HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc1051-62

As amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Sir B. Braine

When I was temporarily halted I was in the process of explaining why the delay proposed in the amendment should be accepted. I said there were two reasons why such a delay would help the Government to come to the right conclusion. First of all, the investigation of complaints is a matter for the police, and whatever arrangements are devised in this Bill it is still the police service that has to carry out the investigation of complaints.

The burden upon the police in present circumstances is very heavy. Time is needed for proper consultation with the police staff associations. That has been manifest in various stages in our discussions in Committee and on Report. The Government have declined to spell out the detailed requirement that should be put into the Bill. They have preferred to leave the matter to Regulations, but in police matters Regulations require long, detailed and careful scrutiny with the police staff associations. That in itself is a good reason for accepting the amendment.

10.15 p.m.

Time must be allowed for consideration of what these Regulations should contain. For one thing, this is one of the most astonishing Bills ever to be brought before the House of Commons. It takes a basically good idea—the simple notion that there should be an independent element in considering complaints against the police—and it invests it, smothers it, and one might almost say strangles it with a massive bureaucratic machine.

My complaint throughout our discussions on the Bill, and the justification for the amendment, is that the Government have never grasped the full implications of what they have proposed. That is taking the most charitable view of their ludicrous assertion that the cost of this bureaucratic machine will not exceed £300,000 a year. We were even given an assurance that that limited cost would be met entirely out of central funds and would place no additional burden on local authorities. That is manifest nonsense.

In 1974, complaints against the police were running at about 17,500, and that number is steadily rising. The Metropolitan Police maintains a special department—it is called A10—to consider nothing but complaints against the police. It employs 80 to 90 full-time officers, but they deal with only 11 per cent. of all the complaints laid against the Metropolitan Police. I must say in passing that well over 90 per cent. of those complaints are found to be unsubstantiated and that not much mere than 1 per cent. of complainants express themselves as dissatisfied. If that set-up is necessary under existing Regulations for no more than 11 per cent. of complaints levelled against the Metropolitan Police, we contend that it would require, over the country, an additional 320 police officers.

Where would the money for those additional officers come from? It will not come from Government funds—we have been told that. The Under-Secretary told the police so last week in her speech at Bournemouth. Many months ago the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), when Secretary of State for the Environment, told local authorities that the party was over. Every council in the country has cut its services. We are therefore entitled to ask where the money will come from for this ludicrous new arrangement.

Under existing arrangements it is becoming increasing difficult for chief constables to find the superintendents in their forces to deal with the more serious complaints. I hope that the Government will come clean on this, because there has been no admission from them about the difficulties encountered by the police in operating the existing system, let alone the one in the Bill for which we are asking but a modest delay. At present it is very difficult to find police officers from other forces to take on the job of investigating complaints. Why do the Government not tell the House the truth?

The Prime Minister is in his place. As the appointed Minister, he is responsible for seting up this elaborate and expensive new machinery, the true cost of which has been concealed from Parliament. I do not think the Prime Minister knows what is being done in his name. He inherited this situation and I hesitate to place an additional burden on his shoulders. I admire and respect the right hon. Gentleman greatly, and it would not be fair to ask him to explain this matter to the House.

However, the Under-Secretary, who has had to bear the heat and burden of the day on this Bill, ill-advised at almost every turn by her professional advisers—she has done splendidly with such a lack of ammunition—should now come clean and tell us where the money is coming from to pay for this elaborate, expensive and unwanted new machinery.

It is because of the uncertainties, the need for second thoughts and the need for extensive consultations with the police staff associations that I beg the Government to think again and to accept the modest and reasonable proposals contained in the amendment.

Dr. Summerskill

I shall speak to the amendment. Its effect would be to delay the coming into operation of at least Part

Division No. 161.] AYES [10.25 p.m.
Adley, Robert Chalker, Mrs Lynda Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)
Aitken, Jonathan Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Alison, Michael Clark, William (Croydon S) Fookes, Miss Janet
Arnold, Tom Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Forman, Nigel
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Clegg, Walter Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)
Banks, Robert Cockcroft, John Fox, Marcus
Bell, Ronald Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Cope, John Fry, Peter
Berry, Hon Anthony Cormack, Patrick Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Biffen, John Corrie, John Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)
Biggs-Davison, John Costain, A. P. Gilmour, Sir John (East File)
Blaker, Peter Critchley, Julian Glyn, Dr. Alan
Body, Richard Crouch, David Godber, Rt Hon Joseph
Boscawen, Hon Robert Crowder, F. P. Goodhart, Philip
Bottomley, Peter Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Goodhew, Victor
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Goodlad, Alastair
Braine, Sir Bernard Dodsworth, Geoffrey Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)
Brittan, Leon Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Drayson, Burnaby Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Gray, Hamish
Bryan, Sir Paul Durant, Tony Grist, Ian
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Dykes, Hugh Grylls, Michael
Buck, Antony Emery, Peter Hall, Sir John
Budgen, Nick Eyre, Reginald Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Bulmer, Esmond Fairgrieve, Russell Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Burden, F. A. Farr, John Hampson, Dr Keith
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Finsberg. Geoffrey Hannam, John
Carlisie, Mark Fisher, Sir Nigel Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)

I of the Bill for 12 months from the date the Bill is passed. During that time, nothing could happen. It would then be possible to bring into force at least Clause 1 and the schedule, so that the board could be appointed and have a corporate existence, but it would be 18 months or more before the new scheme could get under way, and such a delay is quite unacceptable. The speeches on this amendment were not in favour of delay; they were against the Bill.

It is our intention that the board should be set up and begin its duties as soon as possible. Appointing members of the board and its staff and preparing Regulations will begin at the earliest possible moment. All this will necessarily take time, but we believe it could be completed in a period of 12 months. In these circumstances, the delay implicit in the amendment cannot be accepted.

It has rightly been said that public confidence in the police is extremely high—possibly higher than ever. This Bill will enhance and increase that confidence and not detract from it.

The Bill received an unopposed Second Reading. There is no reason why it should not be put on the statute book and become operative as soon as possible.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 222, Noes 300.

Hasting, Stephen Mills, Peter Shepherd, Colin
Hayhoe, Barney Miscampbell, Norman Shersby, Michael
Hicks, Robert Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Sims, Roger
Higgins, Terence L. Moate, Roger Sinclair, Sir George
Hordern, Peter Monro, Hector Skeet, T. H. H.
Hunt, David (Wirral) Montgomery, Fergus Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Hunt, John More, Jasper (Ludlow) Speed, Keith
Hurd, Douglas Morgan, Geraint Spence, John
Hutchison, Michael Clark Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
James, David Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Sproat, Iain
Jessel, Toby Mudd, David Stainton, Keith
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Neave, Airey Stanbrook, Ivor
Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Nelson, Anthony Stanley, John
Jopling, Michael Neubert, Michael Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Normanton, Tom Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Nott, John Stokes, John
Kershaw, Anthony Onslow, Cranley Stradling, Thomas J.
Kimball, Marcus Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Tapsell, Peter
King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Osborn, John Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Page, John (Harrow West) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Kitson, Sir Timorthy Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Tebbit, Norman
Knox, David Pattie, Geoffrey Temple-Morris, Peter
Lane, David Percival, Ian Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Latham, Michael (Melton) Price, David (Eastleigh) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Lawrence, Ivan Prior, Rt Hon James Townsend, Cyril D.
Le Marchant, Spencer Pym, Rt Hon Francis Trotter, Neville
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rathbone, Tim Tugendhat, Christopher
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Lloyd, Ian Rees-Davies, W. R. Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Loveridge, John Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Viggers, Peter
Luce, Richard Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Walder, David (Clitheroe)
McAdden, Sir Stephen Ridley, Hon Nicholas Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
McCrindle, Robert Ridsdale, Julian Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Macfarlane, Neil Rifkind, Malcolm Warren, Kenneth
MacGregor, John Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Weatherill, Bernard
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Wells, John
Madel, David Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Wiggin, Jerry
Marten, Neil Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Winterton Nicholas
Mates, Michael Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Mather, Carol Royle, Sir Anthony Younger, Hon George
Maude, Angus Sainsbury, Tim
Mawby, Ray SI. John-Stevas, Norman TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Scott, Nicholas Mr. Fred Silvester and
Mayhew, Patrick Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Mr. W. Benyon.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Abse, Leo Cant, R. B. Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Allaun, Frank Carmichael, Neil Duffy, A. E. P.
Anderson, Donald Carter, Ray Dunn, James A.
Archer, Peter Carter-Jones, Lewis Dunnett, Jack
Armstrong, Ernest Cartwright, John Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Ashley, Jack Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Eadie, Alex
Ashton, Joe Clemitson, Ivor Edge, Geoff
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)
Atkinson, Norman Cohen, Stanley Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Coleman, Donald Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Ennals, David
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Concannon, J. D. Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Bates, Alf Conlan, Bernard Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)
Bean, R. E. Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Beith, A, J. Corbett, Robin Evans John (Newton)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Bidwell, Sydney Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Bishop, E. S. Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cryer, Bob Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Flannery, Martin
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Dalyell, Tarn Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Bradley, Tom Davidson, Arthur Ford, Ben
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Forrester, John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Davies, Denzll (Llanelli) Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Freeson, Reginald
Buchan, Norman Deakins, Eric Freud, Clement
Buchanan, Richard Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey George, Bruce
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Gilbert, Dr John
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Dempsey, James Golding, John
Campbell, Ian Doig, Peter Gould, Bryan
Canavan, Dennis Dormand, J. D. Gourlay, Harry
Graham, Ted Mackenzie, Gregor Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Mackintosh, John P. Rowlands, Ted
Grant, John (Islington C) Maclennan, Robert Sandelson, Neville
Grimond, Rt Hon J. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Sedgemore, Brian
Grocott, Bruce McNamara, Kevin Selby, Harry
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Madden, Max Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Hamilton, w. W. (Central Fife) Magee, Bryan Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Hardy, Peter Mahon, Simon Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mallalieu, J. P. W. Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Marks, Kenneth Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Marquand, David Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Hatton, Frank Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Hayman, Mrs Helene Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sillars, James
Heffer, Eric S. Mason, Rt Hon Roy Silverman, Julius
Hooley, Frank Maynard, Miss Joan Skinner, Dennis
Hooson, Emlyn Meacher, Michael Small, William
Horam, John Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis Mendelson, John Spearing, Nigel
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Mikardo, Ian Stallard, A. W.
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Millan, Bruce Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Huckfield, Les Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Stoddart, David
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Stott, Roger
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Molloy, William Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Nwport) Moonman, Eric Strauss, Rt Hn G. R.
Hunter, Adam Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Swain, Thomas
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Moyle, Roland Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Janner, Greville Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Newens, Stanley Tierney, Sydney
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Noble, Mike Tinn, James
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Oakes, Gordon Tomlinson, John
John, Brynmor Ogden, Eric Torney, Tom
Johnson, James (Hull West) O'Halloran, Michael Tuck, Raphael
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Orbach, Maurice Urwin, T. W.
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ovenden, John Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Padley, Walter Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Palmer, Arthur Wainwright, Richard (Coine V)
Judd, Frank Pardoe, John Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Kaufman, Gerald Park, George Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Kelley, Richard Parker, John Ward, Michael
Kerr, Russell Parry, Robert Watkins, David
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Pavitt, Laurie Watkinson, John
Kinnock, Neil Peart, Rt Hon Fred Weetch, Ken
Lambie, David Pendry, Tom Weitzman, David
Lamborn, Harry Penhaligon, David Wellbeloved, James
Lamond, James Perry, Ernest White, Frank R. (Bury)
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Phipps, Dr Colin White, James (Pollok)
Leadbitter, Ted Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Whitehead, Phillip
Lee, John Prescott, John Whitlock, William
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Price, C. (Lewisham W) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Lever, Rt Hon Harold Price, William (Rugby) Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Radice, Giles Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Lipton, Marcus Richardson, Miss Jo Williams, Sir Thomas
Litterick, Tom Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Lomas, Kenneth Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Loyden, Eddie Robinson, Geoffrey Wise, Mrs Audrey
Luard, Evan Roderick, Caerwyn Woodall, Alec
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Rodgers, George (Chorley) Woof, Robert
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rodgers, William (Stockton) Wrigglesworth, Ian
McCartney, Hugh Rooker, J. W. Young, David (Bolton E)
McElhone, Frank Roper, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES
MacFarquhar, Roderick Rose, Paul B. Mr. Joseph Harper and
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Mr. Peter Snape.

Question accordingly negatived.

Forward to