In my limited time I want to touch on two issues: good governance and trade. Some 60% of the members of the Commonwealth are made up of young people, and the biggest challenge many of those people will face is spiralling unemployment in their countries of origin and the desperate need for foreign direct investment. To quote from one of the many press releases:

“The global community is now tasked with translating the aspirations”,

of the SDGs,

“into practical action, including within the realm of … policymaking”.

On the issue of good governance, I have become increasingly alarmed by current developments in South Africa, which has for many years been a key member of the Commonwealth. We all had great expectations for the rainbow nation under the admirable leadership of Nelson Mandela but, sadly, Jacob Zuma has been the most disastrous and destructive President. His move last week to remove the Finance Minister, who rightly vetoed yet another of his extravagances, is typical of his autocratic and irresponsible leadership. This has not just led to a dramatic collapse in the South African rand; over the last five years, we have seen a huge drop in inward investment into that country, which relies on foreign direct investment to promote sustainable development. President Zuma’s poor governance has given the country an uncertain future. Equally, Robert Mugabe, who is now well into his 90s, has been clinging to power in Zimbabwe for far too long. The prize of new leadership in Zimbabwe and South Africa is enormous. When this happens, I hope that Zimbabwe will rejoin the Commonwealth.

Finally, I hope that progress can be achieved on removing trade barriers in Africa to create a truly African continental free-trade area. This would be a catalyst to boost trade substantially between African countries, of which 17 are members of the Commonwealth. The value and future of Commonwealth trade is well documented in the secretariat’s trade report. I have always been a great and firm supporter of the value of the Commonwealth in jointly tackling all the challenges as one big family. In this respect I am glad that in her inspired new appointment, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, can now drive these initiatives forward.

2.04 pm

Baroness Wilcox (Con): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for bringing to the House this debate on the report of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta in November, at which the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal, was elected as the next—and the first woman—Secretary-General. Her renowned experience, enthusiasm and wisdom will make her a worthy champion, as she reaches out to achieve her stated goals of democracy and development.

As the very first speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Luce, had the most time—I have the least—and he gave us a tour de force. I felt a sense of excitement as he spoke—a need to be involved. I felt ashamed of how little I have actually done since I joined this organisation. On looking back, I realise I have never attended anything, so I feel now that I really must

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2227

contribute more. I look forward with enthusiasm to the Minister’s response to some of the noble Lord’s questions, which I could never have explained away, but I am delighted to be here.

I mainly wish to speak about the Commonwealth scholarships, which demonstrate the importance of the Commonwealth to individuals, especially the relatively young. Tens of thousands apply for these awards each year and 25,000 have benefited from those the UK offers. In many cases, the awards have transformed their lives and the societies in which they live. Many award-holders develop lifelong links with the United Kingdom—a talented and influential example of soft power, which is a credit to our country.

The Commonwealth scholarships scheme has enjoyed support from Governments of all parties over the years. It is critical that this continue and that there is scope to be more ambitious. The newly announced DfID priorities rightly focus on the very poorest and most fragile states. The majority of Commonwealth scholarships are already made to such countries, so the scheme is ideally placed to develop new initiatives. Combining a development scheme with support for the Commonwealth offers a win-win situation. A friend of mine, who got me interested and who was a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner, recently attended the welcome day for the new intake of more than 400 scholars and fellows who are based across the United Kingdom. He told me that the enthusiasm and commitment which they exuded made it one of the most exhilarating occasions he had attended for a very long time.

Finally, as a serving member of your Lordships’ European Union Select Committee and as a businesswoman, I was taken, as we approach our in-out referendum, by an article in the Daily Telegraph of 27 November on the Commonwealth meeting. It was titled, “The EU or the Commonwealth? Britain can have both”, and in it Anthony Bailey said:

“Increased trade with Commonwealth countries is perfectly possible for Britain”.

It does not have to mean one or the other, or that Britain will have to leave Europe if it is to continue to support our Commonwealth. He continued:

“The emerging economies of the Commonwealth suddenly look ... exciting”,

so absolutely everybody will want to talk to them and take part with them. He went on:

“The transformed international scene is now filling up with a quilt of new networks and alliances. The Commonwealth and Europe are two of these. Britain should be leading in both”.

As he said,

“Britain’s best service to the Commonwealth is to stay and shape a European Union which needs Britain more than ever”.

Now, there is something new to think about.

2.08 pm

Lord Chidgey (LD): My Lords, first, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Luce, on securing this debate at such an appropriate time for this House. In his contribution, he recognised the commitment of the Maltese Government at their CHOGM. He made an interesting point about whether the United Kingdom would do the same at our London CHOGM in a

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2228

couple of years’ time. He brought a very wide range of issues before us and reminded us that it is of course the young who lead the way.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, set out the scale of the Commonwealth, in spite of the lack of time for Members in this debate and the lack of interest in the British press in covering the Commonwealth. He said that there are big prizes in growing markets for the Commonwealth. He ended with a very apposite question: “How long will we be ignorant of our own strength?”. What a wonderful comment to think about.

The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, talked about the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and commented on the commitment of Her Majesty the Queen in her 60 years’ service to the Commonwealth.

My noble friend Lord Steel reflected on his boyhood in Kenya. I was going to say that he was in the hands of the noble Lord, Lord Luce, but “patronage” would probably be the right way of putting it. He made the point that there are great things to come from the newly elected Secretary-General, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland. She has noted that 40 out of 53 Commonwealth countries still criminalise homosexuality and has therefore set herself a target for change, which is admirable.

The noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, made such a wonderful maiden speech in only three minutes, which is quite remarkable. She set out the passions in her life: the protection of individuals from violence and discrimination; the protection of women; the abolition of FGM; her commitment to LGBT rights; and fighting climate change. My noble friend Lord Sandwich gave us the wonderful example of Lutyens and his view of architecture in Delhi—which of course most of us will have seen—setting standards that can be adopted and adapted for a wide range of issues across the Commonwealth.

That of course reminds us of potential Commonwealth members, as did the noble Lord, Lord Rana. It just so happens that I have some strong connections with the Republic of Ireland and I often work with Irish MPs on capacity-building projects in southern Africa. It is slightly difficult when I invite them for a meeting in this place, because to get here they have to come through security at Cromwell Green, which is not particularly attractive for them.

As the noble Lord, Lord Luce, pointed out, the Commonwealth stands out among organisations for the particularly broad range of professional and civil society bodies that enable citizens in member states to work together and provide mutual support. This is acknowledged in the opening words of the Commonwealth charter:

“We the people of the Commonwealth”.

The charter also recognises,

“the important role that civil society plays in our communities and countries as partners in promoting and supporting Commonwealth values and principles”.

My noble friend Lord Watson expanded on this and emphasised it in his speech. As the chair of the advisory council of the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, Australia, where the Commonwealth charter was presented.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2229

At the Malta CHOGM, Her Majesty’s Government chaired the round table on LGBT issues, and I would be grateful if the Minister could advise us of the outcomes of that round table, as this has become such a pertinent topic in our debate today. In their 2015 CHOGM communiqué, Heads of Government paid tribute to the many Commonwealth organisations and individual citizens who had gathered in Malta. They contributed in a diverse way to advancing the Commonwealth’s values, principles, goals and priorities.

A very significant Canadian contribution is the Commonwealth of Learning, or the COL, an outcome of the 1987 Vancouver CHOGM. The COL has been generously supported by Canada and other member states, and is still based in Vancouver. Under the leadership of Professor Asha Kanwar of India, it continues to deliver an important expression of intergovernmental co-operation on education, which has always been a primary area of Commonwealth focus.

In Malta, Heads of Government welcomed the work of the COL and its “learning for development” approach in enhancing access to quality education and training, leading to employment and entrepreneurship. They envisage that under its new strategic plan, and through the use of ICT, it will add value to national efforts to accelerate progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals. Heads of Government expressed particular appreciation for the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth—another COL initiative—and in particular its use of innovative technologies for human resource development in small states and the special initiative to prevent child marriage.

While in Malta for the CHOGM, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia announced that his country would double its financial contribution to the COL. This is a great boost in support and will help the COL to improve the lives of thousands of vulnerable girls and women. As Professor Kanwar pointed out when acknowledging the values of this fresh financial commitment, investing in girls and women yields high returns.

The work of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Luce, also mentioned, and of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, and the contributions of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, are impressive in their impact and influence, offering beacons of hope and real opportunity for many of the most promising young people. Scholarships, fellowships and other forms of educational exchange are critical to building and sustaining pan-Commonwealth co-operation and are an important way of showing the commitment of the United Kingdom to international development and understanding.

I encourage DfID and the FCO to find ways of strengthening scholarships and fellowships as a powerful strand of influence and good will, not least because of the way in which Commonwealth undergraduate and postgraduate students are able to carry forward and expand their links with this country and more widely through the Commonwealth’s networks of professional and civil society organisations, to which I have already referred. Under the coalition Government, it was

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2230

particularly satisfying how BIS and UKTI provided support for special fellowships in connection with the Commonwealth Science Conference held in Bangalore. This revival of a gathering that had not taken place for 50 years showed renewed understanding of and confidence in the importance of the Commonwealth as a forum for co-operation and exchange.

In their Malta communiqué, the Heads of Government paid tribute to the Science Conference and welcomed Singapore’s offer to host the next Commonwealth Science Conference when it convenes in June 2017. The conference attracts and warrants the attention and investment of resources by such eminent institutions as the Royal Society, the Indian Institute of Science and the National Research Foundation in Singapore. We should also pay tribute to the imaginative partnership project, Commonwealth Class, which is bringing understanding of their Commonwealth identity to a new generation of Commonwealth citizens. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Luce, picked up on this. Led by the British Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat, the project presents high-quality videos and learning materials on the values of the Commonwealth charter. Schoolchildren around the world can work together online and acquire citizenship skills and a global perspective.

Initiatives such as this, particularly for schools and young people, are needed more now than ever. The Commonwealth has the reach, the diversity and the networks to lead in advancing respect and understanding. In this context, I commend the very welcome support being provided by the Government and other member states for a new unit in the Commonwealth Secretariat to focus on the vital work of countering violent extremism. Through its work on civil paths to peace, the Commonwealth collectively has given a lead in finding innovative and inclusive ways of peacebuilding and national development. From its earliest days, and on crucial issues such as fighting institutional racism, particularly in southern Africa, the Commonwealth has been able to lead and convene for progressive and liberal approaches.

We look forward to a new chapter opening under the stewardship of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland—a citizen of Dominica, let us not forget. As so many other noble Lords have done, I congratulate her warmly on her appointment as Commonwealth Secretary-General. This must be the best thing since sliced bread as far as we are concerned. Finally, I am delighted we have had the opportunity, in this most timely debate, of considering the contribution the Commonwealth makes and how, to quote the theme of the 2015 CHOGM, it is adding global value.

2.17 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for initiating this important and timely debate. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, on her excellent maiden speech. I hope she will not hold my efforts in Hornsey and Wood Green on election day against me—nevertheless, it was an excellent maiden speech.

In a world that faces huge challenges—the greatest number since the Second World War—it is important to recognise the key role that the Commonwealth,

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2231

with 2.3 billion people, which is one-third of the world’s population, can play in supporting each member in addressing them. The theme of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held last month in Malta was:

“The Commonwealth—Adding Global Value”.

That is key to its purpose and success in the 21st century. It cannot replace the peacebuilding role of the UN or be a substitute for the EU in terms of trade, but it can complement and enhance the goals of these organisations.

It of course gives me great pleasure to congratulate my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland on her election as Commonwealth Secretary-General. In taking over on 1 April next year, she will she will become the first woman to occupy the post. My noble and learned friend has been a great champion for human rights and dignity, and I strongly welcome her vow to build,

“consensus on a revitalised Commonwealth”,

which will focus on the,

“twin goals of democracy and development”.

As have heard, the Heads of Government addressed climate change, sustainable development, trade and investment, migration and countering violent extremism and radicalisation. In doing so, they reaffirmed their shared commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth charter.

In today’s debate, I want to focus on the twin goals that my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland identified as her principles: democracy and development. In their final communiqué, the leaders welcomed the adoption of the 2030 UN agenda for sustainable development: 17 goals and 169 targets aimed at resolving sustainable development issues such as poverty, ill health and inequality. The Commonwealth leaders described the agenda as “historic” and as,

“containing the ability to change the world”.

They agreed that the Commonwealth should provide assistance to member states in order for them to attain long-term debt sustainability.

The universality of the goals and the specific commitment to leave no one behind are key to the importance of Commonwealth involvement. They pose a challenge for developed countries as well as developing ones. In particular, they challenge all countries to ensure that the most marginalised groups are targeted over the next 15 years. Goal 16 on peace and justice is a major step forward for linking peace and development and ensuring that human rights and trusted institutions are now a universal commitment. The specific inclusion of goal 5 on gender equality, focusing on the importance of the empowerment of women and girls, their education and other gender-related issues as a priority within the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat, is extremely welcome.

The preparations for the data revolution are vital, as accurate data and their disaggregation at the country level as well as globally is fundamental to ensure that goals are met for everyone. I therefore welcome the agreement that the Commonwealth should facilitate member states’ efforts to obtain adequate and predictable resources from a variety of sources, technology and capacity-building to achieve the sustainable development goals.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2232

As we have heard, the continued engagement of civil society in the monitoring and implementation of the SDGs is also key to the Commonwealth’s involvement. There are concerns that in some countries civil society will be marginalised again. What steps have the Government taken to lead by example in developing a country plan for the implementation of the SDGs involving NGOs and parliamentarians?

The Heads of Government acknowledged that all human rights are equal, indivisible, interdependent, interrelated and universal, and urged members to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. They recognised that freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of religion or belief are cornerstones of democratic societies and important for the enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to development, and are fundamental to achieving the sustainable development goals. As the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, reminded us, they emphasise the need to protect individuals from all forms of violence and discrimination.

What discussion took place in Malta on the agenda for the forthcoming UN humanitarian summit in 2016, at which a number of the SDGs will need to be addressed? As many noble Lords mentioned today, the omission from the final communiqué recognising the rights of LGBT people was disappointing. Same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults continues to be criminalised in 40 of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. As we have heard today, a lot of those laws are a hangover from British colonial rule. While they remain on the statute book, they have a continuing impact of fear, stigma, rejection, violence and, far too often, murder. The persecution and criminalisation of identity can also, as we have heard, decimate efforts to halt the spread of HIV. It often results in gay people not being able to access the healthcare, education and employment that they need, preventing access to HIV testing and treatment.

There was some progress in Malta. Like the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, I welcome the policy dialogue held between LGBT activists from across the Commonwealth and policymakers, including the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, the International Development Minister. To what extent were various CHOGM forums utilised to make the case for decriminalising consensual sex between same-sex adults? Will the Minister urge the Commonwealth institutions to draft a comprehensive good practice model of sexual offences for member states?

As recognised by my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland at Malta, we do not have the right or the opportunity to force states to decriminalise, but we can start with a really good conversation, to work with them so that they understand the economic as well as the human rights issues involved in making that necessary change. Were any efforts made towards a more pragmatic and constructive bilateral engagement with particular countries at Malta?

Finally, I refer briefly to many people whom many noble Lords have met: brave people who daily go about their lives in the knowledge that being themselves could lead to imprisonment or worse. What direct assistance will the Government provide either financially

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2233

or politically to support the development of lesbian, gay and bisexual movements worldwide, but, in particular, in the Commonwealth countries?

2.27 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Luce, on securing this timely debate on the outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Valletta. I welcome contributions from noble Lords on all sides of the House; despite the short time limit for contributions, they were very valuable. In particular, of course, I welcome the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone. It is a delight to hear from here, as it was in another place and in cross-departmental meetings which she chaired and I attended.

Before I address some of the main issues raised today, I join Peers in paying tribute to Her Majesty the Queen. Her Majesty has been steadfast in her support for the Commonwealth. She has helped it develop from a group of just seven members in 1952 to the global organisation of 53 countries that it is today, spanning every continent, all the main religions and almost a third of the world’s population. Indeed, the Queen opened this year’s meeting, and was joined in Malta by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

There has been much reflection today on the pleasure at the appointment by the leaders at CHOGM of the noble and learning Baroness, Lady Scotland, to be the next Secretary-General. Dominica should be proud of the campaign that it ran in support of the noble and learned Baroness. I congratulate it and her on the result. It is good for the whole Commonwealth.

The United Kingdom wanted the strongest possible candidate to drive the Commonwealth forward and steer the organisation through reform. We believe that the noble and learned Baroness is the right person to ensure that the Commonwealth has a strong voice and is able to impact on the most pressing global challenges and unite its members behind the Commonwealth’s values. So in answer to questions about our role in pressing ahead with reforms, of course it will be the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, who leads, but we look forward to working with her when she takes up office in April 2016 and in the build-up to the next CHOGM, which will take place in the United Kingdom in the spring of 2018. She can count on our support for the reforms for which she has been mandated.

The United Kingdom sees the Commonwealth as an important network to promote shared values and interests and strengthen prosperity, security and the rules-based international system. That is why we committed in our manifesto to strengthening the Commonwealth’s focus in promoting democratic values and development. This year’s CHOGM offered a vital opportunity to do that and to increase the organisation’s impact and relevance after a difficult meeting in Colombo two years ago. Malta’s theme of “adding global value”, as the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, said, focused leaders’

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2234

discussions on areas where the Commonwealth can make a real difference at a time of unprecedented global challenges. In tackling issues such as extremism, climate change and sustainable development, the Commonwealth has unique strengths to offer: its global reach and diversity; its shared legal systems, language and values; and its extensive civil society and youth networks.

I was asked in particular what we were doing as a Government to teach schoolchildren their Commonwealth history and background. The Government have reformed the national curriculum, and the new curriculum has been taught in schools from September last year. So there are already opportunities for schools to teach pupils about the Commonwealth. Today I encourage schools to consider how best they can make use of those opportunities and develop them to fit them to the circumstances of their particular area and needs.

The Prime Minister led a strong UK delegation to Malta. He was supported by the Foreign Secretary, who attended the CHOGM Foreign Ministers meeting, and by the Minister of State for the Commonwealth, my right honourable friend Hugo Swire. My noble friend Lord Maude, the Minister for Trade and Investment, attended the Business Forum, along with Hugo Swire. My noble friend Lady Verma, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, represented the UK at the Women’s Forum and the People’s Forum. This shows that the Government are deeply committed to the Commonwealth, not just out of a sense of tradition and obligation but out of a belief in political freedom, which has underpinned the organisation for more than 65 years, and is as relevant now as it was at the time of the London Declaration. The Commonwealth is a unique organisation in the world order, and this Government firmly believe that it can be a force for good around the world, by promoting freedom, democracy, human rights, development and prosperity.

I was asked about others who attended. They comprised 12 Presidents, 22 Prime Ministers, 34 Foreign Ministers from the Commonwealth itself, and President Hollande and Ban Ki-moon joined for a climate session ahead of the successful COP 21 Paris meeting.

At CHOGM, Commonwealth leaders were united in their strong condemnation of the recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere. They agreed that countering extremism would be a new Commonwealth priority, and committed to increasing co-operation between Commonwealth member states. The UK’s pledge of up to £1 million per year for the next five years to set up and support a dedicated Commonwealth unit to counter radicalisation and extremism will help to deliver this. The unit will co-ordinate sharing of expertise between Commonwealth countries, and work with them and the Commonwealth’s civil society, which as noble Lords have said is so important, and with youth and education networks to counter extremism propaganda, including on the internet. We also announced seed funding to establish a counter-radicalisation youth network across Commonwealth countries. With 60% of the Commonwealth’s population under the age of 30, this will be an important initiative to support moderate youth voices.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2235

Climate change, which has been mentioned much today, is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. It affects all Commonwealth states, and is a threat to not only our environment but our development, security and economies. At CHOGM, leaders agreed a climate action statement, which sent a strong message, ahead of the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, on the need for a credible and effective global agreement. The Commonwealth’s 25 small island developing states are of course particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. At CHOGM, the Prime Minister announced a package of initiatives aimed at supporting efforts to build their resilience, increase their access to climate finance and reduce their reliance on aid.

I was made keenly aware of this, because climate change is part of my FCO responsibility, working with the lead department, DECC, and I hosted diplomatic meetings for those small island states that are at threat of inundation and change to their way of life. It was so important that at CHOGM we were able to announce our support, which includes £20 million to help the SIDS access disaster risk insurance; £5.6 million of assistance to develop maritime economies; and up to £1 million for expert assistance to access development finance. In addition, UK funding will support a new Commonwealth climate finance access hub, and we will be supporting a new working group within the Commonwealth to identify ways to leverage private sector investment for green projects. I was asked about that and yes, indeed, we shall support that.

In line with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and with the values set out in the Commonwealth charter, Commonwealth leaders also agreed that good governance and respect for the rule of law are vital for stable and prosperous societies as well as for efficient, effective and accountable public institutions. The Commonwealth agreed to make anti-corruption work a priority, committing to strengthen efforts to tackle corruption, including through increased transparency and co-ordination among law agencies. The Prime Minister co-chaired a side event on anti-corruption with the Botswanan President, which helped to generate momentum towards the UK’s anti-corruption summit next year.

On the plans for the UK to take forward its own work on sustainable development goals, it is essential that we lead by example, as we have, in coalition and with the support that we gave to the Labour Government when they were in office. We have given our co-operation to all the issues surrounding climate problems. We have also faced the same cross-party agreement over our approach to sustainable development goals. I was able to take part in discussions, when I was appointed a year and half ago to the Foreign Office, and I have valued the support that I have received around this House in taking forward DfID’s work on putting into good practice what we have signed up to.

On values and good practice more widely, the Commonwealth reaffirmed its commitment to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to support the empowerment of women and girls. I noted keenly the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, about the importance of pursuing the eradication of FGM. She has my full support as a Minister and, I know, the full support of this House.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2236

LGB&T rights continue to be a major source of division among Commonwealth members, but we were able to secure recognition in the CHOGM leaders’ statement of the economic potential that can be unlocked by tackling discrimination and exclusion.

At the leaders’ retreat, the Prime Minister called on the Commonwealth to stand up for LGB&T and wider human rights. My noble friend Lady Verma, which whom I work very closely on the eradication of violence against women and girls and on the whole issue of LGB&T rights, urged the Commonwealth to do more when she chaired a People’s Forum panel on LGB&T issues. Was it enough? No—we would have liked more, and we will continue to press for more, because it is right that homosexuality should be decriminalised around the world.

The Prime Minister also called for the Commonwealth to do more to hold countries to account when they fail to live up to their responsibilities as Commonwealth members. In particular, he urged all members to send a strong and consistent message to the Maldives on the need for political dialogue and the release of political prisoners. At its meeting in the margins of CHOGM, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group voiced serious concerns at recent developments in the Maldives, which it agreed were deserving of formal consideration. A ministerial delegation will visit the Maldives early next year and report back to the ministerial action group. At this point, I pay tribute to the work that my noble friend Lady Berridge does with regard to freedom of religion and belief internationally. I assure her that human rights discussions are never complete unless we also within those discussions consider the impact on and importance of freedom of belief and, indeed, of freedom of expression.

I was asked, in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Luce, what progress is being made in strengthening judicial independence, building legislative capacity and election monitoring. Through its strategic plan, the Commonwealth Secretariat has worked to deepen adherence to Commonwealth political values and principles. This has included observing 13 elections in 11 countries in the past year, working with a number of members on the promotion and protection of human rights and supporting the development of national institutions effectively to facilitate the administration and delivery of the rule of law and justice.

Much mention was made today of the importance of business and trade throughout the Commonwealth. Commonwealth leaders agreed to advance global trade negotiations and, in particular, to ratify the WTO trade facilitation agreement. In the run up to CHOGM, the business forum brought together more than 1,300 delegates, 180 political and business leaders and 15 Heads of Government. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Marland on his efforts in organising that event under the auspices of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, to which the UK provides support. I am most grateful to him. In addressing that forum, my noble friend Lord Maude underlined the importance of leveraging Commonwealth trade. He also held bilateral meetings with a number of Commonwealth partners to promote trade with the UK.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2237

Before turning to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Luce, about hubs and spokes, I will say that today I have been invited to walk down memory lane a little and to rehearse some of the debates we had during the passage of the European Union Referendum Act. How wonderful to say the word “Act” instead of “Bill” at long last, after Royal Assent this morning. I had better not tire the House by going over it again, but as noble Lords pointed out today, it is crucial that it is not a binary choice. I like having all things in my life, and we can have both those institutions.

I was asked about the trade hubs and spokes programme. It is a long-term capacity-building support programme that strengthens the abilities of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to formulate, negotiate and implement trade policies and participate in international trade negotiations. The programme does this by deploying experts into 11 regional organisations—the hubs—and 36 government finance and trade ministries—the spokes—so that they are on hand to provide advice to Governments. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for referring to this because it is not particularly well known. It has run since 2004. It is a joint project funded chiefly by the European Union with support from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group secretariat. The Commonwealth is a co-donor. It is responsible for implementing the programme. The other co-donor is the Francophonie, the French equivalent of the Commonwealth. More than 70 developing countries in the ACP group are eligible for assistance from the hub and spokes programme. That is essential.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, was one of those who referred to membership. In particular, he mentioned Nepal. We welcome applications to join the Commonwealth when countries can demonstrate the necessary requirements and dedication to the Commonwealth’s core values, particularly in relation to human rights, good governance and the rule of law. Existing support from the international community, including the UK, in areas such as governance will help Governments make progress in meeting the criteria for membership. Decisions on membership are made by consensus of all heads of Commonwealth members based on applicant countries meeting the criteria. In 2014, during a visit to Kathmandu by my right honourable friend the FCO Minister of State Hugo Swire, the Government of Nepal noted an interest in joining the Commonwealth. We encourage Nepal to follow that up with an informal expression of interest to the Commonwealth Secretariat. That is the way to start the process.

Taken together, all the issues which have been discussed today by noble Lords are crucial to the future success of the Commonwealth. All the issues discussed at Valletta and the outcomes achieved there represent a successful summit for the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom. There is now a real opportunity for the Commonwealth to build on the discussions in Malta and demonstrate unity and a shared sense of purpose in tackling the most pressing global challenges and upholding democracy, human rights and sustainable development across the organisation and the whole world.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2238

The UK is committed to helping the Commonwealth unlock its vast potential, and we will use the opportunity of hosting CHOGM in 2018 to do just that. Our focus will also be on taking forward the initiatives announced in Malta, in co-ordination with the Commonwealth Secretariat and our Commonwealth partners, in particular to increase the Commonwealth’s capacity to counter extremism and support its small island developing states.

We look forward to working with a range of partners—civil society and NGOs are vital to any work—across the Commonwealth institutions, which are essential, the Commonwealth regions and bilaterally to maximise the impact of the Commonwealth and ensure that it is re-energised, remains relevant in the 21st century and delivers prosperity and security to every one of its members.

2.46 pm

Lord Luce: My Lords, I have attended several debates on the Commonwealth in the past nine years, but I think I can say without any shadow of doubt that this is the most encouraging one I have taken part in, not just because of the number of speakers, albeit for three minutes each, but because of the range of subjects across all the affairs of the Commonwealth. The number of noble Lords who actively participate in various aspects of the Commonwealth, from health to trade, business and other areas such as education, is very striking. Yesterday, I spoke briefly to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, and what struck me was her infectious enthusiasm which seems to have been picked up today during the course of this debate. It is good that we have enthusiasm, but the challenges in front of us in the Commonwealth are enormous. I shall single out one subject which has been highlighted a lot today, which is human rights issues. The Commonwealth is surely the right forum for trying to move these issue forward and solve them through persistent and constant dialogue, which is what the Commonwealth is all about.

It remains for me to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate and to congratulate in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, on a very striking speech. I am very grateful to the Minister for a characteristically thorough and thoughtful reply to this debate.

Motion agreed.

Local Government Finance


2.48 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, I wish to repeat a Statement made earlier by my right honourable friend Greg Clark in another place.

“I believe our gloriously diverse country will prosper more if the districts, counties, towns and cities that make it up have more power. If you accept that, it follows you must believe councils to be capable of exercising that power. Over the past five years, councils

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2239

have shown great responsibility. When local authorities account for a quarter of public spending, it was always the case that they would have to carry their share of reducing the largest deficit in post-war history. Not only have they done so, but public satisfaction with their services has been maintained or improved. I would like especially to thank the staff of those councils most deeply involved with the recent floods; their commitment to their residents is exemplary.

I cannot credit councils with acumen and then deny them candour. More savings need to be made as we finish the job of eliminating the remaining deficit, so I have listened carefully to councils as we prepared this settlement. They asked for: the right to spend locally what they raise locally; help with adult social care; expenditure savings which recognise what has already been achieved; recognition of the higher costs of providing services to sparsely populated rural areas; encouragement for cost-saving innovation; rewards for new homes; complete transparency with regard to resource allocation; and a move beyond one-year-at-a-time budgeting.

This provisional settlement meets all those objectives. Let me explain. Local government will be transformed by localism. In 2010 councils were 80% dependent on central government grants. By 2020 they will be 100% funded by council tax, business rates and other local revenues. Retaining 100% of business rates forges the necessary link between local business success and local civic success. To support this further, we will grow the Local Growth Fund to £12 billion by 2021—a Conservative-led revolution, transforming overcentralised Britain into one of the most decentralised countries in the world. Authorities will also be able to spend 100% of capital receipts from asset sales, to fund cost-saving reforms. We will publish guidance to assist authorities in this matter.

The spending review set out that, based on OBR forecasts, overall local government spending would be slightly higher in 2019-20 than in 2015-16. Core spending power for councils will also be virtually unchanged: £44.5 billion in 2015-16 and £44.3 billion in 2019-20. In real terms, this requires savings of 6.7% over this spending review period, compared to the 14% announced at the spending review of 2010.

The unanimous view across local government is that its biggest cost pressure is care for our growing elderly population. In September, the county councils and the Local Government Association wrote to me, estimating that these costs would require an additional £2.9 billion by 2019-20. Some local government leaders proposed an innovation: a social care council tax precept of 2% a year, guaranteed to be spent on social care, equivalent to £23 per year on an average band D home. In the spending review the Chancellor and I agreed, and will ensure that the precept is transparently itemised on residents’ bills. We go further: we knew that some councils would not raise enough from a 2% precept, so we announced a fund of £1.5 billion a year to support councils in working with their local NHS to address the pressures on care. Today I allocate that £1.5 billion to complement the new precept—that is, more goes to councils that raise least from the precept.

We recognise in the distribution of resources the particular needs of councils with social care responsibilities. Local government asked for £2.9 billion by 2020 as a

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2240

contribution to the costs of social care. In this settlement we will make up to £3.5 billion available by that year, distributed fairly towards local authorities with social care responsibilities. I applaud the maturity of local government as a whole in telling me that they accept that this prioritisation implies, over the next few years, that those councils with social care responsibilities should have relatively more resources than those councils which do not have them.

Some district councils—those with low council tax bases or which serve the most rural areas—face particular pressures. So while this settlement maintains the core referendum threshold at 2%, the threshold for the lowest-cost district councils will be £5 a year, so they are not punished for being economical while those that have spent more in the past were allowed to spend more now.

I will increase support for the most sparsely populated rural areas by more than quadrupling the rural services delivery grant from £15.5 million this year to £65 million in 2019-20, by which time, when 100% business rate retention has been achieved, we can consider what further correction is due. I will also protect, in real terms, the £30 million funding for lead local flood authorities, and the £2 million for those authorities to act as statutory consultees in planning sustainable drainage systems.

The new homes bonus provides valuable funding, and, as importantly, encourages housebuilding, so I can announce today that I will extend the bonus indefinitely but with some changes, on which I am consulting. All savings will be retained by local government to contribute towards social care.

In a world in which only a small proportion of councils’ funding will come from central government grant, we require transparency on the components of financial resources available to councils. I have noted the criticism of the Public Accounts Committee and the DCLG Select Committee about previous inclusions of the existing Better Care Fund and the public health grant in councils’ spending power. I will follow their advice and henceforth report only resources over which councils have discretion.

In addition, in all the figures in the settlement I have chosen to understate the maximum resources available to councils. For example, in line with the OBR, I assume that councils will increase council tax in line with inflation rather than the referendum threshold of 2%. I expect that, as previously, councils will increase bills by less than their full entitlement. Had I assumed that maximum figure, though, over £0.25 billion extra in total resources would have been recorded as available to councils.

The main reason that councils keep liquid reserves is as a buffer against unpredictable year-to-year budgets. Local government has consistently told me, and for generations told my predecessors, that greater certainty about their income over the medium term would allow it to organise more efficiently and strategically, and put some of those safety-net reserves to more productive use. So in this settlement I do something else that local leaders have yearned for: for the first time ever, I offer a guaranteed budget to every council that desires one and which can demonstrate efficiency savings for next

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2241

year and for every year of this Parliament—a four-year budget to give certainty and confidence; a settlement that maintains the financial resources available to councils in 2020 at around the same level as they are today, while giving incentives for local government to make significant savings; a settlement that directs up to £3.5 billion to care for our elderly citizens; and a historic settlement that does what campaigners for devolution thought they would never live to see, which is local councils answerable to local people, rather than central government. I commend it to the House”.

2.57 pm

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, I refer to my local government interests in the register. I extend the customary thanks to the Minister for repeating the Statement, but I can offer few thanks for the substance of the Statement or the malign effects that it will have on local communities and the services on which they rely. The Minister in a previous life was a highly respected council leader. She has earned similar respect in this House. Not for her the shocking lack of understanding displayed by the Prime Minister in his exchange of correspondence with the chief executive of Conservative Oxfordshire about the impact of government policies on local authorities—supported over the last five years,1 remind the House, by the Liberal Democrats.

However, this year's settlement takes us to a new level. A week ago, I spent three hours at a meeting of Newcastle's health scrutiny committee discussing possible cuts in social care and public health provision of an unprecedented severity. The clock is being turned back by 40 years to a time when, as chairman of social services, I helped to transform provision of these key services in Newcastle. A combination of cuts in funding and cost pressures, the latter of which the Government studiously ignore, will next year be reflected in a requirement for the city to save £221 million on a council budget of what had been £280 million in 2011-12. This grim scenario is of course not confined to Newcastle. Councils of all political colours, all over the country, are facing similar pressures, as the Conservative-led Local Government Association—whose chairman is in his place today, and I welcome him—has pointed out. Such pressures are aggravated by new costs such as the so-called national living wage, which will impose a responsibility to pay £330 million extra next year, rising to £834 million by 2020, or the deprivation of liberty assessments amounting to £172 million—again unfunded, like other new burdens.

In his Statement, the Secretary of State declared:

“When local authorities account for a quarter of public spending, it was always the case they would have to carry their share of reducing the largest deficit in post-war history”—

words which the Minister has repeated. In fact, of course, local government has taken the largest cut of any part of the public sector or government departments—and, by the way, the Chancellor has still missed his deficit reduction targets.

In this year again, local government is taking a huge hit relative to other departments. One of the few positives to emerge is that, as the LGA had requested, we will now have a four-year budget. As yet, however, the funding formula remains unchanged, and while

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2242

revenue support grant will disappear by 2020, it is entirely unclear how the increasing reliance on business rates will work in practice given the wide disparity of such income between different authorities. As yet there are no details of how there might be an equalisation scheme, although I understand that the Government may consult on this.

Moreover, the worrying trend of reverting to a 19th-century poor law system for income support, reflected in the localisation of council tax support, is apparently now to be followed by localising the attendance allowance paid to 1.5 million people over 65 with a disability who need personal care, which costs in total some £5 billion. What assurances can the Minister give about how this sum will be allocated and whether it will be ring-fenced? If it is to be ring-fenced, what is the point of the change?

The decision to allow councils to increase council tax by 2% without a referendum in order to support social care is welcome as far as it goes. However, it does not go very far. In Newcastle, we would raise only £1.7 million, which is a fraction of the cuts that are looming over our social care budget; and of course in a city where 70% of council tax payers are in bands A and B, the 2% yields much less than in other, more prosperous parts of the country. The Government have announced their intention of addressing that issue but it is unclear how they will do so, and after all, councils have little time before they have to announce their budgets. In any event, it is unlikely that a new formula will make a radical difference to the kind of figure I have referred to for Newcastle. Similarly, we await details of changes to the new homes bonus, under which Newcastle and many similar authorities have been net contributors to other, more affluent areas.

Public health is another area in which the Government play the three card trick. Having, rightly, restored public health responsibilities to local government, 42 years after Sir Keith Joseph removed them, this Administration imposed an in-year cut of £200 million in the current year and go on to impose in the Statement and the spending review additional cuts of 3.9% in real terms every year until 2020, which amount to a staggering £533 million. These cuts, moreover, will inevitably lead to greater pressure on the NHS, which is itself facing unprecedented financial challenges.

The Government make much of their devolution agenda. What we are witnessing and what today’s settlement exemplifies is that responsibilities for large areas of public services are being devolved without adequate resources to deliver them. Long on rhetoric, short on cash, the Government will the ends and withdraw the means.

I have sought to exemplify some the problems that my city and my constituents will face as a result of today’s announcement. However, of course, these effects will be felt to varying degrees in most local authorities across the country. The House is fortunate in having among its Members on both the Government and Opposition Benches a number of experienced former council leaders—one of whom I suspect will speak to this Statement very shortly in his capacity as the Lib Dem spokesman on local government. However, it also has several former Secretaries of State, none of

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2243

whom is in their place today, and with all of whom I used to do battle as council leader and subsequently chairman of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. I never thought I would say this but I find, to my surprise, feeling almost nostalgic for those days, given what their successors are now doing. The Statement that has been announced today will inflict great damage to local government in this country. I fear that, again, it is a case of the Government passing the buck but emphatically not passing the bucks.

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and declare my vice-presidency of the Local Government Association. One figure missing from the Minister’s Statement was the reduction by 24% of central government funding support for local government over the spending review period. When taking into account the forecasts of income raised locally by councils, the overall position is a 6.7% real terms reduction over those four years. However, that is of course a national figure and will be very different in individual authorities.

I remind the Minister that during the last Government, the National Audit Office consistently warned that the department needed to understand much better the impact of its decisions on local authority finances and services. The Public Accounts Committee, in a report two years ago entitled Financial Sustainability of Local Authorities, identified that while the department collected a significant amount of data from local government, it had not made clear how it would monitor councils’ ability to cope with funding changes. Then, in November last year, the head of the National Audit Office warned:

“The Department really needs to be better informed about the situation on the ground among local authorities across England, in a much more active way, in order to head off serious problems before they happen”.

Can the Minister say what the Government have done in response to the criticisms of both the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee?

Much has been made of the extra 2% on council tax to help maintain adult care services, and there has been an admission that different councils will raise different sums of money from that 2%. In London, for example, Newham will only be able to raise 4.1% of extra funding whereas Kingston upon Thames will have 11.3% extra. What has been done to equalise the cash available in the central allocation of grant to reflect this? I note that in the Statement, the Minister said there will be an allocation of £1.5 billion to complement the new precept and then went on to say,

“that is, more goes to councils that raise least from the precept”.

So far, so good, but does that mean that enough is going to those councils? Simply telling us that more is going to go to them is not sufficient. Will the Minister bear in mind that the total sum being made available falls well short of the £6 billion the Health Foundation estimated will be needed by 2020?

Much is being made of the fact that by the end of this Parliament, local government will keep all the revenue from business rates. I understand that there will be guarantees of continued comparable funding at current levels, but any growth will stay locally. One consequence of that is that poorer areas are likely to get poorer while richer areas, because they can keep an

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2244

increase in business rates income, are likely to get richer. What is the Government’s policy on equalisation, given that there will be no more revenue support grant?

Finally, earlier this week we heard that inspection figures indicate that the number of children’s services departments rated inadequate outnumber those rated good. This was described by the Government as a failure of state provision, but the implication was that it was all the fault of local government. We have reached a tipping point whereby the availability of money matters, and the Government have an absolute obligation to meet National Audit Office criticisms of their lack of understanding of the consequences of their actions. Government cannot go on requiring councils to deliver more services to more people with less real cash. It is an impossible task; will the Minister care to admit it?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I thank both noble Lords. I have been busily jotting down notes and will try to respond to them as effectively as I can.

First, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, for his gladness at seeing some certainty in the funding over the next few years. Perhaps I may address some of his concerns, particularly about the efficiencies that local government has had to make since 2010 and going forward. Nobody could deny that the efficiencies the public sector has had to make have been, by their nature, very difficult. Everybody in the public sector has had to bear the brunt of the need to reduce the deficit, and I commend local authorities for the work they have done over the last five years. They have been innovative and enterprising, and satisfaction with local authorities has been either maintained or improved.

The noble Lords, Lord Beecham and Lord Shipley, are absolutely right about the revenue support grant. It will reduce to virtually nothing by 2020 and the figure for this year shows a reduction, because of the increasing localisation of business rates. Local authorities now retain approximately 50% of their business rates and they will retain 100% by 2020. Mayoral areas will be able to increase their business rates in due course.

The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, talked about social care. A precept can be raised for social care which will be 2% above the 2% cap that triggers a referendum on council tax. The noble Lord may be interested to know that for Newcastle, this would mean £20.7 million by 2020.

The noble Lord also mentioned the comments of my noble friend Lord Porter. I am sure that in due course my noble friend will want to speak for himself. However, today he said:

“The government has listened to what councils said we need and has delivered. More independence to serve our communities, a fair financial settlement for all types of councils, more resources to help care for the elderly and the certainty of long-term budgets”.

That is really welcome and I wish that it had been in place when I was a leader. My noble friend went on to say:

“This settlement should mark the beginning of a new age of independence and responsibility for local councils. In local government we will make a success of it, building on the hard work of the last five years.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2245

Councils will be in greater control of their own destiny. It is an exciting time to be a councillor and this reform gives us … the biggest chance for a generation to serve our residents in a way that we know best”.

The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, also asked about attendance allowance. We will be consulting on the devolution of that.

The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, talked about the concerns of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee. Within local authorities there is a Section 151 officer who, every year during the budget process, comments on the sustainability or otherwise of a council’s budget. We believe that local authorities and local areas are best placed to know the dangers or otherwise of their future funding and, to my knowledge, no Section 151 officer has made an adverse statement on sustainability.

The noble Lord also asked about the £1.52 billion to complement the precept. The local authorities that are least able to raise the funding will be protected by a greater proportion of that £1.52 billion. I think that recognises, fairly, that those local authorities still have to provide social care. Local authority leaders have said to us that they need £2.9 billion. We will be providing £3.5 billion over the next few years, so I hope that gives the noble Lord some satisfaction.

The noble Lord also talked about poorer areas being likely to get poorer because of the RSG reducing to nothing by 2020. There will definitely be some form of equalisation. Councils such as Westminster raise well over £1 billion in business rates and other local authorities may see reductions. For the latter there will also be some sort of floor protection through business rate equalisation.

3.14 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD): My Lords, for decades many people have campaigned about the plight of sparsely populated rural areas, and I very hesitantly welcome the part of the Statement that deals with that. However, I ask the Minister to be very careful about this—it would be really cruel if it were a false dawn. Given that such areas have very little capacity for business rate retention because, by their nature, they do not collect much in the way of business rates, what criteria will the Government use to judge the further correction that she mentioned?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, in answer to the second part of the noble Baroness’s question, that will be determined in due course. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, the Government will not let the councils that will really struggle in that area fall beneath a certain level. Regarding the rural services delivery grant, this is not a false dawn. The increase is a quadrupling, so the Government recognise some of the problems rural areas face. The more sparsely populated they are, clearly, the more money they need per head to provide basic services.

Lord True (Con): My Lords, I fear this is perhaps not the settlement local authority leaders have “yearned for”, to repeat the slightly gushy phrase used in the Secretary of State’s Statement. However, it would be extremely churlish not to welcome the four-year settlement

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2246

proposal. Whatever sort of certainty it is, it is important that we have that basis, and I thank my noble friend for that.

I also thank her for recognising the efforts that local authorities, of all stamps, have made. We have made huge economies—ahead of the Government in many respects—and we will carry on doing so. However, I hope the Minister will be prepared—my honourable friend Tania Mathias made the same point in the Commons—to recognise the position of anomalous authorities. At first blush, our area stands to lose nearly 40% of our RSG at a stroke in one year, and we have more over-65s than other authorities in London that are twice the size, so there is a need for dialogue here.

I also ask my noble friend to be cautious about devolution. Some of it is genuine and welcome, but too much is illusion and some of it is an instrument of control. It would be good if, in the dialogue over the next few months, local government and central government between them could disentangle what devolution means.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank my noble friend for, as always, his very sensible words. I said in my previous answer that I wish that when I had been a local authority leader I had had some sort of certainty as we lurched from year to year with local government settlements. I thank him for making the observation that the certainty is welcome. It also encourages councils to look at their reserve position. By their nature, reserves are for one-off, planned spending and are never intended to prop up revenue spending. However, if you know what your four-year position is, you can use reserves for one-off measures.

My noble friend talked about the reduction in RSG and—I presume by inference—the changeover to business rates. The Government will be consulting widely on that. I hope to see people like my noble friend coming to discuss with my department how some of the anomalous situations that might arise, particularly with an older population, can be dealt with through this process.

I take his point about devolution, but he will not be surprised to hear that, as a former Greater Manchester councillor, I do not perhaps share so much of his pessimism about it.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, the Minister will be aware that in April next year we have the introduction of the single-tier state pension and with it the end of contracting out. In Budget 2013 it was recognised that, from April next year, that would garner the Government an extra £5 billion a year. It was said at that time that those funds would be used to help fund the costs of the lifetime care cap, which was to be set at £72,000 and introduced in April 2016. That of course has been deferred, so what is happening to those resources if they are not going to be applied to that?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I always know that when the noble Lord stands up he may ask a difficult question that I may struggle to answer. Could I please return to him in writing, as I quite frequently do?

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2247

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): My Lords, I declare a former interest as a member of local authorities. However, I rise to defend not local authorities but the people who want the services of local authorities. Local authorities can be held up as something to shoot at, whereas it is local people who will suffer. If she cannot answer now in detail, would the Minister please write to tell me how on earth there is going to be a correlation between the amount local authorities can increase in expenditure—2% on the rates—and equalising the income they get while having regard to the very different levels of need in different areas? I understand that there is to be detailed discussion on the £1.5 billion, and so, unusually, I ask the Minister not only to write to me but to keep me up to date by writing frequently.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I hope I do not have to write too frequently and that the words I write give her some comfort. To reiterate—and I think I possibly did this last year—the 10% of local authorities in the most deprived decile frequently get more spending power than the 10% in the top decile. At the moment, it is about 24% more. However, I understand the noble Baroness’s point about the changes and how we will ensure that vulnerable people are protected. I am sure I can give her comfort in the letter that I will write to her. We do not want to see the most vulnerable people in our society suffer in any way—quite the opposite.

Lord Tope (LD): My Lords, I declare my interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association. The Statement comments that by 2020 councils will be 100% funded by council tax, business rates and other local revenues, but it says nothing about the centrally imposed council tax referendum threshold. Surely it must be a logical extension from 100% local funding that there is no need for such a centrally imposed threshold, something else that local government of all parties has campaigned for for years. The LGA also referred to what it calls the “cost-shunting carousel”, whereby local government has imposed upon it large numbers of obligations and responsibilities, either from legislation or other impositions such as the national living wage. It calculated that that totalled £6.3 billion. Will central government at least try to agree with the LGA a list of what those obligations are and try to see whether they can get an agreed figure, rather than as at present it all happen, in effect, by stealth?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, the move towards business rate retention of 100% is in itself a freedom for local authorities not having to rely on the Secretary of State to tell them what they are going to get or not get. If I was a local authority leader, I would thoroughly welcome that, particularly where local authorities are innovative. As to whether the 2% cap will be in place when we are at the point of 100% business rate retention, as far as I know as I stand here now it will be, but I cannot speak for five years hence. In terms of local government obligations, when new burdens are brought in there is generally an assessment of those and that is taken into account.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2248

Lord Beecham: My Lords, in view of her statement that it is an exciting time to be a local councillor, would the Minister agree that it would have been an exciting time to be a passenger on the “Titanic”?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I do not think that I would have liked to have been on the “Titanic”. But I say to the noble Lord, in all sincerity, that I campaigned for years for devolution, and across different parties, in Greater Manchester. We never thought that we would get it. What is an exciting time is, as a Minister, to have been able to bring the legislation through.

Paris Climate Change Conference

Question for Short Debate

3.26 pm

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress was made at the COP 21 climate change talks.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD): My Lords, the Statement on Tuesday gave this House the opportunity to congratulate all those involved in the COP 21 talks: Laurent Fabius in particular and the French presidency in general, and of course our own UK team, including the noble Lord the Minister, and I am delighted that he is replying to the debate this afternoon. He has come back hot-foot from Paris, and I warmly repeat those congratulations formally in this debate.

Today is also an opportunity to explore in a little more depth the big questions for the UK that follow on from those successful talks and just how the Government will build on the successful outcome of COP 21. I am especially looking forward to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lady Sheehan, as I am sure the whole House is.

Paris has given tremendous political momentum that we must capture. It has been a very long time coming. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, is in his place, and I am sure that he feels it has been a really long time coming because he put so much personal effort into making sure that it stayed a live issue.

I will take a quick glance back and then a slightly longer look forward. I am sure that all noble Lords remember the time when climate change was labelled a “green” issue for scientists only. Although politicians talked about it, and NGOs mobilised people around the issue, it was not considered a “serious” issue like defence, foreign affairs or the economy. It was the noble Lord, Lord Stern, who focused attention on the fact that climate change affected all those serious issues fundamentally. He made people understand that economically it made absolute sense to tackle the issue. That enabled a position in the UK where the draft Climate Change Bill enjoyed all-party consensus and was passed as the Climate Change Act. The private sector began to ramp up its investments in a low-carbon future, but the financial woes of 2008-09 meant that momentum slowed to a crawl. It was only the valiant efforts of a few, such as my friend the right honourable Ed Davey, that kept it alive at all.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2249

With a successful COP 21 we can again look to the future. I do not think that that future is a fantasy; it really it very nearly a reality. In that future your home could be its own powerhouse. It could be a flat in a building that is both a powerhouse and a green lung. Solar and ground source energy will mean that being cold due to fuel poverty will shortly be as unthinkable as not having running water in your home is now. Battery technology is moving on apace and storage will no longer be a problem. There will be a smart home that regulates itself according to your wishes. I welcome the Minister’s statement about the ambition for smart meter rollout in the near future.

The town and city of the future will have clean air and lots of green surfaces absorbing rainfall. Its businesses will have a circular economy where the waste from one process will be material for another and transport will be clean and green. This is not a fantasy future. The technologies are either in place or in development.

It is not only about new build. The BRE briefing paper just out shows how simple changes to the homes of older people could save the NHS £600 million a year. However, this future needs investment in research, skills development and support for private investment that moves us in that direction. I am sure my noble friend Lady Parminter will mention the solar power debacle. This future has to happen fast, of course, because our country urgently needs hundreds and thousands of affordable homes.

My first question to the Minister is: why do the Government think that affordable housing is incompatible with developing zero-carbon homes? Various organisations, such as Cardiff University and the BRE, have developed models of homes that are incredibly energy efficient and cost £1,000 or less per square metre to build. So the models are out there and they are coming in at the right price.

Some of the technology is incredible. Let us take as an example an everyday product such as cement. I have learned that cement as your Lordships know it produces about 5% of the world’s carbon emissions. But the new-style cement being developed will be carbon negative because it will be able to sequester carbon dioxide as it ages, and that is in development now. So there are lots of very exciting things going on.

There are many things we need to do differently to address the climate change issues. We need, for example, to farm differently. We need to look after the soil, which can absorb much more carbon if it is full of organic matter. Soil that is rich in organic matter not only can grow more food but can absorb more water and suffers less erosion—and yet the UK has no soil strategy.

Looking abroad, one of the great success of COP 21 was that the final draft positively mentioned forests, particularly those in tropical areas. Your Lordships will know of the critical role that forests play. The UK can be rightly proud of its contribution to the REDD-plus programme which supports forested nations to restore millions of hectares of lost or degraded forests. It is another win-win programme because it not only has great climate change benefits but will restore habitats to many of the species that the human race has driven to the edge of extinction through the loss of their habitats.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2250

This future will not be easy. Funding, of course, will be a major issue, as has been highlighted and spelled out by the IMF, which talks of the need for an international agreement on carbon prices and the sort of deal that would generate substantial fiscal revenues by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and by charging for the damage caused by emissions. It is pretty complicated stuff and I am not going to try to address it today.

This picture is set against the background of falling prices for fossil fuels. While that will certainly bring joy to the motorist at the pumps, it will bring its own difficulties and make it harder to invest in renewable technologies in the short term. That is where the Government come in. It could also have a destabilising effect on some of the big oil-producing countries and, again, we will have to consider that in more detail later.

The noble Lord, Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee, said recently that the UK should be proud to have created a vehicle such as the Climate Change Committee, giving long-term certainty within a short-term democratic political system. He hit the nail on the head and was quite right. Without that committee, the momentum from Paris would inevitably dissipate as other political issues came up the agenda, not least Europe. So we warmly welcome the fact that we will have the fifth carbon budget in the first half of next year. It will be a chance to highlight the practical measures that the UK can take to get it back on track to meet its targets. At the moment we are not even on track to meet existing targets, let alone the new ambitious ones.

As I mentioned, the low-carbon future is not just about meeting targets: it offers so many win-win opportunities for a cleaner, healthier future for people. It is essential that the Government resist the old, tired siren voices that decried the debate on the Statement by calling it a love-in. Those voices have no place in the sort of future we are trying to build for our children. We all have a responsibility to wholeheartedly seize the opportunities, ramp up the targets and invest in all our futures.

3.36 pm

Lord Giddens (Lab): My Lords, the responses to COP21 have been almost comic in their divergence—or would be comic if the issues were not so serious and consequential. Benny Peiser, a climate sceptic, says that the agreements are,

“non-binding—and, ergo, toothless”.

Al Gore, a pillar of the climate change establishment—if I may put it that way—says that this is an historic turning point. Bill McKibben, our well-known environmentalist says:

“This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close”.

Which of these views are correct? Perverse though it may seem, all of them are. They all grasp aspects of the problems which now face us.

COP21 was certainly an historic turning point so far as COP meetings are concerned. There are other noble Lords here who, like myself, were present in Copenhagen at COP15. So what happened there? Twenty-one years of nothing much happening. This is a much greater event than has been achieved in any previous

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2251

COP meeting. It is a massive advance in terms of a comprehensive approach. I, too, congratulate the French leadership on what it has achieved

Benny Peiser and others are right to say that the UN has little global power, which rests largely in the hands of nations and blocs of nations, and international law has no teeth. It is right to stress, as McKibben says, that we are miles away globally—I have to stress this—from coping with the risks which climate change presents to our civilisation. They are risks which no civilisation previously has ever had to confront. We are nowhere near on a global level confronting them.

I shall make three brief points to which I ask the Minister to respond. First, whatever happens with the COP agreements, bilateral relations will remain crucial. China, the US and India produce well over 50% of the total global emissions, so keeping those countries working together is absolutely essential. However, what will happen if a Republican President is elected in the United States? What strategy would this Government then adopt for the continuation of bilateral relations since they are so crucial to the planet’s future?

Secondly, the agreements supply the “what”; that is, what should be done. At the moment, globally, we do not have a “how”. Renewable technology is simply not up to the task of replacing the massive impact of fossil fuels. We must have technological breakthroughs in, for example, energy storage. Bill Gates is right to say that we need an energy miracle, and at least he is putting a lot of money after that statement. The Government have mentioned mission innovation. What concrete strategies will they put in place to follow those initiatives up?

Thirdly and finally, the plans that countries have for scrutinising their emissions are important because they make them transparent, but obviously that is not enough as a sanctioning mechanism. The only way these agreements will have real substance is if they are incorporated into national law, not just international law. The UK has been a leader in this. The Labour Government set up a good scheme which successive Governments have followed. What will the Minister do to put pressure on other countries to embody these agreements in national law rather than only in international law?

3.41 pm

Baroness Sheehan (LD) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it is indeed a great honour and privilege to be asked to serve in your Lordships’ House. It is a task that I do not undertake lightly and is one that I intend to fulfil with diligence to the best of my ability. Special thanks are due to my noble friends Lady Barker and Lady Kramer for their welcome support on the day of my introduction to this place. Perhaps I may also take this opportunity to thank noble Lords from all sides for their kind words of welcome.

As a young university student, I and some friends worked and travelled our way across America. One night in Chicago, we lost the car. To this day, I do not believe that my husband appreciates the importance of his unerring sense of direction to our enduring relationship. So, as one who can lose her way in a one-way street, noble Lords will appreciate the sincerity in my words

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2252

of thanks to all the staff of your Lordships’ House, the clerks, doorkeepers, restaurant and security staff, who have all been so unfailingly kind in redirecting me on numerous occasions.

Today, I am reminded of another daunting occasion when I was the new girl. On a freezing cold day in January 1965, newly arrived on a BOAC jet from Pakistan, I can vividly recall my first day of school, unable to speak a word of English. Tooting in south-west London became home. It is not a great distance from Tooting to Wimbledon, where I spent many years working on behalf of local residents as the parliamentary candidate for my party, the Liberal Democrats. That my title should include those contiguous parts of my personal and political lives, which retain a special place in my heart, is fitting.

I have been many things in my life—among them an auxiliary nurse, an O-level and A-level chemistry teacher, a full-time mother and a councillor for Kew ward in the London Borough of Richmond—but it was my passion for environmental issues that led me to opt out of a career in advertising and return to my roots in science. So I congratulate my noble friend Lady Miller on securing this most timely debate. To my mind, the high probability of anthropogenic climate change was established several decades ago, but, sadly, we have had to wait for disastrous events to strike every part of the globe multiple times before a sense of urgency has taken hold. So, imperfect though the COP 21 agreement is, it is nevertheless crucially important that 195 signatories have agreed to pull in the same direction.

But I would like to turn to a possible impact of climate change which does not translate into a bad weather event but rather into the mass movement of people. Some in your Lordships’ House may be aware that I have taken an interest in the issue of refugees, who are arriving in ever greater numbers in Europe. And so it was with interest that I read an article in a recent issue of New Scientist entitled “Climate as a cause of Syria’s conflict?” The article refers to a peer-reviewed paper by Colin Kelley of the University of California, Santa Barbara. It is an interesting paper and well worth reading in its entirety. It goes without saying that we must treat with great caution the possible links between droughts, migrations and conflicts, but I believe we must also question whether the impact of our changing climate on the existence of those who do not enjoy a buffer against the vagaries of the weather, but which leaves them even more susceptible to geopolitical events, will come back to bite us here in Europe.

3.45 pm

Baroness Young of Old Scone (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, on her maiden speech, short though it had to be on this occasion. I am sure that noble Lords will welcome her to our House, and welcome in particular her commitment to energy and climate change issues, as well as the hugely germane point about the relationship between climate change and mass migrations into the future. I pay tribute also to her local experience in contributing to a greener Wimbledon, and her tireless campaigning for better local health services. She is an excellent addition to our House.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2253

I also congratulate the Government and the Minister on the role they played in the historic COP 21 agreement. Success will, however, depend on all countries implementing rigorous and, in many cases, rather heroic measures once they get back home from the euphoria and exhilaration of Paris and recover. The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, rightly looked at the global issues; I want to plunge to a much more local basis and home in on what this means in one small but important and quite illustrative area, and that is energy efficiency.

Obviously, decarbonising our energy supply is hugely important, but so is reducing the demand for energy, particularly in the domestic sector. If I were the Minister, I would say that good progress has been made and that 70% of homes with lofts are now insulated and that 73% of homes with cavity walls no longer have their cavities. But these figures alone mean that 30% of lofts are not insulated and that cavity walls are not protected to effective standards of energy efficiency. In houses with solid walls, only 4% have effective insulation. In that small area of domestic energy efficiency, still a lot has to be done.

However, in the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor axed the energy company obligation. The Green Deal has virtually gone. They were both key measures in retrofitting carbon reduction into the nation’s housing stock. We are told that there is to be a new scheme in 2017, which is quite a long way away. Again, the Chancellor has almost halved its budget from the previous schemes. The Secretary of State has reasserted government plans to deliver 1 million efficiency upgrades during this Parliament, but how will that be done? In itself, that is a 78% reduction in the number of homes which received support for energy efficiency during the previous Parliament.

The same is true for new builds. Time prevents me from going into detail but, again, apparently driven this time by pursuit of the holy grail of deregulation, we have lost the sustainable buildings code and the zero-carbon homes policy. Will the Minister tell us how energy efficiency will be secured in the domestic setting in new and existing housing? For me, that would be not only a practical act but also a totemic signal from the Government to show that they are in earnest about the implementation of the Paris agreement and particularly to show that the Chancellor is in earnest about its implementation.

3.49 pm

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for this debate and congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, on her maiden speech. What a great debate in which to make a maiden speech, when we are looking so much towards the future.

On Tuesday, we congratulated the Government, the Minister, the officials from DECC and some Members of this House on the contributions that they made in Paris. Many people will feel that this is an agreement for which they hoped and prayed. Someone said, “I can’t really comment. It was near miraculous”. I think that that might be true. It is particularly significant in

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2254

the wake of the terrorism in Paris on 13 November. Terrorism seeks to divide us and creates fear. This agreement of nearly all the world acting together gives hope, which feels to be a very important statement. I have said before that I am particularly grateful for the creation of a predictable framework of $100 billion of climate finance for poor countries. That is particularly significant at a time when questions are being asked about overseas aid. This is an important contribution to that debate.

Among the faith communities, there has been a striking convergence of views about the environment. A Greek Orthodox theologian commenting on the Pope’s encyclical said that this is an issue that relativises all our other differences. Therefore, all people of faith and of no faith are able to act together in the care of our common home. All commentators have said that the key to Paris is its implementation.

It is very exciting to see how many things have been initiated this week and in the weeks preceding Paris which are already organising responses in institutions and organisations. We seem to be at a tipping point towards a low-carbon economy. It is really important that this impacts across the whole of government policy and that the Treasury understands it. This morning’s announcement about feed-in tariffs and solar energy is relatively good news—there will be a 64% reduction in the feed-in tariff rather than the proposed 87%.

In preparation for Paris, I went to a conference of European churches in Westphalia, a relatively poor part of Germany. Seven people were walking from Flensburg, on the Danish border, to Paris. On the day I was with them, 150 of us were walking, and at a town meeting in the evening there were about 400 people. The region had realised that 90% of its costs of energy were leaving the region. Therefore, there was huge enthusiasm for onshore wind and community energy schemes as a way of retaining money within the region.

Markets do not exist in a vacuum; they are created or made. It is really important that the Government think hard about how to create markets in which community energy becomes a more obvious way of creating renewable energy. If the Government are rightly concerned about subsidies of the way in which energy is produced, in addition to thinking about the subsidies of renewable energy, ending fossil fuel subsidies is a first step in speeding the renewable transition. It would create a triple win of enhancing energy security, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and bringing improved fiscal space for governments. It seems an obvious thing to work towards—and quickly.

We asked for an ambitious deal in Paris, and I think that we got it. We also need to go much further. The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, was right. The desire to pursue further efforts to bring global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade is creating a lot of discussion about how realistic that is, but it is a good thing to have high ambitious and to try to do the right thing. I applaud the ambition and I applaud in particular the role played by the Marshall Islands in this. It is good when small countries make a big difference in raising our ambitions through the “high ambition coalition”.

Climate change is, in many ways, the big challenge that we face. It requires new thinking and provides

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2255

new opportunities. This is an area in which being satisfied with meeting mid-range goals is not right. We must set our sights higher to exceed our ambitions.

3.54 pm

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady Miller for securing this very timely debate and for her long commitment to this field. I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Sheehan for her excellent maiden speech, and that of my other noble friend Lady Featherstone, in which she also mentioned climate change.

We know that the poorest will be affected the worst by climate change, but we all will be. Climate change plays its part in the conflict in Sudan, which we discussed earlier. Drought preceded conflict in Egypt and Syria. Every day we see results of that, as my noble friend Lady Sheehan just made clear. The agreement in Paris must be a major step on the way to tackling this.

Together with the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, I attended a parliamentary meeting, hosted by the national assembly and senate in Paris alongside the main Paris conference. I was immensely encouraged by what I heard and the commitment that countries were making. I was struck by the emphasis on those who are particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as the Pacific island states, or indigenous people in South America, represented by, among others, a wonderful Andean MP, whose name, Hilaria Supa Huamán, sounds—appropriately for her—like superwoman. We know that we need some outstanding statesmen and stateswomen if we are to implement what was agreed at Paris. It is good to see women playing that part as women will be especially vulnerable.

There seemed to be an iron determination in Paris that this global conference should succeed, with what it means for future generations, especially given the recent terrible atrocities in Paris. There are some hopeful signs. Use of renewables in developing countries looks set to leapfrog what is happening elsewhere, just as the mobile money M-Pesa system did. Bloomberg puts investment in renewables in Africa almost level pegging with that in the West, and it is soon to overtake it. It does indeed mean, as Hillary Clinton made clear after the conference, that development does not have to be sacrificed for climate change.

That is why the Government’s stance in the United Kingdom since the election has been so surprising and, frankly, disappointing. They cite the Climate Change Act, but it is not an Act that they initiated. They cite what was done over the last five years, but that was by a Lib Dem-led department that had to fight the Treasury all the way under different leadership. The Government’s actions since May have taken the country backwards. That is deeply worrying, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, pointed out.

Recently, I met a young Kenyan entrepreneur whose firm, SunCulture, focuses on solar power in agricultural irrigation. He lost investment from a UK firm when the UK Government reversed their support for solar. This is an area where UK companies could lead the field. We have the science and engineering skills. I am sure that the Minister has a very strong personal

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2256

commitment here, so will he assure me that no UK ODA money will go towards supporting fossil fuels? Most especially, can he take back to the Government the need to match their rhetoric in Paris? The UK must once again lead in tackling climate change.

3.58 pm

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, I warmly thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for introducing the debate. Her credentials in this field need no defending. Her consistent interest throughout her parliamentary life in Westminster has been very special and challenging.

There are lots of people to be thanked and congratulated on having brought about the positive results in Paris: the Ministers, all the leaders from around the world, their civil servants, industry—all sorts of people. But we should also give a special word of thanks to the NGOs, which, when it was not popular to be raising these issues, were nagging and urging us to see the seriousness and immediacy of the issue. They have driven forward with so much energy towards what happened.

I see a partnership with those NGOs in fulfilling the potential. Let us remember that all we have from Paris is hopeful potential. I know from the sphere of work in which I have worked for most of my life that it is crucial to set aside money to tackle issues of justice and adaptation in less affluent countries. The challenge we face in doing that is ensuring that the money gets to the people who will really make a difference. In that sphere the contribution that can be made by NGOs is almost second to none. Therefore, I hope that the Government will reassure us that they will make partnership with NGOs a priority in bringing about the potential results.

I make just one other observation. It was very significant that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said that this issue was not just about low carbon but a healthier future for people. That is a vision which we all ought to share if we want a cleaner and healthier environment. We need to be imaginative and say that this issue is not just about alternative energy. We are trapped into talking about alternative energy all the time. We do not give sufficient emphasis in this country to energy conservation. It should be a real priority for new engineers starting their careers to consider how they can make a contribution in the sphere of energy conservation. We also need to look at different techniques from those used in the past. I have never understood why we have not given a higher priority to geothermal energy.

We have had a tremendous moment of hope and a great gate has been opened. We now have to march through it, but consistency will be vital. If we are to play the lead role in the world that we want to, everything the Government do has to be seen to be utterly consistent with the objectives to which they subscribed in Paris and in which they played a key part. Measures which they may think are justified, but which to the world seem to be marching in the opposite direction, will be highly counterproductive. Therefore, consistency and comprehensiveness by the Government are vital.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2257

4.02 pm

Lord Prescott (Lab): My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, on making an excellent speech at the appropriate time. This debate is not solely about what was agreed at Paris, but the progress that will be made following that. The noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, talked about refugees in her excellent speech. We talk a lot about the environment and the economy but refugees may well become one of the biggest complications in this agreement. Therefore, I want to spend the few minutes I have bringing home to noble Lords what we have to do to make sure that the promises made are carried out. That is the real issue.

I declare my interest in the Kyoto process and have negotiated various COPs during the last 18 years. I have seen the difference between them. In Kyoto, we only tried to get agreement from 40 industrial nations. To get an agreement from 190 nations is a magnificent achievement for French diplomacy. There is no doubt about that. However, the whole thing changed at Paris. People began to accept the scientific findings on climate change. That was brilliantly brought out by one of the heroes of this campaign, Al Gore, in his talk “An Inconvenient Truth”. He made an excellent, powerful speech at Paris, which brought home to delegates how the situation had become worse since Kyoto. The noble Lord, Lord Stern, undertook an excellent review entitled The Economics of Climate Change. Over the intervening 18 years, people began to accept the intellectual basis of the science of climate change and its economic consequences, and those campaigners deserve credit for that. I also pay tribute to the negotiators, the French and the role played by the Government. I will come back to the Government shortly.

The other factor was the Civil Service. One of the best civil servants that I had in Kyoto was the major person who convinced the others that we could have a formula for the connection between climate science and the temperature itself. In fact, there were two people: Peter Betts, who is working with the Government at the moment, and Peter Unwin, who worked with me—civil servants of the best order. They provided the theory, analysis and connection that made it possible to convince people they should go along that particular path. They did a great job.

The others who played a part are the politicians themselves. GLOBE International, the Senate in France, the Council of Europe, the Climate Parliament and the IPU have, together, pressed governments to do things. At the time of Kyoto there were only 42 pieces of environmental framework legislation throughout the world; now there are 880. That came as a result of the pressure by NGOs and other political people to make a difference. They will be important in seeing that governments carry out what they have promised. Those promises in Kyoto were fine but, as was mentioned, my own Government have cut zero-carbon housing and the carbon storage system, and they have taken subsidies from renewables to give to the oil industry. That was not what was promised in Paris. Paris will only prove successful if people carry out what they promised to do.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2258

I would suggest that the Climate Change Act we introduced, followed by the creation of an independent committee, is the only way to keep the Government on their toes and to deliver what they promised. We are the only country that has a legal framework. I suggested during the negotiations that every parliament should enact climate change legislation in their countries, which would give the Back-Benchers the strength to force Governments to carry out what they need to do. That is the way we get the legal framework and the understanding. I hope we will now look seriously at how to make sure these promises are really implemented.

4.06 pm

Baroness Parminter (LD): I add my thanks to those expressed by others to my noble friend Lady Miller for initiating this debate on what is, even if we do not all agree with the terminology, as the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, pointed out, an undoubtedly historic agreement. The inclusion of regular reviews of the activities of nation states is to be particularly welcomed. The comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, about how those reviews might be integrated into national legislation is an interesting one that bears further scrutiny. Like others, I congratulate those in this House who played a part in this success, including the Minister, and I also congratulate my new noble friend Lady Sheehan. It is a combination of action at the global, national and local levels—including in Wimbledon—that will deliver progress on this historic agreement.

I want to touch, as others have done, on the apparent failures since May in the Government’s policies in this area, which seem, in the light of Paris, to be somewhat counterproductive and short-sighted. First, as the right reverend Prelate said, the cuts to the cheapest forms of renewable electricity—onshore wind—and to the solar industry were relatively good news. Indeed, the relatively good news was that it was a cut of 64%, rather than 87%, but it is still a threat to the 19,000 British jobs that are dependent on the speed of development in that industry. It is somewhat put into perspective when you consider the £1 billion that the Chancellor put aside in the Budget last week to bribe people to support fracking.

I echo the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, on the Government’s paucity of ambition on energy efficiency. It is a retrograde step and the noble Lord, Lord Deben, who is not is his place, as Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said only last week that it is an area in which we have failed. The Minister, in the debate on the Statement on Tuesday, said of energy efficiency:

“As a country, we probably need to do more on demand management”.—[Official Report, 15/12/15; col. 1976.]

We certainly do, and I have a question for the Minister in addition to those asked by the noble Lady, Lady Young: do the Government intend to bring forward new building standards as a matter of urgency, given that zero-carbon housing and the code for sustainable homes have been removed? If not, how will we give developers certainty about their costs in building the thousands of new homes that we need, so that we do not end up retrofitting homes that we propose to build in the very near future because they are not sustainable?

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2259

I have one further question and a comment. The question is about the need for a secure investment framework to support renewable energy. The markets will clearly be responding to the messages in Paris. We have already seen the shares of SolarCity, the biggest residential installer of solar in the US, jump by 12% on Monday. In the UK we need much clearer signals, so what guidance have the Government given to the new National Infrastructure Commission, given that one of its three focuses is to be on ensuring that investment in energy meets future demands? How do we make sure that that is renewable energy?

Finally, most of us agree that Paris was a success as we seek to tackle the challenge of climate change. Also, on a day when the Prime Minister is looking at our relationship with Europe, it is important to remember just how much the Paris negotiations have shown that we in Britain should play our role. By playing a strong role at the early stages of the Paris negotiations, we were able to put pressure on the US and Chinese to come forward with strong proposals early on. We would not have been able to do that as one country on our own. The fact that the Government recognised that we in Europe were able to use that leverage and influence was to their credit but shows that, if we are to solve global problems, Britain is stronger in Europe.

4.11 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, I join others in thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for her skill in securing this timely debate and her felicitous choice of time-slot, which allows us to deal with not only the outturn from COP 21 but what the Government will do to try to resolve that. I also thought her speech was extremely interesting, wide ranging and far seeing. She highlighted a point that a number of noble Lords picked up on—without really noticing, we have moved from regarding green issues as very much a techy subject to something we must all take on board and deal with. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, on an excellent maiden speech. We will all look forward to more contributions on climate change and refugee issues if she is able to speak as she did today.

The title of the debate is indeed about progress on COP 21, but today we have talked mainly about what the Government will do to meet Britain’s climate change commitment. As my noble friend Lord Judd said, we are looking for consistency—in the aspirations achieved in Paris, and in the political reality on the ground. That has been picked up outside. Business leaders, academics and environmental campaigners all believe that recent U-turns on wind, solar and other clean technologies have fatally undermined the UK’s ability to meet the new CO2 targets. Many noble Lords have pointed out that, since the 2015 general election, the Government have cut, delayed and scrapped the Green Deal home improvement fund and the zero-carbon homes policy. They have cut solar and onshore wind subsidies and undermined progress on carbon capture and storage.

It will be obvious to anyone who knows the structure of our Front Bench that this is not my area; I should have started by apologising for the fact that I am

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2260

neither my noble friend Lord Grantchester, who had commitments up in Liverpool and had to go back, nor my noble friend Lady Jones; I am sure that the whole House will join in sending condolences to her on her recent loss. However, as an outsider watching the politics of this, it is obvious from the debates around COP 21 and the good points made today by a range of speakers across the House that there seems to be a green moment. By that, I mean a short period in which the political calendar will allow a determined Government to sweep through some very far-reaching, game-changing proposals. Does the Minister recognise that, with a good Paris behind him, momentum on his side and support all round Parliament and beyond, there is an open goal? Do his Government have the policies to take advantage of this green moment? Perhaps more importantly, do they have the courage?

4.14 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change and Wales Office (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) (Con): My Lords, this has been a debate of very high quality and I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for raising this topic in the House and setting out how important it is for the whole world, which it certainly is, and presenting the case with such clarity and vision.

As noble Lords will be aware, I repeated a Statement in the House on Tuesday, after the Secretary of State had reported to the House of Commons on Monday. I absolutely agree with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, about the inspiration at Paris of many political leaders and others, including businesspeople and Members of this House. He singled out in particular Vice-President Al Gore—I think that people remain Vice-Presidents—and the noble Lord, Lord Stern. It is absolutely true that they made outstanding contributions, as did others. The noble Lord is also absolutely right about the role of negotiators. He mentioned Pete Betts, who had a key role to play, as did Ben Lyons and others who worked fantastically hard.

The Paris agreement is an historic achievement and takes a significant step forward towards reducing, on a global scale, the emissions that cause climate change. The right reverend Prelate paid tribute to France and the French for staging this conference as effectively as they did with their considerable diplomacy. In the light of the dreadful terrorist attacks, that was no mean feat. Not many nations could have pulled that off but I absolutely agree that the French did. I also agree with what he said about the role of faith, with people of many different faiths coming together to help build this agreement, which we as a world succeeded in achieving in Paris.

As has been said, the agreement protects not just our environment but our national and economic security, and that is true worldwide. It also brings with it new opportunities for growth, innovation and well-being. For the first time ever, all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, representing nearly 200 countries, made a commitment to act. The noble Baronesses, Lady Northover and Lady Miller, and the right reverend Prelate also made the point about the role of small nations alongside large ones.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2261

One heard as much at the conference and on its fringes about the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, quite rightly, as one heard about China, India and others. I met representatives from Greenland, for example. It was a truly international agreement that has set out a clear, long-term goal for the world to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century. The long-term goal sends a strong signal to investors. That is important globally because of the likely—almost inevitable—reduction in the cost of many renewables because of the fact that nations and businesses around the world will be investing in them.

From the United Kingdom—and, indeed the EU—point of view, we had three major objectives: a rules-based system, which this is; a long-term goal, which we have achieved; and a review system, which again we have achieved. In fact, there are two systems of review. We were part of a “high-ambition coalition”, which also included the United States. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, raised questions about the role of the US. We are certainly hoping that this agreement will be ratified while President Obama is in office, and I think that is the likelihood. Obviously we cannot influence domestic policy in the United States, much as we may on occasion be tempted to do so, but we are sure that it will be validated and passed there.

The agreement is based on the INDCs—that is, the contributions—of 187 countries. This level of commitment is unprecedented and the review cycle, which I have mentioned, is central to the ambition. The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, asked how that would be enforceable. It is enforceable in that every five years, countries will come back. It is a question of whether they restate their ambitions or ramp them up; that will be central to the way that this develops.

As investment grows, the costs of low-carbon technologies will come down. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, asked about battery technology. That is vitally important; for example, we are looking across government at electric cars and zero-carbon cars. I come back to the importance of the clear investment signal.

The financial aspects of this agreement are also important. There is to be $100 billion of support a year from the public and private sector, which will help developing nations, particularly small island developing states. On enforceability, again, some states will be ensuring that they meet their objectives because they will be getting financial assistance to do so, so the two will go hand in hand. There are obligations in the agreement to come back with mitigation measures every five years and to take part in the global stock-take, which will also happen every five years but on a different cycle.

The UK is, as I think was said, a substantial donor. We already have £3.87 billion in the International Climate Fund, helping millions of the world’s poorest. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, referred to this absolutely important point and asked whether we were able to give a guarantee that this will not go to any projects that have a carbon element. A carbon-proofing system is being applied in the ODA and we will be watching that like hawks, because we are the

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2262

first developed country to commit to end coal-fired power stations. That is very significant and was commented on repeatedly at Paris. It sends out a clear signal. We are at some stage going to have to send out a similar signal about gas, of course, although that will not be just yet, as we need gas to transition to the lower-carbon—ultimately zero-carbon—economy that we want. Clearly, the worst fossil fuel is coal, but gas is a fossil fuel, too, so that will need to be addressed. As a nation we will have to face up to that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, referred most graphically to the global dimension, in a speech of moving personal reminiscence and very reflective thought, setting out her personal commitments. I am sure that we will hear much more from her on these issues as she participates in the life of the House. It was an excellent and outstanding maiden speech, on which I congratulate her massively.

During the two weeks of the conference, we saw a huge mobilisation of business—the first time really, I think, that it had happened on this scale. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, will back that up. We have not seen the involvement of business at previous conferences on the scale that we saw in Paris, which had the presence and indeed the support of the Governor of the Bank of England—Mark Carney—Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson, Paul Polman and a whole host of national leaders in business and other fields.

Forestation was mentioned. We have played a significant role in relation to REDD, and have committed money to Colombia, which has a very good record on halting deforestation. It is part of a progressive alliance, and we have committed money there as well. One should acknowledge the outstanding and not inconsiderable role here of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. He saw this issue before many others, and his support, both generally at the conference and over time, has been extremely important.

I will try to deal with some of the other points. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, mentioned insulation. She is absolutely right, and we are committed to 1 million more homes in this Parliament. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, referred to demand reduction, which is important and which we are looking at. The smart meter programme commits us to that. Building standards were mentioned. I hate acronyms but one that is probably quite appropriate is a very interesting project called BAPS—buildings as power stations—which I visited just outside Swansea, run jointly by the university and private industry, with involvement that is almost totally British. These buildings do not cost an awful lot to erect, and the department is looking at this because it helps with the housing situation as well. So there are things to be looked at there.

I will try to cover some last points very quickly. The noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, asked about the importance of engaging with the National Infrastructure Commission. I assure her that we are doing that, particularly on the issues she mentioned, which are covered by one of the work streams. Work is still going on to finalise the terms of reference but clearly it is clearly a very important commission in terms of large-scale projects and in terms of the messages that it sends out.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2263

I very much welcome the role of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and his modesty in claiming that he does not know a lot about these things. He seemed to me to know quite a lot. I agree with him about the significance of these issues and the fact that we have to think across government—which I hope we are doing—to look at the challenges that lie ahead, which are significant.

I thank noble Lords very much for their participation in the debate and once again in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for bringing it forward. It is a very timely and important debate, and I am sure we will return to these issues again and again. I certainly hope so, because this very important issue has been ramped up significantly by the highly successful conference in Paris. We should never forget that. We talk about the road through Paris—it is not an end in itself but a staging post—but, that said, we can give ourselves two pats on the back for Paris. However, the job is not done and there is still much to do. That will often be through the reviews—both through the global stock-take which starts in 2018 and takes place every five years, and through individual countries coming forward with their contributions every five years starting in 2020.

National Lottery

Motion to Take Note

4.24 pm

Moved by Lord Holmes of Richmond

To move that this House takes note, on the occasion of its 21st birthday, of the contribution made by the National Lottery to sport, culture, charities and national heritage throughout the United Kingdom.

Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con): My Lords, it is a pleasure to open this debate on the National Lottery’s 21st anniversary. It is a story of transformation of our arts, culture, sport and heritage right across the country. I start by thanking noble Lords who will be speaking in this debate for the expertise and wisdom that they will bring, not least my noble friends Lord True and Lady Bottomley: the former ensconced at the very heart of Downing Street at the time that the National Lottery came about; the latter one of the first Secretaries of State for Culture Media and Sport, seeing fundamentally and at first hand the positive impact that the lottery had on culture, sport and the arts in those early years.

I am also very much looking forward to the two maiden speeches from the noble Lord, Lord Beith, and my noble friend the Duke of Wellington. In the noble Lord, we have someone whom we can congratulate on his 42nd year in Parliament, although it looked a little tricky when he began. In his first year as an MP, he had to fight his seat no fewer than three times. My noble friend the Duke of Wellington is well known as a patron of the arts, and his commitment to education is shown in no better way than the family’s connection to Kings College London. Having done some research, I found that he has not only a title as prestigious as the Duke of Wellington but another title, which I think any Brit would hold close to their heart: that of Prince of Waterloo. It is clear that in our two maiden speakers we will experience a very interesting Beith Wellington.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2264

I could have picked almost any element of the lottery story and it would have been a tale of transformation, be it the £34 billion to good causes, the 450,000 grants up and down the country, or the line of beauty in all those buildings transformed through lottery grants. There is the Great Court of the British Museum and the marvel that is Tate Modern. Outside London, there is the Eden Project, and over in Margate, the Turner Contemporary, a fabulous new space, has had 1.8 million visitors, bringing £41 million to transform Margate’s local economy. I could highlight the more than 700 playing fields that have been saved or the £750 million that has been invested in renewing our parks and gardens. Each story is a local story which has a national connection to this greatness that is the National Lottery.

However, I want to focus on my lottery story as a recipient, a distributor, an administrator and, amazingly, on a midweek in May in 2006, I actually got to press the button to start the Wednesday evening draw. I did not win. When I was on the Great Britain swimming team, the lottery came in about halfway through my career, so I could see fundamentally at first hand the before and after impact on sport. Before the lottery, success in sport was largely in spite of rather than because of any funding. The SportsAid Foundation did a great job, but it could do only so much. We desperately needed a model if we were to stand on the world stage. If it could be made any clearer, in 1996 a sporting nation as great as Britain came back from the Olympic Games 36th in the medal table.

When lottery funding began, for understandable reasons it largely went into capital projects, both in sport and the arts. There was great nervousness about putting money into revenue or individuals, but we desperately needed it in sport if we were going to change that approach. When the athlete personal awards came in, they enabled sportsmen and women to wrap around them all the services and support that they needed to compete on the world stage, be that physiotherapy, dietetics, podiatry or video analysis—everything to enable that individual to give the best performance possible. That is what we needed; the transformation could hardly be clearer. In Atlanta, the Olympic team was 36th; in London it was third, and the Paralympic team was also third—impossible to imagine or achieve without that lottery funding.

New athletes coming on to the team now take lottery funding for granted, and so they should; they can concentrate 100% on giving the best performance of their lives. There could not be a clearer testament of the transformation of the landscape. The sport strategy launched this morning by our fantastic Minister for Sport will also add to this success. Clearly, the Minister understands the need for world-class performance and grass-roots funding; as the strategy sets out, it is about our sporting futures. Similarly, on Sunday we will have the “Sports Personality of the Year”; on that list of 10 who we get to choose to vote from, how different might the list look were it not for the National Lottery.

When I finished competing, I became a lottery distributor on the board of UK Sport, where we funded the athletes who were preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London 2012. Governing

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2265

bodies run sport and athletes win the medals; our role was to put in place as efficient a funding stream and pipeline as we could to get the funds to the sports and athletes who could deliver on that world stage. At that time, UK Sport was the leanest and most cost-effective lottery distributor in the game, and it was fantastic to be part of it.

When I started at London 2012, again I became a lottery administrator. If noble Lords cast their thoughts east to the park, the stadia, the aquatic centre and the velodrome, none of it would have been possible without the Olympic Lottery Distributor. Nothing could have transformed east London like an Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the lottery was right at the heart of that. Similarly, it was a game changer for the Paralympic Games, with a huge grant from the OLD enabling the Paralympics Games for the first time ever to sell all the seats for all the sessions and to do a fantastic broadcast deal with Channel 4, which had 500 hours of coverage. There was complete commitment from Channel 4, broadcasting across Britain and rippling out around the world to make the Paralympic Games for the first time a world sporting phenomenon. The National Lottery was right at the centre of that project.

It was not just about sport. I was lucky enough to launch the unlimited art programme alongside the Arts Council England, with £6 million going into disabled arts programmes, funding artists such as the amazing Rachel Gadsden, who has also done a number of projects in Parliament recently. We launched at the Festival Hall with the noble Lord, Lord Hall, and as part of his overextensive biography read out by the organisers, they said that a long time ago he had written a book about coal. As the audience was quite young at this event, I felt it only right when I stood out to speak to point out that the book that the noble Lord had written was about the energy source rather than the “X Factor” judge.

Sport, art, culture and heritage are supported, transformed and enabled as a result as the National Lottery—stuff that would not have happened had it not come into play in 1994. But that is the upside. What about some of the clear and present dangers? There are plenty. The so-called “society lotteries” which have parked their tanks on this space, if not going against the letter of the law, certainly question the spirit of the law. The plan to increase the prizes that can be offered through those sources, potentially from £400,000 to £5 million, can only have a detrimental effect on the National Lottery. Where does it go in terms of the intent of Parliament? Parliament’s intent was to have one National Lottery, a focus for the nation’s heads and hearts, to get the maximum public interest, the maximum prize pot and the maximum funds to good causes with minimum cost, minimum red tape and minimum fraud. What do society lotteries contribute in this space? Let us look at the prize pots. The Health Lottery offers the minimum 20% and the People’s Postcode Lottery offers 27% while the National Lottery offers 41%. What about the flip side in terms of cost? The People’s Postcode Lottery’s costs are 35%, and the Health Lottery’s costs are an amazing 50%, which can be set against the National Lottery’s 5%.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2266

Similarly, there has been a terrible blurring, a polluting, of the clear blue water which should exist between gambling and the lottery. It seems extraordinary that rather than simply playing the lottery with a chance of a big prize and knowing that your money is contributing to good causes, people choose to bet on the outcome of the lottery. This has been a problem since 1994, largely through betting shops, but the internet has enabled it to get to an industrial level, getting round, and in many cases, close to, the letter of the law and frustrating Section 95 of the Act. If we look at what is happening with EuroMillions, people are using a loophole to be able to bet on EuroMillions, and this is promoted outside the UK even though essentially it is one lottery across the whole European area. This has to be addressed if we are not going to see a cannibalisation of the National Lottery and the funds for good causes.

I have a number of questions for the Minister. What is the Government’s view on maintaining the current cap on lotteries other than the National Lottery and on putting a cap on the expenses that they can charge? What is the Government’s position on prohibiting all betting on lotteries? If they do not accept that, what view do the Government take about how and where such alternatives promote their betting products? We see a product such as Lottoland promoted heavily in the UK although it is based in Gibraltar. What does it contribute to good causes? What does it contribute to the United Kingdom? It heavily piggybacks on the language and the words “lotto” and “lottery jackpot”. Should this be allowed? What is the Government’s view on Lottoland and other agencies betting on the National Lottery? Finally, if there is no prohibition, would the Government consider using Section 14(7) of the Act to bring in regulations to ensure that betting on lotteries is seen as a pure lottery so that a licence would be required? Through that there would be much more control of this element of the market and, not least, a minimum return to good causes.

In conclusion, I turn to the father—the daddy—of the lottery, Sir John Major. What courage, what boldness to bring this into play. It shows the difference that one person can make if they have a vision, if they have a belief that something can be brought about in the face of opposition from all sides and all elements of society from Whitehall all across the piece. He believed it could be brought about, and so it was. A number of years later, I was talking to Sir John, and he said that on the day of the launch he went through Victoria station and bought a lottery ticket. He spent the rest of that week in a cold sweat thinking about what would happen if he had the winning ticket. How would he tell Norma and the family that he would not be able to claim the prize?

With £34 billion to good causes, an Olympic team lifted from 36th position in the medal table to third, and 450,000 grants to arts, culture, heritage and charities—grants that are transforming our communities, our cities and our country for the better for ever—that is a prime ministerial legacy and a very happy 21st birthday. I beg to move.

4.40 pm

Lord Pendry (Lab): My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will applaud the noble Lord, Lord Holmes

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2267

of Richmond, for bringing this subject to the House today and the way in which he has introduced it. I have had the pleasure of seeing the noble Lord participate in the Paralympic Games; indeed, he stands out as one of the greatest British Paralympians, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. We are very fortunate to have both of them as colleagues in this House, and indeed in this debate.

The long journey that the National Lottery has taken since its inception is indeed a remarkable one. When it began, it was not everyone’s cup of tea. Yes, both major parties espoused the concept, but on my side of the House of Commons we had to overcome a particular problem—namely, the football pools industry, based mainly though not exclusively in Liverpool, where the Labour MPs were naturally concerned about jobs and the potential damage to their communities if a national lottery was introduced, and about its impact on the pools industry. Those MPs’ voices were heard during the passage of the Bill—so much so that I, who led for the Opposition, insisted that we had a free vote at Second Reading. During the further stages, Labour made a series of amendments in an attempt significantly to improve the Bill as it stood. One of the most important points was additionality, ensuring that lottery funds would not act as a substitute for funds that otherwise would have been provided by conventional public expenditure.

Since its inception, the National Lottery has had lasting and positive effects on the arts, culture, sport and heritage, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, has already said. Indeed, some £34 billion has been raised for good causes, with 20% of that figure going to sport. Sport has benefited enormously by way of thousands of grants totalling some £5.5 billion. The effects of these grants has been enormous. The noble Lord, Lord Holmes, himself has been a beneficiary of the funding for elite sports, giving athletes like him the freedom to focus on their talents and perform at a higher level. Of course, this was not always the case. In 1992, the Olympic double bronze medal winner Simon Terry returned from Barcelona only to find that the Department of Social Security had cut his benefits. Not only was there little or virtually no support for athletes competing in the Olympics but, in the case of Mr Terry, he was subject to punishment by the then Government.

The National Lottery has helped to turn this around. As a result of the focus on elite athletics and high-performance sports, UK Sport has helped Team GB climb from 36th place in the Atlanta Games in 1996, where we won only one gold medal and a total of 15 medals, to a staggering third place—as the House knows—in London 2012, when we won 29 gold medals and a total of 65 medals. That is truly an astonishing feat. We hope of course that we will even surpass this at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The National Lottery has of course gone beyond focusing just on elite sports. Since 1993, some of us have argued for a more inclusive approach to sport funding by the National Lottery. I am pleased to say that since then the remaining four distributing bodies, including Sport England, continue to provide an exclusive approach to sport, focusing on promoting and increasing public participation. The House may know that I am

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2268

president of the Football Foundation, and I can confirm the long-lasting impact National Lottery funding—a significant amount of money—has made through its investment via the foundation into improving the country’s local sports infrastructure. For example, a £30 million lottery fund investment via the foundation between the years 2002 and 2005 helped bring about partnership investments of an additional £16 million, thus turning that £30 million into £46 million of grass-roots sports projects. This was used to create state of the art grass-roots facilities that continue to provide sporting activity for thousands of regular users each year ever since.

We have come a long way in the last 21 years, but in order to ensure a secure and strong National Lottery that is truly “national” in its scope, which is beneficial to people across the UK through good causes, the Government must remain committed to pursuing policies which ensure that the lottery is properly protected. As Camelot points out, this should include, among other protections, safeguards against potential competitors by maintaining current safeguards. This would allow the National Lottery to continue to work by maximising funds for good causes.

In conclusion, we are grateful to the noble Lord for bringing this to our attention and enabling us to outline some of the most fantastic achievements of the National Lottery over the last 21 years.

4.47 pm

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, looking down this list I thought, “What shall I speak about?”, and thought, “Well, of course I normally talk about sport”. However, I saw that the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, would start the debate and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, would come very quickly after me, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, who has been talking about sport for longer than me—one of the few people who has. I will therefore try to go a little wider than just sport today, because the National Lottery has affected virtually all aspects of life.

When the lottery first came in—and whatever is said about Sir John Major, he will get a gold star for this—nobody was quite sure what was coming. There was a lot of fear: apparently it would lead to the entire nation becoming degenerate gamblers—you name it, everything was said about it. It has changed virtually all aspects of our lives, usually for the better, and has meant that we have a fund which has effectively guaranteed activity because there is a defence against the vagaries of politics. Sport is a very good example of that; we now have a bedrock of public money which is more difficult to manipulate than just about anything else. This is also true of most other aspects of the lottery expenditure, although there have been changes; the biggest one, which sport is probably guilty of, is the Olympics. However, would we have been able to do that without it? Once again, I am reminded that the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, has got there in front of me on this one. However, everything—heritage, charities—has been touched by the lottery and this underlying bedrock of support. Initially we spoke about additionality. This type of funding is not like putting a conservatory on a building; effectively it is like laying down an extra foundation beneath the building.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2269

There is another thing that the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, beat me to, but it is going to be the theme of my speech—the question of how we ensure that the National Lottery continues at its current strength and in its current shape. The other lotteries, such as the Health Lottery, have already been talked about. If we allow these lotteries to come in, we must place the same restrictions on them and say that they must give the same proportion of money as the National Lottery. This, I hope, will mean that they do not bother but, if they do, they must be placed under an obligation to give.

In the case of the Health Lottery, what have we discovered is the best thing for people’s health? It is prevention, and apparently sport is the wonder drug. So why the hell do we allow something to call itself the Health Lottery and not fund sport, or at least grass-roots sport, in some way? If you want the clothes, you have to walk the walk. I know that I have mixed up two analogies there but there we are. If you are going to take on something that involves good will, you have to back it up. That is only fair. If you can do that and still make the business worth while, I do not mind, but you have to make sure that you support the good causes and the other things that go with that. Even the most ardent sportsman will probably agree that we should have a good heritage sector and that the arts are not a bad thing. We should go across the piece. Unless we protect the great legacy that the lottery has given us, we will lose out on its benefits.

Sports policy has gone through something of a revolution, and I congratulate the Government on at least coming forward with the idea of having such a policy. However, I am afraid that experience tells me that delivering on it, so that it goes across everything else, is slightly more difficult. There was a new announcement about starting early—that is, getting into the education system earlier, as opposed to concentrating on getting children involved at the age of 14. Possibly the change was more to do with austerity than anything else, but that is by the by.

All those things—all the new developments in sport—involve going into the other bits of government. Virtually everybody who has looked at this has said, “Oh, that’s a good idea”, and the same will be true of most of the arts and so on. If you want it to work properly, you have to relate it to other bits of government. The problem is that bits of government do not like changing what they do because they know what their priorities are, even when it is obvious that they cannot achieve everything that they want alone. The National Lottery is a wonderful vehicle for going across and through.

I leave noble Lords with this thought. The National Lottery has to be protected because it has the ability to reach slightly further than the ordinary concepts of government. It can go across the piece and is more difficult to counteract. If we can use the moral authority that comes with the National Lottery, we will achieve and back up the benefits that we get from purely financial gains.

4.53 pm

Baroness Grey-Thompson (CB): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, for tabling this debate

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2270

this afternoon. It was a privilege to be on the same team as him—at least when we were playing sport together.

Celebrating the 21st birthday of the National Lottery is perfect timing for the launch of the Government’s new strategy for an active nation. I congratulate the Government on that. There are some really positive things in there in terms of encouraging physical activity. If we have more active children with better physical literacy skills, it will be good for our medal chances but it will also be good for the health of our nation. I am also delighted to be heading a working group looking at the duty of care. The work of that group is going to be quite wide ranging.

I have a number of current interests in sport and they are all listed in the register. I also have a number of historic interests. I sat on the Sports Council for Wales, the English Lottery Awards Panel and UK Sport, and I was a lottery-funded athlete.

The last 20 years have been an interesting time in the development of sport. We have gone from being the plucky British athletes who turned up and had a go to teams which are taking on the world—and lottery funding has done that. Lottery funding has changed the mentality of athletes.

If we look at the context, 20 years ago I was part of the Manchester bid that went up against Sydney for the 2000 Games. There was a very brief period then when I was disappointed that we did not win. It did not matter that we had 100 years of data to show that there was more rain in spring in Sydney than there was in Manchester in the summer—all they had to do was show a picture of Bondi beach and they came through on top. But I am glad that we did not win because, without the lottery funding and the time that it took to embed into sport, we would not have had the success that we did in 2012.

The Sports Council for Wales ran some innovative programmes, including the Elite Cymru programme, which supported young athletes but also looked at education and the transition out of sport. At one point, the English Lottery Awards panel had the enviable job of allocating £20 million a month to new sports facilities. But it also changed the ethos of a number of clubs. Some clubs that had a blackball rule were told that they could not have any money. When they realised that there was money on the table, clubs that only allowed women to use the back entrance suddenly decided that that was not a bastion they had to defend. We also realised that the clubs that were getting money were the ones that were really good at filling out forms—so the priority areas initiative meant that funding was equitable for sports clubs and initiatives.

In 1996, the Olympic team won a single gold medal; the Paralympic team won 39 golds and was third on the medal table. When it was announced that because of the poor Olympic performance we were going to have lottery funding into sport, I started to say, “Well, actually, the Paralympic team—”, and then decided that I would be quiet, because for me it was about driving change and promoting inclusivity. This was an opportunity to get national governing bodies to think about disabled athletes. Up until that point, they really had not considered it.

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2271

In the early years, there were a number of sports that struggled. Sports had not been used to writing performance plans or having to justify where their money went. Some sports embraced it early on, such as cycling and rowing; other sports took longer to get used to it. But look at the amazing success we have now across all the Olympic and Paralympic sports and wider. We are showing the world what a wonderful sporting nation we are.

There were national disability sports organisations, and unfortunately some of the work they did has often been forgotten. They did a huge amount of work in bringing on and developing young athletes, and they still have a really important role to play in multisport activities for young people. Lottery funding meant that national governing bodies that wanted money had to take on supporting Paralympic teams. There was some success. They were advised that they should be inclusive, and some have been better than others.

I would like the Government to ensure that there is genuinely equitable treatment within elite sport for disabled athletes. This goes beyond the provision of kit. It is about representation on websites and the promotion of athletes. The public expect it, especially after 2012. They do not think that disabled athletes should be treated as second-class citizens. Occasionally, that still does happen. I ask the Minister whether the equitable funding of disabled athletes is taken into consideration.

It is a hard balance. In a changing world of sport, programmes for talented athletes start younger and younger—my own daughter is on a regional talent programme. There must be balance between education, sport and the transition out of sport, to make sure that the athletes who leave are able to come back and work in the sport as coaches or volunteers. I have no problem at all with every last ounce of talent being wrung out of a sportsperson while they are on lottery funding, but the transition out of sport is incredibly important and is a difficult one for a lot of athletes to deal with. Sport teaches you so many positive things and we should be able to funnel that into other areas.

Lastly, along with other noble Lords, I pay tribute to Sir John Major and all those who campaigned for lottery funding. It has contributed hugely to our medal success, it has been an inspiration to young athletes, and it contributed to the success of 2012 and our reputation worldwide as an amazing sporting nation.

4.59 pm

Lord True (Con): My Lords, what a privilege to follow a great Olympian and congratulate another great Olympian, my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond, for initiating this debate. As he and I share an office and he lives in my borough and has a vote in the local elections, I probably had to take part. But in fact it is an unmitigated pleasure to salute the lottery. I also very much look forward to the maiden speeches of my noble friend the Duke of Wellington and the noble Lord, Lord Beith. He will probably remember hearing his colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan of Rogart, liken Sir John Major to the Emperor Nero for proposing a lottery on the Second Reading of that Bill. However, that was long ago. I say to the noble

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2272

Duke that I never saw the first Duke of Wellington nipping out to buy a lotto ticket in the corner shop. However, having looked into it, I found that the great duke devised a lottery to dispose of jewels the British Army had won in the Mahratta wars. Unfortunately most of the tickets went unsold because he did not have a Camelot. The British Army is no Camelot, whatever other marvels it does.

I do not claim to be a progenitor of the National Lottery, although I did have a ringside seat in No. 10 in those days. From that standpoint I must reaffirm that there is absolutely no doubt whatever that it would never have happened but for Sir John Major. I remember at one time, in a Conservative Whitehall in 1991, it seemed that only the Prime Minister and my noble friends Lord Baker of Dorking and Lord Patten of Barnes were batting for it.

As the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, reminded us, when the Second Reading came in the Commons, introduced by another great supporter, the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, of Sutton Mandeville—it is sad not to see him in his place today as he is no longer a Member of this House, having taken retirement—the Labour Party Front Bench called it the unacceptable face of nationalisation.

I say these things—they may seem unkind—about Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour merely to point out that it needed great vision and drive to go through those doubters, and John Major had that. He once wrote, “Would it not be marvellous if Britain won the Davis Cup?”. What a ridiculous idea.

I won a fair prize for multiple numbers in the second ever draw but I have never managed to do better than the minimum since then. I do not know what that signifies. Perhaps the right reverend Prelate would say, “Lead us not into temptation”. However, I have supported the lottery.

Perhaps I may offer one slightly off-beam thought. I know the lottery is stretched and that there is no review until 2023, but might consideration be given to some gentle easing of restrictions on the support of overseas sites that are indisputably part of and projectors of our national heritage? The presence of the noble Duke calls to mind taxpayers’ money committed by George Osborne to restoration of the battlefield of Waterloo because he likes military history. Could not the Waterloo battlefield and such like it qualify as part of our national heritage which might merit support? What about the saving and documenting of monuments abroad, created by the British, which might be threatened by anti-colonial sentiment?

There are great academic and quintessentially British institutions which happen to be sited abroad—for example, the historic British School in Rome, in which I declare a paternal interest as I have come to know it and have a connection with it through my son, who is an academic. That school is housed in an amazing, huge and costly building designed by Lutyens as the British pavilion for the great exhibition of 1911. It was granted in perpetuity to the British nation on condition that it be used exclusively as a British research centre for archaeology, history and the fine arts, which it has been ever since. It is a home from which some remarkable breakthroughs in learning have been made and some

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2273

of the greatest university teachers of the Commonwealth have emerged. It cannot be sold. It is inventive in raising resources, although its lease excludes commercial activity. It is an architectural jewel and an enormous and prestigious asset for our country.

That is just one example. If I had more time, I could mention other British institutions that I can readily call to mind. However rich in what they give, and although they may be seats of “soft power” for Britain—in the jargon—what they have represented in our heritage cannot be assisted, as they are our outside the United Kingdom. British schools and the field of Waterloo are just two examples of what I mean. Could we not look at easing the boundaries, in some small way, of what is defined as UK heritage? After all, it is a scant vision of our heritage and our future if we see it stop at Land’s End.

5.05 pm

Lord Puttnam (Lab): My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, for making this debate possible, and I agree with every word he had to say. I should declare a couple of interests as a former member of the Arts Council lottery panel and as president of the Film Distributors Association. I should like to touch briefly on three areas, which can be described as historical, numerical and philosophical. As the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, and others have made clear, this story has several heroes, chief among whom has to be Sir John Major, who managed to steer the concept through a largely sceptical Cabinet. I also mention Peter Brooke as the heritage Secretary and his Minister, David Mellor, who saw off what my noble friend Lord Pendry described as the “ambivalence” of our own party as well as the rather more vocal concerns of the faith communities. They were so concerned about the impact on charitable giving that in this House the legislation was described as being “morally flawed”. I hope that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester will be able to reassure us when he speaks that many of those earlier concerns have now proved to be unfounded.

It is my belief that the National Lottery has proved to be an unqualified success, not just in its impact on our arts, sport and heritage, but also as an example of the manner in which brave, well-considered and well-administered legislation can have a positive impact on the whole of civil society. It is worth asking in what other country could many billions of pounds be raised and spent on 450,000 projects both large and small without any accusation of corruption? It is an enviable record and one of which we as a country should be extraordinarily proud.

The Minister who took on much of the heavy lifting associated with the implementation of the legislation, the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, will be offering her own thoughts in a moment, but as one of her initial appointments to the Arts Council lottery panel, this is a good point for me to recall that much of the success of the lottery is a direct result of the courage and imagination with which she steered this unique initiative through some difficult early years, sometimes in an atmosphere of downright media hostility. We all learnt a lot, not least from the incredible

17 Dec 2015 : Column 2274

tenacity of our fellow panel member, the late Paddy Masefield, who forced us to understand the imperative of enabling disabled access as an essential component of a grant and not just as a “nice to have”. The legacy of the noble Baroness for the incoming Labour Government was wonderfully well nurtured and, I would argue, well built upon.