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House of Lords

Tuesday 15 March 2016

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham.

Oaths and Affirmations

2.35 pm

Lord Alliance made the solemn affirmation, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Prison Reform


2.36 pm

Asked by Lord Beith

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the total number of prisoners on their plans for prison reform.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, we do not need to reduce the prison population in order to reform our prisons. We will always provide sufficient prison capacity for those committed by the courts and aim to manage the prison population in a way that gives taxpayers value for money. Prisons must be places where offenders can transform their lives. We are therefore modernising the estate and will give prison staff greater freedom to innovate. Only through better rehabilitation will we reduce reoffending and cut crime.

Lord Beith (LD): My Lords, at least three recent reports by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons have demonstrated how difficult it is to achieve the Government’s worthy objectives of rehabilitation when there is a very large prison population and a much reduced staff managing it. Is it not time that, alongside the rehabilitation policy, Ministers began to look at why we imprison a larger proportion of our population than any other western European country, thus committing huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to a system which does not sufficiently reduce reoffending?

Lord Faulks: The Government are always anxious to find out why we imprison so many people. Of course, imprisoning is done by judges, not by government. We believe that the way to reduce the prison population is to tackle reoffending. Fifty per cent of adult prisoners are reconvicted within one year and 60% in less than 12 months. We aim to get to grips with that reoffending, and that will reduce the prison population.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, does not that answer indicate precisely why the Government have a problem? If those are the reoffending figures, why is that happening? Is it not true that there are

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simply insufficient staff in our prisons to escort prisoners to, for example, needed mental health appointments, to the classes for which they are booked or indeed to the exercise and other facilities that would enable them to go along the path towards rehabilitation? How will that rehabilitation take place?

Lord Faulks: In the last year we have recruited 2,250 new prison officers—a net increase of 440—and we are continuing to recruit at that rate. We have given prison officers all that they have asked for in terms of the recommended rate of pay. We very much applaud prison officers in the very difficult task that they have to perform, and I am sure that all noble Lords will join me in offering their condolences to the family and friends of Adrian Ismay, a prison officer from Belfast, who unfortunately died today.

Lord Farmer (Con): My Lords, I read in the Times recently that the Secretary of State is going to put family at the heart of prison reforms. Can the Minister expand on those plans and the progress that has been made there?

Lord Faulks: My noble friend is quite right to focus on the importance of family. According to research by my department, families are the single most important factor in helping prisoners to resettle on release. A number of prisons have developed visitor centres and are doing their best to make the contact between families and prisoners as pleasant as possible. This is important because, first, the families are, after all, not doing a prison sentence and, secondly, it encourages prisoners to remember that their roots in the community and in their family are the key to not reoffending.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers (CB): My Lords, the Minister has recognised that we cannot hope to tackle prison overcrowding without improving rehabilitation and thereby reducing reoffending. But is it not the fact that we cannot hope to improve rehabilitation without reducing prison numbers? Can the Minister tell us how the Government will break this vicious circle?

Lord Faulks: The noble and learned Lord, with all his experience of the system, will appreciate that we have a duty, and therefore have to have the ability, to house all who are sent to prison by judges. What we are endeavouring to do is to identify the causes of reoffending. Once we have done that, we hope that that will reduce the numbers. If judges feel it is appropriate to sentence offenders to particular sentences, it is not for the Government to reduce those sentences simply to make the figures balance.

Baroness Corston (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Woolf (CB): My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, I am sorry, but if we are going strictly in turn, it is the turn of the Labour Benches. However, I know that the noble and learned Lord,

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Lord Woolf, has been trying to get in. Therefore, if we go next to Labour, I suggest that we then go to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf.

Baroness Corston: My Lords, the Minister will know that in the nine years since the publication of my report, the reason that the number of women in prison has decreased is because of the establishment of a network of community women’s centres, which have been used by the courts to help those women turn their lives around. Under the new community rehabilitation contract regime introduced by the coalition Government one women’s centre, Alana House in Reading, has been closed because its CRC, MTC Novo, has refused to fund it. Other women’s centres do not even know what their funding is going to be after 1 April. Does the Minister agree that the inevitable result of this will be an increase in the women’s prison population?

Lord Faulks: I pay tribute to the noble Baroness’s contribution to reducing the population of women prisoners and her concern for them. Of course, she will be pleased that their number is lower than it has been for a decade. We hope that we can reproduce the best practice found in Holloway—albeit it is closing—and in the women’s centres in making sure that the arrangements in prison are those best suited for women and their rehabilitation.

Lord Woolf: My Lords, is it not right that the inflation in sentences—they are longer than they have ever been—is caused by action taken by Governments, and not by judges, to impose fixed sentences? These sentences form rocks that the rest of sentencing has to accommodate. If that were not the case, sentences would be shorter, because judges are prevented from imposing the sentences that they otherwise would by the fixed-sentencing policies of the Government of a particular time.

Lord Faulks: I am grateful for the contribution made by the noble and learned Lord. Of course, this Government and the coalition Government before them were very much against fixed sentences. It was the coalition Government who repealed, for example, provision in relation to indeterminate sentences for public protection. In the eight criminal justice Acts that were passed by the Labour Government, extraordinary inflexibility was given to judges in passing sentences—that is one of the results in terms of the prison population. We are endeavouring to give as many resources as we can to the Parole Board to make sure that those prisoners will be released when it is safe to do so.

Education: Henley Review


2.44 pm

Asked by Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to implement the recommendations of the review by Darren Henley on cultural education in England.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, the Government accepted the vast majority of the recommendations in Darren Henley’s review. Our response was published in 2012 and was followed by a cultural education document in 2013. Since 2012, we have invested almost £0.5 billion in music and cultural education programmes. This includes £270 million for music hubs, more than £100 million for the music and dance scheme, £57 million for the dance and drama awards and almost £20 million in a portfolio of cultural education programmes. A further £75 million has been announced for music hubs for 2016-17.

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury (LD): I thank the Minister for that Answer, but we have a skills crisis in the creative industries and it starts at school. Why in their written response to the Henley review four years ago did the Government list second of,

“those issues that we will address immediately … A National Plan for Cultural Education”,

and why has this “immediately” still not happened? Can the Minister say when the promised national plan will happen?

Lord Nash: The Prime Minister recently announced a cultural enrichment programme through the cultural citizens programme. I think that the noble Baroness should wait to see how that develops.

Lord Winston (Lab): My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the Royal College of Music. It is very clear that music does more than merely help to educate people; it provides all sorts of added benefits to education in general and collaboration between people. Have the Government considered helping the conservatoires in the way that Darren Henley has suggested, by doing more outreach in schools and supporting that sort of work which goes on but at the moment is very inadequately supported?

Lord Nash: The noble Lord makes a very good point. It is well documented that music helps not only the cultural development of pupils but in matters such as working together in teams when they work in orchestras and choirs. I shall take back the noble Lord’s point and make sure that it is looked at.

Lord Lexden (Con): Does my noble friend agree that arts and music have long been at the centre of partnership schemes between independent and state schools, schemes which are now increasing in number as a result of the recent Schools Together website launch?

Lord Nash: I do. It is true that of the approximately 2,000 independent schools, nearly 800 of them are engaged in activities with state schools—of course, many of those which are not are very small. It is something which should be encouraged and we are doing everything we can to do so.

Baroness Grender (LD): My Lords, the joint ministerial board that the Government said was an immediate priority in response to the review and that was set up

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in 2013 is an entirely separate body from the cultural education partnership group, which Ministers do not attend. Can the Minister tell us whether Ministers on that board have met since general election and explain to us why the future of this board is under consideration rather than getting on with this all-important work?

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness is quite right that the board has not met since the general election, but it has achieved a great deal. It has monitored progress against the recommendations from the Henley review; it has evaluated the impact of the programmes which have been funded, some of which I have referred to; and it has been involved in making sure that best practice is shared across the industry.

Baroness Nye (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister accept that government policy has impacted on the value given to art and design in schools and colleges? The National Society for Education in Art and Design survey report shows that learning opportunities in art, craft and design across all key stages have reduced significantly in the past five years and that teachers thought that the introduction of the EBacc was responsible. Will he therefore review the time allocated for the teaching and learning of art and design within the curriculum, which could then be part of the national plan for cultural education, as proposed by Darren Henley?

Lord Nash: I have to take issue with the noble Baroness on this point. The percentage of pupils at state schools entered for at least one GCSE in the arts has actually gone up by 10% since 2011, while the numbers of pupils entered for GCSEs in art and design, music and the performing arts have all increased. Indeed, last year thousands more students took GCSEs in art and design.

Lord Cormack (Con): Does my noble friend agree that a great deal depends upon our cathedrals for the excellence of choral music in this country, and will he take this opportunity to acknowledge that? Also, can he say whether the Government have anything in mind to assist and encourage in this area?

Lord Nash: My noble friend makes a good point, and of course we have the Cathedral Primary School in Bristol, a new free school which opened in 2013. I am very hopeful that we will see more of such free schools.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister accept that there is a problem—I know that he is not terribly willing to accept it—which is to do with the extent to which teachers in both primary and secondary schools are under pressure to deliver a fixed curriculum that crowds out opportunities for students of all ages to participate in cultural activities of various kinds, despite the fact that quite a wide range of such activities is available for them to participate in? Is he content that this crowding out is what was intended when the cultural plan was developed?

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Lord Nash: I think that noble Lords sometimes forget the appallingly low base we started from in 2010 where fewer than one in five pupils in comprehensive schools were doing any kind of cultural course. The EBacc has within it two very well-known cultural subjects: history and English literature. Moreover, many pupils study drama, music, art and dance without taking exams in them. That is all part of a broad and balanced education.

Lord Aberdare (CB): My Lords, in July 2013 the Government defined six ambitions for world-class cultural education. Can the Minister tell us something more about how they are monitoring progress towards achieving those ambitions and what has actually been achieved, particularly, for example, in targeting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds?

Lord Nash: I think that in order to answer all six points, I will have to write to the noble Lord, which I will happily do. Our pupil premium awards have been particularly focused on the arts. They have involved the Royal Shakespeare Company, the royal schools of music, the Royal Society of Arts and the Arts Council.

Gambling: B2 Gaming Machines


2.52 pm

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the social impact of category B2 gaming machines.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, the Government draw upon a range of sources to monitor the social impact of gambling, not least the Gambling Commission and the health surveys that are commissioned by the NHS. The Government also evaluate the effects of their own regulations, most recently the £50 gaming machine regulations, which indicate that a large proportion of players on B2 gaming machines may now be making a more conscious choice to control their playing behaviour.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. These gaming machines, also known as FOBTs, have been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”. The Government have consistently said that they would take action on their use if and when evidence of their social and personal harm became readily available. Yet it was reported in the media that last year the Government blocked a targeted review which had been requested by the DCMS. In the light of the tragic stories that continue to appear all too frequently in the media of the harm caused by these machines, will the Government now commit to a full, targeted review of FOBTs and their use?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate will be aware that in January of this year we published an evaluation of the impact of the April

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2015 regulations. Ministers will consider the findings carefully before deciding on the next steps, including the possible timing of the next review of stakes and prizes.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, with casinos on practically every high street and mobile online gambling where there is no limit, it is clear that regulations and legislation need to keep up with technology. What is overdue—the Minister tried to respond to this in the debate last week—is the triennial review of betting limits. He would not commit then but will he commit today? It is overdue. It is important that this issue is addressed, including FOBTs. Will he announce today the start of that triennial review?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Collins, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, both mentioned this point towards the end of the speeches in the excellent debate we had on Friday. I have nothing new to add at the moment. I just reiterate that my honourable friend Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport, keeps a special eye on this. She has a special interest in this issue. The Government are open-minded on the review and will set out their views in due course.

Lord Strasburger (LD): My Lords, in his article last week in the Times, calling for urgent action on FOBTs, Mr Fintan Drury, the former chairman of Paddy Power, said:

“At the heart of the gambling sector, there is a troubling partnership between government and industry”.

Is that troubling partnership the reason that the Government do nothing but procrastinate about FOBTs and are trying to defend the indefensible?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I obviously do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strasburger. Basically, he will be aware, of course, that in April 2015 we reviewed the regulations to put a limit of £50 on what could be staked at one time without getting added clearance. The Gambling Commission also introduced new social responsibility requirements on the whole industry last year. The industry has also taken action to introduce social responsibility codes, and new planning laws introduced in 2015 now make it harder to open new betting shops on the high street.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, the Minister told us that his honourable friend was keeping a close eye on the question of the triennial review. How then can it be a triennial review? Are the Government not breaching the obligations set for them in terms of holding such a triennial review?

The Earl of Courtown: Of course I would not agree with the noble Lord. My honourable friend Tracey Crouch has commented on this issue in another place and is keeping a careful eye on when the triennial review will take place. The first triennial review took place in 2013.

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Lord Collins of Highbury: Which means, my Lords, that it is overdue. The last one took 12 months to conduct, so by the time it reaches a conclusion it will be well overdue—it will have taken nearly five years—so it will not be a triennial review any more.

The Earl of Courtown: Well, my Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Collins, for making it perfectly clear. I realise that I have not been able to give any dates on this and I will ensure that the House is made aware as soon as any decision is made.

NHS: Hospital Overcrowding


2.58 pm

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the latest NHS performance figures and the concerns expressed by the Society for Acute Medicine that overcrowding in hospitals may result in avoidable deaths.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Prior of Brampton) (Con): My Lords, a significant increase in emergency demand in January put the NHS under great pressure. Compared to January last year, the NHS had almost 175,000 more attendances in A&E in January 2016. We recognise this rise in demand is not sustainable, which is why we have invested £10 billion in the NHS’s five-year forward view.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister, but he will know that the January performance was the worst A&E performance of the NHS on record. The Society for Acute Medicine has warned that this is bound to have an impact on the number of avoidable deaths that take place. Ministers cannot just blame the public for coming to A&E departments. The fact is: they have cut nurse training places; they have cut social care; they have squeezed the NHS budget; and today the Public Accounts Committee says that the NHS has no chance whatever of clearing the financial deficit. I would simply ask the Minister when he thinks the NHS will next meet the four-hour target.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, there was a 10% increase in demand in January, which put the NHS under huge pressure. It is much to the credit of A&E services that we saw 111,000 more people within four hours than we did the previous January. It is also worth mentioning that, over the last five years, the number of consultants working in A&E has increased by 49%. The number of people working in emergency care as a whole has increased by 3.7%. It does not alter the fact, which I recognise, that A&E departments are under tremendous pressure—they often are in winter. We hope that that pressure reduces as spring approaches.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con): My Lords, will my noble friend the Minister look very carefully at the reasons for delayed discharges, which lead to

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overcrowding, and to the particular role that community hospitals, such as the Lambert Hospital in Thirsk, play in rehabilitating those who have had a fall, an operation or a stroke? Will he look very carefully at the role of, and allocate sufficient resources to, community hospitals to ensure that they remain in service, playing this crucial role of step-down between the acute hospital and going home?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, clearly, step-down facilities, including community hospitals, have a very important role to play. The whole thrust of the five-year forward view is to treat more people outside acute hospital settings. That is the NHS’s plan, which the Government support.

Lord Patel (CB): My Lords, does the Minister agree that there needs to be a reform of the tariff paid for the workload that A&E departments now bear? If there is an appropriate tariff, the hospitals will invest in better facilities and better staffing, such as collocation of out-of-hour GP services, pharmacies, and even mental health assessment services, alongside A&E departments. Does he therefore agree that there needs to be a reform of the tariff paid to A&E?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, the tariff has been changed. Acute hospitals now receive 70% of the tariff, rather than 50%, for the excess numbers of people coming into A&E departments. The noble Lord is absolutely right, though, that those hospitals that have collocated GPs and A&E departments, and have invested in psychiatry liaison nurses and other people, have seen huge improvement. The question is: do we want to invest? Are A&E departments the right places to invest, or ought we to be putting that investment into primary and community care? That is the big issue that will be decided over the next five years.

Lord Rennard (LD): My Lords, does the Minister agree with the president of the Society for Acute Medicine that there are no more efficiencies to be made and that we must now start to invest in care again to bring us on a par with other developed nations? Does he accept that the planned increases in expenditure for the NHS will not be adequate to deal with the crisis in it, and that we need to consider a hypothecated tax to fund health and social care?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, a lot of what was said by the person, whose name I cannot remember, to whom the noble Lord refers, was absolutely right, but when he said that there were no more efficiencies to be gained he was completely wrong. We can still achieve huge efficiencies throughout the whole healthcare system, in the context that the NHS is one of the most efficient systems in the world, but it can be better. It would be completely wrong to say that no more efficiencies can be achieved.

Baroness Pitkeathley (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Vinson (Con): My Lords—

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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Benches. While I am on my feet, I remind noble Lords that we should not be reading out questions at Question Time.

Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, will the Minister agree that there is bound to be overcrowding in hospitals if we have a point of entry without any guaranteed point of exit? Therefore, unless social care is adequately funded and organised, we will always have this problem of overcrowding, particularly where old people are concerned. I would be very glad if he did not refer me to the better care fund as the answer to this, because it is already oversubscribed many times.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I will not refer to the better care fund, but I agree with the noble Baroness that flow through a hospital is essential. Blockages at the end of the flow can cause problems further down the line in A&E departments. I entirely agree with the noble Baroness’s analysis, but it is more complex than just looking at social care. Two-thirds of the delayed transfers of care are caused internally within the NHS, compared with only one-third by social care, but the noble Baroness makes a very strong point.

Lord Vinson: My Lords, is it not a fact that net immigration into this country is running at over 200,000 people a year, and possibly rising? Surely this has a huge bearing on the ability of the National Health Service to meet demand. That factor should be taken into consideration.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, the demand on the health service is rising for many reasons, of which the growing population is clearly one. However, without the extraordinary contribution made to the NHS by people who have emigrated here from other countries, we would not have an NHS at all.

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock (CB): My Lords, will the Minister comment on how we might prevent people going into hospital through much better structuring of community teams led by nurses? Last week, I was told at the Secretary of State’s conference on patient safety that the mean age of patients on a medical ward at Oxford was 83. When I was a ward sister, it was around 50.

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, clearly it must make more sense to provide better treatment for elderly people in their homes, away from hospitals, particularly for those with often multiple long-term conditions. One of the tragedies of government policy since 2000—this goes across both parties—is that, although the rhetoric has been about moving care out of hospitals into the community, it has been extremely difficult to do it.

Lord Watts (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister accept that, although they may not be the only cause, the cuts in social care have had a profound effect on

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overcrowding in our hospitals? Would it not be a good idea to reverse those cuts and take some of the pressures away from our hospitals?

Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, I think it is well understood that the integration of healthcare and social care is hugely important and that the two cannot be seen in isolation. It will be very interesting to see how things develop in Manchester, where we are going to see an experiment in the integration of health and social care on a very large scale.



3.07 pm

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, I shall now repeat as a Statement the Answer to an Urgent Question given earlier today by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary on Russia’s announcement of the withdrawal of its forces from Syria. The Statement is as follows:

“We have, of course, seen the media reports of a Russian withdrawal of forces, including a report this morning that the first group of Russian planes has left the Hmeimim airbase to return to Russia. However, I should tell the House that, as far as I have been able to determine, none of the members of the International Syria Support Group had any advance notice of this Russian announcement, and we have yet to see any detailed plans behind Russia’s announcement yesterday.

We do not yet have any independent evidence to verify Russia’s claims that military withdrawals have already begun. We are monitoring developments closely, and it will be important to judge Russia by its actions. It is worth remembering that Russia announced a withdrawal of forces in Ukraine which later turned out merely to be a routine rotation of forces. If this announcement represents a genuine decision by Russia to continue to de-escalate the military conflict, ensure compliance with the cessation of hostilities and encourage the Syrian regime to participate in peace negotiations in good faith, it will be welcome.

Now is the time for all parties to focus on the political negotiations, which resumed in Geneva yesterday. Only a political transition away from Assad’s rule to a Government representative of all Syrians will deliver the peace Syrians so desperately need and so ardently desire and give us a Government in Damascus able to focus on defeating terrorism and rebuilding Syria. There can be no peace in Syria while Assad remains in power. Russia has unique influence to help to make the negotiations succeed, and we sincerely hope that it will use it.

Since it came into force on 27 February, the cessation of hostilities has resulted in a significant reduction in violence in Syria. However, there has been a significant number of reports of violations, including the continued use of barrel bombs, which we have been discussing with our partners in the ISSG ceasefire task force in Geneva. We have serious concerns that the Assad regime has been using the cessation of hostilities to

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pursue its military objectives and that it is not serious about political negotiations. Swift action to address these violations is therefore vital to reduce the violence and show the Syrian people, including the Syrian opposition, that both Russia and the Assad regime are abiding by the terms of the cessation of hostilities. Failure to do so threatens the prospects for continued political negotiations.

We look to Russia, as guarantor for the regime and its backers, to use its unique influence to ensure compliance and to make clear to the Assad regime its expectation that it must negotiate in good faith. After investing so much in Assad, Mr Putin must show the world that he can exercise control over his protégé. At the same time, we call for complete and unfettered humanitarian access across Syria and an end to all violations of international humanitarian law, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

We are relieved that desperately needed aid convoys are now arriving in some besieged areas of Syria, including some of those named in the International Syria Support Group agreement of 11 February in Munich. It is imperative that that continues and, in particular, that access is provided to Darayya, which has not yet seen any deliveries. The Assad regime must lift all sieges and grant full and sustained humanitarian access across Syria.

No one will be more delighted than I if, after five months of relentless bombing, Russia is genuinely winding down its military support for the brutal Assad regime. But, as in all matters relating to Russia, it is the actions rather than the words that count. We shall be watching carefully over the coming days to see whether the announcement’s potential promise turns into reality”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.12 pm

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab): My Lords, we were all concerned by reports of indiscriminate attacks by the Russians in Syria, which, according to some human rights organisations, have caused the deaths of more than 1,700 civilians. The current cessation of hostilities, and the announcement of the withdrawal by Russian troops, therefore comes as a welcome break in a war that has lasted longer than the First World War and claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people.

What is being done to monitor the ceasefire? Will the withdrawal of Russian aircraft change the type of missions which the RAF and others in the anti-Daesh coalition are undertaking in Syria—and, if so, how? Finally, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria is due this week to present its report on war crimes committed by all sides. What prospect does the Minister see for any suspected war crimes being referred to the International Criminal Court, given that Syria is not a signatory to the Rome statute?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness. As the Statement makes clear, we have issued a cautious welcome to the Russian announcement. But it remains to be seen, over the coming days, how that announcement will convert into practical action—

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and, if so, what action. The noble Baroness is quite right that we have seen the predominance of Russian air strikes directed against targets other than Daesh. To that extent, we welcome Russia’s announcement of the withdrawal of its air forces. It is, however, fair to say that, since the ceasefire was announced some days ago, we have seen an adherence to it, as regards the moderate Syrian opposition, by Russian forces. We shall, of course, monitor the ceasefire very closely and there are various systems in place to do this. To the extent that we are aware of violations, we shall make sure to raise those in the appropriate quarters, not least in Geneva as the talks proceed.

As regards the RAF, we do not see the Russian announcement as affecting the objectives that the RAF has been given or the extent of its operations over both Iraq and Syria. What the Russian action may do, however, is make that situation slightly less complicated than it has been hitherto in terms of the crowded airspace that we have seen.

War crimes have been very much in our sights since the start of the Syrian hostilities. While they are not the prime focus of the negotiations in Geneva—there are other hurdles to get over before we reach that point—the noble Baroness can be sure that the issue will not be off our list of actions.

Baroness Jolly (LD): My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Answer and welcome the promising news of aid convoys. Russia has confirmed that it will still be operating from its naval and air bases in Syria, so might air operations still be anticipated against opposition forces?

Earl Howe: This is the very question that we are wrestling with. It is too early, frankly, to say what the Russians will be leaving behind in the way of assets. As the noble Baroness rightly points out, the Russians still have their naval base at Tartus and the Hmeimim air base, with a significant air defence network in place, and, no doubt, protective forces for all those installations. Whether the Russians will be in a position to resume air activities and strikes at will is something that we shall need to assess as the picture becomes clearer.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): Will my noble friend accept that nothing in Russia is, or ever has been, what it seems, and that the principle of maskirovka—that is, saying one thing and doing something quite different—is very well established? Can he tell us whether there has been any direct attempt at any level in government in the past 24 hours to find out from either Mr Putin, Mr Lavrov or the Kremlin policymakers exactly what they intend and are aiming to do? There are times when a direct dialogue, confusing though it is, is the most valuable way of deciding what steps next to take.

Earl Howe: It may be possible for me to give a more substantive answer to my noble friend as the days proceed. But he is absolutely right in what he says about our experience of the Russians, which is why I made it clear earlier that we need to judge Russia by its actions and not by its words. President Putin has

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committed to a political resolution to the conflict through UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Russia’s co-chairmanship of the International Syria Support Group is further evidence of that. President Putin told European leaders on 4 March that he agreed that now was the time to focus on the political process. He backed the timetable agreed in Vienna of a political agreement within six months and a schedule for the preparation of a new constitution and elections within 18 months. We are saying to Russia that it must use its influence to end the conflict once and for all, rather than prolong it, and we hope it chooses to do so.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, reverting to the question that was asked by the noble Baroness from the Opposition Front Bench a few moments ago, has the Minister had a chance to consider the unanimous resolution passed yesterday by the House of Representatives of the American Congress, declaring events to be a genocide, following in the footsteps of both the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe? Does he not agree that the time now is right for this country to consider passing such a resolution, invoking whatever judicial procedures are necessary to bring that about, and to bring the matter up at the Security Council, pressing for a referral to the International Criminal Court, in the light of the monstrous acts of barbarism by ISIS and others that have taken place?

Earl Howe: My Lords, we have noted with deep concern and condemnation the actions to which the noble Lord refers. We have also noted the resolution that he mentioned. As he knows, however, it has been the consistent position of the Government, and that of Governments before us, that any resolution declaring genocide is a matter for the judicial system rather than the Government. But that does not alter the facts on the ground, which are truly dire. We are very concerned that these matters should be given the due weight and prominence that they undoubtedly deserve in the negotiations.

Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, it is early days yet, but what is the Government’s best analysis of the fact that there was no consultation, which hardly suggests that the Russians are prepared to play the team game in respect of the peace process? Is there not a danger that the Russians’ withdrawal, and possibly political differences with the Assad regime, might embolden ISIL and push back Assad’s forces?

Earl Howe: The noble Lord is quite right that there are a number of possible explanations for the Russians’ decision. We cannot yet read the correct one. All we can do at the moment is to say publicly, as we have, that if President Putin means what he says and Russia truly puts its weight behind holding the Assad regime and its allies to the terms of the cessation of hostilities, and to participating in the peace negotiations in good faith, then we hope that rapid progress towards a peaceful resolution can be achieved. I am afraid that it is too early for us to diagnose the precise trigger for the Russian actions; we can only monitor.

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Lord Campbell of Pittenweem (LD): My Lords, is it not necessary to retain a sense of realism about these matters, not least because Mr Putin has achieved all his strategic objectives? He has managed to buttress the Assad regime, at least for the moment. As has already been pointed out, he has retained the military base at Latakia and the port of Tartus. There can be no settlement of the Syrian question without the endorsement of Russia. It may not be game, set and match to Mr Putin, but it is most certainly game and set.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I can only agree with a great deal of what the noble Lord has said, but one cannot help observing at the same time that Russia’s stated aims and its actions in Syria have been at odds with one another. It remains to be seen whether its withdrawal leaves the Syrian regime in a stronger or weaker position. I am not so sure that the noble Lord is right that the Russians have left at an optimal moment from the point of view of the Assad regime. Certainly, Assad is stronger than he was six months ago, but his position is by no means secure.

Trade Union Bill

Order of Consideration Motion

3.22 pm

Tabled by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 15, Schedules 1 and 2, Clauses 16 and 17, Schedule 3, Clauses 18 and 19, Schedule 4, Clauses 20 to 23, Title.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe, I beg to move the Motion in her name on the Order Paper.

Motion agreed.

Immigration Bill

Report (2nd Day)

3.24 pm

Clause 37: Offence of leasing premises

Amendment 59

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

59: Clause 37, page 23, line 14, leave out “and second” and insert “, second and third”

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Paddick and I have a number of amendments in this group. Underlying all of them is a concern about all the so-called right-to-rent provisions—and indeed those provisions in the 2014 Act—and our view that there should be much longer experience of the current

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regime before criminalising non-compliance with it. My Amendment 67, which is more specific than Amendment 66, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and more robust, in particular deals with this. Noble Lords will be familiar with the short piloting of the requirements in the 2014 Act, the announcement of their rollout beyond the West Midlands pilot area before the six-month pilot came to an end and the publication of the evaluation of the pilot merely hours before these clauses were debated in Committee in the Commons.

My Amendment 67 picks up on concerns and criticisms of the scheme from the evaluation by the Home Office and on work done in particular by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. The proposed new Section 33C(8) lists issues which were highlighted and which would be impacted. The amendment would require an independent assessment,

“based on information from a representative sample”.

The 2014-15 pilot was much criticised on this score, as it comprised substantially students, with few people who actually moved during the period, so they had not experienced the new rules.

My amendment would also require an assessment over an adequate period, with publication not before five years from the start of the pilot. Noble Lords will also be aware of the panel co-chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Best, which continues to oversee the scheme and which has instigated changes. I do not for a moment doubt what the noble Lord, Lord Best, has told us of the workings of the committee, but since the minutes of its meetings are not published, we are not able to look at them in the way that we would want to. The evaluation should of course be based on rigorous data collection.

The regime affects tenants and would-be tenants, landlords and landlords’ agents, and when it was rolled out some months ago there were very many negative comments. It was interesting that when we had a debate a couple of weeks ago in this Chamber, it was apparent that some Members of your Lordships’ House who were landlords did not know of the requirements. So it seems to us that the scheme should be as dependable and defensible as possible before a landlord becomes liable to be criminalised, and this amendment allows for that. Criminalisation is very significant: a fine is qualitatively different from a civil penalty of the same amount.

Our Amendments 59, 60 and 61 would protect landlords. New Section 33A, which we are presented with in the Bill, sets out two conditions or matters which would give rise to an offence. My amendment would add a third—that previously the landlord should have been required to pay a penalty, so that a landlord is not liable to be criminalised on the first occasion he infringes. I am aware of course that there would be an assessment by the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether it is in the public interest to prosecute and so on, but I simply do not think that an individual in that situation should be subject to criminalisation. The Minister may respond by saying, “What about the flagrantly bad landlords—those who overcrowd, force people into substandard conditions and so on?”. But we have other housing legislation and we should not be using immigration legislation to deal with this abuse.

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The second condition deals with premises being—including becoming—occupied by an adult who is not qualified to have the right to rent and the landlord’s knowledge. I hope that the Minister can explain whether there is a distinction between the obligations of a landlord and of a landlord’s agent, because the equivalent provision in the 2014 Act, at Section 22(6), requires reasonable inquiries to be made. I find it difficult to see how this fits with new Section 33A.

The Minister’s Amendment 62 does not deal with the positive action of authorising occupation. If we are not to have that, I support Amendment 65, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising. The defence of having taken reasonable steps to terminate the tenancy within a reasonable period is an improvement, as far as it goes, but that is not nearly far enough. What is reasonable is to be determined by the court, which is fine, but having regard to the Secretary of State’s guidance, which, to me at any rate, is not fine. My Amendment 63 would remove new subsections (5B) and (5C). What is reasonable should speak for itself, and the courts are not short of experience in assessing what is reasonable. But if something is reasonable only subject to certain matters, they should be set out in legislation, not unamendable guidance—or at any rate guidance that will be amendable by the Government and will not be certain.

Amendments 67A to 71 deal with evictions. The new section in Clause 38 is headed, “Termination of agreement where all occupiers disqualified”. In the Commons Public Bill Committee, the Minister said that Home Office notices would be issued only when it is clear that all the occupiers are illegal migrants. I do not doubt that that is the intention, but I am concerned that new Section 33D(2)(b)—I apologise to noble Lords for all the cross-references—might be read as referring to particular occupiers, as long as they were the subject of notices, especially as in the preceding paragraph, paragraph (a), there is a reference to “all”.

3.30 pm

Amendment 67B provides that notice to quit should be enforceable as if it were by the county court, not the High Court. The reason for this is that I understand that High Court enforcement officers, unlike county court bailiffs, do not give notice that they are going to turn up. Noble Lords who have dealt with situations of eviction will know that it is important to make arrangements for children of a household not to be present at the time of eviction.

My other amendments repeat Committee amendments tabled by the Labour Front Bench, which we supported and which would make eviction discretionary for the court, not mandatory. For instance, what if an asylum claim fails but the person is unable to return to his country of origin? What if the tenant cannot evidence his right to rent? The Home Office checking service cannot be accessed by tenants; it is available only to landlords and their agents. The tenant’s circumstances cannot be taken into account if the eviction is mandatory.

The Minister told the Public Bill Committee that a reference to a,

“Home Office notice is a clear statement of immigration status”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, Immigration Bill Committee, 29/10/15; col. 263.]

15 Mar 2016 : Column 1740

But it does not extend to the tenant’s circumstances of, for instance, disability, pregnancy or having a family including very young children. I should tell the House that the Equality and Human Rights Commission supports these amendments, providing safeguards against breaches of Articles 8 and 14 of the convention.

I do not want to leave it to the Home Office to decide not to require eviction. Once the eviction process starts, it will tend to roll onwards in an inevitable fashion. The court should have the discretion to take account of varied and difficult situations. Nor—and I say this about all the provisions—do I want to see landlords or their agents made criminals because they do not fulfil all the duties of immigration enforcement imposed on them by this Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Rosser (Lab): We have an amendment in this group which would prevent the new offences that could be committed by landlords and their agents coming into effect until an evaluation of the Immigration Act right-to-rent provisions has been made and laid before Parliament. As has been said, the Bill creates new criminal offences for landlords and letting agents who do not comply with the right-to-rent scheme, under which they are required to check immigration status documents to avoid unlawful letting or landlords and letting agents who fail to evict tenants who do not have the right to rent, with a maximum sentence of five years.

The Government have put down an amendment that provides a defence for a landlord accused of renting to a disqualified person—that they did not know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that the person was disqualified. That is a defence that is available if the landlord, if discovering or coming to have reasonable cause to believe this has taken “reasonable steps” to end the tenancy “within a reasonable period”. While we welcome the government amendment, it does not of course address the problem that the new offences are likely to create—that they will probably result in at least some landlords taking a risk-averse approach by letting primarily to white British persons with passports. Could the Minister indicate, as regards the government amendment, what kind of guidance, covering what questions or considerations, will be issued by the Secretary of State under proposed new subsection (5B), in government Amendment 62?

The Home Office has carried out an evaluation of the proposed national scheme, which was first introduced in the West Midlands. It was published last October. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants carried out an independent evaluation, which was published in September last year and showed that some 42% of landlords said that the right-to-rent provisions made them less likely to consider accommodating someone who did not have a British passport. The Home Office evaluation of the West Midlands pilot was limited in its scope; just 68 tenants were interviewed, nearly all of whom were students. It still found that a higher proportion of BME mystery shoppers were asked to provide more information during rental inquiries than other mystery shoppers. Polling last year has already shown that among landlords making decisions on who to let to, around half say that the Immigration Act right-to-rent checks will

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make them less likely to consider letting to people who do not hold British passports or who “appear to be migrants”. There is a real danger that families who have every right to rent will be passed over by landlords because they lack passports or other obvious documentation of their immigration status.

The right-to-rent scheme was extended across the UK from the West Midlands from the beginning of last month. Is it really too much to ask, in view of the possible adverse consequences of these new criminal offences, under the right-to-rent scheme, that the introduction of the new criminal offences should be delayed until a full evaluation of the impact of the right-to-rent scheme nationally has been carried out?

The reality is that without such an evaluation the Government can give no meaningful or evidence- based assurances that the concerns that have been and are being voiced about the potential adverse impact on many of the one in four families in England who now rent privately of the introduction of the new criminal offences under the right-to-rent scheme will not materialise if more landlords adopt a risk-averse approach to letting. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a sympathetic response to this issue when he replies.

Lord Howard of Rising (Con): My Lords, I rise to speak to my Amendment 65 in this group, and I declare an interest as the owner of rented accommodation. I made the point in Committee that it can be difficult for the owners of rented property to continually monitor what is happening in their property. It is fine to carry out checks when letting a property, but for a landlord to know on a continual basis who is living in that property can, depending on the circumstances, be very difficult, if not impossible. If it were that easy, there would not be a problem in the first place; the authorities would have prevented the illegal immigration.

The Minister said in Committee that new Section 33A(3) of the Immigration Bill 2014 provides adequate protection to landlords. The Explanatory Notes state that the offences in the provision apply,

“where any adult is occupying the premises, regardless of whether the adult is a tenant under or is named in the agreement”.

I do not quite have the noble Lord’s confidence that there is adequate protection for the landlord. The Minister said in Committee that this legislation is,

“not intended to be used against reputable landlords who may have made a genuine mistake”.—[

Official Report,

20/1/16; col. 892.]

As time goes by, it is the legislation that governs actions, not the intentions behind the legislation. The good intentions to which the Minister referred may have been long forgotten and therefore may not prevent the overzealous pursuing the small reputable landlord, against whom the legislation is not intended to be directed.

Can the Minister explain a bit further how the protection about which he spoke in Committee would work? After all, 58% of the rented property in this country is let by people with fewer than five properties—the small property owners—and I do not believe that those smaller landlords should be exposed to a disproportionate or unreasonable risk.

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Earl Cathcart (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Bates for tabling his government amendments. In my mind, it certainly makes the situation better, but maybe not perfect. I understand that the Government wish to tackle the rogue landlords who deliberately flout the law by knowingly taking in illegals as tenants. However, the Bill, as written, uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut by criminalising all landlords, even if they have done everything reasonably possible to confirm the status of a tenant and are actively seeking to evict a tenant they have been told does not have the right to rent.

I would like to explore how the government amendments would work in practice. I am happy to say that in my 30-odd years of being a landlord, I have never had to evict anybody, so this is new territory for me. Suppose one of my tenants in Norfolk was of Middle Eastern extraction with a Greek passport. As I do not know what a valid Greek passport looks like—other than like my British passport, but all in Greek—I send it off to one of those passport verification agencies. It gives me the all-clear and the tenant moves in. Subsequently, I receive a letter from the Immigration Enforcement office—in King’s Lynn, in my case—giving me notice that the tenant is an illegal with a fake passport. The government amendments say that I have a defence if I have,

“taken reasonable steps to terminate the residential tenancy agreement … within a reasonable period”,

beginning with the time when I first knew that he was illegal. Therefore I write to the tenant to evict him, with reasons, giving him so many days or weeks to vacate the premises. However, the tenant, realising that he has been rumbled, scarpers at once and disappears into another part of the country to become a tenant of some other unsuspecting landlord.

3.45 pm

This cannot be the right answer. I would have thought that the immigration enforcement officers would want to interview the tenant before I made him aware that his collar was being felt. Would not the enforcement officer want to confiscate the forged documents and maybe take the illegal to some holding camp? In which case, the job is done for me: the illegal has been removed from my property. If not, what is the point of it all—of allowing or giving the illegal the opportunity to escape into another area? Therefore there needs to be some joined-up thinking to ensure that the Government achieve their stated aims.

Government amendment 62 says that,

“the court must have regard to any guidance”,

but it says little about what the guidance will contain and what it will be directed to. Will it say what the steps to terminate a tenancy are? Will the enforcement officers ask the landlord not to send the eviction letter until after they have interviewed and maybe taken the tenant into custody? What is a reasonable timescale? I have to give two months’ notice to evict a legal tenant to give them sufficient time to find another home to rent. However, for an illegal, it should surely be a matter of days, not weeks. Will the guidance be clear about the circumstances in which financial or criminal sanctions would or would not be made against a landlord?

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I thank my noble friend for bringing forward these government amendments. They are an improvement but some questions still remain unanswered.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendment 66 in particular. It is telling that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has expressed its support for this and other amendments in this grouping because of its concerns that the Government have not complied with the public sector equality duty with reference to this clause.

I will come back to a couple of issues which I raised earlier and which I do not feel have been adequately addressed. The first is the issue raised by the late and much missed Lord Avebury, which concerned asylum seekers who live in the private rented sector but who lack the necessary documentary proof that they are entitled to be here. According to ILPA, which has been pursuing this issue, a commitment by the Minister’s predecessor to provide necessary documentation to show that they have a right to rent was not followed through.

In the Immigration Act 2014 order debate on 24 February, the Minister referred to special procedures to ensure that they are protected. However, JCWI already has evidence that these are not working, and argues that a clear policy on this is vital. From reading its latest briefing, I realise that there is a wider problem here, which also affects individuals who face barriers to removal from the UK. There is no clear policy from the Secretary of State that enables them to obtain permission to rent. The same is true of those with outstanding applications whose documents are likely to be with the Home Office, so they are unable to provide landlords with the necessary documentation.

JCWI cites a freedom of information request which elicited that the Home Office has no plans to enable individuals to obtain evidence of the right to rent. JCWI states:

“The absence of a defined process by which individuals can obtain permission to rent, or evidence it, increases the risk of discrimination and limits their access to the private rental market”.

It argues:

“A clear policy must be put in place outlining when an how permission to rent is to be granted, as well as confirmation of the ‘right to rent’ where tenants have an outstanding application, and a process through which tenants can request written proof from the Secretary of State. Where a person is made destitute as a result, this could amount to a breach of their Articles 8, 14 and even Article 3 rights under the European Convention of Human Rights”.

I urge the Minister to take this away and look at what may be a marginal issue but is very important for a highly vulnerable group. I urge him to come back, either in a letter or at Third Reading, with some assurances that the kind of policy called for by the JCWI will be established.

The other issue that I want to come back to was raised in Committee, in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, who I do not think is in his place, in a demolition job of the whole policy. I refer to the impact on lodgers—an even less professional group perhaps than the small landlords whom noble Lords opposite have talked about—and on those opening up their homes to lodgers, possibly because of the bedroom tax.

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After raising this issue previously, I received an email from Matt Hutchinson of SpareRoom, who works with hundreds and thousands of people living in shared rented accommodation each year and with landlords and homeowners taking in lodgers. He believes that the complex issues thrown up by the legislation are not being adequately addressed. First, he is concerned about the potential discriminatory impact. He says that he has already had one request from a landlord to make it compulsory for tenants to state their nationality on SpareRoom to make it easier to discount non-UK tenants.

Secondly, he is concerned about the likely reduction in the supply of rooms just as the new rent-a-room tax threshold was supposed to encourage people to rent out rooms. How many home owners will want to carry out the necessary checks on just one individual coming into their home?

Thirdly, he is concerned about the lack of information for this sector. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that non-professional landlords, who probably do not even think of themselves as landlords, and those taking in lodgers are aware of their new duties? Mr Hutchinson raises the situation of flat-sharers. If in a group situation, say, one person moves out and the others sublet to a new tenant, are they jointly and severally liable? How can they tell? How will they be expected to carry out meaningful checks with any degree of certainty? Thinking back to my own days of flat-sharing when I first came to London many years ago, the whole thing seems totally unrealistic.

The fears that many of us raised at Second Reading about the discriminatory effects of these clauses have not been allayed. Instead, we are receiving briefings from the EHCR, the Residential Landlords Association, SpareRoom, those working with immigrants and civil liberty groups, all expressing deep concern. It is adding criminal insult to civil injury to go ahead with this clause without much better information about how the current scheme works when it is rolled out nationally.

Baroness Ludford (LD): My Lords, I fully support the amendments in the names of my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Paddick and other noble Lords, which would require an evaluation before the scheme is fully rolled out. The remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, certainly illustrated the absurdity of the fact that immigration enforcement might be undermined. If the top priority is to make sure that people who do not have a legal status in the country are removed, that immigration control will be completely undermined by requiring an eviction, whereby people might scarper elsewhere before the immigration authorities have a chance to catch up with them. That shows the absurdity of trying to outsource immigration control, because you end up tripping up over it. I am very interested to hear the Minister’s response on that.

I want to ask the Minister about the practicalities. I confess that I am not familiar with all the different documentation, but I have looked at a three year-old Home Office document about biometric residence permits. I do not know the extent of the rollout of biometric residence permits, but the document says that migrants applying successfully in categories in which they do

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not have to enrol their biometrics will continue to receive a sticker, a vignette, in their passport. Can the Minister give us an idea of what proportion of legal migrants are getting biometric residence permits, those who still have stickers in their passports and those who do not have either, such as asylum seekers who might have an array of letters from the Home Office? I am not up to speed with the practicalities, so perhaps the Minister can give us an idea.

My underlying concern is the practical difficulties for people, such as landlords, who are not immigration specialists to know how they are supposed to recognise this. The point was made by the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, about the possibility of a passport having been checked but it is fake. Even without that happening, how are people supposed to recognise through the documentation and be really clear about whether someone has legal status or not?

Baroness Sheehan (LD): My Lords, racial discrimination is a funny thing, I have found. It takes many varied and sometimes surprising forms. For instance, I recall a time when I was with a school friend at my house. An aunt happened to be with us, and her words were probably my first brush with colour prejudice. They were addressed to my mother and they were this: “Do you allow black people into your house?”. Another recollection that may be useful here was a couple of decades later, when, in chatting to a friend, I mentioned how frustrating it was sometimes to have a Pakistani name. Her response was surprising. She said that she thought I suffered much less prejudice than she did. She felt that her strong northern accent and working-class roots—she was a miner’s daughter from Mansfield—worked against her more than my name worked against me. I mention these two cases to illustrate that the way you look and the way you sound influence the way people judge you, consciously or not. It is government’s job to put in place legislation that discourages rather than reinforces our prejudices. This entire Bill seems determined to do the reverse.

At this stage, I am going to confine the rest of my remarks to the measures in the right-to-rent clause. The fears expressed about this clause during discussions about what is now the Immigration Act 2014 included discrimination against black and ethnic-minority communities; discrimination against the 17% of British citizens who do not have a passport, among them some of the most vulnerable people in society, including homeless people and those fleeing domestic violence, as the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has noted on several occasions; victims of modern-day slavery; and those caught in the mangle of the Home Office’s systems. These concerns were supposed to be evaluated by the West Midlands pilot, with its remit to test the effects and the effectiveness of these measures. However, these concerns are enhanced by the proposed escalation in the penalties faced by landlords, who now potentially face up to five years in prison. The fear is that they will be further incentivised to err on the side of caution and favour renting to those who present the least risk and who can produce immediately paperwork that they recognise. I repeat: vulnerable people with the right to rent who cannot immediately provide necessary

15 Mar 2016 : Column 1746

documentation will find themselves and their families without a roof over their heads. To take up a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister: what about the charitable families who offer a spare room free of charge to refugees or homeless migrants? Will they, too, be treated as criminals?

4 pm

Assurances were given to Parliament that any decision on further rollout would take place only after a transparent public evaluation. The evaluation was anything but satisfactory. The Home Office’s own statement acknowledges that sample sizes were small; that only a limited number of voluntary sector and housing associations were interviewed; and that the majority of tenants had not moved properties since the start of the pilot and would not therefore have had any experience of the scheme. Nor does the pilot definitively conclude that it has met the aims set out by the Government. In fact, the Government’s analysis of the effectiveness of the right-to-rent scheme in identifying illegal immigrants was flawed by the lack of “before” and “after” data. They have no baseline against which to declare that the draconian measures were in any way justified. So I ask the Minister whether between now and Third Reading he will provide satisfactory evidence that shows that the pilot evaluated the effectiveness of the scheme in identifying and apprehending illegal immigrants.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, as the vice-chair of the parliamentary group for children and young people in care and leaving care, and in declaring my interest as a residential landlord, I want briefly to follow up on the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister—in the absence of Lord Avebury—regarding those people who may have difficulty returning to their home country but who have perhaps exhausted appeals so far in the immigration arrangements. The Minister is well aware that this Bill changes the circumstances for about 750 young people who have been in foster care or in children’s homes and who have turned the age of 18, and takes them out of the normal care-leaving protections that are offered generally.

The Minister has been very helpful and recognises the vulnerability of this group—we have met to discuss them. I have amendments relating to them which we will deal with on our next day on Report. In that discussion, I would be grateful if the Minister could reassure me that no young people leaving care who may be exempted from the normal care-leaver protections and have difficulty returning home will have difficulty in finding a place to rent because they cannot prove that it is safe for a landlord to rent to them.

Lord Hylton (CB): Before the Minister replies, can he link the request from my noble friend with Amendment 113 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Llandudno?

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, I thank noble Lords for this short debate. As this is a fresh part of the Bill, perhaps I may put on record that my wife is a small-scale private sector landlord. I will structure my response first by

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speaking to the government amendments in this group which stand in my name and then seek to devote the rest of the time, which I think will be needed, to addressing the many points which have been raised.

It is important that we place this debate in some context. We had a significant debate on this issue at Second Reading. Following that, I wrote extensively to noble Lords seeking to provide some reassurances. We revisited the issue in Committee and further letters were sent. We also had what I thought was a very productive meeting on 11 February at the Home Office to which all interested Peers were invited, and we were delighted to have with us at that point the noble Lord, Lord Best, who cannot be with us today but who co-chairs the landlords consultative panel, to guide us through some of the working. A lot of reassurances were offered then but there were some outstanding issues of concern. In that context I will be referring to a letter I sent on 7 March to my noble friend Lord Howard of Rising, a copy of which is in the Library, which provides further reassurances on certain specific points that were made. Lastly, we are bringing forward today government amendments within this group. I have set this out as context to reassure all noble Lords that the Government are listening carefully to the concerns being raised and will continue to do so as the scheme is rolled out.

As I say, the Government have listened to the concerns about the effect that these provisions could have, which is a fear of prosecution on the part of genuine landlords. Government Amendment 62 provides a further defence for landlords who, once they know that they are renting to an illegal migrant or have reasonable cause to believe that that is the case, take steps to end a tenancy within a reasonable period. The amendment also provides that the courts must have regard to any statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State in determining whether the landlord has proved that the defence applies on the balance of probabilities. This guidance must be laid before Parliament before being issued subject to the negative resolution procedure. The guidance will provide reassurance to landlords about the sorts of steps and periods of time which the Home Office considers reasonable and unreasonable in these circumstances. I understand that the Residential Landlords Association warmly welcomes the amendment, so I hope that it offers some reassurance.

Government Amendment 64 makes a minor change to the drafting, the effect of which will mean that, where an offence has been committed, it will not serve to render the terms of any tenancy agreement invalid or unenforceable on the grounds of illegality.

Government Amendment 72 seeks to remove a provision in Clause 40 that permits the Secretary of State to amend, repeal or revoke any enactment contained in this Bill. This follows a recommendation made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, to which we wrote in response to its report, which of course the Government fully accept. I shall be moving the government amendments in due course.

I turn now to the points that were raised in the debate by my noble friends Lord Howard of Rising and Lord Cathcart. In my letter dated 7 March, I wrote as follows:

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“The ‘reasonable cause to believe’ threshold is a very high one. Its inclusion in addition to the ‘knows’ threshold arguably makes it easier to successfully prosecute the landlord who is fully aware that there are illegal migrants in his or her property and deliberately turns a blind eye, or the landlord who has all the pieces at their disposal to know that he or she is renting to an illegal migrant. For a successful prosecution in such cases, the fact that the landlord is renting to a disqualified person would still have to be the only reasonable conclusion the landlord could draw from the information available to them. For example, a landlord who had undertaken all of the relevant right to rent checks in accordance with his obligations under the scheme”—

including Greek passports in the example given—

“but had no idea that he had been deceived by a good quality fraudulent document, or a landlord whose tenants had subsequently moved occupiers who were disqualified from renting into the property without his knowledge, would never satisfy the mens rea for commission of this offence”.

I hope that that offers some reassurance to my noble friends.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked about care leavers. If they have lawful status, they will have the right to rent. If not, but there are genuine obstacles to their return, permission to rent is likely to apply.

The noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, raised a number of issues relating to prejudice. I was particularly concerned about prejudice against people with northern accents in this regard.

Baroness Sheehan: I just want to say that my good friend is now a judge, so it was not an insurmountable barrier.

Lord Bates: What a sweet prospect—a judge with a northern accent. That is a very fine example of social mobility under the modern government procedures that we have—I should quickly move on.

The noble Baroness asked how the scheme is working in terms of the detention of illegal migrants, and the serving of penalty notices. The scheme has now been in operation for over a year and has led to the detection of illegal migrants. The evaluation document that was produced, to which I draw the noble Baroness’s attention, pointed to 37 immigration enforcement visits which took place during that time. More than a hundred individuals were identified who did not have the required legal documentation to be here. The scheme is now in operation. The extension of the scheme across England has worked smoothly, and further illegal migrants have been detected.

In terms of restrictions that are already in place to access social housing, it is reasonable to expect that migrants who remain here without permission should regularise their position or leave the UK. Successive Governments have sought to ensure that the immigration system is fair. In fact, we discussed this in Committee when the point was made that for some time—from about 1999—it has been a requirement on social landlords in the public sector to carry out checks that the person has the right to be here. We are now extending that into the private sector.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, asked about the evaluation and said that she did not feel that it demonstrated that the scheme had achieved its aim. The statement in the evaluation report that just “26 referrals” of irregular migrants were specifically

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related to the scheme is a partial and selective quotation of the research report. As the evaluation report makes clear, this number specifically related to referrals,

“formally recorded on the Home Office’s intelligence database within the first six months of the scheme. More intelligence referrals had been received but were not recorded in this database as they were sent directly to enforcement teams”.

As stated in the evaluation report, in the first six months of the scheme in phase one,

“109 individuals … were identified, of whom 63 were previously unknown to the Home Office”.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, raised the issue of the evaluation that was carried out by JCWI and the YouGov poll. These findings are at odds with the Home Office’s wide-ranging evaluation—specifically the mystery-shopping exercise carried out by independent contractors examining discrimination and documentation issues as one of the mystery-shopping scenarios involved a prospective tenant who did not hold a passport.

My noble friend Lord Howard asked what would happen if a person moves into a property without the landlord’s knowledge. I think I have dealt with this already, but the landlord will fall liable for the offence only if they have knowingly let the property to an illegal immigrant and have done so having reasonable cause to believe that the tenant or occupant is a disqualified person, or where they have subsequently become aware that someone disqualified is renting or occupying their property.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, asked a fair question about permission-to-rent guidelines and advised me to write to her on that. I am very happy to give an undertaking that I will do so and hope that that will be helpful. We do not accept the suggestion that the policy conflicts with the public sector equality duty. The Home Office prepared a policy equality statement and took into consideration the results of a thorough evaluation of the scheme in discharging this duty. Both the statement and the evaluation focused on the potential for discrimination; the findings of both are in the public domain. Having set out our criteria, we consider that it should, in most cases, be clear to migrants whether they have a right to rent or are likely to be given permission to rent. It is not something that we expect people to apply for, but it is open to any migrant to contact the Home Office about their case.

4.15 pm

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about the eviction of families with children. The new powers of eviction are invoked only where the Home Office has served the required notice. The provisions that allow eviction without a court process can be utilised only where there is a Home Office notice in respect of each of the known occupants, including any children. A landlord will have to give the family 28 days’ notice and the Home Office will be in contact with families so that the eviction will not come as a surprise. A landlord may still evict using the existing routes to eviction, such as the so-called no-fault process under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998, or where they have other grounds for eviction under Section 8 of that Act. Even under these existing routes for eviction,

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a landlord may apply for the possession order to be enforced by High Court enforcement officers, rather than by county court bailiffs, which was a particular point that the noble Baroness referred to.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked what “reasonable” meant regarding the steps and period of time taken. Guidance and guidelines will be provided on the actions that constitute “reasonable steps” or a reasonable period of time to terminate the agreement. They will cover a range of different situations in which a landlord may find himself or herself. The question of what is reasonable will be affected by factors such as the nature of the residential tenancy agreement and the particular obstacles to the termination of an agreement in a particular case. The guidance will provide reassurance to landlords where they are taking reasonable steps to end a residential tenancy agreement in a timely way. It will be laid in draft before Parliament and brought into force by regulations subject to the negative procedure.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raised a point on awareness of the scheme. Since the announcement on 20 October that the right-to-rent scheme would be extended across England, Home Office representatives have attended, and delivered presentations at, around 40 events across England, directly reaching almost 1,000 landlords and letting agents. Those are estimates from local figures. The events ranged in size from 15 to 150 delegates. They have included a wide range of delegates, including those from local authorities, housing associations and letting agencies, and private landlords. There are now trained experts on right to rent in each immigration compliance and enforcement team in England, who will lead local engagement in the coming months alongside the network of local partnership managers in the interventions and sanctions directorate. A survey conducted in June and July 2015 found that more than half of landlords surveyed were aware of the right-to-rent scheme. This was many months before the Government announced the rollout across England and the associated communications strategy.

On the suggestion that the evaluation sample sizes were small, the surveys carried out by the Home Office and its contractors need to be seen as part of a much broader research design, which also encompassed focus groups with landlords, agents, tenants and 332 mystery-shopping encounters. We understand the criticism of our contractors’ survey that the majority of tenants were students. However, issues for prospective tenants, especially on discrimination, were explored through the mystery-shopping exercise, which was based on 332 encounters.

I have answered the point on reasonable timescales. My noble friend Lord Cathcart asked about illegal situations. Illegal migrants cannot go somewhere else in England to rent because they would fail the right-to-rent checks. It is also a requirement on landlords to report to the Home Office if a tenant disappears. The noble Earl asked about migrants evading detection. The right-to-rent scheme and the offences both penalise landlords and agents for failure to notify the Home Office once they detect someone disqualified from renting in their property.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, asked about the JCWI’s briefing, which I think I dealt with.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about the Home Office’s evaluation of the first six months. That is published. We have produced about 173 pages of evaluation over three documents and are also using outside organisations to do this.

On the distinction between agent and landlord obligations, the right to rent requires responsible landlords and agents to make reasonable inquiries when entering into tenancies. Landlord offences concern failure to terminate tenancies or to notify. The new agent offences concern failure only to notify.

On Clauses 38 and 39 and permission to rent, it is open to tenants to contact the Home Office about any notice served on them by a landlord where they consider that there is a question about their status.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about the defence of reasonable steps. It is important to ensure that we can modify guidance in the light of experience. Doing so in statutory guidance with proper scrutiny by Parliament is the best way to achieve that.

On opposition Amendments 68 to 71 and mandatory grounds for eviction, the question was whether this would not simply encourage illegal evictions. Landlords will need to comply with the law and any attempts to remove tenants by force, duress or threat would constitute illegal eviction. Further, in order to evict with reliance on this ground, the court would need to be satisfied not only that the Home Office had served notice in respect of the person but also that the person was disqualified from renting by virtue of their immigration status.

Finally, a number of serious points were raised around the area of potential discrimination. The Government take this extremely seriously. The point we made through the evaluation was certainly not that discrimination does not occur. However, when we compared the discrimination that was there, sadly, in the system in the area where we carried out the pilot, the rate of discrimination was, using mystery shopping, comparable to that in a control area—another area. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, reminded us, it is extremely important to remind landlords of their existing obligation, which is underpinned by the code of practice on avoiding discriminatory behaviour. The guidance available to landlords makes it very clear that discrimination is unlawful. In any respect of this, that is the one matter we would like to make sure is abundantly clear.

If there are any issues that I have failed to cover, of course I will write. However, I think I have covered most of the issues raised. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness might consider withdrawing her amendment.

The Earl of Listowel: I welcome what the Minister said about the guidance with regard to families and landlords. I am sure he is aware of the increasing evidence that the early bond between mother and child is vital in the later development of children. Perhaps next time he looks at the guidance in this area, he could look at any particular stipulations around pregnant women and women with children under two, just to be absolutely sure that we are doing the very best to keep them under the minimum stress at this particularly important time of family life.

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Lord Bates: It is absolutely right for the noble Earl to draw attention to that. I certainly give him that undertaking. We will bear in mind those particular points precisely when we construct the guidance which will be laid before Parliament.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful to everyone who piled in on this. Again, there is an awful lot that we are not going to agree on—but I will not repeat all the arguments I made in moving my amendment. However, I should make it clear that I was asking not about publication of the Home Office’s evaluation but about the work of the panel of the noble Lord, Lord Bates. I think that that is a separate issue.

Lord Bates: The noble Baroness raised that point in Committee. I went back to James Brokenshire and asked him whether the minutes could be published. That issue will be raised at the next meeting of the consultative panel. Because other private sector groups are involved there is, of course, a need to get their permission before any action of that kind could be taken. But that issue will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the consultative panel.

Baroness Hamwee: I am glad to hear that because it means that the last hour may not have been in vain. I still have concerns about mandatory conviction, discrimination—whether because or in spite of my intermittent Mancunian accent, I am not sure—and criminalisation. My amendment and that of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, cover very much the same ground and we have discussed this. He asked for sympathy from the Minister. He always gets sympathy from this Minister. Therefore, I assume that he will not lead the troops to support the continuing pilot, if you like, which is the subject of both our amendments. Therefore, very sadly, as I do not want to take up the time of the House, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 59 withdrawn.

Amendments 60 and 61 not moved.

Amendment 62

Moved by Lord Bates

62: Clause 37, page 23, line 35, at end insert—

“(5A) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that—

(a) the person has taken reasonable steps to terminate the residential tenancy agreement, and

(b) the person has taken such steps within a reasonable period beginning with the time when the person first knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the premises were occupied by the adult mentioned in subsections (2) and (3).

(5B) In determining whether subsection (5A)(a) or (b) applies to a person, the court must have regard to any guidance which, at the time in question, had been issued by the Secretary of State for the purposes of that subsection and was in force at that time.

(5C) Guidance issued for the purposes of subsection (5A)—

(a) must be laid before Parliament in draft before being issued, and

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(b) comes into force in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State.”

Amendment 63 (to Amendment 62) not moved.

Amendment 62 agreed.

Amendment 64

Moved by Lord Bates

64: Clause 37, page 23, line 36, leave out “subsections (1) to (5)” and insert “subsection (1)”

Amendment 64 agreed.

Amendments 65 to 67 not moved.

Clause 38: Eviction

Amendments 67A and 67B not moved.

Clause 39: Order for possession of dwelling-house

Amendments 68 to 71 not moved.

Clause 40: Extension to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Amendment 72

Moved by Lord Bates

72: Clause 40, page 31, line 18, leave out “(including an enactment contained in this Act)”

Amendment 72 agreed.

Amendment 73

Moved by Lord Hope of Craighead

73: Clause 40, page 31, line 20, at end insert—

“( ) Regulations under subsection (2) which relate to Scotland may only be made with the consent of the Scottish Parliament.”

Lord Hope of Craighead (CB): My Lords, this amendment seeks to introduce a new paragraph into Clause 40. I will speak also to Amendment 140, which raises essentially the same point in relation to Clause 68. With both these amendments I seek to introduce a provision to the effect that the regulations referred to in those clauses which apply to Scotland may be made only with the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

Before I develop the reasoning behind these amendments, I owe the Ministers an apology for not having raised this issue in Committee. I am afraid that frankly I did not notice it until we reached this stage. It was prompted by the debates which took place on the Scotland Bill, to which I shall refer in a moment, which raised a point which bears on the significance of the legislation in this Bill which I am seeking to deal with.

I should add that the same point arose in relation to Clause 34. I tabled an amendment earlier on Report but, due to other business as Convenor, I was not able to attend and could not move it. In a way, it does not matter, because the point was essentially the same. Because of the way in which the Bill is framed, one point links all three clauses in the same way.

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4.30 pm

It is a feature of the Bill that the provisions which apply to England and Wales are set out in full and we are debating them, line by line, as we ordinarily do; but although the Bill applies to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it does not set out the measures which deal with certain devolved matters relating to those Administrations. That has three consequences. First, this House—or, indeed, this Parliament—is not able to debate the detail of the legislation. As one can see in Clause 40(1), the Secretary of State is seeking to be given power, by regulations, to make such provision as he considers appropriate to enable any of the provisions to apply in relation to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These provisions are not set out in the Bill.

Secondly, as I understand the purpose of these provisions, it is not intended that the devolved legislatures should legislate on these matters either. I have checked the website so far as Scotland is concerned and I cannot see any legislation before the Scottish Parliament seeking to reproduce what we have in this Bill. Thirdly, the measures which seek to apply these provisions in relation to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are to be contained in a statutory instrument. As we all know, we cannot amend a statutory instrument in any respect. We have to take simply what is on the face of the instrument and say either yes or no to it. A troubling aspect of the Bill is the inability of this House, or the devolved legislatures, to debate in detail what the Secretary of State is proposing to do to give similar effect to its provisions in those legislatures.

I will develop this a little bit more, to emphasise that these three chapters—I will leave aside the first one, apart from a quick reference to it—are dealing with devolved matters. Clause 34 in Part 1, which I was not able to deal with, relates to the labour market and makes particular provision regarding illegal working in licensed premises. The legislation for England and Wales, which the Bill seeks to amend, is to be found in the Licensing Act 2003; it has a parallel in Scotland in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. The Scottish Act traces, more or less chapter by chapter, section by section, what one finds in the Licensing Act 2003. It is not too difficult to see how the provisions which this Bill seeks to put into the 2003 Act could be fitted into the 2005 Act to make parallel provision. However, we are not seeing that in this Bill, and we would not have the power to discuss any amendments to it if it came up in a statutory instrument.

Amendment 73 deals with Clause 40, which appears in a part of the Act which is concerned with access to services. As we heard in earlier debates this afternoon, it also deals with residential tenancies. Those are the subject of legislation for England and Wales found in the Housing Act 1988 and the Rent Act 1977 and they have their parallels in Scotland in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 and the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984. Once again, one can see exactly how the provisions that come in for England and Wales, in relation to the English legislation, could be fitted in to the Scottish legislation as well to give similar effect to it. Of course, we have the deficits, which I have drawn attention to, in being able to examine, criticise and comment upon what might be forthcoming when we have detail.

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Part 5 of the Bill concerns support for certain categories of migrants. Amendment 140 relates to Clause 68, which deals with the transfer of responsibility, I think between local authorities, for people who are described as “relevant children”. The way this is to be done, so far as this Bill is concerned, is by making amendments, which are found in Schedules 10 and 11 to the Bill, to the Children Act 1989, with the parallel provisions in Scotland to be found in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

We are not dealing with trivial details here. If you look at the Children Act, for example, in the schedules, this occupies nearly 20 pages of legislation—a very considerable package of legislation, which, if we follow the provision in the clause, will be reproduced in a statutory instrument. Similarly, in the Licensing Act matter, it was 20 pages of legislation. The material in the Housing Act is set out in four clauses, which are considerable in their detail. So these are not trivial matters; they are very considerable matters, which, as we have been hearing in relation to residential tenancies, may have very considerable consequences in regard to penalties, the risk of discrimination and so on. There is a real issue here about the way in which the Government are seeking to legislate on these important matters.

Those of your Lordships who have been following the Scotland Bill will be aware that in Clause 2 there is a provision dealing with the Sewel convention, which has attracted a good deal of discussion. As it stands in the Scotland Bill as amended on Report, the clause states that,

“it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”.

The word “normally” has attracted some criticism and in a way it gives me a very good justification for asking questions about the legislation we see in this Bill. Is this a normal situation, where the consent of the Scottish Parliament will be sought, or is it not? There has been very little clarification in the debates on the Scotland Bill as to what exactly is intended by the clause.

So far, rather to my dismay, the Government show no sign of introducing any kind of amendment to Clause 2 to deal with another matter, which the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, who I am glad to see in his place, raised about the possible justiciability of a failure to observe the Sewel convention. I hope the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, can hear what I am saying because exactly that problem arises in regard to what we see in this legislation. Here the Minister is proposing to take measures in relation to Scotland with regard to devolved matters. If he was not to seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament, there may be really considerable consequences. Perhaps I should pause while the Minister confers with his colleague but the point is sharply raised as to exactly what we are dealing with here.

There are two stages at which one has to consider the problem. First, because this Bill falls within the formula in the Scotland Bill, I would have expected—but I do not know—that the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament will be sought in relation to this Bill because it contains provisions, such as the clauses that I referred to, which are of very considerable

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interest to those who are concerned with devolved matters in Scotland. Secondly, there is the stage of the statutory instrument, which is perhaps the more important stage, as to whether it is the intention of the Government that the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought to the instruments—there will be three of them, no doubt—that the Minister is proposing to put before this Parliament for its approval. There are really at least two features. The first is the rather second-hand way in which the legislation for Scotland is proposed in the Bill, and the second is the very considerable concern as to the consequences for the Bill if the formula in the Scotland Bill about legislative consent is not followed in both of these two stages.

I have been speaking about Scotland but I have been greatly encouraged that the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, has used exactly the same formula in relation to Wales in tabling amendments to Clauses 40 and 68. He is not concerned, rightly, with Clause 34 because Wales is not mentioned in it. But it is mentioned to exactly the same effect in relation to residential tenancies and relevant children, which are matters in the devolved area for Wales. I am not speaking for Northern Ireland but I imagine that the same point arises in relation to it on all three clauses, as it is mentioned in Clauses 34, 40 and 68.

There are quite important issues here that require explanation. I have apologised for not bringing this forward before but I would be grateful if the Minister will tell us more about what is going on. If he finds it easier, it might be better if he writes to me to explain exactly what is proposed so that, at the first stage, when the Scottish Parliament wonders whether it should give legislative approval to this Bill, it knows exactly what it has to expect and whether it will have a chance to look at the detail when that is formulated. For those reasons, I beg to move.

Lord Wigley (PC): My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 73A and 140A, which stand in my name, and briefly to Amendment 144A, which is on a different matter. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, referred to the fact that my amendments follow his form. I believe that the greatest compliment is emulation and I gladly took his form of words to pursue these matters. In raising this subject, I make it clear that I support in all ways the maximisation of assistance that can be given by all parts of the United Kingdom to children and others who need help in the difficult circumstances facing them. This is a question not of raising any complications in that way but of making sure that the legislative arrangements are appropriate.

It is particularly apposite that these issues should be raised at this point because we have a draft Wales Bill in the pipeline, following the Scotland Bill which the noble and learned Lord mentioned a moment ago. Some trouble has already brewed up in the context of the draft Wales Bill, which has led to it being brought back and run at a slightly later time, because of the insistence on so many potential uses of Henry VIII-type powers. Those arose in the context of other legislation in this Chamber only a few weeks ago. There are difficulties with that, as has been mentioned, not least the impossibility of amending statutory instruments and orders and, often, the lack of focus on changes

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that can be extremely far-reaching. There are also questions with regard to clarity on where responsibility lies—an issue which has arisen perhaps more in the Welsh context than in the Scottish context. Cases have been going to the High Court for resolution because of a lack of clarity about the powers that rest with Ministers in Westminster or in Cardiff respectively. It is just possible that we could be stoking those fires unless it is sorted out in this Bill.

As far as Wales is concerned, the National Assembly has responsibility for most of the public services which may be needed to assist “relevant children”, to use the terminology of the Bill. For example, local government, social care, housing and education are all more or less totally devolved. Those are the areas in which there might be a need to resort to the powers put forward in the various parts of the Bill, particularly in Clauses 40 and 68, which these amendments refer to.

It is reasonable that the Secretary of State should be required to discuss and agree with Welsh Ministers or, indeed, the National Assembly as a whole—as with Scotland and Northern Ireland—ahead of pushing such powers through to be applied to the statute book and used. My belief is that this should be built into the legislation that we are passing. We need to ensure that the system is flexible so that Welsh local authorities can link up with English local authorities.

4.45 pm

I am not entirely certain whether that flexibility is built into the wording of the legislation as it presently stands. Clause 40(3)(a) and Clause 68(3)(a) give the Secretary of State rights to,

“amend, repeal or revoke any enactment”,

made by the National Assembly for Wales. As drafted, that seems a very draconian power, even if it is only meant to apply to the provisions on residential tenancies in Clause 37 and the transfer provisions in Clauses 64 to 67. As worded, these are still very far-reaching powers, and there is therefore a need for that safeguard to be built in so that the Assembly and Ministers in Cardiff at least know that if the powers are going to be used, they will be brought into the discussion. At the very least, there is a need for greater clarity.

I will just touch very briefly on Amendment 144A, relating to language provisions. I do not intend to move this amendment, and do not intend to speak for very long on it now, after having a very constructive conversation with one of the Bill team earlier today. My worries were about the applicability, where appropriate, for the Welsh language in Wales, and this would cover the need for competence in both languages in some circumstances. I have had it explained to me that this can in fact be covered by the code of practice. That being so, I do not intend to speak any longer on this amendment. However, the earlier ones cover issues that are of concern to Wales, to Scotland and to Northern Ireland, and I hope that they can be somehow resolved, even at this late stage.

Lord McCluskey (CB): My Lords, I support the amendment proposed by my noble and learned friend Lord Hope of Craighead and would like the Minister to explain the assumption behind this clause as drafted.

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Is the assumption that the Sewel convention, as it is called, would be in force and therefore there would be flexibility, or is the assumption that the Scotland Bill will be passed in its present form, where the word “normally” is used, which virtually abolishes the Sewel convention? If “normally” is to remain part of the Scotland Bill and so become part of the Scotland Act, will that then be justiciable in relation to this particular matter?

Lord Bates: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, for moving his amendment and leading this debate. I concur with the view that these are very important issues: they are not trivial issues but are very substantial. They were raised and commented on by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in its 17th report, and were also raised by the Constitution Committee in its report. I will come back to those responses later, but I certainly accept that this is a welcome opportunity to get some reassurances and some comments on the record in relation to these matters.

This Bill is intended to apply to the whole of the UK, including Scotland and Wales. Where the law differs between different parts of the UK, the Bill makes special provision. The Government have sought to be open and clear on how the Bill applies to the rest of the UK. Making the Bill work effectively across the UK is complex, and we have consulted with lawyers and officials in the devolved Administrations to make sure that we get this right. That takes time. I should say at this point that there has been a substantial body of exchanges between the Scottish Government and the Home Office on this Bill—between James Brokenshire and Nicola Sturgeon—dating back to 13 August, with some 13 different iterations. I am happy to make the list available to the noble and learned Lord to show that that consultation has been going on.

In Committee, we amended the Bill in respect of illegal working in relation to private hire vehicles, so provision for the whole of the UK now appears in the Bill. In respect of illegal working in licensed premises, to which the noble and learned Lord referred, we have not had time to amend the Bill but have published draft regulations so that our method and intent are clear.

Amendment 73 concerns the mechanism to extend the residential tenancies provisions to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As with the right-to-rent scheme in the 2014 Act, we believe that the extension of these provisions to the whole of the UK has only consequential impact on devolved legislation and remains for an immigration purpose.

We have not sought to put the residential tenancies provisions for Scotland or Wales in the Bill or to publish draft regulations. This is because both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have been legislating in this space. The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament last October, three weeks after we brought the Immigration Bill to Parliament. Stage 3 proceedings are scheduled to take place in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 17 March. In Wales, to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, the Assembly has been considering to the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill,

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which finally became law on 18 January. With the law in flux in Wales and Scotland, we had to decide whether it was worth amending the law only to need to re-amend it a few months later, and we thought that once was better.

Amendments 140 and 140A relate to the provision in Part 5 which will make it easier to transfer unaccompanied migrant and asylum-seeking children from one local authority to another, and will enable the Secretary of State to require local authorities to co-operate in the transfer of unaccompanied migrant children from one local authority to another, should voluntary arrangements fail. Of course, as the noble Lord said, we all hope that the voluntary arrangements will succeed and that the power will therefore not need to be exercised.

However, the dispersal of migrant children is not an area in which Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland have competence to legislate, and their consent is therefore, in our opinion, not required for the UK Government to legislate in this area. Immigration legislation already provides a UK-wide framework for migrants’ access to local authority services. As I mentioned, the Government have been liaising with the devolved Administrations on participating in dispersal on a voluntary basis, and are grateful for the positive engagement which we have received to date. However, we must avoid a repetition of the situation that we saw in Kent last summer, so we will enforce the arrangements if necessary.

The regulations in Clause 68 are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, so will be scrutinised in Parliament before they become law. In that context, I should say that the point about their affirmative or negative nature was precisely the one raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. In response, we said that we would make them subject to the affirmative procedure, which will give the House a greater degree of scrutiny.

On the point raised by the former Solicitor-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, about the Sewel convention, I am happy to provide copies to the noble and learned Lords and the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, of my letter to my noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton on 1 March this year in response to the Constitution Committee’s concern about the use of the Sewel convention. Perhaps I may read into the record a small section of it from the third paragraph on page 1. I wrote:

“We note that you have drawn the attention of the House in particular to the powers for providing an extension of clauses 10, 11, 16 and 43 to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (now clauses 34, 35, 40 and 68 respectively). We are clear that these provisions relate to the reserved matter of immigration and so we believe that it is entirely appropriate that the Legislative Consent Motions are not needed. We are also clear that it can be appropriate for these matters to be addressed in secondary legislation, which will allow us to ensure that the legislation reflects the differing legislative frameworks across the United Kingdom, including forthcoming changes to those frameworks”.

On the particular point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, on the assumption lying behind this point, I wonder if I might write to him. I willingly accept the invitation from the noble and learned Lord to write further to address the

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specific points that he raised—but I hope that what I have set out so far will provide him with some reassurance that, while accepting that this is not an ideal situation, it is a genuine factor that we are respecting the devolved institutions in the work going through in the areas in which they have competence and seeking to make the intention clear at a later date to avoid having to change it.

Lord McCluskey: Would the Minister be good enough to include me in the correspondence that he sends to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, because this is a live and important matter that we have to discuss on Monday when the Scotland Bill comes back to this House for Third Reading.

Lord Bates: I certainly give an undertaking. All the correspondence is there, in a trail to the noble and learned Lord, stretching back to August. I shall make sure that that is all with the noble and learned Lords by the end of the week, so they have time to consider that for next week.

Lord Hope of Craighead: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, which has helped to clarify matters to some extent. Rather like the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, I emphasise that I do not seek in any way to criticise the intention behind the legislation, particularly in regard to children. It is a very important matter, and no criticism is intended on the intention to extend these provisions to Scotland and, no doubt, to the other devolved institutions so that the same protection for children is available. That is absolutely understood—and I understand the immigration policy impetus behind wanting to extend the legislation with regard to residential tenancies to the devolved areas as well. But it is a curious feature that the way in which this will be sought to be done, which is fairly plain from what is being done in England and Wales, is by amending Scottish legislation. It is all very well to say that this is a reserved matter because it deals with immigration, but you cannot get away from the fact that the areas in which legislation requires change are in devolved matters. That is why the relationship with the Sewel convention is very important.

I have always been a little puzzled as to how the Sewel convention extends to discussions between Ministers, and I was very glad to hear that that dialogue has been taking place. In a way that is just as effective—perhaps even more effective—than having a matter before the Scottish Parliament for its consent, because it is a far more constructive dialogue, which can be begun early and help to frame the legislation from an earlier stage. That is not the Sewel convention as expressed in the Scotland Bill, but it is a useful way in which to communicate, which I welcome very much, and I am glad to hear that it has been going on. But there is still the Sewel point, which requires attention, because of the fact that the Scottish legislation is in the target for the statutory instrument.

The noble Lord, Lord Wigley, mentioned the Henry VIII aspect of the provisions, which requires explanation, because it is very wide-ranging. The power is to,

“amend, repeal or revoke any enactment”—

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that is, any

“enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under, an Act of the Scottish Parliament”.

There has been no attempt in this legislation to focus on the Scottish legislation, which is quite easily identified, which requires amendment. It would have been more helpful if the Bill had been framed in a way that made it clear which particular statutes required amendment, or at least the areas of law that we are dealing with, instead of having a wide-ranging Henry VIII power to, as it were, demolish all the legislation embraced in these very broad phrases.

I hope that when the Minister writes, he can explain a little more what is intended and what has taken place to reassure people about this. From what he has been saying, I take it that it is not intended that this Bill should go before the Scottish Parliament for a legislative consent Motion. Nor do I think he is suggesting that the instruments themselves should go before the Scottish Parliament; I do not see how they could. But no doubt there are people in Scotland who are listening very carefully to what is being discussed in relation to this matter, as there will be in Wales. It is therefore very important that the matter is fully clarified. I hope that we do not have to come back to discuss it more on Third Reading, so I look forward to what the Minister is going to tell us in writing. I see that the Minister would like to say something.

Lord Bates: Very briefly, I just want to clarify, to manage expectations here. What I have undertaken to provide by Monday for the convenience of the noble and learned Lords are copies of the correspondence, which are already in existence, to aid that part of the discussion. With the very hard-working constitutional lawyers and cross-government committees necessary to sign off on such communications, we might be able to generate that by Monday—certainly as soon as possible. But those letters to which I referred will be with the noble and learned Lord before the end of the week.

Lord Hope of Craighead: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister. I fully understand the problems due to a shortage of time and will look forward to what can best be achieved. For the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 73 withdrawn.

Amendment 73A not moved.

Clause 41: Powers to carry out searches relating to driving licences

Amendment 74

Moved by Lord Paddick

74: Clause 41, leave out Clause 41

Lord Paddick (LD): My Lords, this amendment is also in the names of my noble friend Lady Sheehan and the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence of Clarendon. We also have Amendment 78 in this group. I spoke on these issues in Committee, and the Minister has

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subsequently written to noble Lords on the issues raised both in Committee and at a meeting with the Minister and officials on 22 February.

In essence, these clauses create a new offence of driving when unlawfully in the UK, powers to detain the motor vehicle being driven by someone committing such an offence, including powers to enter premises to seize the vehicle, and powers to dispose of the vehicle on conviction. In addition, there are powers to enter and search premises, and to search an individual and a vehicle in order to seize and retain a driving licence if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person has a driving licence and is not lawfully in the UK.

Noble Lords will recall my concern and the concern of other noble Lords that these provisions were likely to change a dynamic in police/community relations because of something that was abandoned decades ago when the police decided not to be proactive in enforcing immigration law because of the seriously damaging impact it was having on police/community relations. Clearly, the police will inform immigration authorities if someone who has been arrested for a criminal offence is suspected of being illegally in the UK, so that immigration officers can take the necessary action. But the days of police officers arresting black drivers on the spurious grounds that they were suspected of being an overstayer had, I hoped, thankfully been consigned to the history books.

My concern and the concern of other noble Lords who spoke in Committee, and the concern of the National Black Police Association, is that these clauses will take us back to the bad old days of poor police/race relations. The National Black Police Association says:

“The potential impact of this legislation will be an undermining of community cohesion and a stirring up of hatred and suspicion between different racial and religious groups … and will result in the police becoming the whipping boy for the immigration service”.

Those are not the words of what some people might regard as an out-of-date, out-of-touch former police officer but the views of an organisation representing currently serving police officers.

I am very grateful to the Minister for meeting with me and other noble Lords, and for writing on these issues. I regret to say that his letter on the subject raises more questions than answers. First, the Minister says that the Home Office will consult publicly on the draft guidance. Can he say whether there will be parliamentary scrutiny of such guidance? The letter goes on to say that these clauses do not provide the police with any new power to stop people or vehicles. That is true, but it gives new powers to search an individual, a vehicle or the person’s home address without a warrant, as well as creating a new criminal offence.

The letter goes on to say:

“The Government has made clear that no one should be stopped on the basis of their race or ethnicity; this would be unlawful under the Equality Act”.

I remind the Minister of the survey commissioned by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, published in March last year, where 10,094 members of the public were asked whether they had been stopped by the police while driving in the previous two years.

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Between 7% and 8% of white drivers who responded said that they had, whereas 10% to 14% of black drivers who responded said that they had been stopped in their vehicles.

Black drivers were more likely not to be told the reason for the stop and were less likely to be arrested or prosecuted. This is how the police use their existing power to stop motor vehicles. Black drivers were almost twice as likely to be stopped and were less likely to have done anything wrong. The exercise of the power to stop vehicles under Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act is not recorded by the police, so, apart from the HMIC survey, we have no idea how disproportionate the use of this power against black and other minority ethnic people is.

The Minister in his letter goes on to talk about the fall in stop and search in 2014-15 compared with 2013-14. He states:

“The number of stops on those of black ethnicity has fallen at a faster rate than stops on those who were white”.

First, motorists stopped under Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act are not included in the stop-and-search figures, as I have already said. Secondly, according to the Institute of Race Relations, in 2014:

“Black people specifically are 4.2 times as likely as white people to be stopped and searched by the police”.

It also reports that 86% of stop and searches did not lead to an arrest.

Does the Minister seriously expect the House to be relaxed about giving the police even more powers to search people and their homes and to arrest people for driving while illegally in the UK because the Home Office will issue guidance and because to discriminate against black and other minority ethnic people would be unlawful under the Equality Act?

In his letter the Minister goes on to say that,

“the police will use the powers contained in clauses 41 and 42 where they have stopped a vehicle for an objective reason”.

The HMIC survey and the stop-and-search survey suggest that the police are stopping black people driving vehicles and stopping and searching black people for no objective reason—“for a reason other than race and ethnicity” is a more accurate description than “objective”.

I know from 30 years in the police service that you can do anything to Elvis Presley apart from tread on his blue suede shoes, and you can accuse the police of anything except racism. What did the Government expect Chief Superintendent Dave Snelling to say to the Public Bill Committee other than that the police would not abuse this power?

The letter goes on:

“A search of premises for a driving licence can only be carried out where: ‘The officer has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is in possession of a driving licence and is not lawfully resident’. In practice, this would require the police to perform a check with the Home Office”.

All the evidence that we have to date points to the fact that this is what should happen in theory and not what will happen in practice.

The Home Secretary has done a lot of good work on stop and search, but clearly a lot more needs to be done if you are still over four times as likely to be

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stopped and searched if you are black than if you are white. All the evidence, including a survey by HMIC, shows that the police cannot yet be trusted to do what the Government “make clear”, even when their actions are unlawful under the Equality Act. All the evidence indicates that the police are not yet ready, despite baby steps in the right direction, to be given more search powers and a power to arrest drivers suspected of being illegally in the UK. The fact that these powers are focused around immigration means that they are even more likely than general stop-and-search powers to be used disproportionately against the black and minority ethnic community.

Liberal Democrats want effective border security to prevent illegal immigrants coming into the UK in the first place, effective exit checks so that we know when someone has overstayed their visa, and an effective immigration service that tracks down overstayers and others who are working in the UK illegally. These are all the responsibility of the Immigration Service. The police have already suffered significant cuts to their budgets and community policing has been hit hard. They have a front-line role in liaising with communities to build the kind of trust and confidence that leads to vital information about serious crime and terrorism being passed on to them by the public. Anything that is likely to put them in conflict with the public, and with black and minority ethnic communities in particular, will make us all less safe. That is exactly what this legislation is likely to do.

I am not making this point from a politically motivated point of view; this is an honestly held, personal belief based on my experience of policing and my knowledge of police culture. I have great respect for colleagues in the police service, who put their lives on the line to keep us safe every day, but these are serious issues that need to be addressed. I beg the Minister to reconsider these draconian clauses. Restrict the powers to immigration officers if you must, but please do not drag the police back to the bad old days when I was a constable on the beat. I beg to move.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab): My Lords, I wish to speak on Amendments 74 and 78, which relate to Clauses 41 and 42. Since this House last considered the driving offence and powers set out in the Bill, the Minister has, as he promised, engaged with me and others who expressed deep concern about the impact of these provisions. I thank him for that but I must tell him that the additional commitments made by the Government have left me feeling far from reassured.

The addition of a defence to the Clause 42 offence is welcome, as strict-liability offences can cause serious injustice, but this move will do nothing to reduce the practical discriminatory impact of these proposals. The discrimination will occur before a case reaches the police station or the court-room. It will occur on our roads and in our houses. That is where the damage will be done.

The provision of guidance on the use of these powers is not enough. Guidance exists around the use of current stop-and-search powers, such as the power set out in Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, but statistics produced by the

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Met show that this power is still used disproportionately against black people. There is a time for guidance and a time for a wholesale rejection of a proposal because it is simply too harmful. In my opinion, the driving offence and the related powers in this Bill fall firmly into the latter category.

Finally, the Government offer a pilot evaluation of the implementation of the search powers set out in Clause 41. I am afraid that this does not fill me with confidence, given the experience of the right-to-rent pilot evaluation: the sample was too small and was unrepresentative, and the evidence of discrimination that it ultimately produced was ignored by the Government.

5.15 pm

The issue of traffic stops, and the decision by this Government to link them intrinsically to immigration inquiries, goes right to the heart of police/community relations in this country—and not just in this country. I refer to an incident in Ferguson, Missouri, where huge numbers of African-Americans took to the streets following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager. While the shooting unquestionably led to the mass unrest that followed, background grievances had accumulated over decades, poisoning police/community relations. According to a report produced by the office of the Missouri Attorney-General, Chris Koster, while black residents account for 67% of the Ferguson population, black drivers accounted for more than 86% of traffic stops made last year by the Ferguson Police Department. This fact has not been lost on the US media, which reported on the link between anger caused by this consistent marginalisation and the fragile, unstable state of relations between the police and Ferguson’s black population.

In addition to the HMRC statistics published in 2014, figures produced by StopWatch show the scale of the problem in this country. From its analysis of British Crime Survey data produced in 2008 and 2011, StopWatch found that black and ethnic-minority drivers consistently reported higher levels of car stops: 33% of people with mixed black and white ethnicities reported being stopped; for both the black Caribbean and Asian Muslim communities the figure is 18%; for white drivers, the figure is just 11%. We already have lax stop powers on the statute book which allow individuals to be stopped without reason. Yet rather than working to address the discriminatory reality of this provision, the Government seek to tie this power to the immigration system, creating the obvious potential to ramp up discriminatory impacts and inflame existing grievances. I oppose Clauses 41 and 42: they should not be part of this Bill.

Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, it seems to me that a very serious proposition is being made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and I think that we ought to be very careful about it. The proposition being made is that, however valuable this clause is, it should not be passed because we cannot trust the police to carry it through properly. That is a very serious criticism. I have not been alone in my criticism of the police; I think that, particularly in London, there are very

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serious criticisms to be made. However, if we are to legislate on the basis that we cannot trust the police to behave properly towards the citizens of the United Kingdom, we had better look much more seriously at what we are doing with the police. We really should take it more much more seriously than is proposed here.

I think that many things happen in the police which are unacceptable. It is still true that relationships between the police and the press are far too close, and many of us have significant criticisms. But if the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, suggests that the police cannot carry through a necessary activity to ensure that illegal immigrants are properly dealt with and that the activity should be carried through not by the police but by immigration officials—who, evidently, can be trusted to behave in a proper way—then this is an argument not for this Bill but for a wholesale Bill about the nature of the police.

I do not believe that the British people would be very happy if this House decided that it would legislate in a way which was less likely to meet the needs as this Bill presents them simply because we have now accepted the inherent racism of the police force. That seems a fundamentally dangerous step to take. I would be very unhappy if the Minister were willing to be led down that route. Yes, of course, we have to have the toughest guidance; yes, of course, we have to make sure that whenever racist or discriminatory activities are found to be in the police they must be dealt with considerable severity; but we have to solve this problem—if it is a problem, and I am prepared to accept the views of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, from his own experience—by reform and training in the police, not by saying that we will have less efficient laws because they cannot be properly and safely implemented. Are we going to say, therefore, that there should be no stopping of cars being driven in a dangerous condition because the police feel that they would be more likely to stop some kinds of people rather than others? We really cannot run a state on that basis. If this is a real problem—and I am certainly not saying that it is not—it is a problem which has to be dealt with by the Home Office and the police force, and not one which should lead us to make laws which are different from those that we would have made because we are afraid of the way in which they would be implemented.

Therefore, I hope that my noble friend the Minister will take this very seriously, not for the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has presented but for the reason that a democratic society has to have the laws which it needs irrespective of the differing feelings of people of differing ethnic or any other backgrounds. We are touching something fundamentally dangerous. It is precisely that kind of feeling that causes the resentment which one finds widely in Britain—a belief that we do not legislate in a colour-blind manner but in a manner which takes the view of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and therefore stops us legislating as effectively as we should. I hope that my noble friend will be very careful in the way in which he responds to this debate.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, in briefly following what the noble Lord, Lord Deben, has just said, I say that there is a case for examining the way in which

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policing is conducted, and I agree with him that it is unfortunate that we have to have a debate in the context of the Bill. I support what the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, as I did in Committee. That is based not so much on a belief that all our police officers behave badly, but more on the experience I had more than 30 years ago, in 1981, when the Toxteth riots erupted. They did so in part because of bad policing, and indeed they were linked directly to the stopping of a young black man on his motorcycle in Lodge Lane in Toxteth. The riots led to a thousand policemen being hospitalised in Liverpool as a consequence. Everyone who looked at the events in Brixton and in Liverpool afterwards, notably Lord Scarman, found that the overuse of stop-and-search powers had been part and parcel of the problem.

I guess that the question for the House today is: will this take us back to that kind of regime? That is what the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, is asking us to address. I must admit that I looked carefully at the letter kindly sent by the Minister as part of the compendium of letters he has written during the passage of this Bill. They run to page 146, which probably tells noble Lords quite a lot about the volume of correspondence we have had, and that is to the Minister’s credit. I just want to mention two phrases set out in the letter because they help to bring some clarity to what is intended in the Bill and perhaps might reassure both the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence of Clarendon. The first is that,

“it is important to bear in mind that the police will use the powers contained in these clauses reactively, after they have stopped a vehicle for an objective reason”.

Later in the same letter, talking not now about vehicles but about the entry into people’s homes, the letter states:

“The officer could then only enter premises where there are reasonable grounds for believing the driving licence could be found there”.

All this revolves around the words “objective” and “reasonable”. When the Minister replies to the debate, I hope that he will explain in a little more detail what kind of circumstances he envisages as objective and those he regards as reasonable. That might give us greater confidence that the powers suggested here will be used properly.

I conclude by saying that it would be dangerous to presume that the police of our country are incapable of implementing the laws that Parliament passes in an objective way, and the noble Lord, Lord Deben, was right to remind us of that. But we must remember our story. In 1981 Sir Kenneth Oxford was the chief constable for Merseyside. Many people believed, as I did myself at the time, that the policing had been overly aggressive. It is notable that the young assistant chief constable who subsequently came to Merseyside, Bernard Hogan-Howe as he then was, would later rise to become chief constable of the area. He introduced very sensitive community policing, and I suspect that the extremely effective policing he developed during that period is one of the reasons he was appointed the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Good community relations were built up during that time. I would therefore be very nervous of anything that destabilised that delicate balance, which is why I seek further clarity about the reasonable and objective use of these powers.

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Baroness Sheehan: My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Paddick in this amendment and I have added my name to it. I spoke earlier about the potential of the right-to-rent clause in this Bill to set back race relations by decades. In declaring their intent to create a hostile environment for illegal immigrants, the Government risk poisoning the environment for all immigrants. Although the right-to-rent clause will undermine the already delicate relationship between landlords and tenants and will increase racial discrimination, this clause, criminalising the possession of a driving licence by an illegal immigrant, takes the potential for racial discrimination several dangerous steps further. By all means criminalise the possession of a driving licence by an illegal immigrant, but do not ask the police to enforce the measure through random stop and search. We have already heard eloquent arguments about why, if we decide to move in this direction, we must address it with very great caution.

Why not approach it differently? Why not, for example, have a hotline for this offence too? Why not use the same hotline that landlords are asked to use? In fact, I think the police already have a direct line to the Home Office to ask whether anyone they have stopped in a car randomly is legal or otherwise. Clauses 41 and 42 extend stop, search and seizure powers—powers that have a long history of being acknowledged as contributing to racial disharmony and breakdown in community cohesion. In 1981, Lord Scarman in his report on the Brixton riots concluded that the mass use of stop and search was a direct cause of the riots.

A great deal of power already resides with the Home Office to revoke the licences of illegal immigrants without resort to a measure that would damage the public’s relationship with the police, who would become the whipping boy of immigration officers, as the National Black Police Association rightly says. The weak link is the enforcement of the rules that currently exist and the Government would do better to concentrate on improving those.

5.30 pm

Lord Green of Deddington (CB): My Lords, I would like to speak briefly to Clause 42. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, spoke powerfully and from long experience, and that has to be respected. However, it is troubling that he suggested that the police cannot be trusted to enforce a carefully drawn law. I entirely endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Deben, said on that subject.

I remind the House that the major purpose of the Bill is to make it more difficult for those who have no right to be in this country to remain here. Those who do so add to the pressures on public services, and we should remember that there are no actual barriers to them addressing or entering health and education services. There is widespread concern throughout the country about the scale of illegal immigration, in part because it tends to lower the wage rates for the low-skilled workers. In a sentence, there are very good reasons for this Bill and very good reasons for this part of it. Action is needed and should be pursued with care and with thought to the points raised, but it really ought to be taken.

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Lord Rosser (Lab): We have an amendment in this group which provides that a person does not commit an offence of driving when unlawfully in the United Kingdom if at the time of driving the motor vehicles the person had a reasonable belief that they had a legal right to be in this country. Of course, the Government have tabled an amendment which provides that a person commits the offence of driving when unlawfully in the UK only if they knew or had reasonable cause to believe that they were disqualified from driving by reason of their immigration status. We welcome the move that the Government have made on this issue.

The argument has been made in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for deleting from the Bill this new offence and the powers to carry out searches related to driving issues. My noble friend Lady Lawrence of Clarendon has spoken powerfully on the potential consequences of this new offence and the associated search powers to increase discrimination and damage community relations, including relations with the police, and generally put the clock back.