Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

Thu 29th Feb 2024
Wed 5th Jul 2023
Wed 14th Jun 2023
Illegal Migration Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 3
Mon 13th Dec 2021
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1 & Lords Hansard - part one & Report stage: Part 1
Mon 1st Feb 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 25th Jan 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage


Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Thursday 29th February 2024

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, on securing this important and timely debate. The noble Baroness has done so much to champion the cause of Windrush and to celebrate the contribution of this valued community to British society. The personal journey of the noble Baroness is faithfully documented in her autobiography, What Are You Doing Here?—a very good read.

My involvement in Windrush was awakened as a result of a Question I was down to answer from the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, in your Lordships’ House on the need for a dedicated national Windrush day on 22 June, the anniversary of the arrival at Tilbury of the “Empire Windrush” so many years before, in 1948. I was convinced. It was a privilege to work alongside the noble Baroness.

The Government were moved, ultimately. There was a dedicated Windrush day and a dedicated national service of celebration, the first at Westminster Abbey, and a celebration at Downing Street hosted by the Prime Minister, Theresa May—all of this with the vital three words, “with a budget”. Organised via the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as it then was, and securing afterwards exhibitions, music, dancing, food, historical perspectives and celebration of the vital contributions—economic, cultural, social and sporting—that have been given by this valuable community, giving an injection of diversity into national life, it was truly a great success. There were celebrations throughout the country, at Tilbury, Brixton, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Nottingham, and in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I remember working alongside Paulette Simpson, Sonia Winifred and others, and the Voice magazine, all well and good. As has been mentioned, the noble Baroness headed up a committee to provide a lasting national monument. I see it regularly as I arrive at Waterloo station en route to your Lordships’ House—it is very fine indeed. Nobody could have done more than the noble Baroness—all this positivity and hope.

Meanwhile, alas, shamefully, the Windrush scandal was unfolding. The original Windrush settlers arrived in 1948, over 75 years ago. They were the first members of a generation who had been encouraged to move to the United Kingdom—our country—to help rebuild a new, regenerated United Kingdom after the ravages of the Second World War. And help rebuild it they did, with vital contributions to national services and national life.

My Lords, fast forward to the Immigration Act 1971. This Act gave Commonwealth citizens the right to live and work here in the United Kingdom; this was, after all, their country. People had built their lives here and generations followed them. Then, in 2017-18, it was revealed that many citizens who had lived here totally legally for generations, many of them from the Caribbean, were wrongly refused access to basic public services or charged for services that were theirs by right; in some cases, people were detained and deported. Just ponder that for a while. They were people with every right to be here—our fellow country men and women. This was, and is, a matter of national shame.

Our Government—a British Government—had no proper records and no appropriate paperwork and had, in many instances, seemingly destroyed landing slips for boats that had recorded people’s arrival dates many years before. This rightly caused horror and outrage at the injustice and the hardship inflicted. There was a need for drastic action. As has rightly been stated, the scandal raised serious questions about the Home Office, race and our country—and still does. Theresa May apologised and some positive action did follow: close to 16,000 people who did not have documentation then received it. Some—the accent is on “some”—compensation was paid, but not enough and not quickly enough in view of the massive losses inflicted.

Meanwhile, in June 2018, a review was set up. The Home Office appointed Wendy Williams, then Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, to conduct an independent review of the Windrush scandal, focusing on events from 2008 onwards. The review was published in 2022 and did not pull its punches. It is worth noting that, alongside this review, a transformation unit was set up in the Home Office to deal with the Windrush situation and carry forward Windrush policy. This was a reform agenda that successive Home Secretaries—Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and, initially, Suella Braverman; I stress “initially”—pledged to follow. My first question to my noble friend the Minister, who is certainly not personally to blame for the stuttering policy and serious errors that have been made, is this: why was that unit disbanded? I hope that he will do better than suggest that it is due to the significant progress we have seen—a suggestion that has been made previously and is, frankly, not credible. It is what might be called, if I may borrow a couple of phrases from across the pond, baloney or hogwash—or worse.

This brings me to the Wendy Williams review. I ask my noble friend: how many of the 30 recommendations that were accepted in full by the Government at the time have been implemented in full, and how many are yet to be completed? As we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, three key recommendations were ditched by Suella Braverman although they had previously been accepted in full by the Government. The ditching of those recommendations was bemoaned and labelled a mistake by Theresa May in her compelling review of what happened in her book, The Abuse of Power. The recommendations included, as the noble Baroness said, the appointment of an independent migrants commissioner; the review and strengthening of the role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration; and the organisation of reconciliation events between members of the Windrush generation and officials and Ministers. Why did the Government go back on their acceptance of these key recommendations? Why, why, why? Was it all down to the personality of that particular Home Secretary? If so, will the position be reviewed by the current Home Secretary and those recommendations restored? I do hope so.

Let us be honest about the position we are in. Among a generation of people and their descendants, largely from the Caribbean, many have been treated abominably. There was recognition of that by Theresa May, the then Prime Minister, and some action, but not enough and not speedily enough. Rather than take our foot off the accelerator and apply what appears to be a handbrake turn, as was done under Suella Braverman, we should press full steam ahead. Every time the Home Office feels inclined to veer to the complacent, the smug and the self-congratulatory, it needs to remind itself of the people who have died without a penny piece of compensation. It needs to remind itself of the backlog of claims and the complex forms that had to be filled in. Above all, it needs to remind itself of the outstanding compensation claims that exist and of the searing, justified, burning sense of injustice rightly felt by a section of our own community—by our very own country men and women.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I will come back to the subject of compensation. I am going to attempt to address all the questions raised in the appropriate order. There is a lot to say and I have only 20 minutes to say it, so I ask noble Lords to bear that in mind when contemplating interventions. I will do my very best.

We have paid over £75 million in compensation. As of December 2023, over 80% of claims received had received a final decision and the majority of live claims were less than six months old. Payments to date include some very significant sums. More than 120 claimants have been paid over £100,000 in compensation. The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, asked about the 91% figure given by Laura Farris in the other place. As I said, 80% have had a final decision and 91% have had a final decision or have outstanding claims less than six months old, so that figure is correct.

The noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, and others raised the question of speed. As I said, the Home Office’s priority is to award the maximum compensation at the earliest point possible. The changes that the Home Office has made to the scheme since its launch mean that people now receive significantly more money more quickly—I referred to the 80% figure. However, in answer to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, about blanket amounts, I say that there are 14 different categories and each person’s experiences and circumstances will be different, so it is right that the Home Office takes the time to ensure that each claim is considered and understood carefully, so it can offer people the maximum compensation to which they are entitled. That said, the Home Office continues its efforts to reduce the time it takes to process claims. The length of time that individuals must wait for their claim to be allocated to a substantive decision-maker is now less than four months, down from around 18 months a year ago, and the four-month period includes all essential eligibility checks, together with a preliminary assessment to make an initial payment of £10,000 wherever possible.

The department is committed to ensuring people receive the compensation to which they are entitled, in all cases, including those where, understandably, there is limited documentary evidence. The scheme operates entirely on the balance of probabilities, and decision-makers receive in-depth training to ensure that this approach is applied fairly and consistently. Decision-makers use all the data and information available to them, and exhaust internal and cross-government routes before asking for more information from individuals. The Home Office also gathers information from third parties, paying for this where needed so that costs do not fall to claimants. That can include information from employers, HMRC, GPs and so on. We have a quality assurance team and an independent review process in order to ensure that all decisions are subject to a very high degree of scrutiny.

The compensation scheme was designed to be accessible to anyone, without the need for legal advice or assistance. For those who want or need support to make a claim, the Home Office provides free assistance through its independent claims assistance provider, the We Are Group. It has extensive experience of dealing with isolated and vulnerable people, and the Windrush team is also available on the phone to provide information and to discuss the process. In 2021 and 2022, the Home Office published new claims forms, developed in collaboration with stakeholders, which are simpler and easier to complete. Were our applicants allowed to recover legal costs in applying to the scheme, this may serve to encourage organisations to take advantage of potentially vulnerable people, charging them for unnecessary support.

On feedback and engagement with stakeholders and the community about the effectiveness of the scheme, as evidenced in the changes to the scheme since its inception we have continued that process, because the overhaul to the scheme in December 2020 significantly increased the amount of compensation awarded, and indeed the speed at which it can be paid. In 2021 and 2022, we published revamped claim forms, to which many noble Lords have referred. They were developed in consultation with stakeholders and are easier to complete. They are longer, but they are easier to complete, because they include more targeted and closed questions. The new forms have a Crystal Mark from the Plain English Campaign. As I have said, the changes were made in consultation with stakeholders, including the Windrush National Organisation, key advocates in the community who work collaboratively. Considerable changes were made to the forms while they were being redesigned, but if anybody cares to add to the process and make observations about the forms, the door is open and we are happy to listen.

In 2021, we launched a package of support to help those making, or those who have already made, claims on behalf of a relative who has passed away to obtain the legal documentation required to process their claims. In 2022, we broadened the homelessness category to allow awards to be made to people who were already homeless and then continued to be homeless due to an inability to demonstrate lawful status. We also introduced a fourth “living costs” category for close family member claims for costs incurred while supporting someone who lost their employment or benefits because they were unable to prove their immigration status. Last year, we made changes to the employment category which mean some people will be compensated for longer periods and receive more money, better reflecting their unique circumstances. Whenever changes are made, they are applied retrospectively.

To come back to the points that were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Davies, about why the scheme does not cover loss of employment opportunity, it is because this is a highly speculative issue, stretching across many facets of an individual’s life. The scheme cannot make financial determinations of this nature, since they will vary significantly from individual to individual. They depend on a multitude of factors which will be difficult and timely to assess in a fair and consistent manner.

In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, and the noble Lord, Lord Davies, the scheme does not cover occupational pensions because of the variable and complex nature of impacts on and future performance of those. However, through employment awards, individuals will recuperate the contributions they would have made into an occupational pension scheme at the time. Processes are also in place so that, where individuals were unable to work because they could not demonstrate their lawful status in the UK, their national insurance record is corrected so that their state pension entitlement is not affected.

On moving the Windrush compensation scheme from the Home Office, the Home Office firmly believes that moving the operation of the compensation scheme would risk significantly delaying vital payments to people. This was reinforced by Professor Martin Levermore, independent adviser to the scheme, in his report published in March 2022.

We continue to work to promote new applications to the scheme, and to engage with and gain the trust of affected communities. The scheme’s engagement team ensures there is regular dialogue with stakeholders from Windrush communities, who provide feedback and scrutiny. The compensation scheme engagement team supports events with external stakeholders from Windrush communities to provide the opportunity to speak to them about the impact the scandal has had on them and on their family’s lives. These engagement events also ensure that individuals and stakeholders get the correct information about the schemes—the Windrush documentation scheme and the Windrush compensation scheme.

Since February 2023, the Windrush compensation scheme engagement team has attended more than 30 events nationwide, including in the West Midlands, Bristol, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and London. This week, officials attended an event in Northampton which received positive feedback, commending the informative presentations and the benefit of over 120 conversations with Home Office staff. Events are planned during the first quarter of this year, including in London, Edinburgh, and Nottingham again. We are also looking at opportunities to work with communities in Wales and Ireland. These engagement events ensure that individuals and stakeholders receive accurate information about both schemes, and a large number of such engagements have taken place.

All noble Lords asked about scrutiny of the scheme and how the Home Office considers claims. As I have explained, we have a multilayered review process to ensure the compensation scheme has an appropriate level of external scrutiny. If I may, I will go into detail on those layers. The tier 1 review is conducted by a separate team that has not worked on the claim in question. The tier 2 review is an independent review process with the adjudicator’s office. The independent person, Martin Levermore, to whom I have already referred, regularly engages with officials and publishes annual reports on the scheme. His third report was published on 1 November 2023 on GOV.UK. The Home Office has published a fact sheet and granular transparency data on a monthly basis, which provides detail on a wide variety of aspects of both casework and review. The Home Affairs Select Committee provides external scrutiny and visited the department to scrutinise proceedings. The Home Office has also hosted other stakeholders, such as the Windrush Defenders Legal and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, on open visits, giving access to Home Office caseworkers.

On the subject of the Windrush programme and the lessons being learned, the Home Office is absolutely determined to deliver on its commitment to righting the wrongs of Windrush. That work continues at pace, and I am not ashamed to use the phrase. As one would expect, and should expect, in any government department organisational structures change over time to ensure that delivery for the public is effective and delivers value for money. It has been decided that responsibility for delivering various Windrush response projects and recommendations will no longer be managed through a dedicated team in the transformation directorate but will instead be embedded in our everyday activities in other parts of the department. I forget who, but someone referred to it as being part of the departmental DNA. I can confirm, albeit anecdotally from my experience, that this is something that is considered in pretty much every aspect of the work that we are currently doing.

Most noble Lords asked about the promises that were made in regard to recommendations 3, 9 and 10. Wendy Williams recognised the scale of the challenge that was set by her 2020 Windrush Lessons Learned Review and applauded the department’s response in rising to the challenge. As the former Home Secretary set out in her WMS of 26 January 2023, she did decide not to proceed with some of the recommendations in the original form. I am afraid I am unable to comment further because there are legal proceedings in train on that particular subject. However, as I have just said, work remains ongoing on the majority of the recommendations, by way of embedding them into the DNA of the department, and that work will not stop.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- Hansard - -

I am very interested in the ditching of those key recommendations—most contributors felt that was wrong. Can the Minister confirm that the current Home Secretary will consider reinstating them, whatever the nature of the legal proceedings, as they are a vital part of the Windrush policy?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Again, I have to apologise to my noble friend. I would like to answer the question in detail but am unable to as a result of the legal proceedings. However, I will of course make sure that the Home Secretary is well aware of his and the House’s concerns about this matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Davies, asked about overseas engagement, particularly with regard to high commissions. We engaged with UK-based Caribbean high commissioners but we have also worked with British high commissions overseas to raise awareness of this.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, asked about education, which is incredibly important. On Windrush Day, the Department for Levelling Up launched a set of educational materials, which were uploaded to the National Windrush Monument website as part of the monument’s legacy programmes.

I have to confess that I have not read the book from the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin—I will—but perhaps, as book recommendations are being handed out, I should also commend one from my noble friend Lord Popat, A British Subject, which is a very good read on this topic as well. I am more than happy to meet the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, at any time. Just to be fair to my predecessor, my noble friend Lord Murray attended two Windrush National Organisation conferences, so he did make himself available.

The Windrush story is one of the most powerful and uplifting in our country’s history. The people who arrived on that day in the middle of the 20th century and their subsequent generations have contributed so much across so many areas of our society, as has been noted by all speakers. That they would go on to suffer as they did is a source of profound sadness to them and us all—and shame. We owe it to them to put it right and significant progress has been made, as I hope I have set out. But the job is not done and noble Lords have my assurance that the Government’s determination to right those wrongs is undimmed.

Alcohol Licensing (Coronavirus) (Regulatory Easements) (Amendment) Regulations 2023

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Tuesday 24th October 2023

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I too support the regulations. Indeed, I hope they are put on a permanent basis, as my noble friend the Minister suggested. I agree with the suggestion that the review should take due account of the effect on people in the vicinity, and with the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, on the public health issues she outlined.

I have given notice to the Minister of the point I am going to raise, because it is on the broader canvas of the effect of Covid and regulations post-pandemic, as we now see off the dreadful pandemic period. Many of us will recall that during the pandemic itself, we were able to deal with certain things in a very effective way, which gave rise to a warm glow of satisfaction. I am thinking particularly of rough sleeping, which disappeared in a way that many of us found both stunning and encouraging. Sadly, it is now of course creeping back. Have the Government given any thought as to how this can be reversed?

Illegal Migration Bill

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I rise to move Amendment 168A, tabled in my name. I shall also speak to Amendment 168C, which is consequential to it. I am very grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth and Lord Blunkett, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, for co-signing it. This amendment is a combination of the two amendments that I put forward in Committee. It requires the Secretary of State to produce a 10-year strategy for tackling the global refugee crisis and human trafficking in collaboration with international partners. As I explained the rationale behind this in detail in Committee, I will be very brief.

In aid of this amendment I want to quote the Foreign Secretary, who spoke to an Italian newspaper a couple of days ago. He said that

“there needs to be an international response to this because it is an inherently international issue”.

We also need a long-term vision and strategy that reaches beyond short-term electoral cycles and allows this issue to be taken out of an entirely political agenda. The 1951 refugee convention is a fundamental basis for the care and protection of refugees. The convention should be built upon and added to, in collaboration with other signatories and international partners for the particular context that we face today, to ensure that we share responsibility fairly and work together effectively across borders.

In Committee, the Minister questioned the suitability of a 10-year strategy and suggested it would risk tying the hands of future Governments, but we have long-term strategies in other areas of policy, and quite rightly too: defence and security, climate change and many others. No strategy is set in stone; this amendment neither binds future Governments, which we cannot do, nor even specifies what exactly should go into a strategy for refugees and human trafficking. It simply requires that the Government, and future Governments, have one—a strategy—to consider actions in these areas right across the piece, joining up government in every area. The fact that we are here debating a second migration Bill in as many years suggests that this might well be useful.

There is much wisdom in this House which will be more usefully applied to a strategy than it is often given the chance to speak to. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, is one of the great experts on migration, whether one always agrees with him or not. We need a calmer and properly structured look at the whole areas of migration.

The UK has led in the past, historically, and does so now. I want to stress that this amendment does not wreck or damage the Bill, or set intentions for the Government to follow. I remind the Minister of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in Committee, where he said he thought I was helping the Government by proposing such an amendment. It is indeed intended to be helpful, to improve the Bill by mitigating some of the concerns about a lack of a global and long-term perspective on the issues, and to offer something which this House and the other place could debate carefully and thoughtfully, whatever our differing views about the rest of the Bill. On the previous set of amendments, the noble Lord, Lord Swire, talked about the need to be able to debate in an open and honest way; that is the intention of this amendment.

Therefore, I hope that the Government and all noble Lords can see that this amendment is a positive and constructive suggestion, whatever I or others may feel about the Bill in general. I urge the Government to develop a strategy that is ambitious, collaborative, worthy of our history and up to the scale of the enormous challenges we face. I beg to move.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the most reverend Primate and to support his amendment, the essence of which is constructive and positive.

Over the course of the discussions and debates on this Bill, opinions have been very passionate. Understandably, given that there are so many key issues to look at, the debate has been fractious on occasion. However, this amendment stresses the need for a long-term strategy. Rather than having individual states acting in isolation, which we are in danger of doing, surely, we can come together and say, “Yes, we do need a strategy and to look at this in a multilateral way”. This is a problem that I think we all accept will get more serious in the light of climate change, food security issues, warfare and great population movements.

This issue was last looked at in any meaningful way in 1951, and from very much a European perspective. Many states have not been signatories to that convention, but whatever one feels about it, it certainly met the needs of the time. The problems are very different now. These population movements are now much more a global issue, and we need a long-term strategy.

As the most reverend Primate said, in Committee the Government’s answer seemed substantially to be that a strategy would bind future Governments—a strange thing for them to be saying in the run-up to an election. However, it is much more important than that. As the most reverend Primate said, we have strategies on all sorts of things. It is important to build some common ground so that this does not become a party-political football. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, we are in a very strong position to take an international lead on this—something that the Government would surely want to do.

I suspect that the Government’s stance may have shifted somewhat—from “We don’t want a strategy because it binds the hands of future Governments”, to “this Bill deals with a short-term issue”. This is not a short-term issue but very much a long-term one, and it will get more serious. We need an approach that is not ad hoc, not a stop-gap and not short term. It must be long term and look at these issues much more in the round, and it must do so internationally.

Given that there have been so many defeats, I hope that the Government are thinking positively about accommodating in the Bill the strength of views expressed in this House, and that developing a long-term strategy makes sense and is something we can all get behind. I urge them to do so, or to tell us what their strategy is. If they do have a strategy, it would be good to hear it. In the absence of that commitment and explanation, the conclusion will be that the cupboard is bare.

Baroness Kennedy of Shaws Portrait Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I too added my name to the amendment tabled by the most reverend Primate. I did so because, as has been said, this issue will really challenge us in the years ahead. It is imperative that we collaborate with other nations and are involved in meaningful conversations about how to share responsibility for those who are being persecuted.

However, we must recognise that climate change will cause enormous displacements of people. While we can seek comfort, as lawyers do, in saying that the refugee convention does not apply to those fleeing climate change because its definitions do not embrace that possibility, the reality is that people will be fleeing for their lives—just as those who are persecuted do—from places to which they will not be able to return. There will be heavy questions about what we do in the face of that. In any strategy, it is necessary to think about how we support the countries alongside places where there are conflicts, where there will be a dearth of, and conflict over, water; let alone the existing conflicts over resources in parts of Africa such as lithium—the stuff in our phones—rare earth minerals, gold and black diamonds.

We will face many problems in the years ahead, and it is only by collaborating with other nations, especially developed nations and our nearest neighbours, that we will find a solution. It is a cross-party issue, and people should be thinking and talking about it together. We must have a Home Office that works well, that can deal with this issue properly and that is not failing speedily to address valid applications for asylum. It has been failing on that for a number of years because of the cuts made to it.

I support the idea that there should be a clear strategy for parties of any complexion to follow in working through this. I strongly urge the House to support the most reverend Primate’s amendment.

Illegal Migration Bill

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 139D in the name of the most revered Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury; the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, are also signatories.

In passing, I note that it is highly undesirable that Peers have been forced to withdraw from speaking to amendments and giving their views because of the way that things have been organised. I do not lay blame anywhere for that, as I know that the usual channels have tried to accommodate it, but I hope that, when we reach Report, we can have a more reasoned way of dealing with the hours that Members are sitting and the way that we are approaching these things. That would be highly desirable.

I declare my interests as set out in the register. I am strongly of the view that a 10-year strategy is appropriate. I do not quite understand the Minister’s stance of not wanting a long-term strategy. As the most revered Primate set out, we have strategies that are long-term on all sorts of things. We also currently have a strategy for the refugee convention; it has been there for 70 years, and successive Governments have supported it. It seems to me that, rather than have individual approaches by countries around the world on such a global and international issue, it is clearly of interest that we all come together to work on a global and international solution. This problem is not going to go away; it will get much more serious as time goes on, as is clearly the case, with climate change refugees and issues of food security, gender-based violence and so on.

I accept that the Government are doing individual things, but I do not understand why they cannot be developed into a strategy in relation to both trafficking, which we looked at in the last group of amendments, and to the refugee convention, which we are looking at in this group. I anticipate that the Minister will not be any warmer towards this amendment than he was to the last one, but I hope that I stand to be corrected; perhaps I am wrong on that.

It seems to me that on something such as this there is truly an international scenario after 30 years of the refugee convention. Admittedly, the convention has a protocol, but, in essence, it was introduced to deal with the aftermath of World War II and issues related to the Holocaust and so on. We are living in a very different world, and we need a different solution; we need a different strategy to be developed to deal with this issue. I hope that the Minister will see that point, but it seems to me that he has set his face against dealing with something so obvious, and I do not understand why. As I said, I hope I am proved wrong.

We need that international effort. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, talked about regional solutions as well, which is part of it, but, clearly, the UN would be the most appropriate way of bringing this towards some sort of international order and of dealing with what will be a much more serious problem than we have seen hitherto. It is absolutely right that it has affected the UK—I accept totally that we need to do something about it—but it has not affected us nearly as much as our European neighbours, and certainly not as much as many countries around the world.

The idea that we can deal with this in a piecemeal way, with every single country doing something differently, is for the birds. In fact, where we have had success at all—I accept that we have had some—is in talking to partners, including France. I do not understand why the Government set themselves against dealing with this on a broader front. The Minister shakes his head; if he wants to intervene on me, I am very happy to take an intervention. I hope that he can accept the case for international action being necessary.

We have had differences of opinion during the debates on the Bill—understandably, passions have been running high; it has very often been fractious—but here we have a chance to unite as a House and to say that this is something that can be done in a very constructive way to meet the challenges of the future—and, I hope, to deal with some of the issues that have been dividing the House as we have moved through the debates. Frankly, what we have at the moment is something that appears to be an ad hoc approach to dealing with the issue, of coming up with a conglomeration of different ideas, of throwing paint at a wall Jackson Pollock-like and hoping for the best, rather than developing something with a bit more vision of Michelangelo about it.

I hope that the Minister will respond in a positive way, particularly given the ecumenical way that we have been developing, with two new bishops nominating themselves and my noble friend Lord Deben and the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, wanting to join the Spiritual Benches—which shows the fluid nature of the House. As I say, I hope we will be able to come back on Report with something a bit more constructive than the Minister has given us sight of so far. I know that the Minister’s intentions are good. I am sure that he will be going back to the department to seek to convince the Home Secretary, who I know will be listening carefully, how we can move on these issues.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I very much welcome this amendment. I should say that this is not a bid to join the Bishops’ Benches and I thank the most reverend Primate for introducing it. I want to make just three points.

The first has been implicit in quite a lot of what has been said by the most reverend Primate and by other noble Lords on the previous amendment. It is that, if we are to have a global, collaborative strategy, it has to be from a different mindset from the one that underpins the Bill, because that mindset would prevent such a global strategy. We have to stop acting as if we are somehow uniquely burdened by this global refugee crisis. The figures have been given showing how other countries are pulling their weight much more than we are. Countries with far fewer resources than we have are doing so, yet with the Bill we act as if somehow the poor UK is under siege from this global crisis. To think globally means thinking differently, and we have to think and act with compassion. Compassion has certainly been lacking in this Bill and in the approach being taken.

My second point, which links with this, is that we have to start using a different language. The point has been made a number of times during our debates: people are not illegal and journeys are not illegal, but they are being turned illegal when they arrive here. Please let us not talk about “illegal routes” or “illegal migrants”. They are coming by irregular routes but they are not illegal. This goes right back to the beginning, when we talked about the language that is often used by some politicians and by the media: the language of invasion, cannibalisation and so forth.

It reminds me that I spoke in an even later debate—I think it was at about 2 am—on Albania. I met a group of young Albanians and have just discovered the notes I made from that meeting. I could not find them anywhere, and now I have. They talked about how disturbing they found the way that they were talked about in the media. In one newspaper—I leave the Committee to guess which—they were called “vermin”. I wrote down what they said: they felt violated, unsafe, scared, despised and unwanted. It is dreadful that young people feel that because of the way that we talk about them, so we have to change our language when we talk about the future migration strategy. The research of HOPE not hate suggests that every time politicians or the media talk negatively, it leads to a spike in far-right activity against migrants. Again, that is no basis for building a strategy.

Thirdly and perhaps more positively—this goes back to something that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham said earlier—if we are going to develop a strategy, and I hope that we will, we will have to involve refugees themselves in its development. We need the expertise of their experience of what it is like to flee countries and start a new life elsewhere. We have to base our strategy on that understanding, and it involves what the right reverend Prelate referred to earlier as “co-production”. It is not good enough for politicians to sit in their offices and come up with a strategy, then talk to politicians in another country and say, “Right, here’s our strategy”. We need to work from the very start with those people who are experiencing this. That is simply all I want to say.

I wish we could have had this debate at a better time. I am very sorry I was not able to be part of the debate that the most reverend Primate instigated in December, but I have read it and know that there were some inspiring speeches and lots of ideas that could go into the strategy. As I said in my earlier intervention, this is not requiring the Government to do X, Y and Z so that the next Government have to do X, Y and Z; it is simply saying that there has to be a strategic framework, and then Governments work within that. It does not matter what the complexion of the Government is. I certainly hope that my party in government would want to develop a strategic approach towards refugees and, as I say, one that works with refugees in building that.

Code of Practice on the Recording and Retention of Personal Data in relation to Non-Crime Hate Incidents

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Wednesday 26th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Finally, this code is overdue and extremely welcome. I very much hope that, for its own good and the good of policing and our country, the College of Policing follows this strong and welcome lead.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I certainly do not want to oppose the adoption of this code but, as the Minister said, it is important that we look at it in a proportionate way, because it is important that these statistics are available to the police and to ensure that we have good communal relations. At the time of the terrorist attacks in Manchester, London and elsewhere it was extremely important that these statistics were available. I would not want—I am sure that noble Lords would not either—a message to go out today that this is to scrap the process of looking at non-crime hate incidents. It is important that we build up a picture and that we say, as my noble friend Lord Jackson just did in relation to Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson inquiry, that it is recognised how important this is as the basis for acting. There is broad agreement across the country about that, and among police forces.

I do not want to have a pop at the College of Policing—I do not know the substance of what is alleged—but it is important that we preserve the sense of proportionality that is at the essence of this. It is easy to characterise something as Orwellian, but let us dig down to the truth of what is actually happening out there and the importance of keeping this information-gathering in communities up and down the country—communities perhaps not like the ones in which many of us live. Of course, freedom of speech is important, as is the point about not characterising people as criminals. I fully support that, which is why I think that these regulations and the code that we are looking at are so important.

I have a couple of questions for my noble friend the Minister. First, what is the cost of this whole exercise? I appreciate that he might not have the answer to that, so perhaps he can come back to me if he does not have the figures. Secondly, as my noble friend Lord Jackson mentioned, the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee was critical of the process of consultation with regard to these regulations, on two, or possibly three, bases. Why was there not a formal consultation? With regard to the consultation that—

Baroness Pitkeathley Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Pitkeathley) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, there is a Division in the Chamber. The Committee will adjourn. We understand that there are two back-to-back votes so, for the convenience of the House, we will reconvene in about 20 minutes, after both votes have taken place.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, this feels a little like that quiz programme, “Just a Minute”: I have now got the subject back and am trying to remember where I was.

I think I had made the point that there were criticisms of the consultation process by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which said:

“These Regulations are drawn to the special attention of the House on the grounds that there appear to be inadequacies in the consultation process which relates to the instrument”.

My noble friend Lord Jackson also raised this point. My points were, essentially, first, why there was not a thorough and full consultation; secondly, given that there was consultation with some bodies, why there was no feedback from that so that we had the benefit of the views of those bodies that were consulted; and thirdly, why those bodies were consulted and not others. We would have benefited from a fuller consultation and, given that there was not a fuller one, from better feedback in relation to those bodies that were consulted and responded.

With that, and bearing in mind what I said about the cost, I hope the Minister will be able to deal with those points.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Faulkner of Worcester) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is taking part remotely. I invite her to speak.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I turn to the speech of my noble friend Lord Jackson of Peterborough. Of the issues he raises, I will just address the question of how the code interrelates with DBS checks. This code does not prohibit disclosure of non-crime hate incident personal data as police information on an enhanced criminal record certificate issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service—the DBS. This is for two main reasons. First, NCHIs are simply one form of police intelligence that sits alongside many others—missing persons data, anti-social behaviour, unproven allegations of sexual assault and so on. They exist in line with the police’s common law powers to prevent crime. There are circumstances where police non-conviction information of various kinds will be considered for disclosure in enhanced DBS checks used in relation to roles which involve close working with vulnerable adults or children. Maintaining this regime is essential for safeguarding the rights of others, particularly the most vulnerable.

Secondly, the rules surrounding disclosure of this type of data are already governed by statutory disclosure guidance produced by the Home Office. 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, hence why it is covered in the same statutory guidance. This 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 probably unnecessary and disproportionate.

The safeguards in the statutory disclosure guidance are very robust. Should a chief officer consider that information is relevant to the purpose for which the check is sought, it ought to be disclosed in line with the guidance and the applicant invited to make representations. Only in cases where there is no room for doubt that the information should be disclosed should a decision to disclose be taken without first giving the applicant an opportunity to make representations. Should the decision to disclose be confirmed following any representations, that information will be included on the certificate that is sent to the applicant only. The applicant also has a right to appeal that disclosure through the independent monitor who considers cases where an individual believes that information disclosed within a DBS enhanced criminal records certificate is either not relevant to the purpose that the check is to be used for, or that it ought not be disclosed. The safeguards therefore balance the rights of job applicants and those of vulnerable people they might have contact with.

Alongside the existence of this strict statutory disclosure guidance, I can reassure your Lordships further. 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. It is imperative that we do not set an unhelpful precedent by legislating in a way that undermines the police’s ability to build intelligence on possible offending and risks to life more broadly.

The first of the two questions raised by my noble friend Lord Bourne was in relation to the cost of this scheme. Information is published in the economic note on the code on the GOV.UK website. At paragraph 19, there is an explanation of the costs:

“Costs related to this are estimated at £9,200 in the central scenario and cover 10 per cent of chief inspectors and 1 per cent of sergeants being required to read the update”.

My noble friend will see that paragraph 21 states:

“The range of estimated costs vary from the central estimate of £9,200 with a low estimate of £3,500, and a high estimate of £0.4 million”.

A careful analysis has been made of the potential costs and the time taken to consider the code. I hope that that addresses the cost question.

During the debate, my noble friend Lord Bourne and a number of other noble Lords raised a question about consultation. This, of course, is the issue that was raised by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. As I mentioned earlier, the Government consulted relevant policing stakeholders, including the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and senior police officers. The code is designed to be used by the police on a day-to-day basis, so it is right that we consulted them. Let me be clear that extensive legal and operational nuances were considered during the drafting of the code. These nuances were worked through with experts in the policing, data protection and legal fields, and the Government are confident that this is the right approach for such a specialised code.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- Hansard - -

I accept what the Minister said and thank him for it, but I was keen to find out why the feedback was not published.

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will make inquiries in relation to that and write to my noble friend.

I turn to the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton. We were all shocked and saddened by the offending to which she was exposed that she described to the Committee. It is the Government’s view that the code takes particular care in relation to vulnerable individuals. The examples it gives are designed to be examples of non-criminal offences. The matters which were described by the noble Baroness were criminal offences, and the police will follow other guidance if an actual crime has occurred. The incident at Euston which she described sounded to me like an offence of assault at the very least.

The scope of the code is limited to non-crime hate instances. The examples in the text are hyperlinked and are used to illustrate non-crime hate incidents. The code states that,

“where the behaviour of the subject falls short of criminal conduct but may later be evidence of a course of criminal conduct”

the threshold to record a non-crime hate incident may be met. I hope that provides some reassurance to the noble Baroness.

I believe I have addressed the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. I commend the draft code to the Committee.

Motion agreed.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Lord Alton of Liverpool Portrait Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester and to support the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Whitaker, on Amendments 57 and 55ZB, to which I am happy to be a signatory along with noble Lords drawn from right across the House.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, set out the arguments for Amendment 57 with her usual clarity. At the heart of her remarks is the compelling case for social justice and the upholding of human rights. Suffice it to say that when it comes to inequalities, this group of people—Gypsies, Roma and Travellers—are in a league of their own. That was the conclusion of the March 2019 report of the Women and Equalities Select Committee. I know the Minister has given a great deal of personal attention to this issue; like others, I put on record my gratitude to her. When she comes to reply, I wonder whether she can tell us what account was taken of that report in framing this legislation and what action was taken to develop the cross-departmental strategy it called for.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, noted the absence of any detail still. I simply reinforce her message that the Government should publish and allow a debate on the strategy before implementing Part 4, or at least give a clear commitment as to when the strategy will be published. No doubt Covid will be prayed in aid to justify the delay but, even allowing for Covid, more than two years is simply too long. After all, those same constraints did not prevent the department coming forward with this change of law—or, for that matter, this entirely new Act of Parliament.

I will say a few words in support of the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, who in her admirable way has pursued this issue over so long and has encouraged so many of us to join the all-party parliamentary group in which she plays such a leading role. She has rightly pointed to the absence of sites—a point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier. How we respond to that is surely about whether to criminalise or incentivise local authorities to do something about it.

The greatly missed Lord Avebury promoted the Caravan Sites Act 1968. As a young city councillor in Liverpool in 1973, I, along with others—some of whom are in the Chamber this evening—pressed for the city council to do something about that Act. We pushed for the opening of a permanent site for Travellers. It is situated in Oil Street, in Tara Park. The Act led to many new sites, but its repeal in 1994 disincentivised provision, and there are now some 1,696 households on the waiting list for permanent pitches in England, while the last funding round secured resources for just two transit sites.

The civilised answer is to make provision, not to introduce draconian, criminalising legislation based on some very dubious legal principles, which seem to me to run contrary to human rights obligations and our duties to contest bigotry and prejudice with solutions—points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s barometer of prejudice, 44% of those surveyed expressed hostile and openly negative feelings towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. We should beware of doing anything to reinforce such prejudice and the old tropes.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, reminded us of where prejudice can lead. On 2 August each year, the day on which we recall the Roma genocide, I am always struck that on that very day in 1944 the Gypsy family camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration camps in the then occupied Poland, was liquidated. It is sometimes suggested that, during the Holocaust, half a million Roma and Sinti perished. At the time of the liberation of Auschwitz, just four Roma remained alive.

In our generation, it is down to us to guard against prejudice, which—I know the Minister would agree—can so easily morph into something worse. That is why the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, is right to draw attention to the obvious and inevitable violation of human rights that will occur if this clause remains unamended. As the Bill stands, it both criminalises people and deprives them of their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires respect for their homes—a point the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, made—and their private and family life, which by law includes respect for their traditional ways of life. As long ago as 2001, the ECHR ruled that there was

“a positive obligation on Contracting States by virtue of Article 8 to facilitate the Gypsy way of life.”

I wonder whether the Minister can tell us how this provision achieves that objective.

Since 1995 the UK has been a signatory to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Article 5 of which says:

“The Parties undertake to promote the conditions necessary for persons belonging to national minorities to maintain and develop their culture”.

It is impossible to see how this legislation honours that obligation.

Before Second Reading, the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, along with myself, published an article in the House magazine pointing out that the way of life lived by the Roma, the Gypsies and the Travellers stretches back half a millennium, long before the enactment of the Enclosure Acts and the agricultural revolution. In this Bill, we intend to overturn the practice of centuries and criminalise trespass and enable the police to seize vehicles, as we have heard, and homes. Imagine the impact on the children of these families as they watch their parents’ possessions sequestrated and their families evicted—and this could be in the very depths of winter.

These amendments point to rank discrimination and are an attack on a way of life. Adequate accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers is a better, more civilised and more humane way to proceed, rather than locking people into endless cycles of criminalisation and evictions. If this amendment is taken to a vote by the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, I for one will certainly go into the Division Lobby to support her.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I first of all apologise that I was unable to be here for the Committee on this Bill because of the difficulties of the rail link from Salisbury, which Members will recall. I thank the Minister for making time available to discuss these amendments and this general area. I wish to speak specifically to Amendment 55ZB, which was so well proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, who has done great work in this area, and Amendment 57, where, similarly, the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, proposed it so effectively.

I oppose the provisions on the criminalisation of trespass and Part 4 in general. I do so for several very practical reasons, which I will deal with. First and foremost, it does not deal with the root of the problem: the massive undersupply of sites for Gypsy, Roma and Travellers. I recall this from when I was a Minister; one has only to see around the country the lack of supply of places to know that this is true. I anticipate that the Minister will probably say—because it will be in the brief—that there is a great supply of private places. That is true, but that is a bit like arguing that families on moderate income should be reassured by hotel places in London because there is always a suite available in the Ritz or the Savoy. It does not answer the basic point about the lack of local authority sites. Were they available, this problem would melt away like snow in springtime. That is my first basic point. I do not understand why an attempt has not been made first—before bringing this legislation forward—to deal with that planning aspect and bring legislation forward on that point, as other noble Lords have said.

The second basic point I want to come to is whether this will make any difference. We have heard from many noble Lords that the police are against this provision—they know very well that it will make no difference. People—victims, I would say—will be moved from site A to site B, then from site B to site C and so on, all the way through to site Z and then back again. It is pointless; it is fruitless; it is costly; it is divisive; it is draconian. We should drop it. It does not help the situation, and it will lead to the police being put in a difficult position in relation to legislation that they do not want. I join other Members in saying that there are many local authorities from across the political spectrum that have come forward with proposals. We have heard about Leeds, but it is true also of Fenland, in Cambridgeshire, which has come up with imaginative proposals for dealing with the shortage of sites. Local authorities should be incentivised across the country to deal with this deep-seated problem.

My third reason for opposing this legislation is perhaps at the root of my real objection, and that is that there is something dreadfully un-British about this. It seems to home in on a community that is, in many ways, the lost minority and lost in plain sight. We have heard reference to the committee on equalities, which presented a report, and what it said was reinforced by the race disparity audit, which was a great initiative undertaken by Theresa May and which led to the talk of this strategy. Indeed, there were meetings: taking it forward for education was Nadhim Zahawi, as a junior Minister, and for health, Jackie Doyle-Price; there were representatives from the Home Office, such as, if I am not mistaken, the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, and representatives from justice, pensions and so on. All committees were represented in taking this strategy for legislation forward. I wonder what has happened to that.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2021

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for setting out the simple purpose of this order and for her gracious apologies. It is a straightforward matter to correct a formatting error and to clarify the earlier order, and it is clearly necessary; of course, I support that totally. I further appreciate that this order does not alter any policy content and, like the previous order, is not Brexit-related.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask my noble friend about the state of immigration controls in the area of the Channel Tunnel, particularly in the time since the earlier order came into effect, which I believe was at the end of March this year. The earlier order was considered by your Lordships’ House on 2 March 2021.

That order was approved against a background of considerable pressure on the United Kingdom’s borders. Can my noble friend update the Committee on the current situation? Is the pressure any less than it was earlier in the year? Does she have any statistics on the number of incidents at the seaports of northern France involving UK Border Force officials? Further, what do the statistics show about the new powers that were conferred by the earlier order in relation to immigration controls at those seaports of northern France—namely, Calais and Dunkirk? This debate on the amending order provides us with the opportunity of reassurance, hopefully backed up by evidence, that the new powers that were conferred have been useful and indeed necessary in our control of immigration at those ports.

Can I ask my noble friend about the position elsewhere along the east coast of the United Kingdom? I appreciate that this is not within scope of the order, or indeed the earlier order, but to what extent is there similar pressure at Harwich, Felixstowe, Hull and so on, and Aberdeen for that matter, on our immigration controls?

Finally, and again very tangentially to this order—but I have given advance notice of this to my noble friend, which I hope she has received—perhaps I may ask about the future of the Eurostar service. To what extent is that secure? It would be good to hear from my noble friend on this important issue. If she does not have the details to hand, I would be glad to receive a written response to that question.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) Order 2021

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for setting out the intention and effect of the order. It seems entirely reasonable. It brings the practice and powers at the French channel ports of Calais and Dunkirk into line with the practice and process at Coquelles and at the Eurostar terminals in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. I support it.

I have some questions to ask my noble friend. Since these powers are exercised outside the United Kingdom’s jurisdiction, although they are provided for by domestic legislation, I assume that express or implied powers for Border Force officers to exercise reasonable force extraterritorially in France are contained in the provisions of the Le Touquet treaty, which my noble friend referred to. This seems highly probable, but it will be good to hear my noble friend confirm it.

Secondly, not only do we have border controls in France, but France exercises controls at the port of Dover. Do the French authorities exercise similar powers to those that we exercise in France?

Thirdly, what discussions do we have with the French authorities about these matters, both specifically on these recent issues and more generally on an ongoing basis about border controls in Calais, Dover, Dunkirk and indeed at the Eurostar terminals and at Coquelles?

The Explanatory Memorandum to the order is explicit that when the border controls were first deployed at these sea ports in 2003 the immigration powers were considered,

“sufficient to effectively administer immigration controls at these locations.”

What has changed is clearly the escalation of attempts to enter the United Kingdom illegally. I understand that—I am sure that we all do—but I would be grateful if my noble friend could update the House on the current position at Calais, Dunkirk and the surrounding area. Obviously, there is real concern in your Lordships’ House on a humanitarian level, not least because of the pandemic. Could my noble friend therefore give the House an assessment of the current position and of the longer-term outlook? I appreciate that it is bound to be a changing position and perhaps fairly volatile, but it would be good to hear how the position is at the moment.

Subject to these concerns, I strongly support what seems a very sensible provision.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 1st February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-21 View all Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 124-IV(Rev) Revised fourth marshalled list for Committee - (1 Feb 2021)
At Second Reading, my noble friend heard that there are significant concerns about funding this full range of community-based services; it is clear that, in addition to the duty in the Bill, all services need to be available, accessible and sustainably funded to ensure that survivors can access the support they need, when they need it. I hope that she understands these concerns and will be able to respond to them when she winds up this debate.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I will speak in support of the amendments in this group and specifically Amendment 89 to Clause 55, in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Woolley of Woodford, my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham and the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece. The clause and amendment relate to the important situation regarding the assessment, preparation and publication of the strategy, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of arrangements for domestic abuse support by local authorities.

I too welcome this excellent piece of legislation. I also welcome the briefings that we received from so many effective bodies in this area, particularly Women’s Aid and Imkaan. I thank them very much indeed. I would support the amended Clause 55. While recognising, as we do, that most abuse—and its most extreme examples—is perpetrated by males, we must spell out in the Bill the many protected characteristics which are important for our national provision. As my noble friend Lord Young has just referred to, there is a great danger that some local authorities will provide services just for their areas. There are two obvious dangers with that. One is that many people will want, and indeed need, to move away from their home area. I am sure that my noble friend Lady Williams will be in the same position as I was as a Minister; I encountered many people receiving refuge services who were out of their area—and very happy to be out of their area.

The second key important matter is the specialist nature of some of the services, as required by the Istanbul convention. We should be providing, on the face of the legislation, for such matters as race, national origin, language, colour, religion, social origin, coming from a national minority, age, health, disability or such other relevant matters as set out in the amendment; I know that my noble friend will want to do that. The two key factors—specialisms and the out-of-district service—are essential and we need to provide for them. This is landmark legislation and is broadly welcomed across the House. I cannot see that anybody could realistically disagree with the list of characteristics in the amendment to Clause 55. These are specialisms which need particular attention and are flagged up in the amendment to require local authorities to make provision and develop a strategy in relation to them. I hope that we are able to do that.

As indicated by successive noble Lords speaking on this area, financial provision is also clearly important; it is key, vital and urgent. Without financial support, this will just not work. I hope that that will be taken care of too. I realise that there is provision within the department for an MHCLG Minister to establish, monitor and evaluate delivery of the duty, but this is insufficient. I do not think it would necessarily be sufficient for the Istanbul convention, but it should not be sufficient for your Lordships’ House. We need it on the face of the Bill.

I do not intend to detain the Committee for long but I want to touch on one other topic, which is quite separate and distinct. It relates—I hope noble Lords will forgive me—to provision for Wales. Obviously, the situation in Wales is somewhat, although not totally, different; devolution arrangements and separate laws have meant that it is different. I wonder how that situation is being provided for. What arrangements are in place for discussions on a continuing basis with the Welsh Government and, indeed, the Welsh Parliament, to ensure that it is provided for as smoothly as possible? I would welcome anything that my noble friend the Minister is able to say in that regard.

Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I welcome these amendments and support very much what has been said by other noble Lords before me. My particular interest is in data, and I am delighted to see in Amendment 89—in proposed new subsection (1B)(c), for instance—a really detailed enumeration of the sort of level of data that we should be collecting. The basis on which this data is collected should be specified nationally, so that it is coherent and comparable and we can really start to understand what is happening and, from that understanding, move continuously to improve matters.

A very good example of what happens when you do not do this has been provided by the recent statistics on sexual abuse. The figures for the UK show that in 2019 there were 2,300 reported cases of children being abused by women in England and Wales, which is about twice what it was four years before. The first question we should ask when faced with a statistic like that is: what is going on? Unfortunately, we have no clue, because the police have stopped collecting data on sex as a characteristic when recording reports of abuse. They now record only self-reported gender. So we do not know whether this is something happening to women that we really ought to be paying attention to—an extraordinary rate of increase to which we ought to be preparing a policy response—or whether it is just a fiction due to the way the police have changed their reporting; in other words, whether this reflects the number of male offenders who are now declaring themselves to be women. Either way, we want to know; we absolutely should know. Apart from anything else, when it comes to the subject of the Bill, there will be trans women in relationships with men who are being abused and need looking after. We need to know how to provide for them properly. We may perhaps need specialist arrangements; we need to know the right level of any such arrangements that we should be providing.

If we do not have detailed statistics on sex and gender—and, in other circumstances, on a whole range of other characteristics—we will not be providing what is needed. So, I really support that part of these amendments, and these amendments in general.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 25th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-21 View all Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 124-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Committee - (25 Jan 2021)
So, as I say, while the Bill is admirable in offering extensive and enlightened measures to tackle domestic abuse and offer help to many of its victims, the limits placed upon its reach by the narrow definition of “personally connected” seem to me to represent a wasted opportunity to do much more for many who need and deserve its protection. While some of these amendments perhaps need finessing, I believe the Government would do well to take them further.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames. I find myself in broad agreement with what he said about the need to broaden the categories of “personally connected” as set out in the Bill.

My first reaction on reading this part of the Bill was that we certainly need to be more inclusive of other relationships. My second reaction, I must admit, was that there were some relationships that should probably be excluded, as they would dilute the impact of the focus of domestic abuse legislation. For example, the relationship of landlord and tenant, without more to support a clear connection between them in a domestic setting, should not be within the scope of the Bill per se. I think that was a point was touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

Amendment 6, in the name of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, would extend the legislation explicitly to guardians. I listened carefully to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, about the fact that this is probably, or may well be, covered by the legislation. I suspect that is true in relation to children in Clause 3, but I think it does not deal with the situation between A and B in Clause 2. I think that was the point the noble and learned Baroness was making, unless I am mistaken. Maybe I have misunderstood that; I look forward to hearing what my noble friend the Minister and, indeed, the noble and learned Baroness, in concluding this part of our discussion, say in that regard.

But it seems to me that guardianship certainly needs to be included quite obviously for both areas. I just wonder whether it should cover the situation where A or B has been a guardian and is no longer a guardian, because I would expect the close nexus—the close relationship—to continue.

I have much sympathy with the case put forward on Amendment 7, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Wilcox of Newport and Lady Watkins of Tavistock, and my noble friend Lady Altmann; with Amendment 11, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Grey-Thompson and Lady Finlay of Llandaff, which was so ably, emotionally and correctly supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton; and Amendment 12, in the names of my noble friend Lady Altmann and the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox.

Essentially, consideration of this part of the Bill relates to what relationships the domestic abuse legislation should cover. Like the noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, I think that the starting point should be: would we want to exclude anything where people are in the same household? As I said, some relationships, such as landlord and tenant, should maybe be excluded, but otherwise I see no reason to exclude anything where there is a close and trusted relationship, as there would be in the context of carers. Indeed, we really should recognise the realities of abuse today and the society in which we live, and that, in this pioneering piece of legislation, we are setting out the principles and frameworks of the law in this area for years to come. We should get it right and be bold.

I say that too in the context of Amendment 8 on forced marriages, so ably set out by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. Some of the scenarios may possibly be caught by the Bill’s provisions where a forced marriage has already taken place, but there might be problems if the marriage was null and void . Clearly, it does not cover the situation where the marriage has not yet taken place. There is a very powerful, almost unanswerable, case to extend the definition of “personally connected” to cover this situation.

The same is true of Amendment 9, on domestic servitude, tabled by the noble and learned Baroness and by my noble friend Lord Randall of Uxbridge. No doubt there are provisions in modern slavery legislation to deal with that scenario, just as there would be provisions relating to forced marriage and so on, but there is a powerful case for extending the protection and all the measures of the domestic abuse legislation to these situations.

As I said, we need to recognise the realities of life in Britain and the country we are governing today. I will listen to my noble friend’s response with interest, but there is a clear case for extending the definition of “personally connected”, which we are debating.

Lord Blunkett Portrait Lord Blunkett (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bourne. I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. At Second Reading, I tried to set out how important it is that this legislation encapsulates, as far as we humanly can, all the possibilities that, if not included, would be felt to have let down the people we seek to help in years to come. I used the example of the first effort back in 2003, in the domestic violence and victims Act, for which I was responsible as Home Secretary, where we clearly took a step forward but a very tentative one. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, for understanding and supporting what I was trying to say.

My dilemma is this. While I very clearly understand the thrust of the amendments and the critical nature of getting right the definition of “personally connected” to make the Bill work and watertight, and to enable the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary to use it as an effective tool, there are real dangers in some of the amendments—not in the essence of what is sought but in the extent to which they make it difficult to decide which Act is to be used, first by the police in filling in form 124, then by the Crown Prosecution Service, and subsequently in our adversarial court system, where a substantial case has been made and knocked down because of the detailed nature of the definitions involved.

So I have some sympathy, as I normally have, with the Minister in how to get this right. For instance, I agreed wholeheartedly with the description given by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and with the very thoughtful and powerful presentation from the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, reflecting the desire of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, to see carers involved, and I cannot see any reason why we cannot involve them. But we then drift into the situation of a friend who regularly comes round to the house and seeks to sexually abuse someone. Surely that would fall under the Sexual Offices Act 2003, for which I was also responsible. The wider you make the definition, the more difficult it will be to get a successful prosecution if you use the wrong piece of legislation.

The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, knows more about this than I ever will, because, although I was responsible for trying to develop policy, she had to implement it. It seems that we should try to do what we tried to do recently in another Act: the Minister should, once again, get people to come together to look at how the very sensible amendments being moved this evening can be tightened up, so that the legislation is broad enough to encapsulate the concerns that have, quite rightly, been raised. At the same time, it should not be loose enough to allow a very clever barrister—we have a number of them in our House—to run rings round the prosecution.

Tonight has been an excellent example of how the real concerns that exist out there can be reflected, as were the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in commencing the Committee stage this afternoon, when she referred to the organisations and campaigners, all of whom are helping us to get this legislation right.