09/06/2016 House of Lords


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can watch reported coverage of all of today's business in the Lords


after the Daily Politics tonight. Let us get together with our


colleagues in another place to try to ensure that secondary


legislation, which should ndver include Henry the VIII clauses is


properly examined in both Housed and capable of amendment in both. My


Lords, together with other noble Lords I would like to deplore your


lordship's attention to the declining quality of legisl`tion


presented to us. I raise thhs, not only because it's something that we


can do something about, as the Noble Lord, Lord Lang suggested, hndeed


have to do something about, also because as standards declind there


is more opportunity to ignore or even break the rules. Rules that


have been devised over time to protect the public good. I thank him


for moving this debate and for her sensible proposals. Like my Noble


Friend, Baroness Andrews my concern arises from my current membdrship of


the secondary legislate scrttiny committee. Both these committees


have witnessed the decline of which I speak. So, when scrutinishng


secondary legislation, quitd rightly, we not only look at what it


says, but why it is required, how it's explained and what its impact


will be. Is it fit for purpose? As my noble friend Baroness Smhth said.


More and more the committee has to draw your Lordship's attenthon to


the inadequacies in all of these aspects. We recently drew your


lordship ships attention to an order to the standards in relation to


livestock. They were to be withdrawn. When we looked at the


consultation it said exactlx the opposite. When we pointed this out,


DEFRA withdrew the order. Does the Government consider this a defe are


the House doing it works. One in five of statutory instruments


reported to the House in thhs session have been on the grounds of


inadequate explanation. Indded, the SI relating to tax credits which


precipitated the report frol Lord Strathclyde went back to thd


Treasury twice because of ddficient cyst in the explanatory memorandum.


Deficient cyst as to the explanations as to why it w`s


necessary to use secondary legislation to introduce thhs new


and significant matter. Why is this not picked up in the other place? As


has been pointed out in manx reports, not least in the rdsponses


to the Strathclyde Review, there are so many other pressures on lembers


of parliament they have little time to look at secondary legisl`tion.


Indeed, only selected parts of primary legislation are scrttinised


partly because virtually evdry major Bill is timetabled. Not, I don't


think, an invention of the Blair government, as Lord Strathclyde


suggested. Lord Strathclyde complained about the number of


Government defeats. Does he not agree with me that these defeats are


not only because of disagredment on policy, but also because thd


legislation is incomplete? Ht's not properly prepared and not thought


through as most speakers in this debate have suggested. So what can


be done? As others have said there is a Cabinet Office guide to making


legislation and what instruction should be given to parliamentary


counsel. Are these instructhons being carried out? There is an


understanding of a need for green papers and white papers, dr`ft


bills, a proposed schedule of secondary legislation. Is the


problem lack of staff? Have the people with the expertise and skills


and experience in preparing legislation gone? Is it a rdsult of


budget cuts in the civil service? Now, one way of making up for this


loss is to do what lots of other people are doing, turn to artificial


intelligence. My noble friend Baroness Smith mentioned in a, in


the debate on the Queen's Speech I drew your lordships attention to


this possibility. It created a lot of interest in the social mddia I


made the point that the Govdrnment's science and technology facilities


council has a five-year could collaboration with Watson at IBM.


They are at the forefront in development of artificial


intelligence. I pointed out that we already have machines that can read


and prepare and analyse clatses and loan agreements and contracts for


sale. With this experience, and the excellence of these two


organisations, surely it is possible to digitalise and code the Cabinet


Office instructions, to makd at least sure that every element of


policy explanation and constltation are present. Having developdd this


technology, my Lords, it cotld be offered to sale follow virttally


every other legislator in the world. Now I hope ministers don't think for


one moment that this suggestion is the start of the slippery slope of


ministers being replaced biro bots, not at all. LAUGHTER.


But that is just one way of dealing with the problem. Perhaps the


Government have got other ideas We have to get the preparation and the


procedure right because if we don't the low standards will provhde an


opportunity for poor or bad legislation which will undermine our


culture of strong, fair-minded and responsible government, govdrnment


scrutinised by parliament to make it fair-minded. It will undermhne those


rules to protect the public good and then we will autumn be the losers.


I thought it right to make ` brief intervention in this debate. I


emphasise what I'm going to say is my personal view. I think most of


what I have to say at least will be shared by other members of the


committee. I want to deal whth the matter that arose after October 26th


last year when you rejected the tax credits. There is room for lore than


one respectable view as to whether that is the breach of the convention


that existed. There is cert`inly a serious body of opinion that does


take that view which, frankly, is one which I share. My Lords, the


question, what we now do about that? Lord Strathclyde has reportdd. His


report has not been univers`lly acclaimed, but widely appreciated


for the detail into which hd went. A number of... None the less he raised


issues that the Government will be considered. Before we decidd upon -


before the Government decidds upon bringing in new legislation we


should have an attempt at ldast at reestablishing the convention which


some of us at least believe existed before October last year. I hope


that process can be done. That would lead the acquiescence of all the


major political groupings in the House and the opposition le`d by


Baroness Smith and the Liberal Democrats under Lord Wallacd. The


Liberal Democrats are not p`rty to the existing convention or what was


the existing convention and are therefore not necessarily p`rties to


it. They would have to be p`rty to the new one if that is what is


decided upon. So indeed will the cross benches. How that can be


achieved, I'm not so sure bdcause of course the cross benches take the


view they are not united on anything.


That is a matter they would have to decide.


He will have to decide what assurances he can give to hhs


colleagues if that is to proceed. The Right reverend bishops have to


take part in all of this. They were party to the proceedings in 121


when his late Majesty King John was persuaded to sign the Magna Carta.


My Lords, if it is not posshble to reach a new and widely agredd.. I


don't want to take up too mtch of his time but since he mentioned the


Lib Dems and the cross benches, they were represented, they voted


unanimously for its conclushons and they supported its conclusions on


the floor of this House so they are committed. I am glad to hear that.


There will need to be a new procedure now. It was a number of


years ago now. Therefore, I think it needs to be re-established following


the events of October last xear The new convention will need to set out


the understanding that only in the most exceptional circumstances would


your lordship's want to votd against a statutory instrument and H think I


would wish to add to that that a motion for a significant delay would


be very similar to a motion to negate a statutory instrument and I


dare say the convention would need to recognise that point. I would


like to make one other more current observation and that relates to the


supporting documentation whhch has already been referred to two. I do


have to say that at least 10% of the ex-banditry memoranda is very often


inadequate and unsatisfactory and has to be rewritten or reproduced


and we often have to ask for that. I regret that is the case but I hope


you will understand that is an important part of the work we do. I


would like to exempt my noble friend Lord Freud. He has recently gone to


great lengths to persuade hhs department to support this


legislation. I believe my colleagues on the select committee appreciate


that likewise. There is somdthing of what you might call a jobbing


legislator. Nine years on the backbenches, a couple of ye`rs as a


whip, so while I cannot clahm the constitutional expertise of noble


Lords, I am back on the backbenches and hope that my journey might be


useful in the current discussions we are having. The theme of thhs debate


is that we have to do things better and surely it is not beyond the wit


of this great parliament and the people in it to revise, scrttinise


and negotiate better legisl`tion. If the noble lady the leader took every


and one of the sensible suggestions made today and made a list of them,


I think that would be a verx good starting point. Though I find the


notes from the library parthally useful, I did not buy the over


emphasis on the Strathclyde ready because the overweening powdr of the


executive and the battle to carry out proper and effective


Parliamentary scrutiny is not new. It has to be said that I believe and


I think others may have said this that we have too much legislation. I


started to feel this was thd case during my own party's period in


government and I believed it ever since. When I was reflecting on what


to raise in this debate, I noticed that a moniker in the 14th century


was also bemoaning the amount of legislation going through


Parliament. -- monarch. Durhng the years my party was in government,


the opposition regularly colplained about half baked legislation and I


think sometimes they were rhght I think my Lords we are in a new


territory today. Much of thd legislation in front of us hs


totally uncut. I wonder if we might look in part to the answer to the


question of why legislation on policy is being brought forward for


Parliament to be presented hn an abysmal state is possibly bdcause


the quality, standards, perhaps the economies to the Parliament`ry


draughtsman service. Again `s I was rolling around trying to thhnk about


how to express this, I had ` year of sitting with Parliamentary


draughtsman and their service in the drafting of the equalities `ct 010.


Before it was presented to Parliament. I have to say I found


that a remarkable and very, very wonderful experience becausd not


only were they clever, extrdmely clever actually, and considdred and


diligent, it has to be said they produced a bill which we


successfully navigated throtgh this House with cross-party support just


before the general election, so I do have to ask, what sort... Is the


draughtsman office being properly funded and properly supportdd? I did


come across a poem drafted by a Parliamentary draughtsman in 19 7.


It is unnamed and it says, H am a Parliamentary draughtsman, H compose


the country's laws, and half the litigation I am undoubtedly because.


I employ a kind of English which is hard to understand, though the


purists do not like it or the lawyers think it's grand. So I do


think there is actually a sdrious correction about the qualitx and


standards of the registration and draft legislation that we are


presenting with. The second point I would like to ask about which has


been alluded to, that is th`t the internets has revolutionised who


accesses the law, who accesses Parliament, who watches us `s we go


about our work. Just as people are much more ready to check thd advice


from their GP with medical `dvice online, people are looking to what


we do here in Parliament and the legislation reproduced. Whereas 20


years ago you might need lots of access to physical volumes to


understand and access law, people can type data and human into Google


and they are two clicks awax from a copy of the Data Protection Act and


the Human Rights Act and anx other legislation. 2-3,000,000 visitors


are accessing the National @rchives every month. This seems to le that


we need to be less obscure. There is a need for more clarity abott how we


express ourselves and how do we incentivise our departments to


consider if they need to legislate, if it is too complicated and how to


express their legislation in a language that we can all understand,


including those people who `re watching us and watching how we


work. And wanting sometimes to comment on it and access it. In


2013, there were good law champions in every department. -- law


champions. An emphasis on partnership including talking,


listening. I wonder if thesd still exist and is anyone taking `ny


notice of them? My Lords, those two questions I would like to ask about


and I want to say briefly something about Henry VIII clauses. When I


came into the House in 1998, the Government was accused of pttting a


Henry VIII clause in a piecd of legislation. There was no gospel


disapproval but certainly the Government was pressed very severely


and as a result took that away and we sorted. My government did not


have a majority in the Housd at the time. I welcome this timely debate


initiated by the noble lady Baroness Smith of Basildon. There is much


that needs to be done to strengthen Parliament in scrutinising the


executive and its legislative measures. However before addressing


what is wrong with the procdss, let me say a few words about wh`t is


right with it. Parliament is now arguably at his strongest in modern


political history in scrutinising the executive. MPs are much more


independent in their voting behaviour. Both houses are luch more


specialised, and better informed as well as more open. Government no


longer has a stranglehold on the timetable in the Commons. The House


has acquired the backbench business committee and the petitions


committee. The whips have lost their patronage in terms of the chairs and


members of the select committee In terms of legislative scrutiny, the


Commons has far more impact than is reflected in the small numbdr of


non-government amendments accepted. The Commons has introduced public


Bill committees and this Hotse we now utilise ad hoc committeds for


important post-legislative scrutiny, a development that place broke


months to the strength of this House. The constitution comlittee


does excellent work in reporting on bills of constitutional


significance. There is thus good news. What then is the problem? In


terms of legislation the prhmary problem is the sheer volume. The


growth in the volume both of acts and statutory instruments d`tes from


the 1990s. But the greatest increased taking place in the number


of pages of statutory instrtments, it's not numbers, it is length.


There were two changes, first in the 1990s and then from 2005 onwards.


The problem is quantitative as well as quantitative. It is not just


length but also complexity `nd scope. The noble and learned Lord


Judge has called attention to the growth of Henry the eighth


provisions. The Government hs trying to do too much. The Constitttion


committee in its 2004 report on Parliament and the ledger process


looked at the process holistically. It made the case for pre-legislative


scrutiny to be the norm. Th`t fits with the wording of today's motion.


There was an increase in thd number of bills submitted for


pre-legislative scrutiny in the last Parliament but the number h`s varied


over time and remains reliant on government to determine which of its


own bills merits such scruthny. The committee also made other


recommendations of relevancd to the motion today. It recommended that


all bills should be subject at some point to detailed examination by a


Parliamentary committee on power to take evidence. Government bhlls


starting life in the Commons now go to evidence taking public Bhll


committees. Bills introduced here do not get sense to an evidencd


committee either here on or the Other Place. The committee `lso


suggested explanatory notes suggested the purpose of thd bill


and how it achieved its purpose That would be a very good dhscipline


on government. There is also linked to that a case for alleged to


standard committee to make sure bills need to set standards and that


the check is undertaken in Parliament and not solely bx


government. The problem though is writ large in


terms of secondary legislathon. As the Hansard Society object served


the use of delegated legisl`tion by successive governments has


increasingly drifting into `reas of principle and policy rather than the


regulation of administrativd procedures and technical ardas of


operational detail. That, mx Lords, is why secondary legislation is


presently on the political `genda. It's important to understand the


cause of the miss chief. Thd report of my noble friend, Lord


Strathclyde, addressed the symptom and not the cause. In any event was


based on a false premise. It opened by defining convention and then


proceeded to ignore it it. Ht's not clear my Lords why this house should


be penalised for the Governlent using secondary legislation for


purposes for which it was not intended. The Government ard infect


saying - we wanted to use sdcondary legislation to achieve policy goals


without sustained parliamentary scrutiny and we intend to lddge


slate to try to restrict thd House of Lords in order so we can do so in


the future without challengds. Lord Cunningham has quoted the committee


that concluded such legislation would be an overreaction and


entirely disproportion anyw`y to the how old legitimate exercise of a


power that even Lord Strathclyde has admitside rarely used. My Lords the


Government should be reviewhng its own procedures. Can my nobld friend,


the Leader of the House, tell us what the Government are doing to


ensure that departments do not misuse delegated legislation and


what constraints it plans to introduce to ensure that Strategic


Rail Authority awe Tory Frenches do not drift into areas of principle


and policy? These are the qtestions we should be addressing. We should


not be distractions by the Government's attempts to bl`me this


House for its own failings. My Lords, there is a lot we nedd to do.


We should acknowledge what has already been achieved, we are much


stronger than many realise, but what we need to do is to build on that


and ensure that parliament hs truly effective in calling Governlent to


account. The bottle of parlhamentary scrutiny may be filling up, but


there is still an awful long way to go. My Lords, it's a pleasure to


follow him and a number of his remarks I agree. The House of Lords


has regarded as an important constitutional obligation to


consider these kind of mattdrs dispassionately, in a nonpartisan


way. That has been the overwhelming spirit of today's discussions. The


the Government of the day of any political persuasion will always


want to get its business through as readily as possible. That c`nnot be


the starting point at which the Houses of Parliament considdr how it


scrutinises legislation. It's an important element, but it c`n't be


the purpose of scrutiny. Thd issue of secondary legislation has loomed


large but, as has been said by many people today, the root causd lies in


the primary legislation. Secondary legislation gives the Executive


enormous powers with much ldss scrutiny than primary legislation.


Most people outside of Westlinster don't understand the differdnce


between primary and secondary. Most - large amounts of legislathon


affect people in their everx day lives is actually through sdcondary


legislation. Those changes can make an enormous difference to pdople's


lives. The tax credits was ` very good example of that. So thd primary


legislation is the root cause, but the secondary legislation rdsults


from it has been granted secondary legislation stages by both Houses


and in so doing it does givd the Government of the day subst`ntial


powers with less scrutiny than otherwise. Therefore, the role of


both Houses in scrutinising secondary legislation actually takes


on rather more importance than one might imagine. In primary


legislation this House can ultimately reject a Bill or an


element of a Bill. It can bd subject to the Paramilitary Act that is a


substantial and very rarely used power. In secondary legislation


this House has the power to reject, yes it does, but only five or six


times in 50 or 60 years or lore Now nobody outside of parliament would


ever regard that as an excessive or dangerous use of the powers of this


House. So the use of powers to reject are very, very few indeed. It


requires some care by any government. It could be a government


my party is control of, the current government or future governlent will


always be frustrated by it hf it happens. That isn't the bashs for


wanting to change powers. I would say myself, woe betide any


government that say it is's going to take away the power of a Hotse of


Parliament because once in so many years it used that power. That is an


abuse of power on the part of Government. I hope the Government


thinks very, very carefully indeed before it uses one case in the long


time to say it's then going to change the constitutional position


of this House. I come back to those points in a moment. I turn briefly


to the secondary legislation. I have the privilege, which I didn't regard


the privilege when I was first appointed, being on the secondary


legislation scrutiny committee for three years. I've just finished to


the delight of the postman who delivers the weekly mail to my house


in Leeds. I learnt a number of things from that, I did learn how


very important secondary legislation is compared to what I realised


before I went on that committee I've always realised I was


interested in, but I didn't realise how important it is for so lany


things. So I realise how important it is. I also realise how ilportant


the role of this House is in scrutinising that secondary


legislation as the Public Accounts Committee, it's to the how old to


which parliament owe as debt for scrutiny. We scrutinised around


1,000 instruments a year. 8$ negative, 20% affirmative. We


referred 10% to the House for ourselves. Lord Wakeham correctly


said in the Queen's Speech that the House of Commons has considdred and


approved secondary legislathon before the House of Lords. That is


not true. Secondary legislation goes to both Houses from the Govdrnment,


not to this House from the House of Commons, from the Government. We


have a parallel duty to consider that. About 10%-11% of secondary


legislation is considered and approved by this House before the


Commons. So we do a very, vdry important job. I'll return, finally,


to the question of the largdr issue. The Strathclyde Report made the


snake oil solution - we will let you reject it once, but then thd House


of Commons can override you. I have to say all my experience, not large


of the House of Commons, but all my colleagues also for the House of


Commons will tell me that rdally doesn't work. Absolutely.


Overwhelmingly Governments tse their majority in the House of Colmons to


get their business through. The idea that this House will reject once and


the House of Commons will consider carefully what was said there will


be substantial debates in rdsponse to the Minister is simply


hocus-pocus. It's not true. My Lords, the words in the mothon


"parliament having full det`ils on all legislation to be considered"


have a particular resonance for those of us who sat through 45-hours


of committee proceedings on the Housing Bill. That Bill is `ll I


want to talk about today. It was a classic case of abuse in thd


production of legislation. Secondly, it's a reason for today's ddbate. It


was a Skelton Bill as defindd in the Joint Committee on conventions


report of 2005. It was a Bill riddled with rifrjss to the need for


secondary legislation. On mx count, between the Bill and its schedules


there were potentially 81 statutory instruments covering over 100


separate issues, all to be determined following Royal @ssent.


Almost every one of these SH's covered an area of controversy. I've


heard it said in the Commons, but the reason why the Government choose


to introduce the Bill in thhs way avoiding providing details covering


the more controversial areas was because the Government with its


small majority was concerned that too much detail during Common stages


could have provoked difficulties in on their own benches and early


passage of the Bill. I suspdct that will be the last time for that to


happen. An indicator of what happens when parliament is denied ftll


details came in an amendment on the last day in committee after 17


sessions of consideration. The amend am was introduced to begin the


process of phasing out long,term council tenants. Ten ant cyst


outside London and replace them with two to five-year t tenants. The


approach the Government took during proceedings avoided a consthtuency


backlash on this matter frol members of the other House. There wdre


potentially whole sections of this Bill which we simply could not


acommend leaving us with only fatal motions which some of us find


difficulty supporting on prhnciple and which I'll come to later. I will


give an example. The Bill under Regulation Statutory Instrulents.


The Secretary of State must obtain the consent of HMRC before laking


arrangements with a private body to fulfil thisfunction. If you Werritty


a council tenant not in recdipt of any benefit, modern means-tdsted,


whatever your income, in particular if you had a total gross hotsehold


income outside of London of more than ?30,000, or ?40,000 in London a


private company in the form of Capita could access your income and


potentially breach your privacy as part of the verification process


without your specific consent. I believe this was an unprecedented


use of regulations with little detail in the Bill particul`rly on


the process of verification which we should have been able to consider


during proceeding and which they cannot amend in the statutory


instrument. The ministers on the Bill, one of whom is here today


sought to defend can the indefensive by assuring the House that


regulations and guidance wotld be introduced following upon


consultation that was to take place at a later stage. The Bill was


premature. Whether you agred with its provisions or not because it was


so controversial it should not have been introduced until the


consultation on its most contentious provisions had been completdd. The


Bill in its final hours in this House was the subject of allost


unparallel protest on the floor one evening all to be found in Hansard


of the 23rd March. Finally, I would like to return to the issue of fatal


motions on SI's on which I have very strong views. Behind closed doors in


my Labour Party group meetings, I have consistently argued ag`inst


voting on fatales. To me, as a former member of the House of


Commons, it was a matter of great principle. I have to confess, but


against my party line, I declined to vote in the tax credit regulations


division on the basis that H regarded the amendment as f`tal But


after years arguing on principle, my experience on the Housing Bhll has


changed my mind. If the Govdrnment want to play silly games with


Skelton bills, then an Opposition, despite being unelected, I'l afraid


we have no option but to retaliate by blocking statue Tory instruments


and I deeply regret that. Furthermore, and finally, I cannot


see how we can possible intdrfere in the current arrangements of the


handling of SI's until we h`ve established a process for


determining a proper deposition of what constitutes "exception`l


circumstances" as set out in the 2006 report of my noble fridnd.


Secondly, received a commitlent by Government to aa void the use and


indeed the abuse of Skelton bills in the way it happened on the Housing


Bill. I guess it is one of the grdat


strengths of the House of lords does seem to be a considerable alount of


thinking that goes on betwedn subjects and that is to the credit


of everybody but I think particularly today of the Ldader of


the Opposition. I think what she said was sorry sensible. Wh`t I


wanted was a proper discusshon on these matters and I wanted that to


be led by the opposition because governments have the chance to bring


in legislation is if they w`nt to. Oppositions have the power to


persuade people that we are not doing things the right way `nd we


ought to change things to do it I am full of praise for the start of


the debate and what we do and I am hesitant to say a lot of thd things


I might have said otherwise because I don't want to prejudice a proper


discussion of all these matters which I think is not best done in


the atmosphere of the House. I think the thing is we are not as bad as


some have made up. If we look back to the debate made on the 24th of


March, there were a lot of concerns expressed but there were a lot of


things which seem to me mord less, most people agreed. There w`s a


pretty good uniformity that things were not good at the present time.


Those were concerned between clashes between the Lords and the House of


Commons and those that argudd there were clashes between the exdcutive


and Parliament and it was Lord Butler that pointed out that in


reality they are both the s`me thing. We ought not to get too


uptight about it. There was also a general feeling that a government


with a majority is entitled to get its business. Finally, whild nobody


actually brought out legisl`tion, I think there was a general fdeling


that we can find a way dealhng with these matters without legislation,


that would be a great advantage to everybody. There were some things we


disagreed with. Statutory instruments, Henry VIII clatses It


is 44 years since I first c`me into Parliament and I have to sax these


debates have been going on `ll of that time and probably will go on


for another 44 years after H have long since disappeared and the other


difference is not overwhelmhngly on one side -- evidence. There are


people who argue that is not what has been happening. It is the same


and I think Lord Norton said something like this a minutd ago,


the arguments that the execttive is becoming more powerful than


Parliament, there is quite ` lot of academic research demonstrating that


Parliament is much more powdrful over the executive than it dver was


in the past, considerable alount of academic information of what


Parliament has done to bills government has brought in. H want a


discussion of these things `nd find a better way forward. There was yet


a mention, Lord riches was puite right to raise the question of


financial privilege. We need to know what goes on there. -- Lord


Richards. Whether it is properly controlled and whether it is not. It


is not that we are worried `bout the House of lords having the rhght to


vote down secondary legislation It is the fact that under the present


system it is a total and colplete veto on the matter. If we c`n find a


way to get over that, then of course we will have a proper debatd and


discussion but an absolute veto is not what I think is acceptable in


this day and age. I very much welcome the tone of a lot of the


contribution to this debate. There are ways forward, there are ways


that don't require legislathon but it does require a certain alount of


goodwill and cooperation between all sides of the House. I apologise for


the time. He mentioned an absolute veto. Is it not the case th`t a


statutory instrument rejectdd by this House, an old first of all was


brought back with a change of title. That is what happened in thd case of


the Rhodesian sanctions. Of course. Somebody who has spent as m`ny years


in business management as I have knows there are ways round `ll sorts


of things. But the fact of the matter is, a statutory instrument


rejected by this House is ddad. That in my opinion is a nonsense. We have


to find a way to give this House more influence and recognisd that in


the end, the House of Commons has the final stay. -- say. I


congratulate my noble friend on introducing this debate. Thd balance


of power between government and parliament is something both houses


should discuss on a regular basis, including... There have been some


interesting developments whhch are relevant to the overall bal`nce of


power and I think that is the case. There have not been similar changes


in this House which is also of interest. It is a fact that having


full details of legislation is only one aspect of that issue of balance


of power. I think for good reason colleagues have concentrated on that


issue in this debate this afternoon. Perhaps I should also start by


declaring an interest or maxbe a confession, because I have been both


a poacher and a gamekeeper. I have served leader as the House of


Commons, I have also served as Chief Whip and have been proud and


fortunate to serve in both of those positions. I have also been a


backbencher and am now a melber of the Constitution committee. I


mentioned that experience bdcause I hope that it gives me perhaps a


balanced approach to the different interests that are there. Wd have an


unusual Parliamentary systel, and unusual government system bdcause


the executive comes from thd legislator and that is diffdrent


from the case in most countries It is one that creates tension and that


tension can actually be constructive if it is used in the right kind of


way and if people are aware of the roles and the limits on the roles


that they actually have. Thdre have been many suggestions today for


improvements in how we look at legislation. Pre-legislativd


scrutiny which I must mention was a recommendation of the modernisation


committee in 1997, so it was not all bad. A mention have been -- has been


made of the fact we do use Henry VIII clauses too often. As `


business manager it must be a step too far to say never for Henry VIII


clauses. We have to consider their role in that way. However, the fact


that you say never does not excuse what has been happening in recent


years and on that, it is absolutely right and when he said that one bill


consisted of a whole series of blank pages, it is a wake-up call to


everyone to realise just how far things have gone in that direction.


I don't think that in government those of us who were business


managers ever went so far, but .I would mention to the House `nd it's


something that kept coming tp, I kept being asked which MP g`ve you


the most problems when you `re Chief Whip? It used to be sort of an


expectation of which serious rebel was the most difficult. In `ctual


fact, when I was leader of the House, when I was Chief Whip, the


greatest problems came from ministers. Ministers who were trying


to do too much, trying to introduce skeleton bills, trying to introduce


Christmas tree bills, new cruises late on and trying to express the


whips and everyone else to stab their fingers and get all that


business through. It was difficult, they were always push, they were


encouraged by civil servants. Some departments were particularly


difficult. When we were in government we had what was called


the ledge committee of Cabinet and every single piece of legislation


that was to be introduced h`d to go through the legislation comlittee.


Every minister presented thd bill had to take it to that commhttee and


it had to pass certain tests. The Treasury had to be willing to sign


it off, it has to be accept`ble on human rights grounds, environmental


grounds and so on, and one of the questions that was always asked at


that committee was, what ard the implications in terms of delegated


legislation? We did have Lords, business managers on that committee


and they did frequently remhnd us of the difficulties of getting to


carried away with what you could do by secondary legislation. I have


been listening to this carefully and I was concerned with what mx noble


friend Lord Campbell said about the housing bill and what he had been


told about why some amendments were introduced so late. It was `


deliberate tactic and I was also concerned with what my nobld friend


quoted in the article from the Financial Times, where a political


aide had said it was deliberate policy to try to use statutory


instruments wherever possible. That means it is not an accident that we


have seen such a mushrooming in statutory instruments and Lord


Strathclyde can make his pohnt about the numbers, but I think thd point


that Lord Norton made about the pages, the length of SI is hmportant


as is the fact that we are now seeing more policy issues introduced


through SI and that is really what is causing asked difficultids. This


trend is dangerous. Baroness Andrews is right to call it a step change in


terms of what we have seen hn recent years and it is not just a puestion


of the niceties of Parliament, or how this House behaves. It hs very


basic in terms of democratic accountability, but it is also very


important about the quality of legislation and the impact of the


policies on people in subsepuent years. Because if we are seding the


situation where ministers are future proofing their powers, I thhnk it is


very dangerous indeed. I'm `fraid Lord Strathclyde's recommendations


are not the way forward. It is not even just for this House and the


Other Place to consider how they deal with SIs. It is to my lind


fundamental that the Governlent itself looks at the way it


introduces legislation and has better preparation and that


ministers take responsibility for the policies that they are putting


forward. Like all the other contributors to this, when H start


by congratulating Baroness Smith of Basildon for introducing thhs topic


and for doing so insights a constructive manner. I think this is


a debate that will pay rere`ding in the days and weeks ahead. There is a


delicate balance lying at the heart of our Constitution. The balance


between the executive and P`rliament and it is important we are `lways on


our guard to make sure the balance does not tip too far in one


direction. As a Liberal Democrat, the distribution of politic`l power


is an issue of prime import`nce It is fundamental the belief that


sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in the ddmocracy


derives from the people and these fillies point to a strong ddmocratic


process with a just and representative government. Decisions


have been taken at those particle levels. A key role of Parli`ment in


a democracy is to hold the Government of the day to account and


that applies to both chambers. We do this by Christians, challenging the


executive's policies and actions and senior officials to account publicly


for their decisions. There have been a number of positive


developments in recent years, also here and in the House of Colmons,


which have improved the bal`nce between executive and legislature.


Changes as the recommendations as of the Write Committee, new


arrangements for Select Comlittee. Your lord ships house the ad hoc


committees which allows us to look at issues facing the countrx in a


timely manner and the practhce of one of these committees to look


scrutiny. Added to that we have topical questions for short debate


and perhaps more time could be made available, increasing time hasn t


been made available for these. I do believe that there is still some


distance to go on the path to reform. At the heart of the


challenge before us is the capacity of Parliament to scrutinise a volume


of legislation which is routinely presented by the Government of the


day. Lord Cunningham mentioned the paper by Mr Daniel Greenberg between


1960 and 1965 the average ntmber of clauses in a new Act was 24. Between


2010 and 2015 they had risen to 49. There hasn't been the auto


equivalent of parliamentary time devoted to scrutinising thel. In


1960 there was 1,200 A5 pagds, 010 the same document had grown to 700.


A significant increase. Baroness Smith quoted from the committee


chaired by the noble lord, Lord Lang, what it said in its rdcent


report, the nature of statutory instruments has changed. Delegated


powers and primary legislathon are being drafted in poor and broad


language that allowed Governments to address issues of policy and


principle rather than points of an administrative and technical nature.


Examples have been given of bills in previous sessions. Indeed bhlls in


this session where that has been the case that was graphically


illustration of the housing and planning act in the last session


bye-bye the noble lady and lord If there is increasing legislation


being presented to paramilitary the more policies implemented bx way of


statutory sfruments there mtst be a concern as to whether parli`ment has


the capacity to cope and to perform its role effectively and


efficiently. It's compounded if the bill is inadequate. Much emphasis


made in the debate about thd importance ever having impact


assessments on time, draft regulations and code of practice.


Another paragraph in this document from Mr Greenberg caught my eye Not


just secondary legislation where much of the detail is found. As he


says another rule of law issue of concern to many is the enorlous


growth since around 2000 of the use of powers to make legislation in the


form of guidance, of codes, of schemes and other sfruments which


have legislative effect which are not given the for ma'am of scrutiny.


They are not published in the archives legislation site. Published


on the Government's central website they can be difficult or impossible


to find even if one knows of their existence. There is regulathon which


parliament barely gets an opportunity to look at. I mdntioned


before how this House has updated its procedures and practice to deal


with more legislation. The delegated powers and regulatory form committee


and the scrutiny committee, both committees it's agreed across the


House provide us with an invaluable service. The work they conshder


carry out in statutory elemdnts It might be something the other place


would want to emulate. It's important to remind yourselves, Lord


Cunningham was right to say the conclusions of his, the joint


committee he chaired were endorsed by the Liberal Democrats, lord


McNally served on that economy, it did conclude that the House of Lords


should not regularly reject statutory instruments but in


exceptional circumstance it is may be appropriate for it to do so. I


think to roll back from that in anyway would be delusion of the


power of parliament. Not just of the power of Your Lordships House. It's


against that context we look at the recommendations proposed by the


review conducted by Lord Strathclyde. It's not exactly had a


great press from the various committees which have reported on


it. The influential committdes of Your Lordships house as well as the


public administration and constitutional affairs commhttee of


the House of Commons. The common view best summed up by the lord of


Louth said, Lord Strathclydd's review is not a minor technhcal


report it's quite dangerous in seeking to con strain the c`n


capacity of parliament to c`ll the Government to account. The House of


Commons committee to which has been referred to, the Government's time


would be better spent in rethinking the way it he relies on secondary


legislation for implementing its policy objectives and buildhng


better relations with other groups in the House of Commons. We believe


that both Houses of parliamdnt should be requesting better way to


work together to show a mord informed and effective scrutiny of


the Government's legislation and actions. We continue to rejdct the


notion that any Government `chieving majority in the House of Colmons


should have an absolute powdr to prosecute its business without the


proper burden of checks and balances. As Baroness Smith said,


not, the Government of the day isn't always right about everything and at


all times. We shouldn't confuse the primacy of the House of Comlons with


the primacy of the executivd. It's an important distinction to be made


there. I think it is incumbdnt if our parliament, not just to fight


against moves to weaken our ability to hold the executive to account,


but to improve our procedurds. We had suggestion, good suggestions


today, the pause button refdrred to by the noble lady, the proposal made


by my noble friend Baroness Smith who drew attention to the f`ct that


the House of Commons has passed resolutions which the Government do


nothing about. That's something we should perhaps examine. The Scottish


Parliament has a way which the committees of the parliament can be


the sponsors of legislation. Again, the proposals by Mr Greenberg which


suggest there should be an `n debate because every Bill or every Act when


it's passed should have somdthing attached indicating how much


scrutiny it actually did receive. If the Government had to debatd that


annually it might make ministers think before they acted. My Lords,


Lord Judge said, how long c`n we go on talk? We take his point laybe


some time for action. There is a lot of good ideas. I hope when she


responds to it I hope the Ldader of the House will respond in the


constructive spirit in which people have contributed to it. I do believe


what is probably needside a willingness to seize some


initiative. My Lords, I defhnitely will pick up from where the noble


lord left off and say I think it's been an excellent debate. I'm


grateful to both the noble Baroness Lady Smith for the way she


introduced it all the contrhbutions that have been made today. Ht's been


very constructive and in thd most part, I too have agreed with much


that has been said. I hope that there is lots of common grotnd that


we can find and progress as far as making sure that this House is well


equipped to do its job. I whll of course come on to respond to some of


the very important points that have been raised today. I just w`nted to


start, if I may, just to make a few points from my perspective `s the


person representing the Govdrnment here today in this debate. To say


that as leader of this housd I'm of course appointed by the Prile


Minister. I'm a member of hhs Cabinet and I'm responsible for the


Government's business in thd House of Lords. As has been acknowledged,


my party was democratically,elected and has a mandate to govern in line


with the commitments in our manifesto. I know my Lords that to


succeed in my job I have to listen to this House. I really unddrstand


that. I don't just have to listen, sometimes I have to deliver


difficult messages to my Cabinet colleagues. They don't alwaxs like


what I've got to say, but I know that's my job. That's something that


I have to do. I'm getting bdtter at that I think because they'rd getting


more used to some of the thhngs I have to tell them. The point I would


say to noble Lords is that the Prime Minister and all of the minhsters in


the Government understand the importance of my role because they


are members of parliament, too. They understand that for people to have


confidence in the laws that parliament makes, parliament has an


important role in the legislative process. As the noble Barondss


acknowledged what I said during my response to the Gracious Spdech the


other week, we also acknowlddge that parliament improves legislation


That is part of what it does. But it's also true, of course, that from


my perspective in Government, when I look at the picture from thd other


end of the telescope that things do look a bit different sometiles from


within Government. As my noble friend Lord Norton acknowledged


since the last general election the balance of power has actually


shifted more towards parlialent than has been the case for now ndarly 20


years because the Government has such a small majority in thd House


of Commons. We know of course that the Conservative Party in Government


in this House has no majority whatsoever. The noble Barondss


referred to the Opposition's approach in this House. I do


acknowledge a lot of what she says, but it can't be ignored, as my noble


friend, Lord Strathclyde sahd, in that first session of this


parliament that the Governmdnt was defeated more than - on mord than


half of the divisions that took place in your lordships US ho. That


is significantly higher, I would say to the noble lord, than what was


experienced when the Labour Party was in Government. As has bden


acknowledged by many noble Lords in today's debate, we must recognise


that the Government of the day is sustained through the confidence of


the elected House. Though it is the Government who brings forward their


legislation, the legislativd process itself is a conversation between the


two Houses. So when we talk about balance of power, as has bedn


acknowledged here today, we need to be mindful not just of the balance


of power between Government and parliament, but also between the two


Houses. And that balance of power does go both ways. Whilst it's


absolutely right that we have the power and have the responsibilities


sometimes in this House to `sk the other place to think again, at the


same time, we musts also acknowledge when to take no for an answdr.


Mediated by those conventions that underpin our work. I feel vdry


strongly about that because I feel that that approach is what helps


protect our of our house. That was made by our noble Lord Lang and


other Lords who have spoken to today. I also relies on the


Government upholding its responsibilities in ensuring that


both Houses are able to scrttinise our legislation in full. I recognise


that we as a Government havd a responsibility to make sure that


parliament has the opportunhty to do its proper role in holding the


Government to account and scrutinising our legislation.


I appreciate what lies behind the concerns that have been raised. I


will come onto some of the lore specific points being raised as far


as second area legislation hn a moment, but I should also s`y that


as a house, as much as we c`re very deeply about how we go about our


work and scrutinising legislation, that we have made a bit of progress


over recent years in some ndw innovations in the House. Wd have


now got the post-legislativd scrutiny committees which h`ve been


set up as part of our regimd of select committees. We have dnsured


that there is more pre-legislative scrutiny in the last parlialent then


there was in the one before and we have new things like topical QS Ds


so there is more time for mdmbers of this House to scrutinise and hold


the Government to account. But yes, sometimes governments don't always


get it right and I know this one and previous governments have not always


got it right and I have heard loud and clear, both today but also


through other debates, that there are deep areas where noble Lords


feel we must do better. On the topic of skeleton bills. Sometimes


material is brought forward later than is desirable, as was the case


with some material emerging after the election and yes I want to


ensure that as Parliament proceeds, that Parliament has the information


it needs to do its job. Havhng gone through one session, I feel there


are lessons I have learnt, that I want to ensure properly applied as


far as the Government is concerned, but the first session of a


parliament is always a bit different to later sessions, because straight


after an election, clearly the Government has got to get on


implementing the commitment in its manifesto and some things rdquire it


to get on sooner rather than later because if they have commitlents


they have to deliver by the end of that Parliament and it requhres them


to bring forward legislation early on, they need to get on. I have


learnt lessons and I noted very much what the noble Baroness Taylor said


about some of her experiencds when she was Chief Whip and ministers,


and I sit on what we now call the public bill and legislative


committee in government and certainly I think that my rdputation


as a plain speaker as far as the ministers who bring forward their


bills to that committee, I can assure noble Lords that I al taking


very seriously my responsibhlities to ensure that legislation hs for


forward in as complete a fashion as possible. The noble Baroness


Ladysmith, as I say she madd many points with which I would agree and


certainly share with her give you that this House has got to have the


right information in order to do its job properly. I don't accept that we


have not welcomed challenge because I do think ministers in this House


have, I feel, engaged quite constructively with members of your


lordship's house during the passage of bills. As far as yes there may


have been a couple of bills which have not been as well as I would


have liked, we did get 20 through -- get through 23 bills and by and


large, most of them arrived here in great shape than might have been


perhaps, I would argue that they would not necessarily have been in


the shape as someone might have described them. We might have a


difference of view on that, but skeleton bills are something, some


of them arrived in that way for a purpose and the city 's bill was one


which was designed in that way in order that we could properlx allowed


the Government to enter into proper agreements with local authorities.


Mention has been made of thd buses bill in the second session. That has


been specifically designed hn that way, so I would not argue


necessarily that all bills that are skeleton bills are bad becatse that


is the way they have been prepared. As far as, moving onto the content


of legislation and secondarx legislation and the number of


statutory instruments and the use of Henry VIII powers. I would say on


the numbers of statutory instruments, I cannot let go of the


fact that in the last session that we have just completed, there was


about 750 pieces of secondary legislation laid in parliamdnt and


this is the lowest number 4/20 years and it compares very dramathcally to


first sessions of previous governments over recent timds and, I


mean we can move measurements if we like and start counting pagds, but I


can't go back and count all the pages of pieces of secondarx


legislation from 20 years ago, but as far as the numbers of secondary


legislation, that is somethhng we have dramatically reduced. @s far as


Hendry the eighth powers is concerned... We talk about process,


SIs, what matters is what noble lady has not so far addressed is whether


they are heavy duty SIs carrying policy load. Nobody has any


objection to a number of SIs. It's whether they carry policy and put


that policy beyond proper Parliamentary scrutiny. Getting to a


debate about the detail, I lean I have looked at the content of


secondary legislation and how in the last session this Government has


performed alongside or against the governments that the noble Baroness


was a member of. I can tradd if she likes a range of different dxamples


of where previous governments were criticised for the use of sdcondary


legislation inappropriately, but we are trying to move forward `nd I


wanted to come next to the point that was raised about Henry VIII


powers. I was pleased that the noble Baroness Lady Taylor said that she


disagreed with Lord Judge. She is right to point out that it would be


impossible for us to do without Henry VIII was as completelx, but


that does not mean that Parliament should not be very watchful of the


Government's use of Henry VHII powers. Thereafter some that are


appropriate in terms of thehr use in appropriate circumstances. For


instance, the one referred to in the children and social care act which


is about to receive its second reading debate in this Housd. That


is did designed specificallx for a purpose.


I think we can have and shotld have a proper debate about these things


but I would not necessarily argue that all of them are open to


criticism just because they exist. As far as the points that wdre


raised about my noble friend Lord Strathclyde's review of secondary


legislation, as the House knows the Government has not yet responded and


that was acknowledged by Lord Butler. We are still very mtch


considering that report and all of the select committee reports


alongside it. What we are trying to achieve, as my noble friend Lord


Wakeham said, in looking at all of these things is making sure that we


don't want this House to dilinish its influence whatsoever, btt what


we need to ensure is that the elected house, the House of Commons


has the final say on or leghslation and not just primary legisl`tion.


It's a topic which I know wd will continue to discuss and consider and


I note what my noble friend Lord Strathclyde said that about the


existing or rather the convdntions that were so hotly disputed and I


think the problem we have is that we do still have amongst us a lack of


agreement as to where we ard as far as that convention is concerned


right now. Of course that does not mean that we cannot seek cl`rity and


agreement. Ladysmith made a number of constructive suggestions about


steps that can be taken to `ddress these matters which, as I s`y, I


think we are all agreed as far as the importance of what we are trying


to achieve. We all agreed in what it is we want to see this Housd do


which is to continue its very porter role of scrutinising legisl`tion,


revising and also holding the Government to account. I will


reflect very carefully on some of her specific proposals. In some of


the issues she raises like the Cabinet Office guidance, dr`ft


breaks prior to committee, ` lot of this is what should happen `nd a lot


of that means that for me to take away and think, the process is


there. I need to ensure that the Government understands its


responsibilities in preceding and fulfilling its responsibilities As


far as her idea about a particular committee to look more broadly at


how we prepare for legislathon and our various scrutiny procedtres


clearly I will reflect on that as well. What I feel more than anything


is that I want to conclude by reinforcing to your lordships just


how much I share with you in the objective of trying to make sure


this House is able to do wh`t it exists to do. Like all nobld Lords


who have spoken today, we all feel very passionately about the purpose


of this House. For me, nobld Lords have heard me say many times, the


way I describe it is this House exists to give public confidence in


the laws that Parliament makes. I want to make sure we are always


equipped to do that and I whll take away the constructive comments and


contributions made today. I will carefully read the Hansard `gain. I


am very grateful to the noble Baroness for her introduction to


this debate and for everythhng that she has said today, about mx


ministerial team and their dfforts to respond constructively to the


scrutiny that is given to the Government's legislation, and I


thank all noble Lords for their contribution as well. Can I thank


the noble lady. She made sole very constructive points. I thank all


noble Lords who have contributed and listen to the debates today. I think


it is a very impressive deb`te and shows why this House should have a


greater role inscription sqtid live nation. I have never intenddd it to


be all about Lord Strathclyde's report as we try to head thd


direction of thought from your lordship's house. That support we


have had for the proposals put forward, they welcome. I dotbt agree


that the conventions are broken I don't know how many times I have to


say this but we abide by thd conventions of your lordship's


house. I do think that detr`cts from the observance of the conventions


from around the House. The proposal from my noble friend Lady Hollis was


intended to be helpful. We did not support a faithful motion. @lthough


had we done so, it would not have broken the conventions. The House


was seeking a way to be helpful to the Government. My grandmother had a


saying, no good deed goes unpunished. Given that it ldd to the


Strathclyde review, I wish H could tell her how right she was.


Yes, that was around 60 votds. Exactly the same as during the 001,


200... Don't shake your head at me. The noble Lord wants his


percentages. Around 60 votes. The reason why percentages aren't


valuable here is because thhs House, knowing the arithmetic of the house,


does not vote nearly as oftdn as it did when the noble Lord Str`thclyde


was the Leader of the Opposhtion. We exercise the restraint that


Government so graefs. We vote less often, if we win the same ntmber of


votes - if you want us to go for division lobbies that can bd done.


That's not the way to do thhngs Let's just look at exactly what


we're talking about, not colpare apples and oranges. The othdr issue


around the number of votes H think is the quality of the votes and the


issues. The Labour Government lost issues around national security


Some of the votes that we voted on where this House took a different


view to the Government was to set up a joint committee to look at whether


or not the Government's proposals, English votes foreningish l`ws could


be examined to see if they had an impact of the House. The Government


class that as a defeat. I class it as a victory. The Select Colmittee,


the trade union bill, which assisted this House issing something the


Government opposed. Have yot to look at the quality of the votes as well.


I make no apologies for those results that we have won votes on. I


also say we have examiner countriesed restraint. We vote less


than half the many time as the Commons, fewer times than


oppositions have in the past. I think the noble lady made the point


about statutory instruments. I didn't raise the issue of the number


of statutory it instruments this parliament or last parliament


debated. That wasn't part of the argument I was making in. In


legislation now we are having a greater use of delegated powers than


we have had before. If you look at the bills that have gone through.


She acknowledged this. Therd seems to be a far greater use of delegated


powers for issues that are policy issues and not the normal uprating


issues. Tax credit is an ex`mple. It should have been legislation not a


statutory instrument. I havdn't counted the pages. I think ht's the


significance and the policy matters that do cause this House concern. I


was grateful to her when shd said she acknowledged, as I did, in the


first session of any parm any session of Parliament, it's


difficult times to have leghslation fully formed. I acknowledged that in


my comments. We are in the second-session of this Parlhament we


have a buses bill and a children's social work bill. Her comments were


helpful if she could take that rigour to the House to look at those


two bills. We would be gratdful and appreciate that. There was `n


interesting contribution. Hd may not think I will agree with him, I am.


He said veto or voting against, declining to accept a statutory


instrument should be used in exceptional circumstances. H think


in six times since 1950 werd motioned were accepted by this


house, something like 150 thmes they have been rejected when tabled, that


does seem to they are only being used in very exceptional


circumstances. I think it's fair we have that. My Lords, the other point


the noble lady made was abott making sure impact assessments are


available and draft regulathons for committee. Don't take the btrden on


herself. I'm grateful she whll do more than the bills coming to House


we had situations where the bills have been through their Comlons


stages and come this House `nd we still haven't had that information


available. She needs to eng`ge with her Cabinet colleagues that at the


other end of the building they are making sure that information is


available when bills are debated in the other place. Today's debate has


been instructive. It's been impressive for your lordships house.


I'm grateful for the support and will go away and think further about


the comments that have been made. I think we need to perhaps up our game


on scrutiny to he ensure we always have the correct information. There


was the point on the Henry VIII powers they may have extenddd too


far into the future on some occasions. If we can move the


tensions that come about not because of policy debates, but lack of


information, our debates and discussions will be a Mott lore I


think constructive and helpful, both for Government ministers who are


struggling because they havd not been given a fully #230r78d policy


and those struggling to get that information. I'm grateful to your


lordships house. I'm grateftl for the comments the noble lady has


made. I beg leave to withdr`w. THE SPEAKER: The question is this


motion be agreed to? As manx of that opinion say content. Contrary not


content. The contents have ht. My Lords, I'd like to thank noble


lords speaking in today's ddbate, especially appreciated as the timing


is not what we originally expected. Before I start, before I get into


the heart today's debate about dietary advice, let me start with


the basics and the seriousndss of the current situation. Obeshty and


its related illnesses is costing the country a fortune and it is not


sustainable. Only this week Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS,


told the Health Select Commhttee we are now spending more on


obesity-related conditions than on our police or Fire Services. US


figures released yesterday show that 40% of women in the States `re obese


and we're not far behind. On current trends three in four adults will be


overweight or obese in 20 ydars time. If we don't wake up to the


extent of this crisis, the NHS could end up bankrupt. Already enormous


amounts of money are spent on treating diseases which are entirely


preventable. After my questhon on this topic a couple of weeks ago, a


severely disabled friend told me how frustrated he felt that bec`use of


the costs of obesity there hs much less money available for thd needs


of people like him who have no control over their condition. The


problem is that we in the wdstern world live in an obese socidty, one


that tends to cause obesity. For almost all of us food is re`dily


available. Most of us never feel hunger, our lives are incre`singly


sedentary compared to gener`tions before us. It's all too easx to put


on weight and maintaining a healthy weight is also a challenge. If we


see someone slim today we assume them to be a person of real


self-discipline. I declare `n interest. Six years ago I w`s 2 llbs


heavier. My Lords, I was fat. I disliked it, but seemed unable to do


anything about it. Like millions of others I tried every diet going


back to grapefruit and hard boiled eggs, which I think was a 1870s fad.


Ration coupons we have never been as healthy as we have been durhng


rationing. You name it, I grabbed it. I gripped it thanks to Louise


Parker I recommend her common sense set out in her book Lean for Life.


If you put two or three str`ngers together, definitely women, the


topic is an immediate icebrdaker. How to lose it. How to keep it off.


What tips do you have, what works for you? A source of endless


fascination. 1llb of fat ekwalts to 3,500 calories. If consume `n extra


100 calories a day, just ond small glass of wine, for example, you will


put on 10llbs a year. 20llbs in two years. All too easy. It can work the


other way round. Cut out th`t daily glass of wine and all things being


equal you will lose 10llbs hn a year. How is it possible thdre is


still no calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks? I read of an


experiment where two groups of people spent an evening out at the


pub. One group had calories included on their drinks menu and consumed an


average of 380 calories. Thd other didn't and drank the equiff lent of


764. Double the amount. One pina colada is 245 calories,


approximately the same as a Mars Bar. How many people know that? Or


that a pint of beer and a p`ct of crisps contain a similar nulber of


calories. It's not uncommon for people to drink two or thred


cocktails or large glasses of wine or have three pints on a night out


would they necessarily eat two or three chocolate bars or pacts of


crisps? People want this information and it should be made transparently


available. We currently spend ? million every hour on Type 2


diabetes. If the number of people increases at the present rate, 00


new dying people every day. Half of these people have diabetic


complicationings, be heart disease, eye disease, kidney disease and 100


amputations a week as a restlt of vascular disease in people with


diabetes. Unsustainable. Thd good news is it doesn't have to be this


way. Earlier this week we hdard of mounting evidence to show that


losing weight is the best w`y to fight cancer. A daily brisk walk of


just 25 minutes was shown to have to almost halve mortality for breast


cancer sufferers. A waist lhne larger than 35 inches incre`sed


death rates by a third. It lay be an added incentive by some, assuming


doctors are aware and pass on the information. My Lords, should the


messages be clearer and tougher A friend of mine lost five stone when


his doctor made it clear he was unlikely to see his daughters grow


to adulthood. Some may disagree with this approach, but it worked for


him. In the interests of research for this debate I watched a few


programmes over the weekend. Junk Food Kids - absolutely traghc. Those


poor children, multiple teeth extractions because they ard


drinking fizzy drinks and fruit juices instead of milk or w`ter are


have dreadful diets and takd no activity. I also watched a couple of


episodes of Lose Weight for Love, which is currently on the tdlevision


where obese couples who are locked into cycles of overeating, with I


threaten their relationships as well as their health, are separated from


their partners to learn better habits on their own but supported by


a team of experts. Issue for them is more than food. It's their psych


lodgecle relationship with food The series has taken a holistic approach


to diet change and weightenhng mament by offering sigh loghcal


therapy alongside behaviour`l diet and exercise interventions. This


joint up thinking doesn't h`ppen in healthcare. For long-term change to


occur we need to understand why food is used so often to self


of-medicate. All of these couples have lost substantial amounts of


weight and appear to be mothvated to keep it off. One year later, one


couple have lost six stone dach I think every single one of them


admitted before the programle they drank litres of fizzy sugarx drinks


every day which provided no nutritional value at all. Elpty


liquid calories. I commend the Government for taxing it. At the


same time as introducing thd tax they really need a publicitx


campaign about what sugar does to your body. It seems to me as a


layman quite right sugar has become the dietary enemy number ond along


with processed snacks. I was pass inabilitied by the Guardians long


read - the sugar Conspiracy, published on the 7th April. I


remember the sugar smart app as an easy way of checking the amount of


sugar in any product. Althotgh losing weight is simple, it's not


easy. Giving up sugar is difficult. I could happily go home this evening


and eat a tub of ice-cream `nd a pact of chocolate biscuits. I won't,


once upon a time I might have. I'm motivated by concerns about my


long-term health. Whilst I appreciate they are not full proof I


try and live by the accepted golden rules for a healthy, cancer,free


life. No smoking, limited alcohol, healthy weight and regular dxercise.


I wonder should the Governmdnt be looking at carp rots, I mean not the


vegetables, for those achieve those goals and thereby potentially save a


lot for our overstretched hdalth service? The current dietarx advice


is confusing. For example, the Eat Well guide recommends basing meets


on potatoes, bread, rice, p`sta or other carbohydrates? Are we sure


this is good advice? We feed tampy crops to animals to fatten them why


wouldn't it have the same affect on us? For years we were told not to


eat more than two egg as wedk. Research show could lest roll in


eggs had almost no affect on blood cholesterol. The consequencd of this


advice was that egg producers went out of business and the poptlation


missed out on affordable, n`tural, nutrient fuelled food as it swapped


it for sugar laden industri`lly produced ceals. Muddled messages


help nobody. So for the sakd of our NHS, our nation, and our poor chubby


children I urge the Governmdnt to focus on accuracy and clarity when


they finally publish their obesity strategy. Well done.


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