05/12/2016 Lords Questions


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Lord Jordan. I beg leave to ask the question standing in my name on the


order paper. My Lords, the government is introducing


legislation increasing the penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone


while driving from three to six penalty points and from ?100 to ?200


when a driver is issued with a fixed penalty notice. We are also thinking


of introducing a think tank campaign and drivers also need to understand


it is unacceptable to put lives in danger. I would like to think them


minister for his reply and declare an interest of the Vice President.


We all welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to make this dangerous


and potentially devastating practice socially unacceptable. The increased


penalties, the proposals that drivers who kill while using a


mobile phone could face a life sentence, should be a real deterrent


to this growing and seemingly obsessive addiction. But previous


increases in penalties... I need to make this point. Previous increases


in penalties have not had a lasting impact. Will the Minister tell us


what plans the government house to ensure that adequate performance


enforcement is in place? The noble Lord makes an important point. Rules


are only as good enough when they are enforced. We have seen a rising


tide of use of mobile phones of drivers behind the course. We will


be working very closely with both the police and crime commissions as


one as the police forces to ensure more effective enforcement. If the


maximum sentence is increased to life imprisonment, but my noble


friend remind people that that would be discretionary rather than mandate


it? And given the fact that courts currently post sentences that fall


far short, it is unlikely that the overall sentences would increase to


any very great extent. My noble friend is of course referring to the


consultation launched today by the Ministry of Justice in this respect


and that will be open for the next 12 weeks. He also makes the


important point that when it comes to the actual sentencing itself,


that is determined on a case-by-case basis and the judge looking at the


circumstances prevailing each case. Increased sentences will no doubt


help but as the noble Lord has recognised, a change of culture is


really what is required and I wonder whether his department has


considered introducing, in addition to a penalty for mobile phone


offenders, mandatory attendance at mobile phone awareness courses, paid


for by the offenders, rather than offering such courses as an optional


alternative to points and penalty as a present. The issue the noble Lord


refers to about courses has been practised and has been left at the


discretion of the police to offer that. However, it is the


government's view that this issue has been scaled up and we are


promoting the fact that those courses and offered but to raise


awareness through campaigns and increase awareness of vice penalties


implicated as song on caught. If you use your mobile phone, it is not


hands-free in your using it and you are caught, it is a criminal


offence. My Lords, I think your lordship's house would appreciate


this is quite a difficult subject to regulate and I am grateful for the


noble minister outlining what plans he has but, given that the motoring


organisations seem to be dubious safety of using hands-free equipment


in a motorcar, I am wondering whether or not the government has


got any plans to car manufacturers' ability to produce this equipment,


which is distracting and can cause accident? He phrases an issue on the


manufacture of motor cars. The government is not talking


specifically on this issue. The issue of hands-free mobile phone use


is of course very difficult to regulate and enforce and I would say


to the right reverend that there are other distractions which are often


available in the car, the use of loud music, indeed being a father of


five children, all three in the back seat at the same time. But on a more


serious point, we are looking to ensure that we inform the public and


campaigns I believe will take forward the importance of not using


mobile phones in your hand when driving. I am very pleased to hear


that the Minister has adopted such a kepi reasoned approach in the


responses he has given so far and can I suggest to him that the reason


he must do that is first of all to increase sentences too, even though


they aren't discretionary, excessively leads to sentencing


inflation? With the position in our prisons which we have today, we


cannot afford to have further sentencing inflation. Secondly,


Tories will not conflict if they think that the sentences are


inappropriate. -- cherries. The real thing is you have got to change the


culture, as has happened with drink-driving. The noble and learned


had lowered its right to inform your lordship's house about our justice


system and the pressures on both the justice system and prison system but


I do believe going back to an earlier point I made, we have


learned over time, particularly if we look at issues of drink-driving,


that informing and educating the public are an important part in


ensuring we can eradicate people from the illegal use of such


foreign. Have ministers considered the circumstances in which it might


be appropriate to introduce an mandatory basis mobile phone signal


jamming equipment, which is currently available on the Internet?


You can Google it. Would it not be wise to consider that? The noble


Lord makes an important point but I am sure he would also acknowledge


that whilst that is being looked at, and in preparing for this question,


we all use flight mode, there will be others in the car who may well


use a mobile phone quite legitimately and of course when you


are travelling great distances, if the drivers are not using the mobile


phone and others are, that can sometimes be a great Lifeline of


certain issues that may arise during the trip. I declare an interest as


the co-chair of the all-party group on a fit and healthy chartered. We


want all pupils to be healthy and active and have the opportunity to


engage in sport and physical activity from young age. That is why


PE remains a compulsory subject or four Key stages in the national


curriculum. In 2017, we will double the primary PE and sport premium to


?231 million a year and there are issues to improve physical activity


levels in children. My Lords, Britain has the most unfit children


in the world and the latest report from my all-party group on a fit and


healthy childhood shows the urgent need to revise the teaching of PE,


which has not changed since the 1940s. If PE is to play a part in


children's well-being. There is no overall strategy for teachers to


deliver PE, a subject often sidelined in the curriculum. For the


government consider establishing a national PE task force to correlate


examples of good practice, reset training for PE teachers? And ball


he agreed to meet to discuss the recommendations in this constructive


PE report? I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for her work. And to


the other members of that group. And we will definitely take what they


say into account. However, we do not think that a new PE task force is


necessary. Officials already work closely with associations and my


colleague has for a number of years chaired a cross ministerial board to


inform the government's strategy for PE. We have no plans to review the


curriculum. It was last reviewed in 2014 and developed the range of


experts and we will review it again in 2018 or reviewing the activity


list following the first exams. There has been a dramatic cut in the


amount of money available for grassroots sport. Would it not be


better spent their than an excellence? We have substantially


improved responding this fool 's board and has had a dramatic effect.


And also the number of qualified specialist PE teachers. The number


of teachers has gone up by 50%. But we regard this is very important in


all aspects. My Lords,... Yes, of course, physical education is hugely


important, but should we not also be thinking of parity of esteem for


mental health? If that is to be achieved, how will the government


plan to ensure that schools treat mental well-being on an equal


footing the physical well-being? The noble lady raises a very important


issue and we know that mental health is an increasing issue in schools.


Last year, we funded associations possibly macro guidance on how the


teacher mentor health. There is also a range of training on specific


issues available for people who work with young people and we have been


testing and other places the concept of the single point of contact in


schools to improve collaborative working across schools in the


services. The Minister said that physical education is compulsory for


all children between the ages of four and 16 but rather at odds with


that is the fact that the Department for Education guidance merely


recommends a minimum of two macro hours curriculum PE for each pupil


each week. I may anticipate something the noble Lord for Sabre


independent schools would laugh at the suggestion there are only two


macro hours of PE per pupils each week and the government should not


accept anything less for state school pupils. Can you say what


proportion of schools meet that DFE recommendation and also say what


role the physical education and sport premium for primary schools is


happening in increasing the figure? The law does specifically prevent


the Secretary of State from dictating how much time schools


should spend on PE or any other subject, that is entirely a matter


for them, I don't believe we've got the figure on what the schools are


meeting but we anticipate most of them are. The point about


participation, it's quite clear that it has had a substantial impact on


primary schools and we find that 87% of them are reporting that it's had


a substantial increase in the number of activities they engaged in


including extracurricular activities and 50% increase in the number of


specialist PE teachers teaching in primary schools. I was told that


school playing fields are subject to strong statutory protections but


isn't it the case that sales of school playing fields have been


increasing in recent years and is that compatible with the strategy


for child health and well-being for which the question asked? My friend


raises an extremely good point and I am the Minister that signs off on


playing field disposals and something we feel strongly about it


shouldn't happen except where it is absolutely necessary, we have a very


rigorous process in place and most have either closed or are merged and


a lot of them are very small bits around playing field land and we're


very clear that we want a low playing fields to be disposed of


unless it's absolutely necessary. From the fact that only 18% of girls


and 21% of boys achieve the government's recommended level of


physical activity and in the light of the cuts to local government in


recent years with shrinking sports programmes, does the government has


any plans to expand the range of opportunities not just in schools,


but in local communities so that all children can have several


opportunities to participate in physical activity. I'm sure the


noble lady will be pleased to hear that of course we fund sporting


decide how to invest in the national lottery funding and part of their


strategy, they funded what's called inspired facilities scheme that's


invested over 100 million to allow clubs to make major improvements in


more than 2000 facilities and as part of their strategy towards an


active nation they have set aside a new ?40 million investment which


they will use to get more families and children active and they set up


a new dedicated fund of 120 million to tackle an activity in the next


four years. There are no plans to conduct a formal annual review, the


government is committed to providing high-quality early education for all


children, we are in investing in addition ?1 million extra a year.


Last week we published the National funding form which ensures that this


funding is allocated fairly transparently. We will monitor the


implementation and are clear that getting the funding right is


critical to its successful delivery. I thank the Minister for his reply


and for the extension of 30 hours for free childcare to working


parents. Given the huge benefits to education and cognitive skills so


important to business and industry to physical and mental health in


adult hood to remediating poverty, disadvantaged children including


looked after children to productivity and high-quality child


early years education, will the Minister listen carefully to the


concerns of the sector that after this year funding may not be


sufficient, his answer was reassuring to some extent. Given we


consider that investing in the highest quality early years care and


education is essential to an infrastructure for successful


economic development. I couldn't agree more that is why we are


spending over ?6 billion per year by 2019-20 more than any other


government in this country ever. We know we need to get the funding


right, our announcement last week for local authorities paid for with


additional investment shows we're listening to the sector and the cost


of childcare review whilst very thorough and indeed the National


Audit Office says it was for a wide-ranging. I declare a sort of


interest is a relatively new grandfather. My daughter-in-law has


just gone back to work and I know the costs of childcare and how it


affects young couples today. We're making good progress. In this


area. Last week we confront our funding. Regulations being laid


early last month. We've also awarded a new delivery contract of ?3


million to childcare works to support local authorities and eight


early implementers which are implementing one year early have


already delivered over 3500 new childcare places. The family trust


argues that the new funding welcome as it is doesn't focus sufficiently


on improving quality provision in the settings most likely were


disadvantaged children who are particularly need quality care. What


is the government doing to improve the quality of care in such settings


to ensure that disadvantaged children get that quality provision?


I agree with the noble lady on the importance of ensuring this


high-quality and for we have an additional needs factor factored


into the early years funding formula to better target funding with local


authorities whether higher proportion of children with


additional needs and the final funding policy confirmed last week


it was a new disability access fund worth ?615 per child per year to


support disabled three and four-year-olds and a requirement for


all local authorities to have inclusion funds to channel


additional support to children. Given that supplying appropriate


childcare to children with additional needs is expensive, more


expensive for the setting itself, but it's also more expensive to


train people to be able to recognise children's special needs and be able


to deliver appropriate care. What are the government doing to make


sure that sufficient early years practitioners are being trained to


work with these particularly needy children whose needs have been


ignored for many years. We are focused on that. As the noble lady


will now we have a massive investment in this area and


improving the quality of people coming into the profession and in


terms of specific details I will add to her. Investment in early years


childcare is one of the most effective means of increasing social


mobility. In July 2015 the childcare Minister announced a consultation on


the sure start centres that would begin that autumn and we still


waiting for the consultation and two weeks ago his successor could only


say in a waffling Parliamentary answer that an announcement would be


made in due course. The Minister has been there throughout the Minister,


is he not embarrassed having to defend our government reneging on a


commitment that was so important for the future of children centres? I


know that the party opposite always raises this point, an independent


study made it quite clear that the number of people accessing the


centres had remained remarkably consistent over the last two years


even though a number have merged and a number have closed. The important


point is the quality and the location and then refer back to the


point that no government history has ever invested so much in early years


and childcare in this way. I beg leave to ask the question standing


on my name in the order paper and draw attention to Mike Commonwealth


related interests in the register. In planning the Commonwealth heads


of government meeting in 2018 the Department will engage with a full


range of Commonwealth stakeholders through our High Commissioner


network we have regular discussions with parliamentarians across the


Commonwealth. I welcome the CPA conference and its focus on the


collaborative Commonwealth. Unfortunately overseas travel


commitments prevent my attendance but I do look forward to meeting CPA


UK and CPA in January as part of my engagement with Commonwealth


organisations. I thank my noble friend for her and Sir, many


Commonwealth parliamentarians seem to come here to the UK specifically


to be trained in a key part of the role which is how they hold their


governments to account. Coming noble friend please outline what mechanism


the UK will be modelling to ensure that parliamentarians can indeed do


that so they can address the assembled foreign ministers and


heads of government whilst they are in the United Kingdom building on


CPA UK's work. I welcome the idea my noble friend proposes. About how the


parliamentarians from overseas may use them itself. It's important


indeed that our colleagues around the Commonwealth, the other 51


countries are exposed to the views of their own parliamentarians and


take note of them but exposed to the views of civil society and in my


negotiations with my contacts and colleagues around the Commonwealth


as we will talk with them and consult with them about the agenda I


will certainly take forward my noble friend 's idea. Since the


Commonwealth consists almost entirely of Parliamentary democracy


is, shouldn't there be much more involvement of Parliament. There is


very little at the moment and has been very little, surely the


opportunity of meeting in the United Kingdom provides as with that


opportunity to set a very good example? I had just expressed the


view that it's important that Parliamentary democracies do have a


way of communicating with the event. The noble Lord will know from his


previous experience the agenda itself is agreed by consensus with


all members of the Commonwealth and what I have just said is that


listening to my noble friend and indeed to the noble Lord in my


discussions with my colleagues around Chobham around the membership


of the Commonwealth will certainly take forward the idea how best we


can ensure there is Parliamentary engagement. A number of developing


countries in the Commonwealth and worried that Brexit may damage their


ability to trade into the EU especially with the removal of the


mighty kingdom and the protective shield that has given them. Given


that, does not this meeting seem an excellent time to be assuring them


that their interests are being addressed. The lady raises a vital


idea but my Lords, throughout the summer, my engagement as High


Commissioner with foreign ministers, I have made it clear that I'm


listening to their concerns. Although there is no formal


consultation process it's absolutely crucial that just one of the members


of the Commonwealth we do take their views into account and we should


continue to do so. I declare an interest as member of the Royal


Commonwealth Society and I want to congratulate my noble friend for


raising this issue but can I ask the Minister for the Commonwealth


whether she read an interesting speech by the foreign and


Commonwealth Secretary last Friday, a strategic speech talking about but


in being at the centre of the global network. Doesn't she agree it's


rather a pity that no point in that speech it the Foreign Secretary


mentioned the Commonwealth, spoke about many Commonwealth countries


but no mention of the Commonwealth, when she goes back to the office


could she pointed to the Foreign Secretary this unfortunate omission.


I find the Foreign Secretary great to work with, great team leader,


prepared to listen and give as good as you get. Ministerial team


meetings are highly productive and I will certainly reflect upon my noble


friend. I should point out for the degree of accuracy, my Minister for


the Commonwealth as an institution, my other Minister for the


Commonwealth countries and the Caribbean directly but of course


other of my colleagues in the Foreign Office have geographical


responsibility for individual countries, that's why we're able to


engage so consistently and completely with all Commonwealth


countries. The spoke compellingly about the engagement of civil


society in changing attitudes. Will the noble lady the Minister


undertake to repeat a similar roundtable exercise that was


undertaken about LGBT rights, particularly a summary countries in


the Commonwealth criminalise LGBT people. As I mentioned a moment ago,


the agenda is agreed by consensus, but the noble Lord raises a vital


point. I can certainly make it clear that having committed ourselves very


closely indeed to combating discrimination and violence against


LGBT throughout the Commonwealth and having used every opportunity last


time to highlight I believe the Commonwealth must stand up for human


rights including LGBT rights and I will say that we are working out our


plans to ensure that these important messages are indeed delivered when


we host them in 2018. Many Commonwealth countries


expressed a desire for children to be held in the UK by outside London


as there is concern that the Commonwealth is becoming a London


centric organisation. In light of this and expertise in countering


violent extremism, the main point in the upcoming agenda, what


consideration has the government given to children in 2018 to be held


in Belfast? The noble lord i-mate has a very strong case for the idea


that children should be held outside of London on this occasion and I


note the representations have been made very strongly from other parts


of the United Kingdom, including for example Manchester and Birmingham,


and I know that Downing Street is very carefully considering all those


propositions that are being made. During the discussions, will the


government put on the agenda the issue of frozen overseas pensions


which are really affecting the Commonwealth countries, especially


the poorer countries, and the overseas territories? With regard to


children, there is an agenda, but it would be something that other


members would wish to raise. They have certainly come forward with


these issues before. And regarding the overseas territories, we have


heard very strongly in the joint ministerial Council in November and


I was very pleased that a minister was present to be able to listen to


those views and respond.


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