Debates between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 15th Dec 2021
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Lords Hansard - part two
Mon 8th Mar 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Lords Hansard
Wed 10th Feb 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 27th Jan 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 13th Jan 2021
Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Thu 3rd Dec 2020
Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 11th Nov 2020
Wed 21st Oct 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 5th Oct 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Wed 30th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wed 16th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 14th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 9th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 7th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 20th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Mon 13th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Mon 15th Jun 2020
Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading
Wed 29th Apr 2020
Wed 18th Mar 2020
Thu 5th Mar 2020
Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]
Grand Committee

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

Metropolitan Police Service

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 29th June 2022

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I sat here listening to the Statement that was read out by the noble Baroness. I know they are not her words, but I found some of the comments about the Mayor of London quite offensive. I could not believe it when my noble friend then said that the Statement had been shared with the Opposition in the other place and those bits had been left out. When Oppositions and Governments work together, common courtesies such as sharing Statements need to be respected. The fact that those comments were left out so that the Front-Bench spokesman did not see them before they were delivered at the Dispatch Box is totally out of order; doing things like that is not the way to operate. There is no reason for that other than making cheap political jibes. It is an awful way to behave. I assume that the Home Secretary had approved that; can the Minister confirm that she had approved the Statement before it was read out in the other place? If she did approve it, it is just awful for a member of the Cabinet to have done that. Let us also remind ourselves that this is the Home Secretary who was found guilty of breaching the Ministerial Code for bullying; we should remember that that is why the Government lost a previous ethics adviser. That is not the way to operate at all. These are serious matters that need serious commitment from the Government and from the Mayor of London to work to get things right, and behaviour like that is totally out of order.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, on whether the Home Secretary approved it, I saw the “check against delivery” vision of it, so I cannot comment any further than that. However, when these things happen, instead of the back and forth that we saw a lot of in the Commons, with people blaming each other, I will take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, that we need to work together to resolve these things. Every victim, incident and controversial issue that has happened is the rationale for this “Engage” process to have been triggered. In some ways we should be not glad that it has happened but pleased that the process is now in place to stop these sorts of things happening, as they have been all too frequently.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I am more than happy to do that. In fact, I think it would be a very good idea to meet up, because the discussions have been positive and fruitful over the last period. So, yes, I am very happy to do that in support of my noble friend.

I welcome the support for the government amendment, as I have said. I think it makes a real, significant step forward. Let us keep it monitored, as my noble friend said.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I am genuinely very grateful to the Minister. I think this is a good example for all Members of the House that when you have an issue, you should just keep raising it, because this House can maybe act in ways that the other place sometimes cannot. Sometimes people get into their trenches there, but we can do it a bit differently here. Certainly, by raising issues persistently, and with the Minister listening and bringing people together, we can actually get things right. I think that is one of the great things about this House.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right. I think we will call it the “Kennedy approach”, but then we have had the “Cashman approach” as well—and they have both worked. We have the bandwidth to look at things in a different way from the other place. On that note, I commend the amendment to the House.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 24th November 2021

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken to these amendments. Amendment 319AA would limit the offence of locking on—on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, the deputy commissioner has in fact welcomed this offence—to cases where serious disruption had been caused, thereby excluding from the ambit of the offence cases where the use of a lock-on has not caused serious disruption but where the conduct is capable of doing so. Removing this element of the offence would make it possible for those who engage in such behaviour to evade prosecution. This could happen if they were quickly removed by the police or if they removed themselves from the lock-on after having caused some disruption which did not meet the threshold of “serious”.

In a similar vein, it is necessary that the offence can be committed if a person locks on and was reckless as to whether it would cause serious disruption. Amendment 319AB would remove this and have the offence be committed only if there was intent to cause serious disruption. If this amendment were made, a person who is aware of the risk of causing serious disruption but unreasonably took that risk anyway would not be captured by the offence.

What matters here is the protester’s intention and/or the impact of their actions. It may simply be fortuitous that the action of locking on did not cause serious disruption, but, if that was the intent, we believe the offence should apply. Equally, if there was not an intention to cause serious disruption but it was a risk of which they were aware and they unreasonably took that risk, again we believe that such conduct should be covered by the new offence.

A few noble Lords talked about bikes, specifically people innocently going about their business with a bike lock. It is a defence for a person to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for carrying the equipment in question. For example, carrying a bike lock for the purposes of locking one’s bike to a designated space for bikes could be considered a reasonable excuse. The prosecution must also demonstrate that the person intended to use the item in the course of or in connection with the lock-on offence.

A couple of noble Lords asked whether this was a ban on protests. HMICFRS concluded that protest banning orders would not be compatible with human rights, but the report considered only orders that would outright ban an individual from protesting. The two are quite different. SDPOs grant the courts discretion to impose any prohibitions and requirements necessary to protect the public from protest-related offences, breaches of injunctions and serious disruption. Depending on the individual circumstances, this might mean that the court will not consider it necessary to stop individuals attending protests. Also, a court as a public authority must not act incompatibly with protesters’ Article 10 and Article 11 rights. This means that the court must decide whether making an SDPO is proportionate in an individual case.

Amendments 319AC, 319BC, 319DC and 319P seek to probe the maximum fine for the new offences created by the government amendments. What were level 5 fines, or a maximum of £5,000, were replaced in 2015 as a result of reforms introduced by the coalition Government through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. We think that an unlimited fine is appropriate in the case of these new offences; a level 1 or level 2 fine, as proposed by the noble Lord, would not, in our view, reflect the seriousness of the conduct in question. An unlimited maximum fine allows courts to determine the level of any fine on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the gravity of the offence and the ability of the offender to pay.

Amendment 319BA probes what objects it will be a criminal offence to possess under the “in connection with” limb of the going equipped to lock-on offence. This could include items that supported the deployment of a lock-on but did not form a part of it—for example, tools to set up structures to be used in the course of a lock-on.

Amendment 319BB would limit the offence such that a person would only be guilty of going equipped to lock on if they are carrying the equipment to commit the lock-on offence themselves. This would mean that a group of protesters could each legally carry items to lock on for use by others in the group.

Amendment 319DA would limit the scope of the offence to where a person obstructs the setting out of lines for major transport works or actual construction or maintenance. We think that it is necessary to include acts that obstruct steps necessary for facilitating construction. This would include steps such as environmental surveys and the translocation of species. If protesters delay ecological surveys into nesting or hibernation season, construction works may be delayed by a period of a year, potentially adding millions to the cost of HS2.

Amendment 319DB seeks further to narrow the scope of the offence to omit activity where a person interferes with, moves or removes any apparatus necessary for the works. This amendment would enable protesters to interfere with works without committing the offence simply by interfering with equipment rather than the relevant works. It is necessary that this limb of the offence remains.

Finally, turning to the amendments on serious disruption prevention orders, one of the circumstances in which an order can be imposed is when at least two protest-related offences have been committed. Amendments 319L and 319M seek to raise the burden of proof for demonstrating that two offences were protest related from “on the balance of probabilities” to “beyond reasonable doubt”. We have had this debate before, including in the context of serious violence reduction orders, and it is our view that these are civil orders and that it is therefore entirely appropriate for the civil standard of proof to apply in the making of an order. It is already the case that the court must consider the SDPO necessary to prevent a person committing harmful protest-related acts. In the event of a prosecution for breach of an order, of course the prosecution would need to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Amendment 319N removes the ability of the courts to impose an SDPO on application. We think it is essential that the courts should have the power to impose an order in such circumstances. It will allow SDPOs to be placed on those who are intent on causing unjustifiable disruption at a protest but who have not met the criteria for an SDPO on conviction. It is entirely right that, where there is sufficient evidence of a pattern of behaviour that an SDPO be imposed. The public should not have to risk unjustifiable disruption caused by an individual who the police knew was likely to cause such disruption simply because they did not have two prior protest-related convictions. This would mean that even if someone had two convictions, if the application was not made at the time of the second conviction, an application could not be made until they were convicted of a third protest-related offence. This approach is consistent with other risk-based civil orders that may be made in the absence of a conviction—for example, domestic abuse protection orders.

Amendments 319Q to 319U remove the ability for a court to renew an SDPO. Where there is strong evidence that that an individual would go on to cause serious disruption, it is appropriate that the facility exists for SDPOs to be renewed.

Very finally, on the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Beith, on the DPRRC report, we consider that the negative procedure for the SDPO’s statutory guidance to be appropriate, but we are studying the report and will respond soon.

The question of causing or contributing to felt like a bit of an exam question at the end of quite a long day. I have three Acts in which causing or contributing feature: the Water Act 2014, the Climate Change Act 2008 and the Football Spectators Act 1989. On the question of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, about whether these measures will be taken in the new year, the answer is yes.

I am obviously disappointed that the noble Lords, Lord Paddick and Lord Kennedy, have signified their objections to the amendments tabled today but, given that, I will not move them. However, the Committee should be in no doubt that we will retable them for Report and, if necessary, seek the opinion of the House. With that, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 319A.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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Before the noble Baroness sits down, I want to be absolutely clear about something. I am sure that the answer must be yes, but it would be good to hear it from her, as this is my first time speaking from the Dispatch Box on this Bill. On these SDPOs, I always thought that we operated on the basis that you were innocent until proven guilty in this country; we would all defend that right. These orders can be imposed and have an effect on people who are totally innocent of any crime whatever. Can she confirm that, as it is good to get it absolutely clear on the record? If that is the case, as I am sure it is, that is totally outrageous.

That and other reasons are exactly why we need to ensure that there is the maximum amount of time to enable this House and people outside it to discuss and debate these issues. For that reason, I think it is absolutely right that these amendments be withdrawn. Can these orders be imposed on totally innocent people who have committed no crime?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Does the noble Lord want a response on the nature of the orders?

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I want confirmation that the Government intend to bring orders in which would be imposed on totally innocent people who have committed no crime.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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They are civil orders; they are preventive measures.

Black Dog Crisis Management Company

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 11th October 2021

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I fully support my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in announcing that the inquiry would take place. The details of that will be announced in due course. Among the complexities was the number of agencies involved. Of course, things such as the potential for danger to life are critical in these situations—as, indeed, is learning the lessons of such novel incidents.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I join the noble Baroness in paying tribute to James Brokenshire. I had the privilege of meeting him a couple of times and he truly was a lovely man. Public duty was always at the heart of everything he did. We pass our condolences on to his wife and family.

Like my noble friend Lord Davies of Brixton, I had a look at the website of Black Dog. I thought that the “disaster response teambuilding” services and the “crisis leadership skills” would be ones for the Minister maybe to bring to the attention of her ministerial colleagues, in particular the Home Secretary.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Other than thank the noble Lord for those points, I do not think that I have anything to add.

Strategy for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Thursday 22nd July 2021

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for that. We are not just conscious of it; there have been many debates in this House about anonymity. It is a difficult issue. We have to balance the lack of cases that come to court and conviction with the devastating effects that they can have on someone who is accused. We are committed, first and foremost, to arresting the steep decline in prosecutions for this offence and to improving the victims’ experience of the criminal justice system and access to justice. Any changes in this regard will, of course, uphold the principle of procedural fairness that is due to defendants in all criminal cases. There are existing offences designed to protect the administration of justice from false allegations, including the offence of perverting the course of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the most serious offences. But that does not undermine what the noble Baroness is saying, because for someone who is accused wrongly it can devastate their lives.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, following up on a point raised by my noble friend Lady Gale, what should women and girls who are harassed in broad daylight do in the absence of a specific sexual harassment law?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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As the noble Lord will know, we are introducing the online pilot, which will be a repository for people to come forward if they are concerned about any element of violence against women and girls. The noble Lord is absolutely right that people can be harassed in broad daylight. Harassers are completely blatant in what they do, and there are existing offences which can include and address sexual harassment. However, as I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, we will be looking at where there might be gaps in the law and how a specific offence for public sexual harassment could address them.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 10th March 2021

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I am pleased to offer my full support for Amendment 66A, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge. I would have happily signed the noble Lord’s amendment and apologise for not doing so. The noble Lord set out his case well—namely, that victims of domestic abuse must often endure lifelong risks from the perpetrator. The risk does not end when the relationship comes to an end and, as the noble Lord, Lord Randall, told us, it is often when the relationship has ended that the risk significantly increases.

I can see, therefore, as I am sure other noble Lords can, that some victims will want to get as far away as possible from the perpetrator. However, the action of some local authorities in introducing a local connection rule, whether for access to refuge places or for the provision of housing, puts victims at risk. The noble Lord’s amendment seeks to ensure that, in England, victims can seek the protection of moving away to another place when seeking new housing, and that no local rules can be brought to bear that frustrate that protection or that desire if that is what the victims wish to do. With this and the other amendments that we are debating about enabling victims to make a choice that affords them the protection that they feel comfortable living with—that is what this is about—the noble Lord is looking for a positive response from the Minister on how we can move this forward. I am confident that we shall get that.

I should declare my relevant interest as vice-president of the Local Government Association, as this is a housing matter. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I hope I can provide that assurance. My noble friend Lord Randall explained that Amendment 66A seeks to amend the Housing Act 1996. As the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, just explained, that Act deems victims of domestic abuse to have a local connection to the relevant local authority in England when seeking homelessness assistance under Part 7 of the Act.

I indicated in Committee, and will say again, that the existing legislation and guidance on this matter are clear. A victim of domestic abuse, or indeed anyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness, can approach any local authority in England for assistance without a local connection. Once a local authority has accepted an application, it will then make inquiries around local connection, among other criteria. Ordinarily, if someone does not have a local connection in the area, but has a local connection elsewhere, the local authority may then refer that person to the other local authority. However, the legislation is clear that a housing authority cannot refer an applicant to another housing authority where they have a local connection if they, or anyone who might reasonably be expected to reside with them, would be at risk of domestic abuse.

The homelessness code of guidance makes clear that a housing authority is under a positive duty to inquire whether the applicant would be at risk of actual or threatened domestic abuse and stipulates that authorities should not impose a high standard of proof of actual violence in the past when making its decision. If an applicant is at risk, they can present at another local authority. As such, protections are already in place for victims of domestic abuse which ensure that they are not housed in a local authority area where there is a risk of violence or abuse and ensure that local connection is not a barrier to accessing that homelessness assistance. The local connection test seeks to keep a degree of fairness, ensuring that those who live locally are prioritised and no one authority gets oversubscribed, which is an important point.

The statutory guidance already ensures that victims of domestic abuse should not be hindered by local connection criteria when accessing support services. As I indicated, the Government are committed to proactively engaging with local authorities to ensure that there is a thorough and proper understanding of the new duty and wider domestic abuse policy, including in relation to local connection.

I acknowledge that it is clear from engagement with the sector and points raised by noble Lords today that there is perhaps a misunderstanding that Amendment 66A would impact on social housing allocations. Social housing falls under a different part of the Housing Act 1996 so, regrettably, the amendment before us would not meet my noble friend’s aim.

With regard to social housing legislation, since 2012 local authorities have had the power to decide who qualifies for social housing in their area, including through the use of a local connection test. However, statutory guidance published in 2013 advises local authorities to consider making appropriate exceptions, including for people moving into an area to escape violence. Guidance issued in 2018 goes further and strongly encourages all local authorities not to apply a local connection test to victims of domestic abuse in refuges or other safe temporary accommodation. With those words, I hope I have been able to satisfy my noble friend and, consequently, that he will be content to withdraw his amendment.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I am conscious of the time, so the House does not need 15 minutes from me on why we should support these amendments. I will make a few quick points to enable the Minister to respond fully to the debate.

I support both amendments. We have heard some excellent speeches this evening. I hope the Minister can give a detailed response to my noble friend Lady Armstrong. She has amended her amendment to take on board the comments made by the Minister in Committee.

I hear that the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, may divide the House on Amendment 44 when we reach it. I can offer the support of these Benches if she decides to do so. This may focus the minds of some noble Lords in this debate. I shall leave it there and look forward to the Minister’s response.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for the parting shot. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong, and my noble friend Lady Helic for raising the issue of training for front-line professionals in relation to domestic abuse. Quality training is important to equip practitioners with the knowledge and skills they need to protect and support victims of domestic abuse, including children, in an appropriate manner.

We can also agree on another aspect of the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong. As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt articulated, professionals need to have the skills and confidence to ask the right questions about domestic abuse, and then take the right course of action. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has served to further highlight the importance of professionals across a wide range of disciplines recognising the signs of domestic abuse and responding accordingly.

The noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, talked about relationship and sex education in schools. Healthy relationships in this area are more important than ever.

In January, we launched “Ask for ANI”, the code word scheme that is now in operation across thousands of pharmacies. The scheme provides a clear process to follow. Working closely with the sector, we have developed bespoke training and guidance to support it to deliver this additional assistance. We have ensured that victims have a means to access potentially life-changing support, and have seen more than 45 uses of the scheme already. This is excellent news.

Those working in vaccination centres are also being provided with bespoke training to ensure that they pick up any signs of domestic abuse and can respond to disclosures should they be made in such safe spaces. I am sure we can all agree that the response and approach to identifying domestic abuse in a pharmacy and in a vaccination centre is very different from how one might respond in a school or a job centre. That is why reporting protocols and training are best developed and delivered by the appropriate responsible agency in each sector. Therein lies the expertise, so we should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. The training needs to be tailored to the circumstances of each professional group and will, therefore, take many different forms.

While the domestic abuse commissioner and her office may support organisations in the development of their training, and may deliver some training itself—as Clause 7(2)(d) envisages—it is not appropriate, or indeed realistic, to expect the commissioner to be specifying training or reporting standards for the diverse range of public authorities specified in Clause 15.

Refugees: Napier Barracks

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Thursday 11th February 2021

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I have never been to Napier barracks but, in the past, I have seen accommodation we have provided to our servicepeople in other parts of the United Kingdom. In many cases, it is not of a very high standard, which is very disappointing. Can the noble Baroness justify to the House how we can be sure that this is good-quality accommodation? Do we not have here a public health disaster made in the Home Office?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I can say to the noble Lord that, first, we are working very closely with public health authorities. Secondly, on the various aspects by which you might judge how people are living, there is drinking water, including bottled water, and three meals a day, two of them hot. I have gone through the healthcare provisions, and legal advice is also available. There is wi-fi on site, and everyone has a phone.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 10th February 2021

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I may have misheard the Minister, but did not she say that one of her reasons for not accepting any of the amendments was that it would be restrictive to place these things in the Bill? You can perhaps argue that Amendment 164 is a bit more prescriptive, but the other two amendments, other than setting a time limit for a report, set no restrictions at all. They would just steer the Government to get on with the matter in good time. Beyond that, I do not see that they are restrictive at all.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The point I was trying to make—and I hope the noble Lord will accept it—is that we do not need to put it in the Bill, because you are always restricted by primary legislation. But I voiced my intention that the Government want to do this.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 27th January 2021

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I think the Minister’s answer will again be yes, as she clarified this issue in her last remarks. Clause 22, on these other matters, says

“a senior police officer must, among other things, consider”,

and then lists four issues that they must consider. Among those “other things” is of course someone’s previous record. I ask her to clarify that further.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think it is yes to everything. The whole context has to be taken into account when issuing both a DAPN and a DAPO.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, like other noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, I am happy to give my support to the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher. I have great respect for the noble Baroness, but, again, have no expertise in this area. Of course, prevention is absolutely the key, and the point the noble Baroness made about the importance of ensuring that we take effective action to prevent children becoming abusers in the future is very important. You have to break this cycle, and I very much agree with the noble Baroness on that point.

I also think we have to be careful here that we are offering the right interventions at the right time. Professionals who are going to engage with partners and couples also need to be able to spot whether something is an area of conflict, but is not domestic abuse, or, equally, whether a situation is domestic abuse and actually needs a different intervention—they need to have the skills to understand that, and understand the difference. We would never want a situation where somebody remains in a relationship because they have had the wrong intervention. This is a very complicated area. We need professionals to provide the proper advice at the right time to ensure that if you can work to do that, fine, but equally there are times when people need to get out of a dangerous relationship. We need to ensure that professionals are able to spot that, and that you are building that knowledge and expertise into all the interventions that people can engage with.

On that basis, I am happy to support the amendments and I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I start by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, for tabling these amendments. I am pleased to see her looking so very much better. I hope that she is indeed feeling better, although she still has a bit of a cough. Her experience has been praised across the House, and I know how much she contributes to the debates in which she takes part. As the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, mentioned, she brought into focus the real danger of the cycle of abuse and the importance of breaking it. As the noble Lord said, what we need here is the right interventions at the right time. There is strong evidence that conflict between parents, whether together or separated, can have significant impacts on children’s mental health and on long-term life chances. We can all agree on that.

We also highly value marriage, but must acknowledge that, for many reasons, such an arrangement will not suit everyone. Marriages have their difficulties; some couples do experience conflict and may decide that it is best for those involved to end their marriage. I recognise too the particular impact that this has on children and young people. That is not, of course, to negate the importance of couples’ counselling and access to psychological therapy services. They should not be underestimated and, in many cases, they lead to reconciliation of relationships, with steps to rebuild and repair. As the noble Baroness outlined, their value is immeasurable whatever the outcome of the relationship.

On mental health services, we are absolutely committed to our ambitions in the NHS long-term plan to expand and transform mental health services in England and to invest an additional £2.3 billion a year in them by 2023-24. Under the NHS long-term plan there will be a comprehensive expansion of mental health services, ensuring that an additional 380,000 adults can access psychological therapies by 2023-24. It also commits to providing access to such therapies for specific groups, including expanding access to evidence-based psychological therapies within special perinatal mental health services, and parent, infant, couple, co-parenting and family interventions.

I turn to the specifics of the amendments. Amendments 27 and 41 relate to the role of the domestic abuse commissioner. The noble Baroness will know that Nicole Jacobs has undertaken significant action already as designate commissioner, including raising awareness of domestic abuse. She will also be responsible for monitoring and overseeing delivery of services to ensure that they are as effective, evidence-based and safe as they can be, as well as publishing information about the range of provision that currently exists for victims and survivors.

The commissioner’s general functions include the provision of support for people affected by domestic abuse. Within that, Clause 7 already provides that the commissioner may assess, monitor and publish information about the provision of services to people affected by domestic abuse. That might include the provision of relationship counselling and psychological therapy. I assure the noble Baroness that the substance of Amendment 27 is already captured by the remit of the commission as set out in Clause 7.

The Committee has heard a combination of views about ensuring the commissioner’s independence and a number of views on what she should be tasked with. The commissioner has a challenging role and will undoubtedly face many demands on her—many of them from your Lordships’ House. Respecting the independence of her office, we should leave it her to determine her priorities, as set out in her strategic plan, informed by the views of her advisory board. If we start writing into the Bill particular issues that the commissioner should address, we risk creating an unhelpful hierarchy of priorities which will constrain her freedom of action. Specifying in the legislation what should and should not feature in her strategic plan would restrict and hinder the very independence that the role requires.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, Amendment 53, proposed by my noble friend Lady Armstrong of Hill Top, seeks to add a new clause to the Bill. Every noble Lord who has spoken in this debate has fully supported my noble friend’s amendment. The new clause would place a duty on all public authorities to provide training for their staff so that, when they engage with members of the public, they can spot the signs of abuse and can then ask the proper questions and offer appropriate help. As my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said, this is probably the most important amendment we have discussed today and one of the most important we have debated during consideration on this important and very good Bill.

People engage with public authorities through a range of services, such as local councils, the DWP and GPs. In some parts of the public sector, particularly the health service, people do ask such questions when they have somebody in front of them. As some noble Lords have said, although there may be training, it is very patchy and inconsistent. We are failing many victims. We want to be sure that we will have dealt with this problem by the time the Bill becomes law. When someone engages with the state, there must be people who can see the signs, understand the signals, ask the right questions and take appropriate action. Everyone must play their part in protecting the victims.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, made reference to the police. There are some very good examples of excellent work that the police have done. I remember my visit to the domestic abuse unit at Greenwich, where really good work was taking place, in collaboration with the local authority, Greenwich Council. There was one case where officers had attended an incident and were suspicious about what was going on. They kept going back because they knew. Finally, they engaged with the person, got what they needed, got the person out and protected her. That understanding of the problem and engagement does not happen everywhere. We want every police force, across the whole of the United Kingdom, to follow that good example. As my noble friend Lord Rooker said, the officers who get called to a disturbance in the early hours of the morning are often the first people knocking on the door, so it is important that the police service in particular can deal with this.

My noble friend Lady Crawley made the point that having trained inquirers who know what to ask and what to do is so important in making sure that we make the difference. I also took on board the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, about the importance of training to recognise the special needs of the BAME community when dealing with issues of domestic abuse.

So I fully support the amendment and am hopeful of a positive response from the noble Baroness. I look forward to getting a resolution of this issue.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong, for tabling this amendment. The Government are in full agreement with its aims; we too want professionals to have the skills and confidence to ask the right questions about domestic abuse and take the appropriate action. I will not be making arguments about overburdening them, but rather suggesting how we think it might be achieved.

We absolutely want to embed understanding of domestic abuse in all agencies. As the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said, what is the point if agencies do not know how to respond and cannot spot the signs? We want to ensure that there is strong recognition, from senior leadership through to front-line staff, of the importance of tackling domestic abuse. We want staff to ask about domestic abuse, because it is integral to their role and driven by professional curiosity. One of our concerns about introducing a statutory duty, to which noble Lords have alluded, is that it risks undermining professional judgment, and we do not want these sensitive and complex conversations to turn into some sort of tick-box exercise.

The Government are committed to taking wide-ranging action to improve understanding of domestic abuse across statutory agencies through guidance, targeted resources and training for responding agencies such as the police, social workers, healthcare professionals and universal credit work coaches. Work is already under way to strengthen the response from key agencies. In the health sector, front-line staff must undertake mandatory safeguarding training, which includes a focus on domestic abuse. The intercollegiate documents for child and adult safeguarding set out the core skills, competencies and knowledge expected for healthcare staff to be covered in the safeguarding training, and the level of training expected depending on their roles.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are strengthening safeguarding practice in local health systems through the updated NHS safeguarding accountability and assurance framework, and a new safeguarding commissioning assurance toolkit. Schedule 32 to the NHS standard contract sets out the service conditions for safeguarding, which include that the provider must implement comprehensive programmes of safeguarding training for all relevant staff and must have regard to the intercollegiate guidance on safeguarding training.

Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 13th January 2021

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I will not move Amendment 26. Given the strength of the House on Amendment 24, I think it is probably best to go away and, as discussed earlier, have some more discussions on both the government amendment and Amendment 24.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I thank the noble Baroness and the Government very much for that. I am sure we can get an agreement and all come together. Thank you so much.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I find myself agreeing with a lot of the comments of the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater.

I absolutely recognise the concerns of Members about the range of organisations listed in the Bill. It is right that we probe, question and justify to ourselves as a House which organisations are listed here—as we have heard, that is now a reduced number—but it is also important that, as this Bill passes through the House, we empower a number of organisations to have the ability, in limited circumstances, to employ a covert human intelligence source.

If you look at the organisations here and think about the potential crimes that could be under their remit—HM Revenue & Customs in terms of tax fraud, the Food Standards Agency in terms of passing off out-of-date meat, the Environment Agency in terms of discharging all sorts of stuff into our rivers or the Competition and Markets Authority in terms of many activities which are illegal and very detrimental to our country—it is right that we have this range.

It is fair to say that some organisations listed here would potentially use the power much more than others. That is fair. I am clear that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner has some oversight here, but it would be useful if the noble Baroness could be clear in responding that an organisation that used this power very infrequently would have the ability to go to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner for advice and guidance, and maybe also to other agencies that are more used to using this power.

I absolutely see the point that we need to have organisations in certain areas empowered to do this work. These are potentially very dangerous situations. This is about keeping our country safe and protected in these difficult times. Although I understand the concerns raised by noble Lords in the amendments in this group, we on these Benches would not support any votes on them.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. Like the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, I found the contribution from my noble friend Lord King very compelling. I hope that all noble Lords have received and read the business cases for the wider public authorities that I sent to all Peers last week. On the basis of those, I hope that noble Lords will appreciate the requirement that these public authorities have for the use of this power. I can again offer reassurance that they will be low users of the power but that it nevertheless remains an important tactic in detecting and preventing crimes that have a significant impact on the lives of the public.

Regarding why the police cannot just authorise for these wider public authorities, the police have a range of priorities and we have given various organisations specific law enforcement responsibilities. That is why these public authorities have their own investigative functions, and they therefore need the tools to fulfil those functions.

If noble Lords support Amendment 33, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, as the Government will, IPCO will have close to real-time oversight of every single criminal conduct authorisation granted by each public authority. This will be another important safeguard to ensure that the power is being used properly and appropriately. IPCO will almost definitely flag where this is not the case, or if there are training requirements.

I can confirm that my noble friend Lord King is absolutely right: there were originally 34 authorities. There are now 14, so, far from expanding that list, we are contracting it. In response to my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering, I can confirm that the IPC will consider the authorisation of wider public authorities in his annual report, which will be public.

I would like to give a very topical example of how this power might be used by one of our wider public authorities, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which comes under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Social Care in the Bill. The MHRA has responsibility for protecting public health through the regulation of medicinal products, medical devices and blood and blood products in the UK. These products are not ordinary consumer goods and have the ability to cure, prevent and diagnose disease and enhance life. However, they can also cause serious harm. In particular, prescription medicines are, by their very nature, potent and are prescribed to patients by a healthcare professional based on clinical judgment and a patient’s history.

In the UK, strict legal controls govern these products and breaches of these regulations are criminal. Crime involving medicines and medical devices is increasing; they are profitable commodities and unscrupulous individuals and organised crime gangs, which put financial gain before human health, face less risk and less severe penalties compared to trading in, for example, narcotic drugs. The MHRA relies on powers under RIPA, including the power to authorise the use and conduct of CHIS, to investigate and disrupt criminal activity in this area.

Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Thursday 3rd December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, Amendment 22, moved by my noble friend Lady Chakrabarti with the support of my noble friends Lord Hain and Lord Hendy, seeks to limit the use of criminal conduct authorisations to serious crime—and by that they mean indictable offences that must be tried in Crown Court before a judge and jury.

The amendment seeks to remove subsection (5)(c) in respect of economic well-being in the United Kingdom. It would be helpful if, in her response, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, were to set out examples of what this provision is seeking to do and what it is not seeking to do. There are concerns about this, as I am sure the noble Baroness has heard, from around the House, during discussion of this group.

Can the Minister also explain why the list of necessary grounds given in this Bill—as listed in subsection (5)(5)—is slightly different from those listed in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act? In that Act, the reasons listed are that the activity threatens national security, threatens the economic well-being of the United Kingdom in a way relevant to the interests of national security, or is an act of serious crime. Why not use the same words? Not to do so is surely a recipe for confusion when you are dealing with such serious matters. We want to see clarity from the Government; clarity about what they intend to bring into law is very important. Why is a form of words that was acceptable to the Government two years ago, when they put the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act on the statute book, changed in this Bill? Surely there is a risk of some overlap between these two pieces of legislation. Will the noble Baroness clarify this when she responds to the debate?

Amendments 23 and 26, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, add the word “serious” in order to limit a criminal conduct authorisation to issues of serious crime. I have listened carefully to the arguments from the noble Lord and have some sympathy with them, so I will be interested to hear from the Minister the case for why these amendments are not necessary. The noble Lord referred to the number of times we have talked about serious crime over the years, and the various definitions of “serious”. That is a fair point and it needs to be answered.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, raised the question as to why preventing and detecting crime would not be enough, on their own, as reasons for the powers in the Bill to be deployed. We also need reassurance about what will not happen when powers are given by Parliament, so it is important for the Minister to set out what will not be impacted.

Noble Lords may not like it, but the right to withhold one’s labour and to strike is a hard-won right that we should all defend. We need guarantees that the powers in the Bill would never be used to undermine lawful, legal trade union activity in respect of strike action or campaigning activity. My noble friend Lady Chakrabarti raised the important point regarding trade unions, as did my noble friend Lady Bryan of Partick and many others. We have to get the balance right; lawful activity must not be undermined by the state with the use of undercover activities.

We have heard about the policing inquiry. Some terrible things have happened that I am sure we all regret, which have undermined legitimate activity. It must never happen again. Those are the questions the noble Baroness needs to reassure the House on: how will this Bill ensure that never ever happens again?

I am a proud trade unionist. I was a member of USDAW for 12 years when I first left school and I have been a member of the GMB for the last 30 years. I never rose very high in the GMB ranks; I got as fair as the chair of the Labour Party senior staff sub-branch for a couple of years. I spent probably more time arguing with the rest of the staff in the Labour Party about where we wanted to get to. But I certainly think that the unions are very important. For example, USDAW—a union I am very close to—is a great trade union with great campaigns that I always support. It is important that we support the work that unions such as USDAW do.

At this point, I pay tribute to my old friend John Spellar. John was first elected to public office 50 years ago today, in a St Mary Cray by-election on 3 December 1970. John has served as a councillor, trade unionist, trade union official, MP and Minister. John would have nothing to do with any extremism of any sense whatever; anyone who knows him would know that. He has also run a news service for many in the Labour Party called “Spellar News”. We get it two or three times a day: early bird, evening round-up and news flashes. John is actually retiring the news service today, which I am very sad about. He has done great work as a trade unionist and is a great example to many of us in the Labour Party.

I was also sorry to learn that the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, has been arrested on demonstrations. I have been on a few demonstrations in my time as well. I have avoided being arrested, but I must admit that I have also been demonstrated against. When I was a councillor, many times things that we did on the council provoked some annoyance. I remember once that I put up the fees of the traders in East Street Market and drew their wrath for a number of weeks. There were lots of unpleasant signs about me.

What is important here is that, if you are a trade unionist or a campaigner, nothing in the Bill must ever undermine legitimate work. It is really important for the Government, and for the noble Baroness, to reassure the House and Parliament that nothing legitimate will ever be undermined when this goes on the statute book, and that actually it will be supported. I think she can see from the comments of people around the House today that we are not convinced that is the case. She needs to reassure us now in responding to the debate.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate and pay tribute to anyone who has been in politics—and indeed the trade union movement—for 50 years. I have heard of John Spellar in dispatches, but unfortunately not the person that the noble Baroness, Lady Bryan of Partick, referenced.

Turning to public authorities, they have different functions, the ultimate outcome of which is to keep the public safe from harm in a variety of ways. It is very important that they can lawfully deploy CHIS to fulfil those responsibilities. These amendments seek to restrict the statutory purposes available to public authorities under the Bill.

The structure of new Section 29B closely resembles that of Section 29, which authorises the use and conduct of CHIS, as there is a high degree of interrelationship between the two provisions. That is why a Section 29 authorisation is required to be in place before a Section 29B authorisation can be granted. The statutory purposes that will be available for a criminal conduct authorisation are linked to those available for a use and conduct authorisation. It is not operationally workable to have different grounds for authorisation between the provisions. For example, we would want to avoid a situation where a CHIS’s use and conduct has been deemed necessary for the prevention of crime, but the linked criminal conduct authorisation for the same CHIS and the same activity may be only on the basis of preventing a serious crime, as my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater pointed out.

My noble friend also pointed out the words of my right honourable friend James Brokenshire about the sheer amount of activity that has been done under covert means—it led to 3,500 arrests and the recovery of more than 400 firearms, 100 other types of weapons, 400 kilograms of class A drugs and £2.5 million-worth of cash. But first and foremost, and most importantly, is the fact that it safeguarded hundreds of victims from child sexual abuse and other heinous crimes.

To restrict the prevention of “crime” to “serious crime”, as Amendments 22, 23 and 31 propose, would mean that public authorities would be less able to investigate crime that, while not amounting at the time to serious crime, actually has a damaging impact on the lives of its victims—so the outcome is serious, to answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy. An example of this would be food crime: the extension of meat durability dates, leading to out-of-date food being consumed, is damaging and can be very dangerous to public health.

Of course, the necessity and proportionality requirements mean that an authorisation must be proportionate to the activity it seeks to prevent. This provides an important safeguard against authorisations of serious criminality being granted to prevent less serious, but equally important, crime. However, it is surely right that public authorities have access to the most effective tools to ensure justice for victims of these crimes and to prevent their occurrence.

The noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, referred to some of the examples that we have heard in this Chamber of sexual relationships between undercover police and women, and some of the actually quite devastating consequences of that. I think I have said before in this Chamber that that was not lawful, is not lawful and would never be lawful.

In response to the1 amendments seeking to remove economic well-being, this is one of the established statutory purposes for which covert investigatory powers may be deployed by public authorities. It recognises that threats to the economic well-being of the UK could be immensely damaging and fundamental in their effect. It might, for example, include the possibility of a hostile cyberattack against our critical national infrastructure, our financial institutions or, indeed, the Government. It is important that law enforcement bodies and intelligence agencies can deploy the full CHIS functionality against such threats where it is necessary and proportionate.

Similarly, preventing disorder is an important and legitimate law enforcement function. Where illegal activity takes place, public authorities listed in the Bill have a responsibility to take action as is necessary and proportionate. An example of this could be managing hostile football crowds, which does not involve lawful protest but causes harm to the public.

To be clear to noble Lords concerned that either economic well-being or preventing disorder could be used to target legitimate protest or the work of the trade unions, an authorisation can be granted only if it is proportionate to the harm or criminality that it seeks to prevent. Therefore, this would not include—to use the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti—“legitimate and lawful activity”. The noble Baronesses, Lady Jones and Lady Bryan of Partick, also gave examples of activity by political groups or trade unions. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, asked me about the difference between the wording in this Bill and the CT Act. It goes wider, basically, and it is consistent with RIPA.

With those words, I ask noble Lords not to press their amendments.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, Amendment 27 is tabled in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I am not going to speak for long because we discussed some of these issues in the previous group. We have mentioned numbers in the various pieces of legislation and I have made the point about consistency. I know that when I mentioned the counter-terrorism Act, the noble Baroness was spot on and I will look at what she said in the earlier debate. However, we need to be sure that we have consistency in the various bits of legislation that we are talking about today. That is very important.

A number of colleagues have talked about the need to get the balance right here. The concerns that have been raised by Members of the House show that it is one thing when you are dealing with terrorists from another state or people who for various reasons are looking to undermine the economic well-being of the country, but on the other side of that are quite lawful campaigners. We might not like them and we might think that what they are doing is wrong or irritating, but they are acting in a perfectly lawful way. That is the area in which we need reassurance and it is what this debate comes down to. People have the right to protest, to be annoying and irritating, as long as they do it lawfully. We have to be sure that we get this right and that is what we are worried about.

Equally, I turn to the whole question of trade unionists, who have been mentioned many times. Trade unionists have the right to campaign and to know that they can do so without having agents put in to undermine their activities. You could argue that others might undermine their activities, but they do not need people in their own ranks who are sent in to do that.

As many noble Lords have mentioned, in the past undercover officers have been sleeping with campaigners. That is totally out of order. I am sure that it will be said that that will never happen again, but people need to be reassured that it is, as I say, totally out of order. While the Government are saying that this will never happen again, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, has challenged a number of police commissioners—three of them are now Members of this House—and has never had an answer; that is also a concern. These things are totally wrong.

The Minister has a job here to find a way of reassuring the Committee that these things will not happen again, but how can we be sure about that? That is the issue that we have to deal with, because of course we thought that they could not have happened before, but clearly they did and we have only found out about them years afterwards. We want legislation that is right and proper so that people are protected, but, equally, legitimate campaigners have to be protected as well so that they are not abused and wrong things done to them. This, I think, is the crux of the issues we are debating today and I look forward to the response of the noble Baroness.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I will start with the comments of the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones and Lady Chakrabarti, and the point about listening to what each other is saying. I have never tried to skirt around the issue of the disgusting behaviour of some 30 years ago. I do not know whether police officers were not told that it was illegal and the inquiry is clearly establishing the ins and outs of that. But it was not acceptable and it was never lawful, and it cannot be authorised under this Bill. I hope that I have made that very clear. I do not dismiss what those women went through—including, indeed, what the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence, went through—and I hope that the inquiry will vindicate an awful lot of the people who suffered, complained and were simply ignored in the past. The inquiry will get to the bottom of something that was never lawful in the first place. I digress, but I must add that operational partners are very clear that that sort of behaviour could not be authorised under this Bill.

I shall move on to the substance of Amendment 27. I will not repeat the points I made in response to the last set of amendments, but I will emphasise that economic well-being is one of the established statutory purposes for which covert human investigatory powers may be deployed by public authorities. We recognise that threats to the economic well-being of the UK could be immensely damaging and fundamental in their effect. That might include, for example, the possibility of a hostile cyberattack against our critical infrastructure, as I said earlier, attacks on financial institutions or on the Government themselves. I gave examples in my previous speech of the victims of CSA, cash and drugs activity, so they may not be solely related to issues of national security.

We have agencies such as HMRC, the NCA and the Serious Fraud Office whose mandate includes mitigating broader threats to the UK’s economic well-being. These threats are real, emerging and go beyond the remit of national security. We cannot tie our hands in response to such threats by limiting the statutory purposes available to tackle these issues. Of course, there are also examples of where economic well-being is not restricted to national security, as set out in other parts of the Investigatory Powers Act and the Security Service Act.

I hope that I have given a full explanation of why Amendment 27 should be withdrawn.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, my contribution on this amendment will be fairly short. I hear the point that my noble friend Lady Chakrabarti makes and I note the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, that this issue is not mentioned in the Bill. Therefore, I am not quite clear whether the amendment is necessary. It would help us if, when the Minister responds, she could say something about the detail of the authorisations in a CCA.

Behind all the amendments today are concerns and worries about what may or may not have happened in the past. People want reassurance going forward, but they are not seeing it. I see that theme across all our discussions today. At some point, the Government will probably have to go a bit further to provide that reassurance, although I do not know how they will do that.

All these issues have been raised because of concerns that people have had in the past. As my noble friend said, we do not know whether we can stop this in the future, but I hope that the Minister can go a bit further. I cannot see any particular issue but, if I am right, the reason behind an authorisation would have to be recorded and shared with the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. That is the issue on which we need reassurance, as we move forward and give people new powers.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank noble Lords. I hope to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, about why we do not need this amendment.

I have already stressed the requirement for all CHIS authorisations to be given in line with the Human Rights Act. Article 6 of the ECHR protects the right to a fair trial. The article restates a fundamental principle of English law and, I understand, Scottish law: that a court has a duty to ensure a fair trial. The use of an agent provocateur could be seen as affecting the fairness of a trial, and rightly so. A court already has the requisite power in law—under Section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—to consider and exclude such evidence. The relevant entrapment principles are set out in the leading House of Lords case of Loosely from 2001, which also opines on the convergence of English law in this area with our Article 6 commitments. I hope that that provides reassurance.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, this is one of those debates where you can stand up and quite honestly say you agree with every single word that has been said from across the House. I am sure the noble Baroness understands that this presents particular problem for the Government, because I am sure that, in addition to the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, who made an excellent speech, many other members of the Government’s own party will agree with all the points that have been raised here today.

This group of amendments brings the House back to an issue that was first raised by my noble friend Lord Haskel on a statutory instrument, to which the noble Baroness responded. I remember sitting in a much more packed House, and there was lots of concern around the House—“What is this?” People were quite shocked to learn that children were being used in such a way, and that shock and concern has continued, which is why we have come here today.

Everyone around the House is very worried. That is certainly why I signed Amendment 60, which was so ably spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey. Other noble Lords have spoken, and all these amendments are excellent, but I hope that we can hone this down to one. I particularly like Amendment 60, but I think we can see the concern expressed by the House, and we need to deal with this. Our Amendment 60 does not rule out child CHIS completely, but it certainly restricts them. I accept that in very limited circumstances, you might have to use a child, but it must be a very limited, rare occasion.

I am confident that the House will pass an amendment on this issue. Ideally and hopefully, it would be a government amendment, but I am confident that the House will pass an amendment by a large majority on this issue, which is about children. As you have heard, people under 18 can be quite streetwise—certainly, children think they are quite streetwise, although I do not know if they are; they are not quite as streetwise as they think they are. It is about that ability to give informed consent.

We are asking these children to take part in, be involved in and inform and report back on some very dangerous situations. This can be terrorism, drug dealing, sexual abuse or paedophilia: all sorts of really appalling, terrible things. We have to ask ourselves the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham: how is that individual child protected? What would be said if a child CHIS is authorised and that child dies? That would be appalling—what would we say then? I think we have to take note of and be concerned about that, as well as the comments of the Children’s Commissioner in respect of using child CHIS.

Of course, sometimes—we have had this before—the child CHIS can be asked to pass information back to their handler, who can be a member of their own family. There are often situations when they are involved in a crime family: it could be their own father or mother. It is not always the case that the child is in care and hanging around the streets before getting involved; sometimes, it can be members of their own family, who can be very dangerous people. We are putting people in very difficult situations, and we must be even more careful about the individual child in those situations. These children have rights, and we need to ensure that, as the state, we protect them even more. As I said, if you are under 18, you are legally still a child and deserve protection from the state.

The right reverend Prelate made the point again about children, and I fully support his comments, as I do the points about mental capacity made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, which are very important. I also support the point of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, that, sometimes, you can have quite a streetwise child and, equally, an older adult who is not that streetwise, so there is an issue there as well. These are things that we need to consider.

I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to tell the House that she fully understands the situation—and I know she is concerned about this. I hope that she will work with the House and, as the noble Lord, Lord Russell, says, can see the concern and genuine desire to agree something. I hope that she will welcome noble Lords from around the House and that we will come back with an amendment that, hopefully, we can all sign up to on Report, allowing very limited circumstances where a child may need to be used—very limited. Equally, I want to see much more protection for people. I hope that, when the noble Baroness responds, she will be able to give the House that information.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I start with the words of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and absolutely confirm that I fully understand what all noble Lords have been talking about this evening. Of course, I will continue to work with the House, as I have done to date, in discussing what is, for me, the most difficult part of the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked me: would I like to be a CHIS? No: I would be utterly terrified. Could I see my children being deployed in such activity? It would be incredibly difficult for me.

We need to put ourselves in the shoes of those children, who, as every noble Lord has said, are fairly vulnerable people in the sense that they might have been involved in, or their home life might be the site of, criminal activity. This is a very difficult area indeed. I thank the noble Lords, Lord Russell, Lord Paddick and Lord Kennedy, and my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham—and any noble Lords who are behind me—who have taken the time to come and speak to me about this aspect of the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Russell, put to me the suggestion from the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, about sessions in private. We are thinking about the best way to ensure that people have some of the information they need, although noble Lords will understand that some of that is sensitive to the point that it cannot be given out. I hope that noble Lords will appreciate that I have taken the time to have a one-to-one session with any noble Lord who requested it, on any aspect of the Bill. That said, these issues are very difficult, and I totally understand the concerns that have been raised. Nobody likes to think of children or young people being involved in these horrible areas.

Noble Lords may recall that the issue of juvenile CHIS, including whether they should be authorised at all, was discussed extensively in Parliament in 2018. The noble Lord, Lord Russell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, asked me why there was no child impact assessment of the Bill. As a result of concerns being raised about the use of juvenile CHIS, the IPC himself launched a review of all public authorities that have the power to authorise CHIS, to ensure that there was a comprehensive record of how often these powers were used in relation to juveniles. The conclusions of the review were reported in March 2019 to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. I have discussed them before, including the numbers, on the Floor of this House.

On the basis of these detailed reviews, the IPC was satisfied that those who grant such authorisations do so only after very careful consideration of the inherent risks, and that concerns around the safeguarding of children and the public authority’s duty of care to the child are key considerations in the authorisation process. He also noted that public authorities are reticent to authorise juveniles as CHIS unless the criminality and the risk of harm to individuals and communities that the authorisation is seeking to prevent is of a high order and cannot be resolved in less intrusive ways. The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey, put that challenge to me.

The IPC also highlighted that juvenile CHIS are not tasked to participate in criminality that they are not already involved in and that becoming a CHIS can, potentially, offer a way to extricate themselves from such harm. The decisions to authorise were only made where this is the best option for breaking the cycle of crime and the danger for the individual, much as that might sound contradictory.

As well as the IPC investigation, the High Court considered the issue of juvenile CHIS last year. Mr Justice Supperstone set out his view that it was clear that the principal focus of the framework for juvenile CHIS is to ensure that appropriate weight is given to a child’s best interests and that the practical effect of the enhanced risk assessment is that juveniles are,

“only utilised in extreme circumstances and when other potential sources of information have been exhausted.”

I hope that that goes some way to reassuring noble Lords that the decision to authorise a young person to act as a CHIS, or participate in criminality, is never taken lightly.

I will now set out the additional safeguards that apply to the authorisation of juveniles as CHIS, and which will equally apply when criminal conduct is being authorised. These include authorisation at a more senior level, a shorter duration for authorisations—four months, rather than 12 for adult CHIS—with monthly reviews, and a requirement for an enhanced risk assessment. There must also be an appropriate adult present at meetings between the public authority and the CHIS for those under 16 years of age. To answer another question, appropriate adults are always independent of the police or other investigating authorities. This must be considered on a case-by-case basis for 16 to 17 year-olds.

These safeguards are contained within the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Juveniles) Order and the updated CHIS code of practice, where the safeguards for juveniles have been further strengthened. The revisions to the code will be subject to a full consultation before they are finalised and will have legal force.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I will reiterate what I said, which is that I am trying to work out a mechanism for sessions that might be helpful but not leaked, and perhaps where we can give some working examples—again, perhaps in private. We will try to do that if not before Report then during it, but before we come to this amendment.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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Actually, I have nothing to ask. The noble Baroness answered my point right at the end, after I had asked the clerk if I could speak, so I will leave it there.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I will be brief. I see the point that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, is making on the need for review, but I am not convinced that it needs to be in the Bill. I am not persuaded that it is the right thing to do, although I see the point of a review. When the noble Baroness responds, maybe she can tell us about the detail of future authorisations. Would it be built into the authorisation itself? That would seem the better place for it, but I will wait to hear what the noble Baroness says. As it is, I am not convinced by the amendment or that the issue should be in the Bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I hope to provide the clarity that the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, seeks and persuade the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, that this is not necessary in the Bill. The current authorisation period of 12 months is consistent with the authorisation for the use and conduct of CHIS, which will need to be in place before criminal conduct can be authorised. Keeping the Bill consistent with the powers laid out in Section 29 will ensure that this power remains operationally workable for the public authorities listed in the Bill.

In the updated CHIS code of practice that accompanies the Bill, it is clear that a criminal conduct authorisation should be relied upon for as short a duration as possible. There is also a requirement on authorising officers to undertake regular reviews to assess whether the authorisation remains necessary and proportionate, and is justified. An authorisation must be cancelled when that is no longer the case.

Authorisations will be specifically and narrowly drafted and, in many cases, the specificity of the authorisation will mean that the criminal conduct authorised is in effect narrowly time-limited. However, there will be occasions when this conduct necessarily extends longer than a four-month period; CHIS who are members of proscribed organisations is a good example of this.

Children: Online Grooming

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 2nd December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Well, Messenger, which is a Facebook app, had not to date been encrypted, but Facebook has announced its intention to encrypt Messenger from, I think, next year. This is precisely the type of discussion that the Home Secretary and Five Eyes partners are having with Facebook, because not only will law enforcement bodies and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US not be able to look at what is going on there, but nor will Facebook itself, and that is the crucial thing here.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, these are horrific crimes. Frankly, is it not time to give the directors of the companies that are hosting these images legal civil and criminal responsibility for the content they host? I suspect we would see much swifter action if this were the case, and nothing short of this will do to deal with this abuse.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, although I cannot give the actual details of the online harms Bill, that duty of care will push that responsibility on to those internet service providers and platforms to do just that, to protect our children.

Visas: Visitors from Peru

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 16th November 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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A number of considerations are taken into account when decisions are made to review visa requirements. They include, among other things, security compliance returns and prosperity. The noble Lord will understand that I cannot discuss the fine details of visa review changes on the Floor of the House, but these are just an example of some of the things that might be considered.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, following on from the point made by my noble friend Lord Reid of Cardowan, travel to the UK has understandably been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis, with knock-on damage to the economy through lost revenue and from reduced business, academia, commerce, tourism and travel. In the light of that, what action are the Government taking to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to Peru, Latin America or anywhere else in the world, so that, when we can enjoy travel again, trade and commerce can take place unhindered?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I can agree with almost everything the noble Lord says. Travel has been absolutely devastated and economies have been devastated through this period. I also agree with him that travel should be made as easy as possible, with no barriers in place. Having a visa requirement is not, in and of itself, a barrier. As I say, the grant rates are very high, and speedy, and visa requirements are kept under review.

Fireworks: Damage

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 11th November 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I have to confess to the noble Baroness that my knowledge of sky lanterns is very limited. However, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any captive or domestic animal. That does not quite answer her point, but where there is evidence that an animal is suffering because of such things as sky lanterns, then local authorities will have the powers to enforce on this.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, last year the London fire brigade attended over 2,000 incidents over the Halloween and bonfire night period. Over the last five years, 45% of the fires ignited by fireworks in London during the bonfire night period occurred at residential properties. I support the call from the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, for fireworks only to be in the hands of professionals, who can deliver an exciting, memorable display safely, for the enjoyment of everyone and minimising the risk to people and property. The Minister’s response to previous questions is disappointing; can she at least say that the Government will keep this under review?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I can, of course, say to the noble Lord that all legislation is kept under review. If there was evidence of increasing injuries or misuse of fireworks, we would look at it. The Petitions Committee had a good look at this last year and concluded that it could not support a ban on the sale or use of fireworks. However, the noble Lord makes an appropriate point about the responsible use of fireworks. It is very sad that firework displays have not been able to take place this year. It is true that we need to be responsible in using things which are potentially very dangerous.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 21st October 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, the decisions taken by the other place on all these issues are most disappointing. I thought my noble friend Lord Dubs made a convincing case, but sadly it was not listened to in the other place, as is so often the case now. I hope the Government will take a constructive attitude in working with local authorities to protect vulnerable children. Many local authorities have considerable pressures on them in terms of looking after children in care, and I hope the noble Baroness will confirm that there is a positive attitude from the Government to address these concerns, even if they are not prepared to accept my noble friend’s amendment today.

I note the comment—the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, also made the point—that the other Motions in this group make reference to all these dangerous criminals who would potentially be released into the public. I think we have to accept that the people we are talking about here are vulnerable people, and that if there are people who are dangerous criminals, there are other procedures to deal with them. We should not be wrapping people up like that: these are vulnerable people who need our help and support. There is an issue about people being locked up in detention when they have done nothing wrong and not knowing when they will get their release date.

The noble Baroness may well say that they are normally released into the community. That is obviously really good news, but if you are locked up in a cell or in a detention centre and you do not know when you will be released, the fact that you will be released at some point in the future may not be a huge comfort to you. Again, we are not going to pursue these issues any further today, but the fact that the Government rely on those arguments underlines the weakness of their case in this respect. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said that we will return to these issues at a later date, but we will not be pressing any of them today.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank noble Lords for their comments. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, initially challenged me on what the Government have to lose. It is not really about what the Government have to lose; it is a demonstration that, throughout this process, we have constantly articulated just what the Government are doing to ensure that children in care, or other vulnerable people, are able to register for the EU settlement scheme. We have put in quite a lot of resource to ensure that that happens. We have increased the number of organisations helping in this regard from 57 to 72 and we will put significant funding in place to ensure that people eligible to apply do so.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said that we are acting as though all detainees are offenders, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, talked about the number of people detained who are vulnerable. In fact, a snapshot of offenders from the EU detained at the end of March 2020 found that if a 28-day time limit were in place, we would have been required to release into the community 166 foreign national offenders being held under immigration powers to effect their deportation. Of these offenders, 35 had committed very serious crimes, including murder, rape, offences against children and other serious sexual or violent offences. There is no indefinite detention, but it is necessary sometimes to keep people detained, particularly serious offenders and those frustrating their removal.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, we may all have different views of this Government. While some might think that they are useless and incompetent, others might take a different view. However, I think that we would all agree that they certainly make many strange decisions—often ludicrous, inconsistent, contradictory and largely disappointing. This is one example. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, a consistent argument has been made about this issue, but the Government are just not listening. That is much to be regretted on the part of the Government because they should have given way on this point, but it is quite clear that they are not going to do so. I do not know if that is down to unelected advisers, the Home Secretary, or the general attitude of the Government as a whole. However, it is clear that they are not going to give way and that is most disappointing. For that reason, we are not going to support sending this issue back to the other place again because I do not think that the Government will change their position.

However, I have a few other comments to make. A few days ago, we had a debate about the costs to enable British children in care to get their British citizenship. The Government were happy to charge over £1,000; there was no issue about that at all. That is many hundreds of pounds more than the cost, so apparently there is no issue there at all. Here, of course, the Government have raised the issue of cost, saying that they are not sure and that it could be too much for people. I have equally made the point by asking for years why we cannot stop council tax payers having to subsidise planning applications. But no, the Government say that we have to continue letting those taxpayers subsidise such applications. That is completely ludicrous, contradictory and inconsistent, but that is what we have before us again today.

In all of these debates, I have never had an answer to this question. The point is made about how we cannot have certificates because they are not needed, everything is now digital, and we should not be worried about it. Yet, at the same time, we are handing out certificates to people who become British citizens. This is done in ceremonies in town halls up and down the country. You have to hand them out, they are signed by the Home Secretary of the day, and you tell the person that the certificate is really important. You hand it to them, a photograph is taken, and off they go with a document that at the moment is signed by Priti Patel. I have handed out hundreds of these things over the years, but I do not believe that those certificates are biometric. I think that they are a piece of paper. I might be wrong about that; perhaps they are biometric now and I do not know. Again, this is from the same department, so it is inconsistent and completely ludicrous. It is a real shame that the Government have not listened and that they are not going to do so. I think that that is much to the regret and shame of the Government.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken on this amendment—in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Oates, who moved it.

One of the first areas of disagreement that he raised was on costs. We have used published costs for enrolling biometrics and issuing a BRP, which are £19.20 and £56 respectively. They cover only the casework in the applications and not the significant set-up costs. There are costs of issuing and replacement, and one-off costs of upgrading pre-settled status cards. There is a cost of communication of the change and, of course, of facial technology.

The noble Lord, Lord Oates, suggested that the system should be trialled. The fact is that people are using it now. It is not going live on 1 January; people are already using it to prove status. That is proof of the success of the “trial”, as he puts it. Surely the fact that 4 million applications have already been made suggests that the system is working. This takes me to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, regarding the difficulties of the system. I have seen how the application process works. It is very easy; I have suggested previously in this place that noble Lords take time to look at just how easy it is to set up.

The noble Lord, Lord Oates, also stated his dismay that the PSED has not been published. I do not have any update on my previous statement that we intend to publish it.

On discrimination, the BNO route will be launched in January. Applicants will receive digital status using the technology based on the EU settlement scheme. People receiving that status will be required to use it from January, so the system relates not just to people from EU member states but to our BNO friends who we expect to come here from then. The system is therefore not discriminatory in the sense that our BNO friends will use it from January as well.

My noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe is absolutely right: although it might not be the way forward for older people, digital by default is the way forward. It is completely retrograde to talk about physical documents when in fact, to date, the system appears to be working well. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, talked about physical documents being less open to abuse. They are more open to abuse and far easier to forge than a digital status that an employer or landlord can access.

Finally, regarding a power outage at the PNC, I should tell my noble friend Lord Polack that our back-up systems are very robust, as I have previously explained.

I do not think that I will convince some noble Lords—indeed, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Oates, intends to divide the House—but it is a retrograde step to talk about returning to physical documents. I remember my noble friend, joined by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, talking about the importance of physical identity, which we fully intend to take forward. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Oates, will withdraw his amendment but I do not think that he will.

Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens v Home Office

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 19th October 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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As I mentioned earlier, there are waivers for certain groups of people, particularly children in care. I cannot tell my noble friend how many people did not apply or register last year, but I can say how many did. There were 49,000 applications for registration in 2019, and nearly 46,000 of those were granted, of which over 34,000 were for minors.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I entirely agree with the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann. Can the Minister tell the House whether she believes it is right that the immigration system is subsidised by children who are born in Britain and have lived their entire life in Britain and have the right to be British? I think it is wrong, grossly unfair and risks pricing children out of their legitimate rights. There are numerous examples of when the Government have refused to let other bodies recover their costs. I have asked many times here why local bodies cannot recover their planning costs—but the Government constantly refuse to do that.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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As I said to my noble friend, and say to the noble Lord now, we do not underestimate the significance of that cost, to either an individual or a family. We keep the fees under review, and, for children and their well-being, there are a number of exceptions to fees for applications for leave to remain.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Monday 5th October 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, I fully support my noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett and others, and endorse her comments on the rights of children to register as British citizens and exercise their rights.

I find it shocking that the Government have not given way on the level of the fee and the particular problem of looked-after children. Frankly, it beggars belief that we have not made progress on this during consideration of the Bill. The fact that the previous and present Home Secretaries have raised concerns about the level of the fee should mean that we have some progress. The Home Secretary is the one person who can do something about this, but it appears she will not.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, I am persuaded by the evidence and the contributions of many noble Lords in this debate. Let us be clear: these children are entitled to British citizenship. I always thought that British values were those of decency, fair play and justice, but I am afraid none of these is on display here today. What is on display is meanness, unfairness and a failure to act justly. It is an unjust position which has no place in modern Britain. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, having rights is no good if no one tells you that you have them and you are not encouraged to take them up.

Points were made previously about why the amendment could not be accepted, such as the technical point that this is only about EEA and Swiss nationals. Unfortunately, it is; that is because of the scope of the Bill. On the question of finances, how the Government need a fee to cover the costs of the process and ensure the effective running of the department in this area, they cannot have it both ways; for many years, like many other noble Lords, I have been arguing with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that all we want is fees to cover the costs of planning. We were repeatedly told that we could not have it and that planning has to be subsidised by the council tax payer. I am afraid you just cannot have that. We do this either everywhere or nowhere at all. On settled status as opposed to citizenship, there is no question which is the better status. If you are entitled to citizenship, you should be able to get it.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, set out the wholly reasonable nature of this amendment. It is asking only for the Home Secretary to lay before this House and the other place a report—nothing else, just a report—which must address the issues as set out in the amendment. I really do not understand why the Government are resisting this. As the noble Lord said, surely with the vulnerable position of these children, particularly looked-after and Roma children, no one could suggest that they are not disadvantaged people who need our help and consideration.

The Government’s reaction to this amendment is more than just disappointing; it is very worrying. We can discuss the hostile environment and Windrush, we can hear the apologies and the assurances they will not happen again, but having heard the Home Secretary’s speech yesterday, I for one fear that no lessons have been learned and that, instead, we are prepared to let these children be at risk. That is unacceptable.

I implore the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, for whom I have huge respect—I have worked with her closely many times—at least to give a commitment to the House that she will go away and explain to the Home Secretary the strength of feeling across the House and hopefully, on this one issue, be able to come back on Third Reading having accepted what people are asking for.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, for tabling her amendment. I note that it takes a slightly different approach to those previously discussed in Committee, this time concentrating on an initial assessment of how aware the affected groups are of their citizenship rights and, equally, their ability to exercise them. It specifically seeks to highlight those aged under 25 with potential vulnerabilities as warranting particular attention.

Several noble Lords have referred to the Roma community as particularly vulnerable in terms of ensuring their status, certainly throughout the transition period and going into the future. I am very mindful of that. Noble Lords will recall the various voluntary sector organisations I have spoken about which are there specifically and precisely to provide tailored help to those who might slip through the net in terms of their status going forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, talked about Wendy Williams; the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked me where we were up to in taking forward some of the recommendations. She may or may not know that last week the Home Secretary set out a comprehensive plan to take forward the recommendations and reaffirmed her plan for cultural shift in the Home Office.

I know that the amendment does not fit the Bill, if you like, but that does not mean we cannot discuss the various things that noble Lords have raised. I gave an assurance last time that I would write to the Home Secretary to consider what might be required in this area and ensure that she is aware of this House’s feelings. I am taking this forward, but it will take some time to consider; the level of detail in this amendment will be a clear guide to the areas and individuals which the noble Baroness feels require the most support. I am very happy to meet her to discuss these matters. I have already confirmed that I would like to meet the noble Lord, Lord Alton.

A number of noble Lords mentioned things such as “belonging”, which we talked about the other day, and people falling through the gaps and feeling that they really do not belong in society. I completely acknowledge the points that the noble Baroness makes about citizenship costs; I will not tell her that you do not need citizenship to live here, because your Lordships will not accept that sort of answer. I would like and intend to meet with the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the noble Baroness to take forward some of these broader issues around societal cohesion, in a way, and integration.

I hope that there can be some reassurance that part of the same commitment made by the Home Secretary was to ensure that nationality laws are fit for the modern day. This is an ongoing process. We have made sure that the process is easier and simpler by moving application forms online, but I know that that is not the point that the noble Baroness is getting at. In terms of accessibility, it is easier, but we are talking about a wider point than just the amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton, challenges me on the costs of mounting appeals; obviously, I will not talk about the one in hand. I think that, in asylum, immigration and all sorts of areas, the lawyers are making an awful lot of money in these processes.

I will welcome the discussion that we are going to have. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment and, with that, I will sit down.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, Amendments 17 and 25, in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others are ones that I fully support. To deal first with science and research, in this instance I agree with the Prime Minister: I want Britain to be a science superpower. That is a wonderful idea and aim, and if we delivered it we would ensure that the wonderful work of our innovation continued. My problem is that we seem to be doing everything possible to ensure that it does not happen. I bet that our competitors in the United States, France and Germany cannot believe their luck given how Britain is acting, as we are doing everything possible to drive people away—the innovators and scientists, the people who want to come to develop new drugs. Look at all areas of work and business; they are being driven away by the attitude of the Government. I find it frankly astonishing that we have to have this debate. It is of course one of the many benefits of Brexit. It keeps on giving, and I find it astonishing that we are here.

I also remembered the words of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, in Committee, when he told us that we should not forget that:

“What we do to others will be done to us”.—[Official Report, 9/9/20; col. 876.]


We are going to find ourselves in all sorts of difficulties, and I will miss what we had. It gives me no pleasure at all to see what Britain is doing.

With regard to the arts, again, it is hard to overestimate the amount of money the arts bring in, and many noble Lords spoke passionately about them. I wanted to mention somebody who changed my life. Franz Busuttil was my music teacher at school; I met him when I was 11, and he taught me how to read music and play musical instruments. I did my Associated Board exams and he opened up my life to the world of the arts and music. Franz was Maltese, of course; he probably would not be allowed in under the present regime, but he changed my life and, when I go to the Globe or a concert, I always think about how Franz did that for me and his contribution to this country as an immigrant.

When you sit in a theatre, such as the Globe, and look around, people from all over the world are sitting there, watching Shakespeare being performed in a theatre very close to where it was performed originally. People often come to Britain—and we want tourists to come here—but they do not often come for the weather; they come for the art, the culture and the fantastic experience they can have. Look at the Edinburgh Festival, the greatest arts festival in the world. That is what this country is all about.

Again, with the decisions we will take here today on this Bill, we are just cutting our nose off to spite our face; it is absolute madness. I fully support these amendments and hope that the noble Baroness can see the passion of many noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and give a positive reply.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I start by agreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, that people do not come to this country for the weather. I also thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, who has engendered a very thoughtful debate, and I am glad to say that I agree with most of the points that noble Lords have made tonight about migrants working in the research, creative arts and entertainment sectors, whose presence in the UK is often facilitated through short visits and who are crucial for this country; it is important to protect them. I also agree that international collaboration and movement of people are very important for these sectors to really thrive.

When noble Lords were making their speeches, I was thinking about the discovery of graphene by two Russian scientists in Manchester. What a difference it has made, not only to Manchester but to the future of innovation in this country and internationally. Our immigration system recognises this fact. I believe that the two sectors that have featured in tonight’s debate already receive what might be considered preferential treatment in the system.

Currently, visiting artists, entertainers and musicians can perform at events, take part in competitions and auditions, make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities for up to six months without the need for formal sponsorship or a work visa. They can also receive payment for appearances at permit-free festivals for up to six months—or for up to one month for a specified engagement—under the visitor route.

Artists wishing to come to the UK for longer-term work will need to do so under the points-based system. However, we will maintain a dedicated immigration route for creative workers under tier 5 of the immigration system. This route will continue to cater for the sector as it does now, permitting a broad range of creative workers to live and work in the UK for up to 12 months at a time. Noting what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, about musicians who want to come for two years, I understand that they can stay for up to two years if the sponsor signs for it.

As non-visa nationals, EU citizens will benefit from the concession for temporary creative workers looking to remain in the UK for up to three months, without the need to apply for a visa in advance, provided they first secure a certificate of sponsorship. We will also keep the global talent immigration route, which I will say a bit more about when I talk about the research sector, but I mention it here to demonstrate to noble Lords the breadth and range of immigration routes available.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Oates, has given us an authoritative, commanding, clear, direct and confident explanation. The noble Lord can do that because of the power of the case he presented: it is simple, clear, and it is just the right thing to do. We on the Labour Benches will support the noble Lord when he divides the House.

As the noble Lord, Lord Polak, said, EU citizens need to be treated fairly, properly and with respect. The Government have provided nothing to justify what they are proposing to do. I also note that there has been only one speaker tonight in support of the Government, and that is out of not only the Members of the Opposition but the eight speakers from the Government Benches tonight.

The noble Lord, Lord Oates, reminded the House of the problems you can get yourself into if you are a landlord. There are serious penalties if you have not checked documents to ensure the person you are renting your property to is somebody who is entitled to rent the property. If you are an employer, you have to check documents to ensure that the person you are employing has the right to be employed. If you get those wrong, you face serious penalties.

I know that if I was in the position of these individuals, I would want a physical document, physical evidence or physical proof that I could put away and, if there was a problem, some years later get out and then justify that I actually had the right to live and work in the United Kingdom. I think we should not underestimate the stress and the worry—we have all seen from the emails we have received how concerned people are about the position of the Government. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, gave a very powerful case on the question of domestic abusers and how abuse is often about control. Here we are, potentially putting people at risk again, having to go back to their abuser to give them that control over their lives again. We need to be very careful here.

Noble Lords who were at the debate in Committee will recall me explaining that I live in Lewisham, and I have done very many citizenship ceremonies where somebody becomes a British citizen. They get a letter from the Home Office and they are told to contact their local authority, and they ring up Lewisham Council—where I live—and they book a place at the next available ceremony. They come along, they bring their letter from the Home Office and they have it checked. I am there as one of the people who officiates at the ceremony, and the registrar—the person who normally does births, marriages and deaths—explains to people how important what they have done is and how proud they should be to be a British citizen. We sing the national anthem, the members swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, and in the final part of the ceremony the individuals come up one by one and I hand them a paper certificate. These are signed by the Home Secretary; I have handed them out from Theresa May, Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd. I am absolutely confident that today in the Home Office there are people running off certificates signed by Priti Patel. That is the ludicrous situation we are in.

The Minister did not answer this point when she replied in Committee, but I hope she can address this point tonight. Can she please explain, for me and the House, the logic of and justification for the Home Office refusing individuals who have been granted EU settled status a physical document but, exactly at the same time, requiring those individuals to be granted British citizenship, to attend a ceremony, and at that ceremony be handed a certificate and be told by the official at the ceremony how important this document is? They are told, “You must check it before you leave, it is a really valuable document and you need this”, and how important it is. I cannot see the logic of that argument—it is nonsensical and ludicrous—and I do hope the Minister can address that point. At exactly the same time, not only the same Government but the same government department—talk about facing two different ways at once—are creating this ridiculous position.

I hope that the noble Baroness can step back and look at this farcical situation that the Government are seeking to justify here tonight. As many other noble Lords have said, she is highly respected. I like her very much. As a Minister, she has always been willing to engage with me outside the House and I have been able to raise things with her. I have appreciated that very much. However, I hope that she can go back to the Home Office, speak to the Home Secretary and explain how ridiculous this situation is. These certificates have been handed out with the present Home Secretary’s name on them.

In conclusion, I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. We risk appearing to go out of our way to make the lives of our fellow citizens as difficult as possible. As the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said, we should be a tolerant House and not seek to do that. There is no justification for behaving or acting like this. The Government are not being reasonable. I hope that they can accept the amendment but, if they do not, I have no doubt that it will be carried overwhelmingly tonight in a Division.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think that there is one thing on which we can all agree this evening—that it is not a great week to be promoting the benefits of technology, and the difficulties have arisen on the immigration Bill as well, which is very irritating.

It is also true to say that, when speaking, the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, for example, absolutely relied on her iPad, and rightly so. It has been great to see noble Lords trusting the technology. In fact, it is probably fair to say that the past six months have seen us very reliant on technology, and for the most part it has not let us down. In addition, it has staved off loneliness for many people. I congratulate the the3million group on engendering concern on this matter but I hope—in fact, I know—that in the same way as noble Lords have thoughtfully addressed that concern, they will also listen to the points that I will be making this evening.

I think that it was my noble friend Lord Horam who talked about when the post office book was abolished. In fact, I remember when the children’s allowance book was abolished. I really did not trust that the money would be put into my bank account. More recently, the tax disc has been abolished. There is no paper record of you having paid the tax, but somehow the police know that you have because of the technology.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Oates, for so thoroughly outlining his case and for providing the House with the chance to discuss the issue of physical documents for EEA citizens who apply under the EU settlement scheme. He knows that I will not agree with him and will try to argue that it is a hindrance to modernising our immigration system. He asked me about the policy equality statement. I understand that it will be published shortly.

Some noble Lords—in fact, I would say almost all, other than my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe—expressed concern about the move to providing access to immigration status online to EEA citizens granted leave under the EU settlement scheme. Like many other government departments, we are moving our services online and there are noble Lords who support digital systems, albeit maybe not in the context of this evening.

The noble Lord, Lord Oates, attested that those protected by the withdrawal agreement do not have their rights underpinned by legislation, but of course they do, through the withdrawal agreement Act. Moving to online services is part of our declared aim of moving to a system which is digital by default, whereby all migrants, not just EEA citizens, will have online access to their immigration status, rather than having physical proof. They will be able to access their immigration status online at any time and from anywhere via the view-and-prove service on GOV.UK, which is available through a variety of devices ranging from smartphones to desktop computers. I am very impressed to hear that my noble friend Lord Cormack has availed of the last few months to use computer software. I never thought I would hear him say that.

All this represents a major change. We have recently seen a real shift in how people behave; in the culture and habits of how the Home Office issues proof of immigration status, and the way in which migrants and others will be able to use this. Of course, we want a robust and secure system that is both efficient and convenient. My noble friend Lady Shackleton pointed out the horrors of having anything hacked. We are at the beginning of this important journey and we recognise that some people may not see it this way, but I urge noble Lords to persevere and let us see this journey unfold properly in a systematic and focused way. We have to commence change somewhere, and the EU settlement scheme has provided the right opportunity.

Noble Lords may remember that, not too long ago, we introduced a new application process for the settlement scheme based on a smartphone app. There was an absolute outcry against it, with press stories and complaints about people not being able to use it or adjust to this new way of making an application. However, this process has proved to be a success and over 3.9 million—almost 4 million—people have used it since its launch in August 2018. I challenge any noble Lord who has not seen the process work to take the time to do so. I will arrange for them to have a look; it is very simple. Change obviously brings complexity and resistance, but we have to embrace it and ensure the right mitigation and support for those who need it most. We have done that through the measures I have outlined previously.

As I said earlier, recent events with Covid have highlighted how vital it is that government systems and services are accessed digitally. As a result of the restrictions placed on the public by the pandemic, we have seen a sharp uptake in providers of services moving online and people have shown their ability to adapt. Digital services have enabled this country to cope during the pandemic, enabling many people—not us, obviously—to work from home, shop and obtain government services remotely.

Our online service has enabled many employers to conduct remote right-to-work checks on foreign national employees since January last year—nearly two years. This has removed the need for physical documents to be handed over, enabling social distancing rules to be followed and reducing contagion risks. This service is available to non-EEA holders of biometric residence cards, or biometric residence permits, and to those granted status under the EU settlement scheme. It represented the first step in our journey to make evidence of immigration status accessible online.

Making this status information available via secure online services has also meant that we can simplify and standardise the system of checks for employers, by providing information about an individual’s status in a format that is easy to understand and accessible to all users, removing the need for employers, and others, to authenticate the myriad different physical documents and interpret complex legal terminology or confusing abbreviations. This service provides employers with a secure, auditable record that they have conducted a check on the employee, which they can store electronically. There is no need for them to check whether a document is genuine, or to go through the process of photocopying it, signing and dating it and then filing it away in a folder or cabinet, all of which they have to do when relying on a physical document.

For those individuals, including employers, landlords and other third-party checkers, who have not already made use of the online service, we are developing an extensive package of communications to ensure that everyone is fully aware of the move to digital and how online immigration status can be accessed and used. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, again brought up the issue of the physical document to enable renting. It does enable people to rent, but it is not a proof of status.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, I intend to be brief, as this has been a long debate and the time is getting on. Amendment 20, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, along with her other amendments in this group, are ones that I support. My Benches will support the noble Baroness when she divides the House. The amendment would limit detention to a maximum of 28 days. As we have heard, people are often released into the community anyway. As the noble Baroness said, that begs the question of why they need to be detained in the first place.

Huge strain, stress and anguish are placed on those who find themselves detained with no clear idea of when that will end. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark said, the Government have had ample opportunity to bring forward an amendment of their own to deal with this issue. I will point out that there is not a single government amendment at this Report stage, and I do not think—I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong—that there were any government amendments in Committee either. Sadly, that says to me that the Government have learned nothing, and that the hostile environment is alive and well. Despite the lateness of the night, I hope that the amendment is carried by a large majority.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I too shall try to be as brief as possible. We must have an immigration system which encourages compliance and provides opportunity for people to leave voluntarily, but, where they refuse, we must have the ability to enact that removal. We do not detain indefinitely: there must always be a realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable timescale, and this is a complex process which requires a case-specific assessment to be made for every single person whose detention is considered.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, argued that we were the only European country without a time limit on detention. It is of course more complex than that. I note that no European country has adopted anything close to a time limit as short as that which is proposed in these amendments, as she outlined. I did not get her maximum/minimum point—maybe because it is just too late in the evening—but the EU seems to be very opaque in that regard. Of course, jurisdictions comparable to ours such as Australia and Canada have not gone down this route.

We have a duty to those in the immigration system, but we also have a duty to protect public safety. The introduction of a detention time limit would severely limit our ability to remove those who refuse to leave voluntarily and would encourage and reward abuse, in some cases from individuals who present a genuine threat to the public. It would also allow those who wish to frustrate the removal process to run down the clock until the time limit is reached and release is guaranteed, regardless of the circumstances of that person’s case, potentially placing the public at higher risk through the release of more foreign national offenders into the community.

Immigration detention is a limited but necessary aspect of the removal process. We agree that it should be used only where necessary, for the minimum number of people and the shortest possible time. The detention estate is now almost 40% smaller than it was five years ago, with 8,000 fewer people entering detention in the year ending December 2019 than in 2015.

Safeguards are central to our commitment to ensure that decisions to detain, and to maintain detention, are properly scrutinised. When a person is referred for detention, an independent detention gatekeeper assesses their suitability for it. Since 2016, this gatekeeper has rejected more than 2,300 referrals for detention.

Case progression panels provide important guidance on the appropriateness of anyone detained under immigration provisions at three-month intervals. We have responded to Stephen Shaw’s recommendations in 2018 and piloted the participation of independent members in these panels, increasing their diversity of professional and cultural expertise, and demonstrably raising the quality of their insight. We are now moving to make this independent element a permanent feature.

Automatic referrals for bail occur at the four-month detention stage for non-foreign national offenders, providing additional external oversight of detention decision-making. It is worth noting that automatic bail referrals are an additional safeguard and do not affect the rights of all detainees to apply for bail at any time, regardless of the timeframe for automatic referrals. Due to the pandemic, bail hearings previously held in court are temporarily being dealt with by remote means, using videolink et cetera. Our response to these unique circumstances has ensured that there is no resulting backlog in bail applications.

The adults at risk in immigration detention policy has strengthened the presumption against detention for vulnerable people, ensuring that people are detained only when evidence of their vulnerability is outweighed by the immigration considerations. Everyone in detention has access to round-the-clock healthcare of the standard that can be expected in the community. Over the last few years, we have increased the ratio of staff to detained individuals in immigration removal centres to ensure that people can access support and advice should they need them. We constantly review and amend staff training materials on the care of vulnerable people.

Detention is already used sparingly and, as noble Lords have said, we continue to pursue alternatives wherever possible; 95% of people who are liable to removal from the UK are managed in the community while their cases are progressed. We are piloting a scheme for vulnerable women who would otherwise be detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre to be housed and supported in the community prior to their removal.

I need to differ from the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher. In the current immigration system, it is only in the most complex cases—most frequently, though not always, foreign national offenders where serious criminality is involved—that detention exceeds 29 days. In the year ending December 2019, 74% of people were detained for less than 29 days; only 2% were detained for more than six months.

The noble Lords, Lord Kerr and Lord Roberts of Llandudno, talked about the number of cases that we lose on appeal; they are absolutely correct. Many people lodge claims right at the last minute and this makes it very difficult, but there are ways in which we are trying to limit that, for example by dip sampling cases after the two-month point to see if we can expedite them.

Lightweight Polyethylene Chest Plates

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord suggests that there is a problem. I am saying that the testing has not raised any problems with the new lighter equipment. As I have said—I will do this—I will go back and ask when the testing was last done.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, this equipment is vital to protect officers in dangerous situations in the line of duty. How can both the testing and procurement processes run their course and then serious concerns be raised as to the effectiveness of the equipment by the officers who wear these protective plates? Does the Minister not agree that this is potentially an appalling failure of process and procedure, and that an urgent investigation must take place? I do not want that to satisfy myself; I want the officers who wear this equipment to be satisfied that when they go out and put their lives on the line, they have the best possible equipment helping them.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I do not think that anyone could disagree with the noble Lord’s point. I have said that these things are routinely tested. I will find the exact date when they were last tested. The DSTL does not believe that the Mail on Sunday tests demonstrate a weakness in the equipment that it has approved.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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No. In their contributions, the noble Lords, Lord Horam and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, referred to think-tank reports. I will be interested in the reports from those think tanks. I should declare that I am the treasurer of a think tank—the Fabian Society—but I am a bit concerned about these bodies because, unlike the Fabian Society, a lot of them are quite opaque. We do not know who funds them, where the money comes from or who is behind these reports, so I would be a bit more interested in what those bodies had to say if we knew who paid for what. The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, will speak on the next group, so maybe he can tell us who funded the report to which he has referred many times. I will be interested to hear that.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made an important point about the number of EU migrants coming to the UK. In fact, that number has fallen. I carefully read the debate in Committee on this and on many points I found myself in agreement with the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, and I have heard nothing so far in the debate to persuade me otherwise.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Green, for retabling his amendment; I acknowledge and respect his expertise in this area. I also apologise for allowing the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, to intervene because I have now set a precedent. I should never have done that. No one is allowed to intervene.

The amendment effectively intends to reintroduce an annual limit on the number of people who may be granted permission to enter the UK to take up skilled employment. The existing cap, which the Government have committed to suspending, is set at 20,700, and is administered on a monthly basis to those seeking entry clearance as a skilled worker. As outlined in Committee, this sounds like a very sensible measure to control and limit migration to the UK, but we cannot know how many people will seek to come to the UK using the new skilled worker route. The impact of some of the key changes, including the expansion of the skills threshold and the reduction of the general salary threshold, is also unknown. Where possible, Home Office analysts have tried to predict possible impacts, and the points that the noble Lord, Lord Green, made so eloquently may well come to pass.

The amendment provides an opportunity for me to reinforce the importance of implementing a flexible immigration system. Our proposals will do that and ensure that the system can be adapted and adjusted, subject to social and economic circumstances—to which the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, alluded—but we cannot get away from the fact that the amendment would add to the burden on businesses, considerably slow the process of recruiting a skilled migrant, and create uncertainty among employers.

Any cap, including the one we have at present, creates an odd dynamic when it binds us to consider a migrant a valuable addition one month but unwanted the next. This may only be a perception based on the mechanics of a cap, but it is a perception that we want to address, instead focusing on our commitment to continue to attract those with the skills and talents that we need.

The noble Lord highlighted three issues with suspending the cap. The first issue is that an estimated 7 million UK jobs will be open to new or increased international competition. However, these jobs are currently under more competition due to freedom of movement. The imposition of any control, instead of allowing free movement to continue, protects those jobs. Ending free movement and requiring an employer to meet the requirements of being a Home Office licensed sponsor and pay relevant immigration charges, including the skills charge, makes the employment of a resident worker the simpler option. Again, I draw your Lordships’ attention to the Migration Advisory Committee’s September 2018 report on the impact of EEA migration in the UK. It said that it did

“not believe that the welfare of existing residents is best served by a cap for two reasons. First, the cap, when it binds, constrains inflows of a group of migrants which the evidence suggests are the most economically beneficial … Second, the cap creates unpredictability when it binds as there can be sharp increases in the minimum salary threshold that skilled visa applications face.”

The salary requirements rise as this is the mechanism for selecting which roles are granted permission.

The noble Lord’s second issue is that the number of potential applicants is huge. That has always been the case. The advancements in education around the globe and the increase in populations inevitably mean that more people can qualify as skilled migrants. Addressing the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, the MAC also said:

“We believe that if the Government wants to reduce migration numbers it would make more economic sense to do so by varying the other aspects of the scheme criteria”.


Therefore, we have retained the immigration skills charge in the future system and will continue to operate a range of salary thresholds.

Thirdly, the noble Lord advocates that there would be a great incentive for employers to go for cheap, competent, non-unionised workers. To this end, we are maintaining the position in our new immigration system that those under the skilled worker route be paid a minimum salary level, which has been calculated so as not to undercut domestic workers. The level and operation of salary thresholds has been based on the advice of the MAC. I am sure that the noble Lord would agree that considering the impact of policies on the UK’s economy is an area that the MAC excels in.

Maintaining a sponsor licence also requires compliance with UK employment laws on treating employees equally. We completely accept that the first stage in our plans for the points-based system will need monitoring to assess the impact of the changes on the resident labour market and key sectors, and we are committed to doing just that. On the basis that we are maintaining robust protection for resident workers and providing certainty for UK businesses and employers, and because the key expert advisers have said that we should not apply an annual cap on skilled workers, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Green, is happy to withdraw his amendment.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I hope I made it very clear at the beginning of this debate that I want each child to have secure status, and a declaratory system does not ensure that, both now and in the future.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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Just to pursue that point, can the Minister set out why that is the case? If you have the children—you know who they are and you have their details—the Government can then set out that the children have settled status, and then you would have records. The problem with Windrush was that there were no records, and that was the dispute, but if the Government actually set out to create records then you have got that system there.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord will appreciate that an application to the EU settlement scheme is an application, with a result of settled status being either confirmed or not. A declaratory scheme confers a deemed leave on a sort of blanket basis, as opposed to each individual applying to the scheme. Therefore, children in years to come might have to prove that they were in the scope of that declaratory scheme; that is what I mean. We are not seeking different ends in this; we are just talking about different ways of going about it. I am trying to explain why an actual application is a more secure way of going about it.

Licensing: Closing Time

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Coming from a county authority, the noble Lord will know that quite often the powers lie at county level regarding planning and other things. It is important that, whether we represent organisations or individuals, everyone plays their part in ensuring that the restrictions can be lifted as swiftly as possible.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I refer the House to my relevant interests as set out in the register. While I full support the intent behind the restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, there is a real problem with how this is playing out. Shop workers are at the forefront of dealing with violence, threats and abuse, as people who in many cases have had more than enough to drink seek to buy more alcohol from shops, supermarkets and off-licences. Can the Minister today commit to a proper and urgent review taking account of the additional risks that shop workers face, as the shop workers’ union, USDAW, have called for?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I cannot commit to a review, as the noble Lord will know, but I acknowledge that, whether it is a shop worker or a publican whom people are frustrated at, and whether through the lack of freedom over the last few months or because they have drunk too much, these things are happening in shops. I will certainly take this back and I am very happy to speak to him further about this.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 16th September 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I fully support Amendment 56, moved by my noble friend Lord Dubs, which would add a new clause to the Bill. This clause would provide for children who are EEA and Swiss nationals and in care, along with those entitled to care-leaving support, to be granted automatic indefinite leave to remain under the EU settlement scheme.

This amendment has wide cross-party support. The idea behind it had support in the other House, and it has that today. Every speaker so far, from different sides of the House, has spoken in support of the amendment. I am sure the Minister has taken that on board and will want to give us a positive response.

As my noble friend Lord Dubs said, there are vast numbers of these children and the amendment would ensure that none of them become undocumented. Identification is a serious problem, as my noble friend outlined. The different practices adopted by different local authorities is a real problem in itself.

The amendment would speed up the process and enable social workers, who do a fantastic job—we all know that they are under extreme pressure—to apply directly to the Home Office without having to deal with consulates and embassies and all the bureaucracy you have in dealing with another country when trying to get the right documents identified. You would avoid all that work, paperwork and bureaucracy, and go straight to the Home Office.

My noble friend Lord Dubs also asked the Minister about the safeguards in place for children who have pre-settled status, and that question deserves a careful response. As the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said, this is a sensible amendment that really deserves a positive response from the Government.

I agree with all the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, on this amendment. It is the decent thing to do for these children. We are talking about a relatively small number of children, but it would ensure that nobody falls into the trap of becoming undocumented. As the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Bennachie, said, children in care face all sorts of additional challenges; they are not with their parents and the local authority in effect is looking after them. All this amendment seeks to do is to ensure that they do not have further issues to deal with; a young person leaving care, or in many years’ time, may have the problem of being undocumented and unable to establish their identity properly. This is a very small measure which the Government should give way on.

Like my noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett, I commend the work of the Children’s Society to identify and raise the plights of these children. The society has campaigned to ensure that they have protection and that their problems are not added to by becoming undocumented. As I say, it is the decent thing to do. Equally, I am sure that we will get a response from the Minister on the amendment, and on the issue in Lesbos.

I should also draw the attention of the House to the fact that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association. Local authorities do a fantastic job. Certain authorities, particularly Kent, are under particular pressure regarding children’s issues, but they generally do a fantastic job. This is one small measure which the Government could accept to help authorities and make it a bit easier for them in the work that they do. I hope that the Minister can give a positive response to us today, and maybe we can come back to this on Report.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, for moving his Amendment 56, which calls for children in care and care leavers who have their right of free movement removed by the Bill to be granted indefinite leave to remain.

May I say at the outset that I absolutely agree with the noble Lords, Lord Dubs and Lord Kennedy, and others that no child should be undocumented, and with the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, that we should not create any cracks? So that I do not disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, yet again, I will immediately address the issues that he raised.

First, he asked if we should do as the Germans do. I think we should do as we do. As far as reputational risk is concerned, I do not think we should help these children because it has an influence on our reputation; I think we should help children because it is the right thing to do, and in fact this country has a very long history of helping children who need our support.

The noble Lord asked me if I agree that it is an emergency. Absolutely, I agree that it is an emergency. Of course, I also agree that it is a humanitarian issue. One could not fail to be moved by the plight that these children and their families sometimes go through.

The noble Lord then asked me the million-dollar question: what the Government are doing about it. On 22 April, the UK and Greece signed a joint historic migration plan that reaffirms our commitment to closer co-operation with Greece on a range of migration issues. On the direct help for some of those people on the Greek islands, we have given £500,000 for urgent humanitarian help for the most vulnerable.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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What I said was that we did not participate in the EU relocation scheme; I am not sure whether we ever have. I am saying that we will absolutely meet our obligations under Dublin, and if a request comes from the UNHCR for us to take displaced people from Greece who are eligible to come under Dublin, we will of course consider that.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, the Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand her position to be that the amendment we are discussing is not necessary and could make the situation worse. Apparently the Home Office supports the aims of the amendment but it is not going to act, because there are measures already in place to deal with this question, and it does not want any children to end up undocumented. Maybe I am wrong, but I am sure that if I am, the Minister will correct me. If I am correct, is she giving a cast-iron assurance that the Home Office will not let any of those children become undocumented, and that in the period ahead it will not take decisions that undermine what she has said to us today?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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What I am saying is that the Home Office, in conjunction with other departments, will ensure that we can identify every child, or indeed adult, in that vulnerable category and that they are assisted where possible. As I said the other day, the EU settlement scheme will not close and reasonable grounds for late applications will not end, so if any people—either adults or children—are identified in future as coming into the category that noble Lords have spoken about, they will be documented.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I fully support Amendment 81 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Morrow. Like others, I pay tribute to him for his work in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and in your Lordships’ House, combating the evil of modern slavery and human trafficking.

The noble Lord made a very compelling case for the Government to agree to his amendment today, and I do hope the Minister will be able to give us some hope that the Government will meet the issue that the noble Lord addressed the House on. I equally agree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown, and again commend the work he has done on combating modern slavery.

The new clause, as we have heard, seeks to ensure that proper consideration is given to the impact of the new regulations on the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. It is most important that we consider the effect on victims that these changes will make. That is really very important. As the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said, rules, regulations, processes and overdue immigration procedures must work to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking and, obviously, not weaken the position at present.

The noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, again referred to the anti-trafficking directive, and the risk of what is going to be lost on 1 January. I do hope the Minister will address that. It is a huge concern, for many noble Lords, that at any point next year we will find ourselves with weaker provisions and weaker laws that will benefit only criminals and criminal gangs, and really harm victims.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, for all his work. It is high time that the Government stood up and backed the noble Lord. His Private Member’s Bill is absolutely right: all he is asking for is that England and Wales have the same provisions that endure in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Bill sailed through this House, but then what happened to it? It crashed on the rocks in the other place. The Government did nothing to support it last time, and it is wrong. The Government really should stand up now and back the noble Lord on his Bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I will start by assuring the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, that I am not going to trot out the line that he suspects I am. Moreover, I will actually thank him for his contribution to this incredibly important debate, and for his continued commitment to the really important objective of ensuring the impacts on victims of modern slavery are considered in changes to the Immigration Rules following this Bill.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said an interesting thing just before she closed, which is that we should consider modern-day slavery across legislation. I think it is absolutely crucial that we consider it across government, because it affects and infects almost every aspect of modern-day life. Noble Lords mentioned William Wilberforce, who is actually one of my heroes. It is over 200 years since we abolished slavery, and yet we have the terrible blight of modern-day slavery in our society. We are committed to tackling this terrible crime. We are now identifying more victims of modern-day slavery and doing more to bring perpetrators to justice than ever before. I will just say to the noble Lords, Lord McColl and Lord Kennedy, that there is going to be no diminution in directly affected rights.

We will replace freedom of movement with a points-based system. We remain committed to protecting individuals from modern slavery and exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers. I will not answer the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, because I cannot. Has there been an increase in trafficking during Covid? I think we can all safely say is that there has been an increase in a lot of behind the scenes-type activity that is unpalatable to us all, including things such as domestic violence. I am sure that will reveal itself as time goes on.

We are definitely committed to considering the impact of our policies on vulnerable people, including by fulfilling our public sector equality duties under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. As the noble Lord, Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown, said, on 13 July we published an equalities impact assessment on the points-based system, which considers the impact of our policy on protected characteristics. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, I can send that to him if he wishes. We will continue to iterate this document. Our work ensures that we keep at the forefront of our minds the potential consequences of our policies on those who may be susceptible to exploitation.

Across the board, it is crucial that we understand the groups and communities affected by our policies. As the Home Secretary highlighted in her Statement to the House on Wendy Williams’s Windrush Lessons Learned Review on 21 July, she has set out clear expectations that she expects officials to engage with community organisations, civil society and the public and to provide evidence in all advice to Ministers. To answer the noble Lord, Lord McColl, who asked if I would meet him: of course I will meet him to discuss his Private Member’s Bill.

Through the Home Office’s advisory groups, we have undertaken engagement with organisations on the design and development of the future immigration system, including those representing potentially vulnerable individuals. These groups, which include experts on modern slavery, including the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, have been fundamental in helping us to shape our policies and to design the future system. I understand that the Home Secretary has asked officials to facilitate a dedicated session with members of the Vulnerability Advisory Group and experts from the modern slavery sector, to better understand the possible impacts of the new immigration system on potential victims of modern slavery.

The noble Lords, Lord Morrow and Lord Alton, asked me about the seasonal workers pilot. A key objective of the pilot is to ensure that migrant workers are adequately protected against modern slavery and other labour abuses. It requires operators to ensure that all workers have a safe working environment—I think he alluded to that—that they are treated fairly, paid properly including time off and breaks; that they are housed in safe, hygienic accommodation; that their passport is never withheld from them; and that robust systems are in place for the reporting of concerns and rapid action. The operators of the scheme are and must remain licensed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

In addition, the Home Office and Defra also monitor the scheme closely to ensure that operators adhere to the stringent requirements set out for ensuring the safety and well-being of seasonal workers. We work with the sector, including the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, to achieve these aims. Should either of the selected operators fall short in their duties as a sponsor, action will be taken, up to and including the revocation of their sponsor licence. Other criminal sanctions will be considered as well, as appropriate.

The noble Lord, Lord Morrow, asked me what the Government were doing to ensure that EU exit does not adversely affect efforts to tackle modern slavery. We already exceed our international obligations to victims under the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which will not be affected by EU exit. We will continue our work with European partners to eradicate modern slavery, no matter what shape our relationship with the EU takes. This is an international problem, not just a UK problem, and it is in everyone’s interest that we reach an agreement that equips operational partners on both sides with those capabilities that help protect citizens and bring criminals to justice.

Finally, the noble Lord, Lord McColl, questioned pre-settled status in terms of the right to benefits. Pre-settled status maintains the right to benefits, and a person would not need discretionary leave to remain under the modern slavery provisions because they would have five years’ leave to remain.

I hope that those explanations satisfy noble Lords and that the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw his amendment.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 14th September 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, this debate has focused on several new clauses which are to be inserted after Clause 4. I have signed up to Amendments 39, 40, 41 and 94, along with my noble friend Lord Rosser and the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hamwee, who opened this debate last Wednesday. I am also supportive of Amendment 70, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham.

The risk here—it is all about risk—is that many people will not have their status sorted and will not have put a claim in, and are then at risk of detention. Immigration detention is something that should happen only in the most necessary cases and for the shortest period of time possible. My noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett set out, with examples, the effect of detention and the damage of not knowing when you are going to be released on individuals and their mental health. We need to think about that: we can all accept that being locked up and not knowing when it is going to end is not a good place to be.

Taking that into account, can the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, when she responds to the debate, tell us what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that the minimum number of people are detained and for the shortest possible time? The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said she expected to be told that most people are released from detention after a short period of time, but we need to think about those who are not.

There is also the risk of redetention: when a person reports who is required to do so and then finds themself detained by the authorities. How long will it take for an application to remain to be considered? As we have heard, Amendment 39 would impose a strict time limit of 28 days and ensure that detainees could not be redetained unless—I emphasise “unless”—there has been a specific change in circumstances.

Amendment 40 sets out the conditions for a person to be detained in the first place and Amendment 41 provides for bail hearings during the initial detention period of 96 hours. Amendment 94 brings in the provision six months after the Bill comes into force. This gives the Government time to get all the procedures and regulations correct. I agree with the comments made in that respect by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich.

As I said earlier, I am supportive of Amendment 70, spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and others. This amendment raises the issue of those individuals in immigration detention who are segregated and at risk of being locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day. I fully accept that there must be rules and that people must be protected from either themselves or from others, or from causing harm to others. However, we also must be mindful of the effects that detention—of being locked in a cell for long periods of time—can itself have on someone’s mental health. Again, my noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett made reference to this in her contribution. I look forward to the response from the noble Baroness.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham said in his contribution that these people have committed no crime. They themselves may be the victims of horrific crimes, and periods of detention can be long and re-detention is a real risk. When considering these amendments, we have to think about the effect of the risk of being re-detained on individuals who may, in the end, be given leave to remain in the United Kingdom. We must remember that these people have committed no crime here in the UK.

I will leave my remarks there; I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. To address the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, about regretting the hybrid procedures, I am very glad of them; they protect noble Lords from the numbers, which are clearly going up.

This is another group of amendments that are not relevant to the Bill. I am sure that noble Lords know that, and I know that they are keen to discuss this issue. They feel very strongly about immigration detention, which has been discussed at great length in this Chamber, but that makes it no less important.

We must have an immigration system which encourages compliance and protects the public. Where people no longer have the right to be in the UK, we must be able to carry out their removal if they do not take the opportunities we provide them to leave the UK voluntarily.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, talked about the concept of unlimited detention. The noble Lord asked me to list the safeguards to ensure that decisions to detain and to maintain detention are not unlimited. When someone is referred for detention, an independent detention gatekeeper assesses that person’s suitability for detention. Since 2016, the gatekeeper has rejected more than 2,300 referrals for detention. After an individual is detained, their continued detention remains under regular review at increasing levels of seniority, especially where there are any significant changes in circumstance.

Anyone detained can apply to either the Home Office or the courts to be released on immigration bail at any point during their detention. In addition, independent panellists and specialists within case progression panels provide really important oversight of the appropriateness of anyone being detained under immigration provisions at three-monthly intervals. Automatic referrals for bail also occur at the four-month detention stage for non-foreign national offenders, providing additional external oversight of detention decision-making. Immigration removal centres also provide those who are detained with access to legal advice should they need it.

The introduction of a detention time limit would severely limit our ability to remove those who refuse to leave voluntarily, as the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, pointed out. It would encourage and reward abuse and, as I have said, there are a number of measures in place to safeguard against any prolonged or unnecessary use of immigration detention.

The decision to detain people who no longer have the right to be in the UK is an integral part of the removal process, but we do not detain indefinitely. There must always be a realistic prospect of removal—I see the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, shaking her head—within a reasonable timescale, and this requires a case-specific assessment to be made for every single person whose detention is considered. It is already used sparingly: 95% of people who are subject to removal from the UK are at liberty in the community, and the detention estate is now almost 40% smaller than it was five years ago, with 8,000 fewer people entering detention in the year ending December 2019 than in 2015.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I thank the Minister for her detailed explanation. The problem that I have here is that this Bill will become an Act of Parliament, things will move along very happily and then, many years from now, when we are all no longer doing what we are doing now, all these problems will arise whereby things are not done properly. We could have immigration centres with Italian and French citizens, people who have lived here but have not regularised their situation, being locked up and held for days and things—and that is just an anathema. My worry is that sometimes things are done and then, many years later, different people come along, things are not done so well, and there is a problem.

I am concerned about the innocent people. I am not concerned about people who have committed offences, who need to be dealt with—this is about innocent people who have done absolutely nothing wrong. They potentially could have been our friends and neighbours, living in our country, who have not regularised their situation. Unfortunately, mistakes happen, for all the assurances, and people find themselves taken away, probably quite unfairly, locked up and stuff. I want to hear a bit more about how we are going to deal with those sorts of situations. I am talking about the innocent people. How are we going to look after those people, who have done nothing wrong? We are all agreed on those who are criminals and have done bad things, but what about the innocent people, who are treated unjustly? That is what I want to hear about.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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We will be talking about the EU settlement scheme in future groups. As I will go on to explain, the scheme does not end, in the sense that, if people are here, certainly between now and 2020, and want to regularise their status, they can do. Of course, the reasonable excuses rule will go on indefinitely as to why people have not regularised their status.

Obviously, these amendments have nothing to do with the Bill, but I hope that I have outlined the various degrees of safeguards that will guard against people being detained indefinitely. We will go on to talk about the EU settlement scheme and some of the safeguards that go around that, particularly ongoing, with people who have missed the boat. I hope, with those explanations, the noble Lord is happy.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I do not think that anyone in this debate spoke out against the digital rollout or suggested that it was somehow new to require people to provide evidence of their right to rent a property or to work. What is new is that European citizens living here will be required to provide that evidence very shortly.

The Minister did not address at all my points about the staggering inconsistency of the Government. They issue certificates to all British citizens at citizenship ceremonies —hard, paper-copy certificates signed by the Home Secretary. Everyone has them handed out; I have handed out many. At the same time, the same Government and department will not issue any paper certificates to people with settled or pre-settled status. Will the Minister please go away and find out why the Government are acting so inconsistently? If she could write to me I would be happy to receive that letter, but it is ludicrous that there are those two things from the same department at the same time.

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

Yes, I would be happy to do that.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 9th September 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, Amendments 14, 15 and 16 in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Ludford, seek to bring more clarity to the powers that the Government are taking to make regulations, and that, for me, is a very good thing. As we have heard, words such as “supplementary” and “transition” and the phrase

“to make different provisions for different purposes”

are very unclear, wide-ranging and open to interpretation. These probing amendments today will give the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, the opportunity to add some clarity to the situation and set out for the record the intention and the scope of the powers that the Government are seeking from Parliament. As for Amendment 17, which would remove Clause 4(4), again an explanation from the Minister as to why the Government need the new power would be very welcome.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, made some very good points and made them very clearly. As she asked when referring to the noble Lord, Lord Beith, what instructions were given to the parliamentary draftspersons? We need to understand that because clarity is important when you are deciding on legislation. Without it you get yourself into all sorts of problems: courts can get involved and there can be all sorts of other difficulties. What we have been hearing from the other end of the Corridor—certainly the comments from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—about where we are going to be on certain things gives us particular worry. That is why clarity is so important. I look forward to the Minister putting the matter right for us.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for speaking to the amendments in this short debate. I agree that clarity is absolutely necessary when scrutinising the scope and extent of any Bill, as your Lordships do. Amendments 14, 15 and 16 would restrict the scope of the power by removing what are standard provisions in regulating powers concerning transitory and supplementary provisions. Because both the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, asked what they mean, I shall go through them.

The current illustrative draft instrument does not contain a transitory provision, but it is standard legal drafting to include scope for such a provision should it be identified as necessary. Examples of supplementary provisions can be found where we are retaining some of the references to regulations transposing EU law in benefits legislation. Supplementary provisions update the references to reflect amendments to those regulations, so references to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 become references to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016, et cetera. I hope that clarifies the provision on “transitory” and “supplementary”.

I come to Amendment 17. As I explained in response to Amendment 18 and 19, Clause 4(4) allows the regulation-making power to make provision for those who are not exercising free movement rights at the end of the transition period but who are eligible for status under the EU settlement scheme and are therefore still affected by the repeal of free movement. The regulation-making power in Clause 4 is restricted to matters that are as a consequence of or in connection with the ending of free movement. Subsection (4) needs to be read in conjunction with subsection (1). It does not allow changes to the statute book for migrants from the rest of the world, who are not affected by the repeal of free movement. Amendment 17 would hinder our ability to make appropriate provision for all those affected by that appeal.

I hope that with those incredibly clear clarifications, noble Lords will feel happy not to press their amendments.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I did email; I do not know where it has gone. Oh sorry, I did not email Question Diary.

I thank the Minister for explaining how certain words have been used in previous legislation, but it would be helpful if she could write to me and place a copy in the Library of the House with some examples, just so that we are absolutely clear. I know she was able to give an example now, but that would be very helpful.

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

I gave an example of “supplementary”; I did not give any examples of “transitory”. I will write a list and send it to noble Lords.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 7th September 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this group of amendments is concerned with the purpose, scope and extent of delegated powers conferred on Ministers by Parliament. I am grateful to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for its report on the Bill and to the members of the committee who have spoken, including their chair, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra.

The report raises serious concerns about the inappropriateness of the delegation of powers to the Executive and proposes changes which I fully support and endorse. However, it is disappointing that, as the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, highlighted, the committee has over some considerable time produced such reports but then the next Bill has come along and the same issues have been identified.

During the Brexit campaign, we kept being told about taking back control and the sovereignty of our Parliament, but here lots of things are being passed on to Ministers and that does not quite seem to me to be taking back control. It is a bit like the pledge about the NHS on the side of the leave campaign bus that has quietly been forgotten about.

Amendments 9 and 10 seek to deal with the first two points raised by the committee by removing the word “appropriate” and inserting “necessary”, and removing the words “or in connection with”. They are amendments to which I have put my name and which I fully support.

Amendment 11 seeks to put on the face of the Bill what the power to make regulations is intended to do. I look forward to hearing the Government’s explanation if they are not prepared to accept this.

Amendment 13 again adds “only”, seeking to ensure the powers taken are used only for what they are intended to do. That seems sensible to me. I hope the Government will accept it.

Amendment 32, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, also seeks to ensure that the Bill does only what the Government say they want it to do. Like other amendments in this group, that seems a very sensible and proportionate measure, and I hope the Government will support it.

Amendment 35, which I have signed, seeks to implement the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and ensure that SIs under Clause 4(1) are affirmative. Amendments 36, 37 and 38 follow on from that. The clause takes considerable powers for the Executive, as we have heard from a number of noble Lords tonight. These powers are not justified, and I support those noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Rosser, who have opposed the clause standing part of the Bill.

Your Lordships need only look at some of the points raised by the committee to see why noble Lords have tabled their opposition to the clause standing part. In paragraph 19, the committee is “disturbed” that the Government would use words to grant and confer permanent powers on Ministers to make whatever legislation they considered appropriate. In paragraph 26, the committee argues that

“transitional arrangements to protect existing legal rights … should appear on the face of the Bill”.

In paragraph 28, its expressed view is that

“clause 4(1) contains an inappropriate delegation of power”.

I hope that, in the response to the debate, we will see considerable movement from the Government and that they take on the comments from the committee, which I fully support.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think I get the committee’s views on the delegated powers in this Bill, and they are not pretty. However, I thank the committee for making them.

I first thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for speaking to this group of amendments and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe for speaking to Amendment 32. These amendments seek to limit the scope of the regulation-making power in Clause 4 and address the parliamentary procedure for the regulations. It is right that Parliament pays close attention to the provision of delegated powers. I have noted the recommendations made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in its latest report of 25 August.

I am pleased that we have been able to share draft illustrative regulations to be made under this power later this year, subject to Parliament’s approval of the Bill. The draft regulations—which I understand will not be subject to any significant change, to answer the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, from tonight and the other day—will, I hope, provide some reassurance as to how the Government intend to use the regulation-making power in Clause 4.

There are clear constraints on the use of the power in Clause 4. It can be used only to make regulations that amend primary or secondary legislation

“in consequence of, or in connection with”

Part 1 of the Bill on ending free movement and protecting the rights of Irish citizens. It cannot be used in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU more generally or to make wider immigration changes.

Amendment 9 seeks to limit the use of the power to making changes that are considered “necessary”, not “appropriate”. Amendment 10 seeks to limit the power to changes that are only a consequence of Part 1 of the Bill and not in connection with it. I invite noble Lords to consider the illustrative draft of the regulations and take comfort that this power is specifically to deliver the end of free movement; it is not to be used for general changes to the immigration system.

The regulations will make the statute book coherent on the repeal of free movement, align the treatment of EEA citizens arriving from next year with that of non-EEA citizens and implement our obligations to afford equal treatment to those within scope of the residence provisions of the withdrawal agreement—nothing more than that.

Furthermore, Amendment 10 prevents the Government making changes required to align the treatment of EEA and non-EEA citizens in the immigration system, which would undermine the new global points-based system. We cannot, therefore, accept these amendments.

The Government have made every effort to specify in the delegated powers memorandum the type of changes to legislation required as a result of ending free movement and protecting the rights of Irish citizens, and to make provision for them in draft regulations. However, Amendment 11 would prevent the Secretary of State from making appropriate provision and would unacceptably narrow the scope of the power. Amendment 13 would have the effect of restricting the scope of the power to the powers listed in Clause 4(3).

Amendment 32, tabled by my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe, seeks to confine changes to fees and charges to EEA and Swiss citizens. That is already the principal purpose of Clause 4(5). However, the amendment would then prevent us from applying the skills charge to non-EEA family members of EEA citizens and from exempting from the skills charge a non-EEA family member with rights of residence and equal treatment under the withdrawal agreement. It would amount to a breach of the UK’s commitments under those agreements, and for that reason alone we cannot accept the amendment.

It is the will of the British people that we bring free movement to an end. This means ending the bias in our immigration system that favours EEA citizens over the citizens of any other country, which is the primary purpose of the Bill. Limiting the Government’s ability to apply a skills charge to EEA citizens in the same way as they apply to non-EEA citizens would mean that certain elements of free movement had not been fully repealed by the Bill, and that EEA citizens still had an advantage in our immigration system. That is not an outcome that the Government can accept.

On Amendments 35, 36, 37 and 38, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has spoken, the first set of regulations made under this power will be subject to the “made affirmative” procedure, whereby they must be approved by both Houses within 40 days of being made if they are to remain in force. The “made affirmative” procedure is needed in the likely event that there is a short window between Royal Assent to this Bill and the end of the transition period. For that reason, the affirmative procedure proposed by the noble Baroness does not work.

The people of the UK voted to leave the EU and take back control of our laws and our borders. It is therefore imperative that this House helps to deliver on that democratic mandate by ensuring that free movement is brought to an end by 31 December. It is important to ensure that regulations made under this power commence by then. Under the “made affirmative” procedure, both Houses will be asked to approve the regulations within 40 days of them being made for them to continue in force, so Parliament has scrutiny over the use of this power. If Parliament does not approve the regulations then they will cease to have effect, but subsection (10) preserves the effect of anything done under them before that point in order to ensure legal certainty. Using this power does not mean avoiding parliamentary scrutiny—far from it—as the secondary legislation to be made under the power is subject to full parliamentary oversight using established procedures.

I think it is right that Parliament should set the scope of the power in Clause 4 in terms that are appropriate to the purpose of the Bill in ending free movement and protecting the rights of Irish citizens. It is also right that Parliament should retain appropriate oversight over the exercise of this power. However, the Government are committed to ending free movement now that we have left the EU, and this parliamentary procedure is an essential part of delivering that. I hope the noble Baronesses and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe have been assured of the content of the draft regulations and the explanation of how the Government will use the delegated power. I therefore ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Furthermore, some noble Lords have spoken to oppose that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill. I must emphasise the importance of this power for the effective implementation of the Bill. I trust that sight of the draft regulations provides further reassurance that the power does not give Ministers a blank cheque to make wide-ranging changes to immigration policies. The power can be used only to make provision as a consequence of or in connection with Part 1 of the Bill on the ending of free movement and protecting the status of Irish citizens, but without the power we cannot align immigration treatment between EEA and non-EEA citizens, and cannot then build up our global points based system.

The regulations will be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny using well-established procedures. Free movement must end on 31 December and the “made affirmative” procedure is needed to ensure regulations made under this power align the treatment of EEA and non-EEA citizens who arrive in the country from 1 January 2021. It is important to debate the appropriate use of delegated powers, but the Government are committed to ending free movement now that we have left the EU and this clause is an essential part of it.

Business and Planning Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, I support the amendments in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Holmes of Richmond and Lord Addington, relating to small breweries and sporting clubs. I am a bit disappointed that the Government have not found a way to do something here. We hear lots of talk about supporting small business, but we seem to be in a rigid situation, where we cannot move out of where we are. I do not see why we could not do something and it is regrettable that we could not find a way. I accept that breweries do not have licences now, but they could be given something temporarily. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, made the point that sports clubs are often open only a couple of nights a week. Why have we not sorted them out? In this emergency Bill to deal with Covid-19, we have chosen to ignore them, and that is regrettable. I do not see why the Government have done that. They could have moved a bit more on that. I support the amendments, and it is regrettable that there will be no progress on them.

A convincing case has been laid out for Amendment 52, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and other noble Lords. I supported the idea in Committee. Equally, I see some of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and I accept that this is a temporary Bill; perhaps doing something permanent in a temporary Bill may be a problem, but the least we should get tonight is a commitment. Technically, this can be done and the Government should get on and make sure that it happens.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, particularly for the interest in Amendment 52, tabled by my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lord Bourne and the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson and Lord Clement-Jones, on digital age verification. I could agree with virtually everything said in the debate on this amendment. I am very keen to progress this agenda, and it was in discussing this that my noble friend and I realised that we had a mutual interest in moving this agenda forward—she as a former Digital Minister and me dealing with data and identity in the Home Office.

The Government have carefully considered the concerns raised by this amendment. We support its aims, and we believe that a more holistic approach is needed to enable the use of digital identity in compliance with age-verification requirements in the Licensing Act for the sale of alcohol. As I explained in Committee, the protection of children from harm is an objective that all licensed premises should promote. Age verification plays a critical role in this and it is essential that we have confidence in the forms of identification presented as proof of age to promote this licensing objective. As my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering said, the PASS accredits a number of national and local suppliers of ID cards, offering retailers flexibility to choose an appropriate card to fit their needs and fulfil their licence condition.

At present it is not possible to use a digital ID as proof of age for the purchase of alcohol in the UK due to the lack of an agreed industry standard for digital ID. Without trusted digital identity standards in place, licence holders cannot know that market solutions are fit for purpose. This would make it very difficult for them to meet the reasonable precautions and due diligence requirements described in Amendment 52. The lack of an equivalent national standard for digital ID would lead to uncertainty.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, was correct in saying that movement on this is slow. I share his frustration and I know that my noble friend, a former Digital Minister, does too, but we do not think it is right to place licence holders in a position in which they are being asked to accept proof of ID without a set of agreed standards, even on temporarily. To do so may place them at risk of committing a criminal offence.

Although the Government are resisting this amendment, we do not disagree with—in fact we are very supportive of—the principle of digital ID. I set out in Committee some of the steps we are taking to progress work in this area. A call for evidence was launched last summer and the responses overwhelmingly agreed that the Government have a role in developing a framework for digital ID use in the UK. Respondents stressed the need for legal certainty on how to use digital identity. The Government will consult on developing legislation to set provisions for consumer protection relating to digital ID, specific rights for individuals, an ability to seek redress if something goes wrong and where responsibility for oversight should lie. The Government will also consult on the appropriate privacy and technical standards for secure digital identity. Sufficient oversight of these standards needs to be established to build trust and to facilitate innovation, which will provide organisations with a handrail to develop new, future-facing products, which I know is exactly what my noble friend seeks.

The Government plan to update existing laws on identity checking to enable digital ID to be used in the greatest number of circumstances. However, it is only when the framework and, most importantly, the standards are in place that we can expect industry and citizens to trust and have confidence in using and accepting digital IDs. Now, knowing our mutual interest in this subject, I hope that the Government and I will be able to draw on my noble friend’s considerable experience in this area as plans develop. I invite her to engage with Ministers and officials on this work as it develops. I am happy to give a commitment, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Barran, that we will work together with my noble friend towards our shared aspiration. To be honest, after four years in the Home Office I am glad that I have found someone interested in my policy area of digital ID and data. I hope that, with that commitment, my noble friend will support me in my longer-term vision for digital identities and will not move her amendment when it is reached.

I now turn to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Holmes. As noble Lords will be aware, the provisions in the Bill add permission for off-sales to most premises with an existing on-sales premises licence. It is not a mechanism to amend the process by which premises licences are granted.

I shall deal with Amendments 42, 43 and 50, tabled by my noble friend Lord Holmes, first. My noble friend has spoken passionately in support of small breweries. He is right to say that they have thrived over the past few years and we do not want to lose that. They are important. I note his point that his amendments could help breweries to sell alcohol to the public. However, as I said in Committee, we feel that any proposal that a business should be given a full premises licence without proper scrutiny by the local licensing authority, the police or the public is a step too far.

Similarly, with regard to Amendment 51, we are not currently seeking to make changes to the number of temporary event notices available for application in one year. Temporary licences granted for a limited period should not be used as a route to a permanent licence. As I have set out, there are crucial scrutiny mechanisms in place for granting them to ensure that all premises are selling alcohol responsibly.

Covid-19: Human Trafficking

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Thursday 16th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I agree with the noble and learned Baroness in the sense that we have paused an awful lot of the processes that might be in place for people seeking asylum. Protecting people during this period and making sure they get the support that they need is at the heart of our endeavours. She has a point—children need specific intervention. I am not entirely sure what the position is with regard to NRM, but the Home Office is very focused on supporting children who might be vulnerable.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, will the Minister first join me in paying tribute to the work of the Clewer Initiative and the leadership shown there by the right reverend Alastair Redfern, the former Lord Bishop of Derby, whose wise words are much missed in this House? Secondly, does the Minister accept that the exploitation of vulnerable people has continued and increased during the pandemic, with victims finding it more difficult to escape their abusers as front-line services have been either reduced or shut down? Can the Minister tell the House what remedial action will be taken to help victims as the country reopens?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I join the noble Lord in his praise for the Clewer Initiative. We feel that victims have been more in danger not because local services are not available to them but because we fear that many of them, particularly in situations of domestic abuse and slavery, are actually locked in with the exploiter or the abuser.

Business and Planning Bill

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Monday 13th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I refer the House to my relevant registered interests as a vice-president of the Local Government Association and as president of Pubwatch.

Group 1 deals with a range of amendments relating to premises and alcohol licensing, including Amendment 39 in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Berkeley on temporary event notices and Amendment 41 in my name, which seeks to add a new clause on health and safety to the Bill after Clause 11.

The noble Lord, Lord Balfe, referred to there being no votes today. We do not often vote in Committee—I have now been in the House for 10 years. I have made it clear in all my dealings with the Government, at Second Reading and in my meetings with them, which have been very helpful, that I will divide the House on Report if necessary. I have been very clear on that. I hope that we will get some resolution today so that it will not be necessary, but I am certainly not averse to having a vote. I would not be accused of that.

The first amendment in this group, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Balfe, raises the issue of cumulative impact zones, which are areas defined as contributing to community problems because of alcohol. The noble Lord rightly seeks to stop premises in these zones applying for pavement licences. I look forward to the response from the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, explaining how she has consulted with groups such as Pubwatch and other groups representing towns and city centres.

I hope that the noble Baroness will also detail the wider assessment the Government have made of the impact of these changes on crime, and in response to Amendment 11, on police consultation, I hope she will confirm that dialogue with police, local authorities and other interested parties will continue after measures in the Bill are implemented.

The noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, made the point, which I agree with, about the need for the new street drinking to be controlled and managed safely. People can then relax and support the local economy while doing so safely and helping to avoid a second spike. That is very important.

My Amendment 39, plus two amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, deal with how the provisions can help businesses which do not have the necessary licence presently, as they rely on temporary event notices. This would also help street vendors who have been hit particularly hard in this crisis and have seen their doors close, some for good. Up to 15,000 businesses have lost all their income overnight and many tens of thousands of pounds have been tied up in rent for music festivals and rolled over to 2021.

The amendment would also help small breweries, which have suffered. Many noble Lords have spoken about the support for the small brewery industry. As we have heard, small breweries have seen up to 82% of their sales reduced because of Covid-19. They have not received the same level of financial support as pubs and the hospitality sector, and that is a matter of regret. One in four breweries—about 500 of the 2,000—does not currently have any way to sell directly to the public. The Government should adopt this measure as a way of helping them in the months ahead. The noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, and my noble friend Lord Berkeley, made a convincing case for the need to help small breweries, as did my noble friends Lady Kennedy of Cradley and Lord Wood of Anfield. As my noble friend Lord Berkeley said, these small breweries have made a fantastic contribution to the variety and type of beers sold in the UK; they employ local people, and they have been devastated. We need to do something and I hope the noble Baroness will be able to give us a positive response.

My Amendment 41 seeks to highlight the importance of workers’ safety in the hospitality sector, which the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, also referred to. I am grateful to the support I have had from the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers’ Union for its contribution about how to address this issue. I hope the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, will address issues such as the handling of cash and how that can be limited. In pubs and other small venues, small amounts of money are handed over. There are payment companies like Worldpay and Shopify, but in many cases if you go into a pub or a small shop and want to pay by debit card, or if you spend less than £10 or £15, they charge you. There needs to be some way in which the companies will not charge the 10p that they presently do. What contribution can they make to ensure that people use less cash and pay by debit card more? Companies would need to step up to the plate and maybe the Government could ask them to do that. It would certainly help reduce the amount of cash being used, with the benefits that that would bring.

It would be interesting to hear about the protection of security staff at entrances to licensed premises. That is very difficult normally, but particularly now that we are talking about social distancing. What support are the Government going to give those staff to ensure they can do their job properly as well as being safe?

How do we ensure that toilets are safe for staff and customers? What discussion has the Minister had with the British Toilet Association including advice on keeping toilets clean and safe? This will be of paramount importance for staff who need to ensure their toilets are kept clean and safe for their customers. Can the noble Baroness also explain what guidance the Government will offer to pubs on these other issues?

Other amendments in the group raise important points, and I hope that we will get a detailed response, particularly on Amendment 44, from the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. They both made a clear case about allowing better enforcement of the drinking regulations, which would be welcomed. It will be interesting to see whether it is possible to bring that forward quickly. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, made it clear that there is support in the sector for bringing these matters in quickly.

I will leave my comments there and look forward to the detailed response from the Minister.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, who manages to get cannabis into every debate—I admire her tenacity. If she is agreeable, I will respond to some of her comments in group six.

The general tenor of this debate is that people support the context in which this Bill is proposed, to get the economy moving and, crucially, the fact that it is sunsetted to next September. As my noble friend Lady Noakes clearly articulated, this is not about the norm but about emergency measures to get the economy moving again. As this mistake has been made a couple of times, it is important to distinguish between pavement licences and off-sales licences, which of course supermarkets have got anyway.

Amendment 1 in the name of my noble friend Lord Balfe seeks to prevent the granting of pavement licences to businesses in cumulative impact zones. It is right that cumulative impact and potential for nuisance and disorder be considered when granting these pavement licences. That is why the Bill gives local authorities the ability to effectively manage risks in their local area. If a local authority thinks problems related to alcohol or anything else could occur, they can refuse an application for a pavement licence. In granting these licences, they may also impose conditions and if these conditions are breached, the local authority may issue a notice requiring the breach to be remedied. Local authorities can also revoke pavement licences in several situations including when the licence is causing risk to public health or safety or causing anti-social behaviour and nuisance. I hope my noble friend will agree it is important to retain local authority discretion in this area and he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Amendment 3 is also in the name of my noble friend, and I appreciate the points he has made. We expect the pavement and alcohol licencing measures to benefit cafes, restaurants and pubs primarily. However, it is important that the Government support economic recovery whenever they can, which is why this fast-track route is available to all businesses selling and serving food and drink. It will mean that a range of businesses, including some shops, theatres, and galleries, will be able to apply for pavement licences and off-sale licences, maximising the economic impact of these temporary measures. For the reasons I have set out I am not able to accept this amendment and I hope that my noble friend will not press it to a vote.

Amendment 11 is the last of the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Balfe. I assure noble Lords that the Bill requires local authorities to consult such persons as the local authority considers appropriate before determining an application for a pavement licence.

To answer my noble friend Lord Sheikh and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, the Government expect that this would include the local police force, but believe that the local authority can and should use its discretion and local knowledge to decide who to consult. To answer the question from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, directly: yes, we have spoken to the police. We have engaged with them throughout. The most recent time that I spoke directly to Martin Hewitt was last Friday, just before we went into super Saturday. We will continue to engage with them throughout.

Covid-19: Domestic Abuse

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 29th June 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bates Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Bates) (Con)
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I call the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. Baroness Greengross?

We will move on to the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, additional funding is welcome, but I do not believe that it is enough to cope with the surge of domestic abuse during the pandemic. Following on from the noble Lord, Lord Polak, what specific additional work are the Government funding to help children who could be victims or who witness this criminal behaviour, because of the trauma it causes and the risk that it will be normalised in the home as acceptable behaviour and carried on into future generations?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I agree with the noble Lord. He is absolutely right that what an adult experiences as domestic violence the child will also feel, whether directly or indirectly, from that domestic violence. Children are part of the support package, so if the mother is safe—it is usually the mother—the child will be safe. But various charities are working with women and children to ensure their safety during this pandemic.

Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading
Monday 15th June 2020

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have spoken to this amendment. Amendment 2 deals with the proposed statutory requirements for a consultation, the laying of statements before Parliament setting out the risks of any amendment to add, vary or remove a territory to the Bill and, in the case of additions, confirming that a territory does not abuse the Interpol red notice system prior to laying any regulations which seek to amend the territories subject to the Bill.

The Government are committed to ensuring that Parliament has the ability to question and decide on whether any new territories should come within scope. Therefore, it is mandated in the Bill that any Government wishing to add a new territory should do so through the affirmative resolution procedure. Any statutory instrument laid before Parliament will, of course, be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum that will set out the legislative context and the policy reason for the instrument. This procedure will give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise proposals and allow the House to reject any proposals to add, remove or vary any territory to, from or in the Bill. The reasoning put forward will need to satisfy Parliament that the territory in scope does not abuse Interpol red notices or create unacceptable risks.

While extradition is a reserved matter, relevant officials are engaged in regular discussions with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations about how it should operate in practice. They would of course engage with them as a matter of good practice were any secondary legislation to be introduced in relation to it. Similarly, several relevant NGOs and expert legal practitioners have been consulted by officials in the normal way; this answers the questions of the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford. All external stakeholders are able to make direct contact with parliamentarians so that their views are included in all debates connected with secondary legislation associated with the Bill, as they have done during its current passage by contacting several noble Lords in this House.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Ludford, talked about the abuse of Interpol channels. I will expand on that a bit. In arguing that maybe a power should not be enacted, given previous abuse of Interpol channels by some hostile states, the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, cited the case of Bill Browder. International organisations like Interpol are critical to international law enforcement co-operation and are aligned with our vision of a global Britain. Interpol provides a secure channel through which we exchange information on a police-to-police basis for action. The UK continues to work with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust, effective and complied with. The former chief constable of Essex was recently made the executive director of policing services for Interpol, which I was delighted about. It is the most senior operational role in that organisation. A UK government lawyer has also been seconded to the Interpol notices and diffusion task force, to work with it to ensure that Interpol rules are properly robust and adhered to by Interpol member states.

In terms of the specification of non-trusted countries, the power will be available only in relation to requests from the countries specified in the Bill—countries in whose criminal justice systems we have a high level of confidence, and that do not abuse Interpol systems. The Government will not specify any country that is not suitable. The addition of any country must be approved by both Houses, and I trust that neither House will be content to approve the addition of a country about which we have concern.

I will try to make it easy for the House, because we will now have our first ever virtual vote in the House of Lords. I understand that noble Lords would like to divide on this, and I hope that they will join me in resisting the amendment.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark [V]
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My Lords, this has been a good short debate. I thank my noble friends Lady Kennedy of Cradley, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Lady Wilcox of Newport and Lord Adonis, as well as the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for their support. All noble Lords carefully set out the need for this amendment in a most convincing way. I am not persuaded by the response of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, which I found disappointing. I will not disappoint her, and I will make it very clear that I certainly wish to test the opinion of the House in this first ever virtual vote.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark [V]
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My Lords, I support Amendment 3, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. As noble Lords have heard, this issue has been considered by the House as the Bill has made its progress through the various stages. What is proposed here today is simple, effective and, I contend, good government.

Surely it must be right that when we are designating countries that we wish to form an extradition agreement with, after the detailed work has taken place, Parliament should have the opportunity to accept or reject the designation for an individual territory. Parliament generally, and this House in particular, does not often vote down regulations. We may pass Motions to Regret or debate the merits of what is proposed, and many may express deep reservations, but fatal Motions are very rare.

This amendment is important; it is good practice and what good government should be all about. It guards against this or any future Government, of whatever political persuasion, seeking to group together a number of countries and push them through en bloc where, for example, nine of the 10 countries proposed have good reputations, a good track record and respect for the rule of law, do not persecute dissidents, do not abuse human rights and do not abuse Interpol red notices, but the remaining country has a more questionable record on one, or a number of, the issues I have raised. In such a case, it would be wrong for the Government to try to force through an agreement under the cover of Parliament not wanting to reject the other territories, and would give the country about which questions have been asked some form of protection that it does not deserve, making the approval a fait accompli. Parliament should, in all circumstances, guard against that.

If passed, this amendment would allow Parliament, on the rare occasion that it rejects regulations, to do so quite clearly on the record of the individual territory that the Government propose to sign an agreement with. That is right, proportionate and the sensible way to deal with this important part of public policy; no other agreement will be put at risk. It is good government, and I hope noble Lords will support the amendment if it is put to the vote.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, on previous occasions this House has spoken at length on the question of what constitutes appropriate parliamentary scrutiny, in the wider sense, in relation to the addition of any territory, and has just done so again on Amendment 2. I will now expand further in addressing Amendment 3, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, which seeks to mandate that this be done by individual statutory instrument for each suggested country.

I was slightly dismayed to hear noble Lords talk about mutual extradition arrangements because, as I have clarified on several occasions, this has not, and never has been, about mutual extradition arrangements. We do not do this on behalf of other countries, and if, for example, we did it on behalf of Turkey, the courts would throw it out—even if the Government could get it through Parliament, the courts would throw it out.

When this issue was debated in Committee, it was pointed out that statutory instruments that seek to specify new territories are not amendable. Some feel that this may create a difficulty for this House if regulations were laid which sought to specify multiple countries. As I have said before, the process of potentially listing multiple countries already exists for adding territories to both parts of the Extradition Act 2003.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lords who engaged very constructively with the Bill, particularly the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Paddick, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. The Chief Whip’s beeper is going so I think he wants me to keep my comments short.

Extradition is not an easy subject, but this has been most interesting legislation, with very well-drafted and thoughtful amendments. Everyone will benefit from the work done on this. I particularly thank officials from the Home Office, who have supported me so brilliantly throughout. I beg to move.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark [V]
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My Lords, I echo the noble Baroness’s comments. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the proceedings on the Bill. I enjoyed working with everybody concerned. I think that we have made the Bill better. As always, the noble Baroness has been courteous and kind and always prepared to engage with me constructively. I also thank all her officials from the Home Office for the way they have worked with me during the Bill’s passage.

Domestic Violence

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Tuesday 5th May 2020

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are monitoring and responding to domestic abuse issues arising during this period, and £28 million of the £750 million announced by the Treasury for charities will go to domestic abuse charities to help victims to continue to access their services. The Home Office has separately provided £2 million to support helpline and website provision, and the recently launched #YouAreNotAlone campaign is helping to raise awareness of this crime while directing victims to support services.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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We all look forward to the Domestic Abuse Bill becoming law, but that will not be for several months. Victims of domestic abuse need additional support and help immediately. Will the Minister agree to go back, speak to the Home Secretary and explore the possibility of a series of public information films on TV channels in the UK setting out that domestic abuse is a crime, that victims are not alone, that help and support is at the end of the phone and that by texting or clicking on a website we will come to their aid?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Lord will know the web facilities that are available, and the Home Office has separately provided £2 million to support helpline and website provision. On his broader question about a mainstream public broadcasting campaign, I most certainly will go back to the Home Secretary, but at this time I would like to avoid—I know the noble Lord will agree with me—having perpetrators and their victims sitting side by side while such information comes on the television. It might create additional tensions within the home. However, I will take the idea back and discuss the matter with the Home Secretary.

Domestic Abuse

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 29th April 2020

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I think the noble Baroness will agree that we have always had a cross-government approach on domestic violence. Certainly, some of the round tables that we had before coronavirus, in the lead-up to the Domestic Abuse Bill, were very consensual and collaborative. It is certainly something that I will continue to promote. We have been meeting and engaging virtually with charities right from the start of the outbreak of this pandemic.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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We are also concerned about children trapped in dangerous domestic situations. What measures are the Government taking to protect those children? More widely, can the Minister say what they are doing to protect children at risk of sexual and other abuse?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I recognise the noble Lord’s point about children—they are at the brunt of abuse, or are witnesses to abuse. As I meant to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, I am on a call every day with the Home Secretary and her operational partners, who are very alive to what might be going on behind closed doors. In the last four weeks, the NCA has developed and disseminated 1,060 child sexual abuse packages for police forces to investigate. Those figures are horrific, but it is testament to the good work of our police forces.

Operation Midland

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 18th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, there is quite a lot in my noble friend’s follow-up question. I join him in paying tribute to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, who took very swift action in dealing with this. It is regrettable that there was no plan in place to deliver sustained improvements after Sir Richard’s review. Both HMICFRS and the IOPC have now found that the MPS has delivered significant improvements but, with respect to keeping track of those improvements, the Home Secretary will continue to seek assurances from the MPS that those improvements are being embedded across the force. On whether we will launch an inquiry into Operation Conifer, Operation Conifer and Operation Midland were quite different investigations. Operation Conifer has been subject to significant scrutiny. As Wiltshire Police has made clear, Operation Conifer did not pursue further inquiries into Carl Beech’s allegations after deciding that there was undermining evidence.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I see the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, about Operation Conifer. In respect of all the allegations of historical sexual abuse, can the Minister tell the House how many convictions there have been to date?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am glad that the noble Lord raises this because we need to see this in the broader context of historical abuse against children, of which there have been 11,346 non-recent allegations; that is a significant number. In total, 4,024 convictions have resulted from this. It has most definitely been something worth pursuing.

Extradition Act 2003 (Amendments to Designations) Order 2020

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 9th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, for explaining the order. I have no particular comments to make in respect of Norway and Iceland becoming Part 1, and no longer being Part 2, territories other than that, for me, it illustrates what a stupid decision it is no longer to take part in the European arrest warrant procedure. That is obviously for another time but I think that it will benefit nobody but criminals; I am sure that we will come back to that in other debates.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, outlined, there are some concerns about Kuwait and Morocco. In respect of Kuwait, the treaty was signed in 2016 but, since then, it has resumed executions and is now talking about lowering the age at which someone can be executed. There are genuine concerns about that and it would be helpful if the noble Baroness could explain what the process will be. We are genuinely worried. We do not support the death penalty in any circumstances and it would be very worrying if people could potentially be sent back to face it. In addition, Kuwait outlaws same-sex relationships, with a maximum prison sentence of seven years, so, again, we would be very worried if someone in that situation were to be extradited to Kuwait.

It would be useful to hear from the noble Baroness whether the Government have received any assurances from the Kuwaiti authorities since the treaty was signed in 2016 and since that country changed its laws regarding executions. In this respect, in 2018, my noble friend Lord Collins of Highbury tabled a Motion that was debated on the Floor of the House. It would be useful to know whether anything happened following that Motion being debated. I look forward to the noble Baroness’s reply.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank both noble Lords for the questions on this statutory instrument that they have rightly asked. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked whether our intention in the future is to remain part of the ECHR. At the moment, that is our intention, although, as she acknowledged, I cannot speak about what will happen in the future.

The question that I thought might be brought up was about the death penalty in Kuwait. It is important to make it clear at the outset that extradition is prohibited by statute if the person concerned might face the death penalty, unless the Secretary of State gets adequate written assurance that the death penalty will not be imposed. The UK Government oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. As we all know, it undermines human dignity and there is no conclusive evidence that it is a deterrent. Any miscarriage of justice leading to its imposition is clearly irreparable, so extradition from the UK is not possible where the person has been, will be or could be sentenced to death, and that is made explicitly clear in the Extradition Act.

Extradition is obviously a very important tool in bringing perpetrators to justice. We can maintain extradition relations with countries that have the death penalty while making it absolutely clear that we will never allow a person to be extradited from the UK if they will face the death penalty elsewhere.

Kuwait and Morocco are not listed as priority countries in the FCO’s human rights report. Therefore, no explicit exchange of human rights assurances was sought in addition to those that make up the extradition treaty. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, is all the more reason for us to be explicit on extradition and the death penalty.

Our very good relations with both Kuwait and Morocco provide further comfort, so we can raise a range of human rights issues with them. We do so in the context of ongoing bilateral dialogue.

On LGBT status, it is important to note that the same standard of safeguards applies to UK extradition relations with all Part 2 countries. Whether a request is compatible with a person’s human rights is assessed by the UK’s judiciary in extradition cases. If a court found that a person would, for example, be subject to inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment as a result of their extradition, they would not be extradited. I hope that provides the comfort that the Committee rightly seeks on this statutory instrument.

Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 9th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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It is absolutely fine. I shall not repeat them because it would detain the Committee longer than necessary, but the noble Baroness has raised some very important points. I support the regulations and we are pleased they are here, but our concern and worry is that the people who are vulnerable are those who have not picked up on the need to use this system. If they do not use it, they will find themselves, in June 2021, to be in the UK illegally, even if they have been here for many years. That is what we are worried about.

The other point of concern is that there have been a few issues in the Home Office in terms of appeals and other problems in the past. We are very worried that someone might find themselves in difficulty, so what we are looking for from the Minister is some reassurance about that and about how people will be treated. What will the Government do to ensure that people know they need to apply for this? It may well be that some of those people who are here from elsewhere in Europe are in quite low-paid jobs, do not have a lot of money and are just not picking up on it. What we do not want is a situation where people do not understand that they need to apply and find themselves in difficulty with the authorities and potentially being removed from this country when, had they applied, they would have been given the right to stay here. That is the reassurance every noble Lord here is looking for. In principle, I am very happy with there now being a right to appeal, so I will leave it there.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their points. I thought this would be the easy SI and that every noble Lord would be so happy with the appeal processes. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked why so many appeals are successful. An appeal may succeed where new information is provided.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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I am sorry for treating this as a conversation, but I understand that their funding goes to the 31st of this month, but they need to know, if they do not know already, whether they will be able to employ people to continue the service.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I understand that when this came up in the Commons the Minister said the thing should be resolved in a couple of weeks. That was a week ago.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That is because we will be announcing the arrangements for the financial year 2020-21 shortly—in the Budget, I am guessing. I hope that rather clumsily answers the noble Baroness’s questions.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I totally understand that point. It is frustrating for any group or organisation waiting for future funding announcements to be in this position right at the end of the financial year; I really get that. I just want to answer the last point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, on vulnerable people. As he knows, we have set out some funding for organisations who will help vulnerable people. I think they are the last cohort of people on whom our attention will need to focus: as he says, people who do not even know that they must apply. That work is well under way across the country and, given the number of applicants, which is 3.2 million, it is clearly going well for most people, but he is right to raise that final cohort.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I am glad that the noble Baroness has recognised that point, but can we have an assurance that the Government will look at them sympathetically? There will be people who do not know that they have to apply and, in a few months’ or a year’s time, find themselves illegally in this country who thought they were here legally. I hope that, at that point, the Government will treat people reasonably and understand that it may well be through no fault of their own—they have not picked it up—they are in these difficult situations.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Totally, and that is what this reasonable grounds process is all about. We actually want to find reasons to grant people settled status, so the point the noble Lord makes about not being harsh on people is absolutely right. The other day, I came across a Romanian lady who did not know what to do. I helped to point her in the right direction of applying. Yes, those people who still do not know now will need that extra bit of help. I beg to move.

Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Thursday 5th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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We will get on to my noble friend’s point, but we use Parliament to make law rather than to make points. I hope he will respect the point that I make.

The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, asked about obligation to extradite. He is absolutely right. The Bill creates powers for the police, not obligations to other countries.

Amendment 2 requests the publication of an annual statement on arrests. The NCA already keeps data and publishes statistics around arrest volumes in relation to Part 1 of the Extradition Act. It does it without being required to do so by primary legislation. We have no doubt that it will similarly do so in respect of arrests under this new arrest power, as this is a sensible operational practice. I have sympathy for the amendment, so I have asked officials to look at how we can give the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, some reassurance. I hope he will accept that I will liaise with him between now and Report.

I am not persuaded that the either the Secretary of State or the NCA require a statutory obligation to take these steps. I hope I have been able to persuade the noble Lord not to press his amendments, but we will have further discussions between now and Report.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this short debate. I am obviously happy to withdraw my amendment for the moment.

I agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. The noble Lord, Lord Deben, has also made some important points, which I know we will come to later.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, mentioned Parliamentary Questions. Sometimes, the Answers we get are not very good, to say the least. That goes across government. I am going to have to start tabling Questions about Parliamentary Answers. I asked one recently of another department. I asked, “What do we here?” and the Answer had no bearing whatever on the Question. I raised that with the Minister concerned and he accepted that. I thought, “Just answer the Question. If you can’t answer it, tell me you can’t answer it.” They had sent back a ridiculous Answer that had no bearing and it is not good enough. Unfortunately, that is a problem across government. Maybe we need a debate in the House about it. I am going to try putting in FoIs and comparing answers between PQs and FoIs. Will the answers be as bad there? We will see. But that is a separate issue. I would love to think that PQs were the answer; unfortunately, in my experience of being here for nearly 10 years, they are not.

Having said that, I am pleased with the Minister’s response, especially to my second amendment. I look forward to further discussions between now and Report. On that basis, I am happy to withdraw my amendment.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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Amendment 5 in this group is in my name. It would simply put “National Crime Agency” into the Bill. Throughout the Bill, there are references to the “designated authority”, but there is no mention of a specific agency. I am sure that the Minister will set out why the Bill is framed in that way and I look forward to that explanation.

Other amendments in this group are in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. They are all useful, as they give the Minister the opportunity to explain further the Government’s reasoning in specific areas and to convince the Grand Committee of the protections in the Bill.

On Amendment 4, who will be responsible and accountable if the safeguards fail and we end up complying with a request that is politically motivated? Amendment 11 would take away the uncertainty built into the Bill. I do not like phrases such as “the designated authority believes”. “Believes” is a strange word to have in legislation. I like there to be a bit more certainty than is offered by a word such as “believes”. It seems very loose and open to all sorts of interpretations by all sorts of people.

Amendment 11A raises the circumstance where somebody could be rearrested under a new certificate. I accept that circumstances can change and maybe those powers are needed, but if somebody has been released under one certificate, we need to make clear what would need to change for them to be rearrested under a new one.

Amendment 11C has my full support. In many ways, it is a compromise between what the Bill says and what Amendment 5 says. Doing it through an SI is probably the best way forward, so I fully support Amendment 11C. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for their points on these amendments. They have been grouped together as dealing with the functions of the designated authority and the criteria applied by it in certifying requests.

Amendment 4 proposes a new criterion for certification. This would require the designated authority to be satisfied that the request is not politically motivated. Making consideration of political motivation a precondition of certification for the designated authority would reverse the present position for arrests under the Extradition Act 2003. Presently, the courts are required to consider during the substantive extradition hearing whether any of the statutory bars to extradition apply. These statutory bars include whether the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing an individual on account of their political opinions—that comes under Section 81 of the Extradition Act 2003. The Government’s position remains that it is right that the judge considers these points based on all the evidence before him or her during the substantive hearing and not the NCA prior to arrest. It is the judge who is ultimately accountable.

Furthermore, we are all aware that the Extradition Act contains substantial safeguards in respect of requests motivated by reason of the requested person’s political views. These safeguards will continue to apply, and we fully expect the courts to continue to exercise their powers of scrutiny as usual.

Arguments of political motivation are of course not usually simple. It is right that the question of whether an individual extradition request can be described as politically motivated should be assessed by a judge before an open court. It is vital, of course, that the requested person should be able to put their arguments on this basis to a judge, but it is also crucial, in the fulfilment of our obligations under the international arrangements on extradition that give rise to such proceedings, that the requesting authority should be able to respond to such arguments and put their own case as to why the request is not politically motivated. This should be openly and fairly arbitrated, so importing this consideration into the process for determining whether an individual may be arrested would be at odds with existing extradition law. Noble Lords will be aware that judges and justices of the peace are not required to consider such factors when deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant under Section 71 or Section 73 of the 2003 Act.

Were the designated authority to make such a deliberation in effectively, it would need to be able to invite representations on the point from both the requesting authority and the requested person in each case before certification. Not only would this be hugely resource-intensive, it would also advertise to the wanted person that they are wanted. I should note that the designated authority, as a public body, would already be under an obligation to act compatibly with convention rights under Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. At the point of certification, this will include consideration of whether an arrest is ECHR-compatible.

I bring the attention of noble Lords to the types of territories proposed as appropriate specified territories. These are democracies whose criminal justice systems are rooted in the rule of law. I am certain Parliament would not accept the addition to the schedule of territories that we believed would send the UK politically motivated arrest requests. I hope I have been able to persuade the noble Baroness that there is no gap in safeguards here and that, consequently, she will be content with withdraw her amendment.

She also asked what is meant by the “seriousness of the conduct”. The language mirrors the test in Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003. As she thought, there is indeed case law on the point. The intention is to capture only conduct sufficiently serious to ensure that the power is used only where proportionate. For example, the minor theft of an item of food from a supermarket or a very small amount of money is unlikely, without exceptional circumstances, to be sufficiently serious. Only when the designated authority decides that the offence satisfies the test will it be able to certify the request.

I turn now to Amendment 5, which seeks to define the designated authority as the National Crime Agency in the Bill. Our approach here mirrors that of the designation of the authority responsible for certification of European arrest warrants under Part 1 of the Act. The Government consider that the designation of the authority responsible for issuing a certificate is an appropriate matter to be left to secondary legislation. A regulation-making power affords the appropriate degree of flexibility to amend the designated authority in light of changing circumstances, including alterations to the functions of law enforcement bodies in the UK. To future-proof the legislation, the Government believe that the current drafting leaves an appropriate amount of flexibility. As I said, the Government’s intention is initially to designate the NCA, which is the UK’s national central bureau for Interpol, as the designated authority. I hope I have persuaded the noble Lord that we have got the balance right and that he will be content not to press his amendment.

I turn finally to Amendment 11, on requests made in the “approved way”. My noble friend’s amendment suggests that a request should be considered to have been made in the approved way only if it is made by an authority that has the function of making such requests in the territory concerned, rather than an authority which the designated authority believes to have this function.

Perhaps I may momentarily be a bit philosophical. The amendment attempts to base the assessment of the authority’s function on an objective truth. That is admirable from the point of view of legal certainty, but the designated authority does not have a monopoly on truth. The best it could do in practice, when making the assessment described in the amendment, would be to decide, to the best of its ability, whether the authority in question has the function of making such requests, arriving at what I think we would characterise as being a belief that it does so. Of course, the designated authority, as a public body, must take decisions that are reasonable and rational.

As such, we expect there to be no difference between how the assessment would be made in practice under the amendment and how it would be made under the existing text. The benefit of the text, as we have proposed it, is that it mirrors language elsewhere in the Extradition Act—for example, when the designated authority under Part 1 may issue a certificate in relation to a warrant and when the Secretary of State may issue a certificate under Part 2.

On the perceived risk implicit in Amendment 11A—that an arrested person could be rearrested for the same thing, having been discharged by a court, perhaps because they were not produced at court on time or for some other failing—I reassure the Committee that this is neither the intention nor the effect of the new sections in the Bill. New Section 74A(8) makes clear that an arrested person may

“not be arrested again in reliance of the same certificate”

if they have previously been discharged. The intention of this drafting is to stipulate that an individual may not be arrested again on the basis of the same international arrest request once a judge has discharged them. This mirrors Section 6 of the Extradition Act 2003, which provides for the same thing, where a person provisionally arrested on the basis of a belief relating to a European arrest warrant may not be arrested again on the basis of a belief relating to the same European arrest warrant.

On top of that, new Section 74B(3) requires that a certificate has to have been withdrawn before any arrest takes place to allow a new one to be issued relating to the same request. This again illustrates that a further certificate cannot simply be issued on the basis of the same request once an individual arrested under this power has been discharged by a judge.

Of course, it is vital that a certificate can be issued on the basis of a new request, or on the basis of a wholly different request, so that an individual wanted for another crime is not immune to any further arrest because they were once arrested and discharged for a different crime. Organised transnational offences, such as people trafficking, often involve offences in different countries, on different dates, with different victims, and no individual should be able to avoid answering for more than one serious crime using a legal loophole. The amendment would create that impunity. For that reason, I hope I have been able to persuade the noble Baroness and that she will be happy not to press that amendment.

Amendment 11C would require an affirmative resolution procedure to apply to any statutory instrument that designates an authority as a “designated authority”. Given that the framework and criteria for the issuing of a certificate are provided for in the Bill, we consider that the negative resolution procedure affords an appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny. We have plainly set out what the designated authority will do and how they must do it. Which particular body exercises that function is not, in our view, a matter that needs to be subject to debate in both Houses. The use of the power to designate an authority is necessary to accommodate any changing circumstances, including alterations to the functions of law enforcement bodies in the UK, and we consider it appropriate that we can respond to this promptly. The application of the negative procedure is also, again, completely consistent with the procedure for designating an authority for the purposes of issuing a certificate in respect of a European arrest warrant under Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003.

I am sorry for my long-winded response to these several amendments. I hope the noble Baroness and the noble Lord are happy not to press their amendments.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I do not have many remarks to make on this and I could not think of a quixotic quote. However, I really like Shakespeare because he is connected with the borough I grew up in, so I will remind you of this quote

“haste is needful in this desperate case.”

Some of the points which have been made are very important and should be taken on board. What are we doing here? We support the legislation in principle, but we have asked for reasons why we are doing this and we have gone through some of the wording before.

I look forward in particular to the Minister’s response to Amendment 12 because when you look at the wording it seeks to take out, it is quite worrying that it is in there at all. It may well be that there is a perfectly understandable explanation and I will be able to get up in a moment and say, “I fully support what the Minister intends to do”, but as it reads now, I am worried about what we are passing here. Perhaps she will say that it is fine because it talks about further consequential provisions in the sub-paragraph above and the Government will do nothing. However, there is an issue about the powers we are giving to the Executive and our ability to scrutinise or change them at a later date. That point has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, so I want this to be looked at.

Amendment 13 seeks to remove regulations about “saving” or “incidental” provision. What is that about? We could make all sorts of changes by saying that something is a saving. We could get rid of whole swathes of stuff, so what are we agreeing to? We do not want to find ourselves saying months or years ahead that we did not realise when we agreed to this that we were giving those powers to the Executive. I will leave it there and look forward to the Minister’s response, but I may intervene at some point for further clarification.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank noble Lords for the points they have made and I hope to be able to allay any fears around what Amendments 12, 13 and 14 seek to address.

As noble Lords have said, paragraph 29(1) confers a power on the Secretary of State to make further provisions that are consequential on the amendments made by the Schedule to the Bill. This is a standard power which is commonplace in legislation and is naturally constrained. It can be used only to make provisions that are consequential and it is not a power to make substantive policy changes. Rather, it will allow the Government to make small, technical amendments for good housekeeping to ensure that that statute book is consistent and functions well.

As we implement the new arrest power, it is in everyone’s interests to ensure legal continuity for law enforcement partners and those subject to arrest for extradition purposes. While many of the amendments required to other enactments are made by Part 2 of the Schedule to the Bill, it is anticipated that further consequential amendments may be identified as part of the implementation process. That is why the standard power is taken to provide the flexibility to ensure that the new arrest power can operate smoothly and efficiently. Placing a timeframe such as 12 months on the use of the power would unnecessarily frustrate the aim. In any event, as noble Lords will know, the power cannot be used to amend future legislation.

As to the scope of the possible amendments, the Bill is narrowly focused. Its purpose is to provide a power of provisional arrest for specified category 2 territories for extradition purposes. I stress the point that it does not affect or relate to the subsequent extradition process. The purpose of the consequential power is to deal with the consequences of those changes to the statute book. As such, just as wider amendments to the Extradition Act 2003 fall outside the Bill’s ambit, so amendments to effect wider extradition policy would fall outwith the consequential amendments power. The power extends to provisions that amend, repeal or revoke any provision of primary legislation. As I hope I have made clear, this is not unusual or exceptional. It is standard practice to take such a power to provide flexibility for smooth and efficient implementation.

Similarly, the power to make saving or incidental provision by regulations found at paragraph 29(3) of the Schedule is a standard power commonly given in legislation for the purposes of smoothing the introduction of a change to the statute book. Incidental provision would include only amendments that are necessary or expedient to make the Bill’s substantive provisions work. Saving provisions are required where it is necessary to preserve existing law following a change to legislation —for example, to ensure fairness or consistency in court proceedings in progress at the time of a change to legislation. As I have stated, these are standard clauses. Any amendment by regulations that amended, repealed or revoked primary legislation would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure by virtue of paragraph 29(5), as befitting a Henry VIII power of this type. I hope that I have allayed noble Lords’ fears about that.

As a final point to my noble friend Lord Inglewood, the power in this Act would not allow us simply to move countries from Part 1 to Part 2 of the Extradition Act, nor to substantively amend Part 1. Those are not consequential amendments. With those explanations, I hope that noble Lords will feel happy to withdraw their amendments.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I thank the Minister very much for explaining that. I am reassured to a large extent by what she said. Would it be possible to give an example of one of those little technical things that would be changed so that we are clear what we are all talking about? If she cannot now, maybe she could write to us.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am very happy to do that.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the Government have laid Amendment 15 to reflect Section 2 of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020, which changes the name of the Welsh legislature to “Senedd Cymru or the Welsh Parliament”. This amendment is a technical consequential amendment. It follows the new practice of using the Welsh name when referring only to the Welsh legislature. I hope noble Lords will be able to join me in voting for this amendment.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I am very happy to support this amendment. While looking at it, I was thinking that Members of the Welsh Parliament are called Assembly Members. What will they be called in future? They are in a Parliament and are called AMs—will there be some consequential change there? Maybe someone could clarify that at some point.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I will try to do that. It is a technical point to which I do not know the answer.

Historic Sexual Offences: Investigations

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I certainly take on board that last point about restoring the reputation of Wiltshire Police. I guess that it is for that force to ensure that the cultures change over time. Three successive Home Secretaries have now said that they will not instigate an inquiry and that it is a matter for the police. The IOPC has already had an inquiry into Operation Midland. HMICFRS is now carrying out a lessons-learned review into Operation Midland, and that report is due in the next few weeks.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness has just said that there have been three Home Secretaries who have not made an investigation into Operation Conifer, but, as the right reverend Prelate said, we are not going to move forward here. Why will a Home Secretary not order an investigation?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, for the simple reason that the police are operationally independent of the Government; it is a matter for them. There are funds available should they wish to launch inquiries, but it has been the clear view of three successive Home Secretaries that an inquiry is not appropriate.

European Arrest Warrant, Europol and Eurojust

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 2nd March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The first thing to say is that the Norway-Iceland agreement might have taken 13 years but the initial agreement took very little time at all; it was the commencement that seemed to take so long. It did not take very long to get agreement on this. The agreement we are negotiating should provide for co-operation between the UK and Europol and Eurojust to facilitate multilateral law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation. The agreement with Europol should go beyond existing precedent, given the scale and nature of co-operation between the UK and Europol. For example, the UK was the highest contributor of data to Europol for strategic, thematic and operational analysis in 2018.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, will the Minister set out for the House who she believes are the beneficiaries of this decision other than criminals seeking to evade justice? How will she ensure that fugitives in Europe will not just laugh at us for failing to bring them to justice?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the beneficiaries of this should be the people of the UK. It seeks to replicate many of the operational capabilities in the European arrest warrant, while containing safeguards.

Planned Deportation Flight to Jamaica

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 10th February 2020

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Answer given in the other place to an Urgent Question earlier today. When will the Windrush lessons learned review be published? Why are there delays in getting this report to the Home Office? Can she tell the House what the Government’s position will be when the report is published if it comes to light that, as a consequence of recommendations in the report, individuals on the flight tomorrow, or on other deportation flights, include people in categories that would not be recommended for deportation?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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As the noble Lord will know, I cannot pre-empt what the report will say, nor would he expect me to. As to when it will be published, the lessons learned review was commissioned by the Government but we would not wish to interfere in the process and tell Wendy Williams when to hand it over to us. However, as I outlined in the Statement, when we get the report, there will be a full government response.

Facial Recognition Surveillance

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Monday 27th January 2020

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Answer given to the Urgent Question in the other place today. The Government have promised to empower the police to safely use new technologies within a strict legal framework. The announcement of automated facial recognition has been made before such legislation has been introduced and seems to be on the basis of a court ruling that is being appealed.

Further, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires that intrusions, however justified, are in accordance with the law. With those points in mind, can the Minister confirm when the Government will introduce the necessary legislation, and can she further confirm that the technology will not be used until that legislation has been passed?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, this was recently tested in court and the High Court found that the police were operating within the law, so we do not feel that there is any need for further legislation at this point. However, I understand that the decision is being appealed, so that is probably about as far as I can go today.

Asylum Claims: Child Trafficking

Debate between Baroness Williams of Trafford and Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Thursday 16th January 2020

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber