Grand Committee

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Grand Committee
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Monday 17 January 2022

Arrangement of Business

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Grand Committee
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Announcement
15:45
Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Watkins of Tavistock) (CB)
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My Lords, Members are encouraged to leave some distance between themselves and others and to wear a face covering when not speaking. If there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting, the Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and resume after 10 minutes.

Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Grand Committee
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Motion to Take Note
15:45
Moved by
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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That the Grand Committee takes note of the Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information, laid before the House on 29 November 2021.

Relevant document: 14th Report of the International Agreements Committee (special attention drawn by the report)

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, I am delighted to open this debate. In doing so, I thank my colleagues on the International Agreements Committee—particularly my noble friend Lady Liddell and the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, from whom we will hear shortly—together with our officials for their superlative efforts in turning round our report, which was published on Thursday, so that we could bring this agreement to the attention of the Committee and so provide the only opportunity for the Lords to consider this significant agreement prior to ratification.

The treaty in front of us may represent only a start. It is a legally binding framework for the exchange of sensitive information on nuclear propulsion between the three nations over a preparatory 18 months. However, there is no doubt that this three-way commitment providing for nuclear-propelled Australian submarines is of considerable strategic significance, with implications for our approach to the Indo-Pacific region and China. We look forward to the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, setting out of the context in which this treaty, and the subsequent co-operation on submarines et cetera, falls. This is particularly pertinent given that the announcement of the trilateral pact was somewhat unexpected and had not been trailed in earlier discussions.

I will leave it to others, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, to comment on the response AUKUS received in France. We know that the Chinese described it as “extremely irresponsible” and representing a “Cold War mentality”, whereas Japan gave it a warm welcome.

Australia is the second-largest arms importer in the world. We will no doubt be hoping to boost our sales there, which might mitigate some of the fears that our farmers have about the Australian free trade agreement. Can the Minister outline the economic benefits that the Government think will flow from the agreement and indicate whether she envisages any other benefits, such as helping our efforts to renew Trident through support for relevant industries?

However, our involvement is not simply about arms sales, and nor does it include any military role. Rather, as Chatham House opined, AUKUS is a wider political response to “China’s growing hard power”. That is why the International Agreements Committee wanted the political scene to be properly set out by the Government before the treaty is ratified. When she replies, can the Minister touch on the Government’s assessment of the agreement’s impact on international relations, particularly with France, China and the Pacific region, as well as its effect on the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing agreement between the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? Can she also clarify what engagement will take place with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which I assume will be led by Australia?

I am deliberately leaving well alone the naval uses and potential of this initiative, given the expertise that we will shortly hear from the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, whose intimate knowledge of the inside of a submarine is surpassed by few others, let alone his wider defence knowledge; from my noble friend Lord West of Spithead, whose very title is testimony to his special interest—no one who has sat in our Chamber during Oral Questions can ever have doubted that; and from the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Houghton of Richmond, who may be a landlubber, but who has similarly wide and deep defence expertise.

We welcome sight of this treaty, although there are shortcomings in what has been shared with Parliament, including, yet again, the failure to spell out how and when any amendments to it would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. For its part, our equivalent committee in the Australian Parliament has noted that any such amendments to the treaty would be subject to its usual treaty scrutiny processes. We ask for nothing less. Furthermore, given the importance of the wider agreement, and given that follow-on agreements will probably be necessary, such ongoing and future scrutiny will be vital.

That same Australian Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is clear, for its part, that:

“Any transfers of equipment, materials or technology that follow would be the subject of a subsequent agreement and further Committee scrutiny.”


Can the Minister therefore confirm that any amendments to this treaty and any follow-up treaties will be laid under CRaG? Furthermore, we do slightly wonder whether everything already agreed has been fully shared with us. So perhaps the Minister could indicate whether we do have all the underlying documents, or whether there are any separate MoUs which have not yet been disclosed to Parliament. Could she also confirm that all future agreements in relation to AUKUS, either by treaty or significant MoU, will be shared with Parliament? I beg to move.

15:52
Lord Lansley Portrait Lord Lansley (Con)
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My Lords, as a member of the International Agreements Committee I am very pleased to have this opportunity to follow our Chair, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter of Kentish Town. I very much look forward to this debate, which will include several expert contributions that will be of particular value to the House, not only now, in the process of scrutinising this agreement, but perhaps more particularly in setting the scene for the engagement between the three parties to this agreement and the agreements to follow.

If I may, I will reinforce the point that our Chair made. The committee’s report essentially welcomes the agreement; we simply make one point that seems to have been taken for granted, as she said, by the Australian treaties committee: that further agreements and amendments to this agreement will be subject to further scrutiny. It literally said: “any action will be subject to further scrutiny”. If that is the case for the Australian Parliament, clearly, it should also be the case for this Parliament, and I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to make that simple and straight- forward commitment.

There is intended to be considerable follow-up activity on the agreement, so the substance of it is not so great that we can debate many details now. It is intended to initiate a wider co-operation not only on nuclear-powered propulsion systems for submarines but on areas of cyberwarfare, AI, quantum technologies and undersea technologies generally. I hope that today, we will hear a bit more about what the scope of that collaboration may look like.

May I say to my noble friend that I thought the agreement immensely encouraging in several respects? First, at the simple, mundane, practical level, it is encouraging that Governments in this day and age were able to negotiate something of a strategic and significant character, for several months and with deep engagement, with nobody leaking it. That is fantastic. We arrived at 15 September, and everybody was surprised, including the French. It is to the Government’s credit that they were able to do that.

Secondly, there seems to have been a particular skill on the part of the British Government in being right at the heart of this strategic negotiation, yet the French Government blamed Washington and Canberra and seemed not to blame London to the same extent and did not withdraw their ambassadors. The UK strategic engagement was central. Unless I am very much mistaken, the report suggests that the initial conversations were between the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Navy, so in a sense, the initiation of this agreement may have rested in the hands of the British Government rather than necessarily with the Australian Government —but that is only what I have read in reports.

However it came about—this is the most important point on which to applaud the Government’s agreement—we often hear about an Indo-Pacific tilt and the necessity of taking realistic and tough measures to counter the longer-term risks associated with Chinese aggrandisement and, here, for once, we are actually seeing something happening that is concrete, substantial and potentially of great significance. Certainly, it is a step change in the Australian defence capability, as a former Australian Defence Minister said. It also seems that it has not only important defence implications but very strong and positive geopolitical implications.

In our committee, we considered questions relating to the arguments about the nuclear proliferation treaty. It is clear that this is not a breach of any of the treaty obligations on the part of any of the participants in the agreement; nor can one realistically—as some have attempted to do—suggest that it somehow opens the door to the transfer of nuclear-powered propulsion technology to other countries. Other countries, such as South Korea, may wish to acquire it, but it has taken several decades for the Americans to agree to any further sharing beyond Great Britain. The White House briefing on the day of the launch was perfectly clear that they saw this as a one-off and they would not regard it as offering any precedent for any other country to be able to ask for the same thing. So, to that extent, we felt sure that we saw no need to express any reservations in that territory.

I should declare an interest as the UK chair of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group. It is interesting that, not only do we now have the Quad—which the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, may wish to say a bit more about, including on the progress that has been made in mutual understanding and assistance—but shortly after this agreement the Japanese Government entered into a reciprocal assistance agreement with the Government of Australia, which is only their second such agreement. The Japanese Government have made it clear that they would view positively the prospect of a further agreement of a similar character with the United Kingdom.

I know it is probably not within my noble friend’s brief to respond on that point today, but if she were able to write to me about it, I would be very interested to read it, following the increase in mutual assistance with Japan—not only literally troops on the ground and aircraft deployed for training purposes in Japan, but the visit of the “Queen Elizabeth” and other vessels. There are a lot of possibilities for extending our UK/Japanese defence collaboration to the form of an agreement such as that entered into with Australia.

Finally, I wish to reinforce a particular point that our chair made about the industrial and economic benefits in the United Kingdom. It was reported shortly after this agreement was signed that the British Government entered into a contract for early design work on a new nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine for the Royal Navy with BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. Can my noble friend say any more about that and how it might position the United Kingdom’s defence industry in relation to work on the Australian submarine fleet, in circumstances where it is reported that the American defence capability is fully occupied in meeting its own requirements?

In all those respects, this seems to me to be a very positive agreement. It is very useful for us at this stage to note some of the potential and to encourage the Government in directions in which they seem very willing and able to go.

16:01
Lord Hannay of Chiswick Portrait Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB)
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My Lords, I should at the outset make it clear that I welcome the agreement by the US and the UK to make naval nuclear propulsion information available to Australia, one of our oldest and most valuable allies. A step such as this, which will substantially enhance the deterrent capacity of an ally in a sensitive and strategically important region of the world where tensions and challenges are on the rise, makes good sense. When the dust has settled, one hopes that all western allies that have a stake in the security of Indo-Pacific region—including France, however much it was justifiably affronted by the way the announcement of this agreement was handled—will recognise that we all collectively have much to gain from Australia’s increased naval capability.

As to the announcement of the agreement, there, I am afraid, the positive tone changes. That was a travesty of diplomacy. In future years, I suspect this episode will be taught at diplomatic academies across the world as how quite unnecessarily to lose both friends and influence. Why did the Prime Minister think it was sensible to rub salt in French wounds by insulting President Macron with some ill-chosen Franglais, in sharp contrast to President Biden’s willingness to offer an apology and seek to put hard feeling behind us? Are we so pre-eminent in world affairs that we can hope to get away unscathed with that kind of performance? Perhaps the Minister can use the opportunity of replying to this debate to match President Biden’s example. I would greatly welcome it if she did.

Some important questions remain to be answered about the agreement, and I hope the Minister will be able to respond to them. Here are three. First, is this agreement in no sense a defence pact or treaty with objectives and obligations similar to those in the Atlantic alliance? I ask that because a great deal of the press comment has been extraordinarily wide of the mark, as I understand it. The words “pact”, “mutual defence treaty” and so on are thrown around, and it would be a great help if the Minister could correct that—if I am right in thinking that it needs correcting. I hope the answer is no, since I do not think that this is the moment to revive those Cold War relics SEATO and CENTO. To do so would risk opening up rifts in what we must hope will be the widest possible involvement of countries in the Indo-Pacific region, working together to deter any possible Chinese attempt to extend its sphere of influence. I doubt very much whether India, Japan, South Korea or even New Zealand would contemplate joining such a mutual defence organisation, and we surely do not want to slip into new a Cold War mentality when the solution of so many of the world’s problems, such as those relating to climate change, health, trade and nuclear non-proliferation, necessitate working with China.

Secondly, will Australia, a non-nuclear member state under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, be negotiating suitable safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that there are no proliferation risks from this exchange of information? Will that be a condition of supply?

Thirdly, would it be preferable if any technology transfer to Australia—here I speak about something that, I imagine, might not take place for some time, while design and competition between us and the United States take places—takes the form of propulsion units that will not require replenishment during the life of the submarine in question? That would thus avoid the greatest risk of fissionable material, in the form of high enriched uranium, getting into the wrong hands. It would be very useful if the noble Baroness addressed those three questions. I hope her replies strengthen my welcome for this agreement.

16:06
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con)
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I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the committee for the work they have done and for creating the opportunity to debate this issue and the agreement before us. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, I welcome it. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said, it is particularly welcome as this is a new agreement that covers an area for which there has never been this opportunity before—namely, the Indo-Pacific waters. I hope it presages and prefaces more interplay between the parties involved.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, I also express my regret at the lapse in diplomatic judgment that led to France being left out in the cold. I say this simply because I have never represented a part of the south; I have always represented parts of either the north or the east of England. But I am mindful that we are extremely dependent on France at the moment regarding the number of migrants who come to this country. Noble Lords must ask ourselves how prepared we would be, if the roles were reversed and this was happening to us, to police our waters and stop migrants coming over. I just leave my noble friend with that thought. I would be grateful for her views on the way the situation was handled with France and if things could have been done in a more diplomatic way. We did not need to offend them.

I echo the concern raised by the noble Baroness in introducing the report regarding paragraph 16 and amendments to the agreement being subject to parliamentary scrutiny. The Minister served in the Scottish Parliament with some distinction and is only too aware of the interest the Scottish nation has in this form of nuclear deterrent. What procedure is envisaged to discuss and debate these amendments with the assemblies of the devolved nations, in particular the Scottish Parliament?

In introducing the report, the noble Baroness said that it was hoped that the agreement would run for 18 months. Can the Minister confirm that? The very useful note provided by the Library in preparation for today says that the agreement will stay in force until 31 December 2023, but it does not say when it will come into force or when all three partner countries will have completed their respective internal procedures to ratify international agreements. I fully accept that it is extremely important that we share the naval nuclear propulsion information that lies at the heart of the agreement, which is why I warmly welcome the agreement before us.

I hope that my noble friend and the Committee will permit me to raise one issue which is even more of a threat at the moment, and which we briefly debated two weeks ago when we discussed an international agreement similar to this one, albeit with Ukraine. I am delighted to say that my noble friend Lord Grimstone has written to us answering a number of questions that were raised then in relation to cyberattacks, which have been identified by the Government as being of great concern. The one causing particular concern was that on Ukraine, which took out a number of Ukrainian Government websites and was presumably committed by a hostile state, in this case Russia.

As is clearly stated on the government website, we have seen an increase in the number of such attacks in this country through 2021, and I welcome the National Cyber Strategy, which the Government published in December 2021. However, that would be even more helpful if it contained some specific advice on how a company might respond if it was in the midst of a cyberattack and on what government resources would be made available to address the increasing number of such cyberattacks on companies. I read with interest that for most of those that have taken place to date, against government bodies either in mainland Britain or in Northern Ireland, no ransom has been paid. It is a matter of record that the clothing company, FatFace, paid a ransom of £2 million to recover its systems. The cyberattack with which I was involved led to a ransom of more than £100,000 being paid. All I could find on cyberattacks was the following statement on the National Cyber Security Centre website:

“Law enforcement do not encourage, endorse, nor condone the payment of ransom demands. If you do pay the ransom … there is no guarantee that you will get access to your data or computer … your computer will still be infected … you will be paying criminal groups … you’re more likely to be targeted in the future.”


I do not believe that this advice goes far enough. If a company is in the midst of a cyberattack which has shut down its systems and if it is not given any help by the Government, the only option it has is to pay the ransom money. There is no doubt that the two cyberattacks that I referred to came from a third state, a hostile state, believed to be Russia. I would draw the conclusion that the moneys raised, the £2 million from FatFace and the more than £100,000 paid recently in bitcoins by the company in North Yorkshire, will go to fuel the troops on the Ukrainian and other borders.

Will the Minister comment on how we are going to meet such cyberattacks going forward?

16:13
Lord Bilimoria Portrait Lord Bilimoria (CB)
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My Lords, as the UK redefines its role in the world, it must remain globally competitive, dynamic and outward facing. The key foreign policy strategy for that is the integrated review which we launched on 16 March last year.

As president of the CBI, I know that business welcomed the importance placed on relations with key growth markets to boost business confidence, along with a balanced approach to China as outlined in the review. AUKUS is an example of this strategy in action; it is an acknowledgment that the key battlegrounds will not be in the industries of old but in industries of the future, including nuclear, and having this agreement shows that the UK is going to collaborate to ensure that we have the competitive advantage to offer the world.

Unless the West steps up and collaborates, it leaves China and others to fill the void. China accelerated its CPTPP accession plans and made formal announcements to that effect just days after the AUKUS pact announcement. That was not unrelated.

China is very competitive in some of the industries of the future, leading the world on AI and autonomous vehicles, but we in the UK also have significant strengths and services—also in AI—with innovation spinning out of our best of the best universities in the world, including on things like graphene. There is an important dynamic on standards and rules of the future across many of these technologies and industries, and the UK should be at the forefront of leading and convening those dialogues. We should be the key interlocutor bridging different views. We had the G7 summit last year, which we hosted and led, and we have the G20 in Indonesia next year. These are key moments, and these collaborations can really create a global leadership role for the UK promoting multilateralism and partnership, ideally rooted in human rights and the rule of law. These are the types of values we hold dear in our economy.

The integrated review of global Britain in a competitive age—looking at security, defence, development and foreign policy—was the first time that such a review was created and was a comprehensive articulation of our security and international policy, taking into account sovereignty, security, prosperity, democracy and a commitment to human rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and faith and equality. It is a far cry from the 2015 SDSR, and let us not even get started on the 2010 SDSR—I see red when I remember it—which decimated our Armed Forces and was the worst in our history. Thank God we have moved on from that.

This integrated review sets out a vision for global Britain: our openness as a source of prosperity; a more robust position on security and resilience; a renewed commitment to the UK as a force for good in the world; increased determination to seek multilateral solutions to challenges such as climate change. AUKUS is a multilateral solution as well, which stresses the importance of deepening our relationship with our allies and partners in the world. The integrated review has four overarching objectives. The first is sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology—AUKUS ticks that box. The second is shaping the open international order of the future—AUKUS ticks that box. The third is strengthening security and defence at home and overseas with allies and partners to help maximise the benefits of openness and protect our people from growing threats—AUKUS ticks that box. The fourth is building resilience at home and overseas—AUKUS ticks that box. The integrated review and AUKUS therefore go hand in hand.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and her committee for all their work. The deal that the Australian, United States and UK Governments signed in September is a joint statement creating a trilateral agreement. This is of course on top of the existing Five Eyes, involving Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the UK. People forget that the origins of the Five Eyes go back—if I am not mistaken—to 1941. It is a solid relationship that we have together. This time, with AUKUS, it is about the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines and the resulting co-operation. We also have, as the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, mentioned, the Quad agreement between Japan, Australia, the UK and India, which is also a very strong agreement and has a lot of potential. Also, just last week, we signed the start of the negotiations on the UK-India free trade agreement, which will be one of our most important free trade agreements going forward. The negotiations will, we hope, carry on throughout this year.

There are some points to note. AUKUS is the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement, and the Royal Australian Navy will be able to safeguard the peace and security in the region as a result. This will be in a scoping phase for 18 months, but have the Government taken into account the Australian elections coming up some time between March and May? Will this deal survive a change of government? We do not know if there will be a change, but have our Government considered the implications of this?

Before concluding, I just want to touch on the House of Commons debate on the Command Paper, which was also relevant to this. Of course, the Army will go down to 72,500 people by 2025. I find this really concerning. Our Armed Forces, including our Army—the boots on the ground—need to have a critical mass. We talk about the Army not filling Wembley Stadium; 72,500 is way below filling it. When my father, General Bilimoria, commanded the Central Command in India, it was made up of 350,000 troops, so this is a matter of concern.

This new partnership has huge implications and has been well received. The UK National Security Adviser, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, said that the submarine element of the partnership is

“perhaps the most significant capability collaboration anywhere in the world in the past six decades.”

There is also the potential for lucrative defence and security opportunities for UK industry, not just in submarine-building but in other areas that the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, spoke about, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and quantum technology. One of the CBI’s largest members is BAE Systems, which is chaired by one of my predecessors as president of the CBI, Sir Roger Carr, and has as a board member Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the former director-general of the CBI.

So this partnership could be very good news for companies like BAE Systems. However—this point is important—the tilt in the Indo-Pacific is very important. We must not forget what is on our doorsteps with Europe. What is happening in Ukraine, in front of our eyes, is crucial. This is not an either/or; it is an “and”—that is, both Europe on our doorstep and the Indo-Pacific. Of course, the Australian Prime Minister has said that one of the key drivers of the agreement is the growing security challenge in the Indo-Pacific; we will address it as well.

There is another point that the Government must take into account, and this does not involve the transfer of nuclear weapons to Australia. AUKUS does not contravene the nuclear non-proliferation agreement, but there is a concern because New Zealand has said that it will not allow these nuclear-powered submarines into its territorial waters. What will the effect on Five Eyes be? None, I hope, but it is something to be considered.

On 16 December—or 17 December, depending on whether you are in the UK or Australia—we signed the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I was privileged to play a part in helping with the agreement throughout, alongside the Australian Minister for Trade, Dan Tehan, and our Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan. It is the most comprehensive and modern free trade agreement in the world. The main part of it was negotiated in 365 days. It is duty-free and tariff-free. It covers goods, services, mobility, youth mobility, digital, SMEs, agriculture, innovation, climate change and the environment. The good news is, having signed it, the next step is accession to the CPTPP, and Dan Tehan is the vice-chairman of the accession committee. Hopefully, this year, we will join the CPTPP, which is made up of 11 countries and represents more than £110 billion of trade for us. That will be very good news.

We have the integrated review, AUKUS, the UK- Australia Free Trade Agreement and Five Eyes; and soon, we will have the CPTPP. Trade and security, hand in hand, will be intertwined, not as a thread between the UK and Australia but as a solid rope all the way through.

16:23
Lord West of Spithead Portrait Lord West of Spithead (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for tabling this Motion to take note of the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement. It was announced in a joint statement in September last year and immediately had strategic impact. Although China was not mentioned, the whole thrust of Australia’s decision to opt for nuclear vice conventional submarines was to counter the threats of China’s aggressive posture in the vast Indo- Pacific region.

China is, for example, building a military base on Vanuatu. Why is she doing that? She is building islands on reefs in the South China Sea and claiming ownership of the waters around it, contrary to international law; breaking agreements regarding Hong Kong; threatening Taiwan; and claiming the Japanese Senkaku Islands. One can add to this the impact of the belt and road initiative—China has, for example, now taken over the best deep-water port in Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, which we used to call Trincomalee, because Sri Lanka was not paying the money it owed—and its treatment of the Uighur population; it is quite apparent that China has no respect for the world order established post World War II.

Individual nations have little impact on what China does. She does not really care what each one of them is doing separately but, when they join together, she pays much more notice. There is no doubt that the Quad, which has already been talked about—the alliance between Australia, India, Japan and the USA—was something China did not like. We have seen that from a lot of things that have been said. AUKUS, the next alliance to confront China, also had an impact and was followed very shortly afterwards by the Japan-Australia agreement. Unsurprisingly, China reacted very negatively to the announcement of AUKUS, which confirms in my mind that we are going down the right route and that it was a good thing to do.

As noble Lords are aware—a number of speakers have mentioned it—this is about much more than a geopolitical move. AUKUS potentially comes with very lucrative defence and security opportunities for UK industry and opportunities within the scientific world, not just in submarine build but in lots of the other areas mentioned: cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.

Our American allies are taking this very seriously. Jim Miller, former Defense Under-Secretary, has been named to lead the US efforts on AUKUS. He reports directly to their national security adviser and has been tasked with designing an architecture for how the three countries will work more proactively on defence and share perspectives on the Indo-Pacific co-ordinating region. He will also co-ordinate, on a day-to-day basis, how defence, state diplomatic and other officials from all three countries will meet regularly to harmonise views and positions on the Indo-Pacific. Most importantly, the US has said that Miller will

“do whatever possible to provide the Royal Australian Navy with options to build nuclear submarines as rapidly as possible.”

Miller has 18 months to pull all that together. I ask the Minister: who in the UK is the point of contact for Mr Miller. Do we have a Mr Miller lookalike?

16:27
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.
16:36
Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Watkins of Tavistock) (CB)
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My Lords, the debate can now continue. I have agreed that if we have further votes, we will try not to take the full 10 minutes, if everyone has managed to vote electronically, so that we can proceed.

Lord West of Spithead Portrait Lord West of Spithead (Lab)
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My Lords, the United States has also established a US submarine advisory committee, which is advising the Australians on options. Can the Minister say whether we have anyone on that committee? What relationship does that advisory committee have with the US nuclear-powered submarine task force currently working with the UK to identify the best way for Australia to acquire a nuclear submarine fleet? I hope this is not a separate group doing separate work. We need to make sure this is all properly co-ordinated, otherwise we will find that we miss out on things. I am surprised that we have not established a post similar to Jim Miller’s post. Rather our national security adviser is pulling together all the strands from various departments such as the MoD, the FCDO, BEIS and others and is a very busy man. Surely we need to have someone who can focus full-time on this programme, or something will fall between the cracks and we will be outmanoeuvred by our great American friends, who are very good at doing business, and we will be caught out.

Picking the right design for the Royal Australian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines is extraordinarily complex, and difficult choices will need to be made. There are two prime contenders: the Royal Navy’s Astute class and the US Navy’s Virginia-class Block V submarine or possibly the Astute successor or the Block VI Virginia-class which is going to replace the Block V. None of them will require refuelling. In answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, they will be provided straightaway with a core and a reactor that runs through their entire life.

Numerous issues will need to be considered, including fleet size, submarine service life, Australian defence self-reliance, Australian industry, content, design risks, size, crewing, payload delivery, sustainment of operations, training regimes, export controls and nuclear controls within Australia. It has been assessed that a critical mass of 10 Australian SSNs would be required to sustain sufficient certified personnel at sea and ashore and that it will be at least 15 years from now before there are enough qualified Australians to run even one nuclear submarine in a self-reliant manner. Provision of the boats will take even longer than that. This is highly complex and difficult to organise.

I believe that the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement should be welcomed with acclaim. It will help global stability because it will make the Chinese think and it will, I hope, give great opportunities to UK defence firms and science.

16:39
Lord Houghton of Richmond Portrait Lord Houghton of Richmond (CB)
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for the opportunity for this short debate. I reassure her that, although I am a landlubber, the importance of the nuclear enterprise transcends single service interests. Indeed, in common with most former defence chiefs, I maintain a close interest in the nation’s nuclear enterprise. This is not always easy since many of the Government’s formal publications and announcements on nuclear issues, such as last October’s annual update to Parliament, are, perhaps by design, somewhat opaque.

A consistent set of features of the nuclear enterprise is, however, clearly discernible. The enterprise is vital, expensive, fragile and, wholly understandably, beset with various risks. One area of that risk is the future propulsion system of our nuclear submarines, and one category of that fragility is the quality and future availability of suitably qualified nuclear personnel. The fragility is fully recognised, though it is, to be honest, far less obvious that it is being successfully ameliorated.

The recently announced AUKUS agreement is in many respects hugely welcome, as we have heard. It aligns the interests of three like-minded Governments in an increasingly important part of the world and against a commonly agreed threat. The genesis of agreement, however, is less obvious. It appears, anecdotally, to have been the opportunistic exploitation of a military-to-military inquiry about the challenges of adopting nuclear propulsion in a submarine enterprise. It certainly does not seem to be an initiative that spent years of cautious marinading in policy consideration. Rather, it was an opportunity to give substance to rhetoric. There may well be nothing wrong in that at all, but my concern is that a major foreign policy initiative that necessitates any dilution of the UK national effort, any diversion of our nuclear expertise or anything that has the potential to add fragility or risk to our own nuclear enterprise must be contemplated and embarked upon with extreme caution. I would welcome the Minister’s assurance that this risk is fully recognised and will be properly ameliorated.

16:42
Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke Portrait Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke (Lab)
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My Lords, it seems a bit strange that we all recognise how important this agreement is—it is extremely important—but that this is the only opportunity, in this room today, to scrutinise it in detail. I support it, as indeed do all noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon, but there are parts of it that we really need to dig a little deeper into. I have some questions. I know the Minister is very helpful, but some of the issues raised by the International Agreements Committee are about the explanatory memoranda produced with these treaties, and we need to know the detail. We cannot have just a broad sweep, which is what has been happening. Some of the questions that I wish to ask look at the detail of the agreement.

I accept that we are all new to this process of examining trade deals but, if we look at the joint standing committee on trade in the Australian Parliament, there is a process that allows parliamentarians access to much greater detail than we have had—not just on this deal but on other deals. I would recommend to the Government that we work hard at this to get it right. We now have a process of 18 months as part of this agreement, and it is very important that we have a hard-headed look at some of the aspects in it.

The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, spoke in some detail about the Five Eyes agreement. Were the Five Eyes nations informed in advance that this was going to happen? One reason why I ask that is the point that has already been made: that New Zealand has already stated that it will not allow nuclear-propelled vessels into its waters. If that has not been referred to them in advance, we have put them at a disadvantage, as we have Canada. Does this weaken the Five Eyes agreement? I hope that it does not because it is a very important agreement for our security.

One other area where I have not found any advice or information is about the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. Where does that kick in? What about the whole area of making sure that we work with our allies across the board? Could we be enlightened on the wider context of policy—this has been said by others—towards the Indo-Pacific region and China? That is very much on our minds, given the advice that we were offered last week about the interest that China is taking in this Parliament.

I am sorry to pose such a long list of questions, but part of that is because of the paucity of advice in the Explanatory Memorandum. This is a large-scale defence deal put together in great secrecy and handled in a rather ham-fisted way—the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, being a much more distinguished diplomat than me, calls it a travesty of diplomacy. The way in which it has been handled with France has been awful; France has been done out of a $90 billion contract for conventional submarines. No one seems to have taken into account that France has a considerable interest in the Pacific region. There are about 1.6 million French citizens in, for example, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and the French already have a defence strategy based on the region. It seems bizarre not to have taken them into account in the run-up to the treaty. The Times very funnily pointed out that the way in which the treaty had been handled was like something out of a John Le Carré novel, which is a bit unfortunate if we are trying to position ourselves as being ready for the kind of complex agreements that we are talking about.

Australia has its own shipbuilding industry with strong links with the UK. Given the lack of information on how disagreements will be handled, as my noble friend Lady Hayter pointed out, can we assume that intellectual property is part of the deal? Where are the constraints on intellectual property? That will become quite important. As I said in the debate last week, I live close to some of the big shipyards that are involved in defence. If we look in detail at this agreement, it could mean that a lot of the shipbuilding that we do in the United Kingdom goes elsewhere. If it helps security, fair enough, but there are still big questions that need to be answered, and the answers are not in either the agreement or the memorandum.

Can any one of the partners walk away? It would be very helpful if the Minister could enlighten us about how any disagreements can be settled because there does not seem to be any dispute settlement mechanism, as stated in Article X. Similarly, there seems to be no mechanism for amendments to the treaty. Of great significance to this House, I would like to know the arrangements for continuing parliamentary scrutiny of this treaty and other treaties associated with it because we are talking about a mechanism that facilitates any further transfer of information and expertise.

Moving to a nuclear-powered fleet, rather than a diesel-powered one, in Australia cannot be put down to a desire to reduce carbon emissions. As we saw at COP 26, the present Government of Australia is pretty much in the hands of climate sceptics, so we cannot use that kind of argument.

The noble Lords, Lord Lansley and Lord Bilimoria, referred to the Quad and the role that India plays in it. Has it been informed of the thinking behind this treaty? Was it informed before the treaty was announced or is it trying to catch up, just like everybody else?

Some of these questions could have been answered in the Explanatory Memorandum but they are not. It is worrying that this debate is the only opportunity for scrutiny of the treaty. I encourage the Government to think again about how they handle it, look at the Australian example of the Joint Statutory Committee and see whether we can come to an arrangement that keeps us all on the one side when important treaties, such as this one, are going through.

16:50
Lord Boyce Portrait Lord Boyce (CB)
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My Lords, I agree with and support in principle the agreement we are debating. It will strengthen our strategic position in the Indo-Pacific and help to bolster our relationship with the Five Power Defence Arrangements, which is, in my view, necessary in the light of China’s increasing assertiveness in the region. It will also bring us closer to the Quad, which has been mentioned two or three times this afternoon, and is an alliance with which we should become more closely associated.

En passant, this initiative is extraordinarily ambitious for Australia. One has to wonder whether it has truly assessed the huge cost of nuclear ownership, even if the submarines are not built in Australia. I worry that we are going to invest a massive amount of time and capital that we can ill afford only to find somewhere down the line that Australia has deemed the project unaffordable. However, I hope this will become apparent —or not—in the early stages of the studies that are under way.

Notwithstanding my broad support, none the less, I have some reservations about where this agreement might take us. I note that some commentators have said:

“AUKUS does not over-extend Britain”


as

“There is no military commitment involved in the agreement.”


Well, that all depends on how you define “military commitment”. Clearly we will not be in some sort of Article 5-type situation, but I am quite sure that there will be a drain on our military resources in terms of people and equipment as this project ramps up and thereafter as the Australian submarines achieve operationality.

This presents me with a major concern. I realise that this agreement does not provide for the transfer of naval nuclear propulsion equipment. As the Explanatory Memorandum explains, following the conclusions of the 18-month scoping programme,

“a follow-on agreement would be put in place to support such transfers as needed to then deliver the submarine capability to Australia.”

Our submarine-building programme is not in a strong place, and the need to get Dreadnought operational as soon as possible could not be more pressing given the state of the ageing Vanguard class it is due to replace.

The Explanatory Memorandum implies that we are just talking about the transfer of equipment in due course, but from where and at what cost to our own tautly stretched supply lines? No mention is made of the exchange or loan of nuclear propulsion SQEPs—suitably qualified and experienced personnel, which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Houghton, mentioned —both uniformed and civilian. We are already in a parlous position in this area, but it is difficult to see how Australia, with no nuclear SQEPs, can manage without acquiring some of our people, which would be at significant detriment to ourselves. Australia may look to the United States but my understanding is that it, too, is stretched in its submarine-building programme from equipment, industrial and personnel aspects. I therefore agree very much with the thrust of the views of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Houghton, on this matter. Although the agreement we are debating is not crafted to cover my concerns, can the Minister say whether the Government will lay down some markers to cover the points I have mentioned before the ratification of this agreement?

On another point, can the Minister give an assurance that we are fireproof so far as the 1958 agreement is concerned? Some may remember the mess we got ourselves into in this area when we tried to help the Canadians move forward on their aspiration for a nuclear submarine force following their 1987 defence review, which set out their vision for a three-ocean navy. The Americans were mightily upset with our offer to the Canadians to provide them with some nuclear propulsion technology, and it took a considerable time before we were able to re-establish our previously good working relationship with the United States Navy.

Paragraph 3.2 of the Explanatory Memorandum alludes to the 1958 agreement and implies that the agreement allows the United Kingdom to share nuclear naval propulsion information, but this is not covered in the agreement per se. Should we have a formal amendment to the 1958 agreement, or a codicil to it, to make sure that we are indeed fireproof?

16:56
Baroness Smith of Newnham Portrait Baroness Smith of Newnham (LD)
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My Lords, I feel as though we might be in the middle of a game of parliamentary musical chairs and that at some point one of us making winding speeches is going to find that we are interrupted by the bell, so I am not sure whether I should aim to speak for a very long time, get to the bell and stop or should expect to be interrupted in the middle of my speech.

In opening this debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, pointed out that we are talking about an agreement of considerable strategic significance. As the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, pointed out, the treaty that we are scrutinising today is in some ways quite limited. It is very specific. I want to start with some general points and will make a few specific points about the agreement.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, pointed out, the context of the treaty is very important. In announcing AUKUS back in September, the Prime Minister said the

“‘AUKUS’ partnership will work to protect our people and support a peaceful and rules-based international order.”

We had a brief opportunity to consider the AUKUS announcement in September when we discussed a Statement, but a Statement repeat in the Lords almost by definition means very little time for debate— 40 minutes—and very little opportunity for those of us who contributed to that debate to stop and assess what our Government and the Governments of Australia and the United States were seeking to achieve. Everybody, with the partial exception of me speaking from the Liberal Democrat Benches, seemed to greet the agreement with acclaim. My slightly more sceptical voice was because I was a little concerned about whether Her Majesty’s Government had spoken to France. It quickly became clear that they had not. As we heard this afternoon from the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, this has created certain concerns. So while we support the AUKUS agreement and the agreement we are looking at today on the exchange of information on naval propulsion, can the Minister tell the Grand Committee what Her Majesty’s Government are doing on our wider diplomatic relations to ensure that as we move forward with our agreements with the United States and Australia, we are keeping our other NATO and Five Eyes allies on board? We cannot afford another diplomatic incident. I do not think the fact that the French did not withdraw their ambassador from London is a sign that we did a better job diplomatically than Australia and the United States. What are the Government doing to make sure that our diplomatic relationships are in good order?

Several noble Lords have expressed concern about parliamentary scrutiny and how far we are able to scrutinise this agreement and the wider aspects of AUKUS. While listening to the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, I wondered whether the International Agreements Committee should be thinking about some sort of parliamentary visit to its Australian counterpart, but I think that might not be possible for all sorts of reasons. I wonder to what extent there is scope for the committees of this House to talk to opposite numbers in Australia and the United States about best practice and how far it can be imported to this House and the United Kingdom Parliament more generally. The Minister clearly cannot answer for a House of Lords committee, but she should be answering for the Government, so can she explain what the Government intend in terms of reporting to your Lordships’ House and the other place, both in terms of this treaty, which is a relatively limited treaty for the next 18 months, and for wider discussions on AUKUS moving forward? That is clearly of importance to the whole House.

In terms of the AUKUS provisions in general, there is a suggestion that it will strengthen the United Kingdom’s defence and international relations. That may well be the case, and certainly the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, was keen to say how important it is because, in particular, it has given China a sense that the United Kingdom along with the US and Australia are willing to confront China. However, if that is the case, and part of the purpose of AUKUS is to take on China, to what extent does the United Kingdom have the resources to be able to do that? We have heard from the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, and the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, that there are some questions about our capabilities. To what extent will this agreement be beneficial to the United Kingdom in a military and export sense and to what extent do we think it might be a pull on our defence budget? As the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, implied, if we are working with Australia, and the main AUKUS deal was sold to Parliament as hugely important in terms of our defence exports, surely we do not stand to benefit if the Australians ultimately do not procure submarines.

17:02
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.
17:06
Baroness Smith of Newnham Portrait Baroness Smith of Newnham (LD)
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The point I was making, as we were interrupted by the bell, concerns what happens if this agreement does not take us in the direction anticipated and work is undertaken, perhaps by the United Kingdom and UK businesses, but ultimately, we do not see any submarine sales on the order books.

I want to raise two final issues. One is strategic and the other relates to small points in the agreement. The strategic one is the extent to which the Government are still keeping an eye on our own region. A tilt to the Indo-Pacific might seem strategically important and is clearly significant in terms of concerns about China, but to what extent are we able to tilt to the Indo-Pacific and, at the same time, ensure our own continent is secure?

Turning to my two points on the treaty specifically, Article VI talks about not communicating any naval nuclear propulsion information to people of

“other nations, foreign or international entities, or individuals who are not nationals of the Parties.”

In light of the security guidance we were given last week and concerns about a Chinese national, who I assume is a dual national, could the Minister explain to the Committee whether “nationals” here means people with only a single nationality? What happens if a dual national has either Russian or Chinese nationality alongside British, American or Australian nationality?

My final point relates to Article VIII and intellectual property. Is there any concern that, by sharing information and the guarantees under intellectual property, British researchers could lose out in any way, or are the Government satisfied that that clause gives guarantees that are as sufficient and desirable for researchers as they are for the defence sector generally?

17:09
Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab)
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My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lady Hayter and her committee for the report and for calling this debate. The committee invites us to look not only at the agreement in front of us but at the broader area in which it fits. It is important to see the big picture.

I am new to this area of treaties, and I always like to see a piece of paper. The first piece of paper that one is likely to come across on AUKUS is Boris Johnson’s speech. I am not entirely comfortable with that as a document of record, so I went on Google, as one does, and addressed the White House website. It has an excellent document which puts the range and objectives of this package, or whatever we want to call it, in a joint leaders’ statement on AUKUS. I would be happier about the statement if it had three signatures at the bottom; nevertheless, it uses very inclusive language. I shall quote some parts of it. The statement begins:

“As leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, guided by our enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order, we resolve to deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. As part of this effort, we are announcing the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership called ‘AUKUS’”.


To be clear on what it is to cover, the third paragraph states:

“As the first initiative under AUKUS, recognizing our common tradition as maritime democracies, we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. Today, we embark on a trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability.”


Recognising that the agreement goes much wider than submarines, a later paragraph states:

“Recognizing our deep defense ties, built over decades, today we also embark on further trilateral collaboration under AUKUS to enhance our joint capabilities and interoperability. These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.”


It is clear from this carefully worded joint leaders’ statement that this is a comprehensive and ambitious initiative.

The Labour Party welcomes the increased co-operation with our allies and supports the AUKUS agreement. Australia and America are two of our closest security partners, and sharing resources and intelligence with them makes Britain safer. Britain must look after our most important relationships, or we will see our influence and security quickly decline. China’s actions in the Indo-Pacific pose risks to UK interests and threaten a stable trading environment, democracy and human rights, and it is important that we deal with those risks.

However—there is always a “however”—it is also vital that the UK maintain a commercial relationship with China and that we work with it on defining global issues of the day, such as tackling climate change. It is also important that this arrangement does not see resources redirected from Europe to the Pacific and that it strengthens our NATO alliance and other strategic partnerships. Finally, this arrangement clearly brings potential economic opportunities for Britain.

My only problem with this grand vision—and this shows my lack of international diplomacy experience—concerns what this statement is. Is it a treaty? Is it an agreement? How will things change as a result of it? Will it develop into a document which has some enforceability?

In addressing this from a UK point of view, I support the concept and focus of the noble Lord, Lord West. As this pact, this agreement—whatever we want to call it—matures, it will need a high-quality individual with a high-quality team to make sure that it goes right. There are a lot of potential problems. One thing we need is a change in the tradition of the political side of our leadership and the Civil Service. We will need people in a stable relationship with this task because the very considerable industrial and manufacturing complexities—there are also people complexities; this point was rolled out by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce—will need to be looked at all the time.

We support the pact, but there is a lot to flesh out before it is meaningful. Frankly, what we have in front of us is a modest part of that picture. As far as I understand it, it is a confidentiality agreement driven by the necessities of US law. The International Agreements Committee has brought out some of question marks, which I hope the Minister will be able to help with. I was particularly seized by paragraph 13 of its report, which states that the agreement

“shall settle any disagreements arising in the implementation or interpretation of this Agreement through mutual consultations and negotiations without recourse to any dispute settlement mechanism”.

That sounds wonderful but you end up asking where its teeth are. How will it actually deliver?

The next paragraph, paragraph 14, talks about

“four automatic extensions of six months each”,

which sounds like 31 December 2025; I do not know why it does not say that, nor what automatic extensions are. This paragraph also states:

“Any Party may terminate the Agreement by giving six months’ written notice to the other Parties.”


So it is a pretty fragile situation. When you think about why this may happen, it depends on trust. I suspect that if you asked the French about trust, they would give you a pretty dire analysis of what they see as trust.

Paragraph 16 of the report has been referred to; it is where all these conversations centre. It talks about the Explanatory Memorandum but really it is talking about the thinking behind the document. It states:

“We reiterate our recommendation made in recent reports that the Government should review its quality assurance processes to ensure that all EMs address whether amendments will be subject to scrutiny under Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010”.


I would go further: we must have mechanisms to supervise this enormous concept—this trilateral relationship —with parliamentary scrutiny.

We support the agreement in front of us, but we must be much clearer about parliamentary involvement, and I thank my noble friend Lady Liddell for bringing this out. The question is: why? There are two reasons. First, the probability is that this will involve lots of money. The Australians have a somewhat patchy reputation when it comes to building submarines and manning them. There is a reasonable possibility—possibly even a probability—that these boats will end up being built in Britain. That sounds wonderful until you look at the record of building submarines in Britain, with pauses, delays, changes in the shape of the programme et cetera.

The second thing that one has to realise is that this is going to go wrong. Things of this complexity go wrong; life is like that. If something goes wrong, it does not mean that it is lost, it means that the “going wrong” process will have to be managed. That management once again comes back to the talent that we put into the process and the extent to which Parliament is informed, to which there is a degree of transparency, to work through what will be a 10, 15 or 20-year relationship.

17:20
Baroness Goldie Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Goldie) (Con)
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My Lords, I first thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and her committee for their report and for calling this debate. I also thank all noble Lords for their genuinely interesting and very well-informed contributions.

Let me just reprise the salient features of the AUKUS information-sharing agreement. I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, who referred to it as being an agreement of strategic significance. My noble friend Lord Lansley made positive comments about the process and the agreement itself and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, offered a very insightful and reflective commentary. This agreement is based on existing information-sharing practices in place between the United Kingdom and the United States. It will remain in force for only a limited period, and it is necessary in order to enable this key piece of work on submarine nuclear propulsion to move forward.

It is a binding international agreement in law. The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, raised the important question of what happens if there is a change of Government. None of us has the capacity to predict or control what properly elected Governments in other states do, but this is a binding international agreement. I think that everyone understands the significance and strategic importance of this agreement to Australia, and I therefore very much hope that the arrangement is secure. If there is a change of Administration in any of the three countries—I do not anticipate that happening in this country; let me make that clear—I would hope that the binding legal dimensions of this agreement would obtain.

In so far as the procedure within the United Kingdom is concerned, we laid the agreement before Parliament in November 2021 for scrutiny in the usual way, and I thank the committee for its role in that process. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, was rather disparaging about the agreement. He thinks it is fragile. With respect, I disagree: I think it is robust and focused. There is very detailed work under the agreement now proceeding. He was unduly pessimistic in saying that he is certain it will go wrong. I disagree. I have every confidence, with the structures in place, that this is an important piece of work, not just for our international interests but also for our domestic interests. It is an exciting prospect, and I do not share his pessimism.

I thank the committee for its scrutiny of the agreement and for the report that it has produced. My noble friend Lady McIntosh asked when we expect it to be ratified, and the answer is by the end of January. For future agreements, the Government would of course comply with any applicable requirements of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The committee drew specific attention to amendments and whether they would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Understandably, a number of your Lordships raised this issue and sought clarification. As I have said, the agreement is based on existing information-sharing practices in place between the United Kingdom and the United States, and it will remain in force only for a limited period, enabling the initial programme of work. In these circumstances, the Government consider it unlikely that it will need to be amended during its time in force.

The terms of a binding international agreement, including those on the method of consent to be bound—for example, ratification—are subject to negotiation on a case-by-case basis with international partners. The noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter and Lady Smith, focused particularly on this point, as did my noble friend Lord Lansley. The nature of what happens in the course of the discharge of the functions under the agreement dictates, to some extent, how these matters are approached. Certainly, they would have to be approached with trilateral agreement, and we cannot anticipate what might arise that would need adjustment. We cannot anticipate whether they would raise, for example, issues of commercial confidentiality or national security. The same applies to the nature and form of any follow-on agreement, but I make clear to the Committee that the Government have previously indicated their intention that the majority of important treaty amendments be subject to ratification and submitted to Parliament for scrutiny in accordance with CRaG. I hope that provides an appropriate level of reassurance to Members of the Committee.

Lord Lansley Portrait Lord Lansley (Con)
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Is it reasonable to infer, from what my noble friend has said, that if a follow-on agreement is subject to examination by the treaties committee in the Australian Parliament, it will also be subject to scrutiny through CRaG in this Parliament?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I wish to reassure my noble friend and the Committee that the spirit and intention of the Government is that scrutiny is important; it is at the heart of what they wish to see Parliament do, and it would be exceptional if scrutiny were denied. I hope that reassures my noble friend to some extent.

Moving on to the substance of AUKUS itself, it is a security and defence partnership between three like-minded, democratic allies to enhance security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. AUKUS is not a new treaty, it is not a mutual defence agreement, and it does not replace nor cut across other alliances, such as NATO or Five Eyes; it complements them and supports their aims.

As your Lordships will be aware, the main effort under AUKUS is the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine capability to Australia. In September last year, an 18-month programme of work commenced to understand how we can best achieve this goal. I want to be clear that Australia asked for our help in acquiring a nuclear-powered submarine; we are meeting the request of a close partner with whom we have a long history of co-operation, including on submarines. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, spoke with authority on our long-standing United Kingdom/Australia relationship.

Our work to deliver this capability for Australia reflects the unique level of trust and co-operation between our three countries, and we can rightly be proud of that. This will help Australia to fulfil its defence and security responsibilities and to promote stability and security in the region, which this Government strongly support. As your Lordships will be aware, we have built and operated a world-class nuclear-powered submarine capability for more than 60 years. We bring deep expertise and experience to this partnership, as indeed do our American allies. AUKUS showcases the UK’s competitive and innovative defence industry and our role as a global leader in science and technology.

I emphasise, because a number of your Lordships alluded to this, that the programme of work will be fully in line with our international obligations. Australia has impeccable non-proliferation credentials, and it does not, and will not, seek nuclear weapons. It is important to reiterate that the proposed submarines will use a nuclear reactor uniquely as a power source. All three partners take their obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty extremely seriously and have been in regular close contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency as this agreement moves forward into the next stage.

Let me try to deal with some specific points that arose during the debate. My noble friend Lord Lansley raised the Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement. We enjoy a close and growing bilateral security relationship with Japan. AUKUS does not replace or reduce the importance of any other strands of our relationship with Japan. Instead, through AUKUS, we intend to deepen, not limit, co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region. The Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement is for these Governments to comment on, but is a sign of their developing strategic partnership.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Liddell and Lady Smith, raised the transfer of intellectual property. The agreement provides protection for the originating parties under Article VIII. As part of the ongoing programme of work, we will further consider how to deal with the exchange of intellectual property.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter and Lady Smith, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and my noble friend Lady McIntosh raised the important issue of international relations, not least with France, Europe and China. We fully recognise the French disappointment. We are keen to move forward and are keeping channels of communication open. As the Prime Minister said to President Macron, we are committed to the United Kingdom-France relationship and we believe in the powerful role we can play together.

France is an important partner to the United Kingdom. We have a long-standing security and defence relationship with France that is underpinned by the Lancaster House treaties and by us being close NATO allies. We continue to consult each other daily on international defence and security matters, and that defence relationship remains strong. As was recently illustrated, our close collaboration on Afghanistan and our military deployments in the Sahel to tackle terrorism indicate that we are working together and consulting each other, just as we are working together to tackle global challenges such as climate change.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, focused particularly on China. I make clear that AUKUS is not aimed at a specific country; it is about supporting our allies and promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region. AUKUS will work to protect our people and support a peaceful and rules-based international order. It is about the long-standing and deepening defence and security relationship between the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter, Lady Liddell and Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, specifically raised Five Eyes. That remains a unique and highly valued partnership. We have been sharing intelligence to address global threats and support international security and stability for over 60 years. We noted that Prime Minister Ardern of New Zealand welcomed the increased engagement of the United Kingdom and United States in the region. We compare notes and work together as five like-minded countries on a range of issues and in a variety of formats. Of course, each of us also has its independent foreign policy and works with different partners and in different groupings, according to context and need.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh asked about devolution. In this context, defence and foreign affairs are matters reserved for the Westminster Government, so there is no specific devolved locus on this matter. When the MoD receives inquiries from representatives of constituencies in the devolved nations or from the devolved Governments, we respond and always do our best to co-operate and be helpful.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, particularly raised the nuclear aspect to this and the responsibilities of the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. I give the reassurance that we want to reinforce the global non-proliferation architecture and set a precedent for the future that retains confidence in the fulfilment of our NPT obligations. We regularly update the International Atomic Energy Agency and are fully engaging with it throughout the 18-month feasibility study. We will continue to be transparent and consultative, especially on issues regarding nuclear materials, facilities and activities relevant to the IAEA.

The noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Bilimoria, were interested in the inherent character of this new security partnership. That is what it is. I think they were seeking clarification and reassurance. This is a partnership focused on joint capability development and technology sharing. It reflects the unique level of trust and co-operation between the UK, the United States and Australia. It is about nuclear propulsion, not nuclear weapons and, very specifically, it does not include any obligation to consider an attack upon one as an attack against all participating states. That is not the character of this agreement.

The noble Lord, Lord West, sought detail about specific representation on various groups within the UK, the United States and Australia. I do not have specific information to that level, but I shall investigate, and if I am able to share information with him, I shall do so.

Lord West of Spithead Portrait Lord West of Spithead (Lab)
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My other question relates to the fact that the Americans have nominated a very high-ranking person to drive this programme. It seems that we are allowing our National Security Adviser, who is responsible for all sorts of things, to do it. As we know, because of the sheer complexity of this and the impact it might have on our CASD, our nuclear programme and all the other things, having one person to whom we can say, “Right, this is your job. You’re responsible to the National Security Adviser and the Prime Minister, and if it goes wrong, it’s your head that gets chopped off” is the sort of thing we need rather than leaving it quite so loose. Are we going to do that?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for expanding on that. As I said, I do not have specific information and I would not want to mislead him by giving him some general position that may be completely inadequate. I undertake to go back, inquire and share with the noble Lord whatever information it is possible for me to disclose.

The noble and gallant Lords, Lord Houghton and Lord Boyce, raised legitimate and understandable concerns about how all this impacts on our nuclear submarine-building programme and whether it puts any of it in jeopardy. In relation to Dreadnought, I want to make it clear that the programme remains on track to deliver to schedule and within the original budget as provided for in the strategic defence and security review in 2015. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, asked about the overall budget situation. I gently remind her that the defence budget settlement which we saw last year is one of the most generous that we have seen in generations. That has been recognised widely and within the defence community.

In relation to Astute submarines, which, again, the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Houghton and Lord Boyce, were interested in, my understanding is that they are making good progress and that they are all committed to be delivered by 2026.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, also raised the 1958 agreement regarding nuclear weapons. He also mentioned other historical agreements which focused on nuclear weapons. I remind the Committee that AUKUS is commencing a programme of work to identify ways to deliver a nuclear-powered but not armed submarine capability to the Royal Australian Navy. That is a gentle reminder that we are dealing with matters of nuclear propulsion under this agreement.

The noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, wished to understand how all this relates to the Five Eyes defence alliance. Let me reassure her that that is first and foremost a highly valued intelligence-sharing partnership. Over the years, it has grown beyond intelligence sharing to respond to changing threats and challenges. AUKUS is an enhanced trilateral security partnership with a specific remit. Both as individual Five Eyes nations and as a group, we will continue to work with other like-minded allies, forming the right alliances to better face specific common challenges.

The noble Baroness was also interested in how AUKUS contributes to the United Kingdom’s Indo-Pacific strategy—forgive me for sounding hoarse; as far as I am aware, I have nothing infectious, and I tested this morning before coming to mix with you all.

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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It would have been difficult for the noble Lord to corroborate it; I was doing it in the privacy of my bedroom.

AUKUS is a concrete demonstration of the commitment made by the UK in the integrated review to deepen co-operation, partnerships and engagement in the Indo-Pacific. We are committed to deepening relationships with countries in that region. By 2030, the region will represent more than 40% of global GDP, so the announcement is a clear demonstration of both our interest in and commitment to that area.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, said, “Well, this is all fine and well, and we understand what it means for the Indo-Pacific area, but what about everything else in defence?” I say to her that if we take in conjunction the integrated review and the recent defence Command Paper, not to mention the recent Future Soldier paper which was the subject of a Statement in the Chamber, we see in all of those, detailed information on how we meet threat, wherever that is coming from, whether it is directed at us within the UK or at our partners and allies. We have a clear plan as to how we think we should meet that, and it is a plan that will endure in the forthcoming decades.

This is an important agreement for Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, as it is for the wider issues of stability in the region. The noble Lord, Lord West, commented both shrewdly and authoritatively on those issues. The agreement certainly reflects the importance we attach to the area in terms of the integrated review—that was also recognised by my noble friend Lord Lansley.

Lord Bilimoria Portrait Lord Bilimoria (CB)
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I earlier listed the countries that make up the Quad and said India, Australia, Japan and—by mistake—the UK. Of course, it is the US; the noble Lord, Lord Lansley pointed that out to me.

I cannot resist a serendipitous opportunity. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, asked me why the UK is not a member of the Quad. With the integrated review and our tilt to the Indo-Pacific, perhaps there is an opportunity for the UK to join the Quad in the future.

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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We always keep a vigilant eye on wherever we can find friends and partners. As I have already indicated, we also find different ways of working with them.

AUKUS is not uncontested. As an emerging new partnership, it is open to being misunderstood. All three AUKUS partners are therefore committed to engaging positively and collaboratively with international partners on the regional and global benefits of AUKUS while pushing back on disinformation about arms races and nuclear proliferation.

In addition, we have committed trilaterally under the auspices of AUKUS to enhancing the development of joint capabilities and technology-sharing beyond the nuclear propulsion that we have discussed today. Our initial area of focus for this effort is cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and additional undersea capabilities. We have agreed to broaden this into other areas as our partnership develops.

The UK will use this element of AUKUS as a platform to leverage its world-leading science and technology sector, working with trilateral partners to identify and exploit opportunities for us to develop new defence capabilities from which we can all benefit. We will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains. In conclusion, this is a significant partnership and a positive development for the United Kingdom, as it is for Australia, the United States and the broader region.

Lord Boyce Portrait Lord Boyce (CB)
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Thank you for allowing me to intervene. Can I return to the Nassau agreement for a moment? I am aware that we are talking about not nuclear weapons but nuclear propulsion, but I quote the Explanatory Memorandum:

“The US-UK Agreement for Co-operation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defense Purposes of 1958 … also prevents the UK and US from disclosing restricted naval nuclear propulsion information to other countries unless specifically authorised.”


We fell foul of that with the Canadians in 1987; that is what I am talking about. It is not about nuclear weapons, but nuclear propulsion, which the Explanatory Memorandum itself admits. As I say, the agreement does not mention this per se. I come back to the point of my original speech: should we have some sort of codicil or amendment to the 1958 agreement to make sure that we do not fall foul of it in this transfer of nuclear propulsion information to Australia?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble and gallant Lord for that clarification; I apologise for misunderstanding his question. I shall need to look at that in detail and revert to him with such information as I am able to find.

In conclusion, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and her committee. I also thank your Lordships for a stimulating debate.

17:46
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, it has indeed been stimulating. I am only sorry that it had to take place in the Moses Room. We very much welcome that we at least have a trio here—we now have my noble friend Lord Stevenson, and before we had an ex-Secretary-General of NATO. We are honoured that you are here, but it is a shame that something of such great importance has not been debated in the Chamber, because this is a pretty fundamental piece of our future.

There has been a broad and wide welcome for the principle of this agreement, which my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe called—I do not know whether these were his words or he was quoting—“comprehensive and ambitious”. We should thank him for giving up his birthday to be with us today; I am sure we all wish him the very best for celebrating with us in this generous way.

This has been a significant debate. I am not going to try to go through all the points, as the Minister did. Basically, three things have been spoken of. One is the role of Parliament; the second is about the details of the deal; the third is the wider context. I think that the role of Parliament and the scrutiny of future agreements are significant. My noble friends Lady Liddell and Lord Tunnicliffe, the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, and other noble Lords raised this; there are some really important issues here.

When my noble friend Lord Stevenson—I am particularly glad that he has walked in—was doing the then Trade Bill, there were a lot of undertakings received from the Department for International Trade about how it would deal with future trade deals. He helped to put together what were called the “Grimstone rules” for that but there is a real question for the Minister, who is here on behalf of defence—we also have some treaties coming under the Foreign Office now—about whether her department will give the same undertakings that my noble friend was able to get out of the Department for International Trade. When I joined this committee, I am afraid that it was something of a surprise to me that we were dealing with not just trade but these very significant defence and foreign affairs agreements. I hope that that can be taken into account.

I am sure that the Minister is aware of the report on working practices by the committee that I now chair, published when it was still in the capable hands of my noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith. I hope that we will revert to that fairly soon because there are really important questions in it about amendments to agreements. I think that the Minister slightly elided over them in her answer because, of course, some amendments may simply say “Minister” instead of “Secretary of State” and we really would not want to come back for that. In our report, we give some criteria for when amendments to agreements should be brought back; I hope that the Minister will take this point back to her department to look at it. Perhaps we could have further discussions on it because this ongoing scrutiny of such an important area will be important.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, suggested that we should learn from Australia. I think she was suggesting that I should fly out there—she is nodding; I thought so—and have a discussion with them. However, take the Australian example and the example of our trade deals before we left the European Union: what the European Parliament used to do by way of scrutiny was clearly much more detailed, and it had more information.

In not giving quite the answer I wanted from her, the Minister again used the words “commercial confidentiality”, but when others of us were dealing with the then National Security and Investment Bill—I know that the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, was there at the time—those issues were to be dealt with by the Business Committee in the House of Commons, not the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. At that stage, we asked, “How can that Business Committee in the Commons have sufficient security clearance to deal with these commercially sensitive things?” We were told, “Don’t worry, committees can do that”. If they can do it for that Bill, I must say, our committee should be able to do the scrutiny for this one. The excuse of commercial sensitivity should not be used to prevent us seeing things in such a way that we can then advise on taking out secret information and how the rest of Parliament will deal with it. I am sorry if I have gone on about this for a bit too long but the scrutiny of these significant agreements is important.

On the actual deal, both noble and gallant Lords raised some really important issues. Basically, they asked whether we have the spare capacity in terms of both personnel and expertise to be able to do that and still fulfil our own commitments here. They talked about that side of it, and the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, told us not to forget our region as well. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, also suggested that.

I remind the Minister that my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe said that things can go wrong. He built Westminster Underground Station and ran the London Underground. He knows of which he speaks. Big projects can go wrong; the important thing, as he is always telling me, is not to worry about them going off track but what you do about it when they do. So ongoing scrutiny and thought are important. Further, from the committee’s point of view, the answer to my noble friend’s question about who will lead on this will be important when we take evidence. Will it be defence? Will it be trade? Will it be the Foreign Office? We will need to know with whom to engage; that person should be able to speak on behalf of the whole Government.

Lastly—I am sorry not to have covered all the points but I am sure that, when she has looked at Hansard, the Minister will write to all of us if there are any unanswered questions—the Minister did not answer the questions on the wider context, particularly on the implications for Five Eyes and whether it was consulted. She also did not say whether India was consulted, as the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, asked. New Zealand is key if it really is saying, “We won’t have those subs here”. It still remembers the “Rainbow Warrior” being blown up in Auckland by one of its own allies. We must remember the sensitivity of New Zealand; if it was not kept abreast of this—something it feels so sensitive about—that obviously has ongoing consequences.

I note the Minister slightly mumbled over the possibility of a change of Government in this country, but I have to say that some of us look forward to that. It should be noted that I am not speaking on behalf of the Labour Party. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, who is, said that there is no need to worry because the Labour Party will continue with this if Labour is elected.

I was very reassured by what the Minister said about France. Perhaps she could advise the Prime Minister—it is still the same Prime Minister, unless he has resigned over the past hour or so—to use her choice of words rather than some of the ones he used with regard to France.

This has been a useful discussion, perhaps not on the detail of this first stage, but in saying to the Government, “We see where you’re going, we like the direction, and we like the assumption that you have made that it is important to help Australia in this theatre”. Australia is one of our oldest allies. We have been in many theatres of war alongside Australia, and therefore offering what we can to support it in that region is clearly key. However, there are hiccups that could happen here, so we look forward to a continuing debate on this.

Motion agreed.
Committee adjourned at 5.56 pm.

House of Lords

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Monday 17 January 2022
14:30
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham.

Deaths of Members

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Announcement
14:36
Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I regret to inform the House of the death of the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, on 14 January. On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble Lord’s family and friends.

I also regret to inform the House of the death of the noble Lord, Lord Myners, on 16 January. On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble Lord’s family and friends.

Eating Disorders

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Question
14:36
Asked by
Baroness Bull Portrait Baroness Bull
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve support for people (1) with, and (2) at risk of, eating disorders.

Baroness Bull Portrait Baroness Bull (CB)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and declare my interest as a vice-chair of the APPG on Eating Disorders.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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We are working to ensure that people of all ages with an eating disorder, or who are at risk of developing one, have access to the right support in the right place and at the right time. We are delivering on the ambitious transformation plans outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan and children and young people’s mental health Green Paper and provided additional investment this year to address pressures arising during the pandemic.

Baroness Bull Portrait Baroness Bull (CB)
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Does the Minister agree that improving support for eating disorders depends on improving understanding of their causes, prevention and treatment? Eating disorders account for 9% of mental health conditions in the UK but receive only 1% of mental health research funding. This leads not only to major evidence gaps but to fewer researchers, less research and the ongoing stigmatisation of the illnesses as a niche concern. Will the Minister’s department consider working with the NIHR on a long-term eating disorder research strategy to break this underfunding cycle, as it has for other health challenges, so that more effective support can be targeted on their prevention and treatment?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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First, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for all the work she has done in this area, making sure that we are all aware of this issue and keeping it on the agenda. In answer to her specific question, the department has invested nearly £110 million in mental health research, including research on eating disorders through the NIHR, as she mentioned. This includes the Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative and a systemic review led by the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre. UKRI has announced funding for a £3.8 million study on eating disorders to inform prevention and early prevention in young people. This research is being led by King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, the latest NHS data shows a continuing increase in the number of people being hospitalised for eating disorders, mainly in the 18 to 39 age group, yet there is still no adult waiting time standard for people with eating disorders. This is despite knowing that access to quality community care can reduce the number of hospitalisations and unnecessary deaths. When are this Government going to introduce an adult waiting time standard for people accessing treatment for serious eating disorders?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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As noble Lords can imagine, because of the pandemic, sadly, waiting times have gone up, but we are making sure that we are doing as much as we can to address that. Longer term, we are focusing on prevention, not only cure. We are also making sure that we are able to understand the various forms of eating disorder better. It is very simple to lump them all together, but there are different elements and you can distinguish between them. Then we will, I hope, be able to tackle that as much as possible.

Baroness Janke Portrait Baroness Janke (LD)
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My Lords, given that many young people with eating disorders find it very difficult to seek help and identify themselves, what specific additional resources have been provided for schools to help and support young people with this actually life- threatening illness?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The noble Baroness raises a very important point about how we identify children and young people who are suffering from these disorders or may be a few steps away from it. We know that there are programmes from the Department for Education and our department to tackle mental health issues in schools, identifying pupils and encouraging them to come forward, to talk to a counsellor in the school, and making sure that there is signposting in the right place to ensure that we can tackle their issues.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister mentioned that eating disorders do not always present in the same way. He will be aware that some fluctuate, moving from chronic to acute over a period and back again. When people seek treatment for eating disorders, at the moment those who can afford it are not even able to access treatment in the private sector. If they were able to, however, would they then be able to access NHS treatments at a later date, for example, should they not be able to afford to continue with private treatment?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The noble Baroness raises a really important point. It is an issue that was raised over the weekend, in an individual case. I know that we are always advised as Ministers not to get involved in individual clinical decisions, but in this this case a child had not yet got a bed and the parents wanted to take them out for private treatment until a bed became available. They were told that if they went to use the private sector they would be put at the back of the list. I am trying to get more details on this but it seems a lack of common sense. I want to understand why it is happening, but I have not had an answer yet.

Baroness Manzoor Portrait Baroness Manzoor (Con)
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My Lords, what are the Government doing with regard to working with industry, particularly the fashion industry? At the moment, there is great emphasis on size-zero models, which cannot really be helpful when linking it to the question that the noble Baroness asked previously. It is not a good image, or setting the right image for people—that is, for boys and girls.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The issue of poor body image that my noble friend raises is very important. The Government are addressing known risk factors through both universal and targeted interventions. At the top level, that means looking at the Better Health and Every Mind Matters content, which focuses on support for mental health and well-being. Poor body image and low self-esteem are topics addressed there. It is also about looking at what pupils expect and at the prevention concordat for better mental health programmes, as well as working as part of the anti-obesity strategy to make sure that we get the right balance. Sometimes when you focus on information on packets, for example, it can have unintended consequences for those with eating disorders. Every time we look at labelling, we have to make sure that we have addressed those unintended consequences on people with eating disorders, so that they do not react negatively to it and perhaps indulge in behaviour that we do not want to see them indulging in.

Baroness Merron Portrait Baroness Merron (Lab)
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My Lords, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that the hidden epidemic of eating disorders has surged during the pandemic, with many community services overstretched and unable to treat the number of people who need help. Will the Minister publish data about the number of people waiting for eating disorder treatment better to understand and meet the scale of the demand? Will he deliver a workforce plan to tackle staff shortages in eating disorder services so that it may be possible to treat everyone who desperately needs this help?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for raising the issue of the backlog as a result of the pandemic. We have seen eating disorder services continue to face increasing demand, especially as a result of lockdown and its mental health impact. The number of young people entering urgent treatment has increased by 73% between 2019-20 and 2021, and the numbers waiting for treatment have also increased from 561 to 2,083. To make sure that we meet the standard and get those waiting times down, we have invested an extra £79 million this financial year, and we are working with systems across the country to see how we can make sure that we address young people and adults who need access to this treatment.

Lord McColl of Dulwich Portrait Lord McColl of Dulwich (Con)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is a very serious condition that 71% of the British people over the age of 30 are obese or overweight? The problem with this is that it interferes with the immune system, which makes them much more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases, not least infections. If we want to deal with the next pandemic now, we have to get people to reduce their weight so that obesity does not interfere with their immune systems.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The question from my noble friend highlights the difficulty of dealing with such a sensitive area. You have to be very careful how you address the issue of obesity. For example, it is quite right that we want to get the rates of obesity down, because it does lead to a number of other conditions that we have discussed many times here. One thing that you have to look at, however, is the unintended consequence of any laws. One possible unintended consequence is that some of the measures to tackle obesity, such as looking at food labelling, might affect people who have eating disorders. Every time we look at the obesity strategy, therefore, we make sure that we consult charities that look after people with eating disorders to ensure that we have the right balance. We will not always get it perfectly right, but we will try our best.

Baroness Wheatcroft Portrait Baroness Wheatcroft (CB)
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My Lords, anorexia nervosa is one of the most pervasive of mental health disorders. It can sometimes be successfully treated only in specialist in-patient units. What plans are there to grow the number of specialist in-patient beds? In 2019, the Government promised that people would not be sent to out-of-area beds after 2021, but I do not believe that that is currently the case.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I am sure that the noble Baroness will appreciate that we had a strategy to tackle obesity, but some of it has been knocked back a bit by Covid and having to tackle the backlog. However, we are looking at ways to ensure that the strategy gets back on track as we emerge from lockdown and there is, we hope, less pressure on the NHS.

National Living Wage

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Question
14:47
Asked by
Lord Sentamu Portrait Lord Sentamu
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the recent rise in the rate of inflation, what plans they have to sustain the increase in the national living wage.

Lord Sentamu Portrait Lord Sentamu (CB)
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In asking this Question, I declare my interests. I chair the Living Wage Commission and led a debate in your Lordships’ House on 5 May 2020, when 52 Members of the House asked the Government to take action on income inequality and sustainability.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, on 1 April 2022, the Government will increase the national living wage by 6.6% to £9.50. Following this increase, the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the national living wage will have increased by around £5,000 since 2015. The Government are committed to further increasing the national living wage in line with their manifesto commitment to equal two-thirds of median earnings by 2024, and we are on track to achieve this ambitious target.

Lord Sentamu Portrait Lord Sentamu (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, but given that it was in September 2016 that the Living Wage Commission published its findings, that the Government took six years to raise the minimum wage to the recommended living wage, and that national insurance contributions will increase in April, are the Government, in their levelling-up agenda, going to match their rhetoric on income inequality?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I pay tribute to the work that the noble and right reverend Lord does on these matters, and it is important that he raises them; we are grateful for that. As the noble and right reverend Lord is aware, we take advice from the Low Pay Commission—comprising business representatives, worker representatives and independent members—on the appropriate increases, taking into account all the various issues: what is affordable for business, rates of inflation, et cetera. I am proud of the record that we have in increasing the national minimum wage.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
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My Lords, families with children have been suffering some of the worst in-work poverty and hardship. As wages cannot and should not take account of family size, what are the Government doing to make good the cuts in financial support for children, including child benefit, since 2010?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Of course, we are here discussing the national minimum wage. As the noble Baroness is aware, benefits, universal credit, et cetera, are a separate issue—it is important, but it is a separate issue. On increases in the national minimum wage, since it was introduced in 2016 it has given the lowest earners the fastest pay rise in almost 20 years, something this Government are very proud of.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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My Lords, some 9,000 employers across the United Kingdom pay the real living wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. From April it will be 40p more an hour than the Government’s national living wage. What steps are the Government taking to persuade more employers to pay the real living wage, which virtually everyone accepts is much closer to reality in assessing the cost of living, especially at a time of inflation?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Of course, I completely agree with the noble Baroness that, where it is possible to do so, employers should pay the higher rates for the living wage that she referenced. We want to see as many employers as possible doing that, but when the Low Pay Commission makes recommendations—and it has representations from all sides of the industrial sectors—it takes into account business affordability. I am sure the noble Baroness would not want to see the rise in unemployment that might result from unrealistic increases in the minimum wage.

Lord Hannan of Kingsclere Portrait Lord Hannan of Kingsclere (Con)
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My Lords, of course, any increase in wages tends to get passed on to customers. Is my noble friend the Minister aware of studies that show that these increases are disproportionately felt by people on low incomes? If you have a higher wage cost which pushes up prices in a fast food joint, it is not generally investment bankers who are impacted. At a time of rising living costs, what assessment have the Government made of the inflationary impact of repeatedly raising the living wage faster than wages generally?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend makes an important point. I am disappointed by some of the responses from the Opposition Benches. As always with these matters, it is a question of getting the balance right. Of course, we all want to see the lowest paid in society paid more—nobody would want to see that more than I would and I am sure my noble friend feels the same way—but we have to bear in mind the importance of considering whether it is affordable for business. That is why we have the independent Low Pay Commission that makes recommendations on the maximum level of increase that can be afforded without undue inflationary impacts and is affordable for business.

Lord Lennie Portrait Lord Lennie (Lab)
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I remind noble Lords—before the Minister takes too much credit for it—that it was the Labour Government who introduced the national minimum wage and that it was introduced against universal hostility from the Tory Opposition. Given the doubling of energy prices expected in April, does the Minister believe that the rise in the minimum wage to £9.50 an hour will be sufficient for ordinary household budgets to cope?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Indeed, I am happy to pay credit to the Labour Government of the time for introducing the national minimum wage and I am happy to take credit for the biggest increases in the national minimum wage that we, as a Conservative Government and a Conservative-led Government, have implemented since we came to power. As I said, these are difficult issues. We all want to see it increasing; that is why we have the independent Low Pay Commission to provide independent advice to the Government on what is affordable for business. We are working towards the manifesto commitment to increase the level to two-thirds of national median pay.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, I am absolutely delighted to see this rise in the national living wage, but is the Minister aware that if one works a 35-hour week at £9.50 an hour, that makes a weekly total of £332.50? If it is the national living wage, has anybody in the Government actually tried living on it for a week?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I know the noble Baroness feels passionately about this and, as I said in response to earlier questions, I think the whole House is united in wanting to see increases in the minimum wage and the living wage as much as possible. However, it benefits nobody if it drives people into unemployment and further poverty. We want to see increases in the national minimum wage, but we want to see them on a sustainable basis.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Portrait Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con)
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My Lords, listening to these questions, is my noble friend satisfied that the Bank of England is correct in assuming that inflation is going to be a transient phenomenon? Was it not a mistake that it continued with its programme of QE even when the economy was growing rapidly? If people push for wage increases, that is how inflation takes off, and it will be very difficult for the Bank of England to control it.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend also makes an important point. Inflation has a pernicious impact on the economy and, of course, it impacts most on the lowest paid. I am sure the Bank of England wants to take all these factors into account. I will not stand here and give it advice on this matter, but it is important that we take account of inflation in calculating the minimum wage, and that is exactly what the Low Pay Commission does.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
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My Lords, to protect fixed incomes, people’s savings and to prevent poverty, what are the Government doing to put downward pressure on inflation? Perhaps the Minister could provide us with some of the detail.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The original Question was about the minimum wage. The points the noble Baroness raises are important but they are matters for the Treasury—I would be very happy to speak to Treasury officials and get her a proper answer on that.

Lord Grocott Portrait Lord Grocott (Lab)
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I am grateful to the Minister for reminding us that it was a Labour Government who introduced the national minimum wage. He did not remind us that it was done in the teeth of Tory opposition, and neither did he remind us that the principal argument used by the Tories at the time was that any introduction of a national minimum wage would inevitably result in a huge increase in unemployment— 2 million, I think, was the figure most frequently quoted. Will he now acknowledge at least that whoever was doing the Tory forecasting at the time had not the faintest idea what they were talking about?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Obviously I was not in government at the time but, looking back at the debate, a lot of independent economists were concerned about the possible impact. As I indicated in previous answers, nobody wants to see rises in unemployment. At the end of the day, low pay is better than no pay at all. But I am delighted to say that with the increases in the national minimum wage—and our record on this is second to none—we have seen the national living wage outpace the rate of inflation by over 20 percentage points since we have been in power. That is a good thing: it has not resulted in a rise in unemployment, and I think that is something we should all welcome.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister takes credit for the increases the Government have introduced. Given the cost of energy and foodstuffs to low-income families, does he think the increase that he is taking credit for will compensate those families for the increases they now face?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We take credit because the Government accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission, which, as I have indicated, was set up to consider all these matters. But I agree with the noble Lord: it is going to be difficult—the cost of living is going to increase substantially, probably, over the next few months, with food and energy prices. It comes back to the points made by some of my noble friends earlier: it is important that we get a grip on inflation because that is something that affects the lowest paid the most.

Covid-19: Vaccinations for School Pupils

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Question
14:57
Asked by
Lord Watson of Invergowrie Portrait Lord Watson of Invergowrie
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made on delivering vaccinations for Covid-19 to school pupils since the Christmas holidays.

Lord Kamall Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Kamall) (Con)
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The Covid-19 vaccination programme continues rapidly, with nearly 52% of 12 to 15 year-olds vaccinated as of 15 January 2022. We vaccinated over 372,000 12 to 15 year-olds in England between 17 December 2021 and 15 January 2022—that is nearly 400,000 in a month, which included the Christmas break. Vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 can be booked in out-of-school settings through the national booking service, alongside the ongoing school-based offer. We currently have 314 sites offering appointments that can be booked via the national booking service.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie Portrait Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab)
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I thank the Minister for that very full response but the figures he has quoted are at odds with those issued just last week by the Department for Education on the vaccination of 12 to 17 year-olds. The number of pupils absent from school with a confirmed contraction of coronavirus was up by nearly 50% over the figure for December. It cannot be a coincidence that only 40% of 12 to 17 year- olds, in the DfE’s own figures, have been vaccinated. This shows, whether it is the Department of Health or the Department for Education, that the Government have really failed to get a grip on the measures necessary to keep children learning—whether it is the supply of testing kits or classroom ventilation. I ask the Minister: what urgent action will the Government take to increase the level of vaccination among school pupils?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I think the noble Lord is being slightly unfair in the sentiment of his question. We have to remember that, when it came to vaccinating children, there was a huge debate around, first, whether it was ethical to do so and, secondly, whether the vaccines used for adults were effective in children. We could not really do any of that until we had sufficient data. It would have been irresponsible just to have pushed ahead without the data. Once we got the data, we started the vaccination programme for 16 and 17 year-olds and then for 12 to 15 year-olds, and we are pushing through as much as possible. Parents can book for their children on a national booking service. We expect many more parents to do so.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, has indicated her wish to speak virtually, and I think this is a convenient point for me to call her.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, many parents are still saying that they have not heard when their clinically extremely vulnerable five to 11 year-olds will get their vaccinations, despite the JCVI saying that they should. Last week’s update to the GP green book now includes severely CEV children as eligible for the third primary dose, which is progress. However, there is no news for CEV young children not classed as severe, so can the Minister please say what he will do to ensure that GPs will call all these children for their vaccinations as soon as possible?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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As the noble Baroness says, the JCVI advised on 22 December that children aged five to 11 in a clinical risk group, or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed, should be vaccinated. GPs and hospital consultants are now urgently identifying the children eligible, and we expect rollout to have started by the end of this month, with children and parents starting to be called up for appointments by the NHS locally. The message here is that there is no need for parents to contact the NHS; the NHS will make contact with the parents or carers of those eligible. Just to further reassure parents, we will be using a paediatric Pfizer vaccine authorised by the MHRA for use in this age group.

Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston Portrait Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston (CB)
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My Lords, given that it is safest to administer the vaccinations in a school setting, and unlikely that this round of vaccinations is the last one, has the Minister given any consideration to expanding the specialist community health nurses, commonly known as school nurses? Their numbers have been decreasing over the last 10 years. They could play a role in the future administration of vaccines in school settings.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I recall well being sent to the school nurse—sometimes we have fond memories, and sometimes less fond memories, of being sent to the school nurse. The noble Baroness makes a really important point. I will make inquiries and get back to her.

Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister update the House on what actions the Government have taken to protect school pupils and teaching staff from the reckless behaviour and damaging misinformation being propagated by anti-vax protesters?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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My noble friend raises a very important point, which I know a number of other noble Lords have also raised. In a free society, we have to get the balance right between freedom of speech and ensuring that people have a right to say even those things with which we may disagree fundamentally, while ensuring that misinformation is not spread. The department has now provided information and guidance to schools on how to handle any misinformation, and who to contact if there are protests which step beyond the line of acceptability and contravene the law. The police now have comprehensive power to deal with the activities, especially those which spread hate or deliberately raise tensions through violence or public disorder. I am sure many people will be aware of the attacks on vaccination centres in Truro in October and in north Wales and at the Bromley Civic Centre earlier this month. That was going way too far on freedom of speech, and we want to make sure that we deal with the people who take part in these acts.

Lord Boateng Portrait Lord Boateng (Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree with the World Health Organization that the vaccination of children in the wealthy world should not be at the expense of the vaccination of health workers and vulnerable adults in the developing world? If so, what more can the UK do to ensure that the developing world has access to vaccines and the capacity to manufacture them?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I once again pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Boateng, for raising this issue and for the number of times he has raised similar issues about the developing world over the years. Since I became a junior Minister of Health, I have been involved in many meetings with the G7 and G20, and in bilateral meetings with other Health Ministers. This item always comes up on the agenda and is something that the British Government have pushed. We are leading donors to the international COVAX programme and are working across the world, with other countries and with manufacturers, to make sure that we get the vaccines to those who really need them. While we here in this country complain about third and fourth doses, for example, there are still many people in many countries who have not even had their first vaccine. In the longer term, that is not right for anyone.

Lord Addington Portrait Lord Addington (LD)
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My Lords, would the Minister give us a little bit more of an insight into the general policy for vaccination of children at schools? Although we have problems here, we have a history of people resisting and giving bad information. Is there a coherent strategy that will come out for school-age vaccination that we can refer back to as a model for the future?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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One of the important things we all have to learn, from what we have been through and are still going through, are lessons for the future—not only for future Covid vaccines there may need to be but for all vaccination programmes and, perhaps, future pandemics. One of the really important things about this is making sure we get the right information. We are working with schools to make sure teachers and parents have the right information and also know the risks. Many people will know that, over the weekend, 16 and 17-year-olds were called for their booster if there was a sufficient space since their last dose, and we are now looking at how we vaccinate 12 to 15 year- olds. We are looking in more detail at whether it is safe for five to 11-year-olds, but at the moment the advice is not there.

Lord Blackwell Portrait Lord Blackwell (Con)
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My Lords, as my noble friend has said, this country is behind some other countries in rolling out vaccinations to five to 11 year-olds. He will also be aware that the extent of Covid in that age group is a major source of infection for parents and, therefore, society as a whole. Have the Government taken account, or will they take account, of the wider social and economic benefits of vaccinating that age group and weigh them up alongside the medical evidence?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The JCVI will continue to look at the new data as it emerges and recommend whether we boost 12 to 15 year-olds. But when we look at the vaccination strategy, we look not only at the tackling of the specific coronavirus or variant but also at the wider implications. For example, many noble Lords have spoken eloquently about the unintended consequences for mental health issues of lockdown. Beyond that, we have to look at societal and social issues and the way people, businesses, charities, et cetera are affected in doing their work. We always make sure we take a balanced approach, looking at the science, the wider medical issues and the unintended consequences.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, the House is united on the importance of children’s education continuing, but it is the lack of vaccinations not just among children but among the teaching workforce that may interrupt their education. Do the Government have any estimate of the proportion of the teaching workforce that has not yet been vaccinated or is off work for Covid-related reasons?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The noble Viscount raises an important point. As we are expecting our children to be vaccinated, it is important that teachers are also vaccinated. It is one of the reasons we are looking at VCOD—vaccination as a condition of deployment—in the health service. In answer to the noble Viscount’s specific question, I am afraid I do not have the information with me, but I will try to speak to the Department for Education and write to him.

Sick Pay

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Question
15:08
Asked by
Lord Hendy Portrait Lord Hendy
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development What should an effective sick pay system look like?, published on 14 December 2021.

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Stedman-Scott) (Con)
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The CIPD report makes a number of interesting points on SSP, many of which had been raised previously by other stakeholders and continue to be assessed by officials. Last year, the Government made clear that the pandemic was not the right time to introduce changes to the rate of SSP or its eligibility criteria. However, as we learn to live with Covid-19, we are able to step back and take a broader look at the role of statutory sick pay. I can confirm to noble Lords and the House that this work is ongoing, but I am not able to give a timescale for when it will be completed.

Lord Hendy Portrait Lord Hendy (Lab)
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My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for her Answer, but the fact is that nobody can live on £96.35 per week—the rate of statutory sick pay—and the lower earnings limit excludes 2 million workers from receiving even this. Both features pose a public health risk by disincentivising those sick or who should be self-isolating from staying away from work. The report of the CIPD, a highly respected body representing human resource professionals, is formidable. It finds that 62% of British employers think that SSP is inadequate. In the light of that, will the Minister agree to look into increasing the rate of SSP and at the other recommendations? There are too many to summarise now, but they include removing the lower earnings limit, improving employer compliance and including the self-employed.

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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I understand exactly the sentiment the noble Lord raises his question with. I can confirm again that work is ongoing to look at the role of SSP and all the CIPD recommendations. As I said, I am not able to give a timeline for this, but I will go back to the department and stress the noble Lord’s keenness to do this work.

Baroness Fookes Portrait Baroness Fookes (Con)
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My Lords, since we cannot look at this long term, many look at it short term, and in particular at the plight of many businesses, especially small ones, which find it difficult to keep their heads above water in any case and then find that they have workers isolating for Covid-related reasons. Can any help at all be given to firms in this parlous position?

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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Throughout the pandemic the Government have demonstrated that they can respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus, in particular through supporting jobs and businesses, and we will continue to do that. As increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases means that more workers take time off and there is an impact on business, the Government are reintroducing the statutory sick pay rebate scheme. That will mean that small and medium-sized businesses can be reimbursed for the cost of SSP for Covid-related absences for up to two weeks per employee.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
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My Lords, statutory sick pay is around 27% of the minimum wage. Can the Minister please explain why it is set at such a low amount, and can she say whether it is tested on Ministers to see whether they can survive on it? At the very least, that would generate some sympathy for the poor.

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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The noble Lord is very eloquent in the way he holds the Government to account. I cannot say that it has been tested on Ministers, but I will go back to the department to understand how that figure has been arrived at and then write to the noble Lord and place a copy in the Library.

Baroness Sherlock Portrait Baroness Sherlock (Lab)
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My Lords, I am glad that the Government are thinking about this, but they have been doing so for a very long time. They have consulted more than once on this but they simply say, yet again, as they did last year, that it is not the right time. If the pandemic taught us anything it is that if you are on low wages, in insecure work or self-employed, you cannot afford to get sick and you cannot afford to do the right thing. Rather than wait for the next pandemic, the next bout of flu or the next difficult infectious disease to hit our country, can we please do something to enable people to do the right thing? We are a rich country; surely people should not have to go to work when they are sick.

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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I completely agree with the noble Baroness that people should not be forced to go to work when they are sick, especially with Covid, given the danger of it spreading. I know it probably will not go down very well, but I can confirm that this is in train, and I am dreadfully sorry that I cannot say when it will be done. When I go back and talk to the department about the keenness and urgency of Lord Hendy, I shall certainly add that to the shopping list.

Baroness Janke Portrait Baroness Janke (LD)
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My Lords, could the noble Baroness tell us her response to the postcode lottery of the test and trace support payment, revealed in the CIPD report, where 75% of Camden applicants received payments but only 23% did so in Liverpool and just 16% in Sandwell? Could she comment on whether she thinks people in hard-pressed poorer areas are being doubly disadvantaged by the Government’s scheme?

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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I can confirm to the noble Baroness that there is no intention on the Government’s part to penalise anybody for where they live. The noble Baroness has asked quite a detailed question and, if it is acceptable to her, I will go away and find out the answer and write to her with it.

Baroness Blower Portrait Baroness Blower (Lab)
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My Lords, new analysis from the TUC today estimates that a quarter of a million private sector workers were self-isolating last month with no decent sick pay or with no pay at all. Will the Minister commit to meeting with some urgency with the TUC to move forward on the ideas already expressed from these Benches?

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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I am always happy to meet people to learn more and find out exactly the points they are making. I want to find out exactly who in the department is best to do that, and I will come back to the noble Baroness—but a meeting will happen.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister said that the pandemic is not the right time to improve statutory sick pay. Given everything we have heard, when is the right time?

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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While the pandemic was going on, with businesses under pressure, individuals sick and the NHS understandably struggling, we did not feel it was the right time. I think the noble Baroness is saying to me that the time has come, and that is supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, and anyone else who is really worked up about this. I can only go back to the department and do my best.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, the Government say they are committed to levelling up. Given the fact that most high-paid workers will receive their salary when they are off sick but low-paid workers are left with £90-odd a week, is this not a prime example of where the Government could introduce something to level up in this area?

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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I am sure the Government appreciate the point that the noble Lord makes. I cannot today give any commitment. I am very sorry, but, as I have said before on numerous occasions, I will go back to the department, where I am sure they will read Hansard with great interest and, I hope, act upon it.

Lord Lexden Portrait Lord Lexden (Con)
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My Lords, why not set a deadline for the completion of this important work? Would not that be a measure of the efficient and successful government that we are entitled to expect?

Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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I really do not think there is any more I can say on the deadline. I cannot give a deadline today, but I will do as I have promised.

First Reading
15:16
The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.
First Reading
15:17
The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Act 2021 (Airspace Change Directions) (Determination of Turnover for Penalties) Regulations 2022

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Merchant Shipping (Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments) Order 2022
International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation (Legal Capacities) Order 2022
Motions to Approve
15:18
Moved by
Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton
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That the draft Orders and Regulations laid before the House on 2, 4 and 15 November 2021 be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 13 January

Motions agreed.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Monday 17th January 2022

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Report (6th Day)
15:18
Relevant documents: 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th Reports from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, 6th, 13th, 15th and 16th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 7th Report from the Constitution Committee
Amendment 109B
Moved by
109B: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Code of practice relating to non-criminal hate incidents
(1) The Secretary of State may issue a code of practice about the processing by a relevant person of personal data relating to a hate incident.(2) In this section “hate incident” means an incident or alleged incident which involves or is alleged to involve an act by a person (“the alleged perpetrator”) which is perceived by a person other than the alleged perpetrator to be motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility or prejudice towards persons with a particular characteristic.(3) The provision that may be made by a code of practice under this section includes, in particular, provision about—(a) whether and how personal data relating to a hate incident should be recorded;(b) the persons who are to process such personal data;(c) the circumstances in which a data subject should be notified of the processing of such personal data;(d) the retention of such personal data, including the period for which it should be retained and the circumstances in which and the procedures by which that period might be changed;(e) the consideration by a relevant person of requests by the data subject relating to such personal data.(4) But a code of practice under this section must not make provision about—(a) the processing of personal data for the purposes of a criminal investigation, or (b) the processing of personal data relating to the alleged perpetrator of a hate incident at any time after they have been charged with an offence relating to the hate incident.(5) A code of practice under this section may make different provision for different purposes.(6) A relevant person must have regard to the code of practice that is for the time being in force under this section in processing personal data relating to a hate incident.(7) In this section—“data subject” has the meaning given by section 3(5) of the Data Protection Act 2018;“personal data” has the meaning given by section 3(2) of that Act;“processing” has the meaning given by section 3(4) of that Act.(8) In this section “relevant person” means—(a) a member of a police force in England and Wales,(b) a special constable appointed under section 27 of the Police Act 1996,(c) a member of staff appointed by the chief officer of police of a police force in England and Wales,(d) a person designated as a community support volunteer or a policing support volunteer under section 38 of the Police Reform Act 2002,(e) an employee of the Common Council of the City of London who is under the direction and control of a chief officer of police,(f) a constable of the British Transport Police Force,(g) a special constable of the British Transport Police Force appointed under section 25 of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003,(h) an employee of the British Transport Police Authority appointed under section 27 of that Act,(i) a person designated as a community support volunteer or a policing support volunteer under section 38 of the Police Reform Act 2002 as applied by section 28 of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, or(j) a National Crime Agency officer.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment confers power on the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice about the processing by the police of personal data relating to a hate incident other than for the purposes of a criminal investigation.
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, Amendment 109B standing in my name is on the topic of non-crime hate incidents. In my opening remarks, I will also speak to the related government Amendment 109F. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Moylan for tabling amendments in Committee that related to ensuring that guidance on the recording of non-crime hate incidents, and the retention of personal data in relation to these incidents, was subject to parliamentary oversight.

The Government understand the strength of feeling of many noble Lords on this matter, and I am grateful to all who expressed their views during the debate on this topic on 1 November. Having listened to the compelling arguments, we have tabled Amendments 109B and 109F, which draw strongly from my noble friend’s amendment in Committee. I am very confident that the government amendments reflect the spirit of his proposals in his original amendment and address the House’s concerns in relation to this matter.

I reiterate that the collection of non-crime hate incident data is a key legacy of the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and is intended to give the police the means to understand tensions within communities before they escalate into serious harm. This data pertains to incidents which are not crimes. It can include location data, to know where repeat incidents of apparent tension and hostility may occur. In this respect, the data is vital for helping the police to build intelligence to understand where they must target resources to prevent serious crimes which may later occur.

The importance of such intelligence has been illustrated where it could have prevented real harm. The tragic case of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter, subjected to persistent abuse and in which the police failed to draw the links to repeated incidents of harassment until she felt forced to take her own life and the life of her daughter, is one such example. Of course, non-crime hate incidents may also include the collection of personal data. Some of these records will include an accusation of hate crime which has been made against a person but was not proven.

To address concerns relating to the collection of this data, the government amendments will ensure that the police’s processing of personal data in non-crime hate incident records is subject to a code of practice issued by the Home Secretary. The code will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, with its first iteration being subject to the affirmative procedure, with the negative procedure applying thereafter.

The College of Policing is currently responsible for producing non-statutory hate crime operational guidance for the police to follow when processing data on hate crimes and non-crime hate incidents. The statutory code of practice, once in effect, will replace the relevant section of this guidance on non-crime hate incidents. The college’s guidance will remain in place until the new code enters into effect.

The code will apply only to incidents which the police have designated to be non-crime hate incidents. Where the police are carrying out investigations with a view to there being a prosecution, or where they assess that a prosecution is likely, the code will not apply. It is vital to ensure that the code will not inhibit the police’s abilities to gather evidence that is fundamental to the role of policing. My noble friend’s original amendment included a similar exception. The code will also not apply to data which contains no personal data at all; for instance, location data would not be in scope.

Amendment 109B provides the Secretary of State with the power to issue the code and prescribes some of the key provisions that will be addressed in it. The amendment provides that the code may cover whether personal data relating to a hate incident should be recorded; the persons who are to process such personal data; the circumstances in which a data subject should be notified of the processing of such personal data; the retention of such personal data, including the period for which it should be retained; the circumstances in which, and the procedures by which, that period might be changed; and the consideration by a relevant person of requests by the data subject relating to such personal data. This is not an exhaustive list and it might be expanded or amended during the formulation of the code of practice or in the future.

The precise content of the code of practice will be decided at a later stage. The Government will work closely with policing partners, including the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, when drafting the code to ensure that it meets operational requirements. Decisions relating to existing non-crime hate incident data will also be decided in due course as the process of drafting the new code begins.

We will also ensure that the content of the code fully reflects the recent Court of Appeal judgment in the Harry Miller v College of Policing case that was handed down on 20 December. The court found that the recording of NCHIs is lawful provided there are robust safeguards in place so that the interference with freedom of expression is proportionate. This is a very important point. The court did not consider that the recording of NCHI data was of itself unlawful; rather, it concluded that extra safeguards were necessary to ensure the protection of rights. The approach that the Government are adopting is absolutely in line with that. I can assure the House that this judgment will be reflected in the code.

As I said at the beginning, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Moylan for bringing this important issue to the Government’s attention. I hope that he will see that the Government have taken these issues very seriously. The government amendments will address a significant number of the concerns raised by bringing parliamentary oversight to this process and enabling the production of a code of practice that will respect the operational importance of the police recording non-crime hate incidents to help keep vulnerable people and communities safe, while balancing this with the need to protect freedom of expression.

My noble friends Lord Moylan and Lord Blencathra have various amendments in this group, including to government Amendment 109B. It would be helpful to hear from them and other noble Lords before I respond. For now, I beg to move.

Amendment 109C

Moved by
109C: After Clause 55, in subsection (1), leave out “may” and insert “must”
Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, I thank my noble friend for being a listening Minister and for the hard work she has put into bringing forward this amendment. She has explained what government Amendment 109B does. Essentially, it brings the guidance under which non-crime hate incident records are made by the police under statutory guidance to be issued by the Secretary of State. That is very welcome, but I have some questions to ask about the amendment and some points to make that appeared in my original amendment but do not figure in Amendment 109B.

The first is my Amendment 109C, which would make it mandatory for the Secretary of State to issue this guidance. That was the sense of the Committee when we debated it: that the Secretary of State should do this, not that the Secretary of State should have the option of doing it. But in the very first line of proposed new subsection (1) “may” appears, which I think should be “must”.

I will make it clear at this point that it is not my intention to press any of my amendments to a Division or to seek the opinion of the House, but I would like to hear my noble friend’s explanation of why “may” is, in her view, an appropriate word here when the sense of the Committee was that it should be “must”. The anxiety is not that the current Secretary of State will fail to issue the code of practice because, quite clearly, having brought forward the amendment it would be very strange if she did not act. The anxiety is that a future Secretary of State could, using “may”, revert to the status quo if they wished because there would be no obligation on them to maintain the code of practice. I would like to hear some assurance from my noble friend, and possibly even a word that she might bring forward this modest change at Third Reading.

My Amendment 109E affirms the importance of freedom of expression, especially in the light of the recent Court of Appeal decision in the Miller case. In the interests of brevity, I will not comment on this amendment further but leave it to more qualified noble Lords who might wish to comment on it after me, because I know that we have a very heavy day.

15:30
My Amendment 114E relates to the disclosure of non-crime hate incidents in response to a request for an enhanced criminal records check. Noble Lords will be clear, I am sure, that the question of recording these incidents is a wholly separate matter from their disclosure in response to the criminal record check. The government case on this point—if I may anticipate what my noble friend will say—seems to be that statutory guidance already covers disclosure and is more or less adequate the way it stands.
That is not entirely the case; not everyone is convinced. I will take a modest example. In arguments before the Court of the Appeal in the recent Miller case, counsel for the College of Policing said clearly that their client, the college, took the view that there were circumstances in which it would have been appropriate for the relevant police force to disclose this non-crime hate incident if Mr Miller had applied for certain jobs, for example working with transgender children. But of course the state of affairs today is such that any child is potentially a transgender child, so they were saying, effectively, that he would have been barred—because of the fluidity of a child’s decision-making about their gender—from working with children, because of this tweet that was objected to but which the court did not entirely agree should come under this restriction.
So, if the Government are not minded to adopt my suggestion in Amendment 114E, there is, at the very least, a strong case for them to review the existing statutory guidance to ensure that it is fully in line with the findings of the Court of Appeal—and on that matter again I would be very grateful for an assurance from my noble friend.
Amendment 109D, in the name of my noble friend Lord Blencathra, is one I have general sympathy with, but the noble Lord can surely make the case for it much better than I can, so I shall pass on. Perhaps I may make a helpful suggestion. It used to be the case—perhaps it still is—that a very large number of complaints that reach police forces are purportedly about fraud. A little while ago, to help police forces manage these complaints, many of which are not about fraud at all, the Home Office set up a central unit, Action Fraud, to which the complaints are referred before they are investigated, so that more expert eyes can look at them and, if they have substance, refer them back to the relevant police force for investigation. This is a model that perhaps could be applied to non-crime hate incidents. Again, I do not expect a commitment today from my noble friend, but something of this sort could make the system a great deal less variable and uncertain, which is one of the problems that afflicts it at the moment. Again, I would be grateful to hear anything the Minister might have to say on that.
Finally, before I sit down, I will ask my noble friend, when she wraps up, to answer two questions. First, will the Home Office ensure that the College of Policing ceases the practice set out in its current guidance, so that no more incidents are recorded while the new guidance is pending? Alternatively, what does the Minister envisage for this period, when we are waiting for the new guidance? Secondly, when the new guidance comes into effect—presumably with different criteria from the current guidance—what will happen to existing historic cases of non-crime hate incident records? Will they be retained as they are, will they be extinguished or will they be reviewed and modified in the light of the new guidance?
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven Portrait Lord Macdonald of River Glaven (CB)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, and to have put my name to his amendments both in Committee and here.

Those of us who put our names to these amendments, discussing the matter before Committee, had a number of concerns: first, the lack of any parliamentary oversight over a system in which the police were creating hate records against the names of people who had committed, it was agreed, no crime; secondly, that these records were categorised as hate incidents purely according to the perception of the complainant and that no other evidence or real inquiry was required; thirdly, that these records were disclosable in some circumstances, for example to potential employers, with all the damage that could imply for the subject of the record; and fourthly, and perhaps most importantly for some of us, that the creation of such records in such large numbers—some 120,000 over four years—without any effective oversight, and flowing from entirely lawful speech, would surely have a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech and therefore on public debate generally.

This is surely one of the most egregious potential consequences of such a process if it is not properly controlled. The case of Harry Miller demonstrates that, but there are many others, including that of a social worker called Rachel Meade who, the Times reported only last week, was facing disciplinary action and the sack for Facebook posts expressing gender-critical views. I observe that these have clearly been stated by the Court of Appeal to be protected beliefs under the Equality Act—so this is not a problem that has gone away.

The Minister mentioned the Harry Miller Court of Appeal judgment. I will quote from it briefly. The court said that

“the recording of non-crime hate incidents is plainly an interference with freedom of expression and knowledge that such matters are being recorded and stored in a police database is likely to have a serious ‘chilling effect’ on public debate.”

The court went on:

“The concept of a chilling effect in the context of freedom of expression is an extremely important one. It often arises in discussions about what if any restrictions on journalistic activity are lawful; but … it is equally important when considering the rights of private citizens to express their views within the limits of the law, including and one might say in particular, on controversial matters of public interest.”


This is why Amendment 109E is before your Lordships’ House. It is to assert the primary importance of the Home Secretary’s code of conduct when it is drafted, stressing—and, indeed, insisting on—a proper respect for the fundamentals of free expression whenever the police are considering recording a non-crime hate incident. Those of us who support this amendment do so because we believe it is so important in the protection of public debate and free expression rights generally that your Lordships should insist that the principle is enshrined in terms in the legislation. The Minister may argue that this is taken as read and that this amendment is in some way otiose. I say in response that experience to date demonstrates the exact opposite.

Lord Blencathra Portrait Lord Blencathra (Con)
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My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 109D to remove the negative procedure for all subsequent revisions of this guidance. I shall do that in my capacity as chair of the Delegated Powers Committee, but first I want to make some brief comments in a personal capacity on this whole, in my view, iniquitous concept of innocent people being put on a criminal records database.

As other noble Lords have said, it seems that there are 120,000 people who have not committed any crime, have not been found guilty by a court of any description and yet are held on a database with other people who have been convicted of terrorism, paedophilia, rape, murder, armed robbery and every crime on our statute book. Some may argue that it is not really a criminal record, but if an employer asks for an enhanced criminal record check, the police hand over the names of innocent people whom the police have tried and convicted. I am not convinced that their system of control is as accurate as they claim it is.

If someone complains that they have encountered a hate incident—and we see a growing mountain of these bogus claims—the police investigate. Even when no crime has been committed, the police may decide that the person should be convicted of having done a non-crime hate incident—no magistrate, no proper judge, no jury, just the police.

I will now return to the amendment in front of us in my capacity as chair of the Delegated Powers Committee —your Lordships will be relieved to know that I am being relieved of that position on Wednesday of this week when a new chair is appointed. I welcome the Home Office taking responsibility for these guidelines. If we are going to put innocent people on a criminal records list, it must be done under regulations which have proper parliamentary scrutiny every time—as these will have, at least the first time they are made.

When the Court of Appeal in the Miller case announced that the College of Policing—not a statutory body but a private limited company, as we discussed last week—had produced and implemented partly unlawful guidance, the comment from an assistant chief constable at the college was:

“We will listen to, reflect on, and review this judgment carefully and make any changes that are necessary.”


That is all right then. There is no need to bother 650 MPs or 800 Peers; this assistant chief constable will write our laws. Thank goodness the Home Office realised that it is completely wrong for the liberty and reputation of the individual to be subject to rules written by a private limited company. Thus, I partly welcome—no, largely welcome—the Home Office amendment before us today, but I am afraid it adopts the usual ploy that the Delegated Powers Committee sees in so many Bills, namely the first-time affirmative ploy. This means that the Bill says that the first set of regulations will be made by the affirmative procedure but subsequent revisions will inevitably be minor and technical. Therefore, we need not worry our pretty little parliamentary heads about them and the negative procedure will suffice.

We have seen no evidence to suggest that any subsequent revisions to this guidance will be minor or technical. Indeed, they could be substantial. Suppose, in a hypothetical instance, that the first set of regulations stipulates that these records for non-crime shall be retained for two years. A year later the Home Office issues a revised set with just one word changed: delete “two years” and substitute “10 years” or “25 years”.

The Minister may say—we get this a lot from all departments—that Ministers have no intention whatever of doing that and in the Delegated Powers Committee we always say that the intention of the current Minister is irrelevant and what the law permits them to do is the only thing that matters.

This business of recording non-crimes is such a contentious matter that we suggest that the affirmative procedure must be used on every occasion. The net result of that will be that any time the guidance is revised a Minister—usually a Lords Minister as the Commons will probably bounce it through on the nod—may have to do a 90-minute debate in your Lordships’ House. It is not a very heavy burden to impose on the Government.

The Court of Appeal said:

“The net for ‘non-crime hate speech’ is an exceptionally wide one which is designed to capture speech which is perceived to be motivated by hostility ... regardless of whether there is evidence that the speech is motivated by such hostility … There is nothing in the guidance about excluding irrational complaints, including those where there is no evidence of hostility and little, if anything, to address the chilling effect which this may have on the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.”


I simply say that so long as these rules remain, Parliament must approve all regulations on this matter, whether it is the first set of regulations, the second, the 10th or the 50th iteration of them.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, as other noble Lords have said, this is a contentious issue. The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, may recall from his time in a previous role a report from the probation service called From Murmur to Murder—the noble Lord is nodding—when those in the probation service decided that they would engage with racist clients to challenge their abhorrent views, because of where it might lead.

From stalking to domestic violence, to murder motivated by hatred, including terrorism, we know that non-crime activity can provide indications of individuals’ journeys towards serious violence, but the recording of such intelligence must be subject to a statutory code of practice. I have sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, in insisting on the affirmative procedure for any changes once the original guidance is issued. We welcome the government amendments and thank the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, for raising the issue.

15:45
Lord Sandhurst Portrait Lord Sandhurst (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by saying how grateful I am to my noble friend Lady Williams of Trafford for the time that she has given me, and others, since the debate in Committee on 1 November and for bringing forward these amendments. Having said that, I have some observations to make, in particular about freedom of expression.

Events since the debate in November have made the need for proper regulation even more pressing. Since that debate, as we have heard, the Court of Appeal in Miller has stressed the danger of the chilling effect of police intervention on individuals minded to speak on controversial public topics. The president of the Queen’s Bench Division, in her very powerful judgment, said that the revised guidance published by the College of Policing, which was then before the court, did not

“go very far, or not nearly far enough to address the chilling effect of perception-based recording more generally.”

She emphasised that

“additional safeguards should be put in place so that the incursion into freedom of expression is no more than strictly necessary.”

Finally, she said:

“Guidance should truly reflect what the police are expected to do and should not mislead by omission either the police who have to use it or the public.”


At much the same time as that judgment was being written, a similar matter came before the court in Strasbourg—the case of Dr Pal. It was decided against the United Kingdom on 30 November 2021—just two months ago. Dr Pal, a journalist, was arrested, detained and charged with hate speech in respect of a person called AB. Only when it came to the magistrates’ court did the CPS abandon the prosecution. Dr Pal then brought proceedings for wrongful arrest, or false imprisonment. The Strasbourg court observed that the arresting officer’s decision to arrest

“appears to have been based on the subjective viewpoint of AB”—

that is, the complainant himself —

“without any acknowledgement of the fact that the right to freedom of expression extends to information or ideas that defend, shock or disturb.”

The court said that

“there is no evidence that the criteria … relevant to the balancing of the rights to freedom of expression and the right to respect for private life … were taken into account prior to the applicant’s arrest. In particular, no consideration appears to have been given to the subject matter … and whether they could be said to have contributed to a debate of general interest.”

In short, there have been two important decisions from very senior courts which have stressed the vital importance of paying proper regard to freedom expression and to the need for those in authority to understand and reflect that the right to freedom of expression extends to ideas that may shock or disturb others. There must be fresh guidance, it must reflect those observations, it must be clear and decisive—and it must be soon.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing her two amendments, which we welcome. It was fair of her to point out the legacy of the recording of non-crime hate incidents and the legacy of the Macpherson report on Stephen Lawrence’s murder. We welcome that the existing guidance will be turned into statutory guidance. I have one question for the Minister: what is the likely timetable for that statutory guidance to be available to be reviewed by Parliament?

On Amendment 114E in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, I have a genuine question, and this is not a party-political point: how would his amendment have an impact on domestic abuse cases? As I have said before to the House, I sit as a magistrate in both family court and the criminal court, and I deal with a lot of cases related to domestic abuse. While non-hate crime incidents are not recorded on the police national computer, we see information on call-outs and it is common to see information on text records between the parties, usually a man and a woman. Sometimes those text records go on for pages and are relentlessly abusive. How would that information be affected by his amendment?

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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Without having myself looked at the wording of the amendment, the original wording, which I think is preserved in the current amendment, would have excluded disclosure in relation to individuals but not in relation to groups. In the context of the original amendment, therefore, I think that point would have been covered. The noble Lord makes a very good point, and if I were pressing the amendment or the Government were intending to take it forward in any way, of course it would need to be reviewed to ensure that his point was properly addressed.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friends for setting out their amendments. I shall respond to them in turn. Amendment 109C seeks to impose a duty on the Home Secretary to issue a code of practice, while our amendment provides her with the power to do so. My noble friend Lord Moylan has pressed me on this issue. I assure the House that we certainly will issue such a code of practice; indeed, Home Office officials will shortly begin the process of drafting the aforementioned code. The permissible language in Amendment 109C is a common drafting approach but, as I have said, it is our firm intention to prepare and issue a code relating to non-crime hate incidents. As I said earlier, I can assure the House that decisions relating to existing non-crime hate incident data will also be made in due course as the process of drafting the new code begins.

My noble friend asked me if the College of Policing would pause the recording of NCHIs, as they are called, while the guidance was being formulated. The current non-statutory guidance on NCHIs will remain in place until the new code of practice enters into effect.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, asked about the timing of the amendment and when it would come into force. The reason why we have not issued a timescale is that the code will require careful drafting to ensure that it both meets the needs of the police and protects the public. Furthermore, as noble Lords will know, the Court of Appeal has only recently handed down its judgment in the Miller case and the code will have to account for that ruling. We do not wish to impose unduly restrictive timeframes on the process of drafting and publishing a code that will fully align with these objectives.

My noble friend has suggested, previously and again today, that a unit of some description could be set up to provide advice to police forces on whether specific incidents should be investigated by the police force as non-crime hate incidents. That suggestion requires further consideration, and I will try to give it my full consideration in due course.

My noble friend Lord Blencathra raised concerns that the amendments provide that the first iteration of the code is subject to the affirmative procedure, with the negative procedure applying thereafter. This point has been raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which he chairs so ably; I am sorry that he will be stepping down. We take the committee’s views very seriously. I will set out why we have adopted this approach.

As I have already indicated, in framing the code, we need to ensure that we have given effect to the ruling by the Court of Appeal in the Miller case. By ensuring that the first iteration is subject to the affirmative procedure, we are enabling both Houses expressly to approve the code, thus ensuring that this House can confirm that it is content that the code reflects that judgment.

It is appropriate that further iterations of the code are then subject to the negative procedure. We do not think there will be any further major rulings on the topic of non-crime hate incidents. Any further changes will thus simply reflect the routine need periodically to review such guidance. It would be disproportionate to require the affirmative procedure for every dot and comma change in further future iterations; indeed, the fundamental premise of the code will already have been expressly agreed by Parliament. We therefore do not believe that the affirmative procedure for future iterations would be an effective or necessary use of parliamentary time. I also confirm to my noble friend that we will respond to the DPRRC shortly.

Amendment 109E seeks to incorporate a specific reference to the importance of the right to freedom of expression within the list of matters that may be addressed in the code. When discharging her functions, including preparing this new code of practice, the Home Secretary must already act in compatibility with convention rights; a number of noble Lords rightly asked about this. That includes Article 10, which ensures a right to freedom of expression. It is therefore not necessary to include a reference to the importance of the right to freedom of expression, because this is already a given under the Human Rights Act. None the less, I assure noble Lords that the code will address issues around freedom of expression. Indeed, in my opening remarks, I noted that we will ensure that the content of the code fully reflects the recent Court of Appeal judgment in the Miller case.

Finally, Amendment 114E would prohibit the disclosure of non-crime hate incident personal data on an enhanced criminal record certificate. I cannot support such a blanket prohibition. The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, illustrated one of the reasons why. First, non-crime hate incidents are simply one form of police intelligence that sit alongside many others—missing persons data, evidence of anti-social behaviour, unproven allegations of sexual assault and perhaps domestic abuse. They exist in line with the police’s common-law powers to prevent crime and keep the Queen’s peace. There are rightfully circumstances in which police non-conviction information of various kinds will be considered for disclosure in enhanced checks which are used in relation to roles involving close working with vulnerable adults or children. Maintaining this regime is essential for safeguarding purposes.

Secondly, the rules surrounding disclosure of this type of data are already governed by the statutory disclosure guidance produced by the Home Office. The third edition of this guidance came into force on 16 November last year. Non-crime hate incident intelligence is not an exceptional form of police intelligence; it is simply a type of non-crime incident data collected by the police to prevent crime. That is why it is covered in the same statutory guidance. The statutory disclosure guidance has been tested by the courts and assists chief officers of police in making fair, proportionate and consistent decisions in determining when local police information should be included in enhanced criminal record certificates. Singling out this category of police data for non-disclosure would be inconsistent with the principles set out in the statutory guidance and, as such, unnecessary and disproportionate.

16:00
Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, since the guidance was published before the Court of Appeal decision, the guidance on disclosure should at least be reviewed in the light of the court decision and the reference to “chilling effect”, to ensure that it is fully compatible? Since that was so much part of the debate in the Court of Appeal—not simply recording but also disclosure—would it not make sense to review it?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My noble friend has jumped the gun on what I was going to say. We are confident that the statutory disclosure guidance, the latest version of which was published on 16 November, sets out clearly the criteria and principles which chief officers must have regard to in making decisions to disclose non-conviction information.

The safeguards in the statutory disclosure guidance are very robust. Should a chief officer consider that information ought to be disclosed in line with the guidance, the applicant is invited to make representations. Should the decision to disclose be confirmed following any representations given, that information will be included on the certificate that is sent to the applicant only. Importantly, the applicant also has a right to appeal that disclosure through the independent monitor, who considers cases where an individual believes that the information disclosed within an enhanced criminal records certificate is either not relevant to the workforce they are applying for or that it ought not to be disclosed.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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A question was asked earlier about what will happen to people who already have their information—what can we do about that? It is important that drafting takes time; in Committee I spoke about the problem of the drafting of these guidelines and said I wanted good drafting. But I was a bit concerned, as the Minister said that free speech is already protected by the Human Rights Act, but that does not console me because free speech is under attack. We have heard of many instances of where non-crime hate incidents are being used to chill free speech and this—

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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I remind the noble Baroness that she should not be speaking if she did not speak before the Minister.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I did not understand that, and I apologise. The guidelines are reputation destroying and they need to be reviewed.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On Report, questions and interventions are generally for points of elucidation and the Back-Bencher will have spoken before the Minister. That aside, in terms of what happens to historic cases, I think that will be determined upon the updating of the guidance. I will write to noble Lords as I think it is an important point as there may be many examples of it. I will write to the noble Baroness and put a copy in the Library because it is an important point of clarification.

Getting back to what I was saying about the safeguards, it is important that they balance the rights of job applicants with those of the vulnerable people they might have contact with. This goes back again to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. Alongside the existence of this strict statutory disclosure guidance, I can reassure noble Lords further. As I mentioned in the previous debate, DBS records suggest that, in any event, it is rare for non-crime police information of any sort to appear on an enhanced criminal records certificate supplied to a potential employer. This type of information featured in only 0.1% of the 3.9 million enhanced checks issued by the DBS between April 2019 and March 2020.

My noble friend has also, helpfully, raised with me before today whether the government amendment may encompass disclosure within its remit by referring to the processing of data. While the Home Secretary’s code will set out the rules for those who process NCHI data, there is no obligation for the code to address every conceivable act of processing. We have been clear that the Government’s intention is to not include disclosure within the code of practice; as such, the issue of disclosure will not be covered or referenced in any way in the code of practice.

It is imperative that we do not set an unhelpful precedent by legislating in such a way as to undermine the police’s ability to build intelligence on possible offending and risk to life more broadly. I stress again the often vital role that this data plays in helping to safeguard the vulnerable. It is not there to enforce correct opinions—referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Fox—nor is it there to serve a purpose unconnected with policing; rather, it is part of the police’s function to prevent crime.

In conclusion, again, I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Moylan for raising these important issues. I hope that he can see that the Government have taken him very seriously; the government amendments, together with the assurances that I have given in response to Amendments 109C and 109E, will, I think, address the concerns raised, by bringing parliamentary oversight to this process while protecting fundamental police functions that are already subject to strong safeguards. I hope, therefore, that he will see fit not to press his amendment—he has indicated that he will not—and that he will support the government amendments as drafted. I beg to move.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my noble friend, and for her reassurances, and I look forward to seeing the letter that she is going to write to the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 109C (to Amendment 109B) withdrawn.
Amendments 109D and 109E (to Amendment 109B) not moved.
Amendment 109B agreed.
Amendment 109F
Moved by
109F: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Further provision about a code of practice under section (Code of practice relating to non-criminal hate incidents)
(1) The Secretary of State may not issue a code of practice under section (Code of practice relating to non-criminal hate incidents) unless a draft of the code has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.(2) The Secretary of State may from time to time revise and reissue a code of practice under section (Code of practice relating to non-criminal hate incidents).(3) Before reissuing a code of practice the Secretary of State must lay a draft of the code as proposed to be reissued before Parliament.(4) If, within the 40-day period, either House of Parliament resolves not to approve the code of practice laid under subsection (3)—(a) the code is not to be reissued, and(b) the Secretary of State may prepare another code.(5) If no such resolution is passed within the 40-day period, the Secretary of State may reissue the code of practice.(6) In this section “the 40-day period” means—(a) the period of 40 days beginning with the day on which the draft is laid before Parliament, or (b) if the draft is not laid before each House on the same day, the period of 40 days beginning with the later of the days on which it is laid before Parliament.(7) In calculating the 40-day period no account is to be taken of any period during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses of Parliament are adjourned for more than 4 days.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment makes provision about the Parliamentary procedure applying to a code of practice issued by the Secretary of State under the new Clause in the name of Baroness Williams of Trafford to be inserted after Clause 55 and dealing with codes of practice relating to non-criminal hate incidents.
Amendment 109F agreed.
Amendment 109G
Moved by
109G: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Increase in penalty for offences related to game etc
(1) Section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828 (taking or destroying game or rabbits by night or entering land for that purpose) is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (4).(2) The existing text becomes subsection (1).(3) In that subsection—(a) after “conviction” insert “to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks,”, and(b) for “not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale” substitute “or to both”.(4) After that subsection insert—“(2) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (alteration of penalties for certain summary offences: England and Wales), the reference in subsection (1) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.”(5) Section 30 of the Game Act 1831 (trespass in daytime in search of game etc) is amended in accordance with subsections (6) to (8).(6) The existing text becomes subsection (1).(7) In that subsection—(a) for the words from “conviction”, in the first place it occurs, to “seem meet”, in the second place it occurs, substitute “summary conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine or to both”, and(b) for “each of the two offences” substitute “the offence”.(8) After that subsection insert—“(2) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (alteration of penalties for certain summary offences: England and Wales), the reference in subsection (1) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.”(9) In section 4A of the Game Laws (Amendment) Act 1960 (forfeiture of vehicles), in subsection (1), omit “as one of five or more persons liable under that section”.(10) The amendments made by this section have effect only in relation to offences committed on or after the day on which this section comes into force.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment increases the penalty for committing an offence under section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828 (taking or destroying game or rabbits by night or entering land for that purpose) or under section 30 of the Game Act 1831 (trespass in daytime in search of game etc).
Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans for bringing these important matters to the attention of the House. I declare an interest here, as I am a member of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, which is a member of the hare-coursing coalition.

In Committee, many noble Lords emphasised the need for early action to crack down further on illegal hare coursing. We have heard eloquent testimony to the cruelty involved and the harm and distress which this activity can cause to rural communities. As we have made clear, the Government are determined to take action. That is why we are taking an early opportunity to act by tabling these government amendments, which, I trust, following on from the debate in Committee, will be widely welcomed. They address most of the issues raised by the right reverend Prelate and, indeed, go further by introducing additional measures besides. It may be helpful to the House if I briefly outline them.

The purpose of our amendments is to broaden the circumstances in which the police can investigate and bring charges for activity related to hare coursing and to increase the powers of the courts for dealing with this activity on conviction. They do this by increasing the severity of the penalties for the relevant offences under the game Acts; introducing new criminal offences relating to trespassing on land with the intention of searching for or pursuing a hare with a dog; and giving the courts new powers to make orders on conviction in relation to the reimbursement of the costs of kennelling seized and detained dogs and the disqualification of offenders from owning or keeping a dog.

Let me set out the effect of the government amendments in a little more detail. First, Amendment 109G will increase the maximum penalties for committing an offence under Section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828 or under Section 30 of the Game Act 1831, and will remove the current difference in the maximum penalty that can apply, based on the number of people involved in committing the offence. These are offences most often used to prosecute hare-coursing-related activity, and it is therefore important that the courts should have available to them sentences appropriate to the severity of the harms which can be caused by such activity. In all cases, therefore, the maximum penalty will be increased to an unlimited fine and/or—for the first time—a custodial sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment.

Connected to this, we will also amend Section 4A of the Game Laws (Amendment) Act 1960 to give the court powers to order the forfeiture of a vehicle used in cases where fewer than five people are involved in committing an offence. That is important because of the essential role of vehicles in hare-coursing-related activity.

Turning now from existing to new law, Amendment 109H creates new offences relating to trespassing on land: specifically, trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or to pursue a hare; facilitating or encouraging the use of a dog to search for or to pursue a hare; or enabling another person to observe the use of a dog to search for or to pursue a hare.

Amendment 109J provides for a further new offence of “being equipped” to commit one of these new trespass- related offences that I have just described. It will therefore be an offence for a person to have an article with them, when not at a dwelling, with the intention that it will be used in the course of, or in connection with, the commission by any person of the new trespass-related offence. These new offences will be punishable by an unlimited fine and/or up to six months’ imprisonment. The purpose of this new “being equipped” offence is to provide a basis for bringing charges in circumstances where someone possesses articles that are associated with hare-coursing and there is clear intention to engage in that activity but there is no element of trespass, because, for example, they are on the public highway. Together, these new offences are designed to increase the circumstances in which hare-coursing-related activity can be investigated and prosecuted. They have been developed in consultation with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, and welcomed by them as a useful supplement to the legislation currently available.

I turn next to measures relating to the dogs used in hare-coursing. Amendments 109KA, 109L, 109M, 109N, 109PA and 109R strengthen the powers of the courts to make orders in relation to those convicted of certain hare-coursing-related offences. Dogs are a key element in hare-coursing-related activity, and these orders play an important part in addressing the availability of dogs for such activity.

First, Amendment 109KA provides for the court to order the recovery of kennelling costs incurred where a dog has been lawfully seized and detained in connection with certain hare-coursing-related offences. Kennelling costs can be very high. By providing for their reimbursement, we are seeking to reduce obstacles to the lawful seizure and detention of dogs used in connection with hare-coursing-related activity by the police. Such a recovery order can be made by the court whether or not it deals with the offender in any other way, such as through a fine or custodial sentence.

Secondly, Amendments 109L, 109M, 109N, 109PA and 109R provide new powers for the court relating to owning and keeping a dog. The court will be able to make a disqualification order on conviction, for such period of time as it thinks fit, preventing an offender owning and/or keeping a dog where they have been convicted of certain hare-coursing-related offences involving dogs. The amendments relating to dog disqualification orders contain provisions that aim to ensure their fair and effective operation. These include requirements and powers relating to the disposal of dogs, to termination of the orders and to safeguarding the rights of owners who are not the offender.

As many have noted, dogs are central to hare-coursing-related activity. The introduction of orders relating to dog disqualification therefore goes to the heart of the problem by making it possible to remove from convicted offenders access to a means of further offending. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will feel content that the government amendments substantially deliver his ambitions in relation to hare-coursing and that, on this basis, he and other noble Lords would be content to support the government amendments. I beg to move.

16:15
Lord Bishop of St Albans Portrait The Lord Bishop of St Albans
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My Lords, I declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition. It is a great delight to stand in the House and congratulate the Government on tabling these amendments to address this very serious rural problem of hare-coursing, which has affected so many landowners and farmers across these islands. In particular, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe of Epsom, who really listened to the debate, when people from every part of the Chamber spoke. I know that he has taken that back to others. I am hugely grateful to him for doing that.

I know that this is something that the Government were keen to do and that the consultations with Defra and others were ongoing during the passage of the Bill, so I am grateful that we will not see the delay we thought we would face and that we can offer protection to rural communities and, indeed, hares. I will not say much about the actual amendments—they have been laid out already before us—but I note that the changes the Government are bringing forward are the result of a long-running campaign. I pay tribute to organisations such as the NFU, the CLA and others, which have continually raised this issue and campaigned for a change in the law.

I also pay tribute to our rural police forces and our rural police and crime commissioners. I have been speaking to those in my area who work in my diocese, and this has been a real issue for them. It has been very helpful that they have provided input and feedback on the sort of legislative changes that would be most useful to assist them to be more assiduous in combating hare-coursing. I hope these amendments will go a long way to assist the police to do this.

Of course, there will be some other problems beyond the legislative changes, such as with local police resources and their ability to arrive on time and in sufficient numbers to deal with it. That being said, this is a victory for rural communities, rural police forces, hares and, I believe, Her Majesty’s Government; I strongly welcome it.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, I commend the government amendments, and congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his successful campaigning and all those behind it. It is great that we are seeing an awareness of the huge issues around wildlife crime, but this is very much a piecemeal approach, addressing one small element of wildlife crime, as important as it is. As the right reverend Prelate said, this is about the welfare of hares, as well as what is happening to people living in the countryside.

I ask the Minister—if he cannot respond now, I would appreciate a response by letter—whether the Government are considering doing something about the welfare of hares, particularly those being caught in spring and snare traps. There is a particular issue around Fenn traps approached by tunnels. There is guidance that says they should be restricted in size to the target species, but there is no legal provision on that. I am afraid there is some very disturbing documentation of hares, and pieces of hares, being found in such traps, and in Perdix traps. Think about what happens to an animal trapped by a paw and left to die, possibly for days, in terror and pain; I hope that that is something the Government are thinking about dealing with.

Briefly, on the wider issue of wildlife crime, I point any noble Lords interested in this to the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s annual report—there have been four of them now—on wildlife crime. It is the only summary available on the scale of the problem. As pointed out by that organisation, which is a coalition of 64 groups around the country, there is currently no recording of wildlife crime as a special category by the Home Office. That group is campaigning for that to happen. I hope the Minister might think about taking action on that.

Finally, we have a very solid law against the persecution of raptors, but we have to think about the use and application of that law, given that 60 hen harriers have been killed illegally or disappeared under suspicious circumstances on and around grouse moors since 2018.

Earl of Caithness Portrait The Earl of Caithness (Con)
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My Lords, I congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his success in persuading the Government to change the rather difficult attitude they had in Committee towards his amendment. I also congratulate my noble friend on the Front Bench on his work in getting these amendments on the Order Paper. Amendment 109H refers to hares, but if somebody is accused of searching for or pursuing a hare and defends himself by saying, “Actually, it was a rabbit I was after”, what action can be taken? Does the word “etc” in the title of the new clause,

“pursue hares with dogs, etc”

cover the case of hares, squirrels or any other excuse that somebody might have?

I also follow the right reverend Prelate in congratulating and paying tribute to our police forces, who have a very difficult time. They will be at the sharp end of seizing and detaining dogs. Can my noble friend assure me that those who go in to seize and detain dogs will be given adequate protection? The people they are dealing with are some very nasty criminals, where high-money stakes are being played for, and in many cases they will stop at virtually nothing in order to get the dogs back, so the protection of those who go in to do that work is very important.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Baroness Hayman of Ullock (Lab)
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My Lords, we welcome these amendments, although, considering that the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, published early last year, said that the Government would bring in legislation to crack down on the illegal practice of hare coursing, it was a little disappointing that this was not included in the Bill from the very start. We too offer our congratulations to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans on his sterling work in bringing forward amendments and continuing to press the Government on this issue. Also, as he and others have done, we praise organisations such as the NFU and CLA for their campaigning over many years on this issue. Also, the police: alongside the other issues noble Lords have spoken about, can the Minister confirm that the police will have the resources they need, not just financial but with numbers of wildlife officers, which is a problem? But, as I say, we welcome these amendments; it is good that our brown hare populations and our rural communities can now be better protected from this really barbaric practice.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I thank all noble Lords for their warm words, and in particular the right reverend Prelate for his—they are much appreciated. I also join in the general congratulations from around the House on the operations and the work of police forces, in particular—although it is always invidious to single anybody out—Lincolnshire police, who have been leading on Operation Galileo. In answer to the specific question from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, I cannot comment on police staffing, but I am sure that rural police forces will warmly welcome these amendments and take the appropriate measures.

In answer to my noble friend Lord Caithness, the decision to prosecute is a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service. In line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, prosecutors considering whether to prosecute for any offence must consider whether the evidence can be used and is reliable and must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

In the circumstances my noble friend outlines, and depending on the available evidence, if the CPS is not satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of conviction for the offence of trespassing on land with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare, it could still make a decision to prosecute for an offence under Section 30 of the Game Act 1831 or Section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828. These are not specific to hares but apply to any game and, in most circumstances, rabbits. Through these amendments these offences would carry the same penalties as the new trespass offence.

My noble friend’s second question was about who will keep the dogs under the offences outlined in Amendment 109. Again, it will be the court to decide, in making an order under Amendment 109M, who should keep the dogs. We would expect this usually to be the police or an animal welfare organisation. They do work closely together on such matters. The welfare of the dogs is obviously paramount. The police have made it clear that it will be a priority to ensure that dogs remain secure and protected at all times.

I cannot, I am afraid, answer the specific question from the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, about traps. I am sure she is not particularly surprised about that. But I do warmly welcome her contribution to this wildlife-related debate.

Amendment 109G agreed.
Amendments 109H and 109J
Moved by
109H: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc
(1) A person commits an offence if they trespass on land with the intention of—(a) using a dog to search for or to pursue a hare,(b) facilitating or encouraging the use of a dog to search for or to pursue a hare, or (c) enabling another person to observe the use of a dog to search for or to pursue a hare.(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for the trespass mentioned in that subsection.(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine or to both.(4) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (alteration of penalties for certain summary offences: England and Wales), the reference in subsection (3) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment creates a new offence of trespassing on land with the intention of using a dog to search for or to pursue a hare or with the intention of facilitating, encouraging or enabling another person to observe the use of a dog to search for or to pursue a hare.
109J: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Being equipped for searching for or pursuing hares with dogs etc
(1) A person commits an offence if they have an article with them in a place other than a dwelling with the intention that it will be used in the course of or in connection with the commission by any person of an offence under section (Trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc) (trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc).(2) Where a person is charged with an offence under subsection (1), proof that the person had with them any article made or adapted for use in committing an offence under section (Trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc) is evidence that the person had it with them with the intention that it would be used in the course of or in connection with the commission by any person of an offence under that section.(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine or to both.(4) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (alteration of penalties for certain summary offences: England and Wales), the reference in subsection (3) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.(5) In this section—“article” includes a vehicle and, except in subsection (2), an animal;“dwelling” means—(a) a building or structure which is used as a dwelling, or(b) a part of a building or structure, if the part is used as a dwelling,and includes any yard, garden, garage or outhouse belonging to and used with a dwelling.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment creates a new offence where a person has an article with them in a place other than a dwelling with the intention that it will be used in the course of or in connection with the commission by any person of an offence under the new Clause in the name of Baroness Williams of Trafford to be inserted after Clause 55 and relating to trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc.
Amendments 109H and 109J agreed.
Amendment 109K had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
Amendments 109KA to 109N
Moved by
109KA: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Recovery order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs
(1) This section applies where—(a) a person is convicted of an offence within subsection (5) which was committed on or after the day on which this section comes into force,(b) a dog was used in or was present at the commission of the offence, and(c) the dog was lawfully seized and detained in connection with the offence.(2) The court may make an order (a “recovery order”) requiring the offender to pay all the expenses incurred by reason of the dog’s seizure and detention.(3) Any sum required to be paid under subsection (2) is to be treated for the purposes of enforcement as if it were a fine imposed on conviction.(4) Where a recovery order is available for an offence, the court may make such an order whether or not it deals with the offender in any other way for the offence.(5) The following offences are within this subsection—(a) an offence under section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828 (taking or destroying game or rabbits by night or entering land for that purpose);(b) an offence under section 30 of the Game Act 1831 (trespass in daytime in search of game etc);(c) an offence under section (Trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc) (trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc);(d) an offence under section (Being equipped for searching for or pursuing hares with dogs etc) (being equipped for searching for or pursuing hares with dogs etc).”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides for a court to order an offender to pay for the costs of seizing and detaining a dog where the dog has been lawfully seized and detained in connection with certain offences involving dogs.
109L: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs
(1) This section applies where—(a) a person is convicted of an offence within subsection (9) which was committed on or after the day on which this section comes into force, and(b) a dog was used in or was present at the commission of the offence.(2) The court may make an order (a “disqualification order”) disqualifying the offender, for such period as the court thinks fit, from—(a) owning dogs,(b) keeping dogs, or(c) both.(3) The disqualification order may specify a period during which the offender may not make an application under section (Termination of disqualification order) to terminate the order.(4) The court may, where it appears to the court that the offender owns or keeps a dog, suspend the operation of the disqualification order for such period as it thinks necessary for enabling alternative arrangements to be made in respect of the dog. (5) Where a court makes a disqualification order, it must—(a) give its reasons for making the order in open court, and(b) cause them to be entered in the register of its proceedings.(6) A person who breaches a disqualification order commits an offence.(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (6) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.(8) Where a disqualification order is available for an offence, the court may make such an order whether or not it deals with the offender in any other way for the offence.(9) The following offences are within this subsection—(a) an offence under section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828 (taking or destroying game or rabbits by night or entering land for that purpose);(b) an offence under section 30 of the Game Act 1831 (trespass in daytime in search of game etc);(c) an offence under section (Trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc) (trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs etc);(d) an offence under section (Being equipped for searching for or pursuing hares with dogs etc) (being equipped for searching for or pursuing hares with dogs etc).(10) In section 171 of the Sentencing Code (offences relating to animals), after subsection (2) insert—“(3) See section (Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs) of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs) for orders relating to disqualification in the case of offences involving dogs under that Act, the Night Poaching Act 1828 and the Game Act 1831.””Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides for a court to make a disqualification order preventing an offender from owning or keeping a dog where the offender is convicted of certain offences involving dogs.
109M: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order
(1) Where, on a court making a disqualification order, it appears to the court that the person to whom the order applies owns or keeps a dog contrary to the order, the court may order that the dog be taken into possession.(2) Where a person is convicted of an offence under section (Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs) (6) by reason of owning or keeping a dog in breach of a disqualification order, the court by which the person is convicted may order that all dogs owned or kept in breach of the order be taken into possession.(3) An order under subsection (1) or (2), so far as relating to any dog owned by the person to whom the disqualification order applies, must make provision for disposal of the dog.(4) Any dog taken into possession in pursuance of an order under subsection (1) or (2) that is not owned by the person subject to the disqualification order is to be dealt with in such manner as an appropriate court may order.(5) But an order under subsection (4) may not provide for the dog to be—(a) destroyed, or(b) disposed of for the purposes of vivisection.(6) A court may not make an order for disposal of the dog under subsection (4) unless— (a) it has given the owner of the dog an opportunity to be heard, or(b) it is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to communicate with the owner.(7) Where a court makes an order under subsection (4) for the disposal of the dog, the owner of the dog may appeal against the order to the Crown Court.(8) In this section—“appropriate court” means—(a) the magistrates’ court which made the order under subsection (1) or (2), or(b) another magistrates’ court acting for the same local justice area as that court;“disqualification order” has the same meaning as in section (Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs).(9) In this section references to disposing of a dog do not include—(a) destroying it, or(b) disposing of it for the purposes of vivisection.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides for a court to make an order for a dog to be taken into possession where a person owns or keeps the dog in contravention of a disqualification order made under the new Clause in the name of Baroness Williams of Trafford to be inserted after Clause 55 and relating to disqualification orders on conviction for certain offences involving dogs.
109N: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Termination of disqualification order
(1) A person who is subject to a disqualification order may apply to an appropriate court for the order to be terminated.(2) No application under subsection (1) may be made—(a) before the end of the period of one year beginning with the date on which the disqualification order was made,(b) where a previous application under that subsection has been made in relation to the same order, before the end of the period of one year beginning with the date on which the previous application was determined, or(c) before the end of any period specified under section (Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs) (3), or subsection (5), in relation to the order.(3) On an application under subsection (1), the court may—(a) terminate the disqualification order,(b) vary the order so as to make it less onerous, or(c) refuse the application.(4) When determining an application under subsection (1), the court is to have regard to—(a) the character of the applicant,(b) the applicant’s conduct since the disqualification order was made, and(c) any other relevant circumstances.(5) Where the court refuses an application under subsection (1) or varies a disqualification order on such an application, it may specify a period during which the applicant may not make a further application under that subsection in relation to the order concerned.(6) The court may order an applicant to pay all or part of the costs of an application.(7) In this section—“appropriate court” means—(a) the magistrates’ court which made the disqualification order, or (b) another magistrates’ court acting for the same local justice area as that court;“disqualification order” has the same meaning as in section (Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs).”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment makes provision in relation to the termination or variation of a disqualification order made under the new Clause in the name of Baroness Williams of Trafford to be inserted after Clause 55 and relating to disqualification orders on conviction for certain offences involving dogs.
Amendments 109KA to 109N agreed.
Amendment 109P had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
Amendment 109PA
Moved by
109PA: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Section (Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order): supplementary
(1) The court by which an order under section (Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order) is made may—(a) appoint a person to carry out, or arrange for the carrying out of, the order;(b) require any person who has possession of a dog to which the order applies to deliver it up to enable the order to be carried out;(c) give directions with respect to the carrying out of the order;(d) confer additional powers (including power to enter premises where a dog to which the order applies is being kept) for the purpose of, or in connection with, the carrying out of the order;(e) order the person who committed the offence in relation to which the order was made, or another person, to reimburse the expenses of carrying out the order.(2) A person who fails to comply with a requirement imposed under subsection (1)(b) commits an offence.(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (2) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.(4) Directions under subsection (1)(c) may—(a) specify the manner in which a dog is to be disposed of, or(b) delegate the decision about the manner in which a dog is to be disposed of to a person appointed under subsection (1)(a).(5) In determining how to exercise its powers under section (Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order) and this section the court is to have regard (amongst other things) to—(a) the desirability of protecting the value of any dog to which the order under section (Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order) applies, and(b) the desirability of avoiding increasing any expenses which a person may be ordered to reimburse.(6) In determining how to exercise a power delegated under subsection (4)(b), a person is to have regard, amongst other things, to the things mentioned in subsection (5)(a) and (b).(7) If the owner of a dog ordered to be disposed of under section (Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order) is subject to a liability by virtue of subsection (1)(e), any amount to which the owner is entitled as a result of sale of the dog may be reduced by an amount equal to that liability.(8) Any sum ordered to be paid under subsection (1)(e) is to be treated for the purposes of enforcement as if it were a fine imposed on conviction.(9) In this section references to disposing of a dog do not include—(a) destroying it, or(b) disposing of it for the purposes of vivisection.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment contains supplementary provisions in relation to a court making an order under the new clause in the name of Baroness Williams of Trafford to be inserted after Clause 55 and relating to seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification orders.
Amendment 109PA agreed.
Amendment 109Q had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
Amendment 109R
Moved by
109R: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Disqualification orders: appeals
(1) Nothing may be done under an order under section (Disqualification order on conviction for certain offences involving dogs) or (Seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification order) with respect to a dog unless—(a) the period for giving notice of appeal against the order has expired,(b) the period for giving notice of appeal against the conviction on which the order was made has expired, and(c) if the order or conviction is the subject of an appeal, the appeal has been determined or withdrawn.(2) Where the effect of an order is suspended under subsection (1)—(a) no requirement imposed or directions given in connection with the order have effect, but(b) the court may give directions about how any dog to which the order applies is to be dealt with during the suspension.(3) Directions under subsection (2)(b) may, in particular—(a) authorise the dog to be taken into possession;(b) authorise the dog to be cared for either on the premises where it was being kept when it was taken into possession or at some other place;(c) appoint a person to carry out, or arrange for the carrying out of, the directions;(d) require any person who has possession of the dog to deliver it up for the purposes of the directions;(e) confer additional powers (including power to enter premises where the dog is being kept) for the purpose of, or in connection with, the carrying out of the directions;(f) provide for the recovery of any expenses in relation to the removal or care of the dog which are incurred in carrying out the directions.(4) A person who fails to comply with a requirement imposed under subsection (3)(d) commits an offence.(5) A person guilty an offence under subsection (4) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale. (6) Any sum directed to be paid under subsection (3)(f) is to be treated for the purposes of enforcement as if it were a fine imposed on conviction.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment makes provision in connection with appeals in relation to orders made under the new clauses in the name of Baroness Williams of Trafford to be inserted after Clause 55 and relating to disqualification orders on conviction for certain offences involving dogs and seizure and disposal of dogs in connection with disqualification orders.
Amendment 109R agreed.
Amendments 110 and 111 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
Amendment 112 not moved.
Amendment 113 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
Amendment 114 not moved.
Amendment 114A
Moved by
114A: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Urgent review of offences under section 61 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003
(1) The Secretary of State must establish a review into the prevalence of, and the response of the criminal justice system to, the offence of administering a substance with intent under section 61 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, within one month of the day on which this Act is passed.(2) A review under this section must consider—(a) incidence rates and rates of reporting by victims;(b) charging and prosecution rates for the offence;(c) the adequacy of sentencing guidelines for the offence;(d) the adequacy of police investigations into reports of the offence;(e) reoffending rates, and rates of offenders who commit one or more other sexual offences following a charge or sentence for administering a substance with intent;(f) the impact of the offence on victims.(3) A report on the findings of the review under this section, and any associated recommendations, must be published within six months of the day on which this Act is passed.(4) Where a report is published under subsection (3) a Minister of the Crown must make a statement to each House of Parliament on the contents of the report and associated recommendations.(5) Within three months of a report being published under subsection (3) a Minister of the Crown must make a statement to each House of Parliament on action that has been taken in response to recommendations made.”
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab)
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My Lords, this amendment was debated on Wednesday, so I intend to speak very briefly to it. The purpose of the amendment is to ask the Government to set up a review of drinks spiking and needle spiking in pubs and clubs. In her response, the Minister said that the Home Secretary has asked the National Police Chiefs’ Council to review the scale of needle spiking. My amendment is very modest; all it does is require the Government to go one step further and set up a review of this practice, about which there is much public concern. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

16:26

Division 1

Ayes: 237

Noes: 190

16:44
Amendment 114B not moved.
Amendment 114C
Moved by
114C: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Accountability of public authorities: duties on police workforce
(1) Members of the police workforce have a duty at all times to act within their powers—(a) in the public interest, and(b) with transparency, candour and frankness.(2) Members of the police workforce have a duty to assist court proceedings, official inquiries and investigations—(a) relating to their own activities, or(b) where their acts or omissions are or may be relevant.(3) In discharging the duty under subsection (2), members of the police workforce must—(a) act with proper expedition,(b) act with transparency, candour and frankness,(c) act without favour to their own position,(d) make full disclosure of relevant documents, material and facts,(e) set out their position on the relevant matters at the outset of the proceedings, inquiry or investigation, and(f) provide further information and clarification as ordered by a court or inquiry.(4) In discharging their duty under subsection (2), members of the police workforce must have regard to the pleadings, allegations, terms of reference and parameters of the relevant proceedings, inquiry or investigation, but are not limited by them, in particular where they hold information which might change the ambit of the proceedings, inquiry or investigation.(5) The duties in subsections (1) and (2) are subject to existing laws relating to privacy, data protection and national security.(6) The duties in subsections (1) and (2) are enforceable—(a) by application to the relevant court or inquiry chairperson by any person affected by the alleged breach, or(b) by the court or inquiry of its own motion, or(c) where there are no extant court or inquiry proceedings, by judicial review proceedings in the High Court.”Member’s explanatory statement
This would establish a duty of candour on members of the police workforce.
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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Amendment 114C would place a statutory duty of candour on members of the police workforce. It would create a duty on law enforcement to act at all times in the public interest and with transparency, candour and frankness, and to assist in court proceedings, official inquiries and investigations where the activities of members of the police workforce, including omissions, may be relevant. The issue was discussed at some length in Committee and I certainly do not intend to repeat all that was said then.

In his 2017 report on the pain and suffering of the Hillsborough families, Bishop James Jones proposed a duty of candour to address

“the unacceptable behaviour of police officers—serving or retired—who fail to cooperate fully with investigations into alleged criminal offences or misconduct.”

In June 2021, the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, which I believe took eight years to report, found:

“There was not insignificant obstruction to the Panel’s work … the Metropolitan Police did not approach the Panel’s scrutiny with candour, in an open, honest and transparent way”.


The panel recommended

“the creation of a statutory duty of candour, to be owed by all law enforcement agencies to those whom they serve”.

The chair of the panel, the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, said in this House that

“the creation of the duty of candour in matters such as this is vital for the integrity and effectiveness of policing”.—[Official Report, 22/6/21; col. 134.]

Last June, the Government told us in this House that they were still considering the duty of candour in response to Bishop James Jones’s report four years earlier. We now have before us a flagship home affairs and justice Bill from this Government, which prioritises new offences against those who protest but is silent on the failures of justice highlighted in the Bishop Jones report and by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel and the resulting call, both in the report and by the panel, for the statutory duty of candour provided for in this amendment. It is time for action and a decision, and an end to this seemingly never-ending continuing government consideration of this issue. I beg to move.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd Portrait Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd (CB)
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I have added my name to this amendment for four reasons. First, the need is clear: we need complete protection of victims and the public interest, and to make certain that recalcitrant are no longer able to delay. Secondly, the duty of candour is clear: there is no doubt about what it entails. Thirdly, the remedies provided in the proposed new clause are extensive and proportionate. Finally, there can be no reason for delay. Why does it need consultation? It does not. The proposed new clause and the need are clear; we should pass this amendment.

Baroness O'Loan Portrait Baroness O’Loan (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Paddick, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, for tabling this amendment.

Briefly, a duty of candour would bring about a change of mindset and culture by requiring openness and transparency about what has happened in investigations. It would lead to a more efficient deployment of resources, which would have a beneficial impact on the public purse. It could very much help to contradict allegations of police corruption and will grow confidence in the leadership of the police service because there would be a statutory obligation of openness and transparency, and therefore an assumption there would be compliance with the law rather than a suspicion of cover-up or, even worse, corruption. The amendment is framed to protect all necessary matters but to enable a different positive approach to the delivery of policing. I support the amendment.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, I welcome that the opposition is united in support of this amendment.

The police have failed to own up to many of their mistakes. I personally have experienced police evasion, police spying and police deceit. It beggars belief that there is no duty of candour on our police force already. It actually imposes their own idea of what the law says and this is completely wrong, so I very much support this amendment.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, as a former police officer, I must tell the House that leaving the failure to abide by such a duty of candour to the police misconduct process, as the Government are asking us to do, is inadequate, as the decision on whether to investigate or take misconduct proceedings will be left in the hands of the police themselves.

If it is in the interest of the police that something is covered up, they will not investigate and they will not take action against the officers responsible. As the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, has just explained, her experience of the inquiry into the Daniel Morgan murder demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt the need for this amendment, and we support it.

Lord Hogan-Howe Portrait Lord Hogan-Howe (CB)
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My Lords, I have not thought an awful lot about this, but the principle, which seems unarguable, is that police officers should have a duty of candour. They are not the only ones who should; many other groups might want to adopt a similar approach, but so far as the police service is concerned, which is what this amendment is about, it is rather unarguable. How it works ought to be clearly thought through, which I guess is why the Government are consulting on it. The only question I had, which I have just discussed briefly with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, is how this would work with the criminal disclosure process and how that would impact on any ongoing prosecution or, obviously, any separate public inquiry. However, that is a matter of implementation rather than of principle. In general terms, I see no reason why it should not be implemented for the police; perhaps others may consider it too.

Lord Sentamu Portrait Lord Sentamu (CB)
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My Lords, in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, one of the challenges we faced was that the police were investigating the police—they were marking their own homework. Although Kent Police did a fantastic job, nevertheless there were areas where they could not quite press hard enough. They were very good in what they did, but it was not adequate, and therefore we proposed in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry that, whenever there is an incident, it should be investigated by an independent body.

This amendment would enhance that on the whole question of duty of candour. Again, during that inquiry we were given all the papers. There was no hidden stuff, so for that I must again congratulate the Met. However, this amendment is vital in order to support independent police inquiries, whenever there are areas of great concern. I hope nobody sees this as either intrusive or doubting that most of our police forces really want to do the best for their communities and places. Nevertheless, a duty of candour would impose a very good way of saying what concerns some people about the police, so I support the amendment.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Paddick, for affording us this further opportunity to debate the case for a statutory duty of candour. They have rightly highlighted the importance of the police’s openness and transparency, which is a very serious matter. It is at the heart of public confidence in policing and ensures that the police are held to the highest standards; this is crucial to maintaining that confidence.

As I did in Committee, I start by highlighting the extensive work that has already been done and is ongoing to improve integrity and openness in policing. Back in February 2020, we introduced a statutory duty of co-operation for serving police officers as part of wider integrity reforms. This duty forms part of the standards of professional behaviour set out in Schedule 2 to the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020 and, in so doing, has the force of law. It is worth quoting in full the relevant paragraph:

“Police officers have a responsibility to give appropriate cooperation during investigations, inquiries and formal proceedings, participating openly and professionally in line with the expectations of a police officer when identified as a witness.”


A failure to co-operate in this way constitutes a breach of the statutory standards of professional behaviour, by which all officers must abide, and could therefore result in a formal disciplinary sanction. I put it to the House at this point that this duty to co-operate puts a greater onus on officers than the duty of candour provided for in this amendment, as they could ultimately be dismissed for a breach.

The duty to co-operate has been introduced since the issues that were highlighted in the Bishop James Jones report concerning the bereaved Hillsborough families’ experiences, and the issues relating to the work of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, which were later highlighted in its report. We are keen that this duty becomes fully embedded within the police workforce. The recently announced inquiry, chaired by the right honourable Dame Elish Angiolini QC, will provide a further test of this duty.

In addition to the standards of professional behaviour, the College of Policing’s code of ethics delivers a set of policing principles and ensures that ethics are at the centre of all policing decisions. The college is currently reviewing the code and intends to further promote a policing culture of openness and accountability. The Government are confident that the work of the college will ensure that candour is directly addressed through this review.

Noble Lords will be aware that a response to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel and Bishop James Jones report concerning the bereaved Hillsborough families’ experiences will provide a government view on a wider duty of candour for all public authorities. Before the Government respond to these reports, it is clearly imperative that the Hillsborough families are given the opportunity to share their views. We hope that this happens as soon as is practicable.

Bishop James’s report also encouraged public bodies to sign the proposed charter for bereaved families. This has now been signed by the NPCC, on behalf of police forces, so that the perspective of the bereaved families is never lost. The charter commits forces to acting with candour, and in an open, honest, and transparent way, when facing public scrutiny, for example through public inquiries.

Regarding the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, the decision on disciplinary action is not just for forces. Of course, the IOPC can also call it in.

In conclusion, we believe that the existing legislation requiring officers to co-operate already amounts to a duty of candour, and this is complemented by the further commitments that policing has made to transparency and openness. That being the case—

Baroness O'Loan Portrait Baroness O'Loan (CB)
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The Minister has described a duty of co-operation, which is not the same as the duty described by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and others, in the amendment. It is not fair to explain that they are the same and that a duty of co-operation goes further than a duty of candour. They are two different duties and the obligation to comply with charters and standards is very different from the obligation to comply with the statutory duty.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I was making the point that, in some ways, the duty of co-operation goes further because of the sanctions afforded to it, though I know that the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, for whom I have the greatest respect, disagrees with me.

Regarding an officer resigning or retiring, if he or she is found to have committed gross misconduct, the chair of proceedings can decide that they would have been dismissed if they had not already left the force, so leaving the force is no longer a way out, since this automatically places the officer on the College of Policing’s barred list, preventing them from working in policing again.

I know that the noble Baroness does not agree, but I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment, although I am not sure that he will.

17:00
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, for adding their names to the amendment. I also thank the Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government, for the Government’s response.

The fact that we are now four years on from Bishop James Jones’s report and the Government are still considering their response to the call for a duty of candour simply indicates what a relatively low priority this issue must be for the Government. The Government said in Committee, and indeed the Minister repeated it today, that:

“The Government have already made significant changes to ensure that officers can be disciplined if they mislead the public, and we are committed to properly consider and respond to the recommendations for a duty of candour, as highlighted in Bishop James Jones’s report.”—[Official Report, 3/11/21; col. 1255.]


In the light of what the Government have just had to say, which appears to be that they think that the steps they have taken are more significant than a duty of candour, there must surely now be a real likelihood that the Government will eventually decide against a statutory duty of candour, deciding that internal disciplinary codes and practices are sufficient, when, as the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, and others have said, they clearly are not. We now have a statutory duty of candour in the National Health Service.

I conclude by quoting the words of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, in Committee, on 3 November 2021, which can be read in Hansard:

“The statutory duty of candour is vital not just to affect the culture of the police and enhance public confidence in policing but to give confidence to those police officers who face enormous internal pressures from their colleagues not to be candid. They need support; they need a statutory regime they can point to in order to justify to their colleagues what is required.”—[Official Report, 3/11/21; col. 1253.]


I wish to test the opinion of the House.

17:01

Division 2

Ayes: 252

Noes: 179

17:17
Amendment 114D
Moved by
114D: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Training on stalking
The Secretary of State must seek to ensure that every professional in the criminal justice system, including staff of the Crown Prosecution Service, probation officers, police officers, and other relevant public officials involved in any investigation or legal proceedings involving stalking, has attended and completed relevant specialist training.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment aims to promote the early identification of stalking, and better investigation and prosecution of the crime, by requiring the Government to implement the adoption of specialised stalking training for relevant public officials which is currently not mandated.
Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait Lord Russell of Liverpool (CB)
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My Lords, I start by thanking several noble Baronesses who, for many years, have been trying to persuade Her Majesty’s Government to address stalking and understand it rather better than we have done hitherto. In no particular order, I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Royall, Lady Brinton—who we will be hearing from in a minute—and Lady Newlove, and pay tribute to them for their persistence.

This is a simple and brief amendment, designed to ensure that the many agencies and individuals that encounter different forms of stalking know better what it is they are dealing with. There are two key messages that we need to take on board. The first is that stalking is carried out in England and Wales on an industrial scale. There were 1.5 million victims of stalking in 2019-20 in England and Wales. Only 0.1% of those instances resulted in a conviction. Around 77% of that 1.5 million experienced an average of over 100 stalking incidents before they actually plucked up the courage to report it to the police. For those noble Lords of a mathematical bent, 77% of 1.5 million is not a million miles away from 1 million, and if you multiply that by 100, you start to get some sense of the scale of what we are talking about. It is staggering.

The second point that it would be helpful to take on board is the complexity of stalking. Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists have developed the “stalking risk profile”, the authoritative tool used to understand and codify the different types of stalking. It outlines five different stalker types, and I shall briefly take noble Lords through them and explain why as I do it.

The five types are broken down by the prevalence of each in a clinical setting. What is relevant for today’s amendment is not the first and predominant stalker type, known as the rejected stalker, which has the highest prevalence of violence and will pursue the victim, often a former partner, for either reconciliation or revenge. The rejected stalker type is responsible for 54% of stalking incidents—by a strange coincidence, almost exactly the estimated amount of stalking incidents that are domestic-abuse related.

How about the other 46%? Before I go on to that, I pay tribute to the Government, the NPCC and College of Policing for the new national framework for delivery for policing violence against women and girls announced by Maggie Blyth last month. It is genuinely a very positive leap forward for dealing with stalking, primarily domestic stalking. However, even domestic abuse stalking is complex. Alongside the framework, as you can see on the College of Policing website, is a document called the “framework toolkit”, which breaks down by type of incident all the different types of stalking and harassment that are likely to take place; it then subdivides them into the myriad different laws and types of guidance that the police should consider when trying to work out what type of stalking incident this is. I am a lay man and I know a certain amount about it, but my observation would be that, in many cases, one would require a PhD in criminology to follow the decision tree of all the ways in which one might respond to an incident, and how best to deal with it.

What about the other four stalker types? We have the resentful stalker, which is about 15% of that 1.5 million. They often have a deliberate intent to cause fear or distress to a victim in response to perceived mistreatment. Legal sanctions often exacerbate their behaviour, and they frequently require psychiatric treatment. I would venture to guess that the resentful stalker is in many cases responsible for the shameful incidents that we hear about, whereby leading politicians, particularly female politicians in this country, from the other end of the Palace of Westminster, receive frequently hateful and disturbing threats to themselves and their safety, as well as that of their families and staff. Some 15% of stalkers are doing that.

The next category is the intimacy-seeking stalker. This is somebody who is quite frequently mentally unstable and wants to have an intimate relationship with the person they are stalking. You may recall one or two quite well-known women, usually, in the public eye, perhaps well-known journalists—in one instance, somebody who not infrequently appears on “Newsnight”, who has had the experience of being stalked by somebody in this category since they met briefly many years ago at university. I suspect that that individual has received not just 100 instances of stalking by this individual— I imagine it probably goes into the thousands.

The next category is the wonderfully named incompetent stalker, which represents about 11% of the 1.5 million. This individual tries to forge a relationship with the victim in socially inappropriate ways. Again, frequently, psychiatric help is required to try to make them understand what it is that they are doing.

In the fifth and last category is the predatory stalker. They stalk victims for sexual gratification, often in preparation for an assault, and sex offender treatment may be required. I suspect that in that category goes a certain rather infamous gentleman who until recently was in the police force but is now a guest at Her Majesty’s pleasure for a very long time indeed.

So how can the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office help those charged with protecting these 1.5 million victims, particularly the substantial number—46%—who are not being targeted by the rejected, domestic abuse-type stalker? The new framework makes a good start, but it does not make use of some of the very effective initiatives that are out there, such as MASIP, which I discussed briefly with the Minister this morning, or Lifeline, a specialist training course for individuals who have to look at stalking developed by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. It is extraordinarily effective, and dovetails very effectively into Domestic Abuse Matters, which is the predominant domestic abuse training that police and other agencies are receiving.

I do not expect the Minister to stand up at the end of this and say, “Lord Russell and all the rest of you, you’re completely right, we’ve totally taken it on board and we’re going to do exactly what you ask”. I would be rather alarmed if she did. But what I would ask her and her colleagues and advisers to do is to carefully consider this problem—the scale and the sheer complexity of stalking, particularly non-domestic abuse stalking—because it not going to go away.

The reaction of the Government and statutory agencies to the incidence of violence against women and girls over the last three or four years strongly reminds me of the fable about the frog who was burned alive sitting in water that was gradually heating up, as incident after incident, story after story, heats up in this case the political temperature, until the politician in the bath suddenly finds that they are soon going to be in need of medical help, because they have allowed this situation to develop. Stalking has similar characteristics; it is not going to go away.

Many people in public life, especially the lady politicians we were referring to earlier, know exactly what it feels like to be stalked. Based on the law of averages, I would be astonished if some of the Ministers dealing with this, their advisers and extended teams, have not themselves personally experienced stalking in some form or another. Stalking is not selective when it chooses its victims.

This amendment is designed to strongly suggest to Her Majesty’s Government that, in order to avoid the equivalent of a dreadful Sarah Everard moment that is very specifically related to stalking, they should voluntarily choose to act proactively and put in place an effective and comprehensive approach to enable the sheer complexity and scale of stalking to be understood better—and they should do that now. I beg to move.

Lord Haskel Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Haskel) (Lab)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is taking part remotely. I invite the noble Baroness to speak.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Russell, for his comprehensive introduction to this amendment and his explanation of the different types of stalking.

When Gracie Spinks was stalked and then murdered in June by a non-partner, her case was made infinitely worse by the behaviour of the police both before and after she died. In February, she had reported the worrying behaviour of Michael Sellers to her local police. Despite his behaviour escalating, she had no support from them. There are also issues about the behaviour of officers after her murder, and five have now been issued with IOPC disciplinary notices.

17:30
As the noble Lord, Lord Russell, outlined, the 2019-20 Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 3.6% of adults had experienced stalking in the last year. The noble Lord said that amounted to about 1.5 million people, of whom just under 1 million were women and over half a million were men. As around 46% of stalking is carried out by non-partners or former non-partners of the person, it is not covered by the domestic abuse legislation nor, because a large number of men are involved, the violence against women and girls legislation, and is therefore not covered by the new framework. The amendment asks for a strategy on stalking to ensure that front-line staff throughout the criminal justice system are trained and can identify, and respond appropriately to, potential and actual stalking cases.
I and others have been asking for a strategy and for comprehensive training on stalking for over a decade. Earlier this year, during the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Minister was kind enough to say that that Bill was not an appropriate vehicle for amendments about stalking because almost half of stalkers are not partners or former partners of the person they are stalking, and she proposed that we should table some amendments to this Bill. Yet at every stage the Government have resisted this.
For anyone, such as myself, who has been stalked or who knows the damage done to family and friends who have been stalked, it seems as if things are now going backwards. The case of Gracie Spinks, brutally murdered four months after she had reported the worrying and escalating behaviour of her stalker, demonstrates why training for front-line staff, including police, and an integrated strategy for managing the early identification of stalking and, particularly, fixated and obsessed people, are so important.
It is good that the Government have moved on domestic abuse and on violence against women and girls, and I thank them for it, but until this Government understand that stalkers continue to ruin their victims’ lives with escalating behaviour, resulting in cases of violence and murder, unfortunately they will not change anything on the front line for those trying to help these victims, who are mainly women.
I hope the Minister is able to help take this issue forward. Could she please say when is actually a good time to bring something forward? Ten years of warm words from Ministers is just not enough when staff in the criminal justice system are still not being trained even to recognise, let alone handle, stalking.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Portrait Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab)
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My Lords, I am proud to have added my name to this amendment, which I believe is vital. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Russell, for his kind words but, most importantly, for giving the stalking facts and figures, which are truly startling. The scale is huge and the complexity daunting, and he gave a brilliant and well-informed exposé of the problem.

It is true, as noble Lords have said, that great progress has been made in the last 10 years since stalking was first recognised as an offence. I am grateful to the Minister for her work and to noble Lords on all sides of the Chamber who have pursued this issue. I must also mention the indefatigable work and campaigning of Laura Richards, our mutual friend John Clough, the families of victims, and courageous survivors. My work at Oxford, for which I refer noble Lords to my interests as set out in the register, brings me into contact daily with staff and students who suffer from the insidious crime of non-domestic violence-related stalking. They live in constant fear alongside the 1.5 million other victims.

Among the progress that has been made, I am of course delighted that there is now a national strategy for the policing of violence against women and girls but, as has been said, that does not cover the vast number of people who are being stalked where the stalking does not relate to domestic violence. However, it is brilliant that violence against women and girls must now be a strategic priority for all police forces and that they will be assisted by a new local duty to tackle it as part of any work in partnership with other parts of the criminal justice system and all parts of the policing landscape. I celebrate that at last there is a truly national approach that should lead to the identification of the most dangerous and serial perpetrators of violence, more focused investigations, an increase in prosecutions and a reduction in the murder of women, serious harm and repeat victimisation.

Of course, there is a “but”, hence the amendment. We desperately need a strategy for all categories of stalking, and I endorse the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, and the noble Lord, Lord Russell. When are we going to have a more global strategy in relation to stalking?

Strategies are crucial and welcome but, like legislation, they have to be implemented in order to have their desired, much-needed effect. That requires systematic specialist training. As noble Lords will be only too aware, my long-standing concern has been about stalking in all its forms, not just that which involves domestic stalking. Training must be provided relating to all forms of stalking. There must be a national approach so that no matter where a victim seeks help and reports an incident, and wherever a perpetrator is apprehended, those who answer the phone and take whatever steps are necessary to support the victim and investigate a case must have similar experience.

As we know from the excellent inspections by HMICFRS, reports by experts and the evidence of survivors and the friends and families of victims, to date that has not been the case. These women, and sometimes men, have been utterly failed by the piecemeal approach to training. It is no exaggeration to say that countless women, such as Hollie Gazzard, would be still alive if there had been appropriate training, if their calls had been responded to in the proper manner and if the people answering the calls had understood what stalking was. Helen Pearson called the police 144 times over five years. If they had understood that she was a victim and was not wasting the police’s time, her situation could have been properly dealt with.

My strong preference would be to have a regulation in the Bill to provide for mandatory training, but I know from long experience that that would not be accepted by the Government. I first spoke about this in moving an amendment in February 2012, supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, when we secured agreement to create the offence of stalking. I have been told on countless occasions since then that the appropriate place for training requirements is in guidance—but guidance has ensured that only a few police forces have taken the need for training seriously and most have not, and women have been murdered and others have had their own lives and those of their families destroyed. Over the years it has been cruelly apparent that guidance is not enough.

With the ever-increasing focus on and understanding of the extent of the appalling violence against women and girls, including stalking, and with the appointment of Maggie Blyth to spearhead the policing strategy, I hope that the need for quality nationwide training will be understood and that it will be implemented. However, I would like an assurance from the Minister that the Secretary of State really will seek to ensure that the training takes place and, vitally, that there will be the necessary funding to enable it. I would also be grateful if she could explain what mechanism is or will be in place for that to be monitored, and how we as a Parliament can hold the Government to account on this vital issue.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I pay tribute to the tireless work over many years of all three noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. Stalking remains widely misunderstood by many in the criminal justice system—specifically, how serious and complex it can be and how widespread it is, as noble Lords have explained. The amendment aims to remedy that situation, and we support it.

Baroness Newlove Portrait Baroness Newlove (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Russell, for tabling this amendment. I praise the tireless work of the noble Baronesses, Lady Royall and Lady Brinton, in this area. I am delighted to put my name to the amendment because of the work of Laura Richards, who has also worked tirelessly. Even though she is not in the UK, she still works tirelessly on podcasts, which I suggest that everyone listens to; they are brilliant in the stories that they cover, but it is very sad to hear the journeys that some women go through.

I will not add much more to what my colleagues have said. Stalking, on its own, is horrific. I really welcome what we now have on domestic abuse stalking and I thank the Minister for the conversations we have had. However, it scares me that this piece of legislation has been left to wander in the fields again. I feel we have taken 10 steps forward and 50 back. Listening to victims of this horrendous crime in my former role as Victims’ Commissioner—victims I am still listening to—I know that the problem with stalking is that you cannot see it. If you had a scab on your hand and we could see it, we could then do something tangible. Stalking is horrific and coercive, both mentally and physically.

When we look at amending and putting this legislation into place, the default is that we must train better. Now we are asking that we have a standard of training for non-domestic abuse stalking. I believe that every word from the noble Lord, Lord Russell, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Royall, adds to the quality of what this training should be. Unfortunately, if a stalking victim phones up, it will not be the first time; they will be at the end of their tether. In society and under Governments past and present, we have waited until somebody is murdered brutally—taken. That should not be the case, as the horse has already bolted.

I ask the Government to look at this again: please put this national strategy for non-domestic abuse stalking right next to domestic abuse stalking. Then it will not be piecemeal and all these agencies will fully get what happens to victims of stalking.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern Portrait Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the first Bill I can remember that dealt with this subject did so under the name of “harassment”. That was before 1997. This whole evil has grown extraordinarily since then. I am not aware of any real analysis of the reason for that exponential growth, but it is certainly important that the people who have to deal with it understand what is involved. Unless and until that is developed fully, the problem will probably continue to increase.

In the list of people in this amendment, I do not see mention of the judiciary. Does the noble Lord, Lord Russell, have it in mind? Obviously, judges have to understand lots of different things that come before them and the judicial training system has been developed very much over a number of years. It is very effective. If it is intended to include the judiciary, it would be very advisable to say that, because the judicial training system would take account of that and, no doubt, as he said, look for the resources required to do it properly.

Lord Coaker Portrait Lord Coaker (Lab)
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My Lords, I add our strong support for this amendment. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Royall, the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Newlove and Lady Brinton, along with many others, for their tireless efforts and leadership on this issue and their informative and inspirational words this afternoon.

The crucial point is that stalking is an offence that escalates. Victims and their families are being let down to an extent by the failure to recognise the seriousness of this crime—although, to be fair, that is improving—and the failure to manage serial and dangerous offenders. This Chamber has supported stronger action to tackle stalking perpetrators and protect victims in multiple pieces of legislation over the past few years, yet we find ourselves having to raise it again.

As the noble Lord, Lord Russell, pointed out, the amendment is a fairly moderate ask. Having said that, it is exceptionally important; it will make a huge difference to ensure that those interacting with stalking victims and investigating these offences have specialist training. The Minister should accept it and the Government should go even further in tackling this vile, criminal behaviour, on which the whole Chamber is united.

17:45
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I join others in paying tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, and his ongoing determination on this subject. The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, must also be commended as she not only educated me on the whole subject, way back when, but has shown that same tenacity—ditto the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, who regularly shares her story with us. I join the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, in commending John Clough and others for their untiring campaigning on this. I have met John Clough; he is a truly wonderful man.

I totally get the sentiment of what the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, are saying. He and I spoke earlier; we reflected on the journey we have come on, since I got into your Lordships’ House almost 10 years ago, in terms of the perception and awareness of and attitudes towards domestic violence, domestic abuse and stalking. While domestic abuse was certainly on the radar, there was a clunking attitude towards dealing with it; stalking is one step behind it, but to say we have gone backwards is just not the case—we have made great progress. However, I acknowledge—I think he sees this—that we have further to go, particularly in training on stalking and domestic abuse. It is a most dreadful crime; the impact on victims can be so dreadful.

I talked at length in Committee about the many actions to address stalking that we are taking through the tackling violence against women and girls strategy. I will not go through them all again, but the Government are totally committed to protecting and supporting the victims of stalking. We are determined to do everything we can to stop perpetrators at the earliest opportunity. On the point of the noble Lord, Lord Russell, that the VAWG strategy does not deal with male victims, I say that it makes it clear that, while the term “violence against women and girls” is used throughout the document, it refers to all victims of the relevant offences, including stalking. I am glad he raised that, as it allows me to clarify it.

The noble Lord also brought up the point that stalking is not only an awful crime but a very complex and multifaceted one. We talked about that earlier as well—the resentful stalker who may go after politicians, the intimacy-seeking stalker, the incompetent stalker and the predatory stalker. They come in all forms. As he said, many are not former partners of their victims, including so-called intimacy seekers and predatory stalkers. Within each category, there is a wide range of different types of stalking behaviour. Therefore, the Government totally acknowledge that the police need to be well informed about the many characteristics of stalking and the stalker to effectively investigate stalking cases. He can rest assured—I know he does—that it is a priority for the Government. I empathise with the aim of this amendment, but it is important to acknowledge the progress that is being made in the work we are doing.

It is vital that the police are provided with the correct materials and training to deal with stalking cases appropriately. That is why, in 2019, the College of Policing released a set of new advice products on stalking for police first responders, call handlers and investigators. These make clear, for example—I say this in response to my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern—the key differences between stalking and harassment. A range of advice and guidance products has been published by the College of Policing for forces to deliver locally to help responders to investigate stalking effectively, understand risks and respond appropriately to stalking cases. I know that training is also available to the police from providers in the charitable and private sectors. The noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, and I talked earlier about the work of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the National Stalking Helpline and has been piloting a new training course for police called “Stalking Matters”.

Within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, all new probation staff and prison offender managers are required to complete mandatory domestic abuse awareness online learning, which includes a specific module on stalking. The module has recently been updated and rewritten, based on current research, by subject matter and academic experts within HM Prison and Probation Service. A process map has been developed to set out a consistent approach to working with stalking in the probation service, which provides links to relevant support and guidance documents, as well as learning that staff can complete. Furthermore, the stalking practitioner guidance is being finalised; this aims to raise awareness of the nature of, and various risks associated with, stalking. It will also direct practitioners to the support that is available within HM Prison and Probation Service when working with perpetrators of stalking.

When we had an opportunity to speak earlier, the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, and I talked about the complexity involved; while the report from Maggie Blyth was excellent, there is complexity in practitioner understanding. I will take that away and we can perhaps discuss it further; there is no point having these things if they are not readily and easily understandable.

I now come to training within the CPS. E-learning modules are available to prosecutors; these cover the stalking and harassment offences, with emphasis on building a strong case, working closely with the police and engaging with victims throughout the legal process. Alongside the online course, elements of stalking and harassment are also covered in tutor-led mandatory training on proactive disclosure and hate crime. This training supports the Crown Prosecution Service’s legal guidance on stalking and harassment and restraining orders, the joint stalking and harassment protocol, and the associated checklist that must be used by police and prosecutors to ensure that they are taking the correct action in stalking cases.

The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, talked about police resources. She will know that we have a substantial police settlement for 2022-23 but her underlying point, I think, is that we have to put it to good use, and that the Government’s priorities need to be reflected in the work that the police do. She and the noble Lord, Lord Russell, also talked about the importance of data, the monitoring of ongoing work and Parliament’s duty to hold the Government to account on the policies that they make.

Of course, the police, the CPS and the probation service are operationally independent of government. The noble Lord, Lord Russell, and I discussed earlier the issue of mandating what training they should receive, especially, as I have just set out, when there is so much good work happening already. There is always more to do, but I do not think that the mandating of training is the best way of doing this, given the good work that is going on. There is also a very real risk that, if we were to legislate for one crime type, it might then suggest to law enforcement agencies that it should be prioritised over others. I know that that is not what the noble Lord and the noble Baroness seek. Appropriate training for criminal justice system professionals on tackling stalking is vital, but so too is training on tackling domestic abuse, sexual offences and other crime types. We do not regard these as less important; neither, I know, do the noble Lord or the noble Baroness.

In acknowledging and empathising with the sentiment behind the amendment put forward by the noble Lord, I assure him that the training provided to professionals working with the criminal justice system on stalking is robust and helps to address issues such as early identification of stalking cases—but I also acknowledge that there is more work to be done. I hope that the noble Lord will be content to withdraw his amendment in the knowledge that I have addressed his concerns as far as I can, and acknowledging the work that has been done. I know that we will come back to these matters at a future occasion.

Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait Lord Russell of Liverpool (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for what she said. As usual, she has been thorough and comprehensive. She said what I would have expected her to say, and I thank her for that. I understand that there is a certain point beyond which she is unable to go; I will come back to that in a minute.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for reminding us—and me—that stalking affects a very large number of men, as well as women. It is easy to forget that, as there has been so much focus on violence against women and girls. The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, reminded us that we are at about our 10-year anniversary of trying to get Her Majesty’s Government to focus on this and acknowledge that it will not go away. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, said, it ain’t getting better, it is getting worse, and we do not completely understand why this is so badly the case.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, was able to remind us from his own experience that guidance is not enough, in and of itself. The noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, reminded us of the role of champions such as Laura Richards, and others, who have been speaking up very effectively for the many victims—giving them a voice, trying to make us understand how they feel and what they have gone through. As she said, stalking is insidious. I suspect that, by the law of averages, we all probably know somebody who has been stalked, albeit that it is probably not a subject that we would readily raise around the dinner table. I suspect that, if we spoke to such people who we know—if they were prepared to open up about what their experience was like—and listened to them and watched the look in their eyes as they spoke about it, it would be pretty wrenching; that is the reality of it.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, made a very good point about the judiciary, with which I absolutely agree; the judiciary needs training just as much as the rest of us. However, for the judiciary to be able to exercise its duties properly, it is incredibly important that among all the different bodies charged with identifying when a case of stalking is serious enough to become the subject of a prosecution, the way that this is pursued and the case is put together, by people who know what they are doing, is as watertight as it is humanly possible to be. However well intended and well trained, if a judge is faced with a prosecution case that, frankly, is not watertight, then, however strongly he or she may feel that an injustice is being done, if the case being put forward is inadequate, the law must follow its duty, possibly deciding not in favour of the victim—and it would not be the victim’s fault. That is the essence of what we are trying to avoid; it is going on and it will continue to go on until we really grasp it.

I will not detain your Lordships. I had hoped that we would do this in 30 minutes, but we will do it in under 45 minutes. I thank the Minister again for what she said, and the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. There is a huge focus on the inputs in many of these interactions from the Front Bench: there is a long list of money for this, an initiative for that, this service having this and that service having that. To come back to the issue of data, in the future I would like to hear less about inputs and more about outputs. We need the evidence that these input are actually working and making a difference. I know we will come back to this subject, but I genuinely believe that, until and unless all the different bodies dealing with these distraught victims, who come to the police perhaps after 100 instances of insidious stalking, are equipped with the knowledge and experience they need to really grab hold of it and give victims some justice, it will continue to haunt us and, indeed, stalk us. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 114D withdrawn.
18:00
Amendment 114E not moved.
Amendment 114F
Moved by
114F: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—
“Offences motivated by hostility towards the sex or gender of the victim
(1) In this section—“relevant crime” means a reported crime in which—(a) the victim or any other person perceived the alleged offender, at the time of or immediately before or after the offence, to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on sex, or(b) the victim or any other person perceived the crime to be motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility or prejudice towards persons who are of a particular sex; “sex” has the same meaning as in section 11 of the Equality Act 2010 (sex).(2) The Secretary of State must make regulations requiring the chief officer of police of any police force to provide information relating to—(a) the number of relevant crimes reported to the police force, and(b) the number of those crimes which, in the opinion of the chief officer of police, would be subject to subsection (4).(3) A court considering the seriousness of an offence arising from a relevant crime not included in subsection (4) must treat the fact that the offence is aggravated by hostility or prejudice towards sex or gender as an aggravating factor when determining a sentence.(4) Subsection (3) does not apply to—(a) an offence under the law of England and Wales which is for the time being specified in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, other than the offence specified in paragraph 14 of that Schedule (fraudulent evasion of excise duty),(b) an offence under the law of England and Wales which is for the time being specified in Part 6 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, or(c) an offence under the law of England and Wales which is defined in section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 as “domestic abuse”.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require police forces to record data on crimes motivated by hostility towards the victim’s sex or gender, as well as requiring courts to take into account this hostility as an aggravating factor when deciding the seriousness of cases which are not sexual or domestic offences.
Baroness Newlove Portrait Baroness Newlove (Con)
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My Lords, one of the themes that has come up again and again when we debate this Bill has been the need to do more to protect women and girls from the violence they face on an all too frequent basis. I start by paying tribute to my noble friend Lady Bertin and others across the House who have already made some tangible improvements to the Bill to ensure it does more to tackle violence against women and girls. Today, I hope we can provide a platform to underpin this work by recognising the cause of much of this violence: the hatred, abuse and entitlement, the misogyny—for that is what it is—that some hold in their hearts towards women. If we want to restore confidence for women that the police and the criminal justice system want to keep them safe from those who would do them harm, we need to start by naming it and then doing something about it.

In January 2021, UN Women UK showed in a poll of 1,000 UK women that although 80% of women of all ages said that they had experienced sexual harassment in public places, 96% of respondents did not report these incidents and 45% said that was because it would not change anything. Too often when it comes to violence against women, society demands the perfect victim before we act. We question women. We talk of self-defence lessons and, most recently, flagging down buses if they are worried. We ask, “What were you wearing? Had you been drinking? Where were you going?” We make the violence and abuse they experienced about them and whether they have provoked, or what they did to keep themselves safe.

Amendment 114F seeks to flip the script and ask what the police and the criminal justice system can do to catch those who put women at risk—to stop making women responsible and to hold those who commit these crimes accountable. It would do this by building on years of policing good practice. It is perverse that, despite 3 million crimes being committed against women in just three years, our legal and policing systems do not routinely recognise what we all know is blindingly obvious: the deep-rooted hostility towards women that motivates many of these crimes. As a society we have rightly taken steps to acknowledge the severity of racist or homophobic crimes, but have not yet acted on crimes driven by hatred of women.

Those who have listened to previous debates on this matter will know of the work started in Nottingham to address this issue, driven by the former police chief constable, Sue Fish, and rolled out to other police forces in England and Wales, including North Yorkshire, and Avon and Somerset. By recording when crimes are motivated by misogyny and training officers to recognise and record it, they have seen a substantial increase in the confidence of women to come forward and report crimes—not catcalling, although we know that shouting abuse in the street is a criminal offence, but rapes, sexual assault and harassment. This is the case not just in Nottingham. Women’s Aid reports that police forces that are now recording misogyny have not seen an influx in reporting of wolf-whistling, but instead receive a growing number of reports of serious crimes—a sign of the challenge we face and the value in recognising misogyny as a problem.

My amendment is in two parts. The first should be uncontroversial, as it simply seeks to guarantee what the Government have already promised: that all police forces will collect and report data on crimes motivated by hostility towards the sex or gender of the victim. This means that crimes motivated by misandry could also be recorded, but the evidence from those areas taking this approach is that between 80% and 90% of the victims are women.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has, in its new violence against women and girls framework, recognised the need to target resources on high-risk spaces. It has also supported this approach and included sex or gender in hate crime reporting. It knows that data is a central part of the fight against any kind of crime. Without it, police forces are left stumbling in the dark with no way of knowing where or how to best deploy their resources to keep people safe. Noble Lords will remember that, during the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Minister promised that this would happen by autumn 2021, yet here we are in 2022, albeit in January, still waiting for it to happen. With a quarter of all forces already doing this, the three-quarters of women in England and Wales who live in the other areas have a right to expect better. Putting this in the Bill will ensure that we get it right.

The second part of the amendment would use this information in our criminal justice system by allowing courts to consider whether misogyny—or misandry for that matter—was an aggravating factor when an offence was committed. Hate crime legislation protects people targeted because of their identity. We use it to send a powerful message that attacking someone simply because you do not like the colour of their skin or their sexuality is not acceptable and to give higher sentences accordingly. Yet hate crime law recognises that someone can be a victim of more than one type of hate crime, except if the part of their identity being targeted is their being a woman. Muslim women may be victims of hate crime because they are Muslim and because they are women. Some 42% of black and ethnic minority women aged between 14 and 21 report experiencing unwanted attention at least once a month. Many women and girls with intellectual disabilities also experience abuse for the dual reasons of their disability and their sex or gender. Including sex or gender in the list of characteristics protected, as this amendment would do, would close that loophole and mean that victims of these crimes would not have to fit a tick box to be seen.

Finally, the amendment would also ensure that this approach does not lead to lower sentences for offences involving serious sexual violence or domestic abuse. Building on the work done by my noble friend Lady Bertin and the clear definitions provided of serious offences involving violence against women and girls in this legislation, Amendment 114F specifically disapplies the sentencing provisions from serious sexual and domestic offences. For the avoidance of doubt, that is not because these crimes cannot be motivated by misogyny. We carve out certain offences from other hate crime laws around religion and racial hatred to ensure that sentences are not inadvertently reduced; rather, they are enhanced when tariffs are applied in court.

This carve-out also answers the concern the Law Commission set out: that in recognising how misogyny drives crime in our criminal justice system, there is no hierarchy of offences. I know that some of my colleagues around the Chamber will want to ask why we are using the phrase “sex or gender”. This is because our focus is on the perpetrator, not the victim. Currently, the Crown Prosecution Service says that a hate crime is

“any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice”.

Perception matters in hate crimes. Whether someone is born a woman or becomes one, if they are targeted for being a woman, being able to record that motivation will help tackle the cause and find those responsible for the harm. Excluding some women from this could give perpetrators a free pass. It risks valuable information about offending patterns being missed, and potentially gives perpetrators a chance further to demean a victim by claiming that they cannot experience misogyny because they are trans.

For too long, violence against women and girls has been consigned to the “too difficult” box and gone unaddressed. The police have started to recognise that this must change, led by the formidable work of Maggie Blyth, Sue Fish and others across the country. Now we must do the same. This amendment is our chance to show the same intent to tackle violence against women and girls wherever it occurs, rather than to continue to defer action; to learn from what works; and to ensure that the law is on the side of women, rather than on that of those who seek to abuse and harass them. It is time for deeds, not words. I beg to move.

Amendment 114G (to Amendment 114F)

Moved by
114G: After Clause 55, in subsection (3), leave out “or gender”
Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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My Lords, my Amendment 114G amends my noble friend Lady Newlove’s amendment and removes “or gender” from subsection (3) of her proposed new clause. When my noble friend tabled a different misogyny amendment in Committee, she constructed it using the formula “sex or gender”, and I argued against that formulation.

My noble friend’s new clause is headed “Offences motivated by hostility towards the sex or gender of the victim”, but the text of the clause is puzzling. Subsection (1) defines “relevant crime”, for the purposes of the new clause, in terms of

“hostility or prejudice based on sex”—

not on sex or gender. Of course, because it is the perception, that would also cover the perception of trans people. Sex has a definition, which picks up on that of the Equality Act 2010. When we get to subsection (2), which is about the recording of relevant crimes, that, too, because it makes no reference to gender, would clearly apply only to relevant crimes expressed in terms of sex, as set out in subsection (1).

Those of us who received the briefing this afternoon from the honourable Stella Creasy MP will have noted that it claims that this amendment refers throughout to sex and gender, but it quite clearly does not. Subsection (1), which governs subsection (2), refers only to prejudice or hostility based on sex. The problem is when we get to subsection (3), which is where my amendment bites. It states:

“A court considering the seriousness of an offence arising from a relevant crime”—


remember that a relevant crime is expressed in terms of hostility or prejudice based on sex—

“must treat the fact that the offence is aggravated by hostility or prejudice towards sex or gender as an aggravating factor”.

I really do not understand how that is supposed to work, and I do not think that “or gender” can fit with the definition of “relevant crime”, as it has been defined wholly in relation to sex in subsection (1).

18:15
In addition, gender is not defined in the proposed new clause. Sex is defined, in subsection (1), although sex is actually a relatively easy concept, for which most of us could provide a ready definition, but gender is a much more difficult concept. My amendment would remove “or gender” from subsection (3) of the proposed new clause, to make all of it make sense and not have an extraneous “or gender”.
We do not have time today to debate how “gender” is creeping into our language in a way which undermines women and women’s rights. I believe that it would be a mistake to add gender to the hate crime framework. That is because transgender people are already covered by the transgender identity element of existing hate crime law, so the use of “sex or gender” must mean that gender has a wider meaning, but there is no recognised wider meaning for gender—nor, as I pointed out, is one provided in the new clause. Legislating for gender separately from transgender identity, which already exists in hate crime legislation, will open up a Pandora’s box of gender identity which will have repercussions for women. I believe that it is best avoided.
To that extent, I disagree with the Law Commission’s recent report on hate crime, which tends towards adding gender to sex. The Law Commission’s final report is much more nuanced than its earlier report, and I am sure that that is the result of its consultation, to which it had very many responses, but I believe that the Law Commission has still only scratched the surface of the issues that will come in general once we start inserting gender alongside sex in our laws, because of the vagueness of the concept and its capability of meaning so many different things, many of which will undermine the position of women in our protection frameworks.
I do, however, agree with the Law Commission that the case has not been made for extending hate crime law in this area. The Law Commission expressly recommended against the part of Amendment 114F which would make hostility or prejudice an aggravating factor in sentencing. The consultation responses to the Law Commission’s draft report did not support making these changes, even with—or, in some cases, especially because of—the domestic violence and sexual offences carve-outs, which, as my noble friend Lady Newlove explained, have been incorporated in her new clause by virtue of subsection (4). The carve-outs themselves were found, inter alia, to add complexity to how the law worked and to be tokenistic; many other reasons were given by the Law Commission.
The Law Commission would probably approve of the additional recording that is contained in Amendment 114F, because it found that the evidence base supporting a change in the law is currently very thin. In Committee, several noble Lords cited with approval the recording initiative of Nottinghamshire Police, and my noble friend Lady Newlove has referred to it again, but the Law Commission’s report is clear about what has come from that exercise so far and that it is of very low evidential value, for various reasons explained in its report. So we still have a largely evidence-free area in the context of trying to make significant new laws. I am not clear that subsection (2) adds anything to what the Government have already said that they are prepared to do in respect of requiring further reporting by police forces.
When we debated this in Committee, I argued that we should not legislate until we had received the Law Commission’s report, and that we should also allow the Government to respond to that report. Of course, we now have the Law Commission’s very substantial final report, and it clearly recommends that misogyny should not be added to the hate crime laws. It suggests some alternative ways of dealing with the underlying problem. I hope that any noble Lord thinking of voting for my noble friend’s amendment today has had a chance to have a look at the very significant analysis included in the Law Commission’s report on this subject.
We also ought to allow the Government time to respond to the report. It has been out for only five or six weeks, and we cannot realistically expect a response to a very significant report, running to 600 pages, so soon. I look forward to what the Minister has to say about timing when she responds this afternoon. It clearly is important to get the Government’s response, but I do believe that we should wait for it, especially in the context of the fact that the Law Commission has not recommended that we go down the route proposed in Amendment 114F.
Those who want to make misogyny a hate crime believe that the treatment of women in our society remains a big issue that needs to be dealt with—and so do I. I just do not believe that Amendment 114F is the right solution at the right time. If, however, Amendment 114F is pressed to a Division, I believe it should be amended by my Amendment 114G in order to make it make sense. I beg to move.
Lord Carlile of Berriew Portrait Lord Carlile of Berriew (CB)
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My Lords, I rise to support the original amendment, moved so ably by the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, and to oppose the amendment to the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, which she moved just now. I hope she will forgive me for saying that her introduction of her amendment displayed a great deal of confusion, which is being much magnified in debate, about the differences, in so far as they exist, between the words “sex” and “gender”.

Gender is causing no confusion in the law, but I would urge the noble Baroness and others to take the trouble to have a look at the first legal textbook written on this subject, called A Practical Guide to Transsexual Law; it is authored by Robin White of Old Square Chambers in London, who is a trans woman herself and extremely expert in cases arising from trans issues, and her colleague in the same chambers, Nicola Newbegin. If noble Lords are suspicious about a lawyer in your Lordships’ number recommending the reading of a legal textbook, I reassure them that it is not because I want to make them go to sleep while doing their reading before they go to bed at night; it is actually one of the most fascinating textbooks written in recent years—and it has the virtue of being short as well.

The issues described in that book, which have interested me since I introduced the first transsexual rights Bill in the other place when I was a Member there, have evolved greatly over the years. I would say to those who are suspicious or uncomfortable about these issues that young people—people born after 1995, to date at random—they do not understand the problem. To them, trans people are included among their friends, and it is “just a thing, not an issue”, to quote one of my own daughters on the subject. It is becoming increasingly common for young people to move in circles where trans men and women, and, for that matter, gender diverse men and women, are absolutely standard parts of the community.

The Equality Act, which has been in existence for a considerable time, says that you must not be discriminated against because of your gender reassignment as a transsexual and that you may prefer the description “transgender person” or “trans male” or “female”. There is much more I could read out to your Lordships that illustrates that the law has been in place and has been well understood for a long time.

Let us just consider what the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, is trying to achieve in subsection (3) of her proposed new clause. I need to confess a sort of interest at this point, in that I am married to a circuit judge who tries criminal cases only. So perhaps I have a little bit more evidence in my mind—she certainly does not agree with everything I say, by any means— on how judges behave not just from my own practice but from a lot of discussion about these issues. The amendment provides:

“A court considering the seriousness of an offence … must treat the fact that the offence is aggravated by hostility or prejudice towards sex or gender as an aggravating factor when determining a sentence.”


Can one seriously suggest that a circuit judge, or a magistrate for that matter, does not understand what that means? If the judge understands what that means, surely it is as just as any other aggravating factor.

Let us look at it down the other end of the telescope. Five or six young women go out for a night out, and during the course of that night out an offence takes place in which there is hostility or prejudice towards the one of them who is a trans woman. Would it really be right for the other five to have an aggravated sentence brought upon the offender, if the hostility was towards them as women on the grounds of sex, but not that trans woman, if the hostility was shown to them on the grounds of gender? It is a nonsensical suggestion, and what is in the noble Baroness’s proposed new subsection (3) is just common sense—the sort of common sense that judges apply in the courts every day. So I would urge your Lordships to take the view that the use of the phrase “sex or gender” in this amendment is just good 2022 common sense and, if one is minded to support the amendment, one should support it in its original form.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, I want to take a slightly different view of this. We support misogyny being treated as a hate crime and, personally, I do not understand the arguments of the Law Commission in relation to domestic violence and sexual offences. The same objections could be made to existing hate crimes such as homophobia, but they exist alongside these serious offences without difficulty. I wonder whether proposed new subsection (4) in the amendment is necessary.

May I suggest an alternative way out of the gender debate? I wonder whether, in line with the Law Commission’s report on hate crime in relation to other aspects of hate crime, the words in brackets—“or perceived sex”—should be added to the word “sex” at the end of new subsections (1)(a) and (1)(b) proposed by the amendment. I am thinking of the following hypothetical example. A man who shouts demeaning and derogatory terms for a woman, indicating a hatred of women, and who without provocation attacks a stranger in the street, indicating that the attack is motivated by a hatred of women, should be charged with the aggravated misogyny offence, whether the assailant is mistaken in identifying the victim as a woman or not. It should not matter whether the victim is a woman or not; it is the motivation of the attacker that is important. If that motivation is hatred of women, it should be an aggravating factor.

However, despite my concerns about the wording of the amendment, we have waited long enough for this important and necessary change in the law. Any defect in the wording of the amendment can be addressed in the other place, and if the noble Baroness divides the House, we will support her.

18:30
Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I raised my opposition to a version of this amendment previously. For once, I was planning to keep out of the gender identity argument—although I agree with both the speech and the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes—but I feel I must make some response to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, who said that the concept of gender is causing no problems in the law or among judges. I am delighted about that, but let me tell you that the concept of gender is causing a huge number of problems for many women.

The judge advises that we need to talk to young people who include trans people among their friends. I point out that I have trans people among my friends and spend a huge amount of time talking to young people. There is not just one view on this; there are lots of views. One of the problems we have to recognise is that open debate about gender and trans issues is often chilled, for fear of accusations of hate or bigotry—and, ironically, most of the misogynistic abuse that I and other women have received in recent months and years has been on this issue of being gender-critical.

I will now go back to what I was going to say. My opposition to this amendment is based on a key concern: the need to avoid fuelling a narrative of fear that posits the idea that terrible and unimaginably horrific, but rare, instances of sexual violence and murder are part of a continuum of widespread misogynistic attitudes. This can too easily align everything from online trolling and catcalling to rape and domestic abuse under the label of misogyny—hatred of women.

There is limited time because we have very major things to discuss, so I will focus my remarks. I appreciate that the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, explicitly distinguishes between sexual violence crimes and other forms of crime that may be motivated by misogynistic intent, and that it is not an attempt to create any new criminal offences, being more concerned with the police recording and reporting of the number of crimes motivated by hostility towards sex and, sometimes, gender. This, we are told, is crucial to identifying patterns of behaviour and targeting police resources, so that we can build a national picture of violence against women and girls. However, hate crime legislation generally, as echoed in this amendment, in fact means that the data collected is based almost entirely on subjective perceptions and will not allow an accurate picture to emerge.

The amendment talks of a reported crime in which

“(a) the victim or any other person perceived the alleged offender, at the time of or immediately before or after the offence, to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on sex, or (b) the victim or any other person perceived the crime to be motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility or prejudice towards persons who are of a particular sex”.

So this amendment would not help us understand data as fact but more how victims—or any other third parties—subjectively see either the motivation of the alleged offenders or the crime. To compound the issue, there is no legal or formal definition of “hostility”, so the CPS suggests that we use the everyday understanding of the word, which includes ill will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike. This can lead only to the possibility of an ever- widening set of crimes being badged as misogynistic, with the only evidence being subjective.

The practical outcomes could be severe and serious, as the amendment would alter sentencing. This means, essentially, that, if someone thinks or feels that someone else is being hateful towards them, and the hostility in carrying out the crime is based on sex and explains their offence, that is enough for that person to be locked up in prison for longer. There is also a more insidious punishment: this amendment might mean that more and more behaviour—we know that we mean especially that of men and boys—is deemed to be misogynistic, destroying the reputation of those people once they are labelled as bigots who hate women, according to this categorisation, without necessarily being branded as such in reality.

According to the campaign literature sent out ahead of this discussion, this label of hostility via sex can be used to imply far more than hostility. However minor the original crime, if it is labelled as sex-based hostility we are told that it is an almost inevitable slippery slope and that this is the kind of person who will carry out, if they are not stopped, the most heinous crimes, such as rape, sexual violence and murder. Meanwhile, HOPE not Hate sent round a missive saying that this kind of sex-hostility is a slip road to far-right extremism.

Finally, the Fawcett Society claims that this amendment will give women protection from crime and help ensure the safety of women and girls. I say that it will not: if anything, it could distract the police from the practical, difficult but essential work of on-the-ground patrolling of streets, painstaking investigations, and so on, and the courage to see through those investigations and prosecutions. It might take valuable resources for the police away from policing if they are tangled up in the reporting and monitoring of staff and data which I do not think, as I have shown, is reliable. Consider one of the most gross examples of the abuse of women and girls: the grooming gangs that operated in parts of the north-west of England. Those women and girls would not have been helped one iota had those crimes been called misogynistic. The shameful neglect in the investigation and prosecution of that incident was surely not about whether it was seen as being driven by hostility to sex. This amendment avoids the real problem, is tokenistic and will not help women at all.

Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait Lord Russell of Liverpool (CB)
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My Lords, I have put my name to this amendment and will speak very briefly, not least because I have the privilege of being one of the Deputy Speakers of this House. I would just remind noble Lords that we are at Report, and at Report we are not meant to give either Second Reading or Committee speeches—it is a discourtesy to the House to be discursive. That is all that needs to be said on that.

Some noble Lords may be familiar with a newspaper that is normally far too left-wing for me, the Daily Telegraph. There is an article in today’s paper by a gentleman called Charles Hymas, which says—and I have no reason to believe it is not true, since I understand that there are fairly close links between the aforementioned organ and the party in government—that there are quite a few quite senior Back-Benchers in another place who are very keen to use this amendment, assuming your Lordships pass it, to enable them to have a proper discussion in another place about this issue and to decide then, as our elected representatives, whether this case has sufficient merit to be put into law and in what manner and form that should happen. I suggest that they are rather better qualified to do that than we are.

Having said that, my Lords, I will support this amendment. I think we should send it back to another place for them to have another look. The other place is also a better place to have what can be an extremely contorted and overimaginative debate about gender and the relative merits of sex and gender.

As others have said, I am not sure that generationally we are the best-equipped assembly to opine on these subjects. That does not mean that we are not able to have a point of view, and I am aware that some noble Lords and noble Baronesses have a very strong point of view. I simply point out that, however strongly they may feel, there are a great many others of a younger generation, and down the other end, who feel differently. I support this amendment, because I think your Lordships should give the other place a chance to decide for itself.

Lord Winston Portrait Lord Winston (Lab)
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My Lords, I hope the noble Lord does not think I am being discourteous to the House by making a short intervention in this important debate. We have to be very careful about legal definitions of sex and gender. Primarily, the definitions are not legal but are in fact biological, as I have said in this Chamber before. That is a problem. That is one of the reasons why I agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, just said. For example, we have to understand that there are situations in which there might well be problems with—whatever you call it—misogyny or hate. Take a transgender woman who was originally assigned as a male and still has the genes of a male, and possibly some of the hormonal function of a male, who competes in a sporting event. That is a difficult issue that has not yet been properly dealt with. Clearly, it is quite likely that from time to time those sorts of situations will cause considerable anger, hostility and all sorts of effects that might be an offence under the Bill. We at least need to record that and decide how we deal with it.

Baroness Kennedy of Shaws Portrait Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab)
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My Lords, I support the amendment, and I want to deal with one or two things that have come up in this discussion. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, suggested that the evidence base is very thin. The evidence base of women receiving threatening and abusive behaviour and sometimes assault, accompanied by expressions that make it very clear that it is directed at them as women, is substantial. I have just been receiving evidence for a working party in Scotland, and over this past year it has been shocking to see the extent to which this is a serious problem for girls and women. It should not be underestimated, and of course it is accelerated by social media, which is encouraging the kind of verbal assault that is so disgusting and disgraceful that it is hard to imagine women and girls having to deal with it in their daily lives. It really is endemic, so I do not think that what we are trying to do here can be minimised.

As for suggesting that we introduce a complicated debate about the comparatively very few women who are trans women and might be included in this, that seems just extraordinary to me. It is a diversion from the fact that women, who make up more than 50% of the population and are not a minority, are experiencing this on a daily basis. Let us get real about it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, has pointedly made something part of her amendment. She says that the focus of this is on the perpetrator. How does it come about that an aggravation is used? It is because there is evidence, in addition to the evidence of a regular crime, that it has been motivated by antagonism and hatred towards women.

Of course, misogyny is wider than simple, old-fashioned hating. It is about a sense of entitlement, usually by young men, towards women and their bodies. The ways in which women have to experience verbal nastiness of a high level undermine their self-confidence and self-expression, so this is really damaging in our society. The noble Baroness, Lady Fox, says it is a nonsense to suggest that this leads on to more grievous crime. I am afraid that it is not a nonsense, because we know that it normalises certain kinds of behaviours that then go undetected by the police.

I really want us to think seriously about how we stop this happening. When women say this has to stop, what is the answer? A misogynistic aggravation is not the answer; it will not solve all the problems, but it is a starting point to let women know that misogyny is taken seriously by the legislature. That is why I support this amendment to the Bill.

18:45
I did the first international case, with the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, on transgender/transsexual persons wanting to be treated equally, so I know the suffering there is for trans people. But I also know that a trans woman going about her business in the example given can experience exactly the same kind of abuse and threatening and abusive behaviour as any woman who was born a woman. That distinction is really not worth our diverting our attention from the generality that something pernicious happens towards women in our society and undermines equality and the gaining of equality that we are all struggling towards.
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, acutely aware of the time, I will be extremely brief. It is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, and to agree with everything she just said.

I pick up a really important point from the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool. So many people have been campaigning on this issue for so long, with the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, being such a powerful champion, and many other Members of your Lordships’ House as well. But I think we are looking tonight at two different kinds of amend