My Lords, I too join other noble Lords in welcoming the maiden speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse. I look forward to their participation in this House.
I am a novice in this area so feel slightly trepidatious in speaking about the environment and transport, but that is what I am going to do today. I express disappointment, along with other noble Lords who know a lot more about this, at the lack of a transport decarbonisation strategy. It is particularly disappointing to find the lack of a coherent strategy to tackle aviation emissions. I know this issue was close to the heart of the noble Lord, Lord Goldsmith, so I hope he will touch on it when he winds up.
CO2 has a lifespan measured in centuries. Today’s emissions will combine with those that have accumulated since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Yet, nearly a quarter of a century ago, Kyoto did not want to tackle it, instead leaving it to the UN agencies responsible for the aviation sector to attempt to find some sort of consensus. We know how difficult it is to get consensus at the UN—I would not look there if we really want to make progress. I understand that the only goal adopted by the UN aviation agency, ICAO, is to keep net emissions from international aviation at or below 2020 levels, mainly through the use of carbon offsetting and reduction, not through tackling the heart of the problem: excessive recreational and business flying and the overuse of distant supply chains.
Inexplicably, we have left international aviation and shipping emissions in the UK out of the five-yearly carbon budgets. One can only assume that that was because they fell into the “too difficult for now” category—and that is for a Government with an 81-seat majority. Given that technology has shown that we do not need to leave home to engage with a large part of commerce, that businesses have found that having executives jet over from London to New York for a three-hour meeting is not vital to success, and that consumers are discovering the merits of staycations, now would appear to be the ideal time to reduce aviation emissions permanently.
Tackling them in domestic legislation is important. We have left the EU emissions trading system, so an ambitious plan to set clear targets in law would be appropriate. I would call it a “levelling down” for the climate. I say this because in the UK we have a particular problem with overusing aviation as a means of transport. It is mainly people on higher than average incomes, who fly about 50% more than the average for other advanced economies. While emissions in many sectors are falling, UK aviation represents around 10% of total CO2 emissions, compared to 2% of global emissions. I urge the Government to come forward with a strategy to tackle this and to announce bold targets to reduce air travel and transport before COP 26.
Inevitably, one element of this issue is airport expansion and here, the greatest challenge is Heathrow, arguably the biggest emitter of CO2 in Europe. We have to ask ourselves why we should allow a never-ending expansion of this particular airport. The economic case for a third runway, which was always weak, has now become untenable. Even the Supreme Court ruling last year that the expansion strategy was legitimate was based on previous, less stringent climate targets and invites reconsideration. The noble Lord, Lord Goldsmith, will know all about this; it is very much his interest area. When the courts point to Parliament and effectively say, “We cannot solve the problem; it is for the Government in Parliament to change the law”, the public rightly expect to see such action reflected in the Government’s programme—the one we are discussing here.
In 2009, when the Labour Government pushed through Heathrow’s third runway, our determination as a nation to tackle climate change was less developed. Now that we know about the damage to the environment caused by aviation, we need to tackle it through legislation. However, here, the chance to do so has been missed again. If, when the third runway’s inevitable public inquiry is concluded, it finds against expansion, will the Government act to stop it? They cannot avoid their responsibility. If we have to have “long grass”, let it grow over the north-west third runway at Heathrow.
As a daughter of Nottinghamshire, I applaud the warmth and passion of my noble friend Lord Coaker’s splendid maiden speech. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Morse, on his important speech. I shall focus on the climate emergency and declare that I am a member of Peers for the Planet.
However, first, outside of my five minutes, I hope your Lordships will allow me to say a word about the contribution to sustainability of my noble friend Lord Rogers of Riverside, who is barred from membership of this House through absence. He is, in fact, gravely ill and would not have left of his own volition. As he cannot make his own valedictory speech, I just want to say that as president of the All-Party Group on Design and Innovation while I was vice-chair, his distinguished and conscientious contributions were invaluable in furthering the case of sustainable design and architecture. That is quite apart from all his other extraordinary achievements, both public and professional.
I am concerned that the Government have not integrated their environmental policies throughout departments. They have announced some good policies, not least the undertaking on 20 April to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, compared with 1990 figures. In an excellent debate in your Lordships’ House, several questions about how the commitment would be implemented, notably asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and the mover of the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, went unanswered. My noble friend Lord Whitty asked which Cabinet committee would oversee implementation. I ask that question again.
There are other signs of a lack of embedding the essential aim of net-zero carbon throughout government policy and programmes. My noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch referred to the Public Accounts Committee’s criticism of the Treasury. This is the department that commissioned the seminal Dasgupta report. Do the different branches talk to each other? Do they require environmental impact assessments? Why is the Treasury—and, for that matter, the Ministry of Defence—exempt from Defra’s environmental principles? A key department is obviously Environment but, as has been said, we have not heard what its plans are to meet the carbon emission targets.
The United Nations published a report last week charting the large and increasing contribution of methane gas to global heating, and proposing means to reduce it. What are the departments’ plans to deal with this environmental hazard, notably in agriculture?
The authoritative Energy Transitions Commission says that we shall need to increase our production of clean energy by two to two-and-a-half times to meet the demands of transport, industry, buildings and so on. How is this to be managed without intolerable cost? How can it be done without legislation to reform the grid? Where is the promised energy Bill?
Then, there is the specific question I have often asked about domestic gas heating in blocks of flats. Here, we are far below Germany, France and the Netherlands in the installation of heat pumps. Domestic gas boilers are a very large source of carbon, because most building emissions come from homes and the majority of these are gas-fired. Residents of blocks of flats are numerous—some 20% of homes are flats, about 4.7 million in total—and on average they are far from the wealthiest, so a programme to enable them to exchange their boilers, perhaps on a building-wide basis, will need to be devised and funded. Following the noble Lord, Lord Fairfax, I ask: what is it to be?
In general, my questions to the Minister are as follows. What are the structures to ensure that all government policies and programmes contribute to arriving at zero carbon by 2035? Which posts are tasked with monitoring this and how is it co-ordinated at Cabinet level? What is the accountability structure within departments? It needs to be in job descriptions at specific levels, so that performance in the outcome of reducing carbon emissions is measured, incentivised and censured or rewarded accordingly. Finally, the legislature has a right to know what these structures are and to be reassured that they are as developed and effective as the targets themselves. I look forward to the Minister’s answer.
I am grateful for the reminder, but a Bishop was recently allowed to carry on for six minutes and 40 seconds, so may I finish?
Doug Oakervee has stated that pressure from the construction industry persuaded him to recommend that HS2 went ahead. This need could have been met equally well by regional upgrades in the Midlands and the north, so I suggest that HS2 be stopped now and the relevant officials and Ministers held to account for misleading Parliament.
My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse. I thought their maiden speeches were admirable.
In view of what we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, I feel it necessary to go down a rather different path. The Government are commendably engaged in levelling up, with emphasis on the north and the Midlands. There is no question that these parts of the country need jobs and houses. In such a large-scale exercise, a vast and efficient train network is essential. To my mind, HS2 is a vital part of that if we are to transform in an upward direction the economies in parts of the country that have lagged behind.
Furthermore, the Government should put it beyond doubt that HS2 phase 2b will proceed. The east Midlands not having the benefits of the West Midlands and east of the Pennines not having the benefits of west of the Pennines is unthinkable. The noble Lord, Lord Snape, said he thought the Treasury had severe doubts, but perhaps he should remember that part of the Treasury being moved up to the north-east might bring about a change of opinion.
In terms of better rail services, it should not be forgotten that levelling up is long overdue in parts of the south and east. I point to the Anglian region—reminding your Lordships of my interest as chair of the West Anglia Taskforce—where the east coast ports have a great strategic significance for our country. The freight conveyed from them, largely by rail, needs to be assisted by increasing the capacity of the Ely junction, a proposal which I think is subject to public inquiry at the moment. The West Anglia Main Line is only a two-track railway, its third and fourth tracks having been removed after the recommendations of Lord Beeching some 60 years ago. That two-track railway has to support increased frequency in north-east London, the needs of Stansted Airport—the third London airport—and the expanding biomedical campus at Cambridge. Not all these things can be done on a two-track system in a way that satisfies any of the customers.
Liverpool Street station, which is the London central terminus for the West Anglia line, is an admirable Victorian structure but has very little scope to become a modern railway station meeting the needs of passengers, and it is now severely congested. There is now the possibility—or has been the possibility—that Stratford might also be a destination for trains on the West Anglia line. But the only space left that could possibly accommodate an extra platform at Stratford is more likely to be used, I am told, as an entertainment venue. The congestion already on the line makes it very difficult to encourage freight to be taken on the West Anglia line and off the roads which, otherwise, it has to use.
I look forward to learning how the promised railway White Paper assesses these and all the many other competing demands that I know exist. I suggest it might be helpful to have a clear, visible and comprehensive rail plan to take us forward, setting out all desirable improvements, what each might achieve and at what cost. It might also show how an entire project could be divided into sequential sections, some of which might attract local authority and private sector development. My hope is for nothing less than a railway revolution that will help to galvanise our economic regeneration throughout the country.
My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, explained, Amendment 177A requires the Government to undertake an investigation into
“the impact of access to online pornography by children on domestic abuse”
and to review the commencement of Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which all noble Lords spoke about.
We share the concerns raised in both Houses by parents and those advocating on behalf of children’s safety online that a large amount of pornography is available on the internet, often for free, with little or no protection to ensure that those accessing it are old enough to do so. In turn, this is changing the way that young people understand healthy relationships, sex and consent.
In October 2019, the Government announced that they will not commence Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017. We propose to repeal those provisions and instead deliver more comprehensive protections for children through our proposals for a wider online harms regulatory framework. Protecting children is at the heart of our plans to transform the online experience for people in the UK, and the strongest protections in our forthcoming online harms framework will be for children.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office have now published the full government response to the online harms White Paper consultation, which sets out the new expectations on companies to keep users safe online. These new laws will mean that companies must tackle illegal content on their platforms and protect children from harmful content and activity online. Major platforms will need to be clear about what content is acceptable on their services and enforce the rules consistently.
I am pleased that Britain is setting the global standards for safety online, with the most comprehensive approach yet to online regulation. Ofcom will be named in legislation as the regulator, with the power to fine companies failing in their duty of care up to £18 million or 10% of annual global turnover. It will also have the power to block non-compliant services from being accessed in the UK.
The noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, asked whether the provisions in the online harms framework will be as robust as those in the Digital Economy Act. Through the online harms framework, we will be able to go further than the Digital Economy Act’s focus on online pornography on commercial adult sites. We will be able to protect children from a broader range of harmful content and activity across a wider range of services. The online safety duty of care will not just be for sites with user-generated content; it will also be for sites that facilitate online user interaction, including video and image sharing, commenting and live-streaming.
The noble Lords, Lord Alton and Lord Ponsonby, the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, and my noble friend Lord McColl all asked why, given that the online harms regime is years away, the Government cannot commence the Digital Economy Act as an interim measure. It is important that we take the time to deliver the most comprehensive approach for protecting children online, which will ensure that robust protections are in place for generations of young people to come. Through the online harms framework, we will be able to go further than the Digital Economy Act’s focus on online pornography on commercial adult sites, as I said. We will be able to protect children from a broader range of harmful content.
One of the criticisms of the Digital Economy Act was that its scope did not cover social media companies, where a considerable quantity of pornographic material is accessible to children. The Government’s new approach will include social media companies and sites where user-generated content can be widely shared, including the most visited commercial pornography sites. Taken together, we expect this to bring into scope more online pornography that children can currently access than the narrower scope of the Digital Economy Act. We will set out, in secondary legislation, priority categories of legal but harmful content and activity posing the greatest risk to children, which will include online pornography.
The Government expect that the regulator will take a robust approach to sites that pose the highest risk of harm to children. That may include recommending the use of age assurance or verification technologies where the risk is highest, including for sites hosting online pornography. Companies would need to put in place these technologies or demonstrate that the approach they are taking delivers the same level of protection for children. We are working closely with stakeholders across the industry to establish the right conditions for the market to deliver age assurance and age verification technical solutions ahead of the legislative requirements coming into force. The online safety Bill will be ready this year; in the meantime, we are already working closely with Ofcom to ensure that the implementation period that will be necessary following passage of the legislation will be as short as possible.
On the point about the Government sitting on the research, we were not seeking to suppress its results. Given the number of comments from noble Lords about the letter, I had better write again on the points there were clearly not satisfactory to them. My ministerial colleagues in the DDCMS will continue to engage with parliamentarians as we prepare for the vital legislation. I hope I have provided reassurance that Amendment 177A is not necessary and that the noble Baroness will be happy to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate for their powerful speeches. I listened very carefully to the Minister, but I have to say that I have a very heavy heart tonight. I am so disappointed by her response. I do not accept for one moment the argument that we should simply wait for the online harms Bill: that is too long. The Government must recognise, for all the reasons outlined by noble Lords in their powerful speeches during the debate, that this approach is not remotely credible.
On the non-implementation of Part 3 and the proposed delay of another three years or so, just think about the harm and damage that will be done to children and their future. This is simply not acceptable when the House has already passed legislation that could easily be implemented now and could, as a minimum, be used in the interim between now and the proposed online harms Bill, for which I cannot wait. When that Bill has been passed and is ready for implementation, so be it. I thank the noble Baroness for what she said will happen in that Bill; I will fully support it and I look forward to it.
There is one thing worse than not taking action to prevent the indoctrination of children and young people into thinking that violence is a normal and natural part of sexual relationships, and that is having the capacity to address the problem, as we do now through Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act, and not bothering to use it. This is deeply concerning and disturbing. It is tragic that, having led on the issue from 2015, the Government should now have performed such a radical turnaround and be dragging their feet. We have to wait three years or more for any action to be taken.
In spite of the Minister’s official response, it is my sincere hope—yes, I am an optimist—that the Government will study the speeches in this debate carefully over the next few days and review their position. I am very happy to meet the Minister, along with other interested Peers, to discuss this matter further. It is important that we do so, and if progress is not made over the next couple of weeks, I will certainly bring this amendment back on Report. With a heavy heart, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I am speaking to Amendment 180, to which I have added my name. It is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, and I could not agree more with everything she said. She has far greater knowledge and wisdom in this matter than I but I feel strongly that prevention and reaching children at an early age is vital, otherwise everything else in the Bill will just deal with what is, as opposed to prevention for the future.
We know that changes in behaviour, health, the ability to learn, attitude and appearance in a child can often mean that they may be witnessing domestic abuse. Schools need to be able to recognise and address that. Of course, our teachers are already aware of, and on the lookout for, behavioural signs of things not being right at home. However, Amendment 180 would ensure the provision of services to every primary school to support it in identifying, treating, supporting, and helping children who are showing signs of witnessing abuse.
“All children living with abuse are under stress”,
and advises that stress can lead to withdrawal, aggression or bullying, tantrums, vandalism, problems in school, including truancy, speech problems and difficulty with learning, attention-seeking, nightmares or insomnia, bed-wetting, anxiety, depression, fear of abandonment, feelings of inferiority, drug or alcohol abuse—hopefully not at primary school—eating disorders or constant colds, along with headaches, mouth ulcers, asthma and eczema. So many things affect children but our primary schools need support to be provided to address the issue properly and, where appropriate, involving parents is vital. That can be of great benefit—not always—but parents suffering domestic abuse, or perpetrating it, do not always realise the effect that it has on their children. Not all children show such obvious signs of stress; some have adopted coping mechanisms or hide it.
Obviously, primary schools need support in identifying children who are suffering, as well as those who are demonstrating less obvious signs of what is occurring at home. A child could be jumpy, or be avoiding situations or people. They may be withdrawn or simply have a stomach-ache. They may react badly to something that reminds them of what is going on at home. As this amendment suggests, support is needed to identify and treat children who are unusually aggressive or manipulative.
To see the many terrible effects that witnessing domestic abuse has on children, just do a Google search for Refuge, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the NSPCC or others. The information out there is crystal clear in demonstrating how necessary this amendment is, and how damning to the future well-being of children non-attention and leaving the issue unaddressed is. A great proportion of the children, if given proper help, are resilient. The sooner this problem is addressed, the better.
Amendment 180 would deliver
“the provision of services … to identify and treat children”
coming from homes where domestic abuse is occurring. It is necessary and right to put that protection and provision into the Bill as early as is humanly possible.
My Lords, I shall speak on Amendment 183 in my name. As I said in my explanatory statement, my amendment,
“would require the Government to provide information on the evidence-based differences between the motivational drivers of different types of abuse.”
Clause 73(2)(a) covers the range of behaviours that amount to abuse. We have, thankfully, moved a long way from thinking purely in terms of physical violence and there is welcome recognition that non-violent abusive strategies inflict profound psychological harms. These include but are by no means limited to: imposing isolation; stalking; subjecting partners to public and private humiliations; taking over all control of finances, social life and family matters; and often forcing compliance with those and other abuses by threatening, if not actually perpetrating, violence. I would expect those issues and many others to be covered in the guidance under subsection (2)(a).
However, what also needs to be included—hence my proposed new paragraph (c)—are distinctions between the different types of violence, which are essential for planning nuanced and effective interventions. Indeed, many social scientists consider that it is no longer scientifically or ethically acceptable to refer to domestic violence without making the type of partner violence clear.
Four types of relationship violence have been extensively recognised in research: coercive controlling violence—also known, more evocatively, as intimate terrorism; violent resistance; situational couple violence; and separation-instigated violence. While every form of abuse is completely unacceptable and the responsibility always lies with the perpetrator, it is essential to hold a relationship-based understanding of domestic-abuse intention along with the fact that abuse is a criminal act. We need to recognise the drivers of abuse as well as ensuring that the police and courts have all the powers they need to hold perpetrators to account.
A relationship-based understanding challenges the notion that abuse always stems from a power dynamic within couples, which typically means the male partner is seeking to control the female. In other jurisdictions such as the United States, policymakers have taken on board research from, for instance, Professor Michael Johnson, Professor Nicola Graham-Kevan and Professor Nicky Stanley, which has exposed the diversity of underlying motives. They emphasise that while male domination and coercive control are important elements of intimate terrorism, which occurs in 2% to 4% of heterosexual couples, and in what Stanley refers to as a sizeable minority of same-sex relationships, situational violence is the far more prevalent form, occurring in 12% to 14% of heterosexual couples and termed “common” by Stanley in same-sex relationships.
In situational couple violence, the violence is situationally provoked as the tensions or emotions of the circumstances that a couple find themselves in lead one or both of the partners to resort to violence. Conflict leads to arguments, which escalate to verbal aggression and ultimately to physical violence. It can also be perpetrated, say, after a bad football result and a lengthy drinking session. Johnson argues that the perpetration of situational couple violence is roughly gender-symmetric, and as likely to occur in same-sex as in heterosexual relationships. Typically, rather than a power imbalance, it occurs when one or both partners are struggling to control their emotions. However, even when violence is mutual, women often fare worse because they are physically weaker. It is terrifying to be a child in the middle of a physical fight between their parents. Through its threats to the child’s caregivers, all violence and abuse between parents profoundly threatens a child’s sense of safety.
A typology of violence does not downplay any one form of violence—it all has to stop—but understanding what is driving it will help that to happen. However, treating all violence as the same freezes out the possibility that some partners, where there has been situational violence, can safely stay together with specialist relationship and other support. The viability of providing specialist relationship support for couples where there is situational violence has been thoroughly researched by trusted providers such as Tavistock Relationships. Again, without victim-blaming or perpetrator-absolving, it points out:
“It is extremely rare for services to identify and respond to the dynamic processes within the couple relationship and other important contributory factors that influence the prevalence of inter-personal violence.”
There is UK evidence that the relationship-focused parenting intervention Parents as Partners reduces violent problem-solving. This and other approaches, such as Sandra Stith’s joint couples therapy in the US, give couples the opportunity to work together on their difficulties and help them to establish better ways of dealing with stressors in their relationships. This is never about forcing victims to stay with violent partners; blame lies solely with the perpetrator.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. I have ringing in my ears his commitment to protecting press freedom and that, he says, of his party. I am happy to support this amendment to protect journalistic sources, and I hope everyone else will.
I hope that my noble friend Lady Whitaker will press the amendment to a vote and that everyone will support it, but when they do, I hope that some will consider why they would support this limited protection for journalistic sources yet they did not support Amendment 11 to ban agents provocateurs, which would have protected journalistic agencies as well as other parts of civil society such as human rights NGOs and trade unions. Never came there once—not from either side, I have to say—an explanation of why that protection was unnecessary.
I have yet to pay proper tribute and give proper thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee—although I fear that she may not be on the call any more—because never has there been a more modest or consistent defender of rights and freedoms in your Lordships’ House. I say to her that I share her sense of bleakness about how little we have achieved in providing protections in this legislation. A Rubicon has been crossed and probably will be again. There will be impunity for agents of the state to commit even serious crimes; there is no judicial authorisation; and the agencies were not limited. I feel very bleak about that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, was perhaps the most eloquent voice for security, as she so often is in this debate. Like everyone else, I was moved by her story about a CHIS, an undercover operative, who told her on a radio programme that he did what he did because he had to look in the mirror and be proud of himself. However, as legislators, dare I say it, we have to look in the mirror as well.
While I support this amendment and hope it passes, I feel very bleak about other parts of civil society and ordinary citizens who are losing their very important rule-of-law protection as I speak. I fear that history will not judge us kindly, nor will critics of our unelected House. It is a very difficult system and Chamber to defend but, when I have looked for a defence, I have always thought about the importance of independence, and independent legislators at least having the ability to defend human rights and the rule of law from populist attack. I fear that we have not perhaps done our best or most successful work on this Bill.
That said, I wish this amendment every success and hope that my noble friend Lady Whitaker will press it.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, for her kind remarks about my noble friend Lady Hamwee. I can assure her that my noble friend will be watching and listening intently as we come to the end of this Report stage.
We support Amendment 42 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Clark of Kilwinning. The noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, ably and comprehensively explained the amendment, which means that I can be brief.
My Lords, the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Clark, outlined by her noble friend Lady Whitaker, would require prior judicial approval for a criminal conduct authorisation seeking to identify or confirm a source of journalistic material. I set out earlier in the debate why the Government do not consider prior judicial approval to be a workable option for any CHIS authorisation, so I shall not repeat those arguments. However, I will say again that where an authorisation is likely to result in the acquisition of confidential journalistic material there are already greater safeguards in place which are set out in the CHIS code of practice.
There will also now be notification of every single authorisation to IPCO soon after they have been granted. That will of course include any authorisations that are likely to result in the acquisition of confidential journalistic material. Judicial commissioners will therefore be able to consider the necessity and proportionality of an authorisation and check that the proper safeguards have been followed. I hope that provides the noble Baroness with the necessary reassurance and that she can withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for her typically considered response. After such a long session on Report, I will not comment in detail on the contributions, other than to say that the Government’s response to the 10th report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights—on the general point of judicial authorisation—underestimates the capacity of people trained and experienced in the judiciary to weigh up the implications of actions within a framework of the limits that should be set on behaviour. They are accustomed to doing this with a variety of warrants. The Government’s proposal, which the Minister has not offered to modify in any way, omits the essential requirement of prior authorisation; she insists that this is vital. However, judges are used to making prior authorisations very quickly. Even magistrates are woken up in the middle of the night to approve warrants. The Minister’s objections are not strong enough to warrant my withdrawing the amendment, so I wish to test the opinion of the House.
To be absolutely fair to the police, at the beginning of lockdown in March there were a few examples of the police perhaps acting a little overjudiciously, but since then I have full praise for how they have dealt with the various changes in enforcement rules. The four-point process of engage, explain, encourage and enforce only as the final point has stood them and British society in good stead over the past few months.
The noble and learned Baroness is quite right: if they are under 18, they are still children, which makes the issue of forced marriage all the worse. I shall go back regarding the issue of guidance. I cannot say today what will be in it, but I will get some information from my colleagues and will certainly come back to the noble and learned Baroness on that.
My Lords, I declare an interest as chair of UN Women UK. Will my noble friend look at the work that we are doing for women and girls in safe spaces and the discussions around women in minority communities where it has been quite difficult to extrapolate the difficulties that they face, given that English is a barrier and they are very often not able to leave their homes at all?
My noble friend and I had a brief discussion about this just before Questions. I totally understand and agree with her point. If you are in lockdown, not able to speak a language and not able to leave the house, life must be very difficult for you. I am very happy to speak to her further about this issue.