Clauses 1 to 7, which eradicate the poverty targets, are a very simple solution to the problem—they aim not to abolish poverty itself but simply the targets in the framework that has enabled successive Governments to examine, understand, chart and attack poverty. As we have heard many times already, the targets would be replaced by a set of life chances. It is a solution worthy of Kafka. The Government, as we have heard, are virtually alone in defending this. My own figures—perhaps the Minister can confirm this—say that 97% of respondents to the consultation on the new measures believe that the targets under the Child Poverty Act should be retained; a mere 3% disagreed. Can the Minister in winding up tell us who constituted the 3%? It would be quite interesting to know who agreed with him.

The reasons for the abolition are pretty unsubtle. Those income measures tell a graphic story of failure: half a million more children will be in absolute poverty after 2016 and a likely 4.7 million will be in absolute poverty by 2020. Clearly, income is no longer an indication, let alone a determinant, of poverty, because the Government decree it so. I find it astonishing that this can be defended with any integrity or logic, yet we know that the Minister is a man of great intelligence and integrity. Instead of robust, independent targets that will impose on the Government reporting requirements and accountability for troubled families, worklessness and educational achievement—these are the substitutes for the hard measures of income poverty. They are not, as they have been described by the Minister in another place, measures of poverty. They are not the root causes of poverty. Research shows that they are more likely to be the outcomes of poverty. There is a mass of evidence showing the proven link between poverty and educational failure, and much of the other indicators. If the Government were serious about the root causes of poverty, they can do something very simple: keep the income measures in place, add them to the new measures of life chances, explore the relationship between them and devise policies to attack them.

When I think about what the Government are trying to do by redefining poverty, I think of a young man I heard about last week. He is a student who was unable to go to school because he had only one shirt. When it was washed he had to wait for it to dry, but there was no money for the meter, so he missed school.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 97

That is what poverty means: it means having no money for the meter, not having a spare shirt or a spare pair of shoes. That young man possibly came from a troubled family, and it would be good to measure his educational achievement and his social mobility, although it would take years and involve sophisticated methodologies. The point is, by dismantling the full picture of the impact of policies on incomes of families in and out of work, we cannot equip ourselves to understand or frame the policies that have the greatest effect, let alone eradicate material poverty.

One of the most disingenuous aspects of this part of the Bill is that the new measures proposed are at most half measures. The most egregious gap is that there is no measure for the poverty of families in work—those families attacked by the attempted tax credit changes. Another is that there is no reference or target for measuring the cost of housing on families, at a time when working families are being priced out of the private rented sector. Will the Minister explain why these measures do not take into account those two most fundamental aspects of family costs?

That brings me to the second area: housing. As we have heard, Clause 21 introduces a 1% reduction to social housing rents for each of four years, beginning in April 2016. It looks like a sensible step and has been cautiously welcomed. What are not welcome are the perverse consequences. The predicted loss of income to housing associations is £3.85 billion. The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated a loss of 14,000 homes; the National Housing Federation, 27,000. Which of these figures does the Minister agree with, or does he have an alternative figure? There is only one way to compensate for this: maintain funding for the affordable homes programme. Will he give us that assurance?

As we have heard, some of the most vulnerable people in society will be badly hurt by these reductions in rent. These are people in supported housing, people who need shelter from domestic abuse, people who would otherwise be on the streets. It is the most expensive form of housing support. It carries high rents. As the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, said, housing associations are already cutting back on their plans. It is such a false economy. Supported housing is estimated to save the country about £640 million a year. In 10 years’ time the shortfall, if these plans go ahead, will be 46,000 homes. The only certain prognosis is a massive increase in homelessness and greater cost to the NHS. This is yet another example of the dysfunctional disconnect between housing and health policy. The Bill has already been amended in the House of Commons to allow for some limited exemptions. I urge the Minister to do what many of the agencies that really know what they are talking about are asking him to do and introduce an amendment for the whole of the supported housing sector. That is the only thing that we can do to guarantee viability.

Finally, I come back to a very significant point about young people. The Government announced in the Budget that 18 to 21 year-olds making a new claim for universal credit will not be automatically entitled to support with their housing costs. As yet, the details are unclear, as is the process of implementation, but there

17 Nov 2015 : Column 98

is widespread concern that many young people may not fall into a protected category. Already, 8% of 16 to 24 year-olds report homelessness. The last thing we want is more young people recruited on to the streets. Will the Minister give us an assurance this evening that he will provide the list of exemptions that takes into account all the reasons that young people may need support with their housing costs, and that this will be the subject of wide consultation before any regulations are brought forward?

In conclusion, in his foreword to the Cabinet Office briefing on the Bill, the Prime Minister said that the Bill was designed to champion social justice. We on this side of the House have a better idea of what social justice means. It does not mean cutting benefits. It does not mean removing a guaranteed framework so that you know how many people are in poverty and whether those figures are going up or down. It means being fair and introducing policies that really support families and the most vulnerable in our society.

9.06 pm

Baroness Stroud (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it is an honour and a privilege to stand before you today for the first time as a Member of this House. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of Members on both sides of this House as they have supported me in taking my seat here. I would also like to thank the doorkeepers who, on various occasions, have found me on red-carpeted corridors going in the wrong direction and have simply turned me around and pointed me back in the right direction. I thank too my noble friends Lord Freud and Lord Farmer, who introduced me to the House as my supporters. I have worked with the noble Lord, Lord Freud, for five years in the Department for Work and Pensions, and have known the support of the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for eight years at the Centre for Social Justice. I cannot think of two better men to be my supporters and I thank them.

There is a line in the Queen’s Letters Patent to each of us which says:

“I give you a seat, a place and a voice”.

To have a place and be able to sit in this House is nothing short of a privilege, but to have a voice here is nothing short of a responsibility. It is my desire to use my voice in this House to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

I first became convinced that it was possible to see those in poverty completely turn their lives around when I left university—a few more years ago than I care to admit to. I went to live in Hong Kong. I lived in a place called the Walled City, a slum area rife with drug trading and prostitution. I worked with drug addicts to take them off drugs and see them completely rehabilitated. It was not the drug withdrawal process that really astounded me, however: it was the life change that followed—the rebuilding of learning to work again, of family relationships, of learning how to manage one’s finances and deal with one’s mental health problems. This is where the true courage of those who I worked among really lay. This is when I became convinced that true personal change was absolutely possible.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 99

I came back to the UK to see if the same transformation was possible here too. Working with those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions and those with mental health problems, I started a night shelter, then a hostel, then a rehabilitation house and a halfway house back into the community. We saw lives transformed here too and it taught me not to sell anybody short with a maintenance culture, but to support the innate human desire of individuals to fight their way out of poverty and to take every opportunity available to them.

After 17 years of front-line poverty fighting I had built organisations that cared for 50 people for one night and another 50 for another night. But I found that down the road there were another 50—and in the next town another 50, and in the one after that. So I started asking: how do you translate up on to a national level the lessons that we had been learning on a local level?

It was at this point that I met Iain Duncan Smith and founded the Centre for Social Justice, which was all about translating solutions to poverty from local levels up on to a national level. It was about tackling the root causes of poverty and not just the symptoms. If we were to get ahead of the curve and start addressing the real problems, we needed to turn off the tap and not just pick up the pieces. We identified family breakdown, the failure of our education system for the poorest, addiction, debt and worklessness as the key drivers of social breakdown. It started with the understanding that if you are born into a family who love you and care for you, if you go to a good school, do not get involved in drugs or get into debt and have a job, your chances of being poor are really remote. But if one of those drivers turns—you lose your job, say—or a second turns so that you lose your job and get into debt, your life begins to destabilise. If you lose your job, get into debt and experience family breakdown, things become really tough for you. If all five of those pathways reverse, you become entrenched in poverty and without some other external intervention, you are unlikely to see the life transformation which you as an individual long for.

These five pathways, developed at the Centre for Social Justice and informed by front-line poverty-fighting organisations from all over the UK, have become the building block of the Government’s life chances strategy. This is a life chances measure, which is about saying, “Let’s actually tackle the reasons why someone is poor. Let’s support people by removing the obstacles that confront families so that they can take responsibility for their own lives”. It is about saying: let us challenge the risk of future poverty, by narrowing the educational attainment gap, and challenge current poverty by ensuring that children grow up in working households—preferably full-time working households. But let us ensure that the entrenching factors of family breakdown, mental health, serious personal debt and addiction are challenged, too.

Since I arrived in this House I have been deeply moved, in listening to the debates from all sides of the House, by the genuine care, compassion and commitment that exists in this place for disadvantaged people. It is my wish to add my voice and experience to support those who are the most vulnerable, and to ensure that every life chance is given and every obstacle torn down.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 100

9.13 pm

Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con): I congratulate my noble friend Lady Stroud, whom I have known and worked with for some time, on her maiden speech. We worked at the CSJ on Breakdown Britain and Breakthrough Britain, and I compliment her on identifying not just problems but the solutions that make a real difference to the lives of people. She is committed, knowledgeable and incisive regarding the issues and the solutions we need to put in place. This House will be the richer for her contribution and involvement. From all my dealings with her, the one thing I would say is that she is very good at challenging herself and her colleagues—and, I hope, the whole House—to do that which is best for those who need us most.

I support the principles behind this welfare Bill. While I am sure that it will have been quoted many times, I fully support the objective of doing all we can to move our country and the individuals in it from a low-wage, high-tax and high-welfare society to a higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare economy. This principle will ensure that work always pays more than a life on benefits and that support is focused on the most vulnerable in a way that they need. We must not miss the point that the system must be fair, as Lord Blencathra explained, to all those who have put in and those who receive the help they need. I do not mean being fair to one group at the expense of another; I mean basic fairness.

We heard about China tonight. I am thankful that we live in a democracy that allows everybody in this House to stand up and say exactly how they see the situation. People listen, and some people’s views may well be changed, but we need to make sure we work together to get the best of this Bill for those who need it most.

I will focus on apprenticeships. Clause 2 introduces a duty to report annually on the progress being made towards the Government’s ambitious target of 3 million apprenticeships being started in England during this Parliament. That figure is ambitious, but we have to be ambitious for the people we want to take part in apprenticeships. However, our ambitions must not stop at the quantity of apprenticeships; we must also consider their quality.

It is encouraging to know that in development are more than 140 Trailblazer groups, involving more than 1,300 employers and 187 published approved apprenticeship standards. Of these, more than 60 are higher and degree apprenticeships, and more than 160 are new, approved English apprenticeship standards. Provisional data show that during the last Parliament, there were 2.3 million apprenticeship starts, of which more than 600,000—26%—were taken by 16 to 18 year-olds. We need to build capacity for more 16 to 18 year-olds in approved apprenticeships.

For me, apprenticeships have three benefits: for the participants, for the employers and for the economy. I will talk about the participants. Apprenticeships are part of the journey of people who want and need to make a successful transition from education to employment. I have spoken many times in this House about the need to take young people on a journey and support them. Apprenticeships introduce young people

17 Nov 2015 : Column 101

in particular to the world of work. They do not just produce work experience but, most important, they provide real experience of the world of work and give young people the necessary skills.

Research by London Economics shows that the lifetime benefits associated with apprenticeships at Levels 2 and 3 are significant: between £48,000 and £74,000 for Level 2, and between £77,000 and £117,000 for Level 3. Higher apprentices can earn up to £150,000 more, on average, over their lifetime than those with just vocational qualifications. I am a great believer in evaluating programmes. In 2014 an apprenticeship evaluation showed that 89% of apprentices were satisfied with their apprenticeship; 85% said that their ability to do the job had improved; and 83% said that their career prospects had improved. Apprenticeships are good for apprentices. Nine out of 10 of all apprenticeship completers—88%—are in either full or part-time employment, seven out of 10 with the same employer.

Secondly, apprenticeships are good for employers. According to the 2014 apprenticeship evaluation, 82% of employers were satisfied with the programme, while 70% reported that apprenticeships had improved the quality of their product or service. That is an excellent basis on which to build to ensure that quality as well as quantity is maintained. I fully accept that larger employers have the capacity and infrastructure to accommodate and support apprenticeships. I am pleased at the number of SMEs that are giving such opportunities, but sometimes they do not have the capacity and infrastructure to do as well as they want. Are we doing enough to support SMEs to make sure that they play their full role and give young people the opportunities that they should? I would also like to encourage the whole public sector to open their minds more to providing apprenticeship roles.

Thirdly, the economy as a whole benefits from apprenticeships, as people are upskilled and make a good transition from education to employment and understand how they can play their full role in the business. That helps our economy to continue to grow.

In summary, we have a welfare Bill that aims to ensure that we do better for people. I am sure we will have a big debate about the rights and wrongs of that, but let us not only have the debate but find some really good solutions, so that many who start their journey can, with our support, complete it and reach a good destination. Apprenticeships are a key, fundamental part of that journey, and quality is important. None of these things will happen unless employers, particularly SMEs, are able to deliver good quality apprenticeships and, as a result, a good economy.

I look forward to the continuing debate and, with some trepidation, to the continuing challenge. But I hope that the hearts of every one of us will beat in concert, and at the end of the day we will do the right thing for the people whom we in this House are here to serve.

9.21 pm

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Lab): My Lords, last week in my capacity as chair of the National Housing Federation, I hosted a briefing on this Bill. One of the speakers was the chief executive of an NHF member organisation, St Mungo’s Broadway. St Mungo’s provides

17 Nov 2015 : Column 102

supported housing for about 3,600 people a year. On any one night, about 2,500 people are in its hostels, semi-independent housing or care homes. St Mungo’s provides vital support to help people to gain the skills and confidence to recover from homelessness and to live as independently as possible. The CEO was enormously concerned that, under the Government’s plan to reduce social housing rents as set out in this Bill, it will not be able to deliver for homeless and vulnerable people on anything like the same scale. Taking into account the rental income that it had anticipated over this period, it expects to lose £4 million, and local authority cuts over the same four-year period will mean further falls in income. These cuts will mean that St Mungo’s will have to stop running some of its vital supported housing schemes. Their residents have slept rough, been in prison, have a mental health problem or a significant physical health condition; more than half have a substance-use problem, and their problems often overlap. They need skilled and intensive housing management and support. Who else will provide it if schemes like these are forced to close?

Housing associations up and down the country will face the same dilemma. They are committed to building the homes the country needs and will do all they can to continue with this vital work, but we underestimate at our peril the impact of the 1% rent reduction over the next four years. The result is an estimated loss of more than £3.85 billion in rental income. This will have a significant impact on all associations; it will have a particularly severe impact on the provision of supported housing for vulnerable people, including domestic abuse refuges, homelessness hostels and homes for veterans and people with disabilities. Like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans—I thought he set out the issues extremely well—and many other noble Lords in this debate today, I am deeply concerned that the rent reduction will result in a serious lack of provision for people with complex problems and high support needs.

I have had numerous examples from all over the country. I will mention just two: Framework in Nottingham estimates losing 240 high support units over the next four years, and Riverside based in Liverpool says that 32 of its 102 supported housing schemes will become loss-making as a result of the rent reduction. As well as this, the policy will add greater cost to the public purse. The Homes and Communities Agency recently estimated that the net financial benefit of specialist housing was about £640 million overall. Excluding specified accommodation from the rent reduction measure would result in a reduction in the overall savings delivered by this policy of around £93.5 million in year 4—over six times less than the savings that specialist housing offers the public.

As others have said, the Government have acknowledged that,

“the rent reduction measures may disproportionately impact on supported housing and may cause a reduction in service provision”.

The Bill was amended in another place to allow the possibility for organisational waivers. But the cost structures used by health, care and support providers are complex, and vary across the sector. The development of a waiver formula that is consistent and fair would be extremely challenging. As my noble friend Lady Andrews

17 Nov 2015 : Column 103

and other Members of this House have done already in this debate, I urge the Minister to agree that specified housing—in other words, housing for vulnerable people—should be excluded from the rent reduction requirement. I hope that the House will support this.

There are two other issues I want to touch on: the impact of the rent reduction on stock transfer organisations, and the impact of the benefit cap on housing affordability and temporary accommodation. Stock transfer organisations inherit from local authorities housing stock that needs improvement. They generally start out with a business plan that involves increasing rents in accordance with guidelines set by the regulator, and they use this anticipated revenue to underpin borrowings to undertake the much-needed improvements.

This means that the organisation’s finances are extremely tight in its early years of operation. The rent reduction will cause many of these organisations to struggle to deliver improvements promised to tenants at the time of the transfer. In some cases their financial viability will be put at risk. In regard to the benefit cap, a secure and decent home is often the starting point to help people back into work. The Bill’s proposal to lower the benefit cap to £23,000 in Greater London and £20,000 elsewhere will make housing unaffordable for thousands of families. This affordability challenge is not restricted to families renting in the private rented sector. The NHF’s modelling shows that a couple with three children would not be able to afford the average housing association rent on a three-bed property in any region. In London, families would face a shortfall between benefit and rent of £27.79 per week. The weekly shortfall under a £20,000 cap ranges from £37.40 in Yorkshire and Humberside to £67.35 in the south-east, based on the current rent agreement.

A lower benefit cap will have a particularly significant impact on families living in temporary accommodation. Temporary accommodation is a vital part of the homelessness safety net and is used by local authorities to house people who otherwise would need to be placed in more costly emergency interventions such as bed-and-breakfast accommodation. People placed in temporary accommodation by local authorities have little scope to move to reduce their housing costs, and are likely to be further from the job market. If they are no longer able to keep up with rent payments in temporary housing due to the cap, they may find themselves homeless again, and it is likely that local authorities will struggle to rehouse them. I hope the Minister will agree that people living in temporary accommodation should be treated in a similar way to tenants in supported exempt accommodation and have their housing costs omitted from the calculation of the cap.

The current system for regulating social rents is overly rigid and confusing. Currently rents are fixed by the Government, at either a percentage of the local private rent or the lower social rent level. Because private rents vary hugely across the country and do not rise and fall in proportion to local wages, housing association homes are much less affordable for customers in some places than in others. Surely it makes much more sense for housing associations to be able to set rents that reflect local market conditions and customer

17 Nov 2015 : Column 104

circumstances, within an overall envelope set by the Secretary of State. I urge the Government to give housing associations that flexibility.

The Bill will have some significant unintended consequences for the housing of some of the most vulnerable people in society. I hope that the Minister will be prepared to look carefully at exempting specified housing from the rent reduction. Will he agree to meet some of the providers of these schemes to hear their concerns first hand?

9.30 pm

Baroness Grey-Thompson (CB): My Lords, I welcome the Government’s manifesto commitment to halve the disability employment gap. I sincerely hope that the Bill will help to achieve that, but there are challenges along the way.

Scope’s analysis of the labour force survey indicates that between July and September 2011, 18.5% of the total number of unemployed people were disabled. The statistics from April to June 2015 indicate that disabled people now make up 26% of the total number of unemployed people. It is also estimated that a 10 percentage point increase in disability employment would increase GDP by £45 billion by 2030.

I believe that disabled people should be in work, but it is a complex issue. The Government have consistently said that they support the most vulnerable but it is no surprise that I have concerns about how we might achieve that. The importance of the annual report has been highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, and she is absolutely right, but it is more likely that a disabled person will be asked at interview how they go to the bathroom than whether they have the skills to do the job. In other contexts, I have frequently been asked that question. A non-disabled person would be utterly appalled if they were asked that in an interview, but disabled people wrongly expect this as the norm.

I hope that in Committee we will be able to explore what good reporting will look like and how value can be added. That is important because, once out of work, disabled people face considerable barriers to returning. Some 10% of unemployed disabled people have been out of work for five years or more, compared with just 3% of the non-disabled population. I live in the north-east of England, where in the past eight weeks 5,000 jobs have been lost. The chances of a disabled person finding work in this environment will be few and far between. In recommissioning for the work programme and Work Choice in 2017, the Government must develop detailed plans for specialist employment support programmes for disabled people, as recommended by the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee last month.

The current back-to-work support for disabled people is ineffective. The work programme may have been successful in helping to address cyclical unemployment but it has struggled to address the historically low employment rates among disabled people. Job outcomes for disabled people on the work programme are only 7.7% for new ESA customers and 3.9% for other ESA incapacity benefit customers. This is compared to a job outcome rate of 21.5% for JSA 25-plus customers. People referred to Work Choice between July and

17 Nov 2015 : Column 105

December 2014 had a job-start rate of 57.3% by June 2015, but Work Choice is small in scale and poorly targeted at disabled people on ESA.

I hope that the Minister will consult experts on what support into employment should look like, because the work capability assessment does not assess employment support needs. The level of financial support that a disabled person receives determines the employment support that they receive, but that is unhelpful because those two things are just not related.

I must apologise to the Minister that I am unable to attend the weekly Cross-Bench meeting tomorrow, where he will be speaking to my noble friends about this Bill, because I am launching a Citizens Advice report called Waiting for Credit, which looks at the universal credit rollout. It is vital that we get the correct implementation of this because it affects how disabled and non-disabled people are able to move in and out of work.

The noble Lord, Lord Low, has already mentioned that he, my noble friend Lady Meacher and I will be looking at ESA. I do not wish to pre-empt the findings but I imagine that there may be quite a number of amendments in this area. There is a great deal of concern. I do not want disabled people to be disincentivised from getting into work, and we need to explore further whether it creates a greater incentive for claimants to want to be placed in the support group. Given the limited support available to disabled people in the support group, it could have the negative impact of moving people further away from the workplace.

I would welcome a further discussion with the Minister about the impact assessment. I struggle to see how cutting support could incentivise disabled people into work, and I am looking forward to the DWP’s convincing arguments in this area.

There are also a number of issues to do with carers, who could be penalised by the lower benefit cap in the Bill. They make a huge contribution to society, but there is great complexity about whether they live in the same property and whether they are counted as a separate household, even if they do. We must consider how protection can be offered to carers who do not live in the same household. There are also many considerations for people with a life-limiting and potentially rapidly declining condition.

The noble Lord, Lord Borwick, raised the issue of Motability. I had a Motability car when I started learning to drive at 17, because insurance for a disabled person was ludicrous, twice the price of that for a new driver, which was blatant discrimination. It is better now, but under the changes that are coming, if a person loses their benefits they will lose their car. There was a recent case of Olivia Cork, a leg amputee, who was told she was not disabled enough. She went through the process and asked for reconsideration but was turned down. She now has to find £4,900 to be able to keep her car. In a Britain where there are many issues of accessibility to public transport, this is far more disabling than it is helping a disabled person get into work. Whizz-Kidz launched a campaign today looking at accessible travel. In London it is fine, but if you live in the north-east like I do it is really difficult for a disabled person to get around.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 106

There is so much that can be done to help disabled people, but so much is outside the Minister’s remit. I dream that one day we will actually have a joined-up Government. I am chair of ukactive, and last week we released Blueprint for an Active Britain; it contains a whole host of recommendations, such as having activity experts in GPs’ surgeries to help everybody become more active. The Minister said that work is beneficial—activity is beneficial too. We need to be looking at physical literacy for all. Many disabled children are excluded from physical activity and PE in school and there are clear links between educational attainment and activity, but that is outside the remit of the Bill.

I am also chair of the national Wheelchair Leadership Alliance; it is looking at provision of day chairs, which in England is a complete postcode lottery. I am grateful that we have had a lot of support from MPs and CCGs but the wrong wheelchair causes harm. It excludes children from school and people from work. To highlight the issue, I had a picture of myself taken in a wheelbarrow. It has a seat, wheels and handles but is absolutely no use to me. That is the problem of providing a wrong wheelchair. Access to Work has been through reforms. I am currently dealing with a case—it provided a woman with a chair but only gave her five-sevenths of the money towards it. It then suggested that she leave it in work over the weekend so she would not wear it out. These changes are simply bonkers. Instead of encouraging people to work, they are making it really difficult.

Finally, I was today considering why we are here and what we are trying to achieve. I saw a story in the Bristol Post this morning about a young lady called Lily Grace Hooper, who is at primary school. She had a stroke as a baby and is now blind. After a health and safety assessment, she was told that she cannot use her white cane in school in case she tripped people up, but she should have a full-time adult helper instead. What a waste of resources. I am sure there are decent intentions behind it, but it is patronising, it does not promote socialisation, it does not aid her education and it takes away any aspiration. This case sends out a really poor message to disabled people about their independence. The message is, “Why bother?”. I know that this decision was not made by the DWP or the Minister, but the message it sends out about the value of disabled people in society is very worrying. If the Government want disabled people in work, we need to look at the wider issues, not just treat them in isolation. If children are important—if we genuinely want to look at their life chances—children like Lily Grace Hooper deserve a much brighter future.

9.39 pm

Baroness Eaton (Con): My Lords, I declare an interest as a former chairman and current vice-president of the Local Government Association. Getting people into work and reforming welfare are two of the key priorities of this Government, building on the successes achieved over the past five years. In the previous Parliament, 1.9 million jobs were created, an average of 1,000 new jobs per day, more than in the rest of the European Union combined. Each of these new jobs represents a transformation in people’s lives, giving families more security, boosting the self-esteem of young

17 Nov 2015 : Column 107

people employed for the first time and providing renewed hope for the long-term unemployed. This successful record in relation to job creation is no accident. It is the product of hard work by people in every part of the country. It is thanks also to the Government’s long-term economic plan. However impressive this record is, it is not enough. The Government have set themselves the bold aim of achieving full employment, and this Bill introduces a duty on them to report to Parliament on the progress being made on this, which I welcome.

As other noble Lords mentioned, the Bill also introduces a duty on the Government to report to Parliament on progress towards another key aim: the achievement of 3 million apprenticeships in England. Over the past five years, the number of apprenticeships has reached record levels—2.2 million—but there is clearly more to be done. I strongly welcome the Government’s ambitions in this area, and I know that local government will be keen to play its part in meeting this target. Indeed, councils are currently leading the way in providing apprenticeship opportunities for young people in their local areas. By way of illustration, I will highlight just one example that I am aware of. Kent County Council, via the Kent Apprenticeship Programme, offers grants of up to £2,000 to businesses which take on a young person aged 18 to 24 who has previously been claiming out-of-work benefit.

The Government’s commitment to create 3 million new apprenticeships over the course of this Parliament has received universal support. It is absolutely right that we are prioritising apprenticeships, which provide a high-quality, accessible alternative for young people who are not pursuing the academic route. By championing apprenticeships, the Government are working in partnership with employers and further education providers to invest in the workforce of tomorrow. This is essential to the future success of our economy. Apprenticeships are also key to solving long-term unemployment. They provide a path for young people into work, a route out of benefit and a path to self-sufficiency and success.

As with all opportunities for young people, we must make sure that apprenticeships are accessible to those who are vulnerable or who need extra support to unlock their potential. We know that some young people will need additional support to transition effectively into work and become financially independent. Another group of particular concern is young people who have been in care. We know that these young people typically have much poorer outcomes than their peers. Multiple care placements too often lead to a disrupted education, which in turn means that they leave school without the necessary qualifications. Some 84% of children in care leave school without good GCSEs. In addition, many have emotional and mental health problems.

The Prime Minister used his party conference speech to restate his commitment to improving outcomes for children in care. As he said, the state has a responsibility, as their corporate parent, to provide them with opportunities by improving standards in our schools and performance in social services. We also need to think about what happens after a looked-after child becomes a young adult. The previous Government

17 Nov 2015 : Column 108

took some important steps forward, including the welcome introduction of Staying Put, which enables young people in foster care to remain with their foster families until the age of 21. We know that this has had a positive impact. But of course more needs to be done to help care leavers realise their ambitions and become independent.

The charity Barnardo’s has put forward a number of suggestions for improving access to apprenticeships for care leavers. There are two points that are worth consideration. The first is that we know some young people are not ready to start an apprenticeship straightaway. They may not have the academic qualifications they need, such as GCSEs in English and maths, or they may lack other skills needed for the workplace. What we must not do is to give up on these young people or write them off as unable to move into employment. Rather, we need to find the right pathways into work. Traineeships are an important way forward in this respect. The Government rightly identified that they can provide a useful transition between school and an apprenticeship or other forms of training or work. However, it is very important that these traineeships lead to paid work. I hope that Ministers will consider how we can ensure that traineeships provide an effective part of the solution to improving employment prospects for young people furthest from the workplace.

The other suggestion from Barnardo’s concerns young people who have the skills to do an apprenticeship but need support to complete it successfully. Let us consider, for instance, a care leaver who has qualifications but lacks what we often term “life skills” as a result of suffering trauma. For these young people, extra support either in the workplace or outside it is vital to boost their confidence and make sure that they stay on track. The challenge, of course, is that this kind of support has cost implications. I would welcome a discussion with the Minister to explore options for some kind of support fund for apprentices with additional needs.

In eight minutes, it is impossible to refer to all aspects of the Bill but, finally, I want to touch on the admittedly difficult issue of restricting child tax credit to two or fewer children. It is important that we understand that this Government have a mandate to reduce the welfare bill and that they need to be fair to the many working families whose budgets have to accommodate the cost of every additional child. In 2012, the average number of dependent children in families in the UK was 1.7. Limiting support through tax credits to two children is proportionate. Families on benefit should have to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work.

It is important to see this measure in the round. Child benefit will see no incursions, and the additional 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of three and four year-olds is worth £2,500 per child. I am relieved that the Government will treat multiple births as single births but with a child element for each sibling where there were previously fewer than two children in the household. I believe that the Government will be consulting on further exemptions, so obviously flexibility seems to be the order of the day.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 109

Achieving full employment and ensuring that those in work are rewarded are key to securing a just society and a prosperous economy. These are the two central ambitions of the Bill and, as such, it has my strong and enthusiastic support.

9.47 pm

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein (Lab): My Lords, I will try not to detain the House for too long at this hour. I want to speak, in particular, about the effects that this legislation will have on people with life-limiting illnesses and on those with terminal diagnoses. I want to follow on from a lot of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans and from some of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Browning.

As a nurse by profession, I could give many examples, but one that bears heavily on me is that of people living with motor neurone disease—that awful, usually rapidly progressing illness, which is always fatal. There is no cure, and it is a disease that I have seen at close hand.

We have heard much from the Government about the need to have a welfare system that is fair, that boosts employment; that is about choices, transforming lives, paying off the deficit and so on. The Conservative manifesto also promised—if I recall correctly—to protect people with disabilities and the most vulnerable in society. Therefore, I wonder why so many charitable organisations caring for the vulnerable and for those with differing disabilities are so concerned about the Bill—none more so than the Motor Neurone Disease Association, to which I should pay the warmest of tributes for its tireless work in supporting those living with MND and in supporting research into a possible cure.

One of the MNDA’s real concerns is the proposal to include the basic or main rate allowance of the employment support allowance in the freeze. People with motor neurone disease inevitably face rising costs as the disease progresses. If the Bill is enacted in its present form, they would be quite a bit worse off by 2019 or 2020.

A second issue causing much concern is the reduction in the benefit cap. This will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on those full-time, unpaid carers who do not live in the same household as the person they care for. This can include friends and/or family members who do not live in the same property. It could also include people who do live in the same property but who are counted as a separate household. For example, an adult living with and caring for an elderly parent or sibling may still be subject to the benefit cap. It cannot be right, therefore, that the inclusion of the carer’s allowance and bereavement allowance will affect full-time, unpaid carers in this way. In my view, these two allowances should be removed from the scope of the benefit cap.

Thirdly, there is very real concern about the question of mortgage interest. Converting this present benefit into a recoverable interest-bearing loan has the potential to leave many in great difficulty, not least those with an illness such as motor neurone disease, where the condition can deteriorate very quickly. In these situations, financial difficulties can follow just as rapidly. It cannot be right that people with life-limiting illnesses should be put in this position of possible financial crisis.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 110

How can the waiting period of 39 weeks before qualifying for this new loan be justified? In not a few cases, 39 weeks is actually longer than the time between diagnosis of motor neurone disease and death. The cumulative effect of the reforms I have referred to is a potentially adverse effect for many people with life-limiting illnesses.

All Governments will sometimes propose or do things that provoke disappointment, anger and a whole gamut of other emotions and reactions. However, I suspect that anyone with a nursing background such as mine, and who is familiar with life-limiting illnesses, is entitled to be profoundly upset and not a little angry that any political party that claims to be on the side of the people, not least people with illness and disability, would seek to deal with the deficit on the backs of those living with always fatal illnesses such as motor neurone disease.

Nothing in these proposals has anything whatever to do with fairness, boosting employment or making work pay. Penalising people with life-limiting illness will do nothing to build an economy based on higher pay—or any of the other reasons that might be advanced as justification for this Bill. Except it will, perhaps, make the tiniest of tiny dents in the deficit. But if so, to how many decimal points would the Treasury have to go to measure that very tiny dent? Even if it were measurable, the Treasury would never publish such a calculation. Given the track record of that department in recent times, it is not about caring but about dogma. Others are being left to pick up the pieces.

I do not believe for one moment that the Minister would wish these things on people with terminal illnesses or diseases such as motor neurone disease. I hope that he will, in replying, be able to give a commitment that the Government will attempt to address these very proper and real concerns raised on behalf of those with life-limiting illnesses, and that the Government can show that they are listening. I look forward very much to the Minister’s reply.

9.54 pm

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, it was a privilege and pleasure to hear the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Polak, and the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud. I much regret that business in the Moses Room prevented me hearing the two earlier maiden speeches, but of course I will read those later. I much look forward to further contributions from the noble Lords and the noble Baroness.

I warmly welcome many aspects of this Bill. I welcome the attention paid to the importance of employment, to apprenticeships, and I welcome the troubled families clause. I have some serious concerns as well, in particular with regard to removing the monitoring of child poverty. However, I would like to convey my admiration for the Government in achieving high rates of employment and coming through such a difficult economic crisis. When I speak with people from Spain who come here to work and I hear of the atrocious unemployment rates among young people there and the difficulties they face, it brings home to me the achievement of this Government. We now have the lowest rate of unemployment since 2008 and, I think, the highest rate of employment on record—a real, important achievement.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 111

This has been particularly brought home to me as I am a carer of a mentally ill, middle-aged man who has not worked for at least four years. What has brought a sense of possibility of escape from his depression and paranoia has been the recognition that, if he carries on as he is, he will be wasting his whole life doing nothing, and the hope that he might be able to return to the job that he thoroughly enjoyed doing in the past.

There is a checkout lady in my local supermarket who is due to give birth in December. She has just had her last day at work. I see her quite regularly and I see customers saying: “I wish you well”. This will be her first child, so she is a bit worried about it. Because she is in employment, she has a community of people around her who are encouraging and supporting her. She need not feel isolated.

Many noble Lords will be aware of the recent report on perinatal mental health which caused so much concern. It highlighted the problems of depression during and after pregnancy. At the launch of that report, I spoke with a psychiatrist. He said: “One can bear almost anything, as long as one does not have to do it on one’s own”. So a key aspect of the Government’s success in creating more employment is how it can break the isolation that so many long-term unemployed people can experience.

Reference has been made to the work of Louise Casey and the troubled families programme. I remember Louise Casey in her first important job—the Rough Sleepers’ Initiative. I saw her on a number of occasions inspiring the people on the ground and bringing about very important and welcome changes to provision for rough sleepers. One thing that she really hammered home was the need to have purposeful activity for those on the streets as soon as possible. They needed to have something useful to do. I want to make clear my admiration and respect for the Government in what they have been doing to help many people into employment in these difficult times.

I hope there may be time for me to speak about homelessness and housing need. I urge noble Lords to consider introducing a metric in this Bill to look at housing need. Shelter is perhaps the primary requisite for people from which they can then find work and educate themselves. If we are looking at poverty, we should be looking at housing poverty as well.

I am concerned at the decision to move away from a metric for child poverty in terms of income poverty. I had the privilege of hearing the right honourable Iain Duncan Smith about six or seven years ago when he came to speak at a dinner at the Michael Sieff Foundation conference. I am a trustee of that organisation. He spoke knowledgeably and passionately about the work he had been doing at the Centre for Social Justice with Graham Allen MP to tackle some of the long-standing social issues in Britain. We found it very refreshing to hear from a politician who was so committed and understood the issues at hand so well.

The area of the Bill I am looking at in particular concerns the metrics around child poverty, not only for children in workless households but also for those in working ones. Some two-thirds of children living in poverty are in working households. It is important

17 Nov 2015 : Column 112

that we keep a hold on these things. Perhaps it is presumptuous of me to say this, but I noticed that the last coalition Government recognised that the women’s vote is very important. Around half way through the last Parliament one suddenly had the sense that the Government were saying, “We really need to think about our policy towards women”. I have derived such pleasure and satisfaction from working with the noble Lord and his colleagues over the years and I worry that perhaps they might be shooting themselves in the foot. If the Government stop thinking about child poverty and if they do not look at how many children are in low-income circumstances and thus in material poverty, that might make women think that perhaps the Government are not sensitive to families, particularly vulnerable families. It may be very presumptuous of me to say this, but most of the people I work with are women because it seems that it is mostly women who are interested in family issues, as I am. I notice that polling with regard to women has been changing and they are becoming more concerned about these issues. The work done by Iain Duncan Smith in the past was so important because of the perception that, way back, the Conservative Party had become insensitive to some of these areas and that it was being too harsh. Indeed, it was a female politician, Theresa May, who raised this issue at a party conference.

I shall move on to housing. I noted the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Smith of Leigh, Lord Shipley and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, on this subject. I have spoken to many women who are in housing need or are homeless and they have told me about the instability in their lives. I have seen the poor conditions and overcrowding, of which perhaps the worst example was a woman living in a house in multiple occupation. She shared the kitchen and bathroom with five other families. She had a newborn baby and felt deeply isolated; indeed, she was in tears during our visit because she knew no one. I agree with the Minister that we need to think not only about income, but employment and other aspects such as education. We also need to think about housing need among vulnerable families, which should be monitored carefully.

Finally, there is the question of housing benefit being paid to tenants. I declare an interest as a landlord; fortunately I have not had the issue of tenants not paying their rent, but I understand that it is a serious concern for landlords. If we continue to pay housing benefit directly to tenants, there is the risk that many of them will fail to pay the rent and arrears will accrue, exacerbating the problems that have been talked about for housing associations and local authorities as regards their financial security. They will spend a lot of time and resource on chasing up arrears. This is a matter I hope to take up with the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, at a later point in the Bill. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

10.05 pm

Lord Young of Cookham (Con): My Lords, I have listened for the past six hours to this excellent debate with its high-quality maiden speeches with a growing sense of relief that I am no longer the Government’s Chief Whip, as some serious issues have been raised that will need addressing in Committee. As someone

17 Nov 2015 : Column 113

who was a Housing Minister, on and off, for 10 years and who chaired a housing association for seven years, I want to focus my remarks on the two clauses in the Bill that deal with housing, which were welcomed in another place by the Opposition Front Bench.

Looking at the clauses on support for mortgage interest, the Opposition spokesman said:

“We support reforms to mortgage interest support that will strengthen work incentives and deliver savings”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/7/15; col. 1265.]

Of the rent reductions, which have been controversial in today’s debate, the Opposition spokesman said:

“We want…reductions in social rents that will deliver savings to the taxpayer”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/7/15; col. 1273.]

So the housing element of the Bill ought to be less controversial than the rest of it.

Dealing first with support for mortgage interest, which was touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, and the noble Lord, Lord MacKenzie, turning a grant into a loan is a sensible way of cutting public expenditure without reducing support to the homeowner who faces difficulties. I will come to the extra waiting period in a moment, but it is difficult to justify the fact that a householder sitting on a substantial chunk of equity gets a grant from the taxpayer, leaving when he dies his estate to his beneficiaries, unencumbered by the help he has had from the taxpayer. It seems sensible to convert that from a grant to a loan, and I think that would be justifiable whether or not one was looking for savings in public expenditure.

There are extra weeks before the entitlement kicks in, but that simply restores the waiting period to what it was before the financial crash in 2009. I understand the concern that this might push up repossessions, which are at an all-time low, but I wonder whether a bank or building society would go through the aggravation of repossession if it knew that in a few weeks’ time it would get, direct from the Government, monthly interest in full on the sum in question. In view of the concern, I wonder if it would make sense for Housing Ministers to have a dialogue with the CML, perhaps to get a memorandum of understanding that repossession would not normally be activated if SMI was about to kick in. Ministers made it clear in another place that:

“We remain committed to helping owner-occupiers in times of need to avoid the risk of repossession”.—[Official Report, Commons, Welfare Reform and Work Bill Committee, 13/10/15; col. 356.]

I think that dialogue might help.

The reduction in social rents is of course welcome news to tenants, and not just those who pay the rent in full. Of course, some of those currently on housing benefit hopefully will float off it in the next four years and therefore benefit from the measure. Those who currently pay their rent will be able to plan, knowing that for the next four years one of the largest items in their budget will go down in cash terms. This is good news for tenants and good news for the DWP, in that it reduces its outgoings not just on housing benefit but presumably on other index-linked benefits as well, as the downward pressure on rents will influence the CPI.

However, as my noble friend will know, this saving is subject to the ONS changing its mind on housing association debt. It decided just a few days ago that,

17 Nov 2015 : Column 114

as from next March, housing association debt will score as public expenditure. This means that, far from this measure reducing public expenditure, it will push it up unless between now and next March the Government can make sufficient changes to the housing association regime to convince the ONS that it can be reclassified. Can my noble friend indicate how they are going to ensure that the ONS ruling is reversed? Of course, that was based on measures taken before the rent reduction and the voluntary right to buy was introduced. It is important that any deregulation does not undermine the creditworthiness of the movement.

What is good news for tenants and the DWP is less good news for investment in housing, as many noble Lords have said in this debate. Ever since housing associations were able to borrow from the capital markets, there has been a link between housing associations’ rents and the size of their investment programme. I confess that when I was Housing Minister, much of my capital programme was funded by the DWP through housing benefit, so any reduction in rent affects cash flow and the ability to sustain borrowing, and therefore affects the investment programme.

It is therefore important that any measures in the Bill that reduce the investment programme of housing associations be replaced by other measures in the Housing and Planning Bill, because there are two sides to this coin. If one side of the coin is reduction in rents in this Bill, the other side has to be measures to increase supply to counteract that in the Housing and Planning Bill currently in another place. I understand the points that were made about supported housing and the excellent work done by those who help the homeless, such as St Mungo’s Broadway and other movements. Clause 22(7) enables the Minister to make exceptions, and I am sure we will want to look at this in Committee to see whether we can safeguard the valuable work housing associations do to support vulnerable people.

My final point concerns an issue that has not been raised in this debate. Reducing social rents at a time when market rents continue to rise brings into sharp focus the question of who gets lifetime tenancies at a lower rent from a social landlord, as opposed to the other half of the market, which has to accept short-term tenancies at market rents from landlords who, in some cases, are not as good as local authorities or registered social landlords. Noble Lords with very long memories may recall the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, one of the objectives of which was to influence the level of social rents to market level, with housing benefit taking the strain. The golden age of Nicholas Ridley never actually arrived, for good reasons, but this measure makes a sharp step in the opposite direction, widening the gap between the two sectors. That means that we need to ensure that the stock of social housing is more accurately targeted at those who need it most. That means another look at lifetime tenancies and at measures to encourage mobility through the social housing sector, as families now decently housed find their circumstances have improved and they can make their way into market housing, freeing social housing for those who, like they were, are in desperate housing need at the inception of their tenancies.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 115

This Bill is an important building block in getting public finances under control, but it raises serious issues for those who want to see an increase in housing supply. Those issues need to be developed when the Housing and Planning Bill reaches this House, and I hope to take a part in those proceedings.

10.12 pm

Baroness Gale (Lab): My Lords, as I am the last Back-Bencher to speak in this debate, I believe that everything that has to be said about this Bill has already been said, but I will speak briefly on Clause 13. It will cut the support paid to people who cannot currently work owing to sickness or disability by about 30%. That means that this group of sick and disabled people will get the same financial support as those on jobseeker’s allowance who are fit and well enough to work. The rationale given for the cut is that this extra money for people in the ESA WRAG acts as what the Chancellor calls a “perverse incentive” which stops sick and disabled people getting better and working. The noble Baroness, Lady Browning, put it very clearly when she described this move as disgusting. I agree with her on that. The Government’s policy intention is to get more people from the work-related activity group back into work. Where is the evidence for the Government’s claims that the cut will get people into jobs who are currently unfit to work owing to sickness or disability?

Reducing financial support for sick and disabled people cannot improve a medical prognosis or speed a recovery. There are also fears about not being able to afford to attend all medical appointments and having to stop therapeutic classes that maximise physical movement and social confidence. It is clear that cutting support by one-third to half a million sick and disabled people is likely to put extra pressure on accident and emergency services and the health service generally.

This is not mentioned at all in the Government’s impact assessment, and the glaring omission casts doubt on the Government’s claim that this policy will save around £640 million a year by 2020-21. Sick and disabled people do not give up work lightly in order to claim benefits. It is not a lifestyle choice. A study found that people with Parkinson’s worked for an average of 3.4 to 4.9 years after being diagnosed. People report regularly that they want to work for as long as they are able. Many people with Parkinson’s work and, with the correct drugs regime and the help and support of their workplace, will be able to continue to work for some time. Eventually, as it is a progressive illness, they will have to give up work. They work as long as they can because of the uncertain future they face, which for many will mean expensive care and support.

There should be no doubt about the motivation of sick and disabled people wanting to work—most people want to work—but they face many significant barriers, including their health and workplace obstacles such as employer attitudes and inappropriate job design. The test does not capture the reality of living with a fluctuating condition, leaving people at risk of being assessed on a “good day”. People with Parkinson’s can have a good day and perhaps the next day cannot do anything. Tests such as the ability to lift a pen and place it in a pocket do not say anything of someone’s

17 Nov 2015 : Column 116

ability to have a job and carry out the work. The impact of pain and fatigue is not considered and neither is the fact that some people will not recover because they have incurable and degenerative conditions.

If someone has had to give up work because of the progression of their condition and their prognosis is further deterioration, this will inevitably impact their chances of securing employment again. As a result of the many failings of the WCA, employment and support allowance claimants with Parkinson’s are placed in the impossible and demoralising position of being told they are either fit for work or should be getting themselves back into work, and are often placed in the work-related activity group rather than the much more appropriate support group.

Many people struggle to survive on the WRAG payment, as they are already trying to improve or maintain their health. The Government would be taking £30 a week from almost half a million people on employment support allowance in the work-related activity group. Ministers argue that if these people worked between four and five hours a week on the new minimum wage they could recoup this loss. I wonder where these jobs offering four to five hours a week are. Can the Minister say how many thousands of jobs there are that people could work in for those few hours to recoup the money the Government are going to cut from their benefits?

How is making people poorer an incentive to work, especially people with progressive illnesses such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis? In its excellent briefing, Scope says that it,

“opposes the proposed reduction in support provided to disabled people through the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) set out in Clause 13. Disabled people placed in ESA WRAG have been found ‘unfit for work’ by the independent Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The proposed change will not incentivise disabled people to find work”.

I agree with Scope and look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

10.19 pm

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope (LD): My Lords, it has been a long evening and we are now in injury time. I will try to dispose of my winding-up speech with as much dispatch as I can. I am bound to warn the Minister at the beginning that, as my noble friend Lady Manzoor said at the end of her excellent speech, my noble friend Lady Thomas has not able to be with us because she managed to break her right patella while opening her mail. She obviously gets more exciting mail than I do, but the message I got said specifically that the noble Lord, Lord Freud, must understand that she still has one whole patella left. I do not know with what malice this was meant, but I pass it on, for what it is worth. She will be watching us on parliament TV as we speak.

I characterise the Bill as one that would never have seen the light of day had any Liberal Democrats been left in the Government. I could say more about that, but I will save it for Committee, where we will all be manning the barricades yet again. I look forward to that. However, there is an unreality about the debate. It has been a very well-informed debate—I would expect nothing else—but we are all in the difficulty

17 Nov 2015 : Column 117

that we do not know what is happening in the comprehensive spending review. That will change the game in a way that will not help.

I see all this as a second squeeze. The first squeeze in 2010 was more understandable. This will be a harder sell. The Government will find this very difficult politically when it all beds down and the consequences are fully known and understood. I say that not just because of the deficit reduction programme embedded in the Bill; it is on top of everything else. One of my biggest disappointments in the coalition Government was that, despite the DWP having 200-odd researchers, they never got round to the interrelated, total evaluation of how some of phase 1 of the squeeze in the last Parliament was affecting individual, low-income families. We still do not know that. We are now putting extra pressure on low-income families who are in a much worse position than they were in 2010 when this went through its first iteration. Another thing that is different is not just that they are worse off than they were, but that the public services on which they could rely in 2010 are much degraded. That is almost as big a factor as some of the reductions in finance available to these low-income groups.

We really need to move in this direction with massive caution. I know and trust the Minister. I know that this has less to do with him than it does some other people, but he understands the importance of monitoring, piloting, watching and learning. He gets that. We are relying on him to maintain as much of that as he can keep hold of. Obviously he is not in charge of everything —I do not think that he would be here in the first place if he was—but we will need him to be in listening mode. Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill in 2012 was a model of what a Minister should do in response to some constructive but positive criticism from an Opposition who, I am sure, will continue to be constructive in the way they approach Committee on the Bill.

We have 32 clauses. I hope that the business managers understand that we need time for the noble Lord, Lord Freud, to work his listening magic. He needs time to reflect on what we say to him. The business managers may say, “32 clauses; we can do that in three or four weeks”. We seriously need to take time on this. My former colleague in the House of Commons, the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, spoke about being a former Chief Whip. Once a Chief Whip, always a Chief Whip; I was a Chief Whip in my time. I would not like to be whipping the government side.

Although some powerful and well-informed speeches were made by the Opposition, they were all about the need to get reports made to Parliament. Annual reports are terrific, but they change absolutely nothing and they make no one any better off. That does not mean that they are not important, but they are insignificant compared to some of the other changes that got the House’s attention. Clearly, I consider those to be Clauses 13 and 14. There has been a powerful set of speeches from all sides of the House about the need to change the provisions for the ESA WRAG group clients. That is clearly something we need to think about.

The child poverty measures will take time. The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, made a powerful speech, and I always agree with everything that she says. In particular, however, I agree with the reference to the LSE British

17 Nov 2015 : Column 118

Politics and Policy survey by Nick Roberts and Kitty Stewart, which looked at the results of the consultation on child poverty indicators. They looked at 230 of the 257 submissions under a Freedom of Information request. They said:

“There is very strong support for the existing measures, and near universal support for keeping income poverty and material deprivation at the heart of poverty measurement”.

That does not exclude any of the other things mentioned, a point made earlier. I am in favour of expanding some of the measures. What I am absolutely not in favour of, and I do not know anybody sensible who is, is ditching income. It does not make any sense at all. It makes us the laughing-stock of our European neighbours. We have academics—the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, is one of them—who understand these things better than anybody else in the world. Theirs were among the 230 submissions that were looked at by the LSE group, and that was their conclusion. It was a serious piece of work looking at what we need to do to get that set of indicators correct.

I want to say something else in passing—I have no time to develop it. Parts of the Bill affect Scotland. Parts of it, however, do not. I invite the noble Lord, Lord Freud, to come to Drumchapel and Easterhouse. He and I will go around advocating low welfare and low tax policies in the coming May elections in Scotland for Holyrood. Let us see how we get on. I promise the House that this could be used by the Scottish Nationalist propagandists. They are grudge experts; we know that. This is meat and drink to them. It will make the job of the unionist parties, including the Conservative Party in Scotland, a lot more difficult than it otherwise might be. There are unintended consequences that we need to deal with. This is a very important Bill. I could say more, but I hope the Minister will be able to arrange some serious time in Committee to deal with this.

As a final point, I want to explore the idea of preventive spending. The noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, whose maiden speech was excellent, and whose work I know—although I do not always agree with her conclusions—made a very powerful speech. What she was actually saying was that if we were cleverer about evaluating the outcomes of preventive spending, the kind of things that she does would be an absolute no-brainer. However, they cost money and you cannot do bespoke preventive spending on an invest-to-save basis without giving some basic income support to keep people alive while you are doing it. I want to use Committee to explore some ideas about that through probing amendments. I hope that we will have a constructive Committee. We need to: this is an important Bill. It is important that we get it right. It would not have happened if there had been a Liberal Democrat in the Government.

10.29 pm

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, notwithstanding the fascinating and varied content of their contributions, given the hour, I hope that the House will allow me just to offer collective congratulations to all our maiden speakers. I look forward to hearing their contributions in future.

This is a wretched Bill. I am bound to say that it is the worst I have encountered in my time in the House. As my noble friend Lady Sherlock said at the start,

17 Nov 2015 : Column 119

it will increase poverty, penalise working households and accelerate homelessness. There is more besides as the Government are pursuing further cuts in parallel, not least their ill-fated attempt to cut tax credits through secondary legislation. This is done in the name of moving to a low-tax, lower-welfare and higher-wage society but we know that tax cuts and higher wages, even when they come, do not compensate for the scale of social security cuts which the poorest will be made to endure. The national living wage is not a direct substitute for cuts to in-work support and we know that half of the cash gains flow to the wealthiest half of households and are not available to the self-employed. My noble friend Lady Donaghy made some important wider points about the self-employed, which we will need to explore in Committee.

A significant contribution to the Chancellor’s £12 billion of cuts, which the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, rightly claimed as a political choice, will come from across-the-board freezes in working-age benefit rates. This amounts to a 4.8% real cut, given the OBR forecast for CPI, and comes on top of three years of nominal increases under the coalition Government—presumably, also a political choice. Because of this, the IFS tells us that 13 million families will on average lose something like £260 a year. Breaking the link with prices and earnings, a growing feature of government policy, means cutting the poorest off from the mainstream of society. We argue for an annual assessment of benefit levels. My noble friend Lady Hollis reminded us to be careful of the mantra around benefits and pointed that as a percentage of GDP, the welfare bill has been pretty constant over a long time. The welfare and social security system is something which we all dip in and out of during the course of our lives.

The IFS analysis of the distributional effect of the coalition’s tax and benefit changes shows that, overall, the coalition Government raised a net £13.5 billion in taxes and cut net benefits by £16.5 billion. Who picked up the tab when measured as a percentage of income? The bottom two deciles have borne the most. How is this supporting the most vulnerable? Where are Adam Smith’s values in all that and who will bear the cost this time round? According to the IFS, it will be the poorest income decile groups.

The reporting obligations of Clauses 1 to 3 can be supported if strengthened. We heard from the noble Baronesses, Lady Stedman-Scott and Lady Eaton, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, and my noble friend Lord Young of Norwood Green, who was passionate about having quality apprenticeships and the importance of that government commitment. We need to be clear what employment means to the Government. I sometimes think that the impression is created that active market policies began with the Centre for Social Justice. If we need to look at a bit of history, perhaps I may take the Minister back to a report which he wrote in 2007, when he said that the Labour Government,

“has made strong, and in some respects remarkable, progress over the last ten years”.

He went on to say:

“This is a genuinely impressive record. And underneath these headlines the biggest improvements have been for areas and groups which were previously furthest behind. Nearly every

17 Nov 2015 : Column 120

disadvantaged group that the Government has targeted (e.g. lone parents, older workers, ethnic minorities and disabled people) has seen its ‘employment gap’ reduced”.

I commend the noble Lord for the excellent report which he wrote previously.

Several noble Lords talked about the troubled families programme. My noble friend Lord Smith and the noble Lord, Lord Lupton, have supported that. I think we need to make sure that reporting of the troubled families programme includes a report on resources that are made available to local government. Several noble Lords focused on the lowering to three of the age of children whose parents must undertake work search or be sanctioned.

As well as seeking an independent review of the operation of sanctions, we will look to constrain this policy in circumstances where suitable and affordable child care is not available. We agree that child poverty is multifaceted and have no problem with further reporting requirements around worklessness and educational attainment. We might think about bad housing as well, but, although we subscribe to work being the best route out of poverty, we need to acknowledge the growing reality of in-work poverty, a point made by several noble Lords during this debate. CPAG tells us that 64% of children who are now living in poverty are in working households.

Like my noble friend Lady Lister, we are vigorously opposed to the removal of the measures and targets in the Child Poverty Act. We know that the lack of adequate income is a decisive characteristic and one of the primary drivers of poor life chances. Not having to measure income or indeed develop a strategy may be convenient for the Government, but it will not change the reality, a reality where the Resolution Foundation says that we are facing, in this rich country of ours, having some 3.7 million children in poverty by 2020. This is an outcome which is spurred by cuts to working-age benefits.

We look forward to the review of the noble Lord, Lord Low, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Meacher and Lady Grey-Thompson, and to their bringing their expertise to bear on the consequences for disabled people of this legislation. We have great confidence in their deliberations.

We support the Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap, although their progress, as the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, said, should be routinely measured. However, there are a number of measures in the Bill which do not help in recognising that disabled people take longer to get back to work and have challenging financial resistance. The noble Lord, Lord Patel, gave us an authoritative account of some of the challenges that disabled people face in getting back to work. Removing the uplift for individuals in the WRAG will cost them £1,500 a year and is justified on the spurious and unsubstantiated basis that it will improve work incentives, notwithstanding, of course, that people in the WRAG—this is a point made by several noble Lords—have been assessed as not currently able to work. These are individuals also who will be disproportionately affected by cuts to working-age benefits, including, for those not in receipt

17 Nov 2015 : Column 121

of DLA/PIP, the benefit cap. How is that supporting the most vulnerable? We will seek to remove Clauses 13 and 14 from the Bill.

It is said that disabled people have been failed by the benefits system. We maintain they have been failed by the Work Programme, particularly those with mental health challenges. I commend the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, and the noble Lord, Lord Layard.

That we have a housing crisis is not in doubt. New build is woefully short of what is required. Rents in the private sector are rising. Homelessness is increasing. Of course, one of the first decisions of the coalition Government was to cut capital spending for social housing and to put the burden of funding on so-called affordable rents. No surprise therefore that the housing benefit bill ballooned by some £30 billion, so now it is all going to go into reverse with enforced social rent reduction, amounting to an average 12% by 2020, reversing also the agreements relating to refinancing agreements for local authorities. That may be good news for some tenants, perhaps, but the benefit will overwhelmingly accrue to the Treasury in reduced housing benefit. Taking some £4 billion out of the sector by 2020 is bound to lead to fewer social homes being provided. We heard from my noble friend Lord Smith of Leigh that this problem is already beginning to bite. As was mentioned, the National Housing Federation has said that it could lead to 27,000 fewer homes by 2020.

We have received strong representations about the impact of this policy on providers of specialist housing that deliver vital services to some of the most vulnerable in our communities. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans in particular focused on this issue. Being able to seek an exemption from the policy is all very well, but we support a statutory exemption for specialised housing and seek to require the Secretary of State to bring forward arrangements to ensure that the impact of rent reduction will not impair the ability of housing associations or councils to build new affordable homes. We know that the benefit cap has already reduced the affordability of suitable housing and increased homelessness. Further reductions will make the vast majority of the country unaffordable to couples with three or more children. Freezing local housing allowance will further put housing beyond the reach of many. Shelter advises that in two years local housing allowance will not cover the bottom one-third of rents in almost all local authorities, which is staggering. The homelessness duty placed on local authorities will become intolerable, as cuts to their budgets bite. Of course, although DHPs will help, they are not a panacea.

We will support exemption from the cap for those in high-cost temporary accommodation; we will also seek to remove carers from the scope of the cap and exclude children-related allowances from the calculation. The assertion that this is all about work incentives is bogus, as those caught by the cap are overwhelmingly not required to work. Perhaps the Minister can give us the figure of how many people that actually involves. The Secretary of State should certainly not be let loose to change the cap almost at will and without reference to clear criteria.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 122

As for switching support for mortgage interest by grant to a loan, we will seek protection for pensioners, who comprise some 45% of claimants. Given the switch, there seems little justification for the extended wait to 39 weeks. We will probe in Committee the availability of independent advice and concerns over conflicts of interest.

We have heard fierce opposition to the two-child policy, none more powerful than that from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham and my noble friend Lady Sherlock. Their opposition and that of the faith communities generally is not only about the financial impact of the restriction on larger families, including some 2 million children—families which already have a higher risk of poverty. As their briefing makes clear, the policy will have profoundly negative effects on family life. It raises horrific images of what women may have to endure in seeking exemption. There is much that we have to challenge in this Bill, none more so than this grotesque policy. It is a line that we must ensure that the Government are not allowed to cross.

10.42 pm

Lord Freud: My Lords, I was expecting some excellent contributions to this debate, and I was not disappointed. We have all been privileged to enjoy the quartet of maiden speeches this evening. I was particularly struck by my noble friend Lord Lansley saying that we need to add value in our measures of poverty. No one could mistake the passion with which my noble friend Lady Stroud has devoted her life to tackling the root causes of poverty. My noble friends Lord Lupton and Lord Polak concentrated on the importance of the troubled families programme. As my noble friend Lord Lupton said, we need to intervene, not just look at statistics. I also thought that we had a complete variety of styles from the four—you could not get a more varied set of contributions—and I look forward to many more contributions from my noble friends.

This Bill builds on the principles first introduced in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. In the past, Governments spent money in an attempt to solve problems rather than drive real change in people’s lives, and our approach is different: we believe that we should reward work and support aspiration, that we must have in place a fair, affordable and sustainable welfare system, along with the appropriate protections for the most vulnerable, and that we must relentlessly focus on tackling the root causes of child poverty to improve the life chances of our children. It is also worth remembering that the measures in the Bill must not be taken alone. We must also take into account the national living wage, increases in the personal tax allowance and the reforms of childcare, all of which will help to ensure that work pays.

Let me address some of the points that were made in the debate. There were quite a lot, and I will attempt to answer as many as possible. We will have a chance to go into them all in Committee. To help that process, I will, as the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, asked, make sure that we have the same process that we had with the Welfare Reform Bill. I will make briefing sessions available for noble Lords on the specific policy in good time, so that we have an informed process.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 123

Let me begin with the first three clauses of the Bill: the statutory duties to report on full employment, apprenticeships and troubled families. The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, asked why we are not setting the target for full employment there. We set out in our manifesto the aspiration for the UK to be the best place in the world to start a business, and to achieve the highest employment rate in the G7. Producing an annual report will illustrate our progress towards that goal.

The noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy, asked whether underemployment as a result of working part-time is contributing to low earnings. The figures show that 85% of people who are working part-time are doing so through choice. The number of vacancies are now pretty substantial—in excess of 700,000 at any one time. In answer to the question asked by the noble Baronesses, Lady Manzoor, Lady Doocey and Lady Hollis, full employment will allow support for those with disabilities. We have already found 450,000 people in the Work Programme sustained work. We need to continue to support individuals into work through successful programmes such as Access to Work, and to work with the health system to improve access to treatment.

Closing the disability gap and improving employers’ attitudes to disabled people is a theme that was picked up by the noble Baronesses, Lady Doocey, Lady Meacher, Lady Hollins, and Lady Grey-Thompson, and by the noble Lords, Lord Rix and Lord Young. Clearly, it is a challenging ambition and we are committed to it. We have extended Access to Work and launched specialist employability support. We continue to work with employers through our Disability Confident campaign, and announced funding of a further £100 million per year for additional practical support. Clearly, progress here is a key factor in achieving full employment and closing the gap.

The noble Lord, Lord Young, my noble friend Lord Blencathra and my noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott asked about the quality of apprenticeships. Improving quality has been central to our reforms, and employers are developing new standards to ensure that apprenticeships meet the skills needs of their sectors.

The Government ensure that small businesses are engaged in the development of those apprenticeship standards, and we have made significant progress in making them easier for small businesses to take on. In answer to the question of my noble friend Lord Hodgson, there are 40,000 people with disabilities or learning difficulties starting an apprenticeship. More clearly can be done. My noble friend Lady Eaton asked about care leavers. The Government provide full funding for apprenticeship training for entitled 19 to 23 year-old care leavers. They can also get access to programmes such as traineeships for the support they need to get ready for an apprenticeship.

I turn to life chances. We have made it clear that our focus is on the symptoms of child poverty—excuse me, the existing statutory targets focus on the symptoms of child poverty—and we have a new approach, the life chances one, focused on transforming lives through tackling the root causes of child poverty. Clause 4 therefore places a duty on the Secretary of State to report annually on the key life-chance measures of worklessness and educational attainment.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 124

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: How is the Minister going to account for poverty among children of working families?

Lord Freud: The HBAI measures are still there. We will have all the measures that we normally have.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Hollis, Lady Sherlock and Lady Lister, were concerned about the impact of this on the Budget. Our reforms are designed to incentivise work and ensure that it always pays, and then to allow people to keep more of what they earn. The new life- chance measures will drive continued action on work and education, which will make the biggest differences to disadvantaged children now and in the future.

Numerous noble Lords argued that we should keep income-based measures and measure in-work poverty, as the noble Baroness has just reinforced. The existing statutory framework set around the four income-related targets is unfit for purpose. The framework does not drive the right action, so instead we will focus on the root causes such as worklessness and educational failure. The income measures led Governments to spending their finite resources on action that did not produce the best results for our children, and that is the reason for our new approach. As I just said, though, and in response to the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, we will still be publishing all the income measures and the HBAI report. I remind him that no other country in the world uses those measures as a target as opposed to a measure.

I am flattered by the vigorous quoting by the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, from that small piece of work. I should point out that when I say there were some remarkable changes, there were no remarkable changes in the number of NEETs, which went up through the longest boom in history, nor in the amount of worklessness or social housing, which plateaued whether one was at the top or the bottom of the cycle, and I recommended a major effort to pull the disabled back into the labour market and into society. Of course some of the figures that I was so pleased with then fell straight off a cliff when we had a rather remarkable recession—probably the worst recession that this country has had since the 1920s. However, we took £60 billion out of the welfare bill over the last coalition Government, and up until the time for when we have the latest data, the relative measure of people in poverty had declined in that period by 800,000 people. So it is wise not to use people’s forecasts of income but what has actually happened.

I turn to the benefit cap. It is not fair for someone on benefits to receive more than many people in work; reducing the benefit cap to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere better aligns the level with the circumstances of hard-working families across the country. On the question raised by a number of noble lords—the noble Baronesses, Lady Sherlock, Lady Hollis, Lady Lister and Lady Warwick—about whether the level was too low, we originally set the cap at £26,000 but we want to balance the key aims of strengthening work incentives and promoting fairness between those in work and those in receipt of out-of-work benefits.

Any changes to the cap level will require the passage of regulations. I can assure the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, who was concerned about this, that the regulations which lower the level of the cap will follow

17 Nov 2015 : Column 125

the affirmative parliamentary process. In response to the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, carer’s allowance is included in the cap. The Government fully acknowledge and value the very important role that carers provide to society but 94% of households in receipt of carer’s allowance will have a benefit income above the new cap level. They are, anyway, exempt from the cap.

The benefits freeze is a vital part of the Government’s welfare reforms, providing £3.5 billion of savings by 2019-20—without any cash losers—which would otherwise need to be found elsewhere. The noble Lord, Lord Low, asked about the impact of the freeze on the disabled. We have exempted the benefits which contribute to the additional cost of disability and care from the working-age benefit freeze. The noble Baronesses, Lady Hollis and Lady Bakewell, raised the issue of the two-child limit. Families on benefits should make the same financial decisions as those families supporting themselves solely through work. Families on lower incomes will continue to receive child benefit for all children in the household, including a higher rate paid for the eldest qualifying child or young person. The noble Baronesses, Lady Sherlock and Lady Manzoor, both raised questions about involuntary two-child families. The Government will look at the important issues around exemption through secondary legislation and will provide more detail in due course. The situation with kinship carers is similar.

The noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, raised the point of the impact on disabled children. Parents of disabled children will continue to receive the disabled child element and severely disabled child element in child tax credit and, in UC, the additional amount of the child element in respect of all disabled children, regardless of the total number of children in the household. The noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, asked for assurance that the architecture of UC will not be lost. I appreciate her support on that and give credit to the Liberal Democrats, who were utterly supportive of universal credit and our efforts to bring it into reality under the previous Government. I am delighted to see that they maintain that level of support.

I turn now to the clauses which remove the work-related activity component in ESA, and its equivalent in universal credit, for new claimants from April 2017. The noble Baronesses, Lady Sherlock, Lady Manzoor, Lady Doocey, Lady Browning, Lady Meacher, Lady Howe and Lady Gale, asked for evidence that the WRAG component is a disincentive. A report by the OECD in 2005 argued that:

“Financial incentives to work can be improved by either cutting welfare benefit levels, or introducing in-work benefits while leaving benefit levels unchanged”.

On the other hand, employment support provides an opportunity to begin talking to ESA claimants about their ability to work. A positive relationship with a work coach, combined with evidence-based methods for goal-setting and striving, offers a promising way towards moving ESA claimants back into work. We will be increasing the practical support with new funding. The noble Baronesses, Lady Sherlock, Lady Manzoor, Lady Doocey, Lady Browning, Lady Meacher and Lady Gale, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, argued that

17 Nov 2015 : Column 126

these claimants have been found unfit for work. The ESA claimants in the work-related activity group have been found to have limited capability for work. This is very different from being unfit for any work and, although they are not required to look for work, ESA explicitly recognises that claimants may be able to undertake some work via the permitted work rules. This change, combined with the new funding, is about providing the right incentives and support to encourage more people to move closer to the labour market.

The noble Lord, Lord Patel, made a point about those with cancer. The vast majority of those with cancer claiming ESA are actually in the support group, a point that he himself made. This includes anyone who is preparing for, receiving or recovering from chemotherapy or radiotherapy that will significantly limit their ability to work. Only a small proportion of individuals whose initial diagnosis is cancer will be placed in a work-related activity group.

On mental health conditions, raised by the noble Baronesses, Lady Manzoor and Lady Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Layard, it was clearly acknowledged that returning to work can improve mental health, which is why we are committed to ensuring that as many people with mental health conditions as possible receive effective support to return to and remain in work. We will actually be investing £43 million over the next three years in trialling ways to provide specialist support for people with common health conditions to get back into the workplace.

On conditionality for parents, raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, we believe that more can be done to support parents with young children to prepare and look for work. Where childcare is not available, requirements will be tailored around caring responsibilities.

On the clauses to turn support for mortgage interest into a loan, the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, raised issues around pensioners. Pensioners will have access to the same level of support for mortgage interest payments as the current system provides. This will be provided via a loan, but that will not have to be repaid until the individual’s property has been sold—which often, in the case of pensioners, will be on their death, so the people who actually pay are the inheritors; that is not something the party opposite would have a huge problem with, I would have thought.

A large number of noble Lords talked about social housing rents. The answer to the noble Lord, Lord Smith, is that the Government were elected with a mandate to put welfare spending on a sustainable footing to reduce the deficit. We are confident that housing associations and local authorities will be able to find and make efficiencies to accommodate the new settlement.

On specialist supported accommodation, which a large number of noble Lords brought up, we are proposing that there will be some exceptions from the rent reductions. We have set out some of those in the Bill and we will be setting out further exceptions in regulations. Our intention is to align exceptions with the equivalent provisions of the rent standard. At present these include specialised supported accommodation, residential care homes and nursing homes, and intermediate rent and private finance initiative housing.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 127

We will work with the sector to ensure that the most vulnerable people are not adversely affected—indeed, I am planning to meet with St Mungo’s.

Regrettably, I cannot deal with all the questions and must draw to a close. I thank all noble Lords again for their contributions. Welfare reform is about much more than simply money. Our reforms seek to change the state of the nation, break the cycle of dependency, create the right kinds of incentives, have a fair welfare system, provide the best possible start in life for children, and bring lasting change that directly affects attitudes and behaviours. This Bill is a real opportunity to make a difference to the lives of some of the poorest, the neediest and the most vulnerable people in our society. It is an important and necessary piece of legislation. I commend this Bill to the House and ask for it to be given a Second Reading.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 128

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Transport for London Bill [HL]

Message from the Commons

A message was brought from the Commons that the promoters of the Transport for London Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in the House of Lords in Session 2010-12 on 24 January 2011, should have leave to proceed with the Bill in the current Session according to the provisions of Standing Order 188B (Revival of bills).

House adjourned at 11.04 pm.