Debates between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 9th Feb 2022
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments
Tue 23rd Nov 2021
Tue 16th Nov 2021
Wed 10th Nov 2021
Mon 21st Jun 2021
Thu 23rd Jul 2020
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I do not think that they are quite analogous. As I say, it is about the requirement to keep the last available updates available to consumers for eight years rather than evolving them. We do not yet consider that there is sufficient evidence to justify minimum security update periods for connectable products, including display equipment—certainly not before the impact of the initial security requirements is known.

It is important to stress that, as consumers learn more, they will expect more. This will drive industry to respond to market pressure. If the market does not respond to this effectively, the Government have been clear that they will consider the case for further action at that point, but we think that consumer expectation will drive the action we want to see in this area.

Amendment 3, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Fox, refers to children. All noble Lords will agree, I am sure, that protecting children from the risks associated with connectable products is vital. I assure noble Lords that the security requirements we will introduce are designed with consideration for the security of all users, including children, alongside businesses and infrastructure. The Bill already gives the Government the flexibility to introduce further measures to protect children, whether they are the users of the products or subject to other people’s use of a product. We therefore do not think that this amendment is necessary as this issue is already covered in the Bill.

The Bill, and forthcoming secondary legislation, will cover products specifically designed to be used by or around children, such as baby monitors and connectable toys; they include Hello Barbie, which I was not familiar with but on which I will certainly brief myself further. However, we recognise that the cyber risks to children are not limited to the connectable products in the scope of this Bill; indeed, a lot of the issues referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Fox, were about the data captured by some of the technology, rather than the security of the products themselves. That is precisely why the Government have implemented a broader strategy to offer more comprehensive protection to children—including through the Online Safety Bill, to which the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, referred.

I hope noble Lords will agree that Amendment 3 is not needed to make a difference to the Bill’s ability to protect children from the risks associated with insecure connectable products—this is already provided for—and will be willing either to withdraw their amendments or not move them.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this has been a useful and interesting exchange.

In my lordly world, “may” and “must” are sort of interchangeable; they were a useful peg on which to hang our discussion about the statutory instrument nature of this piece of legislation. I am somewhat reassured by what the Minister had to say about that, and acknowledge that some of the regulations were brought forward and consulted on at an earlier stage. However, we on this side of the House—I am sure that I speak for the noble Lord, Lord Fox, as well—want to see increased transparency throughout this process. So much of what is in front of us will be in secondary legislation; it is essential that we, the industry and the sector are properly consulted so that we understand exactly what we are dealing with. I make that plea at the outset.

I was pleased to hear what the Minister said about children as the primary users of particular products. I am glad that we have got beyond the “Peppa Pig” world that the Prime Minister occasionally occupies and are giving this issue proper, serious consideration. It certainly needs to be that way.

I am not entirely convinced by what the Minister said on Amendment 4. I look at our amendment; it is pretty basic, actually. It is hard to argue against setting out a particular prohibition in legislation. The ones that we have picked out for prohibition and restriction are quite important and essential. Of course, the Minister is right that those subjects will change and technology will overtake the words we use. We understand that point but we are trying to secure some basic minimum standards and protections here. Clearly, we will retreat with our amendment and give it some further thought before Report, but we may need some further persuasion on this. That said, I am quite happy to withdraw Amendment 2 and not move Amendment 4.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I am happy to include my noble friend in the replies and the letter I send. This touches on work which falls under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the points he raised, of course, fall to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. We will make sure that, having consulted officials there, we provide some details of the work those departments are doing as well.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am looking forward to the correspondence on this; I fancy that the noble Lord’s civil servants will have a tricky job on their hands. I do not think I quite got a response to what the nature of “being kept under review” really meant, but I await word in the future.

I have been reading the Explanatory Notes, as the Minister will probably be unhappy to hear, and I can see the difficulties. In trying to ensure that the legislation is focused, rightly, on the producers, manufacturers, importers and distributors, it is hard to work round that and not capture people who are simply installers of a product. On the other hand, there are circumstances where installers are primarily responsible for the effectiveness and working of the product, and if it was not for the way they install it, it would not be effective. The terms of the contract are such that it makes that difficult.

I can see the difficulty here, but for now I am happy to withdraw our amendment. In doing so, we are equally supportive of the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Fox, because the two are contiguous in their formulation.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I give credit where it is due. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, on his amendment because the issues that he raised and the questions posed by the noble Lord, Lord Fox, in particular, are legitimate ones.

Although this is not the place to amend or change the Computer Misuse Act 1990, as the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said, it certainly is the place to raise concerns. After all, we are talking about product security and safety. It is vital that we have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent and, if need be, punish cyberattacks and other forms of hostile behaviour online.

However, as we seek to make smart devices safer, clearly there is a role for researchers and others to play in identifying and reporting on security flaws. They need to be able to do this within the safe zone of concern, knowing that they are not themselves going to be captured by those who are responsible for cybersecurity. As I understand it, exemptions exist in similar legislation to ensure that academics and other legitimately interested parties can access material relating to topics such as terrorism. The amendment before us today raises the prospect of granting a similar exemption and defence in this particular field.

I am conscious that the noble Lord, Lord Fox, raised the spectre of auras in the form of the noble Lords, Lord Vaizey, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Holmes of Richmond—as well as the intent of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, who is of course very knowledgeable about the business of security and has had both professional and political responsibility in that field. However, I think that, when those auras and his own say that this is an issue of concern, we as the Official Opposition reflect that concern.

I hope that the noble Lord will engage with the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, and others following Committee on this—I am sure he will—because it is a very important subject. A campaign backed by such an esteemed cross-party group of colleagues in the Committee and in another place cannot be entirely wrong. The Computer Misuse Act 1990 is the framework we have got, but it is right that it is reviewed and that something fresh is brought before us to protect us from cyberattacks in the future.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom for representing the other three signatories to this amendment. I was glad to meet him and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, to discuss this yesterday.

The role of security researchers in identifying and reporting vulnerabilities to manufacturers is vital for enhancing the security of connectable products. The good news is that many manufacturers already embrace this principle, but there are also some products on the market, often repackaged white label goods, where it is not always possible to identify the manufacturer or who has the wherewithal to fix a fault. The Bill will correct that.

As noble Lords have noted, there are legal complexities to navigate when conducting security research. The need to stop, pause and consider the law when doing research is no bad thing. The Government and industry agree that the cybersecurity profession needs to be better organised. We need professional standards to measure the competence and capabilities of security testers, as well as the other 15 cybersecurity specialisms. All of these specialists need to live by a code of professional ethics.

That is why we set up the UK Cyber Security Council last year as the new professional body for the sector. Now armed with a royal charter, the council is building the necessary professional framework and standards for the industry. Good cybersecurity research and security testing will operate in an environment where careful legal and regulatory considerations are built into the operating mode of the profession. We should be encouraging this rather than creating a route to allow people to sidestep these important issues.

As noble Lords have rightly noted, the issues here are complex, and any legislative changes to protect security researchers acting in good faith run the risk of preventing law enforcement agencies and prosecutors being able to take action against criminals and hostile state actors—the goodies and baddies as the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, referred to them. I know my noble friend’s amendment is to draw attention to this important issue. As drafted, it proposes not requiring persons to obtain consent to test systems where they believe that consent would be given. That conflicts with the provisions of the Computer Misuse Act, which requires authorisation to be given by the person entitled to control access. As the products that would be covered by this defence include products in use in people’s homes or offices, we believe that such authorisation is essential. The current provisions in the Computer Misuse Act make it clear that such access is illegal, and we should maintain that clarity to ensure that law enforcement agencies do not have to work with conflicting legislation.

The amendment would also limit the use of such a defence as testers would still be subject to the legal constraints that noble Lords have described when reporting any vulnerability that the Government have not banned through a security requirement. If a new attack vector was identified that was not catered for by the security requirements, the proposed defences would have no effect. The amendment would not protect those testing products outside the scope of this regime, from desktop computers to smart vehicles. If we consider there to be a case for action on this issue, the scope of that action should not be limited to the products that happen to be regulated through this Bill. None the less, the Government are listening to the concerns expressed by the CyberUp Campaign, which have been repeated and extended in this evening’s debate.

The Home Secretary announced a review of the Computer Misuse Act last year. As my noble friend noted, the Act dates back to 1990. I do not want to stress too much its antiquity as I am conscious that he served on the Bill Committee for it in another place. His insight into the debates that went into the Bill at the time and the changes that have taken place are well heard. The evidence which is being submitted to the review is being assessed and considered carefully by the Home Office. It is being actively worked on and the Home Office hopes to provide an update in the summer.

I hope, in that context, that noble Lords will agree that it would be inappropriate for us to pre-empt that work before the review is concluded and this complex issue is properly considered. With that, I hope my noble friend will be content to withdraw his amendment.

Champions League Final

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 6th June 2022

(3 weeks, 2 days ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, spectator bottlenecks, closed turnstiles, riot police using tear gas on patient fans and thuggish attacks by local gangs indicate that something went seriously wrong in the planning of the Champions League Final and the police operational plan, yet the authorities immediately accused Liverpool Football Club fans.

I have three questions for the Minister. First, what liaison took place between UK and French police before the match, and were co-operation protocols properly followed? Secondly, although I welcome that assurances have been given on the genuine independence of UEFA’s inquiry or investigation, its terms of reference and likely punishments will be key to its work. The appointment of the inquiry chair and the terms of reference will determine the effectiveness of its outcome. Thirdly, what steps will be taken by the Government to help restore the reputation of Liverpool Football Club and of its fans? Many fans caught up in these events were at Hillsborough, where an early blame game saw lies established as fact. I hope that, on this occasion, the truth will quickly out.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I certainly agree with the noble Lord’s final comments: we want to see the truth out and to do so quickly. We want the facts to be established, which is why the Secretary of State and the Sports Minister urged that this independent investigation be swiftly set up and are glad that it has been. We are confident that UEFA is committed to a thorough review.

I will write to the noble Lord on the question of police liaison beforehand, having checked, but I saw that UK police officers were present there, which suggests liaison beforehand, and we will of course want their insights and evidence, as well as that of fans and others, to feed into UEFA’s review. He is absolutely right to mention the Hillsborough tragedy in this regard. Liverpool fans, above all, know all too well the importance of proper security and policing at football matches. That is important for fans across the world, whatever team they support. Something clearly went wrong on 28 May, and we are very glad that UEFA is investigating it so that the facts can be established.

Heritage Steam Sector: Coal

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 18th May 2022

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord makes an interesting point. The Government have set up an interministerial group on the visitor economy, and I will direct the noble Lord’s point to my ministerial colleagues.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I live not far from the Bluebell Railway which, later this year, will play host to the iconic “Flying Scotsman”. That line places specific emphasis on the educational value of our heritage steam sector, and I wonder whether the Government should be investing more in this. Perhaps, as part of the discussions with the heritage steam sector, they could take forward some further thinking to increase the country’s knowledge of the value and importance of steam and its part in our great Industrial Revolution.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

Absolutely. Coming from the north-east, the cradle of the railways and the birthplace of George and Robert Stephenson, I am very mindful of the approaching bicentenary of the first passenger rail. We are already discussing that with the National Railway Museum and others in the sector. It is very important that we continue to inspire people about our industrial past, as well as turning their minds to scientific challenges for the future—not least looking at clean coal and other energies.

Gambling Industry: Gambling Reforms

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 17th May 2022

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

As the noble Viscount knows, we have looked also at the harms associated with online gambling. Indeed, while awaiting the White Paper and the outcome of our review, we have strengthened the rules on how online operators identify and interact with people at risk of harm. We are not delaying in taking action where that is needed.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, so far as we are concerned the Government continue to drag their feet on reforming gambling regulation, with reports suggesting that the White Paper has been delayed yet again. Gambling firms pay a significant amount in tax and there is a balance to be struck—we all like a flutter. However, with the Exchequer ultimately responsible for the significant costs of problem gambling, it is right that regulatory and fiscal arrangements are reviewed. Does the Minister believe it is right for firms such as bet365 to argue against proposals for a statutory levy while its boss takes home a salary of £250 million a year and £97.5 million in dividend payments?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, we have sought views from all interested parties as part of our review of the Act, including the industry, which is taking action in some areas. We are happy to engage with people on both sides of the argument. We called for evidence on the best way to recoup the regulatory and societal costs of gambling, which includes looking at a levy, and we will set out our conclusions in the White Paper.

Channel 4 Privatisation

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 5th April 2022

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

On the noble Lord’s first point, the responses to the consultation will be published alongside the White Paper to which I alluded in my initial Answer. I disagree deeply with the rest of his question: the Government value highly Channel 4 and the part it plays, and has played for 40 years, in our broadcasting ecosystem. We want to ensure that its next 40 years and beyond are just as successful and that it can flourish. It is doing that in a very rapidly changing and increasingly competitive media landscape. Channel 4 is uniquely constrained by its current ownership model and limited access to capital. It is such a successful broadcaster that we think it will make an attractive proposition for people to buy, and private ownership will allow it to create new revenue streams and compete as effectively as possible to be fit for the future.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, last Friday the energy price cap increased by £700; inflation continues to climb and may reach 10%; we face record costs at petrol pumps and bumper increases to phone and broadband bills; and social security payments are to be cut in real terms from tomorrow. All this is at the same time as fines have been dished out to Downing Street officials for breaches of Covid regulations, so can the Minister tell us why the Government have chosen now to announce the privatisation of Channel 4, and can he give us three good reasons for doing so? It is not in the interest of public services or public service broadcasting.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I must say that I find that a weak argument from the noble Lord. The Government are capable of doing many things. There is an urgency in addressing this issue so that Channel 4 is fit for what is a rapidly changing media landscape. The proportion of viewing on subscription on-demand services has trebled since 2017; it is important that Channel 4 is able to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, so that it can continue to support the independent production sector and produce the viewing for which it is rightly renowned. That is why, as part of a wider package of reforms to public service broadcasting, the Secretary of State has announced her decision, ahead of having the vehicles to do that.

British Museum: Ethiopian Sacred Altar Tablets

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 30th March 2022

(3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I completely agree with my noble friend, and am grateful to him for alluding to the British Museum’s work in this area. The pages on its website that explain both these items and, more generally, the museum’s approach to issues of restitution and contested heritage, are a model of transparency. They set out the facts very clearly so that people can understand the past and make their own decisions—and also so that they can understand the claims for restitution that have been made to the museum, and how the museum is dealing with them.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, while I appreciate that there are some legal complexities surrounding the return of the sacred tabots to Ethiopia, these highly significant religious artefacts have resided unseen in the British Museum’s stores for the best part of 150 years. As I understand it, not even students, researchers or historians are able to view them. This cannot be right. Can the Minister give some comfort to Ethiopia by encouraging the trustees of the British Museum to find a solution that satisfies curatorial concerns and the understandable desire from Ethiopia for them to be returned to their rightful home?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord touches on the core sensitivity of the matter. Some of these items are considered so sacred and holy that they can be looked at only by Ethiopian Orthodox priests, which would be the case in Ethiopia as in London. That is why the British Museum is in discussion with the Church. There are other items, however, from Maqdala that can be found in the museum’s public galleries or changing displays. Together and individually, they demonstrate some of the great artistic traditions of Ethiopia, showing the breadth and explaining the diversity of the religious traditions in that country, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and many other faiths.

Football Governance

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 22nd March 2022

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The suitability of football club ownership was an important part of the fan-led review, and we welcome recognition from the Premier League that current tests are not sufficient. The fan-led review is about future-proofing the system, both domestically and, as the noble Lord says, in the international leagues, and we will set out our response to all these issues in full.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the takeover of Newcastle by a consortium with links to the Saudi regime prompted questions about the appropriateness of the current fit and proper person test for owners and directors, and Mr Abramovich’s recent hasty attempts to sell Chelsea also raised concerns about due process. Can the Minister give us some confidence that these issues will be dealt with when the Government issue their response to the excellent Crouch review?

To pick up a comment made by the noble Lord who preceded me, the Premier League confirmed recently that it is looking to add human rights components to its assessment of prospective owners and directors. Do the Government support such a change? If so, what discussions have they had with other football stakeholders, including the FA and the EFL?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

As I say, the suitability of club ownership was an important part of the review. The review is about future-proofing the system, and that is why we are considering how to enhance the owners and directors tests to ensure that football has only suitable custodians. It is difficult to look back retrospectively at individual cases, but we are determined to get this right, and we are discussing the matter with people across the football pyramid to make sure that we do so properly.

Creative Professionals: EU Tours

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 21st February 2022

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

We do now have an agreement with Spain—that is the most recent to be added to the list. One of the six which remains is Portugal, which of course had its general election last month. That has slowed down the negotiations there, but those are continuing at ministerial and official level.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, perhaps this is an apposite moment for the House to acknowledge the contribution and sad death of Jamal Edwards, who has done so much to promote a new wave of musicians and artists to a global audience. Awarded an MBE at 24, he was an inspiration to a new generation. With that in mind, perhaps the Minister can tell us what support Her Majesty’s Government are giving to young new artists who are not signed to a label but who want to tour and take their first steps towards performing to overseas audiences. The new Secretary of State has said that a package of specific help is coming. When will she deliver on that promise and help to resolve the EU’s continuing border issues?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I was very sad to see the news about Jamal Edwards this morning, dying so tragically young. The Government are committed to making sure that emerging artists and new talent have opportunities. We are working on a refresh of the national plan for music education under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lady Fleet, and with the Department for Education to make sure that opportunities in schools as well as outside are available to everybody. Through our working group, we are engaging with the sector to make sure that those who face challenges in touring know that the Government are working to address them.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my noble friend for his support on that point.

We on our Benches look forward to the consultation in due course and hope that the department will continue to engage with proponents of community wealth funds. Such funds could play an interesting and, we think, valuable role in levelling up and empowering local communities seeking their own solutions to local problems, a feature of the White Paper that we very much endorse.

May I use this occasion to ask the Minister what the Government intend to do to ensure that we continue to widen the potential scope for unlocking other dormant assets? Here I am thinking of Oyster cards, proceeds from crime funds, unclaimed pensions and unused insurance. It is worth reminding ourselves that the independent commission report identified some £715 million from investments and wealth management, £550 million from the pensions and insurance sectors, £150 million from securities, and £140 million from banks and building societies. Unlocking that sort of wealth unlocks a lot of power and gives great potential for social benefit. These are not inconsiderable sums of money, and if put in the right place and adapted, used and adopted for levelling up, they could leverage in bigger sums still for the hard-pressed communities that we want to see levelled up in the next few years.

We are again grateful to the Government for what they have done in improving the Bill. Your Lordships’ House played a valuable and valid part in that process. We are slightly underwhelmed by what has come back, but we are extremely grateful.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for their remarks, which reflect the cross-party work that has improved this Bill throughout its passage and the interest that it has garnered from all corners for the benefits that it will bring. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, for reminding the House of the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Field of Birkenhead, and indeed many others who have played close attention to this issue for a long time.

To respond to the questions and points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, we recognise that the provisions that were inserted on Report in your Lordships’ House were permissive, but the Government contend that Amendment 3 is preferable in three main ways. First and foremost, it fulfils our commitment to consult openly; we have emphasised throughout the passage of the Bill that the consultation must be fair and transparent, and we remain mindful of the need to bring industry along with us alongside civil society and the general public. We cannot therefore agree to any amendment that would suggest that the process would be undercut.

Secondly, it recognises the widespread support and positive impact that the current causes of youth, financial inclusion and social investment have had. I am sure that noble Lords did not intend to imply that those would be disregarded, but the provisions that were inserted on Report in your Lordships’ House were silent on those and thereby afforded community wealth funds more legislative attention than those initiatives.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My noble friend raises an interesting point that has not been made hitherto during the passage of the Bill, but I know that he speaks with considerable experience from his time working with TfL. If he allows me, I will write to him with further information about the implications for Oyster cards, which is a matter that has not been covered. It may have been covered in another place, but I have not seen whether that is the case.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I remind the noble Lord that he did not answer my last question regarding reviewing the future of other dormant assets. If he is unable to do so at this point, I am happy to receive correspondence on the topic.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for not responding to his question. We share the view that it is important to consider how dormant assets funding can be used most effectively. We are keen to get a wide range of views to help shape our position from Parliament through the Select Committees in both Houses. I will certainly write to him with further details if I am able to provide them.

I can tell my noble friend Lord Moylan that Oyster cards are not in scope of the Bill, which is why the point has not been raised hitherto. I will, however, take it back, and if there is any further information to furnish him with, I will do so. I repeat my thanks to noble Lords for the cross-party working on the Bill.

UEFA Euro 2020 Final

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made with football authorities towards addressing the (1) safety, and (2) security, implications of the report by Baroness Casey of Blackstone An independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley, published on 3 December 2021.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I begin by putting on record again our appreciation of the sterling work of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, on this review. The Government recognise the critical importance of the safety and security implications of her report. We are now working with relevant parties, including the police and the football authorities, to consider not only those implications but the report’s recommendations in full. We are committed to ensuring that the UK continues its world-leading reputation for holding safe and successful major international sporting events.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, described the crowd events at Wembley’s Euro final as a “near miss” for fatalities and life-changing injuries and said that we need a national conversation about kicking racism and hooliganism out of football. Can the Minister tell us what plans the Government have for taking forward her six recommendations in full to improve safety, security and behaviour at football matches? Why did the Government not use the recent opportunity of a police Bill to incorporate new tailgating and drug-disorderly football banning orders, and to create a new offence of endangering public safety, as the report recommended?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, we acknowledge that the review shows that these events were foreseeable, but they were unprecedented. As in the previous exchange we had on this, it is important to underline that the blame lies squarely with the minority of supporters who caused the disorder and aimed to spoil the day for everybody else. It is clear that in future, we must ensure that the safety and security arrangements for an event such as this are in line with its national significance. The review was commissioned by the FA, so the Government do not intend to respond formally as the Government; the key thing is taking action. We are working with partners to ensure that we learn from it and that the recommendations are appropriately implemented. I pay tribute to the noble Lord for his recommendations on the online abuse of footballers, which were taken forward in the police Bill.

Racism in English Cricket

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord is right that we should point to the many happy examples of people who are getting it right and who are working very earnestly and very hard to make sure that people from all backgrounds are able to enjoy cricket, whether as players or spectators. In his capacity as president of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, my noble friend Lord Naseby came to the briefing with the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and we are always happy to point to examples of clubs that are getting it right, and from which others can learn.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we have heard this afternoon a litany of responses which focus on racism, and rightly so. For our part, it is very frustrating to see the responses of senior people in cricket, and others across the sport, who are determined to bury their heads in the sand on this issue. The announcement that Clare Connor will lead a review into dressing room culture in the men’s and women’s games is very welcome, but that must be only one part of the sport’s response. Yesterday the chair of Glamorgan County Cricket Club noted that his own club’s efforts to promote diversity were only possible after years of work to make the club financially sound. What work is the government department doing with the ECB and the clubs themselves to ensure that schemes such as those promoted by Glamorgan get off the ground and start to produce the results and make the fundamental changes that cricket needs?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

As I said, we are watching the ECB closely and reserve the right to take further action if we think that is needed. But since November, the ECB has made some structural developments for long-term cultural change, which is what we need to see, including publishing its plan for diversity and inclusion. It has also committed to forming a new anti-discrimination unit by June this year. The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which was established in March 2021, has opened a call for evidence and will publish a report in the summer this year, examining all the issues relating to race and equity in cricket. We are glad to see that work is being done.

Football: Casey Review

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 6th December 2021

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

There were meetings between the Metropolitan Police, the Government and others in the days running up to the final, but the noble Lord makes an important point about sharing intelligence during incidents such as these. I know that that was something that the noble Baroness looked into and it is one of the things that must be followed up.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I join others in thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, for her excellent report. We would expect nothing else from her but a high standard of product. The Euro 2020 final should have been a cause for pride and celebration, not life-threatening danger and shame. Of course, due to the nature of the disturbances at Wembley, it was not possible for the majority of the ticketless fans to be identified, ejected and, where appropriate, punished. During the recent Committee stage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, we discussed whether those engaging in online racist abuse of sportspeople should be subject to banning orders, and we are hopeful that the Government will finally take action on this. Will the Minister now look more widely at what lessons must be learned from Wembley and whether the current banning-order system is enough to stop reckless behaviour at games? Does he agree that the Government should work more closely with the authorities and with clubs to improve the culture surrounding our national game? Without that change in culture, I fear that these instances will occur on other occasions.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord is right that what should have been a happy and important day was marred, both by the racist abuse that we saw of some of the England players afterwards and by the disorder that the noble Baroness’s report addresses. In both of those instances, action has been taken to follow up. As noble Lords alluded to, the Government have set out that we will amend legislation to extend the use of football banning orders. However, legislation on its own is not the answer to disorder. That is why we will keep the legislation under review, but we will also be working with the football authorities and others to ensure that the minority of people who spoil days such as 11 July for the majority cannot do so.

Network and Information Systems (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 30th November 2021

(7 months ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords—well, my Lord—the Minister will be pleased to know that I do not have a lot that I want to say. As I understand it, this SI makes a couple of small changes, as the Minister has said, to retained EU law regulating the security of network and information systems of core UK service providers to reflect that fact that we are no longer part of the pan-EU regulatory regime.

I have just one or two questions. Why, given that the transition period ended almost a year ago, are we debating these changes only at the end of November 2021? While this may not have been day-one critical, one would have hoped that these kinds of cybersecurity issues would have been a priority for the DCMS.

The Government are lowering the reporting thresholds when relevant cyber incidents occur in an attempt to ensure that the Information Commissioner is sighted on them. Can the Minister confirm whether DCMS knows of any incidents occurring earlier in the year that did not meet the current threshold that would have met the revised one had it been in place?

When we discussed amendments to EU-derived regulations for video-on-demand providers in the past, the department conceded that our departure from the EU meant that we had no formal jurisdiction over most of the main players, which were generally registered on the continent. Is there a similar situation with some of the digital service providers or is this not a concern currently?

The Explanatory Memorandum, which I found very clear and helpful, shows that most of the costs associated with the change will fall on the Information Commissioner’s Office. Our understanding is that the Information Commissioner is working well as a regulator, but of course with expanded responsibilities comes the need for greater resourcing. Is DCMS comfortable that the commissioner has enough staff and wider resource to complete these duties?

I turn to my final point. Is alignment with EU practices an issue at all, and do we have a continuing relationship with the EU regulator and regulation? Do we have to work within a commonly accepted framework, even though we are now outside the EU and obviously have to have our own system for regulation, appropriate to the size of our market?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his questions and helpful comments on the impact assessment. He asked why we are doing this now and not sooner. The issue that I outlined at the beginning was not identified as a deficiency until last year, when the Information Commissioner raised concerns over incident thresholds with DCMS—that is why we have brought forward the statutory instrument at her recommendation and in consultation with the ICO.

The noble Lord asked about the ICO’s resources. We are confident that it has the resources, but we will maintain close dialogue with her to keep that under review. We have a continuing relationship with the EU. The matters here obviously cross international boundaries and, despite leaving the European Union, we continue to work with our European neighbours and other international partners on issues such as this. But obviously we have no obligation to implement the new directive that the EU is bringing forward. We are monitoring developments in the EU to assess any impacts that those changes might have.

I am afraid I missed the noble Lord’s second question, but the note I have been handed reminds me that it was on digital service providers. There is now a requirement for non-UK digital service providers to register with the Information Commissioner. As I say, there will be a divergence from EU regulations, but we will continue to follow a similar approach. I hope that answers the questions that he outlined and, on that basis, I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Football Clubs: Ownership Test

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 29th November 2021

(7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to legislate to strengthen the “fit and proper person” test for the ownership of football clubs.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the Government have published the final report setting out the independent fan-led review of football governance’s recommendations for the reform of English football. These include proposals for a new and more robust test for owners and directors, resulting in a unified system which would be created and overseen by a new independent regulator for English football. The Government welcome the work of the review and will consider its detailed recommendations ahead of providing a full government response in the new year.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful Answer, but the recent takeover of Newcastle has raised many questions about the suitability of the fit and proper persons test. To be honest, concerns have been around for years but neither the footballing authorities nor the Government have come up with satisfactory answers. Last week, the Premier League’s chief executive said that, while there were concerns about the relationship between Newcastle’s owners and the Saudi state, he

“can’t choose who is chairing a football club”

because:

The owners test doesn’t let us take a view”.


Does the Minister believe that that is right, and can he tell us when, or if, the Government will legislate on the test?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the takeover of Newcastle United by PCP Capital Partners has always been a matter for the club and the Premier League, which undertook its own due diligence as part of the owners and directors test. My honourable friend Tracey Crouch looked into that with the fan-led review and, as I said, we welcome the report of that review and are looking at all its recommendations, including on the owners and directors test. We will come back with our response to those in full.

Independent Fan-led Review of Football Governance

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 29th November 2021

(7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we strongly welcome the independent Crouch review, whose recommendations, I have to say, look suspiciously like the sports section of the Labour Party manifesto, going back several general elections. We have long called for fans to be placed at the centre of the game that they do so much to sustain and for stronger protections when they are mistreated or their beloved clubs mismanaged. The Government say they will respond to the review in spring 2022 but, let us be clear, there is much that can be done in the interim. Will they, for example, establish a shadow regulator ahead of the 2022-23 season? Can the Minister confirm that any enabling legislation for Tracey Crouch’s reform package will not only feature in the next Queen’s Speech but be made a genuine political priority?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, this is a matter that transcends party politics. Football clubs are at the heart of our communities and fans are at the heart of those clubs, and everybody with an interest wants to make sure that they are. I am very proud that our manifesto commitment to set up this review has led to it in swift time; Tracey Crouch has done very thorough work at good speed. We will give her report and the views of all the fans who contributed to it the respect that they deserve; the report deserves a substantive response from the Government and it will get one. But the noble Lord is right that there are things that can be done now, not least by football clubs themselves, with regard to heritage, financial flows and governance. They need not wait for us to go through the report and come forward with our response to start taking the action that people want to see.

Ofcom: Appointment of Chair

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 24th November 2021

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the original competition was rerun because of the disappointing number of candidates. As the previous commissioner, Peter Riddell, wrote, one of the reasons for that was no doubt a result of speculation in the press at the start of the process about candidates said to be preferred by Ministers. It is regrettable that that speculation may be putting people off. We want to see a broad and diverse range of people applying so that the right person can get this important job.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I commend the Minister for his honesty but now that plan A is out of the way—with Paul Dacre having thought better of it and decided to continue with his senior editorial role at the Mail newspapers—can he update noble Lords on plan B? Would the Minister like to come clean and tell the House who the preferred candidate is? Can he also ensure that the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, gets a set of application forms this time?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I cannot be drawn on speculation about candidates, either in the first round or now. This has always been a fair and open competition, run in line with the governance code. It is ongoing and we want to see the best candidate appointed to the job.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass and, in doing so, take the opportunity to thank noble Lords from all sides of your Lordships’ House for their interest and contributions to the progress of the Bill so far. I am grateful for the scrutiny that they have brought, and the co-operative and constructive spirit in which the debates have taken place. I am also grateful for the broad cross-party support that the Bill has received so far. It is clear that all corners of your Lordships’ House share the same ambition to ensure the scheme’s continued success in unlocking dormant assets for public good.

I first thank my noble friend Lady Barran, who expertly led the Bill through Second Reading and Committee. I am very grateful for the opportunity to follow in her capable footsteps. I pay tribute also to the Front Benches opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, have helpfully challenged the Government’s approach, and I thank them for the collaborative way in which they have done so. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, for all their invaluable contributions, which have been detailed and thoughtful. Noble Lords from across your Lordships’ House have contributed to a rich discussion on the Bill, and I am very grateful for all the points which have been raised.

As ever, I am grateful to the House authorities and parliamentary staff for their hard work behind the scenes. I acknowledge the extraordinary work of the officials who have worked so hard on the Bill for many months: the Bill team, the policy teams at DCMS and at Her Majesty’s Treasury, the lawyers in both departments, my own private office, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the clerks in this place.

I take this opportunity to clarify aspects of the debate on Report regarding the additionality principle, an issue I discussed with the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer. Section 24 of the 2008 Act empowers the Secretary of State to add or remove named distributors of dormant assets funding. Currently, the only named distributor is the National Lottery Community Fund, and all funds, including those distributed through the four independent spend organisations in England, flow through it. Section 24 also provides for making consequential amendments, including to Schedule 3, where responsibility for reporting on the additionality principle is set out.

The Government consider additionality to be critical to the scheme’s success, and we have reiterated this position throughout our debates on the Bill. Indeed, we are clear that the voluntary participation of the industry is dependent on it. While we emphasise that there are no plans to change or add new distributors, I can reassure noble Lords that it is the Government’s policy that any new distributor added should be required to report on this principle in the same way that the fund is required to do so now.

The dormant assets scheme has spent the last decade working to tackle systemic social and environmental challenges and to level up communities which need it most. This Bill is set to unlock almost £1 billion of additional funding to ensure that the scheme continues to support innovative, long-term initiatives that seek to address some of the UK’s most important challenges.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Minister will be pleased to hear that I will be brief, but some thanks are worth echoing. I thank the Minister; it is never easy taking up another person’s Bill halfway through. I have had to do it myself and, at times, I lurched from being completely out of my depth to being a total shambles, so I know how it feels. The noble Lord was neither of those things; he was courteous and considerate of the points that we made and the amendments we moved.

Like the noble Lord I am delighted that we are moving to unlock previously untapped assets. I hope that the next iteration of this legislation—this is, after all, the second Bill on dormant assets—will bring forward even more dormancy and unlock it, so that communities can benefit.

I also thank the Minister’s predecessor, the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, for her time spent on the Bill. She was, like him, very courteous and open-minded about ways in which we can forge improvements. She was also willing to meet and discuss aspects of the legislation. I echo his thanks to my noble friend Lady Merron—my good friend—for her part in this. It is always a pleasure to work with her. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer and Lady Barker, on the Lib Dem Benches, who also played an active and energetic part.

Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, played a decisive role on Report in helping to support the amendment that we sponsored on the community wealth fund, for which there was all-party support. Before the Commons is invited to reject that amendment, I suggest to the Minister that it might be an idea to sponsor some discussion between his ministerial colleagues and other Benches in your Lordships’ House to see if there is a way in which we can find some common ground on this—because I am very persuaded, as I know others are, of the benefit of the community wealth fund as a way forward. As he said, these resources can do a lot to take forward the shared agenda of levelling up and bring additional resources to bear in hard-pressed communities. We for our part would be very happy to meet and discuss this to see what common ground we can secure, because this is an important opportunity for us all, if we want to make it stick.

We wish the Bill well. It has been improved by your Lordships’ House, not just by the amendment on the community wealth fund but in other aspects as well. I thank the Minister for his comments on additionality, which will be very helpful. I am happy to support the Bill as it goes on its way.

Channel 4: Consultation

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 16th November 2021

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord is rather getting ahead of the process. No decision has been taken yet and we are carefully processing all the responses received. The consultation ran from 6 July to 14 September; as I said, it received around 60,000 responses, including more than 100 from the industry, all of which will be carefully analysed before any decisions are made.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, independent analysis from Ernst & Young, which explored potential business models and remits for a privatised Channel 4, suggested that any change could significantly reduce the organisation’s economic contribution in the supply chain, with the effects felt disproportionately north of the M25. The Government claim they want to level up, but time and again their action has knocked down the UK’s nations and regions, rather than giving them a boost. Can the Minister tell us what in-house analysis the Government are undertaking, and whether the Government’s findings are consistent with Ernst & Young’s? Will they publish their analysis along with the results of the consultation?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord mentions the work done by Ernst & Young. Our analysts, UKGI, and our corporate finance advisers, JP Morgan, take a different view and that is why we are taking a range of views on the suggestions. On the work that Channel 4 does across the United Kingdom, I say simply that Channel 4’s strengths in this regard are to be celebrated and maintained, and that is not at odds with private investment; in fact, Channel 4’s access to networks outside London and its ability to speak to such a diverse range of audiences are likely to be attractive assets to nurture and develop for any potential buyer, if that is the route we go down.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, a number of noble Lords tabled and signed amendments in Committee which sought to broaden the range of consultees listed in Clause 29 of the Bill, which I believe remains the primary intention of this group of amendments. We share the view about the importance of considering how dormant assets funding can be used most effectively, and we are keen to get a wide range of views to help shape our position, as I said in previous debates. That is why we have consistently committed to launching a public consultation on the social or environmental focus of the English portion of funding before the first order is laid under Clause 29.

In response to the multiple calls which have been made in your Lordships’ House, we are happy to formalise this commitment in legislation. Amendment 3, in my name, therefore makes a public consultation a requirement before any changes can be made to the focus of the English portion of funds now or in the future. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, for adding his name and the support of Her Majesty’s Opposition to our amendment.

Amendment 3 takes the broadest and most inclusive approach to ensuring that the scheme benefits the most pressing social or environmental priorities in England. The Government plan to launch the first of these consultations after the Bill receives Royal Assent and are happy to commit to this lasting at least 12 weeks. Our amendment requires the Secretary of State to consult the National Lottery Community Fund, as the named distributor of dormant assets funding, about a draft of this order. The order would then be subject to the scrutiny of both Houses through the draft affirmative procedure. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am speaking on behalf of my noble friend Lady Merron, who signed Amendment 4 but is unable to participate in today’s debate. I should explain that one of our concerns has been a lack of clarity around future consultation. We have already had some discussion this afternoon about consultation, and, of course, it was raised by a number of colleagues during the Bill’s Second Reading and featured fairly heavily during the debates in Grand Committee.

On the face of it, we do not really understand why Amendment 4, which lists a variety of topics and proposed participants, is not acceptable to the Government, but we are nevertheless grateful to the Minister for tabling Amendment 3. For that reason, I agreed to co-sign it on behalf of our Benches. That amendment ensures that there will have to be a full public consultation, as the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, has already described, which will have to take place before uses for dormant assets funds are determined in regulations.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett for tabling Amendment 5, which seeks to ensure that future consultations include consideration of the merits of establishing community wealth funds. This is a good addition, and we hope that the Minister can address this point explicitly in his response—not least, of course, because we have passed and supported the community wealth fund amendment this afternoon.

I am therefore looking for further reassurance from the Minister that the public consultation will be run in accordance with Cabinet Office best practice, including the Secretary of State being proactive when engaging with charities and social enterprises, rather than merely posting a notice online. We are satisfied by the Government’s amendment, but we would like to see them go further. I guess that our amendment is inviting them to flesh out exactly how they see this working in some more detail.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I thank noble Lords for their amendments in this area and for the issues raised in Committee and during meetings with me and my predecessor, my noble friend Lady Barran. We have carefully considered the different concerns raised about the need for the dormant assets scheme to be periodically reviewed and reported on to Parliament. We have both heard the strength of feeling about the importance of transparency, and welcome and echo the enthusiasm for maintaining momentum beyond this phase of expansion.

That is why the Government have brought forward Amendment 7, as many noble Lords invited us to do in Committee, which would require the Secretary of State to review and report on various aspects of the scheme on an ongoing basis. I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, for adding his name to it.

Our amendment mirrors Section 14 of the 2008 Act, which some amendments tabled in Committee also sought to replicate. It goes further, however, responding to noble Lords’ calls for maintaining momentum for further scheme expansion, greater transparency over the use of funds as well as reporting on how the principle of additionality has been met. We heard in the debate on the last amendment about the importance of ensuring that this principle flows through to not only the National Lottery Community Fund but any new or additional distributors, were there to be any. To clarify, the National Lottery Community Fund is the only named distributor, and the four independent organisations receive funding from it rather than being named distributors themselves under the Act.

I would also like to draw noble Lords’ attention to the very deliberate phrasing of subsection (7)(d)(i) of our Amendment 7, which refers to any distributor or distributors named in Section 16(1) of the 2008 Act. We have done that, rather than specify the National Lottery Community Fund, so that in the event that a distributor is changed—which Section 24 of the 2008 Act allows the Secretary of State to do as well as allowing them to make consequential amendments to Schedule 3 to ensure that the principle of additionality similarly applies—this would ensure that it is still covered by our Amendment 7.

Amendment 7 will require the Secretary of State to carry out periodic reviews of specified matters, including the operation of the scheme from transfer to reclaim; the effectiveness of tracing and reunification efforts by scheme participants; and any efforts to expand it to include new dormant assets. The amendment will require the results of the review to be laid in a report before Parliament within three years of the Bill receiving Royal Assent and every five years thereafter. This is in line with Amendment 8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton.

In Committee, my noble friend Lady Barran explained that a number of mechanisms for reviewing and reporting on various aspects of the scheme already exist. We agree, however, with the helpful suggestion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, that it is sensible to bring these together in one place. Therefore, Amendment 7 also requires the report laid before Parliament to include information about the uses of dormant assets money, including the principle of additionality. This will build on reports already published by Reclaim Fund Ltd and work done by the National Lottery Community Fund and, currently, the Oversight Trust, which oversees the four existing distribution organisations, to assess the scheme’s impact.

I hope that this amendment provides reassurance that the Government are committed to ensuring the ongoing success of the scheme and reflects a number of the helpful suggestions that noble Lords have made in our debates on the Bill hitherto. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I should first say that our amendment, signed by me and the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, was an attempt to combine different aspects of previous amendments into a single text. The result is, as noble Lords can see, a fairly lengthy shopping list. The thing about shopping lists is that something is always forgotten; something always falls off the end. That makes their operability in legislation perhaps less than perfect.

We envisaged, in construct, that the amendment would cover what had happened during the relevant period and whether the funding was delivering on the scheme’s priorities. So, we are grateful—I am certainly very grateful—to the Minister for his constructive approach to discussions since taking up his post. I believe that Amendment 7 represents a fair compromise. I think the Minister has said the reports will combine information that was already available from other sources —annual reports et cetera—but also require the Secretary of State to go somewhat further, including by giving information on whether and how the additionality principle has been adhered to. We have heard in earlier debates how important that is.

We hoped to gain more from the Government, including more concrete data on the contribution that funds make to people and communities subject to high levels of deprivation and inequality, but I am sure that there will be further consideration of such issues in the other place, and perhaps in our debates here as well, as this legislation kicks in. I am impressed with the approach the Government have taken, and they have certainly listened to our Committee considerations, taking on board the core of what we are after. Nothing is ever perfect, but this goes a long way in the right direction. While I would have preferred our amendment, I was more than happy to sign up to the Government’s, as it represented real progress in the way we considered the Bill.

Racism in Cricket

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 10th November 2021

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I welcome the appointment and early actions of the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford. He surely has shown more leadership in a few short days than we have seen from the entire Yorkshire County Cricket Club over many years.

I would also like to place on the record our sympathy and respect for Azeem Rafiq: sympathy, because nobody should suffer the racist abuse in the workplace that he has suffered; respect, because he blew the whistle and has set in motion a process which we hope will ensure that any form of abuse within cricket at any level can be swiftly identified, properly challenged and appropriately punished. While it is of course for individual sporting bodies to consider and respond to these kinds of incidents, can the Minister confirm whether the Government have plans to review the procedures in place across different sports and, in the light of events at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, governance arrangements, to ensure that they are fit for purpose? Finally, what support are the department considering or planning to offer the noble Lord, Lord Patel, in the difficult task that he has taken on?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - -

I am grateful to the noble Lord for his support for the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, whom I spoke to this morning. Understandably he is rather busy, focusing his attention on the matter at hand, but I reassured him that there is huge support across your Lordships’ House for him and the important job he has in addressing this appalling situation at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

We are very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Patel, began by apologising to Azeem Rafiq for the appalling behaviour and the unacceptable way in which his case was dealt with. The Government will closely scrutinise the actions that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the ECB take in response to these very concerning allegations. We want that investigation to be thorough and transparent but also swift, to ensure that the public’s faith in cricket can be restored—in Yorkshire and beyond. If not, the Government will not hesitate to step in and act.

Sport: Transgender Inclusion

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 9th November 2021

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

Yes, I agree. The sports councils’ guidance supports that as well, as it aims to help governing bodies determine the right position for their particular sport. As the guidance says,

“what is right for one sport may not be right for another.”

Of course, it looks at low-level and recreational sport as well as competitive sport, and that is a job for the governing bodies then to take forward in relation to their sport.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, for many of us, sport is a unifying force, whether it is taking to the pitch with a diverse group of teammates or supporting a team from the grandstand. As the Sports Council Equality Group noted, the two main views on this matter “couldn’t be reconciled”, requiring

“a reset and fresh thinking.”

Rather than attempting to shut down this exercise, as some might, does the Minister endorse the group’s suggestion that individual sports explore whether more than one version of their sport can be offered in order to meet different aims?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

Yes, as the guidance says, there can be no one-size-fits-all approach that covers every sport at every level in the country, and that is why it is right that the governing bodies look at what might be appropriate in their particular sport, so that they can balance, as far as they can, inclusion, safety and fairness.

Ofcom: Appointment of Chair

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 26th October 2021

(8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the timetable for the appointment of the Chair of Ofcom; and when they expect the appointment to be confirmed.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the campaign to appoint a permanent chairman of Ofcom will be launched imminently. The announcement will include the timetable, details of the advisory assessment panel and the selection criteria. It remains a priority for the Government to find the best candidate for the role. It will be a fair and open competition run in compliance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments and regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the wheels certainly seem to have come off the latest attempt to instal Paul Dacre as Ofcom chair. Reports suggest that the Government are struggling to identify credible individuals with a record in business or public life even to form an interview panel. If the appointment meets rules for public appointments, does the Minister believe that it will be seen as credible or help with the delivery of important things such as the online harms agenda? What can he say to the House to reassure the public that this and other public appointments will meet the tests of fairness and impartiality?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, of course the process will meet those tests. We want to identify the best candidate for this important role. As I say, the recruitment process will be launched imminently. Preparations are under way to ensure that it is successful in providing Ministers with a choice of high-quality candidates drawn from a broad and diverse field and we encourage lots of people to apply on that basis.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have nothing to add except that government Amendment 12 is described as a “verbal error”. I am not quite sure that you can have a verbal error in a piece of written legislation; perhaps the Minister can help us with that one.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their support and brevity. As I said, these are minor amendments.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, alighted on “verbal”. I changed that word in my opening to this short debate to “terminological”; I hope he agrees that that is a bit clearer. Either way, I hope he sees that it is de minimis.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I will again be brief but I went nearly mad trying to track some of these amendments through. I accept that they are consequential but I have one question. FSMA 2000, an Act with which I have spent far too much of my life, will—after these amendments—now use the phrase “unwanted asset money”. Are the Government comfortable that we do not have a problem with the word “unwanted”? There is a difference between dormant money and money that is unwanted. We all know that the reclaim process is critical but I want to be sure that we have not got ourselves into any tricky corners with all of that. That is my only comment; the intent is obviously consequential.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I too am broadly satisfied with this collection of amendments, although they raise some questions about the initial drafting. I made a point about that at the outset of this afternoon’s deliberations. I just wonder why we have to amend the definition of “third party” by government Amendment 47. Also, what is not right—this is in government Amendment 49—with the definition of “repayment claims” that requires amendment? Perhaps the Minister could help us with that.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

Again, I am grateful to the noble Lords for their support, particularly given the large number of amendments, albeit small ones. To answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, the use of “unwanted asset” is the intended terminology. “Unwanted” is different from “dormant”.

On the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, if he will forgive me, given the speed of progress on this group, it might be better if I make sure that I have understood it and write to him with a full answer so that he has that before Report. With that, I commend these amendments to the Committee.

University Students: Compensation for Lost Teaching and Rent

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 19th April 2021

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the disruption to university students caused by the pandemic and subsequent government restrictions has meant that students have not enjoyed the university experience that they would have expected, ranging from teaching, lectures and seminars, access to specialist resources and facilities, and career-enhancing placements, as well as the social experience which forms an important part of university life. Indeed, many final-year students have been advised that they will not even be able to attend a graduation ceremony.

Universities report that anxieties are mounting among students, who feel underprepared for their final exams after more than 12 months of major disruption. Following the delayed government announcement on returning to campuses, many still do not know whether these exams will take place on campuses or online and their mental health is suffering as a consequence. What discussions have the Government had with universities about mitigation for students sitting their finals this summer, who have suffered disruption to their learning as a result of the pandemic? Will the Government please ensure that in future plans students are not the forgotten ones left to the end?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the noble Lord sets out powerfully the disruption that students have faced to not only the academic element of their university experience but all the extra-curricular activities and the broader experience. The Government are very mindful of that; my honourable friend the Universities Minister engages directly with students and representative bodies and has set up a higher education task force to engage with the sector. Students and universities are certainly not being forgotten—they are being engaged with fulsomely.

Higher Education: New and Returning Students

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Thursday 15th April 2021

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

Yes, we have worked with the Office for Students to provide Student Space, which is being funded by up to £3 million by the OfS to support students with their mental health and well-being. Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health this year through the proposed reforms to strategic priorities grant funding.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, university students feel forgotten in the Government’s plans for leaving lockdown. What discussions have the Government had with university leaders and student representatives regarding the date for return to in-person teaching? Given that, by mid-May, many universities will have finished their teaching year, does the Minister accept that the reality is that this decision means that many universities and courses will effectively stay online until the autumn? What impact will this have on students, who have, frankly, been paying through the nose to study at campuses that they have not been able to access since Christmas?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The students are most certainly not forgotten. My honourable friend the Universities Minister engages directly with students and representatives of students through various groups that she has set up, including ones focusing on mental health. The Office for Students is also conducting some polling of students so that their views can be fed into decision-making. That, alongside the scientific advice, is what has led us to the decision that we have taken this week.

University of Bristol: Jewish Students

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Wednesday 24th March 2021

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

I completely agree with the noble Lord. That suggestion is at the heart of this issue because it implies that Professor Miller can understand the motivations or the political views of Jewish students at the University of Bristol who join a Jewish society. We think that is wrong and very ill-founded, and that is what causes us such concern in this case.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this is an appalling case, but does the Minister share my concern that the Government’s proposals for free speech legislation run the risk of protecting statements that are anti-Semitic, offensive and dangerous? Will he clarify the role that the Government expect the free-speech champion to play in cases such as this? What protection and priority will be given to student welfare under the proposals to ensure that Jewish students do feel safe from anti-Semitic abuse?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, people go to university to be provoked and challenged and to come into contact with ideas and opinions that may be different from those that they have encountered before. They might find those ideas fatuous or even offensive, but that is part and parcel of the academic experience. Our proposals for a free-speech champion are to ensure that free speech is being protected on campus, that that essential part of university experience is maintained and that universities are balancing their legal obligations to safeguard freedom of expression while also tackling any abuse, harassment or intimidation of students, which is contrary to the law.

Support for University Students: Covid-19

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 8th February 2021

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, last week a survey from the Office for National Statistics found that 63% of students have reported worsening mental health and well-being since the start of the 2020-21 academic year, compared with 57% last November. The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the student mental health crisis, with many isolated at home, without support, unfairly paying for accommodation that they are forbidden to use, and feeling a sense of hopelessness about their futures. With placements cancelled, jobs disappearing and whole industries at risk of collapse, the only certainty is that they are faced with significant student debt. The pandemic has undoubtedly been especially hard for students with disabilities, who face additional challenges and might need more support to continue their studies and find a worthwhile job once they have left. Will the Government commit to providing further funding to support the substantial increase in demand that university well-being and support services are experiencing, as well as direct support for students with disabilities?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord is absolutely right to point to the mental health and well-being challenges that the pandemic places on students. The Government are very alive to these. We wrote to vice-chancellors in October, outlining that student welfare must remain a priority during the pandemic. My honourable friend the Universities Minister convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and healthcare sectors to look into what we can do. We have been working with the Office for Students to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million to bridge any gaps in support that exist for students and their mental health needs, although I am pleased to say that universities themselves have been doing great work directly with students. Of course, as the noble Lord knows, last week we announced an additional £50 million of funding, on top of the £20 million that we provided in December, to assist students who face hardship at this difficult time.

Education: Turing Scheme

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Tuesday 5th January 2021

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the noble Lord is right. Erasmus was a scholar at the university of which the noble Lord was vice-chancellor. Inbound student participation is important as well. That is why we are pleased that there are nearly half a million international students studying in the UK and why the Government have an international education strategy to continue to build on that number. We have four of the world’s top 10 universities and remain an attractive destination.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, Monsieur Barnier said that pulling out of Erasmus was a choice the Government made. Why was that? If the Turing scheme to replace Erasmus is to succeed, it must reach a high bar. How will it genuinely encourage higher participation rates from disadvantaged students? How will it cover incoming students? Will participants have to pay extra fees at international student rates? And will the net gain to the UK economy be as high as it was under the Erasmus scheme?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, we were clear throughout the negotiations that we were willing to pay a fair price to continue participating in Erasmus+, but we could not justify a large net contribution such as the new programme was envisaging. We would have been paying in nearly £2 billion more than we got back, and we did not think that would represent value for money. We put forward a number of ideas in the spirit of compromise, but, unfortunately, the EU was unwilling to consider any of them. That is why we are setting up our new Turing scheme, which, as the noble Lord says, will focus on people from disadvantaged backgrounds. As I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall of Blaisdon, we will be working directly with education establishments to ensure that people from around the whole UK, particularly from underrepresented backgrounds, can benefit from it.

Covid-19: University Students

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Monday 16th November 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

The noble Earl is absolutely right to point to the problems that many students are facing in mental health and well-being. Student Space, with funding from the Office for Students, is helping, while higher education providers can also access the £256 million-worth of funding for this academic year that is to go towards student hardship funds and to provide support for the mental health of those affected by the pandemic.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it has been tragic to hear the stories of so many Covid outbreaks at universities, which have clearly impacted on learning and on students’ mental health. Universities were asked to plan for a return based on a fully functioning test, track and trace programme, which did not happen. Can we be assured that the lateral flow devices will be available to universities? How many of them will need to be provided? What steps will the Government take to ensure a safe return in January, with a staggered returning system? Will students require a testing service in the January period?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, part of our work is developing new testing technology. We have already started a series of pilots on lateral flow tests and are working with universities and the Department of Health and Social Care to roll them out. We welcome the efforts of universities to develop their own testing, which have shown the sort of innovation that we would expect from universities.

Healthcare Students: Tuition Fees

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Thursday 23rd July 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I do not know whether the specific question raised by the noble Baroness has been discussed, but I will find out and certainly write to let her know.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, applauding healthcare staff is one thing, but the Minister should take note of the Royal College of Nursing’s report this week, which stated, as others have said, that for the nursing profession to feel valued and to address the current workforce shortage, the Government must provide better financial support for nursing students, including the reimbursement of tuition fees, and forgo all current debts for nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare students impacted by the removal of the bursary. Can the Minister please confirm when this will happen?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I have answered the question about reimbursement, which was the one that began this session. On nursing numbers, I would make the point that the number of nurses in our National Health Service is now at a record high and has gone up by 12,000 in the last year alone.

Student Loans

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Thursday 23rd July 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the presentation of debt by the Student Loans Company on its online student loan repayment system.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the student finance system removes barriers to access to a university for all those with the ability to benefit from higher education, irrespective of their background. The Student Loan Company’s new online repayment service is a welcome improvement to the operation of that system. It will help student loan borrowers to keep track of their balance and manage their loan, and includes clear guidance on how the loan system and repayments work.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, that is all well and good, but the money saving expert, Martin Lewis, has called the changes made by the Student Loans Company to its website “irresponsible and dangerous”, as it still includes the ability to make “quick payments” without logging in and has the large overall debt figure front and centre. Can the Minister explain why recommendations from MSE, the Russell Group and the Augar review have clearly all been ignored, and what steps the Government intend to take to protect students from what is, frankly, rubbish and second-rate advice?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the advice was not ignored. The Department for Education worked with Martin Lewis, the Russell Group and others in advance of the preparation of this website, and there are warnings and caution messages throughout explaining to people the point about making early repayments. Due to an oversight, people could, on one section of the website, click through without seeing these messages but, thanks to Mr Lewis bringing it up, they have now been put there and the problem has been rectified.

Erasmus-plus Programme

Debate between Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Bassam of Brighton
Thursday 25th June 2020

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Universities UK International has estimated that leaving Erasmus could cost Britain up to £243 million a year. Does the Minister think that this is a price worth paying in lost income and influence? If a replacement scheme is pursued by the Government, will he commit to early consultation and to the covering of any loss of income to universities and colleges?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am not familiar with the figures that the noble Lord cites from Universities UK. I have seen that it points out that, of UK students who take part in mobility schemes, almost half of them take part in mobility schemes beyond Erasmus+. We hope to be able to continue in it if we can reach a fair and equitable deal, but of course we want British students and international students coming to the UK to take part in a variety of mobility schemes, as they currently do.