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House of Lords

Wednesday, 9 December 2015.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Bristol.



3.07 pm

Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review the responsibility deal for alcohol in the light of the Institute of Alcohol Studies’ report Dead on Arrival? Evaluating the Public Health Responsibility Deal for Alcohol.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Prior of Brampton) (Con): My Lords, we are currently reviewing all aspects of the responsibility deal, including for alcohol. Partnership working continues to play an important role and the Government remain committed to its principles. We will continue to engage with the alcohol industry to encourage it to take action to reduce some of the harms caused by alcohol.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to hear that the Government have decided to review the responsibility deal after its operation for the past five years. During that time, we have seen obesity grow; we have seen no increase in the activity undertaken by individuals; and we have seen more people presenting in hospital with alcohol problems. Will the Minister tell us whether he is sticking to the principles that guided the previous partnership, which was not, in fact, supported by the health industry? What will be the changes in the future to ensure that there is some real pace and real change taking place and that the mechanism of a voluntary approach is not used to delay?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, we have asked the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to review the impact of the responsibility deal, which it will do later in 2016. There have been, however, some benefits from it on alcohol, to which the noble Lord referred particularly. The number of units not sold as a result of it is 1.3 billion and the package labelling on alcohol products has improved substantially.

Baroness Hollins (CB): My Lords, does the Minister agree that it would be better named the “irresponsibility deal” and that it is time for effective policies to be introduced, including a minimum unit price; zero tolerance for drinking and driving; and clear and unequivocal advice for pregnant women not to drink?

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Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I think that is an incorrect labelling of the responsibility deal. It might not be perfect, but it has achieved some benefits, not just in relation to alcohol but in salt reduction and other areas. On drink and driving, the social argument has been won, and the number of deaths through drink and driving—although still far too high—has gone down from some 1,640 in 1979 to 240. So improvements are being made.

Lord Garel-Jones (Con): My Lords, can the Minister confirm that alcohol continues to be regarded as a habit-forming, hallucinatory drug?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I am not sure who considers alcohol to be habit-forming and hallucinatory—whether it is my noble friend or others. I think it depends very much on the quantities in which it is taken.

Lord Rennard (LD): My Lords, does the Minister accept that the 1.3 billion unit reduction in alcohol consumption of which he spoke represents a reduction of only 2%, and that the alcohol industry itself cannot be relied on to assess objectively the scientific evidence that points strongly towards the need for things such as minimum unit pricing and for alcohol taxation to be proportionate to the alcohol content of drinks?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, as I say, an independent assessment of the responsibility deal will be done by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It is important that the assessment is independent and certainly is not undertaken by the industry or, indeed, by the Department of Health. It is worth noting that the consumption of alcohol seemed to peak in 2005 and has declined slightly since then. I am not in any way minimising the appalling damage that alcohol does to the lives of many people, but consumption is coming down slowly.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab): My Lords, the BMA concluded that the Government’s alcohol policy had been weak and ineffective due to an overreliance on working with the alcohol industry. Does the Minister concur with the BMA’s judgment that the responsibility deal has pursued initiatives that are known to have little effect in reducing alcohol-related harm and that the responsibility deal should now be abandoned?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I can only repeat that we will have an independent review of the responsibility deal, at which point we will have objective evidence on which to assess it. I agree entirely with the noble Baroness that the health world, including the BMA and many of the royal colleges, takes a very strong view about alcohol. Many doctors see the appalling impact that it has on individual lives day in and day out, so we take their views extremely seriously.

Lord Lansley (Con): My Lords, can I tell my noble friend the Minister—

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Noble Lords: Ask.

Lord Lansley: Can I ask my noble friend the Minister if he agrees that the report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies is purely polemical in character and not a research report at all? Actually, its argument is based on a flawed proposition, which is that the pursuit of voluntary agreements through the responsibility deal prevented the pursuit by government of minimum unit pricing. Does my noble friend agree that from the very outset of the responsibility deal, it was made clear to the industry that its pricing of alcohol andindeed the Government’s attitude in terms of tax and pricing were no part of the responsibility deal, and that within government no discussion of minimum unit pricing was affected by the fact of the responsibility deal?

Lord Prior of Brampton: I am happy to be told that by my noble friend and I can only agree with him.

Lord Patel (CB): My Lords, as it is Christmas, does the Minister think that the Parliamentary Estate should be alcohol-free, as it is smoke-free?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I think that we would be setting an excellent example if we did that.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister not agree that alcohol has been a fundamental part of western civilisation for millennia, and that in moderation it is actually quite pleasant?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I agree entirely with that. Pubs, clubs and restaurants are a vital part of a happy and cohesive society, so I am very happy to agree with those sentiments.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness (LD): My Lords, do the Government have any intention of evaluating the reduction in the drink-drive blood alcohol limit in Scotland?

Lord Prior of Brampton: In Scotland the permitted number of milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood was reduced from 80 to 50, and we will be following that change with great interest. If it results in a significant reduction in the number of deaths on the road, I am sure that we will wish to take it on board.

Health: Liver Disease


3.14 pm

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made to implement the recommendations of the Lancet Commission on liver disease, to address the incidence of liver disease in the United Kingdom.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Prior of Brampton) (Con): Since the publication of the report of the Lancet commission, the Government have continued to address the incidence of liver disease through a number of measures which focus on both the prevention of liver disease, and improved care for those with liver disease. Public Health England has a programme of public health action to tackle liver disease and is working with key stakeholders, including the Lancet commission, to produce a framework for liver disease next year.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): As we enter the festive binge drinking season, do the Government recognise that 28% of deaths in 16 to 24 year-old males are alcohol-related and that 85% to 90% of the cost of in-patient liver disease is due to alcohol? By raising the floor cost of alcohol by 10%, we may be able to reproduce the Canadian evidence of a 30% fall in deaths attributable to alcohol. Do the Government also recognise that we have a responsibility to the next generation because in pregnant women hepatitis, obesity and alcohol are each risk factors, each compounding the other? If we implement a six-in-one vaccine programme for hepatitis B in neonates, we may prevent the next generation suffering from hepatitis B as well as decrease the incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome by tackling alcohol abuse in pregnancy.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, there was quite a lot in that question. Some 6,000 babies suffer from foetal alcohol syndrome and it is a shocking and appalling by-product of alcohol. Canada has increased the floor price of alcohol and I understand it has seen some reduction in alcohol-driven disease as a result of that. We are watching what happens in Canada carefully. Of course, Scotland is considering a similar move although it is awaiting the outcome of a court case in the European Union. I gather that Wales will possibly follow suit if that court case goes accordingly. We will watch what happens in those other countries, study it and then make up our minds accordingly.

Lord Walton of Detchant (CB): My Lords, my former medical colleagues in Newcastle upon Tyne, including several distinguished hepatologists are gravely concerned by the increasing incidence of alcohol- induced liver disease in young people. The problem is that in Newcastle—in the centre of the city and on the quayside—many organisations sell what are called, “cheap shots” with a very high alcohol content. Surely the time has come, yet again for the Government to give urgent consideration to the introduction of a statutory minimum price per unit of alcohol.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, there are strong arguments for minimum unit pricing. However, other consequences might flow from minimum unit pricing to do with illicit alcohol sales and the fact that the cost of that would fall very heavily on those least able to afford it. As I said earlier, it will continue to be kept under consideration by this Government and we will study with great interest what happens in other countries which are introducing minimum unit pricing.

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Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, given the statistics just given to the House by the noble Baroness and the scale of profits of the drinks industry, are the Government content with the amount of financial help given by the drinks industry to the victims, as suggested by the noble Baroness?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, as part of the responsibility deal, a financial contribution was made by some of the alcohol companies. I accept that it was a small contribution. I shall have to take this under advisement as I am not sure how much the industry does contribute to the victims of alcohol disease. I agree with the noble Lord’s premise that the damage done to many people through excessive alcohol consumption is a cause of great concern.

Lord Ribeiro (Con): My Lords, does my noble friend agree with recommendation 3 in the report, which requires the establishment of liver units in district general hospitals, acting in a hub-and-spoke network with specialist hospitals? This is important to provide access to people, particularly in the north-west, where, sadly, there is very little access to specialist hepatology units.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, the recommendations in the report about a hub-and-spoke approach, to which my noble friend refers, with district general hospitals having some hepatology services but being linked into a specialist centre are absolutely right. It is the right model; I have no doubt about that. We have established 22 operational networks for hepatitis C treatment, which are all linked into specialist treatment centres. We believe that that may be a model for the future.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, on the issue of specialist centres, has the Minister actually read the Lancet report, which points out that the north-west has the highest incidence of liver disease, yet does not have a transplant centre? In view of the very good outcomes from the transplant centres, are the Government making sure that the north-west gets such a centre?

Lord Prior of Brampton: I have read the Lancet report and I noted this rather unusual omission in the north-west. I do not understand why the north-west does not have a specialist liver facility. It is something that I will follow up and find out. I will write to the noble Lord if I can.

Baroness Walmsley (LD): My Lords, the Lancet said that the majority of people with obesity have non-alcohol related fatty liver disease. Does the Minister agree that we need restaurants and takeaways to publish the calorie, fat, sugar and salt content of their dishes? Some of the best do it, but not many do. Will he also consider further restrictions on the advertising of high-calorie junk food to children?

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Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I understand that that is precisely one of the issues that the responsibility deal has studied and addressed.

Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB): My Lords—

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): My Lords, may I quickly return to the issue of minimum unit pricing, because—

Noble Lords: Order!

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, thank you. Is the Minister aware that the UK is the worst country in Europe for liver disease? Is he not rather worried about cutting funds for public health?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, we clearly have a major problem with liver disease—I think that we can all agree on that. The report by the Lancet commission has some very useful recommendations that we must take seriously. It is true that other countries in Europe have had more success in tackling this. I cite France as a case in point. We will take on board the number of recommendations made by the Lancet commission, as well as other initiatives we are taking.

Housing: Carbon Monoxide Monitoring


3.22 pm

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to inform the public of the new requirements for carbon monoxide monitoring in rented residential properties.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, while declaring an interest as in the register, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, the new requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms were published widely, both before and after their commencement. Methods included contact from officials and stakeholders, a £10,000 government social media awareness campaign, leaflets distributed to landlords, press notices, Facebook posts and an awareness campaign run by the Chief Fire Officers Association, which was estimated to have reached more than 8 million people.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I thank the Minister for that reply, but I spent an hour and a half this morning in the Library, trying to trace with the staff the public information that is available. They suggested that the thing to do was to go on to the GOV.UK website, which is the official national website. I have pages from it here. The opening page referred me to

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another document, then to another document and another. There were alternative searches. What it all boiled down to was: if you proposed to rent a property and had no idea, you should ask the landlord. I am, of course, a landlord. I found it impossible when I bought the carbon monoxide monitors to know where I should put them. Now, having studied this all morning, I have discovered that they are only for if you are burning solid fuel. They are not for gas at all. This has not been made clear. I could show her chapter and verse but I do not want to waste the time of the House—

Noble Lords: Hear, hear.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I could show where GOV.UK definitely does not have the answers that people require. Will she update the website?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I will not personally update the website but I thank my noble friend for alerting me to the fact that it is not as accessible as it should be. I will take that back. We constantly update the GOV.UK website to make it as up to date and accessible as possible. I mentioned the other matter of solid fuel appliances requiring carbon monoxide alarms during the debate on the relevant SI, but perhaps I could have been clearer about it.

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, it has been several days since the regulations were approved. In the debate on that occasion, I raised the question of the need to inform tenants, as well as landlords, of the new provisions. Will the Minister indicate what efforts have been made to inform tenants, and whether in particular local newspapers, local authority publications and local broadcasters have been asked specifically to target tenants with this information? What steps have been taken to check on the progress made by private landlords in relation to installation?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The noble Lord did, indeed, ask me how tenants would be informed. I think I said at the time that the How to Rent guide would be updated by 1 October to give tenants the full information. It has, in fact, been updated and the information is on page 4 of the guide. I assure the noble Lord that every new tenant will get a copy of the How to Rent guide. In addition, there are social media handles and a Facebook page on the subject.

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (LD): My Lords, does the Minister agree that, despite all this wonderful information on this wonderful government website, a lot of tenants and landlords will not access it, understand it or read it? Are the Government prepared to be more innovative and more holistic in getting this message out to landlords as regards their liabilities and to tenants on what they can expect? I hope that every landlord pays tax. Could not Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs tell every landlord what they should be doing in this regard? Does the Minister realise that most students in what we used to call sixth forms will

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probably be private sector tenants in the near future? Should we not have classes in sixth forms to tell them about their rights?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, as I have just said, the Howto Rent guide will be available to every single new tenant. It was produced on 1 October to capture the student tenants to whom the noble Lord referred. The campaigns that have been run have reached literally millions of people.

Lord Robathan (Con): My Lords, given the myriad sources of information to which she referred, does my noble friend the Minister think that landlords and, indeed, tenants have an individual responsibility to find out this information? Having let a property as a landlord last month, I assure the House that the information was staring me in the face.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank my noble friend for that question. I did not set him up to ask it. He is absolutely right.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, who is responsible for enforcing this requirement, and what resources are made available for them to do so?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: It is up to the tenant to get in touch with the local authority if the regulations have not been complied with. The landlord will have 28 days to do so, within which time a notice will be issued.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): Do the Government agree that we need an ongoing public education campaign about the silent killer that is carbon monoxide? It is generated from all fossil fuels and wood and can occur anywhere at all, irrespective of where people live. People going on holiday are at particular risk because their guard is often down. Will the Government accept my congratulations on having begun to do something about raising awareness of carbon monoxide detection?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The Government certainly accept the congratulations. I also thank the noble Baroness for bringing this up during the SI debate. It certainly is a silent killer. I talked at the time about the first sign that you might be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning being that you had a headache; you might then lie down and the next thing you might be dead. The noble Baroness is quite right.

Baroness Donaghy (Lab): My Lords, the Minister did not answer the question from my noble friend Lord Beecham about checking progress on this issue. I have a horrible feeling that it will take a tragedy before this is brought to real public attention. There are too many examples, particularly in London, where a subletting is in turn sublet for even shorter periods. I know of a sublet for 90 days which was then further sublet for two to three days at a time. With the deregulation that the Government are promoting on letting, how on earth can these things be properly monitored?

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Baroness Williams of Trafford: I apologise to the noble Baroness that I did not answer all the noble Lord’s questions. I think I answered two out of three—I cannot always answer all of them. In terms of progress, I hope that I will be able to give him an exact figure and I shall write to him on that. The fact is, looking at it the other way round, 26 lives per year are lost because of carbon monoxide poisoning and that figure alone should be enough to support these regulations.

Flooding: Cumbria


3.31 pm

Asked by Lord Grantchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what emergency measures they are considering to support the emergency services and local communities affected by flooding in Cumbria.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, my thoughts—and, I am sure, those of the whole House—are with those affected by these devastating floods. My thanks go to those, including the emergency services, who have worked tirelessly to protect people and properties. DCLG officials have ensured that local responders have had government support throughout. We announced on Monday the activation of the Bellwin scheme, which supports local authorities, including the emergency services, with the costs associated with flooding of this kind, and yesterday we announced council tax discounts and business rate relief. Today we have announced a further £51 million of funding to support the affected areas’ recovery.

Lord Grantchester (Lab): I am sure all Members of your Lordships’ House will join me in paying tribute to the emergency services for the vital work they have done and will continue to undertake in the days ahead for the communities affected by the severe weather in Cumbria. The Chancellor’s announcement today of £51 million for families and businesses from the Treasury’s emergency reserve fund is good news. When will local authorities be able to draw down on these funds? What will be the criteria for expenditure? Will there be any requirements or restrictions? How will families and businesses be able to access the funds they need?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I suspect it is too early to give that level of detail but, given that this is a crisis and a disaster, I imagine the funding will be available as quickly as possible. Certainly, the Bellwin funding is available as quickly as possible.

Lord Inglewood (Con): My Lords, I declare an interest as a Cumbrian. Does my noble friend agree that the priority must be, first, to get relief to those who have been so unfortunately, unhappily and disastrously affected and, secondly, to make sure that any additional rain that is threatened does not exacerbate the existing problem?

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Baroness Williams of Trafford: My noble friend makes a very valid point and that is precisely what the initial response is designed to do: to make people safe, get them to temporary accommodation and clear some of the devastation that was caused initially.

Lord Clark of Windermere (Lab): The Minister has quite rightly praised the emergency services but is she aware that there is another emergency service, which has not been recognised, and that is BBC Radio Cumbria? BBC Radio Cumbria went on for 24 hours a day for two full days and without its assistance the county would not have done as well. Will she join me in paying tribute to it? Secondly, while it is too early to make any analysis, will she tell the House whether there is any truth in the assertion that the £4 million scheme for Kendal was delayed by the coalition Government, and will she give the House an assurance that this Government will not delay it any further?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I will join the noble Lord in that. I am sure that Radio Cumbria, just like all the other members of the community, really pulled together over the last few days to help in quite a devastated area. Like every other person who could play their part, I am sure Radio Cumbria has added to mitigating some of the agony of the people who live there. We are looking at a potential scheme to reduce the risk of flooding in Kendal but it is at an early stage of planning. Within the six-year programme, the proposed Kendal scheme is scheduled for 2020-21. We are considering with other funding partners how we can bring this scheme forward to improve protection for 440 properties, at a predicted cost of £3.95 million.

Lord Elton (Con): My Lords, these flood events are becoming increasingly frequent and all differ in some respect. Can my noble friend tell your Lordships what arrangements exist for the emergency services and local authorities involved in each event to exchange information, so that guidance on best practice and the preparatory arrangements for these events can be made on a national scale?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My noble friend makes a very important point. The rescue and recovery operations that are in place can be effective only if all the agencies pull together.

Noble Lords: My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): I am sorry but I think we should go to the Bishop.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, what cognisance is taken by the Government of the stochastic modelling performed by the insurance industry and how many one-in-100-years events it takes for something to cease to be a one-in-100-years event?

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Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I am sure that the right reverend Prelate will appreciate that this is probably a matter for God because every time that we have tried to predict, an even worse event has occurred. I do not make that point lightly. We are constantly reviewing the flood defences and how we can respond.

Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2015

Motion to Approve

3.37 pm

Moved by Baroness Williams of Trafford

That the draft regulations laid before the House on 26 October be approved.

Relevant document: 8th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 7 December.

Motion agreed.

Equipment Interference (Code of Practice) Order 2015

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Interception of Communications: Code of Practice) Order 2015

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Code E) Order 2015

Motions to Approve

3.37 pm

Moved by Lord Bates

That the draft orders laid before the House on 4 and 9 November be approved.

Relevant documents: 14th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, 9th and 11th Reports from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (Special attention drawn to the instruments). Considered in Grand Committee on 7 December.

Motions agreed.

Armed Forces (Service Complaints Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2015

Motion to Approve

3.38 pm

Moved by Earl Howe

That the draft regulations laid before the House on 28 October be approved.

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Relevant document: 11th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (Special attention drawn to the instrument). Considered in Grand Committee on 7 December.

Motion agreed.

Disclosure of Exporter Information Regulations 2015

Payment Accounts Regulations 2015

Motions to Approve

3.38 pm

Moved by Lord Ashton of Hyde

That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17 November be approved.

Relevant document: 10th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. Considered in Grand Committee on 7 December.

Motions agreed.

Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015

Legislative Reform (Further Renewal of Radio Licences) Order 2015

Motions to Approve

3.38 pm

Moved by The Earl of Courtown

That the draft regulations and order laid before the House on 19 October and 25 March be approved.

Relevant documents: 7th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 1st Report from the Regulatory Reform Committee. Considered in Grand Committee on 7 December.

Motions agreed.

Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Committee (2nd Day)

3.39 pm

Relevant document: 13th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Clause 4: Workless households and educational attainment: reporting obligations

Amendment 24

Moved by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

24: Clause 4, page 4, line 38, at end insert—

“( ) children in low income households where one or both parents are in work.”

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Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, in moving Amendment 24 and speaking to Amendment 26, I also make clear my support for Amendments 25 and 46. I may well intervene later in support of maintaining the existing income and deprivation measures.

The purpose of Amendments 24 and 26 is to balance the obligation introduced by Clause 4 to report data on children in workless households with a similar obligation with regard to children in low-income working households. Whether the primary concern is life chances, as in the Bill, or child poverty, which Ministers assure us the Government are still committed to eliminating, it cannot make sense to exclude from reporting obligations the two-thirds of children living in poverty in households where a parent is in paid work. The Resolution Foundation points out that,

“worklessness has become less associated with poverty in recent years”—

which is to be welcomed—but it also warns that measures in the Bill are likely to strengthen the link again. At the same time, it observes that,

“children in poverty have become increasingly likely to come from working households”.

In his letter to your Lordships, the Minister stated that,

“Our evidence review, published in 2014, supports our approach”.

Up to a point—like my noble friend Lady Hollis and the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, I have read the review of the drivers of child poverty, and it continually brackets together parental worklessness and low earnings as the key factors for child poverty now, with implications also for life chances. The review found that childhood poverty itself is one of the factors increasing the risk of a poor child growing up to be a poor adult. The review spells out explicitly that the “main factor” making it harder to exit poverty is,

“lack of sufficient income from parental employment, which restricts the amount of earnings a household has”.

It underlines:

“This is not just about worklessness, but also working insufficient hours and/or low pay”.

Parental worklessness and low earnings are together the key factors in whether children are, as the report puts it,

“likely to be stuck in poverty for longer”,

with implications for outcomes and the,

“risk of becoming poor adults”.

In sum, the review makes clear:

“Long-term worklessness and low-earnings are principal drivers of child poverty and the key transfer mechanism through which the majority of other influential factors act. As would be reasonably expected, results from numerous studies of poverty statistics and dynamics clearly demonstrate a strong link between earnings and poverty levels”.

Forgive me for quoting at such length from the review, but given that the Minister himself has prayed it in aid and given that, I assume, the analysis was commissioned to throw light on what Ministers refer to as the “root causes” of poverty, it does seem bizarre that they now deliberately ignore a root cause or driver, the importance of which is demonstrated by their own analysis.

Moreover, a more recent departmental analysis of child poverty transitions between 2009 and 2012 shows that a rise in earnings or an increase in the number of

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hours worked are key events related to exiting child poverty, with exit rates virtually the same as those associated with moving from worklessness to full-time work. Given all this, and other evidence, it is not surprising that the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s response to the Government’s latest child poverty strategy argued that the strategy should:

“Focus more on tackling in-work poverty”.

Although getting more parents into work is a big step forward, it does not automatically bring reductions in child poverty, because in too many cases it simply moves children from low-income workless households to low-income working households. Too many parents get stuck in working poverty, unable to command sufficient earnings to escape low income, and cycling in and out of insecure, short-term and low-paid employment with limited prospects.

It is also worth making the point that worklessness is not a measure of child poverty as such. A decent social security system would protect children from poverty in households where there is no working parent. Not surprisingly, the analysis by Kitty Stewart and Nick Roberts of CASE at the LSE found that the great majority of those who commented on it in the 2012 consultation on child poverty measures rejected the inclusion of a worklessness measure. Not only did they consider it an inappropriate measure of poverty but many also pointed out that it was misleading, given the high level of poverty where a parent is in paid work—a point also made by some of the minority who supported a worklessness measure.

3.45 pm

These amendments have the support of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the End Child Poverty coalition. The EHRC warns that the new measures, premised on work providing a route out of poverty, do not address concerns about whether conditions of work are just and favourable, in line with Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. I could quote further evidence showing that poor work can be as harmful as no work to children and their parents.

When at Second Reading my noble friend Lady Hollis asked the Minister how the Government will account for poverty among children of working families, he simply referred to the continued publication of the HBAI low income statistics. He did not explain why there had been no reporting obligation on children in low-income working households to ensure accountability with regard to this group. I would be grateful if he could give a proper explanation now. As it stands, the absence of such an obligation can only lead to the conclusion that the Government are not interested in one of the main drivers of child poverty and life chances. That would mean the statutory reporting obligations were based on measures that are simply not fit for purpose, to use the term the Minister employed at Second Reading about the existing measures listed in Amendment 25 —which, in contrast, have the overwhelming support of the scientific community. I beg to move.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope (LD): My Lords, I added my name to this amendment. I do not want to add anything to what was said by my noble friend

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Lady Lister of Burtersett—I call her that advisedly as we worked so closely for so many years and have always had a common approach to this kind of problem. It is a priority for me in this Bill to try to establish the importance of working poverty. Because of the incipient recovery we are experiencing at the moment and some of the other labour market conditions that apply, subject always to risks from the global economy, the future challenge for Government will be less one of providing employment and more one of providing sustainable, predictable employment and career progression.

Universal credit has the mechanism and architecture to enable us to do that but I am concerned that we seem stuck in the problems of the past 10 years, which clearly included worklessness. It was right that we focused on those problems. Universal credit was created in 2008 and at that time our economy was suffering from many years of serious unemployment and its consequences. However, conditions have now changed. It is very important that in-work poverty should be addressed together with career progression. As my American friends say, it is any job, better job and then career—an ABC of employability. That is a very important part of the Government’s responsibilities.

In passing, I have to say that I am disappointed that the Child Poverty Act 2010 has been emasculated to the extent that it has been. I want to underscore everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, said; she is merely reflecting the problems relating to the reporting requirements. What we have lost from the 2010 Act are the targets and the strategy. I think that it was the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, who made the point in his excellent maiden speech that declaratory legislation is not always that clever, given that it is not what Governments intend to do, but what they actually achieve and how they go about it, that is important. When the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, brought forward the Child Poverty Act 2010, I approached it from that point of view. However, I am now better informed and have changed my mind—I think it is worth having and that the targets and strategies are certainly worth fighting for. We are losing a lot in picking this 2010 legislation apart; I really regret that. We will come back to that in later amendments, but for the moment I am satisfied to seek to get the Government to concentrate on in-work poverty in the development of their poverty programme—such as it is—but even more so to get career progression developed within the mechanism of universal credit.

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 24, 26 and 46, to which I have added my name along with those of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and my noble friend Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope. Amendment 24 clarifies what we mean by children in low-income households where one or both parents are in work. Amendment 26 builds on Amendment 24 and inserts “low income” and “in work” for further clarity.

The Bill repeals the Child Poverty Act 2010 and the requirement for the Secretary of State to develop a strategy for tackling child poverty. That is really worrying, because poverty is a cost that the UK cannot afford. It wastes people’s potential, drains public finances and

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hampers economic growth. The new definition risks underestimating the rise in in-work poverty, downplaying income and obscuring families’ ability to pay for decent housing. Moreover, as we all know and heard again in the first Committee sitting, such children are more likely to suffer from poor health, do worse at school, be jobless in future and die earlier.

I agree with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which believes that income measures should better account for household costs by including analysis of income after essential costs such as childcare and housing costs are removed—particularly given how high housing costs are in cities such as London. I agree that that would support a much more dynamic picture of the living standards of UK households. Will the Minister consider bringing forward government amendments to develop and publish a life chances strategy that retains some income-related measures in the basket of measures we already have—given, in particular, that the Government intend to retain the HBAI reporting measures? I cannot see why those could not be added, because they are going to be collated anyway, but it would be good to have them on the face of the Bill.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, I rise to speak to my Amendment 25 in this group. Before I do so, I apologise to your Lordships for my overenthusiasm on Monday in Committee. I am afraid that I spoke too often and at too great a length, and therefore contributed substantially to the delay that day. I will seek to be shorter today. I have an amendment in this group and two or three in the next group, so please bear with me.

Amendment 25 would reintroduce into the Bill the four measures of child poverty that were introduced in the Child Poverty Act 2010. I listened to what the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, said, and regret with him that so much of that Act is being taken away by the Bill. I am concerned that this is a pattern one sees over the years: one Government come in and often undo the good work of the preceding Government. I am attracted to the approach Finland took towards its education system. Some years ago it began to be concerned about the quality of its education system, and a cross-party consensus was built that what was most important was to recruit and retain the best teachers and raise their status. Some 15 years down the line, it has the best-performing education system in the world. Therefore, in these important issues there is a lot to be said for building on the best of what is produced by whatever Government and not simply taking away what was put in place before.

The first time I met the noble Lord, Lord Freud, he was just publishing or launching his report for the Labour Government into improving employment. He has a very single-minded and focused passion to get more people in this country into work and is a supreme advocate of the value and importance of work not only to the nation and its economy but to its individual citizens. It was my privilege to work with the noble Lord, Lord Nash, on the education legislation coming through, and he in his turn is very focused on improving education incomes, principally through developing more academies. I pay tribute to the huge success the Government have had in getting more of our people into work in this difficult time. I make these points

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because I hope that the Minister might be prepared to be broad-minded and embrace other approaches which might help him to achieve the outcomes he wishes to achieve.

I read with great interest the speech of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to his party conference, when he spoke about the importance of social justice and social mobility and in particular about looked-after children and improving their outcomes. I suggest that the Government may be missing a trick here. Yes—more work and improving educational outcomes are important. However, a very important contribution to both of those is to address income poverty. A child attending school who has not eaten the night before or had breakfast may well find it hard to do well at school. If there is not the transport to enable families to see each other and keep connections, they may well suffer from isolation or mental ill health and the family can decline. If these measures were reinstated in the Bill, that would help the Government with regard to its aims on social mobility.

The Minister may wish to refer to the letter from the Children’s Commissioners for the UK, which was copied to me. The Children’s Commissioners of the UK—for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland—wrote to the Minister supporting this amendment on reintroducing the measuring of child poverty, and they made a very powerful case. I look forward to the Minister’s response and I hope that he can be sympathetic. From our previous discussions, and from listening to his response at Second Reading, I have the sense that he is strongly opposed to these proposals but I hope that perhaps, on reflection, he might be able to see that this will enrich and support what he proposes and not be a hindrance to it.

Baroness Blackstone (Lab): My Lords, I apologise that I was not able to speak at Second Reading. Had I done so, I would have focused in particular on the measurement of child poverty. I passionately believe that any Government who are concerned about this issue need to know what its extent is, and whether it is going up or down. Therefore, why on earth abandon the long-established measurements that have been adopted, not only in this country but by many other bodies such as the OECD and the World Bank? It is an internationally recognised approach to the measurement of poverty. I support the amendments in this group and very much support the arguments made by my noble friend Lady Lister and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, and those of the other two speakers who have already contributed.

I begin by asking the Minister why the Government have wilfully ignored the responses to the consultation launched by the coalition Government, of which the Conservative Party was the leading partner. I want to quote from a Child Poverty Action Group document which sets out the responses to that consultation—I think that they became public as a result of a freedom of information request. Some 97% of respondents believed that all the targets under the Child Poverty Act 2010 ought to be retained. Only 8% of respondents believed that new measures were needed to replace the current ones. Some 90% of respondents believed that income should be included in a measure of poverty, and only 1% believed that it should not be included.

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Some 97% of respondents believed that income is an important or very important dimension of poverty. In responses to a consultation document, you rarely get such enormously high proportions wishing to continue with something whose abolition the Government are consulting on, so I would like the Minister to say why the Government have ignored those responses. As I said earlier, the measures are based on very extensive work, and the Royal Statistical Society has always described them as the product of very valid social science procedures. I have already stressed their international aspect and their comparability with what is happening in other countries. That is my first question to the Minister.

4 pm

Having read what was said in the debate on Monday night, when my noble friend Lord McKenzie of Luton made the case for retaining the measures, I feel that the Minister’s reply—I hope that he will not mind my saying this—was somewhat inadequate. Perhaps he could give us a rather better answer to the one that he gave on Monday evening. The Government seem to be resting their case on their wish to measure what they call “life chances” and the need to tackle the causes of poverty. As a former academic who has been interested in social policy and worked in the area of social policy for many years, particularly in the area of educational disadvantage, I think that the Government have got themselves into a real intellectual mess here, because they cannot distinguish properly between cause and effect. I do not know where their advice is coming from and which social scientists they are seeking views from, but anybody that I have ever talked to would make it absolutely clear that many of the things that the Government now wish to measure are the effect, and not the cause, of income poverty.

I do not dispute that it is worth measuring these other things in relation to life chances. Most of them area already being measured, so the Government do not have to spend a huge amount of money collecting new information, but they cannot, and should not be, an alternative to retaining the Child Poverty Act 2010 measures. As the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, said just now, is it not rather bizarre that something retained in legislation so recently should suddenly be abandoned? I find that very difficult to understand.

I underline that poverty is the cause of many of these serious problems. Let us look at them in turn. I am the first to accept that we should tackle worklessness. There is nothing more difficult than living in a family where no one is in work. Long-term worklessness or unemployment is a scourge in our society, and of course unemployment is one of the keys to low income. However, as my noble friend Lady Lister has already said, there are many, many families where both parents are working but the children are still living in poverty. Indeed, 64% of children living in poverty are in fact in working families. Surely we must come back to that statistic. Indeed, employment does not always alleviate poverty, so please will the Government look at the evidence?

Poor achievement amongst children of any age is often caused, at least in part, by the poverty of their environment. They live in homes where their parents

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suffer considerable stress, or in homes where there is often inadequate heating, so there is nowhere warm in winter to do their homework. They live in overcrowded homes where there is often nowhere they can quietly work in any case, whether the temperature outside is warm or cold. They live in homes where there are no books, because their parents cannot afford to buy them or are unaware of the importance of children having access to them. They live in homes where their parents are struggling to feed them and therefore cannot afford to pay for the extra-curricular activities that schools provide—activities that are often of enormous educational value. So, the Government really have got it the wrong way round. I of course accept that the relationship between cause and effect is very complex. Children who grow up with poor achievement related to the income poverty of their homes will leave school with poor achievement, and then find it more difficult to get employment and to secure an income. So, there is a continuation of this process.

Turning to rent arrears, I chair a housing association and I know that some of its clients, like many others, have enormous difficulty paying their rents, and some will have greater difficulty as a result of this legislation. If you cannot pay your rent, you are at huge risk of being evicted and becoming homeless, particularly if you are in private rented accommodation. What does that do for the lives of children? They will be living in even worse accommodation, their educational opportunities will be even more damaged, and they will often be emotionally damaged by the instability of having to move house into often appalling accommodation.

I understand that the Government are interested in problem debt. Problem debt does not cause poverty but is an effect of it: people get into debt because they do not have enough money to run their lives and to provide a reasonable quality of life for their children. The same is true of drug and alcohol dependency. Of course it contributes to poverty, but often, very poor people turn to such abusive forms of behaviour, which do huge damage to themselves and to their children, because they are in such serious and unacceptable poverty.

Will the Minister spell out in some detail where he and the Government are getting the advice from to drop these long-established measures, and state just how these other measures can possibly be a satisfactory answer in that regard? I just cannot understand how anybody could accept such an argument. It is intellectually a very poor position to take.

I do not want to deny that the Minister and, indeed, the Government as a whole, are serious about the issue of poverty, particularly amongst children, but I am confused. If they are serious, why are they not prepared to accept the publicity that derives from findings showing that we are not being as successful as we should be in tackling poverty? Are they not courageous enough to look at this evidence, say they are concerned about it and think of ways to deal with it? Let us please be more courageous in collecting this evidence, so that we can be better informed about the extent and nature of this very serious problem—which is a problem not just now, but for the future—and think of ways to resolve it.

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Baroness Grey-Thompson (CB): My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 25 in the name of my noble friend Lord Listowel, to which my name is also added. It is vital to measure and report on the number of children living in poverty. The reason I support the amendment is that child poverty is multifaceted. The principle of the existing Child Poverty Act, which had cross-party support at its implementation in 2010, was that no child in the UK should live in poverty but that all should have financial security, a good home and the educational opportunity that they need to give them the best chance in life.

While the Government have said that they will continue to produce, although not report on, the households below average income report from which the headline child poverty rates are derived, without the statutory reporting requirement there would be nothing to prevent a future Government from ceasing to produce HBAI statistics. I do not believe that this should be allowed to happen without a change in primary legislation and proper scrutiny from both Houses of Parliament.

There is no perfect measure to understand child poverty, but it is clear to me that income needs to be at the core. There might be other factors such as parental addiction, neglect and depression, and they may increase the risk of income poverty—and they have effects on their own—but the most fundamental problem is that children growing up in households with low relative incomes will find it harder to thrive.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has already mentioned the report from Kitty Stewart and Nick Roberts for the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. The Royal Statistical Society has described the existing relative measure as,

“the product of valid social science procedure”,

arguing that,

“any replacement would need to be subject to the same degree of rigour, including a robust process of consultation”.

Why is the Minister ignoring his own Government’s consultation, which the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, has raised? Out of the 203 responses that referred to income, only nine felt that income should not be a headline measure, and just one, from a private individual, felt that income should not be included at all. I urge the Minister to look at this amendment again.

Baroness Stroud (Con): My Lords, until now, we have focused on measuring income by the HBAI statistics. But if we also measure life chances, we will also invest in supporting people by reversing the dynamics that cause people to be poor. There are a number of flaws in the way in which the current child poverty measures are collected. They show poverty falling when the economy is in recession. If you raise the national living wage, you can statistically increase child poverty. If you invest in pensioners, this, too, can plunge children into poverty statistically. We do not want a measure that is so easy to move in the wrong direction when Governments do the right thing and that moves in the right direction when the economy is in recession. We want measures that actually identify those whom we are concerned about, and that incentivise government support and intervention to do the right thing to improve the life chances of those who are in poverty.

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The life chances measures are designed to ask what drives poverty. They ask the question, “Who are these families and how can they best be supported?”. It is not the same families who are in poverty year on year. Half of all children who are poor in one year are not poor one year later. The fact that half these families get themselves up and out and can improve their own life chances leads us to ask the question, “Which families get stuck, and why?”. The vast majority of children in poverty belong either to families who are workless or who are working only part-time. Some 74% of poor workless households who have found work escape poverty. This is why the Government have put employment at the heart of their life chances measures. There is no single more effective anti-poverty strategy than moving a family from unemployment to full-time work.

4.15 pm

The second characteristic of those who get stuck is lack of skills, or even no skills. This is why the Government are putting educational achievement at the heart of their strategy. Of individuals in persistent poverty, 44% have no qualifications. Of children with parents without qualifications, only 7% had not experienced poverty. By contrast, of children with parents who were qualified above A-level standard, only 4% had experienced persistent poverty. The importance of raising educational achievement for those on low incomes has never been so pressing. The resilience and resistance it provides to shield families from poverty is unquestionable. If government wants to change the life chances of a generation, this is the place to start.

There are three other entrenchment factors that will also be reported on: family stability, debt and addiction. While causational correlation will always be disputed, these factors are present for families who get stuck or entrenched. This is either because there is only one adult who can work in the household; because of the difficulties of accessing credit and the vicious cycle of problem debt; or because of the impact of drugs and alcohol on vulnerable children.

We need to change these measures to ensure that government has to wrestle with what really drives poverty and takes steps to ensure that the next generation has a better chance than the current generation. It is easy to give the family of an addict another £100 a week—government is good at that—but these are serious measures to ensure that Governments place their money and their investment in significantly harder, but in the long-term more effective, interventions.

Lord Liddle (Lab): My Lords, I had not intended to speak in this debate. I am no social security expert, but I did have quite a lot to do with these issues when I worked in 10 Downing Street as Tony Blair’s Europe adviser. My intervention was prompted by what my noble friend Lady Blackstone said.

It is not very popular today to talk about the admirable things that new Labour did, but I am certainly happy to do so. In 1997, we inherited a situation where, I think, 25% of children were living in poverty. That was the new Labour inheritance. It was the result of de-industrialisation, the downgrading of social security and all that had happened in the Thatcher years.

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We did not run away from the fact that 25% of children were living in poverty; we tried to do something about it. What is more, as members of the European Union, we were very happy to measure ourselves against the performance of other members of the European Union on the score of tackling poverty and social exclusion.

Actually, Britain’s record in this area is pretty deplorable and, I am afraid to say, still is not very good. One of the things we did was support a comprehensive set of indicators that was devised to measure poverty and social exclusion. This was done by a working group under the leadership of probably the most distinguished economic statistician of his generation, Sir Tony Atkinson. We were glad to see this comprehensive set of measures, including the standard measures of child poverty and lots of other measures of social inclusion, because we wanted to learn from the experience of other countries about how best to try to tackle the deeply embedded problem of child poverty.

It seems to me now that the Conservative Government appear to be trying to treat Britain, as it were, as a special case. They no longer want to see Britain compared to other countries on the standard measures. They want to devise their own measures in relation to what they think matters. This is deplorable because all of us in this House ought to share those ambitions and we all ought to be able to see how we are doing in relation to other countries and learn from the experience of other countries.

The second point I will make about what I remember from 20 years ago is that when we came in, I was certainly very convinced by the argument that the best answer to poverty was a job. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, shares that view. There is a lot of truth in that proposition, but as time has gone on and we have seen how polarisation in our labour market has increased—and it has increased dramatically in the last two decades—and we have seen the spread of low-paid and insecure work, it is much more the case now than it was 10 or 20 years ago that people can be in poverty and have a job at the same time. That is why I thought that the speeches made about the importance of measuring in-work poverty were so right. This is a problem of our times: it has become a much more serious problem, and if we try to turn our back on it, we will betray the cause of a more socially just society.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendments 24, 25 and 26. I know that everyone in this House, and indeed in the other place, is committed to protecting those children in our society who are vulnerable to suffering the worst effects of poverty. Indeed, I know that there is a broad recognition across the House that some form of statutory reporting on the issues of child poverty and children’s life chances is an important tool in driving initiatives that will combat that poverty. The questions about what should be included in Clause 4 are questions of best practice, rather than questions of best intention.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to tackling the disadvantage that can arise from worklessness and poor educational attainment. It is certainly true that children growing up in long-term workless households

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are placed at a significant disadvantage to their peers when it comes to their future working lives, as are those who leave school with low educational attainment. A thorough reporting on these indicators should help drive initiatives to combat these two factors, which can be so detrimental to the life chances of children. I welcome the Government’s focus on these two priorities.

However, it is my belief—and the belief of the vast majority of organisations working in this area, as we have already heard—that measuring workless households and educational attainment alone is insufficient as a method of measuring a child’s life chances and exposure to poverty. There are, of course, all sorts of other factors that can influence the future prospects of children: problem debt, substance abuse, family breakdown and substandard housing. The list of life-chance indicators should be extended to include these. We also know that children’s life chances are shaped very early on in their lives, so we need to be looking at cognitive and social development at a younger age.

Most significantly, however, the current set of life-chance indicators completely fails to capture income poverty and material deprivation, particularly in relation to in-work poverty. I think that we have to keep on repeating this: some 64% of the children defined as living in poverty under the current measures are in working households. This should give us cause to stop and think about how effective these new measures will be when no assessment of in-work poverty is facilitated. It is particularly problematic given the well-established body of evidence demonstrating the strong link between material deprivation and the wider life chances of the child.

The Government talk confidently about focusing on the root causes of poverty rather than the symptoms, but I think that the reality is a little more chicken and egg than perhaps they would like to admit. Let us take as an example educational attainment. Does poor educational attainment make it more likely that children will experience poverty and deprivation in later life? Yes, of course it does, but income poverty and deprivation also make it far more likely that children will do less well at school, lacking the resources they require to compete with their peers on an even footing.

As it stands, Clause 4 is inadequate. In the right desire to move away from an overly simplistic definition of child poverty rooted in money alone to a broader-based, root-cause understanding, I fear that a tap-root cause is being lopped off, and that will make the other roots less stable. We all know that if you take out the tap-root, the danger is that the whole tree will fall. We must retain some assessment of income poverty, and particularly in-work poverty, in the life-chances measures. Given that at Second Reading the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Freud, committed the Government to the continued publication of the HBAI measures that are currently enshrined within the Child Poverty Act 2010, it seems odd that the Government are so reluctant to include those measures on a statutory basis in this Bill, which would cost almost nothing. I and most organisations working in the area of child poverty would like to see this happen. At the very least, a report of in-work poverty that draws on those figures must be included within the reporting obligations, as has been suggested

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by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. A failure to report on in-work poverty would be a real failure by a Government who have prided themselves on combating low pay and making work pay.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, I am keen to follow up on the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud. She has asked the right questions, if I may say so, but I do not go with her on some of her responses. First, she criticised relative poverty as a measure for assessing income poverty and is therefore throwing it out and retaining only worklessness and the educational attainment of children at the age of 16 as her main drivers. She did not remind the Committee that relative poverty is one of four indicators that include persistent poverty, absolute poverty and material deprivation. She is right to say that relative poverty reflects what is happening to the broader economy, but you need the other considerations and measurements as well, which we have. Taken in the round, they—particularly persistent poverty—are an appropriate, proper and dynamic snapshot of what is happening to families. I think that she will recognise that.

Secondly, the noble Baroness asked exactly the right question, which is this: why is it that half of people in poverty come out of it the following year but the other half are stuck, and how do we get to those who are stuck? If we look at what the Government are proposing in this Bill, and have been proposing through the summer, we will see that the reasons people are going to be stuck in poverty and therefore move into persistent poverty are being made worse on almost every count. People in work and in poverty who have poor skills certainly need job progression; that is well established. However, the primary reason why people are in work and have low pay and therefore are in poverty is because their work is part-time, insecure, or based on zero-hour contracts where from one week to the next they do not know whether they will be working for 10 hours or 30 hours, or they have young children. Most of us would not wish to see lone parents being forced, against their judgment of what is best for their family, to leave a two or three year-old in professional childcare while they work on a supermarket till when they feel that they should be trying to balance their work and life responsibilities—rightly so in terms of working part-time, but also in terms of bringing up their children so that those children can respond to the fact that simultaneously they have a parent at work and a parent at home. It can be hard for children, so we should not make it harder. That is a debate which I do not doubt we shall return to.

4.30 pm

What are the other reasons that the noble Baroness offered for why families get stuck? The reasons she ignored were in fact very interesting, because the biggest single reason why those families get stuck in poverty and do not get out is because they have another child. They are in larger families; they have three children, or more. What helped them in the past were child tax credits, which were paid to all children, so the position of that family was not deteriorated because of having an extra child. What are the Government going to do? They will make larger families

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poorer, thus ensuring that what might have been temporary poverty for one year will now be persistent poverty because you do not dump your kids. While you have those children you will be in persistent poverty, and not be able to get out until in due course—in five, 10 years down the line—a second earner in the family, usually the woman, will be able to go into work. That will take that family out of poverty. While you have a larger family—the debate that we had on Monday—the earnings of the single earner will not be enough to lift that family. The noble Baroness has signed up to that policy, which undermines almost everything she has said about the need to help families who are stuck to get out of poverty.

Finally, the noble Baroness talked about debt and drug abuse, and the report that she, my noble friend Lady Lister and I quoted states that this has only limited effect because the numbers are very small. We know the drivers. The first driver is low pay because of part-time work. That reflects either family size or the labour market conditions of insecure, part-time, temporary contract work. The Government, on the contrary to helping those families, are making the situation worse. We know the second driver is large families, and the Government are making that driver worse and making the poverty of those families even harder to escape. If the Government refuse to include an income measurement at all—it should be that of persistent poverty, if they would only keep the stats—how will they measure the effectiveness of their policies? They simply will not know. It just becomes: “This is our belief—it is debt. This is our belief—it is drug addiction”. There is no evidence for that if you do not keep the stats of why families cannot leave persistent poverty. By abandoning an income measurement the Government are saying, “We assert that these are the drivers of poverty, but don’t trouble us with the evidence for its subsequent measurement to see whether we are spending public money appropriately”.

No Government should take that position. If a Government claim that this is what drives poverty, they should be willing to expose that to the light of statistical evidence. They are walking away from that. The only reason most of us deduce from that is: you do not believe that the results will justify your measures. I fear that that is right.

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I have much sympathy with the amendments in this group, but at the risk of appearing pedantic I ask the proposers of Amendment 25 what the meaning of “equivalised” is. It occurs four times. Does it mean “equivalent” or something else?

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): I can answer that. It is a general way across the world that social scientists compare family to family of different sizes so there are ways of weighting each child or adult in the family.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, this has been a thoughtful and extensive debate. Amendments 24 and 26 in the name of my noble friend Lady Lister and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, would cause data on low-income families where one or both parents are in work—that is, in-work poverty—to be reported.

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We support these amendments. We know, as we have heard, that some two-thirds of children living in poverty are in working families and that whatever the climbdown on tax credits, the Government have in-work support in their sights. If we are concerned with measures that look at the current experience of poverty as well as the risk of poverty, there seems no logic in including out-of-work but not in-work poverty, although the policy levers may be different.

Amendment 25 in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, seeks to retain the current income measures in the Child Poverty Act. We, of course, support that. Our Amendment 46 does the same but retains that Act’s targets as well.

The absence of income measures cannot be justified and runs counter to pretty much all the evidence or views of those engaged with child poverty. The Government’s suggestion that income measures are a symptom of poverty, rather than a cause, is too simplistic. My noble friend Lady Blackstone gave us a great example relating to educational attainment. If people are poor they do not have the same opportunity to have the same equipment at home; they do not necessarily have books at home and they do not necessarily go to school with a meal inside them so that they can be more attentive at school. It is simplistic to say that one is looking at the experience of poverty and that it is not a symptom of poverty.

In its July 2015 response to the Government’s child poverty statement—a number of noble Lords referred to this—the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission stated:

“The commission has argued in the past that a more rounded way of measuring poverty—taking … account of causal risk factors—is sensible. The life chances of children, the poorest especially, depend on many things … It is not credible, however, to try to improve the life chances of the poor without acknowledging the most obvious symptom of poverty, lack of money”.

Pretty much every noble Lord who has spoken in this debate, with the possible exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, agreed with that proposition. She asserts that looking at simplistic measures of income contains a number of flaws, but my noble friend Lady Hollis made clear that the Child Poverty Act 2010 had four measures. You need to look at the circumstances in aggregate, not just at one snapshot in time.

CPAG says:

“We believe that poverty is a condition marked by a lack of adequate resources, some of which may not be financial. Nonetheless, an inadequate income remains the decisive characteristic of poverty and must remain central to any poverty measurement”.

A number of noble Lords referred to the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the LSE and the work that it did. It looked at the responses to the DWP’s consultation on child poverty measures, which sought to test the level of support for replacing the existing measures with new dimensions, including those provided for in the Bill. As we have heard, the research shows that there is a very high level of support for the existing measures in the current Act. Most wanted no change and those who countenanced additional dimensions saw this as supplementary information, but not as measures of child poverty itself. Most respondents were of the view that lack of material resources—

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income—was the very core of child poverty. We agree with that. It is suggested that respondents to the consultation saw the proposals to change the measures as bringing to an end the official measurement of child poverty in the UK. How does the Minister respond to that? He will doubtless tell us that the HBAI figures will still be published as now, but we know from our prior deliberations—the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, made this point—that what gets reported under Clause 4 will be the focus of the Government’s attention. That is why they are approaching it this way.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: I am sorry to intervene, but I wanted to ask the Minister whether he could answer a specific question relating to that. I know that there are some fears about this among academic social scientists and the voluntary sector. I absolutely accept the Minister’s assurances that the households below average income statistics will continue to be published, but will he assure the Committee that they will be really clear and published in an accessible form, not just as a load of Excel tables that some of us will not be able to understand? It is very important that we have that assurance on the record.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: I thank my noble friend for that intervention. I doubt there is much that she does not understand or is incapable of understanding, but she asked a highly relevant question. I hope that the Minister will give that assurance.

We have had a number of contributions to this debate. My noble friend Lord Liddle took us back in history but stressed the importance of the work that went into developing these measures in the first instance, enjoining the skills of Tony Atkinson. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham recognised the value of having worklessness and educational attainment as part of a measure. However, he said that that was not sufficient; there needs to be a focus on income if life chances are to be influenced and addressed.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, supported the existing measures in legislation. I think that the Child Poverty Act was the first legislation that the Minister worked on in opposition when he joined this place. At the end of the day, I thought that we had pretty much cross-party agreement, although it is fair to say that the Minister said there were other aspects of poverty which he thought should be reported as well. However, I do not believe that is the same as tearing up the Child Poverty Act, which is what this piece of legislation seeks to do. This is a very important issue because, unless we look at income, we will not address the here and now of poverty. It is all very well looking at some of those factors which have medium and long-term effects on people’s life chances, but we also need to address how people without resources exist today. That is why we need these amendments.

Lord Freud: My Lords, if we are taking a trip down memory lane, I remind the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, that he unceremoniously threw out my amendment to put in four key life chance measures, which I said at the time would better reflect the real drivers of poverty, so clearly the debate has not moved on a lot.

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Lord McKenzie of Luton: Does the noble Lord accept that the issues he was talking about were quite properly to be included in the building blocks of the strategy, which the Bill also required? It did not eschew the measures themselves.

Lord Freud: I shall address the amendments. I am sure the noble Lord will come back to me on some of these issues as I go through my remarks. Amendment 25, in the names of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, seeks to expand the report to include data on children living in households with low relative income combined with the other three income measures in the current Act, as we have discussed. The reason that we do not want to include those is that they fail to tackle the root causes of child poverty and focus on symptoms, which we want to replace. I will set out my argument in full. The effect of Amendment 46, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock and the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, is wider still. It would prevent the repeal of those measures from the Child Poverty Act 2010.

I shall try to explain why we find the four income-related measures unfit for purpose, particularly as regards treating them as targets. The income measures they are based on are a poor test of whether children’s lives are really improving. As my noble friend Lady Stroud pointed out, in the past, they have shown child poverty falling when the economy was in recession. Much more importantly, when you look at them as a driver of decisions by a Government, they are inherently unpredictable and would lead a Government to spend finite resources on action that does not produce the best results for children.

4.45 pm

I will illustrate the point about unpredictability by referring to the kind of commentary we have seen from external experts. The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, will remember, as I do, when we passed that Act that an external expert estimated that the Government could meet their relative child poverty target by spending an extra £19 billion a year in financial transfers by 2020. In a separate analysis, it erroneously forecast an increase in the number of children in relative income poverty to the tune of 500,000 children. That is an enormous margin of error when the number of children in relative low income is 2.3 million, which would need to be reduced by about 1 million to fall below the current target of less than 10%. So £19 billion to do that, that kind of error rate, two years out, and you are asking a Government to take decisions with that kind of sum attached to them—and the forecast is wrong. I am not getting at the external people who made these forecasts—it was the IFS, which I think is the best organisation to do the forecasting—but I am illustrating that they are inherently unpredictable a couple of years out.

When the financial implications of having those measures as targets are that large, I do not think anyone would expect a Government to handle that level of forecasting unpredictability when dealing with this problem. Instead, the Government should be incentivised to focus their actions and finite resources on the root causes of child poverty, where they can

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be sure to make the biggest impact. This is about transforming lives, not just moving families £1 above the poverty line.

Another thing to remember when we look at these measures as targets is that we are the only country in the world with a target in law to eradicate child poverty. Lots of countries use the OECD equivalised measures. We are the only country to have put it in as a legal target. I emphasise that we want to achieve the right outcomes for our children but I firmly believe that these amendments would not help us progress towards that common aim in the most effective way possible.

A number of noble Lords have mentioned the evidence review that we published in 2014. It makes it clear that worklessness and educational attainment are the factors that have the biggest impact on child poverty and children’s life chances. I will talk about work in a moment when I come to Amendments 24 and 26. A good education is the bedrock for future success in life. At the heart of our determination to improve children’s life chances and social mobility is a commitment that all children, regardless of background, are extended the educational opportunities that allow them to fulfil their potential. To pick up the query from the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Blackstone, the evidence review found that the most important driver of poverty was worklessness.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: And low earnings, my Lords. It says, in brackets, “low earnings”.

Lord Freud: It referred to “low earnings” out of worklessness; that is why the brackets are there.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, that is one reading of it. I am sorry to trouble the Committee with this but the review makes it clear that while worklessness with both parents out of work is obviously a primary driver, if only one parent is in work there is still a very substantial risk of in-work poverty, as has been explained time and again. That is why in the Government’s own research they are brigaded together.

Lord Freud: I will come to the point about the in-work and the workless in a little while. Let me go on.

Clause 4 will remove the existing measures and targets in the old Child Poverty Act and provide a statutory basis for much-needed reform to drive real change to improve children’s life chances and tackle the root causes. It introduces a new duty on the Secretary of State to report annually on children living in workless households and children’s educational attainment in England at the end of key stage 4. In response to the point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham about the other indicators, alongside these statutory measures we will develop a range of non-statutory indicators to measure progress against the other root causes of child poverty, which include but are not limited to family breakdown, addiction and problem debt. Anyone will be able to assess the Government’s progress here. The Government are saying, “Judge us on that progress”.

I turn to Amendments 24 and 26. With Amendment 24, the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, seek to expand the duty placed on

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the Secretary of State to publish and lay before Parliament a report containing data on children living in low-income families,

“where one or both parents are in work”.

I think I can add the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, to that amendment in practice. Amendment 26 would add “low income” and “in work” to the list of terms to be defined in the annual report.

It is important to pick up the point raised by a number of noble Lords, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister, Lady Blackstone and Lady Hollis, and the right reverend Prelate, about two-thirds of children in relative poverty being from working families. It is correct that the HBAI figures show that 64% of children in relative poverty are from a family where at least one adult is in work. But this situation has developed over the past couple of decades due to the improved progress in tackling poverty in workless families. In 1996-97, the earliest period for which data are available, around 2 million children in relative poverty—around 60% of them—were from workless families, and around 1.5 million, or 40%, were in working families. During the 2000s, progress was indeed made in reducing the number of children in poverty from workless families by focusing spending on income transfers. Unfortunately, this had the unintended consequence of weakening work incentives and has resulted in hardly any change in the number of children in poverty from working families, which stood at 1.4 million in 2009-10. In other words, it was down by only 100,000.

This illustrates why we are transforming the benefits system and introducing the combination of out-of-work and in-work benefits in universal credit: it is to get rid of the position where you do income transfers one way and undermine the incentives for people to work. I ask noble Lords to think about this issue carefully. With the income transfer process under the old policy, which was not in the Act before, we drove straight into this conundrum of where the incentives were to get people into work.

As for the evidence we have on work being the best route out of poverty, according to the latest statistics, the risk of a child from a working family being in relative poverty is 13%, which compares to the risk for a child from a workless family of 37%. It is clear that a child in a workless family is almost three times more likely to be in poverty than a child who lives in a family where at least one adult works, meaning that the risk of a child being poor is dramatically reduced if at least one parent works.

Furthermore, earlier this year we published analysis on the transition into and out of poverty. This showed that 74% of children who are in poor, workless families will leave poverty altogether if their parents move into full employment. It also made clear that the more work parents do, the more likely they are to leave poverty, with 75% of children from poor families that are partly employed leaving poverty if their parents enter full employment.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We are putting a lot of emphasis on full-time employment, but children in persistent or recurrent poverty will usually be the children of lone parents, who by definition, because

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they are bringing up children, have limits on the hours they can work. Another such group would be disabled people. It is the combination of low pay in work and limited hours that keeps them in poverty, although they are in work. To say they must go into full-time work when they have young children shows no understanding —if I may say this—of what it is like to be a single parent bringing up several children on your own.

Lord Freud: I can only provide the noble Baroness with these relative statistics on what is happening—where the risks for being in poverty are much higher when you are entirely workless. Clearly, as we look at our statistics for the workless, we will have quite a lot of analysis behind what is really happening there.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, would the Minister agree that most of those who have taken part in this debate have no objection to collecting information about worklessness or work as it affects those in relatively low-income groups? That is not what we are arguing about. What we are asking the Government to do is to go on counting the number of children who are living in poverty, whether their parents are in work or not in work.

The bewilderment about this that I expressed earlier is now somewhat reduced, because I think I understand why the Government do not wish to go on collecting this information—even though it is entirely wrong not to, because if you want to get rid of something or end it, you count it, otherwise you do not know where the hell you are. I think it is because of something he revealed earlier, which is that the Government do not want to have targets. I can see why the Government may not want to have targets, because it is often difficult to meet them, as we have seen in a lot of other areas, for example with the migration statistics. However, I am not asking that the Government necessarily stick to having targets. What I am asking, and what everyone else who has spoken in this debate, with the exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, wants, is that we retain proper, basic information—which any good Government who are concerned with evidence when developing their policies must have—on how many children, whether their parents are in work or not, are living in poverty. That is all we are asking for. Why are the Government not prepared to do this? Abandon the targets if you like, or do not call them targets, but do the measurements.

5 pm

Lord Freud: I actually think the difference between us here is not as great as it might look. The division is between the income measures and targets. A legal target is, as I said, financially terrifying but we will publish income measures. This issue was raised by—

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: Given what the Minister just said, will he now accept the case for keeping the income measures in the Bill even if he abandons the targets? As my noble friend said, the argument has really been purely about targets. I thought targets were quite helpful for the same reason as the noble Lord—my noble friend—Lord Kirkwood, but if that is what

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frightens the Government and there is really not much difference between us, then okay. What is stopping the Government keeping the measures supported by 99% or whatever of the scientific community that responded to their earlier consultation on child poverty that they seem to have completely ignored?

The Earl of Listowel: Before the Minister replies, it might be helpful to remind him that the amendment on targets is in the next group. I quite understand why he might choose to address it here but the amendment he is addressing that I and my noble friend tabled is simply about the measurement. I think the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, began the argument on targets but my amendment was intended to be strictly on the measurements.

Lord Freud: In practice, that is not the case. There are two sets of amendments in this group and Amendment 46 from the Opposition deals with the targets so I must deal with both issues. That is what I have been trying to do. I hear around the Chamber that more noble Lords are concerned about measures than targets.

In reality, there is only one word between us: statutory. I made a commitment that we will go on publishing HBAI and that is a protected position. Let me just explain how that works. The HBAI is a national statistic. That means that it complies with the code of practice for official statistics, which states that it must be produced independently of political influence. Any changes to HBAI in future would therefore be made only following the judgment of the head of profession for statistics in the Department for Work and Pensions. Any such changes would be subject to formal consultation with users, as required under the code of practice for official statistics. I think I am on reasonably safe ground in assuring noble Lords that we currently gather HBAI with a full documentary analysis. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, I have that on paper in front of me or on my shelf. That has on it not only the Excel tables but also a clear commentary. By implication, I am saying that that will go on being published in a similar format.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, though the Minister makes a commitment, will he accept that, as is so often said in this House, if there is no statutory requirement and nothing on the statute book any one of his successors could abandon that commitment? That is why we who have concerns about children in poverty want this measure to go on being collected and to be done under statute.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: I agree that we should have this in legislation but can the Minister confirm that his personal commitment will cover the circumstances and the work that needs to be done to identify whether somebody is experiencing material deprivation? That is not just an income issue.

Lord Freud: I think the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, will support me here but my memory is that the material deprivation figures are in the HBAI statistics. She nods that that is the case, so I can confirm that.

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I shall summarise briefly. I am not in a position to give noble Lords the one word they want, but hope I have indicated that the measures will be available to see what is happening to relative child poverty. I am convinced that it is our new life chances measures—the measures rejected six years ago by the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, which focus on the key drivers of worklessness and educational attainment—that will make the biggest difference to children, and that these amendments, were they on a statutory basis, would dilute that focus. We want to focus on the measures that make a real difference to children’s lives. I therefore invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

The Earl of Listowel: I am grateful to the noble Lord, and, in particular, to the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, for raising the questions that she did. As I said earlier, I am particularly concerned about the life chances of care-experienced adults and young people leaving care. In earlier debates the Minister assured me that there were strategies, and I know that there are many welcome investments, in terms of statute and finance, to improve outcomes for care leavers and care-experienced adults. However, the latest figures on 19 year-olds coming out of care who are not in employment, education or training are the worst for many years. Only 6% of young people leaving care are going on to university, compared with 40% in the general population. Despite massive investment by this and previous Governments in improving educational and work outcomes for young people leaving care, it is still not being as effective as one might wish. I think that what is being done is very good, but there needs to be a lot more work.

Then there are the young people on the edge of care, who do not reach the threshold. There are many more young people and children in need, who will have even worse educational and work outcomes. That is relevant to this debate, because what happens to these young people as they become adults, when they have such low educational qualifications that they cannot get on to apprenticeship schemes, have very little prospect of getting work and are likely to remain uneducated? One should always remember that many of them do do better in later life; because of early trauma, it takes them time to catch up. This large group may not be as susceptible to the incentives to work, or go on to further education, that the Minister is talking about. They might be particularly helped by measures of this kind, which focus on those in long-term poverty, and which would keep Parliament’s mind on them and how they are doing. I hope that that makes sense to the Minister. He might like to write to me if he cannot respond now.

Lord Freud: I will write, because the issues that the noble Earl raises are genuinely important and difficult. We are all struggling with them. As we develop the life chances suite, we need to bear in mind the particular problems for those people, because as a group they have much poorer outcomes than they should.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken. It has been a remarkably well-informed and genuine debate, where Peers have

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responded to what others have said. Sometimes it does not work like that. I think the message that has gone to the Minister has been pretty overwhelming. I thank him for genuinely engaging with noble Lords in his speech. However, I have not heard one convincing argument from him about why income and deprivation measures should not remain statutory. I heard his arguments for why targets should not be statutory; I do not agree with them, but he made an argument, and that is fair enough, but he has not responded convincingly to my noble friend Lady Blackstone or anyone else who made that case. We have heard such strong argument on that, but I have not heard one convincing reason why an in-work poverty measure should not be in the Bill. We can trade statistics until the cows come home. I have seen the recent transition statistics, and they support my case as well as the Minister’s, and actually they are irrelevant. The point is that we need to know what is happening to those in work as well as to those out of work. There has been no convincing argument from the Minister in response to the very well-informed points that have been put by noble Lords.

I remind the Minister and the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, that when the Prime Minister was leader of the Conservative Party he welcomed this. He said:

“We need to think of poverty in relative terms—the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted. So I want this message to go out loud and clear: the Conservative Party recognises, will measure and will act on relative poverty”.

How can it if it does not have the measures in the statutes as they now exist?

I will withdraw the amendment, but I think we will want to come back to this issue on Report because it is so important. Perhaps by then, the Minister will have come up with some rather more convincing arguments than he has done hitherto. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 24 withdrawn.

Amendments 25 to 30 not moved.

Amendment 31

Moved by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

31: Clause 4, page 5, line 16, at end insert—

“A1AD Improving children’s life chances

The Secretary of State must publish and lay before Parliament a report setting out the measures that the Secretary of State proposes to take to improve children’s life chances, as understood with reference to section A1A(1).”

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, it is me again. I shall speak also to Amendments 36 to 45, 47 and 48 and make clear my support for Amendment 32, which makes explicit mention of child poverty. I shall also oppose Clause 5 standing part of the Bill.

I am grateful to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for help with the amendments. In its Second Reading briefing, it pointed out that the requirement in the Child Poverty Act 2010 for the Secretary of State to consult on, review, lay and publish a triennial child poverty strategy is one of the casualties of Clause 6. It therefore called for a new statutory requirement

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for the Secretary of State to develop a regular life- chances strategy. Amendments 31 and 32 are alternative ways of implementing that recommendation. I prefer Amendments 47 and 48 because they are closer to the original and make explicit reference to the effect of socioeconomic disadvantage on children’s life chances while decoupling the strategy from the income-related targets—the Minister will be pleased to hear that—which the Government have unfortunately abandoned. They are clearly decoupled.

At present, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to work with the Department for Education and the Child Poverty Unit to produce a child poverty strategy. The publication of the strategy provided a very useful focus for civil society and academic engagement with the Government in developing their thinking on child poverty. Among the many helpful and illuminating responses to the last document published after a period of consultation were those from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the JRF. All three were pretty critical, and I cannot help wondering whether the Government are trying to avoid such criticism by repealing the duty to produce any sort of strategy.

The JRF argues that a statutory strategy would help to focus the Government’s action on their stated desire to improve the life chances of households and give the Secretary of State the impetus to drive this agenda across government and to challenge other departments to commit resources to this end. I would have thought that would have been quite attractive to the Secretary of State. But the most important reason it gives for writing such a strategy into legislation is that it would increase the opportunity for scrutiny of the Government.

The process of drafting a strategy would require public consultation followed by the publication of a clear plan for the improvement of life chances over a three-year period. This document would therefore be a means by which the Government could be held to account by the electorate, opposition parties and other interested organisations. In case the Minister refers to the reporting duty in Clause 4 and the commitment to report on further non-statutory life chances indicators, I point out that reporting on data does not constitute a strategy. Reporting on data, important as it is, is backward-looking. Publishing a strategy is forward-looking and provides a framework within which and a benchmark against which to assess the data.

5.15 pm

I am pleased to say that a briefing note refers to a life chances strategy, to be published “in due course”, whatever that means. Given that, I hope that the Minister might be minded to take these amendments away and consider one or other of them in the interests of accountability and public engagement so as to strengthen such a strategy. Otherwise, I fear that he may be throwing out the baby of accountability with the bath water of targets, to the detriment of good governance and a coherent life chances strategy which, among other things, addresses the root causes of child poverty.

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I would prefer it if Clause 5 did not stand part of the Bill. I have not yet heard any convincing justification for removing child poverty from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s remit. In the event that it survives, which no doubt it will, the purpose of the amendments is to align the commission’s remit with the new focus on life chances in the Bill itself. Noble Lords will recall that the commission started life as the Child Poverty Commission. Social mobility was added to its remit in the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

If, as Ministers constantly reassure us, the Government are still genuinely committed to working to eliminate child poverty, can the Minister explain why they no longer want the commission to help them in that task? I understand why the Government want to remove targets and change the measures, even though I think that they are wrong to do so, but I simply do not understand why any Government who are genuinely committed to the elimination of child poverty would in effect say to the commission, “Thank you for all the useful work you’ve done in analysing child poverty and its causes and in advising on policies to eliminate it, but we’re not interested any more, so in future please just focus on social mobility”.

When announcing the measure, the Work and Pensions Secretary explained, if that is the right word, that the rebranded commission,

“will ensure independent scrutiny and advocate for increased social mobility”,

thereby ensuring that,

“tackling the root causes of child poverty”,

becomes “central” to the,

“business of a one nation government”.

I am sorry, but that struck me as a piece of sophistry right out of Alice’s looking glass world. How do you make child poverty central to the business of government by removing it from the remit of the one body set up to advise government on child poverty? I can only conclude that the Government are more interested in eradicating the language and concept of child poverty than in eradicating child poverty itself. So in the interests of helping the Government keep to their welcome, oft-repeated commitment to the elimination of child poverty, we should oppose the proposition that Clause 5 should stand part of the Bill.

Before turning to the amendments, I will ask the Minister to clarify the future of the Child Poverty Unit. Although the unit is not independent in the way the commission is, it at least ensures a cross-departmental focus on child poverty. Can he give an assurance that the unit will continue once the Bill becomes law and once it has produced the non-statutory indicators to measure progress against the other root causes of child poverty that he mentioned at Second Reading? If there is no independent commission to assess that progress, the unit’s work becomes that much more important.

I tabled the amendments partly because I was genuinely puzzled as to why the Government did not use this opportunity to rename the commission the “Life Chances Commission” in line with their emphasis on life chances in the Bill. At Second Reading the Minister underlined that the Government’s new approach is the life chances one, focused on transforming lives through tackling the root causes of child poverty, and he referred to the

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new statutory measures as key life chances measures. Therefore, would it not make sense to call the commission the “Life Chances Commission” and to amend its remit accordingly? In that way, it could assist the Government in their aim of tackling the root causes of child poverty without having to spell out the CP words in its title, and, as social mobility is related to life chances, it could still report on social mobility.

I welcome the Government’s introduction of the concept of life chances because I believe that that is preferable to the narrower meritocratic notion of social mobility. In my previous life as an academic, I sat on the Fabian Commission on Life Chances and Child Poverty, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, who is no longer in his seat. We defined life chances as referring to the likelihood of a child achieving a range of important outcomes which occur at successive stages of the life course, from birth and early childhood to late childhood and adolescence and on into adulthood. We argued that perhaps the most fundamental of all life chances is the chance to live a fulfilling and rewarding life beginning in childhood. As such, children must be given the chance to enjoy a happy, flourishing childhood and to continue to thrive as they grow up. Thus, it is about caring about children as beings as well as “becomings” — both of which can be damaged by child poverty.

Our commission argued that poverty matters because it undermines people’s opportunity to flourish and thrive. Growing up in poverty affects children’s chances across a whole number of dimensions of life chances that I am sure concern the Government. From this perspective, we rejected the narrower concept of social mobility because, first, it does not embrace the idea of ensuring that everyone has a chance to live a full and flourishing life and, secondly, it ignores what happens to those who are not able, or may not want, to climb the ladder of social mobility. For example, a focus on social mobility ignores how some of society’s most important tasks—those involving caring for others—are undervalued and thus, in effect, are carried out at the bottom of the ladder. Do we want to say to children that it is an ignoble ambition to care for others?

I hope that the Minister will agree with what I have said—I do not think that there is anything controversial in what I have said about life chances—and that he might be willing, for once, to take away this amendment and consider it before Report, because I believe that it is helpful to the Government’s own cause. I believe that he would find widespread support for such a move, and it would show that the Government are willing to listen. I beg to move.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I rise to speak to my Amendments 32, 33 and 49 in this grouping. Before doing so, I am prompted by what the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has just said to reflect for a moment on what the Government have done to improve life chances for children—I should like to say something positive before I am critical. The coalition Government reduced the number of children in prison by 2,000—from 3,000 to 1,000—in three years. Of course, once a child is in custody, it is very much more likely that he will return to custody, so I pay tribute to the Government and to the Liberal Democrat party for that contribution to improving children’s life chances.

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My Amendment 32 would place a duty on the Secretary of State to produce a report on child poverty and life chances, and it would oblige him or her to produce a strategy in those two areas. There is a duty under the Child Poverty Act to produce a strategy of this kind every three years. As we have just heard, there is not one for life chances in the Bill, so this is an opportunity to produce a strategy for both.

I sense that the Government are very resistant to the notion of strategies altogether. I think that, generally, they prefer a bottom-up to a top-down approach, which is positive in many ways. One sees that in so many areas, but there are difficulties with it—for instance, in the education system. Two weeks ago, I visited a remarkable school, the King Solomon Academy, in Marylebone, which has the highest academic attainment in the non-selective state area. It is in a pretty deprived area of London, and it shows how effective academies can be. However, the teachers there complained to me that the Government are not ensuring that sufficient high-quality teachers are being developed to service the school. The Chief Inspector of Schools has recently voiced concerns about the supply of teachers. It is important to choose the right time, but there are times when a strategy is needed, and one might say that teaching is an example.

A housing Bill is shortly to arrive in this House, and it would be very helpful when considering it to have a strategy from the Government on life chances and child poverty—which would of course also refer to homelessness and family accommodation—so we can see whether that Bill is consistent with that strategy. Unfortunately, we do not have such a strategy, so we will be unable to check that Bill against it. I therefore hope that the Minister can give a positive response to this amendment.

The Minister has already responded very helpfully to my Amendment 33, on a target for eradicating child poverty. I think enough has already been said on the notion of targets.

My Amendment 49 would put a duty on local authorities to produce a similar child poverty and life chances strategy. According to a report from the Child Poverty Action Group, where such strategies are well embedded in local authorities, they prove very effective. The Government have a policy of localism: more and more responsibility is being passed to local authorities, and if we are to adopt such an approach, it is very important that local authorities have such a strategy. Funding for local authorities has been cut by some 35% in the past five years, and there will be a similar cut over the next five years. They have all sorts of competing priorities. If they have a strategy in this area, they are more likely to prioritise it. I hope the Minister can give a sympathetic response to these amendments, and I look forward to his reply.

Baroness Grey-Thompson: I shall speak to Amendments 32 and 33, which are in my name. It is essential to have a strategy—if the Government are really serious about changing life chances, it makes no sense to me not to include one. Reporting is useful but we need more than that; it does not move the discussion on. There is much to applaud in the Government’s

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vision, especially concerning disabled people, but we have an opportunity to create a combined child poverty and life chances strategy.

I do not often look back, but by way of context I refer to my previous career as an athlete. If you are serious about winning, you have a training plan or a strategy to achieve success—you do not just randomly train and hope you will get to the finish line. If we are serious about child poverty, a strategy makes sense. Even if we have to be sensible and re-evaluate the targets to set something realistic and achievable, what I do know is that, without a strategy, we have no chance of eradicating child poverty.

5.30 pm

Baroness Maddock (LD): My Lords, I shall speak to my Amendment 35. Observant noble Lords may have noticed that the last part of the sentence in proposed new Section A1AH(2), “its fuel strategy”, should read “its fuel poverty strategy”, as in the rest of the amendment.

The purpose of the amendment is to ask the Government to record and report on the effects of the proposed changes in the Bill on their fuel poverty strategy. I am concerned about this on three counts. The first is the effect of cold homes on children, the elderly and the disabled. Many of them will be pushed further into fuel poverty by the changes in the Bill. Secondly, I do not want to see the possible undermining by the changes in the Bill of the fuel poverty strategy agreed by the last Government. My third concern is the effect of the Bill on the already large numbers of people who are in fuel poverty in the area of the country where I live, Berwick-upon-Tweed in north Northumberland.

The effects of cold homes on people are well known. If people cannot afford to pay their fuel bills and their income goes down, more people are going to be in cold homes and more will be in fuel poverty. Of those who are over 60, over 1 million are at present in fuel poverty. We know that poor and cold housing costs the National Health Service nearly £1.5 billion every year. We have levels of excess winter deaths here that are higher than in most of western Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries where, as we all know, temperatures are very much lower. The inability to keep warm leads to ill health, not just to early death.

I turn to disabled people. As we heard in debates on Monday, disabled people generally require higher levels of warmth than most of us but generally have a lower income to cover the extra costs. That was very well laid out in the discussions we had on Monday evening. There are proposals in the Bill, which we have yet to discuss so I shall not go into them now, to reduce the income of certain disabled people by 30%. If their income is to be reduced by 30%, there are going to be a whole lot more people in the category of fuel poverty.

I turn to children. Cold homes in Great Britain are more likely than not to be damp homes. This leads to very poor health for young children living in them, particularly with instances of asthma and chest infections, and therefore these children will take more time out of school and nursery and will have lower attainments in school and reduced life chances, which is what the

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Government are concerned about. Someone earlier—I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, who is not in her place now—mentioned the fact that children trying to do homework in the cold is one thing that we know affects their ability to keep up at school.

As was also said earlier, the Government are not very keen on strategies these days. But the second child poverty strategy, covering 2014 to 2017, aimed to improve living standards and prevent poor children from becoming poor adults through raising educational attainment. The Government are still talking about that but—I think this has been well set out in the discussions we have had—this Bill dismantles many elements of that strategy. The Minister has explained a little to us today, but he needs to explain a little more about the mismatch of this policy with other policies.

The statistics on the effects of cold homes are very stark. The risk of experiencing severe ill health and disability during childhood and early adulthood is increased by 25% if an individual lives in poor and cold housing. Children living in inadequately heated houses are more than twice as likely to suffer from conditions such as asthma and bronchitis as those living in warmer homes, and 40% of vulnerable households are faced with the stark choice of heating or eating. This has been looked at and we know that 20% of parents in that situation will often go without food so that their children can eat.

Cold homes are currently a bigger killer across the United Kingdom than road accidents, alcohol or drug abuse. For the statistics that I have laid out this afternoon I am grateful to Age UK; National Energy Action’s fuel poverty strategy, of which I am vice-president; Friends of the Earth; and the Association for the Conservation of Energy.

During the last Parliament, I and many others worked very hard to persuade the Government to adopt a fuel poverty strategy. I do not want to see that work undone. Currently, there are 13 million low-income individuals who, after housing costs, have incomes well below £16,000 a year. Just under half of them are in employment but are still struggling to meet living costs, including utility bills. We have heard more about that this afternoon. We know that increasing household incomes is an essential part—it is not the only part—of tackling fuel poverty. So what figures do the Government have about how the changes in this Bill will affect low-income households that are at present in fuel poverty?

I live in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Every week, when I come down to London, I find that it is at least 5 degrees centigrade warmer. Therefore, it is not surprising that the area I live in has high figures of fuel poverty. In Berwick itself, we have 1,800 households in fuel poverty, which is 15% of our population. In the whole constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed, there are nearly 4,500 people in fuel poverty, which is 13%. Across Northumberland, there are 16,000 people in fuel poverty. To add to that, we have some of the lowest levels of take-up of further and higher education in the country. We are also an area of low wages and low skills. No one from our local high school has gone to Oxford or Cambridge for over 10 years, unless their parents paid for them to travel 67 miles to further education colleges and

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sixth forms in Newcastle. I believe that the changes in this Bill may work against the already poor life chances of many young people in Berwick-upon-Tweed and north Northumberland.

I hope that the Minister will be able to tell me whether the issues that I have raised were taken into account when drawing up the Bill. He mentioned life chances earlier and outlined some of the Government’s thinking, but I hope he can assure me that they will look a bit harder at this. Whatever his answer is, it is clear—and has been made clear in the discussions we have had this afternoon—that this amendment merits serious consideration by the Minister today.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I rise to speak first to Amendment 31. Given the serious enthusiasm that the Government have for introducing “life chances” as a title and theme, it would make complete sense for the Government to want to report on improvement in children’s life chances in the future. So I commend this as being entirely in line with the purpose of the whole Bill—it would make sense to report.

I will speak now to Amendments 36 to 40 and 42 to 45, and I would like to keep us in the north-east of England. Yesterday, it was my privilege to open the new building for Holy Trinity primary school in Seaton Carew in Hartlepool, and to then go to Prior’s Mill primary school in Billingham, both of which are Church of England schools. I add that I have visited the school in Berwick that the noble Baroness mentioned and can confirm what she said; it is a very fine school but it has not produced people for higher education in the way that it should.

The proposal to change from a “Social Mobility Commission” to a “Life Chances Commission” gives us a very rare opportunity to change the title of a government commission so that it is understood by the very children whom it seeks to serve. Most of our departments and so on do not resonate with the life, language and conversations of children themselves. However, in both the schools I visited yesterday, I found myself talking with those children about their hopes and their dreams and their fears, but they were longing to talk about the chances and hopes that they had in life. Those were not purely about money: they were about work and home and family and so forth. Not once did I hear any of them talk about social mobility possibilities.

In all seriousness, I say that it would be a much more sensible heading and title for the commission and it would fit much more accurately with the aims and purposes that the Government have stated for life chances, so I would seize this with every opportunity. It would please the children of the nation if they understood what the commission was about.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I shall be brief because I know that we want to make progress today. I support wholeheartedly my noble friend Lady Lister, with her brilliant exposition as to why we should substitute “life chances” for “social mobility”. I join her in opposing the proposition that Clause 5 stand part of the Bill. We have a very specific amendment in

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this group, Amendment 41, which is merely to delete the words, “on request”, so that the commission, whatever its final title and remit, can be proactive in offering advice to the Minister. That obviously carries the implication that the commission must be appropriately resourced. Perhaps the Minister will tell us what is intended in this regard. I hesitated to raise that issue, because I feared that the Minister was going to tell me that we put it there when we were in government, but I hope that he will not. Even if we did, it seems to be entirely reasonable that it should now be expunged from the provision.

I also support those who argue that there should be proper strategies, so that you do not just have odd reporting obligations: there must be an intent to come forward with a strategy focused on life chances and on fuel poverty. As the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, said, if we do not have a strategy, where is all this reporting going to lead? Given the hour, I think I will leave it there.

Lord Freud: I hope that what I have to say on this group of amendments will be a little more pleasing, although I do not think it will please everyone on everything. I will divide my remarks into two areas: the first on strategy and targets, and the second on the commission. It is a wide group of amendments, and that is the way they break down.

Starting with Amendment 33, I think that noble Lords who put that forward would accept that we have dealt with that pretty thoroughly when we considered Amendment 25, so I shall not reiterate all of my arguments on that matter. Noble Lords have heard my concerns about the implications of legal targets when the financial figures are so difficult to forecast.

Amendment 31 sets out exactly what information should be in the Secretary of State’s report. I think that I am going to please the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, when I explain where we are. We will publish a strategy on life chances, so that is the noble Baroness’s strategy. We will then publish an annual statutory report on the new measures: I think that is effectively what the noble Baroness is driving at. The Government have produced major new strategies, and I think that noble Lords all around the Chamber will accept that we have tried to transform all the structures of the benefits system and the support we provide for people in a coherent way.

5.45 pm

We are looking at really complicated situations, so just putting in place a statutory obligation on income measures is not the point. In making these changes we are trying to transform society, and that does not work through a kind of tick-box “do this, do that” strategy. That is just not how the world works. I see the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, shaking her head in a mixture of disagreement and puzzlement, but it really is not how the world works. These things are very difficult to work through. Something that is good about our approach is that under this plan, as we spell out these life chances strategies, we will be looking at them every year.

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It is a truism that what gets measured is what gets done. The publication of the data showing our progress will be a powerful driver of action. That publication will be transparent and will look at all the root causes, some of which I have outlined; noble Lords may add some others. They include addiction, problem debt and family instability. The approach will enable anyone to hold us to account for the actions we have taken and the progress we have made. It will also enable those who have been involved in the debate to propose other actions if they wish, and I can assure noble Lords that we have had no shortage of advice from interested parties on how tackle these issues and problems. The clear prioritisation of areas for action—namely, our focus on work and education, and annual reporting of progress on transparent measures—are powerful instruments of change. We have set this approach out in primary legislation to best support improvement in the life chances of our children. The Government do not put statutory measures of this sort in place lightly.

I turn now to Amendment 32, which was spoken to by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. It requires the Secretary of State to,

“lay before Parliament a report setting out”,

the action to be taken on behalf of particular groups of children. I have already stated that the Government agree that particular attention needs to be paid to these groups, which include children in care, care leavers, children in homeless families, children at risk of homelessness and children in families suffering from problem debt. I reiterate our commitment, but the key point is that we are already reporting on the progress of these groups in the ways I described when responding to Amendments 28 to 30. In combination, our new life chances measures and the existing reporting mechanisms will drive efforts to tackle worklessness and poor educational attainment for all children.

In Amendment 35, the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, is seeking to widen the annual reporting duty so that it includes a requirement to provide information about how this legislation might impact on the number of children living in fuel poverty and on the life chances of those children, as well as to report annually on the impact of the legislation on the Government’s fuel strategy. We all agree that poverty is a complex issue and the dynamics affecting it are driven by a range of interconnected factors. Fuel poverty is something that the Government recognise already and take extremely seriously.

I think we would all agree with the noble Baroness that living in cold homes can have a negative impact on children. The Government have a strong record of providing information in this area. Statistics on the number of households with children living in fuel poverty in England are published annually by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and are also included in the Government’s fuel poverty strategy as one of the headline fuel poverty indicators. The Government have committed to reviewing and updating this strategy regularly. The requirements that the noble Baroness has in this amendment are already in place in other parts of the Government’s legislation.

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Baroness Maddock: I thank the Minister for reiterating that. I raised this at Second Reading and if he had answered my points then, I might not have needed to table the amendment today to make sure that this was taken into consideration.

Lord Freud: I apologise to the noble Baroness for not dealing with the matter earlier, and I am pleased with the outcome.

Amendments 47 and 48, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, would prevent the repeal of the duty to publish and lay a triennial UK strategy. In practice, I dealt with that when I was describing in an earlier amendment what our approach would be. Amendment 49, tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, would place a statutory duty on local authorities in England to,

“prepare a joint child poverty and life chances strategy”.

While commending the noble Earl for his focus in this area, the Government do not believe that burdening local authorities with a one-size-fits-all strategy requirement would help to transform children’s lives on the ground. Local authorities will have the freedom to determine the approach they want to take in their area, building on the partnerships already in place. The Government will look to local authorities to use this freedom to take effective action to tackle the root causes of child poverty and improve children’s life chances. We will continue to support local authorities in tackling child poverty and improving life chances in their areas by providing data to inform them of their progress and where best they can focus their resources. This includes publishing local level life-chances data on children and workless households and educational attainment for all children, particularly disadvantaged children.

Local authorities can make decisions at the local level to ensure that actions are complementary and fit with local timetables and circumstances to deliver maximum effect. That is something that the centre cannot do. When looking at low-income measures in relation to local authorities, their unpredictability, which as I said is so difficult for central government, has the same volatility for local government, making it spend money on action that does not produce the best outcomes.

Clause 5 will reform the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission to become the Social Mobility Commission. Some noble Lords have indicated that they do not want Clause 5 to stand part of the Bill. The Government want to galvanise action on social mobility which calls for concerted effort by the Government, business and the third sector, operating alongside our focus on improving children’s life chances. The Government’s reforms to the commission will add impetus to its efforts to promote and improve social mobility and strengthen and expand its remit in this important area. The reformed commission will perform a key role in ensuring independent scrutiny of progress to improve social mobility in the UK. It will promote social mobility in England and, on request, provide advice to Ministers—I am not quite sure whether I can blame the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, for this, but I am checking—on how to provide social mobility in England. The commission will be an integral part of

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the Government’s drive to promote opportunity and remove barriers to progress towards a society where everyone is able to play their full part and realise their potential regardless of their background.

The reformed commission will no longer be tasked with tracking progress against the current set of income-based measures, and will instead be able to focus single mindedly on the crucial role of improving social mobility. The commission will build on its history of insightful work and continue to publish robust evidence-rich publications not only for the Government but for employers, schools, parliamentarians, parents, families and citizens of this country. Its publications have been instrumental in moving forward the debate on social mobility in this country, and I look forward to it continuing to do so. I particularly want to thank the commissioners who have volunteered their time freely to carry out this vital role, and the leadership of the commission’s chair, the right honourable Alan Milburn and its deputy chair, the noble Baroness, Lady Shephard of Northwold.

Amendments 36 to 45 seek to rename the commission as the life-chances commission rather than the Social Mobility Commission. They would also amend the duties placed on the commission, including placing a statutory duty on it to provide advice to Ministers on social mobility in England, whether or not at Ministers’ requests. I shall turn to Amendments 36 to 40 and 42 to 45 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, which would rename the commission and amend the duties placed on it to promote and improve life chances instead of social mobility.

I have already set out the importance that the Government place on social mobility and the commission’s role in its scrutiny and advancement. It is the Government’s view that the reformed commission should have the single-minded focus on social mobility. Our proposals will strengthen and expand its remit on this important issue. The commission’s independent scrutiny of social mobility will help to build a society where someone’s starting point does not determine their end point. Our proposals will give the commission a clear remit and focus that will enable it to fulfil these new duties effectively.

Alongside the commission’s scrutiny role, our new statutory measures on worklessness and educational attainment will bring greater transparency to the Government’s actions to improve children’s life chances. As I have explained, we will have an annual report on progress in that area, which will allow anyone to scrutinise and hold the Government to account.

Amendment 41 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock and the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, would require the Social Mobility Commission to give advice to a Minister of the Crown about how to improve social mobility in England rather than to do so on request. The commission already has a statutory duty to publish a report setting out its views on the progress made towards improving social mobility in the UK. It is implicit that such reports can provide and offer advice about areas for future action as well as assessing past progress. That is certainly the way in which the commission has interpreted its remit in the past. It is

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not appropriate for the Government to start dictating to the commission as an independent body how it should discharge its functions in future.

Every year the commission undertakes a number of research projects, publishing reports and recommendations and developing the evidence, based on a range of subjects relating to social mobility. Through these research projects and its annual report, the commission provides a wide range of evidence-based analysis, all of which is published and available for anyone to see which can speak powerfully to government and other players.

The provision for the commission to provide advice to a Minister of the Crown on request serves an important purpose. It enables the Government to draw on the commission’s expertise in areas that particularly matter to it beyond those already covered in the commission’s reports, and it is important that we do not lose this provision. Noble Lords should note that the current provisions relating to the commission are amended as a result of repeals set out in Clause 6 and amendments to its name and functions set out in Clause 5. Should Clause 5 not stand part of the Bill —some have indicated that they intend to vote against it—the commission would cease to exist entirely. I look forward to working with the reformed commission in the coming years to make further progress in transforming social mobility.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: I asked a specific question about the future of the Child Poverty Unit. Would the Minister answer that before I wind up?

Lord Freud: We will ensure that there is a full range of Civil Service support to drive forward the agenda. We will set out arrangements for the Child Poverty Unit in due course. With that, I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment, and other noble Lords not to press theirs.

6 pm

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, particularly the right reverend Prelate, whose argument was far better than mine on life chances. What better argument is there than using terms that children themselves can understand? Starting at the end, I am desperately disappointed by the Minister’s response. He simply has not addressed the arguments as to why “life chances” would be a better title for the commission than “social mobility”. I am very disappointed by that. I thought he might be able to go away and say, “Yes, perhaps there’s something to be said for that”. Instead, he has said that they will expand the remit of the commission, but he is actually narrowing it. Which is it: expansion or narrowing? It is not at all clear. Why drive on social mobility rather than on life chances, which still allows you to talk about social mobility but has the advantages that I set out and as the right reverend Prelate did in his killer argument—if he does not mind me calling it that? We have had no answer to those. As I say, I am desperately disappointed.

The Minister kindly said that he thought he would please me with his response on strategy. I appreciate that, but I am afraid I am not that easily pleased.

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Again, there is that key word, “statutory”. On the previous group of amendments my noble friend Lady Blackstone explained why that word is important: Governments and Ministers change. Given that the intention is to produce a life chances strategy, why not make it statutory? There is no argument about targets. We are agreed on it. Again, I am rather disappointed that the Minister has been unable to say that the Government will think about it and that it would perhaps be good to have a statutory duty. I am talking not about tick-boxes or anything like that, but about the kind of strategy that he is talking about.

Again, we may have to come back to these questions on Report because we have not heard convincing arguments in response to a very strong set of arguments from a number of noble Lords. Having said that, I of course beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 31 withdrawn.

Amendments 32 to 35 not moved.

Clause 4 agreed.

Clause 5: Social Mobility Commission

Amendments 36 to 45 not moved.

Clause 5 agreed.

Clause 6: Other amendments to Child Poverty Act 2010

Amendments 46 to 48 not moved.

Clause 6 agreed.

Amendment 49 not moved.

Clause 13: Employment and support allowance: work-related activity component

Amendment 50

Moved by Lord Patel

50: Clause 13, page 14, line 24, at end insert—

“( ) Subsections (2) and (3) shall not come into force until the Secretary of State has laid before both Houses of Parliament a report giving his or her estimate of the impact of the provisions in those subsections on the—

(a) physical and mental health,

(b) financial situation, and

(c) ability to return to work,

of persons who would otherwise be entitled to start claiming the work-related activity component of employment and support allowance.

( ) Regulations bringing subsections (2) and (3) into force shall not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

Lord Patel (CB): My Lords, my turn has come—rather sooner than I thought it would. In moving Amendment 50, I will speak to Amendment 53 in my name. I am very grateful to all the noble Lords who have put their names down supporting my amendments.