where a focus on health has had a profound impact on our country’s global standing. The first is in the area of dementia, where the Prime Minister, using the opportunity of the presidency of the then G8, decided to put an international dementia strategy at the heart of G8 thinking. Dr Dennis Gillings was appointed to the position of World Dementia Envoy, and he has been able to move throughout the world, bringing parties together and helping other Governments to focus on dementia and the devastating impact that it will have in the coming years. Some 35 million people around the world are suffering from dementia at the moment; it is estimated that by 2050, the number will be more than 115 million. The appointment of an envoy will ensure that a global research effort to find new therapies to prevent and treat dementia could—and will—be established.

The second example is in the area of antimicrobial resistance. Increasingly, antibiotics, which have played such an important role in improving human health in recent decades, will become useless and ineffective. Through another initiative launched by Her Majesty’s Government, there is now a global task force, led by Mr Jim O’Neill, looking at the problem of antimicrobial resistance, trying to focus global healthcare research attention to this important problem that, if not addressed, will cost some 10 million lives by 2050 and will have had an accumulative cost of some $100 trillion to the global economy. These are very important representations of our country’s global contribution and a manifestation, therefore, of our soft power.

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7.21 pm

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab): My Lords, the report Persuasion and Power in the Modern Worldrepresents the very best that this House has to offer. It shows extraordinary strength, breadth and depth, and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and his committee on the excellent work that has been done. Indeed, it is more relevant today than it was a year ago when it was first published. I am quite envious of the fun that they obviously had on the committee.

The report recognises that the world is changing, and our ability to influence that change is being eroded as we are working in a changed environment. We are seeing new, powerful countries emerging. They want to strut their stuff on the global stage. We have social media and the development of this hyperconnected world, which means that individuals have information that they never had access to before. We have seen the rise and rise of massive corporations that have a bigger value than some of the countries of the world.

However, we still have to remember that soft power can have an impact. It is crucial as a mechanism to defend our interests and security, to enhance our reputation and to promote trade and prosperity. It is essential to bear in mind, with the rise of groups such as IS and Boko Haram, that the battle of ideas is as important as the battle of weapons, but it is not an alternative to hard power, as was emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. This shift to smart power, as my noble friend Lord Soley suggested, must be very carefully managed. We of course need a combination of soft and hard power. They have to be mutually reinforcing.

We first have to ask what our goal is in relation to soft power. One definition that is given in the report is that it is to try to get others to want the same as us. To do that, we need to be clear about who we are and what we want; to be clear in our political purpose, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, suggested. Do we want to engage with the world? Sometimes I wonder when we hear some of the mixed messages coming from the Government on things like visas.

It is essential, as the report outlines, that we also acquire a deeper understanding of how others see us. Our actions and activities in international organisations across the globe are important, but we are in real danger of seeing our influence decline, particularly with our key continental interlocutors at the European Commission. This does not mean that we see the world in a Eurocentric way: it means that we have an understanding that, if we want to influence the new world, it is best to do that through partnership with our EU colleagues. That decline in influence in the EU is something that we should be concerned about. The Tory—at best—ambivalent attitude towards the EU is damaging. We cannot see engagement, we cannot see influence and we certainly cannot see leadership.

The EU institutions are absolutely key in terms of influence and the people who work there are critical. The EU Commission UK staffing has reached a critically low level. A UK parliamentary report suggested that the number of UK nationals on staff at the Commission is 4.6% compared to France with 9.7%. On the staff of the European Parliament, the figure was 6.2%, which

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has gone down to 5.8% in three years. Why is it that we cannot recruit? We know that part of the answer is because of our deficiency in terms of language skills. It is a problem that we do not just have now: we are storing up problems for the future. I know the Government are aware of this, but is there any progress? Have we seen any progress in relation to this issue of our representation at the EU? It is worth underlining that because I know of a British Commission staff member who is in the process of taking up alternative nationality because of concerns about the UK’s ambivalent attitude towards the EU project. It is damaging and it is happening. These people are our eyes and ears on these organisations.

I would like to draw attention to the kinds of staff representing us as well and the need for diversity at the FCO. In 1998, Robin Cook drew attention to the fact that 48% of successful applicants to the FCO were from Oxbridge. He said that he wanted a less male-dominated FCO, with fewer from private schools. There have been improvements, but we need to go further in terms of reaching out beyond the usual suspects. We have a huge pool in the UK of first-generation UK citizens who move very easily from Farsi to English, Mandarin to English or Urdu to English. It is not essential that your ancestors came over with William the Conqueror in order to serve in the FCO. The failure of the FCO to reach its own targets on recruiting females does not fill me with confidence. Only 20% of the heads of missions overseas are female. Reflecting the diversity of the UK nation in our FCO staff is as important when giving a UK message to the world.

Beyond the Diplomatic Service, we have two absolute jewels in our soft power treasure box: the British Council and the World Service. So many Peers have talked about them today. I pay tribute to the British Council and thank all noble Lords who have talked about it. It needs support. The World Service has a world-class reputation. It is seen as independent and at arm’s length from politicians. That was also discussed in the report: the need for soft power to be seen as more independent. It is worth noting that there have been significant cuts in the service, with 22 bureaux cut, including the one in Ukraine. Radio programming in seven languages, including Russian and Ukrainian, was cut in 2010, although the Russian BBC online service has had that impressive reach that was outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie. This is at a time when 25 countries have launched their own English language world affairs outlet. Let us not throw away the head start that we have. Following up on the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Birt, on the influence that the FCO has on the World Service now that it has been effectively transferred to DCMS and the BBC funding pot, will the Government say what the relationship is between the FCO and the World Service today?

It is also worth asking whether UK soft power assets such as the BBC could be used for conflict prevention—not directly, of course, but could the BBC World Service, for example, broadcast factual programmes with examples of peaceful conflict resolutions, without taking any particular side and without compromising its independence? Could the

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Government also go further in engaging NGOs and the British diaspora to alert the Government to potential crises—listening, as my noble friend Lord Judd suggests?

I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, on her very impressive maiden speech. It was worth listening to the way that she underlined values and emphasised respect for evidence, accuracy and transparency and the consideration of opposing views. These are worthy British values and things that we need to underline. It is also worth taking up and considering the points made by the noble Lords, Lord Crisp and Lord Kakkar.

The UK is uniquely placed in terms of history, legacy and expertise. We have a huge advantage through being involved in a wide range of international institutions, such as the Commonwealth, where we have developed worthy reputations over generations. Again, this advantage should not be squandered. It is essential that we build on the strengths that we have, while recognising that the world has changed. Young people around the world today are as likely to watch young Brits sticking home videos on YouTube as representatives of the UK and UK values as they are to tune in to the World Service, but there is still a role for the state to contribute. There has been a shift in terms of economic power to the east and we need to recognise that the old structures are not the only way of co-operating.

We are just about to enter an election race which will determine what kind of country we will be in terms of interacting with the world. The report itself says that it will be difficult for the UK to portray itself as an open and tolerant country if, at the same time, we are engaged in an increasingly vitriolic debate about immigration. I dearly hope that any debate around the issue of immigration at the election will not damage our standing in the world and reduce our reputation as a tolerant nation. I hope that, as a country, we will not waste the advantage that we have but will encourage the use of these valuable assets in the area of soft power. It is essential that we remain an outward-looking country, open to the wider world, a world where we can influence with hearts and minds, not just with bullets.

7.32 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, this has been a very wide-ranging debate on a wide-ranging report. It is clearly going to be impossible for me to respond to all the points made, so I had better start by saying that I will do my best to write on some of the points that I am unable to cover. I loved the backwards compliment which the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, gave to the whole exercise when he said that, in the end, it was “quite an enjoyable experience”. I used to be a university teacher and recognise that students often say things like that.

There has been a lot of comment and study on the concept of soft power. Several noble Lords mentioned the excellent British Academy report, The Art of Attraction. There was also a British Council report, and we have talked about the relationship between soft power and hard power, with smart power coming in between. However, we have not talked very much about economic power. In our current relationship with Russia, economic power, in terms of the imposition

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of sanctions, and the attempt to produce smart sanctions that affect those who you are targeting in particular, is very much part of the mix that we are proposing. The problem with economic sanctions is that, like soft power, they are slow power and do not work immediately. With hard power, you can have an air strike or whatever; soft power takes years to build up and years to have effect. You have to invest in it and cannot be too deliberate about it, which is part of the problem but also the beauty of it. Much soft power grows over time, and only partly as a result of government action. As the British Academy report says, it is about reputation, trust and prestige. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, called part of this “moral authority”. That is perhaps a difficult thing for government to set out and build—it has to grow from a whole range of different aspects.

The importance of the rule of law and Britain’s reputation as a country in which we have a sound legal system is something which has taken a very long time to build up. As noble Lords have said, the Commonwealth in particular, with its shared tradition of common law, is part of that reputation, which has expanded. Culture, the quality of education, literature, music and theatre—the whole creative industry, which the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, talked about—take generations to grow. Sport has been mentioned, as have other institutions, the openness of society and the image of London as one of the world’s most international global cities. Civil society as such, our traditions of diversity and tolerance, and our history and our culture, are what we see as Britain’s soft power.

However, we have to be conscious that our power of attraction in a partly illiberal world has competitors. We even see some disillusioned and disadvantaged British citizens attracted by the image of radical Islam and going out to join ISIS. We see the Russian Government using the Orthodox tradition as a way of trying to grow soft power across eastern and south-eastern Europe. I stress that soft power has to be partly non-governmental: it depends on civil society. States in which government funds everything do not have soft power. One of the reasons why Britain and the United States continue to have great prestige and international reach—much of which is seen as an enormous threat by states such as China and Russia, and sometimes Saudi Arabia—is that we have all these autonomous and semi-autonomous institutions.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, spoke of our universities and schools in her wonderful maiden speech. As she spoke, I was sitting thinking about a Singaporean student I had who always stood to attention when he came in. I tried to persuade him that he should disagree with me and that that was the way to succeed, but it was a very difficult concept to get across. I am very conscious, having taught politics and international relations, that one’s students go on to do all sorts of interesting things around the world. I established my credibility as a new Minister in 2010 partly because a bunch of us went across to Brussels and, as the President of the Commission summed up our discussions over lunch, he said, “As Professor Wallace has said—I know you think of him as someone else, but I still think of him as Professor Wallace”. It did my reputation

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in government quite a lot of good. However, of course, these things are not all a one-way trade. I also remember going to Damascus some years ago with several of our colleagues and watching while President Assad was given a St Thomas’ tie to remind him of his time as a medical student in this country—it does not always bring that emotional tie which holds us all together.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, also talked about research networks, scientific research and, of course, the whole question of life sciences and health. I will return to that and merely say in passing that we saw the impact of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on global health in the Ebola campaign to a quite remarkable degree.

Our non-governmental organisations, which the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, talked about, are extremely important. They are partly supported by government but are also, very importantly, independent of government. Governments quite often get very irritated by them, but they give additional reach to the reputation of Britain and to British values. Then there are our think tanks. I used to work for a think tank and when I first went there I was appalled that the British Government gave us virtually no money and we were operating in an international world in which our French, Dutch, German, Italian and other counterparts were mostly or entirely funded by their Governments. However, as I got used to it, I recognised that we were meaner, hungrier and more up to the mark because we had to go out there and persuade people that they should fund what we were doing. After a month attached to a German think tank entirely funded by the German state, I came back very happy that we were not too dependent on state funds.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, that our museums and creative industries are not entirely funded by the state. There is a great battle as to how much they should be. Part of the reason why London has five world-class orchestras, four world-class music schools and a wonderful theatre infrastructure is that they are not entirely controlled by DCMS. They fight very hard, and politics in an open society is a fight for limited government funding. We have heard from a range of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, who would like us to fund a renewed Trident and a larger defence budget at the same time as we fund all those extra things. Actually, we cannot do all those things; we do what we can.

In his report, the noble Lord, Lord Howell, mentioned the British Museum as an asset and that the sending of the Cyrus cylinder to Tehran was a great example of cultural diplomacy and soft power. I understand that the Foreign Office was opposed to that when Neil MacGregor wanted to do it. It is a good thing that the British Museum had a degree of autonomy and sent it. I know that next year, the British Council will put a lot of effort into the Shakespeare anniversary, but I also note that the Globe Theatre is already engaged in a major project to produce Shakespeare in a range of different languages—again, the Government are supporting it, but others are also acting on their own. The noble Lord asked for more deliberate co-ordination of British soft power, but part of the reputation and value of British soft power is that it is not entirely

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co-ordinated. It grows, it competes with the Government, it often disagrees with whichever Government are there at the time and is not too state directed.

Of course, we have been concerned above all with government resources and government investment—in the BBC, in the British Council, in scholarships, in the aid programme, in the quality of diplomacy and resources of the Foreign Office and in defence engagement. However, I shall say just a little about one of the underlying issues in the report, which states in its summary that,

“the British need to feel confident in knowing who we are and what our role is in a transformed and turbulent world … There needs to be a long-term strategic narrative about the international role of the UK, promulgated from the centre of Government”.

That is about national self-confidence. We all need to be aware just how contested that is at present. We have a very confused attitude to British identity, Scottish identity, and our relationship with our neighbours across the channel and elsewhere. We should all remember —I have certainly been hearing this while canvassing in recent weekends—that those who most dislike our European neighbours are not those who wish to engage more with the Chinese and the Indians. They want the whole world to go away, sadly.

We see the diversity of our society—above all, London—as a major soft power asset, but outside London, as an excellent Chatham House report on British attitudes to the world suggests, an awful lot of the public, sadly, see the diversity of London as a threat and something which they would very much like to reduce. As we have heard throughout this debate, we see the BBC as one of Britain’s most precious global assets but, day by day, the Murdoch press, which sees it as a bitter competitor, and the Daily Mail, which sees it as a left-wing threat to Britain, do their best to suggest that the BBC is not the asset which the noble Lord, Lord Birt, and others, say that it is.

I should perhaps touch on Britain’s European commitments, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, suggested that there was a gap there. It is quite clear from the Prime Minister’s recent remarks and speeches throughout his time in office that he sees Britain’s future within a reformed European Union. We should all pay credit to the Prime Minister for how much effort he has put in to building and maintaining a closer relationship with Germany. The Foreign Secretary has just completed his visit to the 24th of the other 27 EU capitals since he took office, discussing our relations with them on a bilateral basis, and our reform agenda, so we are very much engaged and committed. Our European commitment is seen as the foundation for our global role.

Something that came forcefully to me when performing the balance of competences exercise within the EU was that the EU itself is a major international network intertwined with other global and regional networks. As I see from papers within the Foreign Office, British posts abroad work with their European partners, and DfID workers work with other European aid programmes together across the world.

We are talking about the various things that the Government do. Perhaps I may rapidly flag up some which have not been mentioned in the debate. Several

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noble Lords are members of the advisory board for the commemoration of World War I—a real exercise in soft power, as we saw last August with the Commonwealth commemoration in Glasgow at the end of the Commonwealth Games and the British-German commemoration in St Symphorien. That combined history, domestic education for the younger generation, reconciliation with former enemies and good will for former and current partners and allies.

The Commonwealth is of course very much a part of the projection of soft power and of its assets. As the noble Lords, Lord Janvrin, and Lord Luce, said, it is not just government to government, it is the non-governmental links—in particular, the legal links, as was suggested—which help to hold it all together, as well as the diasporas. I have been associated with Francis Maude’s open government initiative around the world, which has attracted a great deal of respect from Governments trying to come to terms with the digital revolution. I have noticed the role of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, with UK officials and scientists building a reputation as a country that is seriously engaged in persuading others of the case to deal with climate change.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, and others, talked about the role of the Government and others in sport and the enormous work that we have put in and which British posts are still putting in to promote the Paralympics around the world—which, as the noble Lord rightly said, also helps to change attitudes towards the disabled. The GREAT campaign has also been a major achievement and a great way to pull together in other countries the different aspects of government investment in soft power. Last week’s great festival of culture in Shanghai was opened by the Duke of Cambridge and celebrated the UK-China year of cultural exchange, for example.

Health was mentioned, particularly by the noble Lords, Lord Crisp and Lord Kakkar. Again, from what I see in government, I am well aware of the extent to which health networks and discussion with the Chinese, the Gulf states, Turkey and others about health programmes are very much part of the projection of Britain’s reputation abroad.

I think that it is the British Council and the BBC which are most important to people here. The FCO continues to fund the British Council at the rate of £162 million per year to support its global reach and impact—rightly, that is not all of the British Council budget, but it is part of it. As the triennial review stated:

“In a globalised, competitive world the UK needs a first class cultural diplomacy capability to further our national interests worldwide”.

The British Council is the main UK official body for that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Suttee, asked about Young Arab Voices. It is a jointly funded exercise with the Open Society Foundations and the Anna Lindh Foundation in which we are continuing to invest to help young people across north Africa to think much more openly about the world in which they live after the Arab spring.

The question of government scholarships was raised. The Government have tripled the funding for Chevening scholarships in developing countries between 2010

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and 2015-16. That is complemented by Commonwealth scholarships—which, I must say to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, are under review, but which will be continued.

The question of languages was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, and others. The Government are tackling this issue but we have gone an awful long way back in the last 20 years and it will take some time to pull us back together. The Foreign Office language centre is training people from other departments. We do not yet have a full record of who speaks what within Whitehall. When I was on the Civil Service Board, I spent some time trying to pull that together and I recall a fascinating conversation in which I was asked by an FCO official, “Do you know of anyone in the Civil Service who speaks Hausa?”. I did not, but we eventually found one in DWP. All those languages are there because we have a diverse community within Britain.

There are some severe problems of language in the question of the recruitment of Brits to international institutions, including the European Union. One of the reasons why it is so difficult to get British nationals into the European Union is that nationals from other countries almost all use English as their foreign language when they apply to the European Union. We, of course, cannot, and one is not allowed to use Polish or other second languages, so we have a severe problem there. The redevelopment of the European fast stream has helped in this regard but we all recognise that there is a long way to go.

Regarding the BBC World Service, we will of course be opening a discussion with the BBC on the future review. We recognise that the BBC itself is being transformed by the new media but the relationship with the FCO remains strong. The BBC and the FCO meet annually at Foreign Secretary, chairman and director level, and more regularly at lower levels. The question of languages is a matter for the BBC to raise with and put a case to the Foreign Office, and then for the Foreign Office to respond. I recognise the passion with which the BBC and its world services are defended here. I merely say that I trust that that passion will be conveyed as regularly as possible to all those who edit right-wing newspapers.

Visa policies have also been touched on. I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, that the Government intend that exit checks will be in place by the end of April 2015. We recognise that there are tremendous problems in striking the right balance with visas for students and non-students alike. I have to tell your Lordships that, on the doorstep, that is one of the most controversial issues in British politics at present.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, mentioned women and girls. I say with great compliments to William Hague and the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, who was his special adviser, that the British Government have put a huge amount into raising the rights of women and girls around the world. DfID and the Foreign Office continue to do so.

I am conscious that the time is now short and that I cannot cover all the other issues raised. I say merely that soft power grows out of both government and civil society. States in which Governments control most

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social and cultural institutions have little soft power. Government must nevertheless invest in the elements which constitute soft power, in partnership with others. It is part of the strength of Britain and the United States that we have private foundations which help to fund these things and do not have to rely so much on government. This Government—and, we hope, their successor—will continue to invest.

7.53 pm

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, it remains for me to thank your Lordships for your very favourable reception for this report. There were some terrific speeches and I think that we were all very pleased to hear the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf of Dulwich, about her expertise in universities. I hope that we will hear a lot more from her.

I am left with the overwhelming impression that there is a lot more to be said on this subject—not merely by the Minister, who has to fit within his time, but generally. So many leads were opened by fascinating speeches. The report probably should have said more on healthcare innovation. I very much take that point. The most reverend Primate was saying the other day that we should have said a bit more on religion and the churches, and we probably should have. I can tell my noble friend Lord Addington that the report gave quite a lot of coverage to sport. We had a number of hearings, which included the absolutely stunning statistic that 1.4 billion people watch English Premier League football on television. That is almost a quarter of the entire human race. There is no doubt where the source of sports inspiration comes from; it comes from this island and this country.

My final hope is that we do not just leave it here, so that this was a one-off debate on a one-off subject. In our report, we say, “Please could the National Security Council move on from dealing with incidents and look at this strategic issue once every six months?”. We also asked, “Please could a government department, maybe the Cabinet Office, report to Parliament at least once a year?”, and, “Please could we make it a habit of having annual debates, rather like the one we have just had today?”. Despite Dean Acheson’s jibe many decades ago, a very clear role has appeared for a nation like ours in this new digital world. We have the assets, the skills and the experience. All we have to do is to make them work much better.

Motion agreed.

Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Select Committee Report)

Motion to Take Note

7.56 pm

Moved by Lord Hardie

To move that this House takes note of the Report of the Select Committee on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Session 2013-14, HL Paper 139).

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Lord Hardie (CB): My Lords, I refer to my entry in the register of interests as honorary president of Capability Scotland.

In inviting the House to take note of the report of the Select Committee on the Mental Capacity Act 2005, I thank the members of the committee for their hard work and commitment throughout the inquiry. This was an arduous process, involving the assessment of written and oral evidence amounting to almost 2,000 pages. I also thank Judith Brooke, Tansy Hutchinson and Oswin Taylor—the committee’s clerk, policy analyst and committee assistant, respectively—and our specialist adviser, Professor Peter Bartlett, for their support and guidance throughout. That was invaluable and much appreciated by me and all members of the committee.

It is now a full year since the committee reported its findings. That may seem a long time to wait but in this case it provides the ideal opportunity to hold the Government to account for what they have done in response to our findings. It has also enabled the Government to change their mind about recommendation 13. It may assist the House if I explain that although there are 39 recommendations in the report of the Select Committee, recommendations 3 and 13 are the key ones. They concern, respectively, poor implementation of the Act and the need for replacement legislation for deprivation of liberty safeguards, or DoLS. These key recommendations underpin many of the other specific recommendations, with a few exceptions. In view of the time available, I propose to concentrate on the two key recommendations and the Government’s response to them. I hope that this approach will highlight what needs to be done to ensure the effective implementation of the Act and provide appropriate safeguards for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

The task of the committee was to consider whether the Act was working as Parliament intended. As enacted, the legislation did not include DoLS and it marked a turning point in the legal rights of people who may lack capacity, whether for reasons of dementia, learning disability, brain injury or temporary impairment. The Act placed those individuals at the heart of decision-making and introduced principles of the presumption of capacity, assisted decision-making and respecting unwise decisions, as we do in our own lives. It also provided protection for those who could not make their own decisions, even with help, by providing for decisions to be taken in a person’s best interests in the least restrictive manner. The Government expected it to bring about,

“a quiet revolution in public attitudes and practice”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 18/6/04; col. 68WS.]

However, even after 10 years that has not been achieved.

The overwhelming theme of our evidence was that the Act has not been widely implemented. That is our most important finding. I am pleased that the Government, in responding to our report, concurred with that finding. Their response said that,

“there is much work to be done if the transformative power of the MCA is to be felt by all those people for whom it was intended”.

This acknowledgement was particularly welcome, because when we embarked on our inquiry in June 2013 the departmental officials appeared confident

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that implementation of the Act had been a success. Nothing could have been further from reality. If nothing else, our committee has made the Government recognise that something has to be done.

When the committee referred to “poor implementation”, it is important to appreciate what that means in practice. It means that the core principles in Section 1 of the Act are not applied. It means that capacity assessments are often not carried out and, when they are, the quality is often poor. Often, those making their assessments do not appreciate that the assessment needs to be time-specific and decision-specific. Capacity is not always presumed when it should be; indeed, some of our witnesses suggested quite the opposite. Certain categories of individuals, such as those with learning disabilities and the elderly, were assumed not to have capacity unless proven otherwise.

In some cases the presumption of capacity was misunderstood, with dangerous consequences. Vulnerable adults were left at risk of harm, after disengaging from services without scrutiny of their capacity to make such a decision. The professionals involved referred to the statutory presumption of capacity, as if they were helpless to intervene. In healthcare settings, often the trigger for assessment of capacity was a refusal to accept treatment. We found this particularly disconcerting. It suggests that someone who may lack capacity but who is acquiescent is denied the protection of the Act. A vulnerable adult might undergo treatment without the relevant safeguards of the best interest test.

Supported decision-making is not well embedded in practice. Best interest decision-making is not undertaken as envisaged. In medical settings best interest decisions were widely confused with the notion of clinical best interests—in other words, the judgment of the treating clinician. The arrogation of such decisions to a medical practitioner is not lawful for patients with capacity. Why should vulnerable people be denied protection from unlawful intervention?

In referring to evidence of poor practice and failure to implement the core principles, I wish to emphasise that we also heard evidence of good practice, but the overwhelming weight of the evidence told us that that was exceptional. What were the causes of the failure to implement the Act? The most prominent one was lack of awareness, followed closely by lack of understanding. That fatal combination leads to a general failure to deliver important rights to vulnerable people.

Against that background the committee considered that the first task of government is to address urgently the very low levels of awareness of the Act, but we also recognise that awareness-raising alone will not change culture. A much wider approach is required, taking in training and professional standard-setting, and monitoring compliance across sectors. To achieve that we recommended that the responsibility for oversight of the Act’s implementation should be given to a single independent body, whose composition reflected the professional fields within which the Act operates, as well as the range of people directly affected by it and their families and carers. Most importantly, this body would drive implementation forward and act as a spur on those professional bodies and associations with a responsibility to ensure compliance. The committee

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firmly believed that this step was necessary if the benefits of the legislation were to be realised. That was the first of our two key recommendations.

It was a grave disappointment that the Government did not accept that recommendation in their response. The reasons for rejecting our recommendation seem to be related in part to the breadth of sectors covered by the Act and the associated difficulty of the task in designing a single body, coupled with a fear that such a body would result in people involved in the Act failing to accept personal responsibility for its implementation. I note that in their response the Government do not suggest that the task is impossible. Many tasks are difficult but well worth the effort if they achieve a successful outcome. In this case a successful outcome would be the restoration to many thousands of vulnerable people rights conferred on them 10 years ago, but denied to them because of failures of professionals in different sectors to implement this Act.

The breadth of sectors has been part of the problem in the past, with no single body having the responsibility for ensuring compliance across all sectors. I do not accept that a single body would remove personal responsibility from individuals. Rather, it would monitor and reinforce personal responsibility. What is the Government’s counter-proposal to our single independent body with overall responsibility for implementation? In November of last year the Minister, Simon Hughes, announced the Government’s intention to establish a new national mental capacity forum. While I am delighted that the Government are acting to bring together relevant stakeholders, I am concerned that the proposed forum is precisely that: a forum—or, in common parlance, a talking shop with no power or responsibility to drive forward implementation of the Act.

A further concern is the apparent lack of urgency taken to address this matter. The letter from the Minister and the accompanying schedule, for which I am extremely grateful but which was sent out last night, suggests that the recruitment for the post of chair will get under way imminently and that the first meeting of the forum will be in the autumn. Why has there been a delay of four months in the application process and why will the first meeting be a year after the Minister’s announcement? The process appears to be very slow and to lack transparency. Perhaps the Minister here can provide further detail this evening. What will be the remit and powers of the forum? Who will sit on it? How will members be selected? Will the forum have a sufficiently high profile to make a real difference? I would be grateful if the Minister could reply to these points.

However, I emphasise that my fundamental objection to this proposal by the Government is that it is not a solution to the widespread problems, across all sectors, of failure to implement the Act, and to give vulnerable people the voice and empowerment that Parliament conferred upon them in 2005. In short, it will not bring about the quiet revolution in public attitudes and practice promised 10 years ago. That will only be realised if the Select Committee’s recommendation 3 is implemented in full.

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Our second principal finding and recommendation concerns DoLS. Criticism of the safeguards was extensive. It came from all parts of the process, those with direct experience of the safeguards as well as solicitors, academics, service users and the judiciary. The criticism was not just about how the safeguards were being implemented. It was about the legislation itself. The purpose behind the safeguards was generally supported, but the provisions themselves were considered overly complex, poorly drafted and having no relationship to the language or ethos of the rest of the Act.

The number of applications was considered suspiciously low by many of our witnesses and it became apparent that in many cases the safeguards were not being applied when they should have been. Witnesses suggested that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of individuals were detained without the protection of the law and without the means to challenge their deprivation. Individuals were left without the safeguards that Parliament intended. That evidence was borne out by the Cheshire West judgment, handed down by the Supreme Court the week after our report was published. Following that decision the number of applications for DoLS in the first nine months of 2014 was 90,000, compared to a total of only 13,000 made throughout the previous 12 months.

It also appeared to the committee that the Bournewood gap had not been closed by the introduction of DoLS. In the face of such wide-ranging criticism the committee was forced to conclude that the only possible course of action was to ask the Government to start again. We recommended that the Government bring forward new provisions that would be in keeping with the rest of the Act. They should be drafted in clear and simple language in order to be understood. They should be extended to include adults in supported living. The interface with the Mental Health Act needs to be made clearer to avoid new gaps arising from the overlap of those two pieces of legislation.

The initial response of the Government did not accept that there was a fundamental flaw in the legislative framework. Instead, the Government offered to instruct the Law Commission to propose a new framework to allow for deprivation of liberty authorisations in supported living. The inclusion of supported living in the authorisation scheme was welcome but was far too narrow to meet the far-ranging criticism which we had heard. I am delighted therefore to learn that the Government have now initiated a fundamental review of the DoLS legislation by the Law Commission. I understand that the Law Commission intends to publish its report and a draft Bill by summer 2017. I consider this the right course of action in the light of our findings, and I am grateful to the Government for changing their mind.

Concerns have been raised by stakeholders about the timetable for new legislation. It appears likely that, with the time required for pre-legislative scrutiny following the publication of the Law Commission’s draft Bill, we may not see new legislation on the statute book until 2020. Good legislation takes time. Our report called for the new provisions to be consulted on widely and for adequate time to be allocated to parliamentary scrutiny. That is necessary in order to get it right, but I urge the next Government to give this matter a fair

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wind. It is of fundamental significance to the rights of tens of thousands of vulnerable adults in England and Wales and deserves to be addressed at the first opportunity.

In conclusion, I welcome the Government’s acceptance of recommendation 13, but I wish to impress upon the House that there is no cause for complacency about implementation. The failures we identified in our report continue. Callers to the Mencap helpline continue to report that understanding of the Act among health and social care professionals is extremely limited and that it is often applied incorrectly. Family members continue to be excluded from best interest decisions if, indeed, the best interest process is engaged at all. There is still a pressing need to increase awareness and understanding to prevent the Mental Capacity Act withering on the vine. Nothing short of culture change is needed to ensure that vulnerable people are no longer failed by the Government and are empowered as Parliament intended them to be in 2005.

I hope that the Government will realise the inadequacy of their proposed forum and appreciate that the solution proposed by the Select Committee is the only one that will ensure implementation of the Act. I urge the Government to change their mind about recommendation 3, as they did about recommendation 13. That, coupled with the other recommendations accepted by the Government, in whole or in part, would result in a clean sweep of the Select Committee’s recommendations but, more importantly, would ensure that people were empowered to take decisions while enjoying the support and protection of society that they might need. I beg to move.

8.13 pm

Baroness Browning (Con): My Lords, I refer the House to my declarations in the register. I join the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, in his thanks to all those who supported the committee. I take this opportunity to thank the noble and learned Lord for his wise chairmanship of this committee. The members of the committee very much benefited from him sitting in that chair and giving us the benefit of his opinion as our deliberations progressed.

I shall focus on recommendation 13 and the deprivation of liberty for people who are particularly vulnerable. The Government’s initial response to the committee’s recommendations was:

“We do not believe that there is a fundamental flaw in the legislative framework underpinning the current deprivation of liberty system”.

I sat on the pre-legislative scrutiny committee for the Mental Capacity Act; that seems like a lifetime ago now. I was also on the committee that took the Bill through the House of Commons and had the privilege of sitting on the post-legislative committee. I think the Government were somewhat cavalier in that comment because right the way through from start to finish there has always been debate and concern about this aspect of the legislation, not least about the Bournewood judgment. There was much debate about whether it should go into the Mental Capacity Act or the Mental Health Act, and nobody could quite make up their mind, so the idea that there is not a fundamental flaw is something the Government should have considered

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in a lot more depth than they did when they sent their response to the committee. However, I move on because the Minister has circulated more information about what the Government now intend to do and, like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, I welcome the fact that they will make changes following the Law Commission report. None the less, I hope the Government will understand just how complex this is. The Winterbourne View report was shared with Members of the House in a meeting convened by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins. The Mental Capacity Act was not mentioned or used at all at Winterbourne View, yet the patients there were a very mixed group of people. I contend that not only should those people not have been detained there, but many of them should not have been in Winterbourne View at all. It was quite inappropriate.

Only last week I attended an autism conference in Harrogate, where 39 Essex Chambers gave an interesting and profound presentation on the code of practice for the Mental Health Act. It is extremely relevant to the work that the Law Commission now intends to undertake, and I shall share a little of it with the House. Looking at the Mental Health Act code of practice as it now stands, on the question of avoiding detention at all, as 39 Essex Chambers advised us:

“Learning disabilities and autism share few features with the serious mental illnesses that are the most common reason for using the Act, and so consideration should be given to whether detention of a person with learning disability or autism is appropriate.

Hospitals are not homes, and most support for people with a learning disability or autism should be provided in a local community setting.

Detaining a person with learning disabilities or autism under the Act because there is no treatment available for them in the community is not a substitute for appropriate commissioning of care”.

One of the shocking features of Winterbourne View and other institutions—it was not unique—is that not only are people placed in them for the wrong clinical reason, but they are a long way away from their relatives or carers, who do not have access to them and are very often rebuffed. As a Member of Parliament for 18 years, with an interest in autism and dealing with many cases around the country of people on the autism spectrum being inappropriately detained, I cannot count the number of mothers—it seemed to be mothers in particular—who spoke to me about going to a hospital or home where their adult children were detained, only to be told, “We don’t think it appropriate for you to visit them, because it upsets them whenever you come”. Of course it does. If one of us were detained, clearly for the wrong reasons, and somebody close to us came to visit, I think that we would all be pretty emotional and upset. Yet that is used as an excuse to keep family and carers away, when they have an insight into that how that person functions, and could easily contribute to making the right decisions—the best interest decisions—on what the next steps for that person should be.

I had a recent conversation with a consultant forensic psychiatrist who expressed concern about the fact that although the Government are trying hard to move people out of institutions where they have been detained inappropriately, some of the decisions on moving them,

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and where to move them to, are not personally focused on the individual patient. “Best interests” are about the individual and the particular decision being made, yet that consultant said that in the present haste to get people out of institutions and into the community—something that we would all support—the methodology being employed means that decisions are often taken by people who have never even met the person concerned. One cannot say that such decisions will be best interest decisions.

I ask the Minister: can we have a parallel system running between now and when the Law Commission report comes in? For existing patients who need appropriate packages of care—people who need to be moved and have their liberty restored—much more attention would be paid to the way in which they are assessed, who does the assessment and, in particular, what the services and care packages are like where they are being moved to. It is not enough simply to tick a box and move them out. Many people who have been inappropriately detained have been medicated in detention—again, I would say, inappropriately—so there is a need for a great deal of expertise in the community in relation to the packages provided for those people.

I welcome what my noble friend and the rest of the Government are going to do, and I welcome the Law Commission report. But I say to my noble friend that they cannot afford to be complacent in this area. This has gone on for far too long.

8.22 pm

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): My Lords, this important report shows that the laudable principles of the Mental Capacity Act have clearly not been realised as was hoped. I will focus on a few failures of the rollout in routine NHS care, particularly in relation to advance decisions to refuse treatment, advance statements of wishes and the issues around best interest decisions. I have a Question for Short Debate on DoLS next week, which this debate will inform.

The Government’s response and Box 1 of the excellent post-legislative scrutiny report both highlight the underlying principles for the purposes of the Act. They are clearly written, and when the Bill was going through this House they seemed clear. However, misunderstandings have continued, with a failure to acknowledge that mental capacity is decision and time specific, and frequently fluctuates in those who are seriously ill and undergoing treatment. Indeed, even small doses of commonly taken medication can sometimes alter and distort a person’s thinking.

One difficulty is that healthcare professionals are not trained to assess capacity over time. There is a risk-averse culture across the NHS, which leads staff such as nurses and social workers in particular to be fearful of assessing capacity in case their decision is subsequently tested or challenged. It becomes easier to delay or defer or say that it is somebody else’s responsibility, even though the Act very clearly states that the healthcare or social care professional with the patient should consider and act to enhance capacity for the particular decision to be taken.

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Why have expectations not been met? Perhaps it is partly through failure to deliver effective training. I have been involved in teaching medical postgraduates about the Mental Capacity Act and participated in training programmes run by others for health and social care professionals. I have been repeatedly struck by the ability of trainers to make this ever more complicated. Then the principle of empowerment of the individual becomes lost, as risk-averse staff excessively focus on process and on the duty to protect. We know from other aspects of healthcare that simple messages are effective, while complex messages create muddle, yet many of these training programmes seem inordinately complex. Trainees often seem to have a patchy understanding of the principles and keep searching for a tick-box type of framework, because they are risk averse; the culture around risk aversion has sapped their confidence in their own ability to assess, and they hesitate to enable others to meet the patient’s needs and wishes, particularly when these may seem unusual or could be classified as possibly a competent but unwise decision. The requirement to take all practical steps to help a person to take a decision are often inadequately attended to, so someone is labelled as lacking capacity when the decision could be deferred until acute delirium is resolved, for example, and even a hearing aid repaired.

I turn to the issue of advance decisions to refuse treatment. The terminology is indeed confusing, as the report highlights. The term “advance directives” is dangerous, because a person cannot direct somebody to do something to them at some time in future should they lose capacity. For example, a person with cancer cannot direct that they will have radiotherapy or neurosurgery in the event of getting a brain metastasis, but they may state in advance of the event of that happening they would not want surgery or another specific treatment. In other words, they can refuse treatment in advance. Perhaps the shorthand should be “advance refusals”, not the misleading terminology of “advance directives” or “living wills”, or whatever.

The principle of an advance refusal underpins “Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” and also can underpin good care planning. A person may not want CPR, but simply to say “Do not attempt resuscitation” cannot be considered valid, because it is so non-specific that the clinicians cannot be held by law to withhold absolutely everything unless the documentation states what that absolutely everything is. Is it fluids in the event of dehydration, blood in the event of a massive haemorrhage, or antibiotics in the event of sepsis, and so on? All are resuscitative measures.

In Wales, our new national DNACPR policy will ensure that the patient has a copy of the form and that one form is used across all care settings, in line with the spirit of enforceable advance decisions to refuse treatment. An advance refusal must also be included in the electronic patient record as part of their care plan and must be available to everyone in hours and out of hours who might be involved in a patient decision. For example, an ambulance crew must know of a DNACPR decision when they are on their way to respond to a call. That is how it will be possible to

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avoid the distressing situation when an ambulance crew feels that it has to attempt CPR while the family are objecting.

Many people are fearful of heroic measures being undertaken in the event of them collapsing in the street, and I have explored whether a medic-alert bracelet or pendant might be a way of a person carrying their DNACPR policy with them. However, until its validity can be assured, there is little appetite for this idea. Advance statements of wishes were included in the Act, thanks to the tireless efforts of the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, who is speaking after me. She rightly argued for equipoise around advance decisions, and it is these advance statements of wishes that have formed the basis of good individualised care plans.

In my closing time, I want to deal with best interest decisions, which are poorly understood. As the report highlights, there is confusion between best interest decisions and clinical decisions; families do not understand why they are not a proxy decision-maker automatically, particularly as they will be asked to consent to organ donation, for example, after a person’s death. It is striking how often families want more intervention and treatment, not less, when end-of-life decisions have to be made, and how many times they have a complete misunderstanding of what is going on.

One difficulty often for patients and their families is lack of clarity over who exactly is in charge of care—in other words, which clinician at the end of the day takes the decision. I hope the initiative of the Royal College of Physicians of having the consultant’s name over the bed will help deal with this. It is important for all the disciplines in the clinical team to recognise that, ultimately, that one consultant will carry the can when a best interest decision has to be made and will be answerable for it.

As my colleague, Dr Regnard, who gave evidence to the committee, argued, a central role of this Act is when decision-making must determine best interests, as distinct from best clinical practice judgments. A best interest decision must be in the interests of that person and, when in doubt, there is a principle of default to life. Indeed, when somebody is dead they are longer a person. Death is inevitable for us all, but as a corpse we have no personal interests. It was because of the anxiety over what happens if somebody is brought into an emergency department, and their family, or another person, come in waving an advance decision to refuse treatment and the inability to determine its validity, that we felt when the legislation was going through that the ultimate default to life was the safest option.

There is ongoing tension between safeguarding and empowering. There is an ongoing tension between confidentiality and openly discussing issues with people important to the person who has lost capacity for one or more decisions. I would suggest that we need to roll out clear straightforward messages across health and social care if we are to clear the current fog that surrounds this well intentioned and laudable piece of 2005 legislation.

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8.31 pm

Baroness Barker (LD): My Lords, I too was a member of the committee and I wish to thank the staff who assisted us in our deliberations. I really want to thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, whose chairmanship was outstanding. I also want to put on record our thanks to Hammersmith and Fulham Mencap. The Minister and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, and I spent a memorable morning with Hammersmith and Fulham Mencap.

On my shelves I have what has now become something of an artefact. It is the code of practice from the original passing of the Act in 2005. There are not very many hard copies of that remaining. The visit to Hammersmith and Fulham reminded me, in ways that I needed to hear, that much though we had been through a deliberative process of determining ethical principles and standards, what we passed in that legislation was dramatically important to individual people who lacked capacity.

It was almost inevitable that legislation that was founded on principles which include a presumption that every individual has capacity and that individuals retain the right to make what may be seen as eccentric or unwise decisions was always going to be difficult to implement. I think that we in this House, at the time we did that, knew that the need for this legislation would only grow. Not only do we have a growing number of people with learning disability, but we also have a growing number of people with dementia. What we found, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, set out so eloquently in his introduction to this report, was that the implementation of this Bill has been patchy. What I think does not perhaps come through clearly enough from our report is that where there were outstanding examples of good implementation of the report it was often down to the lone efforts of an individual practitioner—quite often on the front line. Some of the poorest practice was institutional and some of the institutions that are not implementing this legislation as issued are the very ones to which it was directed. I am disappointed that the Government did not take up our suggestion that there should be an independent forum. The suggestion was put forward in light of the experience of the noble Baroness, Lady Shephard, as part of the Mental Health Act Commission that was set up after the passage of the Mental Health Act in 1983. That legislation has been implemented well. The professions have a clear understanding of what their obligations are and the implementation is and was closely monitored by Mental Health Act commissioners. That is why we made our recommendation.

I share the widespread reservations about the proposed mental capacity forum. I do not see how it will have the power or capacity to challenge some of the deep-seated resistance there is, not least among professionals, to the implementation of the law. I challenge the Minister to publish transparent information about the forum so that it is accessible to all who wish to apply to be on it and to ensure that it comes into existence in time for the forthcoming consultation by the Law Commission on the important matter of DoLS. I do not wish to talk about DoLS today. The noble Baroness, Lady Browning,

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and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, indicated the importance of that subject. I would simply say that although we were dedicated as a group, and we had great expertise at our fingertips on the Select Committee, we only began to scratch the surface of the issue. We did not, for example, consider what happens to specific groups of people who are deprived of their liberty, such as young people as opposed to old people, and in different settings. There is need for greater research.

I wish to focus on one or two parts of our report that might otherwise go unmentioned. Section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act deals with the criminal law provisions where a person who has care of someone who lacks capacity is guilty of neglect or ill treatment. Very few cases have been brought under Section 44. In fact, there were 85 cases in 2012, of which 36 were found guilty. We are talking about an Act that applies potentially to 2 million people. Solicitors and barristers who, by nature, are people not given to bold statements told us in terms that Section 44, as currently written, is thoroughly deficient. We were greatly assisted by colleagues from the Law Society of Scotland, who pointed that under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 there is no need to establish whether someone had capacity or whether the perpetrator of an act knew that the person had incapacity in order to determine that a crime had taken place. I therefore find myself in agreement with those who said that Section 44 needs to be changed as a matter of urgency. If a crime is perpetrated against someone, it matters not one jot whether the perpetrator knew that they lacked capacity.

On the matter of professionals, professional bodies and their implementation of the Mental Capacity Act, chapter 4 of the report is hard hitting, and rightly so. I say to people who think that we are being unduly hard, particularly on the medical profession, that they really should go and look at the evidence provided to us in writing and orally by bodies such as the Royal College of General Practitioners. I understand the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was making and it is true that this legislation has a disproportionate bearing on different parts of the medical profession. The bearing that it has on an A&E practitioner is different from the way in which it is likely to impact on the professional judgment of a psychiatrist. None the less, the medical profession as a whole has to come to some agreement on, and have some consistency about, the way in which it applies this law. It was not good enough for the Royal College of General Practitioners to say to us that GPs would not routinely spend time with patients making advance statements because it is “not part of” the GP contract. Well, it is the law. I have to say that I had a great deal of sympathy with the Royal College of General Practitioners when it said that it did not understand what the status of such a document would be and how it would be viewed by other people in other parts of the NHS. It seems to me that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is right. There is a need for consistency across the NHS.

Our visit to the Court of Protection was truly impressive. I am very glad that the Court of Protection is going to get more staff and that the process of making an application to it has become a great deal

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easier. We passed a great piece of legislation in 2005 but we need to increase the quality of the monitoring and evaluation of its implementation across government.

8.40 pm

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (CB): My Lords, this is a most distinguished and impressive report and I respectfully congratulate my noble and learned friend Lord Hardie and others who contributed, many of whom are speaking in this debate. I confine myself, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, to the second of the key recommendations, which concerns deprivation of liberty. More particularly, I want to deal with this in the context of last year’s Supreme Court judgment in the two cases that came to it on appeal.

As my noble and learned friend Lord Hardie has noted, the Select Committee’s report was published just six days before the Supreme Court judgment came out in March. The judgment, therefore, was not considered by the committee but is referred to in the Government’s response of June last year, although—I shall come back to this—it should be regarded as giving altogether greater impetus and urgency to the committee’s report than the Government seem to have recognised.

It may be helpful if I make one or two preliminary observations about the Supreme Court’s judgment. I am conscious of next Monday’s QSD on this from the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, but—alas—I shall probably not be able to take part in that debate. The judgment, however, is also highly relevant to today’s debate. The court consisted of seven justices and split four to three. The two cases before it both arose out of community care orders for mentally incapacitated persons placed variously with a foster mother, in a specialist home for adolescents, and in a house with live-in carers. The question in each case was whether the various restrictions on their movements involved a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, because the MCA provides that the deprivation of liberty under the Act has the same meaning as in Article 5.1.

The question, therefore, necessarily fell to be determined by reference to the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg court. It being agreed by all seven justices that the Strasbourg court had never yet had to deal with the particular situation arising in those two cases, the critical question was which way the justices felt Strasbourg would decide it. The 4:3 split was on the answer to that question. I decline to say which way I might have resolved it—it is irrelevant, and I did not hear all the arguments—but suffice to say that it was, in any view, a borderline decision. There was a large measure of agreement between all seven justices.

It can fairly be said that the facts of those three cases represent about the furthermost examples of what the English courts—and the Strasbourg court—would conclude involves a deprivation of liberty. Not only were the dissenting judgments themselves powerful but their approach agreed with that of the six judges in the two courts of appeal to which the appeals came, who included Lord Justice Wilson, now a Supreme Court justice, and Lord Justice Munby, now President of the Family Division. That said, the Supreme Court

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judgment clearly establishes that very many more authorisations of deprivation of liberty are required under the MCA than had previously been appreciated.

Of course, these authorisations are in two distinct categories. There are those concerning people detained in hospitals and care homes requiring DoL authorisation under Schedule A1 procedures; and there are those for people before the Supreme Court detained in community settings, such as supported living and shared lives schemes, whose placements require authorisation under Section 16 by the Court of Protection. The DoL system has no present application at all to the second category.

The leading judgment for the majority in the Supreme Court was given by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Hale, who herself observed that the safeguards for these cases appear “of bewildering complexity”. She recognised that those responsible for deciding whether a case indeed involves deprivation of liberty may,

“baulk at the bureaucracy of the procedures and the time they take”.

The BMA has said:

“The primary concern with the DOLs is their complexity and bureaucracy”.

In an earlier case, Mr Justice Charles, experienced in this field, described writing a judgment about these schedules as feeling,

“as if you have been in a washing machine and spin dryer”.

The Care Quality Commission report of 2 February this year, while welcoming the clarity provided by the Supreme Court’s decision, points to the huge increase in the number of requests for authorisation: in the case of requests from hospitals and care homes, eight times the number—my noble and learned friend Lord Hardie mentioned an increase from 13,000 to 90,000—and a climb also in respect of requests for community settings. The CQC report notes that at the end of September last year there were more than 19,000 applications outstanding compared with 359 at the end of 2013-14.

Against that background, the Select Committee’s recommendations surely assume yet greater importance and urgency, and one wonders whether the response has been sufficiently positive. It is true that the response at paragraph 7.21 states that by the end of November 2014 a new set of DoLS forms would be created. I simply do not know whether they have or have not been. It is true, too, that in the next paragraph the response states that there is a commitment to publish legal guidance on this topic by the end of 2014. Again, I do not know whether that did or did not happen but, frankly, it would not have been very difficult.