The Government have taken measures to increase the educational attainment of children in care. They include the pupil premium of £1,900 per looked-after child, and the rollout of the virtual school head role across the country. However, it is important that this focus on education is not disconnected from the goal of ensuring young people secure employment when they leave care. In fact, one of the key objectives of our education system must be to help young people to make an effective transition from education and care to the world of work.

The difficulties begin early. A simple lack of knowledge of the world of work limits young people's career options. The only adults with whom some children in care come into contact are those who are paid to look after them, limiting their range of role models. As a result, those who aim high often say that they want to be social worker or a teacher—excellent in themselves, but not suitable for all. Low aspirations, sometimes born of rejection, can be devastating and, sadly, this can be reinforced by the low expectations that some professionals can have of children in care.

Even if young people have aspirations and the knowledge to act on them, significant barriers to care leavers securing employment can remain due to poor “soft skills”, including self-management, team-working abilities, and communication. These have to be developed while growing up; otherwise, young people struggle to find employment. Charities such as the Drive Forward Foundation report that those who have grown up in care are often severely lacking in these abilities, with highly negative results. That is where programmes such as ThinkForward, which is delivered in partnership with Impetus, the Private Equity Foundation, and Tomorrow's People in Tower Hamlets, Islington and Hackney can be absolutely transformative. They provide highly trained coaches, offering stable one-to-one support through challenges at home and school, for young people identified at the age of 14 as at risk of becoming NEET. Many of those young people are children in care. Each pupil has their own action plan and the coach will broker work opportunities for them. In 2013, some 95% of the young people who had been supported by this programme and their coaches successfully made the transition into post-16 education, employment or training.

I am absolutely convinced that the model of ThinkForward coaches is particularly valuable for children in care. The coaches stick with the young person through any other instabilities such as school moves and changes of career. They build up a relationship with the young person and can nurture and push them to achieve in a way that no one else has ever done before. This is currently being piloted in east London using money from the DWP Innovation Fund. I would think that I had died and gone to heaven if every young person had access to this opportunity. So I will ask the Minister again if she will find a way to get

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business, the community and the voluntary sector together along with the Government to find a way of putting a financial package together that would enable young people to have this experience. By tracking the outcomes, I hope that we will be able to make the case for all young people in care to be given this help.

Responsible parents do all they can to help young people prepare for work and nurture their ambition. The corporate parent should do no less.

1.56 pm

Lord Russell of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, for initiating this debate. I declare an interest as a trustee of the charity Coram, part of whose activities is Coram Voice, which does a great deal with the young people we are talking about today. I would also like to apologise in advance for my voice. This morning her ladyship advised me to stay put, but I ignored her advice and I hope that I was correct in doing so.

I congratulate the coalition on bringing the legislation in last year. This is something that Cross-Benchers do not necessarily do very often, but it is a remarkably progressive piece of legislation, and thanks are due where they are deserved. It was never going to be easy to implement either quickly or seamlessly because there are so many moving parts, so it is extraordinarily difficult for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. It is easy to focus instinctively on what seems not to be working rather than to notice what is.

I have three brief questions that I would like to ask the Minister. First, can the Government please take action to identify those local authorities which are essentially in the top decile for performance and outcomes, and to try to codify, disseminate and spread that information as quickly as possible? The noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, mentioned the scorecards approach. It may sound rather businesslike, but it works. If you measure things that will stop a lot of discussion because facts tend to bring talking about what might be to a fairly rapid halt. Facts help, and we are talking about young people here, not units of production.

Secondly, on 30 October last year the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Nash, replied to a Question for Written Answer tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, about children in residential care. At that point the Minister said that the department was thinking about what should be done in the area. Can the Minister please update us on what the Government feel about the practicality of introducing a legal duty on local authorities that would require them to extend “staying put” to residential care? If this is not viewed as practical, what alternatives are under consideration?

Thirdly, if a young person has complex needs resulting from disability or mental health problems, he or she needs to be assessed by adult social care or psychiatric services. Statutory guidance states that this should be done well before his or her 18th birthday. In practice, these assessments are often considerably delayed, which directly impacts on adequate staying-put provision being made. Is the Minister aware of this problem, and what is her assessment of the situation? If it is recognised as a problem, what can be done to resolve it?

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I have a final observation. More and more young adults—including my three children, otherwise known as cost centres 1, 2 and 3—are still living at home in their 20s. An awful lot of young people in this rather challenging economic environment are doing exactly the same, trying to puzzle out how to reach even the first rung on the housing ladder. How very fortunate they are, even if many do not realise it, that they have a home and family to go back to every evening. If it feels difficult for them, what on earth must it feel like for a young person leaving care and hoping that their future will not be defined and limited by their past?

2 pm

Lord Empey (UUP): My Lords, like others, I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, has done the House a service in securing this debate at this time. Although it focuses specifically on leaving care, there has barely been a week or month in the last couple of years when the problems that are being experienced by young people in care have not been in the headlines, and some of those headlines have made very worrying reading.

Stable relationships with reliable adults are absolutely pivotal for a good transition out of care and into adult life. That, in part, is why we introduced the Going the Extra Mile scheme in Northern Ireland, which has allowed young people in education, employment and training to remain with their foster carers until the age of 21. That scheme was introduced before the staying-put scheme was even piloted in England. As a result, 28% of 19 year-old care leavers in Northern Ireland are now living with their former foster carers.

The absence of meaningful role models for many young people, especially males, means that many are left at the mercy of paramilitary elements and criminal gangs. Sadly, as in other regions, our mental health situation is not improving.

Nevertheless, for the reasons that we have already heard, living with former foster carers is not the right option for all young people. In these cases, local authorities—or in Northern Ireland, the health and social care trusts—have the duty to provide a personal adviser. That should be the fail-safe mechanism to ensure that there is always someone young people can turn to for support. I should point out that, in Northern Ireland, our health and social care services are integrated, so that social services and health work under trusts and are not the responsibility of local authorities.

As the House of Commons Education Select Committee highlighted last year, it must sometimes be better for local authorities to appoint someone with whom the young person already has an established relationship as a personal adviser. Under regulations, it is possible for a young person’s personal adviser to be someone whom they already know, rather than introducing a new professional into their life. However, I am informed by the Centre for Social Justice that this rarely, if ever, happens in England. Here, again, I think that Northern Ireland has been ahead of the curve. Under our system, some young people are appointed what is known as a “person-specific” personal adviser; an individual the young person chooses to be their personal adviser, allowing a relationship to continue.

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A huge range of individuals have been employed as PSPAs. They might, for example, be a former foster carer, a family member, an independent advocate, a classroom assistant, a youth worker or even a boxing instructor. It is particularly relevant to the debate around appropriate provision for children in residential care who cannot stay put that the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which is currently using the approach most extensively, has used a number of residential care workers as PSPAs. This has worked very well as they have a deep understanding of and commitment to the young person and bring skills and expertise to the role.

One of the crucial advantages of the PSPA role is that it allows the trusts to stay in touch with young people with whom they would otherwise have lost contact, the consequence of which is that they cannot access financial support. In England, by the age of 19, 11% of care leavers are not in meaningful contact with their local authority or are no longer receiving services. Some of these young people are the most vulnerable; they have had a poor experience of care and therefore reject yet another new professional coming into their life. Our newspapers are full these days of the consequences of the failure of that system.

Such young people therefore benefit enormously from the appointment of a PSPA. Where the PSPA function has been used well, very few young people have lost touch with their trust. That is not to say the system has been without hiccup. Human resources in some trusts have been highly reluctant to create contracts for each PSPA. As a result, coverage is patchy. I know that the trusts are coming back to look at how the function can be used more extensively, and I urge them to do so.

I also urge the Department for Education to take a proactive stance on this issue for England. The most basic provision DfE could make would be to introduce easy-to-use model contracts to hire PSPAs, which has proved so crucial to getting the model off the ground in Northern Ireland. In fact, I urge the DfE and local authorities to talk to our commissioners and trusts in Northern Ireland to learn from the benefits of the system and the challenges that we have confronted, particularly with regard to the human relations issues. It would be a travesty if, due to technical issues, we lost the opportunity to provide meaningful support beyond 18 for some of the most vulnerable care leavers of all, who at the greatest point of vulnerability in their lives, can fall prey to gangsters and evildoers of all kinds and squander the opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling and productive life.

2.07 pm

Lord Farmer (Con): My Lords, I, too, am grateful to my noble friend Lady Eaton for securing this debate about how well we look after our most vulnerable care leavers. As she pointed out, if one is not eligible for staying put, it means that one has not had the benefit of a stable foster placement to stay put in.

She also mentioned how often young people who are leaving care lack the indispensable ingredient we all need to live meaningful lives: safe, stable and nurturing

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relationships. Loss of family relationships can leave a very big hole in someone’s life, and I will focus my remarks on how the corporate parent can ensure that that hole is filled with people and opportunities that will do young people good and help them avoid repeating the cycle of disadvantage they were often born into.

As I have said before in this Chamber, for a child to surface, somebody somewhere needs to be crazy about them. Without ongoing input from adults and others who genuinely care about them, young people will seek security and comfort elsewhere. For example, early sexual experiences, which are often deeply regretted, can lead to young women being entangled in abusive relationships, often with much older men, as well as early pregnancy.

However, good relationships rarely happen as a result of serendipity in this cohort. Care and leaving-care services have to be incredibly proactive. I will describe two major areas where progress should and must be made. First, our care system seems to find it particularly hard to keep siblings together: 95% of those in residential children’s homes are separated from a sibling, as are 71% of looked-after children overall. Yet, where there is a good relationship, siblings can be extremely important in providing mutual support, especially as one or more is leaving care. Indeed, older siblings may want and be able to take on a quasi-parental role. Included in the corporate parenting scorecard mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, there could be data on the number of sibling separations and the stated reason for each one, thereby highlighting good and poor practice. Even if siblings have to be separated, meaningful sibling contact should be included in care plans by default.

Secondly, respect for sibling relationships has to be part of a much wider prioritisation of existing relationships, especially with reliable extended family members who are rarely completely absent even when a child has had to be removed from their parents. Connections from a young person’s pre-care life are vital. They root that person in their family history when, too frequently, they feel severed from it, with profound implications for their sense of identity—who they are and where they have come from.

We are just beginning to hear in this country about the astonishingly successful family finding and engagement model in the United States. It is based on the fact that, as well as their blood connections with their extended family, care leavers greatly value the supportive and nurturing relationships that they have developed with adults, such as teachers, youth workers or the parents of friends, while in care, even if they have lost touch. Every such relationship is a potential opportunity for a connection that could be lifelong.

In the USA, practitioners have developed methods to draw on this resource and intentionally build a network of support which will become particularly valuable as young people begin to prepare for leaving care. Family finding and engagement looks for at least 40 adults to whom the young person feels connected in a positive way, as well as family members with whom the young person may have had little or no previous contact. Typically out of this number, one or more

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adults will emerge who is reliable, genuinely interested in and able to engage with the young person, even if they have come from the most dysfunctional of families.

In California’s Orange County family finding project, 97 per cent of the young people involved were able to increase contact with family members. This means having somewhere to spend Christmas Day or to go for Sunday lunch. Most young people take these options for granted, yet they create that all-important sense of belonging, which can, for example, alleviate poor mental health or help prevent it from developing in the first place. The British Association for Adoption and Fostering has said in respect of family finding that the idea deserves urgent attention and the resources and focus to implement such an approach.

A raft of UK pilots would be an excellent candidate for support from a future Department for Education innovation fund. As others have already said, this Government can take pride in the fostering and adoption reforms that they have driven through in the worst of financial times. We have been well served by both Edward Timpson, the incumbent Minister for Children, and Tim Loughton before him. However, it is my strong hope that, whoever is in that role after the forthcoming election, the reforming zeal does not abate but is energised by the urgency of this task.

2.13 pm

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, it is an honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, who always speaks so passionately and humanely about the need to support and strengthen vulnerable families. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, for calling this important debate. I believe that what she said is true. She quoted Samantha Callan of the Centre for Social Justice, an institution which does such important work in this area, who said that we have reached a relational turn in policy. I certainly hope so. Staying put, which the Government introduced in the Children and Families Bill, and the new quality standards for children’s homes, which really focus on the importance of relationships for children in children’s homes, are both signs that we are moving in that happy direction.

I welcome my noble friend Lord Russell’s speech. This is the first time he has spoken since retaking his seat in the House of Lords. I welcome his constructive, lucid and humane speech, and hope that we will hear from him on many more occasions.

There is a huge cost to the taxpayer in failing to get these transitions right. It is arguable that local authorities are spending large sums from their budgets to protect the budgets of health, criminal justice and welfare departments. Is the Minister thinking about how this unfairness can be addressed? I welcome the Government’s strategy for care leavers. Local authorities have not been adequately funded to provide staying put. Scotland has provided more money per child and has staged introduction. Will the Minister look at additional funding to local authorities to fund staying put? I apologise for not giving her notice of that question.

Over many years, I have heard young people in care repeat how important relationships are to them. My experience of working with young people has also

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persuaded me of the importance to them of reliable, respectful, enduring and benign relationships. Indeed, it seems to me that the ability to make and keep relationships is the cornerstone of good emotional well-being and mental health. However, the early experience of many young people in care often makes it hard to make and keep such relationships, as has already been said. When these relationships are established, they should be cherished, and it was good to hear how that is happening in Northern Ireland.

I recently met a 40 year-old woman who still receives a card from her social worker each Christmas. I spoke to a man who told me that his 80 year-old mother is giving a party for the former residents of the children’s home that she used to manage to celebrate her birthday. I heard from a broadcaster that he still sees his social worker for tea. I suggest that one aspect of providing a good transition from care is allowing good relationships to be sustained through that transition. However, for that to happen, residential staff need to be equipped to manage their relationships with these young people. There are many experienced managers and staff who would know their way through this minefield.

I suggest that the minimal qualification requirements of one A-level for staff and one year of higher education for the managers, together with the lack of a requirement that their work be supervised by an appropriately experienced mental health professional, militates against staff maintaining their relationships with their young people. Research found that 90% of staff in Denmark’s children’s homes and 50% in Germany’s had a degree-level qualification. While their staff are more qualified, they manage less troubled children. Half of looked-after children on the continent are cared for in residential homes; in this country the figure is 9%, so ours have far higher levels of need.

When the noble Lord, Lord Warner, took evidence for his report on the staffing of children’s homes in the 1990s, the expert evidence given to him showed that an ongoing relationship with a mental health professional was the norm on the continent with regard to children’s homes. Yet even today we do not know how many homes have such supervision in this country, and an expert recently told me that half our homes might be without it.

The new quality standards for children’s homes certainly go some way to meeting these concerns. I am very pleased that they thoroughly recognise the need to support young people’s relationships. They state that the managers and staff,

“are provided with supervision and support to manage and understand their own feelings and responses to the emotions and behaviours presented by children, and to help children to do the same”.

However, in the current financial climate, with child and adolescent mental health services in the state that they are in, it is very doubtful that staff will consistently receive the clinical—I underline “clinical”—supervision that they need. I ask whether the Minister might be prepared to meet me and perhaps other Members of your Lordships’ House, with officials from the Department of Health and the Department for Education, in the very short time left before the end of this Parliament to discuss the supervision by mental health professionals of staff in children’s homes. We have heard the figures

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on the level of mental health disorders in children’s homes. I also draw the attention of the Minister and the House to the excellent coverage in today’s


of CAMHS and the manifesto for change published there. I commend the manifesto to your Lordships.

I remember a care leaver, Paul Connolly, who came from a terrible children’s home. There was a boxing club nearby and the boxers became his mentors. He now writes books and teaches physical education. There are some wonderful stories here if we can just do the right thing.

2.19 pm

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, for tabling the Question and giving us all the space to have a long, hard look at what is really happening to young care leavers today. As many noble Lords have said, it is not a happy story, but I add my acknowledgement of the progress that has been made. It was your Lordships’ House, including many people around this Room today, who, in conjunction with a number of the children’s charities, finally persuaded the Government to accept the amendment to the then Children and Families Bill to enable young people to stay in foster care to the age of 21. Although that is welcome, it highlights the continuing injustice that young people in other forms of residential care do not have the same rights to stay put until 21. I hope that the Minister agrees that it will be only a short period before that anomaly is corrected. I also acknowledge that this Government, as with the previous Government and a wide range of charities, have taken a number of well intentioned steps to make it easier for those leaving care, and we have heard some inspirational examples and stories that illustrate that today.

However, sadly that progress has not been good enough. The recent cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of young girls in Rotherham and Oxford, many in the care system, are just the tip of the iceberg. We all know that that is just one element of continuing neglect, but our failures are wider and deeper than that. To begin with, it is not acceptable that young people in care have such poor educational outcomes. Around 70,000 children are in the care system, and only 15% get more than five A* to C grades at GCSE. In fact, the attainment gap between them and their peers has widened since 2008. Can the Minister indicate what more is being done in the department to close that gap? When it comes to higher education, the figures are even more stark, with only 6% of care leavers studying at that level compared to 33% of their peers. Young people can access a number of forms of help when they get to university. However, those layers of support are increasingly in decline as the institutional budgets are squeezed. Perhaps the Minister could clarify what is being done to promote and guarantee that additional support for young people entering higher education.

Meanwhile, of course, the latest employment figures give even more cause for concern, as a number of noble Lords have referred to. They show that around 34% of care leavers aged 19 or over are not in education,

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employment or training. That is twice the average of their peers. Care leavers in employment—even those in apprenticeships—have their cases closed by children’s services at 21, rather than at 25 as is the case for those in education. Does the Minister think that it would be helpful if those entitlements were equalised? Perhaps the harshest indictment of our failure is the statistics which show, for example, that 70% of sex workers and 24% of the adult prison population have been in care. Over 20% are identified as having problematic drug use.

A key challenge underlining all that is the lack of suitable accommodation when young people leave care. The Commons Education Select Committee last year published a devastating critique of the system, which found young people aged 16 or 17 years old being placed in bed and breakfast, sometimes for extended periods. Quite rightly, it described the experience as threatening and frightening. Surely the time has come to put a deadline on local authorities using bed and breakfast for that purpose. For others, the transfer to independent living can take the form of a hard-to-let council flat where they can be prey to exploitation and abuse. The Barnardo’s report On My Own highlights vulnerable young people struggling with living alone and facing eviction, sofa surfing or sleeping rough after a breakdown in their accommodation. Does the Minister agree that local authorities should have a longer-term responsibility to provide safe accommodation, perhaps building on schemes such as the impressive Foyer movement, which combines accommodation with work and training?

Finally, as I think all noble Lords have stressed, it is crucial that we address the lack of consistent emotional support for young people moving into independence. The arguments are well made in Action for Children’s report, Too Much, Too Young, which identifies that young people living on their own for the first time often suffer from depression, anxiety and loneliness. They are desperate for some kind of continuity and support from a trusted adult. However, as we have heard, all too often they find that their personal adviser or independent advocate is a stranger who does not really know them or how to motivate them.

We would not expect our own children to fend for themselves at 16, and we would not refuse them the right to return home at 21 or even 25 when things go wrong, so why do we not treat care leavers on an equal basis? Not only should that be our responsibility as a corporate parent, but it would give a much better launch pad for those children to have fulfilled and productive lives. Surely that is an investment worth making.

2.25 pm

Baroness Garden of Frognal (LD): My Lords, I am delighted that we have had an opportunity to consider the difficulties faced by young care leavers and to discuss what more could be done to help them as they move into adult life. I am particularly grateful to my noble friend Lady Eaton for securing this debate and to all noble Lords for their wide-ranging and eloquent contributions, which reflect the expertise in this area in your Lordships’ House.

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The Government are firmly committed to improving the lives of care leavers. We have demonstrated that commitment by putting in place a series of measures since 2010 which mean that young people leaving care are now receiving more help than ever before. In 2013, we published the first cross-government Care Leaver Strategy, which set out our expectations on a range of measures, including: care leavers’ access to education, training and employment opportunities; help to access appropriate benefits and health support; and extra support for care leavers who, unfortunately, have ended up in the criminal justice system.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Armstrong, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, all referred to young people in the care system ending up in the criminal justice system. The Department for Education has worked closely with the Ministry of Justice in developing a care leaver strategy, and the MoJ has issued guidance to staff in the probation and prison services, as well as appointing a new care leaver’s champion, Teresa Clarke, the governor at HMP and young offender institution Swinfen Hall. Therefore that is very much on the Government’s radar.

The strategy also reflected a number of important changes to the level of support that care leavers are entitled to from their local authority. Those included: support from a personal adviser up to age 21, or 25 if the care leaver is already in education or returning to it—I will say something more on that in a minute; bursaries for those participating in further or higher education; access to a leaving care grant to help meet the costs of moving to independent living; and making it easier for care leavers to get access to their social care records. The vast majority of local authorities have signed up to delivering the Care Leavers’ Charter, which underlines their commitment to delivering those important changes. My noble friend Lady Eaton referred to the struggles with loneliness, as did other noble Lords.

The Government have delivered on the promises we made in the strategy to improve the lives of care leavers. First, and most notably, with the support of your Lordships’ House through noble Lords’ scrutiny of the Children and Families Bill, we have introduced the staying-put duty, which has allowed thousands of children in foster placements to remain with their foster carers until the age of 21. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, talked about that, and he brings great expertise to that area. The Government are providing local authorities with £44.4 million over three years to support the implementation of that new duty; again, I was asked about funding for that. Our evidence shows that in the first year alone, around 25% of the young people who are now entitled to remain with their foster carer have chosen to do so.

Secondly, we have worked closely with Ofsted in supporting its development of a new and strengthened inspection framework, which includes a far greater focus on care leavers’ services than the old model. That will provide a better opportunity both to monitor and to scrutinise the quality and range of provision within individual local authorities, but will also support and promote the sharing of best practice. I note the

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right reverend Prelate’s words about Ofsted and how important it is to review what it inspects and make quite sure that that is the best it can be.

Care leavers’ access to financial support is another important issue. The Government amended their transition to adulthood guidance in May 2014 to encourage local authorities to provide at least £2,000 as a setting-up-home allowance for care leavers. We have strengthened statutory guidance for local authorities supporting care leavers aged 21 to 24 who wish to return to education or training, making it clear that local authorities should support care leavers to overcome barriers that might prevent them returning to education or training, up to age 25. We have also established bursaries for care leavers who are in further and higher education, and introduced the Junior ISA, which has provided £200 of start-up funding for more than 54,000 children in care, who can access the money after their 18th birthday.

As part of our commitment to improving services for this group of young people, we have funded a number of projects designed to stimulate new and innovative approaches to supporting care leavers; for example, we have funded the Care Leavers’ Foundation to run the New Belongings project. Care leavers played a central role in the project by helping to identify issues and barriers and to find solutions. The project was initially confined to nine local authorities but I am pleased to say that only last week we announced an increased award to the project, which will allow the first wave of local authorities to focus on care leavers with greater needs, extend the approach into another group of authorities, and develop a gold standard of service planning and delivery for care leavers so that other areas can benefit.

The noble Lord, Lord Russell, asked whether there were examples of good practice and the sharing of good practice. I, too, welcome him on his return to your Lordships’ House. I am very glad that he ignored her Ladyship’s advice—on this one occasion, obviously— and brought his expertise to this debate. My noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott also referred to the need to ensure that care leavers have the very best possible opportunities. I pay tribute to all the work she has done with Tomorrow’s People for this group of young people.

On a similar theme, the Government have provided financial support to Catch22 to deliver the From Care2Work programme, which helps care leavers get a foot in the door, with some of our major employers, such as Marriott Hotels, providing work experience, apprenticeships and employment opportunities for care leavers. The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, and my noble friend Lady Eaton spoke about this. The programme has placed more than 700 care leavers into employment, including 175 apprenticeships.

While the Government are proud of their record over the past five years of improving support for care leavers, I assure your Lordships that we are by no means complacent and that we recognise there is more to do. Mental health was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and my noble friends Lady Eaton and Lord Farmer. Given the traumas that many children in care have

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suffered earlier in their lives, it is not surprising that mental health is a big issue for many care leavers. The Government are taking steps to ensure that they receive the right support and treatment.

The noble Lord, Lord Empey, spoke about Northern Ireland’s integrated system. Here, in July 2014, the Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb, announced a children and young people’s mental health and well-being task force, which brings together experts on children and young people’s mental health and those with knowledge of wider system transformation from across health, education and social care. The task force is considering what changes and improvements are needed to improve outcomes for children and young people with mental health difficulties, and includes a particular focus on the needs of vulnerable groups, such as those who have been in care.

Staying put has received a broad welcome from your Lordships. The actual cost of introducing it will depend on a range of factors that are difficult to predict, including the proportion of eligible children who choose to remain with their foster carers, and the length of time for which they remain in the staying-put arrangement. It is too early to make a judgment that the level of funding is insufficient but we will, of course, continue to monitor the take-up of staying put and will review the level of funding in light of its implementation.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Jones, referred to the wish to extend staying put to those in residential care. Indeed, we fully recognise that young people who have been placed in care in residential settings would like the same degree of certainty and security as they move into adult life as those who have lived with foster carers. However, it is important that we understand what works about the current staying-put arrangements for foster care before we launch into a new set of arrangements. It is also important to remember that those in residential care face a very different set of challenges and so the solutions will need to be very different. However, as part of our exploration of this area, we commissioned the National Children’s Bureau to carry out scoping work to help us to identify options for extending staying put to residential care.

My noble friend Lord Farmer and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester referred to innovative ways of delivering children’s social care. Through the innovation programme we have recently announced just over £2 million of funding to the No Wrong Door hub model in North Yorkshire, which puts individual relationships back at the heart of the residential care system, and where staff may otherwise have had to cut ties with care leavers, they can now be extended beyond the age of 18. That model will provide a consistent relationship with one dedicated worker, who will stick with the young person wherever they move in the system. Young people will be able to rely on the people they trust to stand by them.

The noble Lord, Lord Empey, helpfully highlighted some of the good practice that is happening in Northern Ireland in relation to personal advisers. We are keen to learn from arrangements that are working and hope that DfE officials will follow up this point in their contact with the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, mentioned accommodation issues. The Government are committed to ensuring that young people are always placed in safe and suitable accommodation. We have strengthened statutory guidance to say that local authorities should only place 16 to 17 year-old care leavers in emergency placements, such as bread and breakfast, for no more than two working days. Again, we are working closely to improve that situation.

The noble Lord, Lord Russell, asked a number of questions which I need to write to him about. He mentioned the complex needs of young people. Our statutory guidance makes clear that the assessment needs of young people should be identified as early as possible. Local authorities are expected, through the pathway plan process, to identify and plan the support that young people with complex needs require. The DfE publishes comprehensive data on both the outcomes of children in care and the types of placements they are in, mindful always of what is in the child’s best interests.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, referred to access to social care records. She, of course, has a great deal of experience in this area. We recognise how important it is for care leavers to have access to information about the circumstances that led to their being taken into care and to understand the decisions that were taken while they were in care. The Department for Education has updated its guidance on transition to adults to be clearer about the principles and processes that should be in place when requests for care records are made.

My noble friend Lord Farmer referred to siblings and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester referred to the importance of relationships, as did other noble Lords. We agree that siblings should be placed together whenever possible. However, key to that ambition is having sufficient foster carers who are able to meet the needs of children who are harder to place, and that will include brothers and sisters.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, brings great experience and extensive knowledge to the issues we are debating. On his point about clinical supervision, with children’s homes employing a qualified professional working in the field of mental health, we would certainly expect them to be provided with relevant clinical supervision. However, we do not currently believe it would be appropriate to make it a requirement for all staff working in a children’s home. I note his request for a meeting but, because of the timing, that may need to be for the next Parliament. However, we shall certainly keep it under review.

My noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott again hoped that I would be able to answer her prayers by guaranteeing a coach for every young care leaver. Would that I had such a magic wand. However, I am quite sure that, given her persuasive powers, we will get closer to finding ways of delivering that so that children learn the soft as well as the harder skills as they make the transition into adult life.

I apologise that I have not had time to answer some questions but I shall write to noble Lords on them. This has been an interesting and stimulating debate on a highly important issue. Children in care often have a

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difficult start in life. Unlike most of us, they do not have their parents to support and encourage them, so it is crucial that the state does as much to support their needs as possible. It is principally a matter for local authorities but the Government must also play their part. We have made a good start and I thank noble Lords for acknowledging the part that we have played. We took over good practice from the previous Administration because this is a cross-party issue. We all wish to make the best decisions for groups of vulnerable children. I again thank my noble friend Lady Eaton for securing the debate and all those who have taken part. We look forward to continuing cross-party work to ensure the best possible start to adult life for all young care leavers.

Dresden Bombing: 70th Anniversary

Question for Short Debate

2.39 pm

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Coventry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the 70th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Dresden.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, as the Minister knows, for some months I have been encouraging the Government to engage in an appropriate way with the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden. I should say at the outset how grateful I am for the graciousness of the Minister’s responses to me on several occasions. I also express my appreciation to David Lidington, Minister of State for European issues and NATO, for the serious consideration that he gave to my approaches; and to Sir Simon McDonald, the British ambassador to Germany, for the fine words of the statement that he released on 13 February, the day of the anniversary.

I have been clear throughout that my intention has not been to enter the continuing debate over the moral propriety or military value of the bombing of Dresden. Without denying the seriousness of such questions, my focus has been on the words and gestures that may help to heal the wound of history which the events of 13 and 14 February 1945 represent and thus to take our two countries, which have travelled so far already along the long road to lasting reconciliation, a few more steps along the way. In my own mind this debate serves the same purpose, focused as it is on the 70th anniversary commemoration rather than the bombing itself. I would like to make four comments that arise from my own participation in the commemoration.

The first is on the hospitality of the city of Dresden to the many visitors who came from across Europe to join in the commemoration, and the dignity with which the events were conducted. The bombing of Dresden, with its scale of destruction and death, touches many nerves—many of them still exposed in Germany and elsewhere, including here in the UK. The mayor, Oberbürgermeisterin Helma Orosz, navigated the city through the commemoration with great skill. She was determined that it should reflect the city’s key values of,

“openness to the world and tolerance”,

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values which she knows only too well are regularly under threat and need to be guarded vigilantly. The mayor’s call to the people of Dresden to form a circle of peace around the old city to stand against the far right’s demonstrations has become a regular and moving feature of the annual commemorations. I hope that Her Majesty’s Government may take this opportunity to congratulate Mayor Orosz and her colleagues on their resolve to lead the commemoration in ways that served the purposes of peace and reconciliation.

The second area of my comments is the value to those purposes of British guests sharing in the remembrance of the suffering of the country that was once our enemy and on which we, in the dreadful storms of war, rained death. As I know from Coventry’s commemoration of its own bombing, the participation of such representatives in the pain of remembrance forges deeper solidarity in our common humanity and brings about a transformation of relationships. It is important for our own country not only to participate respectfully in the remembrance of the allied raids that brought death to up to 25,000 people and injury to thousands more but to look into the faces of the survivors, who were then children. For example, Eberhard Renner, who was 12 at the time, tells us that the sight of the,

“charred corpse of one woman … on a pavement”,

lying with wedding ring on her outstretched hand gleaming in the sun, “still haunts me today”. To stand with a city that experienced such extremes of suffering is to be reminded of the hell into which Europe descended, and galvanized to work for peace in places that are today spiralling deeper into the madness of war.

The healing effect of well chosen words and generous gestures over a number of years was proven by Dresden’s decision to award its prestigious peace prize to His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent. I am sure that noble Lords and the Government will want to congratulate both His Royal Highness on his award and the city of Dresden on generously granting it, in this of all years, to a senior representative of the UK. Our country was ably represented by the Duke of Kent, by the British ambassador, by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, by the Lord Mayor of Coventry and, I am proud to say, by many other Coventrians. I understand that, for reasons of protocol, Her Majesty’s Government were not represented in person. May I therefore ask the Minister whether the Government will consider other ways that they might relate to the city of Dresden? One such appropriate occasion would be the 10th anniversary of the reconsecration of the Frauenkirche in October this year.

The third area worthy of comment is the address of President Gauck, which was a remarkable reflection on what makes for good remembrance—the sort of remembrance that leads to learning and better ways of living for the future. In his speech in the Frauenkirche, he showed that good remembrance is honest: the “murderous war”, he said, began with Germany. Good remembrance is disciplined: it refuses, he argued, to “instrumentalise remembrance” either to “relativise German guilt” for,

“National Socialist crimes against humanity”,

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or, on the other side, to coldly justify Dresden’s destruction as punishment for that guilt. Good remembrance, the President explained, is empathetic, honouring all who suffered as a consequence of war. It is healing, freeing people from self-pity and victimhood. I would be glad to know whether the Government agree with these principles of good remembrance.

This leads me to my final area of comment, which is the contrasting approach to remembrance displayed by a section—only a section, I should say—of the British press, which elicited comments from sections of the British public that were far from disciplined, empathetic or healing. The catalyst to these comments were the words of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury who, shortly before President Gauck spoke, said,

“as a follower of Jesus I stand here among you with a profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow”.

It would have been not only an abnegation of spiritual responsibility to have failed on such an occasion to express regret and sorrow at the loss of so many lives, but an abandonment of human decency. His was not a judgment on the moral or military efficacy of the hard decisions that were taken in the heat of war when its end was not necessarily determined; nor was it any denial of the extraordinary bravery of the British and American airmen caught up in the conflict, with so many of them dying courageously for our freedom during the course of the war. It was a simple statement of compassion and sympathy, without which the commemorations would have been incomplete.

I have described the bombing of Dresden as a “wound of history”. The reaction to the most reverend Primate’s words in some quarters proved to me that it remains an open wound in our own land, as well as, of course, among some in Germany. I hope that this debate and the response of the Minister may help to heal that which still hurts here as well as there. I hope that it will also be an occasion to celebrate the length of the road towards reconciliation that has already been travelled by our nations. I hope that we will be ready to proclaim afresh to the world that the story of our nations over the last 70 years proves that peace is possible and that friendship is better than enmity.

2.50 pm

Lord Dykes (LD): My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry for the lead he has given in this great campaign to make sure that we remember correctly the horrors of that night of bombing in Dresden in 1945. He has taken a lead and given us an example of how the church, given its legitimate interest in matters of international peace and reconciliation, has such an important role to play. I also thank the Minister for coming today. We all know she has a very hectic schedule, which she fulfils with great skill. It is good of her to come today reply to this debate.

I am a very proud patron of the Dresden Trust as well as a great lover of Germany. I first went to Germany as a penniless student in 1958 and worked in various very mundane and badly paid occupations. I was deeply impressed by the spectacular return of

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Germany to being a wonderful example of a democratic and, indeed, economically extremely successful country, which has maintained its moderate attitude in all respects. Eccentric extremists do not get a very good time in Germany, and we should all rejoice about that. Yet again, they have a grand coalition there. That might not be a good example for the general election period, but I will avoid that subject.

As a patron of the Dresden Trust, I am very proud of our commemorative book, which gives all the details, and of the leadership of our royal patron the Duke of Kent, who has spent a lot of time on this. I remember that on one occasion we were watching the preparations for building the orb and cross on the top of the dome of the Frauenkirche, the church of Our Lady, which we paid for. It was done by a young goldsmith in the City of London whose father was, I think, involved in the bombing—it was an extraordinary aspect of coincidental history. The Duke was assailed by elderly people, mostly ladies for obvious reasons but also elderly gentlemen, saying “Thank you very for coming” and “We appreciate it”.

Reconciliation with Germany—and the reconciliation of France and Germany is a very important subject which gives me great pride as I live in France as well—has been a matter of great joy. We rejoice in having a German lady, Eveline, as the chairman of the Dresden Trust. She attended on 13 February, as did the right reverend Prelate, as he said. She is now developing the Dresden Trust’s new plans, including avenues of trees and commemorative benches in the parks and so on in Dresden so that people can make a further contribution to the reconciliation and friendship that is so important to us all.

I was quite disturbed by the reflection that there was a tendency after the Second World War to be nasty about the German population as well as about the horrible Government they had in the Third Reich—one of the nastiest regimes in European history which ended in tears, murder and mayhem for all. We did not do that with Iraq, and I was very impressed by that. When Saddam Hussein, apparently a brutal dictator, was running Iraq, we did not blame the Iraqi people; we criticised him. When the war was on, we lamented the severe loss of life—which will eventually come out in the Chilcot report when it is published—in Iraq as a result of that war, a war which my party, the Liberal Democrats, proudly refused to support. Like a million and half people in London, we marched against that war.

In Germany, the case was different. I know that it was a massive world war with a lot of suffering on all sides, so there are reasons and excuses for that, but none the less we should not single out a population for the terrible behaviour of what was, in effect, in the Third Reich a criminal regime. If you disagreed with that regime, you could easily be killed. Most people would not do that, but a lot of Germans also suffered in the Third Reich. They lost their lives as a result of opposing that regime. There were many brave people who sheltered Jews, for example, which was a capital offence, and there have been films ever since on that subject.

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More recently, on a joyous occasion rather than a sombre one, there was the amazing spectacle of the football World Cup held in Germany. Germany came third; it was rather dignified to ensure that they were not too successful. It was a wonderful occasion because a lot of British people went there for the first time. Germany has never promoted itself as holiday country in Britain, which is a great mistake. Particularly in the south, the weather is very good in the summer. The British were interviewed when they came back, or sometimes there, too, and they said what amazing pubs Germany had and that when you asked the police for directions they answered in fluent English. The German capacity for learning other languages is now renowned.

We must remember that the city centre was not a military zone at all. That myth developed after the war because some people in Britain felt guilty about what had happened right at the end of the war when Germany was on its knees anyway. The military targets on the outskirts of Dresden were ignored while that most beautiful of cities—the fabulous and historical “Florence of the North”—was attacked right in the centre, with huge loss of life. I suppose that it can be compared only with the awful example of the Hamburg firestorm. Of course we lament and regret the tragic loss of life of the bomber crews. Even worse than the British losses, which were very severe indeed, were the American losses because of the daylight bombing raids, which were even more hazardous. All these things are part of the city’s memorial and they fit together as people come together now.

I am thinking of the Queen’s visit to Ireland and the reconciliation that took place there; that is now the name of the game everywhere. It is a moving and remarkable thing which has to be built on in the future so that we can maintain peace. There are some people who even now are saying what I think are the wrong things about Ukraine, which is a difficult subject to grasp. They are talking about quasi-military responses, but we now live in a world where the West, along with other parts of the world, must give a lead in the maintenance of peace and the avoidance of war. We must make sure that the Geneva conventions and all the additions to them really outlaw war, because that is the way for the world to prosper. That is one of the important lessons of the example of the reconciliation and the friendship that developed in Dresden. As a patron of the Dresden Trust I have visited around 10 times, including making some tedious speeches about which they were very polite and applauded at the end.

I mention also the remarkable gastronomy of Dresden that is becoming legendary again, including the hotel ships on the famous and wonderful river Elbe because there is not enough accommodation in the town, although new hotels are now being built. The Hilton hotel just by the Church of Our Lady, the Frauenkirche, in the centre of Dresden, is a meeting place for German, British and American people to come together. Indeed, Allied POWs were in the area when the bombings took place and many of them took a very dim view of the campaign—as, indeed, did Harold Nicolson

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when he said that what happened on those terrible nights was manifestly not something that could be justified militarily.

We also thank the series of ambassadors who have come from Germany to represent their country here. They have been people of outstanding quality. I pay tribute to the present ambassador, Peter Ammon, who had served previously in Washington DC. Friendships are being created between two countries which are very similar in attitude; indeed, the psyche of the personalities of their citizens are very similar. There is a great meeting of minds, and Germany is now a popular country in the minds of British people, and that is a great achievement.

I thank my noble friend the right reverend Prelate, if I may refer to him in that way, for the lead he has given on this subject, and all the people in Coventry of English and German origin for the great reconciliation that has taken place between the two cities. It is an object lesson for the future, which is what it is all about. It must be developed further.

2.58 pm

Lord Lexden (Con): My Lords, it is a great privilege to take part in this debate, which was opened so movingly by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry. There could be no more appropriate person to bring this great issue before us. There are many noble Lords who cannot be present in the Chamber today who will read this debate in Hansard with great interest.

I should like to begin by commenting briefly on the views of Winston Churchill. According to Jock Colville, his private secretary, Churchill was not consulted about the attack on Dresden. It was not felt necessary, Colville recalled, because it was in accord with the general policy of bombing German towns massively so as to shatter German morale. But after it was over and the extent of death and devastation had become clear, Churchill was deeply troubled. More than a month later, on 28 March 1945, he recorded his feelings in a private minute which he sent to the chiefs of staff committee marked “top secret”:

“The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing … I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives such as oil and communications behind the immediate battlezone … rather than mere acts of terror and wanton destruction”.

Churchill was persuaded by the chiefs of staff to tone down the rough terms of his minute, as they described them, before it was circulated more widely. The cardinal feature of bombing policy as explained by the Government to the country at large was that it had as its aim the destruction of industries and transport services in large German cities, not the terrorising or slaughter of the civilian population. But there was a gap between the formal intention of policy and what actually happened.

Churchill would have been aware of the serious queries about the reality of bombing policy raised by a number of prominent churchmen. His Secretary of State for Air, Archie Sinclair, had told him about his difficulty in satisfying the inquiries of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and other significant religious leaders inclined towards

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the moral condemnation of the bombing offensive. Solemn warnings were heard in your Lordships’ House in February 1944, a year before the attack on Dresden, from Bishop George Bell of Chichester. Bishop Bell pointed out:

“What we do in war—which, after all, lasts a comparatively short time—affects the whole character of peace, which covers a much longer period”.—[Official Report, 9/2/1944; col. 746.]

He foresaw Dresden’s fate a year before it was engulfed so tragically in firestorms.

None of this diminishes or detracts from our debt to all those who served our country in the RAF during the war. As the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his moving address in Dresden last month, of which my noble friend Lord Dykes and the right reverend Prelate made mention, we must never forget the terrible losses of the heroic crews of Bomber Command. Almost half were killed during the war, carrying out difficult, demanding and exhausting duties in the cause of freedom. Courage is the greatest of all human virtues, said Churchill, because all other virtues depend on it. The courage of our airmen played a vital part in securing the peace that western Europe has enjoyed for 70 years. That brings me to the present day and the recent 70th anniversary commemoration of the bombing of Dresden.

The theme of these annual commemorations is one of reconciliation, as the right reverend Prelate so rightly stressed, a theme reinforced by the presence in Dresden on these occasions of representatives of bombed cities outside Germany, notably Coventry, as well as solemn remembrance of all victims of war and persecution. The city of Dresden achieved particular prominence and its destruction particular notoriety because of its status as one of the greatest centres of European civilisation, represented in its architecture, music, art and scientific and intellectual life. That is why, after German unification, the determination to rebuild the city met with an international response. The response from the United Kingdom involved the founding, in 1993, of the Dresden Trust, a charity whose representatives are present at the annual commemorations of the city’s destruction. My noble friend Lord Dykes, who has played so prominent a part in the trust, has described its magnificent work.

The trust continues to fulfil its mission of furthering reconciliation between Britain and Dresden through educational, cultural and other initiatives. One of the most interesting and important of these, which has a profound impact on the lives of individuals, demonstrates living reconciliation through personal contacts between young people in Saxony and Britain. The Dresden Scholars’ Scheme, founded in 2000, by David Woodhead, a personal friend and former colleague in the world of education, has enabled about 300 boys and girls from schools in Saxony to attend British independent schools thanks to scholarships provided by these schools. They come in gratifying numbers, usually for a full school year. Some choose to stay longer in the schools, and some even opt to go on to British universities. Their appreciation of the opportunities that the Dresden Scholars’ Scheme provides is heartfelt and never fails to highlight the making of lasting friendships. One, typical of many, wrote that he,

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“very much enjoyed every single day and it enabled me not only to get to know quite a different way of life but also to meet some really good friends. This was all made possible by the Dresden Scholars’ Scheme and therefore I would like to thank you for this opportunity which I hope lots of students will use in the future”.

A few weeks ago, the headmaster of Brighton College drew attention to what he called,

“a sub-culture of anti-German feeling among young people in Britain”,

having heard on a visit to Berlin, as he put it,

“young Brits chanting pathetically that we had won the war. Young Germans looked on in some disbelief … Seventy years on from the end of the Second World War, they have moved on. Too many in Britain have not”.

He blamed, in part, the excessive emphasis on just 12 years of German history in our school curriculum and the neglect of centuries of positive Anglo-German relations and Germany’s contribution to European culture, of which members of the British-German Association, whose tie I am wearing today, were particularly conscious last year, which marked the 300th anniversary of the succession of the Elector of Hanover to the British Throne—the first monarch to be crowned King of Great Britain as a result of the Act of Union seven years earlier.

Dresden’s place in wartime history is surely fixed—immutably so. Dresden represents profound tragedy which, in this 70th anniversary year, stirs deep feelings of sorrow and will continue to do so in the years ahead. At the same time, we must never forget our enduring gratitude to all those who took to the air over four long years and carried out the decisions of RAF commanders to help rid the world of the evil of Nazi tyranny.

Dresden also represents hope—the hope created by the wonderful story of post-war reconciliation and rebuilding. How we need the hope of Dresden in our hearts as we contemplate the tragic condition of parts of our world today and as my noble friend, who will be replying to this debate, and her colleagues in government wrestle with the terrible international problems to which our contemporary tragedies give rise.

“to hope, till Hope creates

From its own wreck the thing it contemplates”.

Shelley’s famous words convey perhaps the greatest of all the lessons of Dresden.

3.07 pm

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry for enabling us to consider the 70th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Dresden. I say at the outset that I thought the commemorations were sensitive in their handling and appropriate in tone. They reflected a common set of values between Dresden and Coventry today and, through those cities, between Germany and the United Kingdom.

I think everyone recognises that the bombing of Dresden was a terrible event and that it did not shorten the war. Those two conclusions seem today to be self-evident, but new generations need to understand what happened, which is why we have to keep discussing it. It is very important that the twinning relationships

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that exists between our country and Germany, in particular between Dresden and Coventry, continue those discussions. However, we should beware the application of too much hindsight to what was happening in the early weeks of 1945. At the end of January 1945, two weeks before the bombing of Dresden, the Russians had entered Auschwitz-Birkenau, revealing its horrors to the world. In the west, allied troops were still trying to cross the Rhine and the Ruhr. Even though it was clear that Germany would lose the war, it was unclear how long it might take and how many allied troops would lose their lives in the process. There was, therefore, an understandable desire to push Nazi Germany closer to collapse as quickly as possible.

Dresden lay in the centre of the land area that Nazi Germany controlled. It had a significant productive capacity, a munitions centre—not that large, but it had one—and it was a major communications centre, with a railway system that could funnel troops to the Eastern Front. It was inevitably, therefore, a target, even though the people in Dresden thought that they were not because of their cultural heritage.

Dresden, as we know, had been left unprotected. All its defensive guns had been moved east on the railway system that it was at the centre of. The bombing on 13 and 14 February 1945 left 13 square miles of destruction, and 25,000 people were killed. Some 200 factories were damaged and, although there was serious damage to goods and marshalling yards, it was only in April that further bombing destroyed the railway system fully.

Because so much damage was done to the cultural heart of Dresden, as we have heard in this debate, it is clear that no real distinction was made at the planning stage between, on the one hand, civilians and their homes and Dresden’s civic and religious buildings, and, on the other hand, industrial and communications installations. For that reason, and given the impossibility of precision bombing in World War II, the destruction of so much of central Dresden must have been understood and accepted in advance. We have to remember that fact and that decision. As we heard in the quotations from my noble friend Lord Lexden, that issue came to the fore in the days after the bombing of Dresden. That is why the remembrance that takes place each year between Dresden and Coventry remains so important.

We can argue, and some do, that we were simply responding to what Nazi Germany had done to us. The problem with that argument is that we were fighting for a set of values that would not target innocent people and destroy buildings for the sake of it. Such destruction is what happened in Coventry. The city of Coventry was bombed 40 times from November 1940. On 14 November 1940, over 500 German planes bombed the city, including the new use of incendiary bombs. It is difficult to conclude anything other than that the Luftwaffe was trying to destroy Coventry and its people. Some 500 tonnes of high explosives were dropped on Coventry and 30,000 incendiary bombs. Over 550 people were killed. This was, at that time in World War II, a new level of attempted destruction. The Germans in fact created their own word for any town or city receiving a similar level of destruction. They said that that town or city was coventriert—coventrated.

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My father was an auxiliary fireman during the worst of the attacks on Coventry. Teaching by day in Bromsgrove, he was in Coventry at night. I recall as a child his talking about it occasionally at mealtimes. I realise now that he missed out a great deal of the detail to spare us some of the things that he must have seen.

I think we all would conclude that war is a terrible thing. As we have heard, 55,000 aircrew in Bomber Command lost their lives in World War II. In the months from September 1940 to March 1941, the Luftwaffe bombers launched many raids across Britain, including on Liverpool, Portsmouth and Glasgow, killing over 40,000 British civilians; 14,000 were killed in the London blitz, and London was attacked on 57 separate nights.

In the immediate post-war period, many town and city twinning initiatives were put in place, as I referred to earlier. Most have lasted well. One that has lasted well is that between Dresden and Coventry to remember, through such a twinning relationship, a conflict that had such terrible consequences. I pay my own tribute to the work of the Dresden Trust, which has done so much to help the recent truly impressive restoration work in Dresden. The twinning of the Frauenkirche with Coventry Cathedral symbolises a lasting rejection of Nazi ideology and a love of peace, democracy, tolerance and friendship between peoples. We should thank the people of Coventry and Dresden for the leadership that they show us.

3.14 pm

Baroness Sharples (Con): My Lords, looking around the Chamber, I do not believe that there is anyone else who was in their 20s at the time of the bombing of Dresden. I certainly was, and I was serving as a driver in the Air Force. I remember very well that there was a great deal of criticism at the time of the bombing of Dresden, which I understood. However, the majority of us felt very strongly that the war would come to an end sooner—and I think we were proved right. I support the commemoration; it is an extremely good idea.

3.15 pm

Lord Bach (Lab): My Lords, this has been a remarkable debate. The noble Lord, Lord Dykes, is respected around the House as an expert on Europe generally but particularly on Germany. The noble Lord, Lord Lexden, is a distinguished historian and constitutionalist who is always worth listening to. The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, in a remarkable speech, taught me a great deal about what happened in the last months of the war. It is always a delight to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Sharples, and I have to confess that I wish she had spoken for a little longer about her experience. Of course, we have not yet had the pleasure of hearing from the Minister.

I reserve special praise for the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, not just for securing this debate but for his fantastic efforts to bring the people of Dresden and Coventry closer together. They are two great cities which suffered terribly in World War 2 but have since recovered, and are now essential parts of a new Europe that has for the most part rejected the

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wars of the past. I have had the pleasure of speaking to the right reverend Prelate about this passion of his. He has taught himself German, although I think he is too modest to tell that to the House. Obviously, he has made numerous visits to Dresden, and campaigned endlessly for closer ties and, of course, the proper recognition that took place on the 70th anniversary a month or so ago. The House should be proud of what he has done.

I have to confess that my knowledge of Dresden is sorely lacking. I have never visited that marvellous city and I am now resolved to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Dykes, talked about Dresden being called the “Florence of the North”—the expression I read about was “Florence of the Elbe”—and that is a pretty good recommendation for any city. From television and photographs, it clearly is magnificent and beautiful, and, of course, is again the capital of a major Land in a peaceful and united Germany.

The right reverend Prelate drew attention to, and I have followed, the unhappy news of Monday night’s demonstrations by the anti-immigrant, seemingly far-right, group, organised under the name “PEGIDA”. By any standards it is depressing to see this in any country and, in particular, in Germany. But it is hard not to be impressed, even cheered, by the resolute condemnation of these very unwelcome rallies by leading politicians in the country, including the Chancellor herself. I, too, admire those who turn out, no doubt week after week, to express peacefully their disgust at this campaign.

As we have heard, Dresden and Coventry will forever be twinned, not just formally as they were more than 50 years ago in 1959 but because of the common suffering that both cities and their populations endured 70 or more years ago. I may not know Dresden, but I know Coventry pretty well. I live 15 miles away and visit it often. Perhaps I may just mention that I am extremely proud of being patron of the Coventry Law Centre, which around the country is widely known as possibly the best law centre in the whole of the United Kingdom. I want to make the point that it continues to be funded by Coventry City Council under political control of all kinds over the last number of years.

Like Dresden, Coventry miraculously recovered and grew following the destruction of the centre of the city and, indeed, the city as a whole, and the large number of deaths that we have heard about. Anyone who has been to Coventry and seen the ruins of the bombed cathedral is both shocked and moved by it, and by its proximity to the wonderful post-war cathedral. It is an extraordinary symbol. Close to the cathedrals, right in the city centre, is the university, where young people of all cultures, races and nations throng together peacefully. Of course, Coventry also has much poverty and a number of the manufacturing companies that made it so successful have now gone, although some remain along with other new forms of employment. However, the city and the city council do not forget the marginalised.

Surely, one of the major lessons that the renewal of Coventry and Dresden teach us is that we must never again let our continent descend into war. In all the arguments that rage around the European Union, it seems to me that one crucial point is sometimes drowned

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out these days. Simply put, it is that however powerful or weak the economic arguments may be, the central principle underpinning a closer, more united Europe—this has been the case ever since the end of the Second World War—is that never again should blood be spilt or countries destroyed in Europe. Dresden and Coventry are, and will remain, symbols of reconciliation and hope.

3.21 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, in congratulating the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry on securing this debate and thanking all noble Lords for their thoughtful contributions, I take the opportunity to commend the work of the Dresden Trust, of which the right reverend Prelate is an active member, as is my noble friend Lord Dykes. I also pay tribute to the work of the trust’s royal patron, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent, whose own significant contribution has done so much to foster reconciliation between the United Kingdom and Germany.

Today’s debate falls, of course, amid a series of important anniversaries as we approach the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of hostilities in the Second World War, marking the end of a devastating chapter of European history. I share the moving and thoughtful comments of the noble Lord, Lord Bach, calling on us all to note recent events in European history, and stressing that Europe must never again descend into war.

From the moment the war ended, a new path opened: a path towards reconciliation, not conflict; friendship, not enmity; and shared values, not bitter division. This path to reconciliation led to the twinning of Dresden and Coventry in 1959. Britain and Germany are now close allies, of course, with a relationship that has never been better. The upcoming state visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Germany in June is a powerful symbol of the value we place on that relationship.

These anniversaries take on even greater significance when we consider that they may be our final opportunities to remember our past with those who witnessed the events at the time. In that spirit, I was grateful to hear from my noble friend Lady Sharples about her contemporary memories and her support for reconciliation.

As noble Lords have outlined so movingly, aerial bombardment of British and German cities during the Second World War caused destruction and loss of life on an immense scale. Cities from Leipzig to London and Hamburg to Bristol suffered terrible damage, but it is the magnitude of the devastation to Coventry and Dresden that gives our remembrance particular resonance. My noble friends Lord Lexden and Lord Shipley reminded us of the historical context in which the devastation of Coventry and Dresden took place. My noble friends Lord Dykes and Lord Shipley reminded us eloquently of the rationale behind and the need for remembrance.

It is difficult for those who have grown up in a Europe of peace and prosperity to comprehend the scale of the suffering or the legacy it left. Nevertheless, we have a solemn duty to pass our remembrance and

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our reflection on to the younger generation to ensure that these terrible events are neither forgotten nor repeated. It is right that we show our recognition of all those who survived such horrific nights in cities such as Dresden and Coventry as a consequence of the struggle to rid Europe of the forces of National Socialism.

The right reverend Prelate asked whether the Government might consider their approach to the 10th anniversary of the reconsecration of the Frauenkirche, which takes place in October this year. We have not taken any decision on this matter but I will certainly take his remarks into consideration when we do so.

My noble friend Lord Lexden referred in particular to the role of British airmen. It is important that we all recognise the contribution of the young men of Bomber Command, more than 55,000 of whom died, and the heroic sacrifice they made to liberate Germany and Europe from the Nazi regime.

It is also right that such an important anniversary should be marked by the United Kingdom in an appropriate way. That is why, at the invitation of Mayor Orosz of Dresden, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent joined others, including the federal President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, in the Frauenkirche on 13 February to commemorate this sombre event in the city’s history. As a member of the Dresden Trust, His Royal Highness is a much respected figure in Dresden for the tireless work he has undertaken in support of reconciliation over the past 20 years. Like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, I recognise the resolve of Mayor Orosz and her colleagues to lead the commemoration in ways that served the purposes of peace and reconciliation.

I am also particularly grateful to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for his participation in the service of remembrance, as well as to the members of the Dresden Trust, not least the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, for providing such an appropriately strong presence from the United Kingdom at the commemoration in Dresden. Through the presence of His Royal Highness, the most reverend Primate and Her Majesty’s ambassador to Berlin, the UK played a prominent role in the commemoration—one that was greatly welcomed and appreciated by our German hosts.

The relationships we have formed with our former adversaries enable us to join together and remember all the victims of war while commemorating specific events. This was underlined by President Gauck on 13 February when he said that,

“we will never forget the victims of German warfare, even as we remember here and now the German victims”.

In answer to the right reverend Prelate, we agree with President Gauck’s principles of good remembrance. I recall that, having had the opportunity to hear him at an earlier occasion when I visited Dresden and the Frauenkirche—and, separately, Coventry—those were the very thoughts that underpinned my own reflections.

It is right that former adversaries and their descendants continue to work with each other to remember the suffering caused by war and to learn from the past. We will see the same spirit of remembrance and reconciliation as we approach the commemorations of VE Day and

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VJ Day later this year. I return to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Bach: we must never again let ourselves descend into war against our colleagues across western Europe. It is in that spirit that I hope we will inspire all those alive today and in the future to work to end conflict around the world. This House takes its duties very seriously. In its debates in recent months when it has observed some of the disturbing events in countries close to Russia, I know that this House has reflected carefully on what war really means and what we need to do to avoid it, and then to remember what it causes.

UK Response to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa


3.29 pm

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House I will now repeat a Statement given in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development. The Statement is as follows.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

First, I would like to refer the House to yesterday’s statement from Public Health England which confirmed that a military healthcare worker has tested positive and is being flown back, and will shortly be in the Royal Free Hospital in London. Our thoughts are with her and her family at this time. We are also assessing four other military healthcare workers who had been in close contact with the patient. This is a purely precautionary move.

Our Armed Forces, our health workers, our diplomatic and my development staff are risking their lives to help Sierra Leone defeat this terrible disease and stop it spreading beyond west Africa. It is vitally important that we do that. Halting the rise of the disease in west Africa is by far the most effective way of preventing Ebola infecting people in the United Kingdom, and we are indebted to those United Kingdom personnel for their efforts. Their commitment and their bravery have been outstanding.

As my right honourable friend the Member for South West Surrey has said previously, the UK remains well placed to respond to this threat. The Chief Medical Officer confirms that the risk to the United Kingdom remains low. An enormous amount of work has gone into making sure we are prepared in the United Kingdom now and in the future. The NHS has world-leading infection control procedures, and we have put in place robust screening and monitoring arrangements to detect and isolate cases at home.

A few weeks ago I returned from my third visit to Sierra Leone in five months. In that time there have been significant improvements. The number of cases per week has reduced from well over 500 in November to less than 60 now. Our strategy is working, and President Koroma and others have thanked the United Kingdom Government and the United Kingdom public for their critical and unwavering support.

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I am extremely proud that Britain’s support means there are now enough Ebola beds, testing labs, trained burial teams and an effective command and control structure to track down the disease across Sierra Leone and stop it spreading further. The challenge now is to get to zero cases as quickly as possible. That is not going to be easy. We are looking at months, not weeks, till the end of this crisis, but we have the right people and the right plan in place to deal with this. The United Kingdom will continue to provide critical support to this response, particularly in the health sector, where we will help Sierra Leone tackle future disease outbreaks. We will hold our nerve and stay the course. This ongoing package of support will now bring our total commitment to this response and the country’s early recovery to £427 million.

The United Kingdom response will change as we transition into the next phase. After six months on station, RFA “Argus” will sail as previously planned by the end of this month, having provided critical support to military and civilian volunteers on the ground. We will maintain the healthcare capabilities she has provided through continued United Kingdom military support at an enhanced MoD clinic in Freetown. Her helicopter capabilities will be replaced by commercial providers. Military personnel will also continue to play an important role at the dedicated Kerry Town Ebola treatment facility for healthcare workers and in supporting our Sierra Leonean partners with command and control to respond to district level outbreaks.

Although the last planned deployment of NHS staff is due to end this month, we are mindful of further spikes in the case load. To this end we have arranged for an NHS standby team to be on call to deploy within 48 hours. Throughout this response the co-operation of the NHS, the NHS trusts and Public Health England has been tremendous, both in Sierra Leone and at home. Over 150 NHS staff have so far been deployed to fight Ebola. That is testament to the superb flexibility of its staff at all levels. Our support through Public Health England on labs will continue, as testing capacity is vital to the continued effort.

We are also planning for recovery. The Ebola crisis has disrupted markets and access to food and other essentials for many families. It has put an enormous strain on the country’s healthcare system and it has caused a generation of children to miss nearly a year of school. For too many children, the Ebola crisis has resulted in a breakdown of family and community protection systems. Over 9,000 children are registered as having lost one or both parents in this crisis. They are vulnerable to neglect, abuse and exploitation.

Continued leadership from the Governments in the region will be crucial to maintain the momentum. I welcome President Koroma’s leadership and clear message that there can be no half-victories. We will work with the Government of Sierra Leone to reopen schools and hospitals safely, and ensure that those most at risk of stigma, including orphans, have the support that they need.

Throughout the response, we have received critical support from international partners to help us staff treatment centres and labs across the country. I was in

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Brussels last week to ensure that the international community remains engaged—first to defeat Ebola, and then to help Sierra Leone and the countries of the region back on to a path to sustainable recovery.

The international community must also learn lessons from this outbreak and, together with the Governments of the affected countries, build a more resilient system for the future. We must do everything that we can to ensure that a crisis of this nature never happens again.

In conclusion, the United Kingdom did not stand on the sidelines when Sierra Leone needed us, and our strategy has saved thousands of lives and protected millions more around the world. This response, though far from over, has shown the very best of what the United Kingdom can do overseas. I am incredibly proud of the way that we have stepped up to this challenge, and delivered in the toughest of circumstances. And so I am pleased to confirm that Her Majesty has agreed to honour this tremendous effort with the striking of a medal. I commend this Statement to the House”.

3.36 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. My thoughts today, and I believe those of all noble Lords, will be with the military healthcare worker who has tested positive for Ebola, wishing her a speedy recovery as she returns to Britain. Our thoughts go also to her family and friends at this stressful time. I understand from the discussion in the other place that the four other personnel who may have come into contact are also being flown home, and we wish them well, too.

As a nation, we can be incredibly proud of the dedication and bravery of the British troops, health workers and charity workers who have travelled to west Africa to tackle Ebola. We on this side continue to support the Government’s efforts to tackle Ebola and get to zero cases as soon as possible. This outbreak has seen 24,000 reported cases and nearly 10,000 deaths. As the Minister said, over 20,000 children are now orphans—vulnerable, traumatised and often stigmatised. However, Professor Chris Whitty, chief scientific adviser to DfID, said:

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

The Government rightly identify defeating Ebola as quickly as possible as the most important step in giving Sierra Leone the best chance of successful reconstruction and development in the long term. It is also right to be planning for that long term now. It is imperative that, once the immediate crisis is over, the eyes of the world do not turn away from that region. In December, the International Development Committee of the other place recommended that DfID convene a global conference in early 2015 to agree a common plan for post-crisis reconstruction in the region. What progress has been made on this recommendation? Also, what is the Minister’s assessment of how well prepared for Ebola the neighbouring countries are? What plans does DfID have to scale up work in Guinea, which today threatens to compromise progress in Sierra Leone and Liberia?

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The outbreak has shown the limitations of the global community’s approach to healthcare in developing countries—and, as the Minister said, it has triggered a huge debate on reform the WHO and whether it is fit for purpose. Will the Minister tell the House what practical steps the department has taken in pressing for a review of the international approach to health emergencies, incorporating the function, structure and funding of the WHO and the role and expectations of major donors? It is view of the International Development Committee that DfID should not wait until its 2015 multilateral aid review to do this; it believes—in my view, quite rightly—that the urgency of the situation warrants immediate action.

This crisis underscores the importance of investing in a strong system of research and development for global health. As Justine Greening said:

“The development of new technologies is vital if we are to improve the health of the poorest people through better treatment and prevention”.

Will the Minister commit to prioritising within DfID, and promoting among other key donors, the need properly to fund and support research and development for global health? In the development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs, we have a broken market. The cost of bringing forward a drug or vaccine and taking it through the necessary regulatory process means that pharmaceutical companies prefer to focus on diseases in affluent markets rather than diseases such as Ebola and TB, which affect the poorest and most vulnerable. Will the Minister support within government the recommendation from the HIV/AIDS APPG that the UK commissions an economic paper to contrast the total costs of developing and purchasing medical tools using the current R&D model with the costs of a delinked model?

The best way to protect against disease is to build a resilient, government-controlled and government-funded health service. Will the Minister tell the House how much bilateral funding the UK will give to support the health sectors of Sierra Leone and Liberia next year to rebuild community trust?

There is a consensus that the global community failed to respond adequately to this outbreak. We need to learn the lessons and ensure that we are better prepared. Does the Minister accept that this reinforces the case for universal healthcare systems, free at the point of access, and that we should use this language in a stand-alone health goal in the forthcoming UN negotiations on the SDGs? Building robust, fair and accessible health systems is ultimately a political decision. Does the Minister agree that we must work with leaders in developing countries and help them generate adequate funding themselves as well as from donors to build better health systems that ensure that no one is left behind?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his general support and for the bilateral approach that we adopt on these occasions.

I shall first update the House on the position of the healthcare worker who is now back in the United Kingdom. Indeed, I think that by now she is in the Royal Free Hospital. Our thoughts are with her and

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her family and friends. On that flight, there were two other healthcare workers who, I think, are also in the Royal Free Hospital as a precautionary measure. There are two other health workers who are being monitored in Sierra Leone as a precautionary measure, and they may be flown back to the United Kingdom. That is, as I understand it, the current position, and our thoughts are very much with them and their families and friends.

The noble Lord spoke about the need to ensure that the healthcare system in Sierra Leone recovers on the other side of this crisis. Work is under way to ensure that that happens. He referred to loss of life from things other than Ebola, which is the case. We are approaching the rainy season, when malaria will be a threat. Measles vaccination is also vital as are maternity care and so on. There has been loss of life from many other causes, which is why the period of recovery—on the other side of this dreadful disease—is important. It remains the aim to get to zero and that is clearly the right approach, but the other side of this is a recovery phase for the health service and education. Of the £100 million increase in the budget figures—there was mention of £427 million; it is actually up from £325 million —half will be spent on the recovery phase, so that will be going into the healthcare and education sectors to meet the other health problems and emergencies that the noble Lord quite rightly referred to.

The noble Lord also raised the issue of vaccines and the healthcare measures taken via the private sector. Work is under way via GlaxoSmithKline, which has been trialling a vaccine in Liberia. That is going well and trials will be started in Sierra Leone. To that, the Government have committed, I believe, £2 million, which has not been drawn down as yet. As I said, the overall position is one of steady progress. I will not call it a problem—of course, we want zero cases—but the fewer cases there are, the more difficult it becomes in a sense to trial the vaccine on patients. As the noble Lord said, vaccines and trials are clearly important.

The noble Lord spoke of the importance of a universal healthcare system and I certainly agree with that. It is something that we are very focused on. As I think the Statement of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in another place made clear, our commitment will go on beyond the point where the cases are down to zero. It is a continuing commitment.

Regarding the other two states that the noble Lord mentioned, Liberia has chiefly been getting United States support and Guinea French support. For historical reasons perhaps and reasons of inextricable ties with Sierra Leone, our support has been focused on Sierra Leone, but success is dependent on getting support across all the countries. We are seeking to do that both through collaboration with our partner countries in those two states and through the WHO.

The noble Lord will be aware that the Prime Minister, at the G20 in Brisbane in November last year, spoke about how important it was that we have an early mechanism through the World Health Organization for dealing with health emergencies and being on the front foot. The WHO accepted that in its January meeting and it will carry that forward. We will be watching and continuing to press to make sure that we

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have that early response because, as the noble Lord rightly identified, it is key to dealing with this sort of crisis.

3.47 pm

Lord Chidgey (LD): My Lords, first, I express the concerns from these Benches for the welfare of the young military healthcare worker who is now in the Royal Free Hospital. Our thoughts, too, are of course with her family at this time.

We commend the dedication, the skill and the bravery of the UK Armed Forces personnel who have been in Sierra Leone and of course the NHS volunteers who have accompanied them. We also commend the work of the Save the Children organisation and other funds in caring for more than 9,000 orphan children, protecting them from neglect, abuse and exploitation.

The recent renewed outbreak of Ebola cases around Freetown is a clear warning that this crisis is far from over. Does my noble friend agree that much more needs to be done to tackle the root of the problem, which is generally accepted to be the almost non-existent primary healthcare in the very remote and inaccessible mountainous forest region on the Guinea/Sierra Leone border? To put this in perspective, the border is a transient thing through the middle of forests and over mountains. The people who live in the remote villages there do not necessarily recognise the border; they recognise their neighbours, who may be living, by definition, in a different country. The people living in these very remote and relatively primitive villages rely almost entirely on traditional healers when they fall ill. This is a group of people, by the way, who have suffered a tremendous number of casualties in their attempts to help their fellow villagers.

What action is the United Kingdom taking to assist our French counterparts, who, as the Minister pointed out, have taken some responsibility to work with the Guinean authorities to try to tackle the problem? They are faced, as are the Guineans, with the task of containing Ebola in extreme circumstances almost beyond imagination. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his kind words in relation to the United Kingdom public sector workers, both in defence and the National Health Service. They are a matter of great pride for the Government and the whole country. He is right, there are a substantial number of volunteers in Sierra Leone who have gone out from the United Kingdom—more than 130 since the crisis started—and many more are on the public register indicating a willingness to help and to serve there. It is remarkable. We should be proud of this; it is totally humbling.

As the noble Lord said, we must not become complacent about the situation. It is true that it is improving but there will be spikes along the way. We must work hard at reducing the number of cases to zero.

The noble Lord referred to the root of the problem. It is true, again, as he has indicated, that healthcare, particularly in the rural parts of Sierra Leone, is not what one would want and clearly has to be addressed. Ironically, there had been considerable improvements in the healthcare system in Sierra Leone over the

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decade prior to this outbreak. Life expectancy had increased quite massively, maternity care was better and so on. We must get back that momentum, go beyond it and work with our partners in other countries, as he indicated.

The noble Lord also referred to old practices, which is certainly true in healthcare and true in burials, which have been a particular problem. It is a matter that we have had to address because many of the deaths have stemmed from unacceptable practices in relation to burials.

Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB): My Lords, does the Minister agree that the countries affected by Ebola need to be educated not to eat bush meat, such as that of fruit bats? Should there not be better sewerage works and clean water in the towns and villages? I am pleased to hear that religious leaders seem to have got together over Ebola, which must be a good thing.

Prevention of such terrible infections must surely be the priority in the long term. I congratulate the specialised team at the Royal Free Hospital on its work and send it and its patients our best wishes.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness. Clearly, education is vital. As I indicated through the Statement, traditional education has been at a standstill for most children for a year but learning materials and mobile libraries have helped to stem some of the problems. Teachers, meanwhile, have been tasked with ensuring that messages go out about safe practices, health, sanitation and so on. I hope that will help. I thank the noble Baroness for her constructive comments.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, we should acknowledge that all military and civilian healthcare workers and volunteers who have travelled to Sierra Leone to work in healthcare during the Ebola crisis know that, despite all the precautions, they are placing themselves at risk. That should be acknowledged and I pay tribute to their bravery and the work that they do.

Does the Minister recall that previously—I think it was towards the end of last year—when healthcare workers returned home from Sierra Leone, they complained that the checks that were undertaken on arrival were inadequate and could have placed them and others at risk? It was not that the identified checks that should have taken place were wrong but that protocols were not followed at the time. For example, they were advised that they could travel home by public transport but then not travel on public transport for the next month. That is clearly inadequate and I hope that the Government have had the opportunity to review those protocols. Can the Minister update the House on the arrangements that have been made for healthcare workers and volunteers who return home to ensure that they are properly checked and treated appropriately?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: I thank the noble Baroness for her comments and totally agree with her points about bravery, as I have indicated. On screening passengers arriving from affected countries, she will know that the regular direct service between Sierra

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Leone and the United Kingdom has been suspended sine die, which I am sure is appropriate. We have enhanced the screening in place at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester airports, and at the St Pancras Eurostar service, where the vast majority of people travelling from affected areas arrive. No screening procedure will be able to identify 100% of the people arriving, but we are confident that the measures we have come close to that, and we obviously keep them under review.

Lord Fowler (Con): My Lords, we obviously all join the Minister in hoping for the recovery of the healthcare worker and in his tribute to everyone from the UK working in Sierra Leone, who work in some danger to their own health. But is not the crucial part of the Statement that he has just made the aspiration to build a more resilient health system for the future? Are there not too many health systems in Africa that are simply not fit for purpose and which do not serve the public in those countries adequately? This week, we made a very important decision on development aid, on an all-party basis, but I wonder whether the next step should not be to devote even more resources in that development budget to improving healthcare around the world, particularly in these countries. Is that a message that he can take back to the department?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, my noble friend is correct. Clearly, the most immediate aim is to ensure that we get the number of cases down to zero. That is in sight, although it will take months not weeks. Beyond that, the aim is to build a resilient healthcare system for the future in Sierra Leone. There is the personal commitment of the Secretary of State to that and an ongoing commitment from the Government to Sierra Leone. Beyond that, I very much hope that this can be an object lesson for the future in how to achieve that in Africa and, indeed, globally. I will certainly take that message back. It is something we should all cherish and aim for.

Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, I, too, endorse the comments from Peers across the Chamber in support of UK emergency health workers and our Armed Forces, who, in the face of the challenging incidence of this preventable condition, are supporting the health service in Guinea and Sierra Leone. However, to some extent, this pales into insignificance compared to the pressure on the local health workers in these countries. I follow on from the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, and strongly endorse my noble friend Lord Fowler, in asking about the recommendation in the eighth report of the International Development Committee in another place of a spring conference to consider putting a legacy in place. The Government’s response was that they were going to take part actively in the conference scheduled for last week by the EU, the African Union and the United Nations Secretary-General on forward planning and legacy. If my noble friend cannot update the House today on the conclusions of that conference, will he be able to present an update to the Library of

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the House so that all Members can be clear as to what the legacy and the UK’s leadership role will be in the future?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: First, my noble friend is absolutely right to pay tribute, too, to the local health workers from Sierra Leone, who obviously face the same dangers and are working tirelessly, as are our own public servants, to deal with this tragic emergency. I shall update noble Lords on the position on the spring conference. At the Brussels conference, which was referred to in the Statement, the Secretary of State again ensured that the international message is going out loud and clear. The World Health Organization has its annual meeting in May, which is another crucial date for making sure that the forward planning for dealing with such situations in future is in place. Further to that, I will respond in writing to the specific question that my noble friend asked and ensure that a copy is placed in the Library.

Baroness Thornton (Lab): My Lords, the Royal Free is my local hospital so I am absolutely sure that people will be receiving the best possible care and attention. I am rather proud that my local hospital is providing this service. I want to ask the Minister about building the resilience of local communities in Sierra Leone and to mention in particular and pay credit to an organisation called Restless Development. It specifically recruits young people on the ground to work in their local communities and has been doing it for some time. When the Ebola epidemic happened in Sierra Leone it called together its volunteers. It now has more than 1,700 young people working on the ground in Sierra Leone in more than 7,000 communities. Their job is to work with those communities to trigger those communities to react to protect themselves and to do so within their own resources. I commend the work of Restless Development and I hope that the British Government will continue their support for it, which has allowed it to do this very good work.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: I thank the noble Baroness very much indeed for those comments about the work of local communities, which is clearly key to ensuring that the proper messages go out. We are focusing work, through local communities, on getting messages out about appropriate healthcare, sanitation and so on, but also on trying to alter attitudes to some of the stigma that is associated with orphans and people who have lost close relatives and so on, who will have been in touch with people who have had Ebola. That is a massive challenge too.

I thank the noble Baroness for her comments about Restless Development. I will make sure that the Secretary of State is well aware of her views and the information that she has imparted about the good work that it does. I hope that that can continue. It is important that we work within the local communities on the health messages and messages about burials, as well as ensuring that we have local faith leaders fully onboard to make sure that we get these cases down to zero, which is the Government’s main—indeed, immediate —aim.

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Lord Colwyn (Con): Does my noble friend have any news about the development and manufacture of an Ebola vaccine?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My noble friend should be aware that Glaxo-Wellcome has been working on a vaccine in Liberia. There is some progress on the first phase of those trials. As I understand it, it is going into another phase. For the moment that work has

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been focused in Liberia, but it is now moving into Sierra Leone. There is some progress, but clearly more work needs to be done. The Government have committed £2 million to that project so we are watching that development very closely. Clearly, a vaccine is a breakthrough that we all would welcome massively. There is early progress, but still a long way to go.

House adjourned at 4.02 pm.