HL Deb 21 April 1964 vol 257 cc658-74

2.47 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have been in something of a dilemma in preparing to introduce this Bill to your Lordships because it is a very long Bill, and I have tried to see how I could get out of making a speech of interminable length. I hope the House will think that I have come to the right conclusion in deciding that I shall deal in only general terms with a large part of the Bill, and shall deal in detail with only the more important clauses. Then, if there are any matters with which any of your Lordships feel I have not dealt adequately, I can deal with those particular points in winding up.

We in your Lordships' House last debated police affairs in December, 1959, on the very eve of the appointment of the Royal Commission on the Police. Perhaps I may take this opportunity of saying how grateful we are to the members of that Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Willink, for the work that they did. There was one Member of your Lord- ships' House on that Royal Commission, the noble Lord, Lord Geddes of Epsom. There have been important developments in the Police Service since that time. We have had two Reports from the Royal Commission. They presented an Interim Report in November, 1960, recommending a substantial increase in police pay, and the Government acted promptly in improving pay to the recommended standard. The Bill now before your Lordships contains provisions to give effect to many of the recommendations in the second and Final Report of the Royal Commission, which was presented in May, 1962. In so doing, it repeals much obsolete police legislation, and consolidates other provisions in what, I hope, will be found to be a clear and compact measure.

The Bill makes three main changes. First, in providing for the continuance on a local basis of police organisation outside London, with all the advantages of preserving well-tried local links between the police and the public they serve, it lays down a new composition for police authorities and defines afresh their duties and the duties of chief constables. Hence it clarifies the relations between them. These changes at the local level are, broadly, the subject of Part I of the Bill.

The second main change which the Bill effects is to adapt this system of local police forces to meet problems of crime and road traffic which long ago ceased to be exclusively local and are in some respects assuming a regional or even national character. Part II therefore superimposes on the local arrangements a measure of central direction and control.

The third main change is that, in establishing a modern constitutional framework for the police within the State, the Bill provides improved statutory arrangements for the redress of grievances against any harsh or oppressive police action. The arrangements for dealing with complaints against the police are contained in Part IV of the Bill.

Part I of the Bill provides for the continuance of county and county borough police forces and for combined forces serving more than one local authority area. Clause 2 gives effect to a recommendation of the Royal Commission that all police authorities should in future contain two-thirds councillors and one-third magistrates. This provision reduces the proportion of magistrates on standing joint committees, and introduces them, for the first time, on to watch committees. By Clause 3 there will be the same proportion—two-thirds councillors and one-third magistrates—on combined police authorities.

Clauses 4 and 5 define, for the first time in a Statute, the functions of police authorities and chief constables. In an interesting passage of their Report (paragraphs 82 to 84) the Royal Commission draw attention to the way in which the office of chief constable has evolved and grown up almost unrecognised and unregulated by Parliament. As a result, there have been occasional clashes between police authorities and chief constables because their respective areas of responsibility have lacked statutory definition. I trust that your Lordships will find this uncertainty dispelled by the precise provisions contained in Clauses 4 and 5. They follow, in general, the recommendations of the Commission.

The main duty of the police authority will be to secure the maintenance of an adequate and efficient police force, to appoint the chief constable and determine the size of the force, and to provide equipment, buildings and so on. By subsection (1) of Clause 5 the chief constable is given the direction and control of the force. Subsection (4) of this clause introduces a principle fundamental to the Bill to which I must draw your Lordships' attention.

Subject to safeguards, it enables the police authority, acting with the approval of the Secretary of State, to call upon the chief constable to retire in the interests of efficiency. There is a parallel provision in Clause 29, which enables the Secretary of State to require the police authority to exercise this power. We are not here concerned with the chief constable who misbehaves in the sense of infringing the discipline code, much less the chief constable against whom there are allegations of crime. The power to retire the chief constable, on pension, is available only in the interests of efficiency. The principle underlying this provision is that the chief constable cannot be given directions about how he is to enforce the law, but he may at any time be called to account by the police authority, and by the Secretary of State; and his tenure of office as chief constable is subject to the police authority and the Secretary of State's being satisfied that he continues efficiently to direct and control the force under his command. The Bill therefore provides means by which they can so satisfy themselves.

Clause 12 empowers the police authority to call for reports from the chief constable—again, subject to certain safeguards—and, again, there is a somewhat similar provision in Clause 30 under which the Secretary of State is also empowered to call for reports. In addition, the Secretary of State will continue to have available to him the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary, a body which is being strengthened to meet the increasing demands now being made upon it. My right honourable friend has arranged for anything in these reports which affects the duties of the police authority to be brought quickly to their attention. The effect of these arrangements is to continue the long-established system of partnership between the central and local government in administering the police service. The police grant will continue as hitherto at 50 per cent.; and Clause 8 lays down the local financial arrangements. Clause 31, in Part II of the Bill, gives authority for the continuance of the statutory instrument which governs the conditions on which the grant will be paid.

There are a few other important provisions in Part I of the Bill to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention. Clause 11 gives effect to a suggestion of the Royal Commission (paragraph 165 in the Report) that the right should be recognised of a member of council to ask questions of the chairman of a police authority. The Commission thought, and the Government agree with them, that arrangements of this kind should be encouraged in order to stimulate local interest in local problems of law and order.

Clauses 13, 14, and 19 recognise the need to make provision for the resources of one police area to be made available, as required, elsewhere. The collaboration agreements for which Clause 13 provides may take the form, for example, of regional crime or traffic squads. A recent example of an arrangement of this kind is an experimental scheme started a few weeks ago on M.6, under which the police forces concerned have pooled their resources with a single co-ordination of operations. My right honourable friend will be watching with great interest the results of this experiment.

Clause 19 abolishes any geographical restriction on the area in which a constable has jurisdiction. His powers will in future extend throughout England and Wales. Clause 17 gives statutory recognition, for the first time, to police cadets. My right honourable friend attaches great importance to cadets as a valuable source of recruiting future police officers, and much thought has recently been given to the best arrangements for giving them not only the vocational training required to turn them into good policemen, but also the broader education to bring them into touch, during their impressionable years, with many aspects of our way of life.

The Government agree with the view of the Commission that there are too many separate police forces in this country, and Clause 21, together with Schedule 3, strengthens the power of the Home Secretary to make compulsory amalgamations between police areas. In particular, effect is given to recommendations of the Royal Commission that compulsory powers should be available regardless of the population affected (there is at present a limit of 100,000 beyond which a compulsory scheme cannot be made) and that the purpose of a local inquiry into an amalgamation scheme should be restricted to the hearing of objections. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has announced in another place that it will be his intention to review police areas after the Local Government Commission have made their proposals and the Minister of Housing and Local Government has announced his decision on these proposals; there may well be cases where the future local government boundaries would be unsatisfactory for police purposes. Clause 23 enables amalgamation schemes to come into operation on the same date as local government reorganisation.

Part II of the Bill deals with the central supervision of the Police Service, and in particular with the functions of the Home Secretary and Inspectors of Constabulary. Clause 28 places a duty on the Home Secretary to exercise his powers under the Bill so as to promote the efficiency of the police. This provision recognises, for the first time in a Statute, the central position of the Secretary of State in relation to the police. In one of the very few recommendations which the Government do not accept, the Royal Commission recommended (recommendation 40) that the Secretaries of State should be made statutorily responsible for the efficiency of the police. Clause 28 falls short of this, because it appears to the Government that a wide statutory responsibility of the kind proposed by the Commission would have to be supported by powers of direction and control over the police—a step virtually indistinguishable from the setting up of a national Police Force.

As I explained earlier, the Bill relies on the principle that chief constables are not to be subject to direction and control from above; but they will be called to account, both locally and centrally, for the way in which they discharge their functions under the Bill. I have already referred, in this connection, to Clauses 29 and 30, which embody the principles of central supervision over the police together with the accountability of chief constables. Your Lordships will note that Clause 29(3) provides for an inquiry to be held where it is proposed to retire a chief constable in the interests of efficiency. I will deal with Clause 32 a little later when I describe the provisions in the Bill which relate to the handling of complaints against the police.

Clause 33 re-enacts, with extensions, existing regulation-making powers; and subsection (3) of this clause gives effect to a recommendation of the Royal Commission that the disclipinary authority for ranks below that of assistant chief constable should be the chief constable and not, as at present in the county borough forces, the watch committees. Clause 37 gives effect to a further recommendation of the Commission that there should be a right of appeal against any punishment awarded at a disciplinary hearing against a police officer, and not against the more serious punishments only.

Clause 38 authorises the appointment of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary and broadens their functions. Hitherto their duties have been confined to inspecting and reporting on the efficiency of police forces. The Royal Commission recommended (recommendation 46) that they should have a more positive role in promoting police efficiency, and the Government accept this. Clause 39 gives effect to a further recommendation of the Commission that staff officers should be appointed to assist the Inspectors of Constabulary.

Since the Royal Commission reported, a Chief Inspector of Constabulary has been appointed, together with two additional Inspectors. Two more are to be appointed this year, thus bringing the complement up to the number recommended by the Royal Commission. In future the Inspectors of Constabulary, helped by the newly appointed staff officers, will play a very much more active part in the development of the Police Service than has been possible hitherto; and they will provide a close link between the Home Office and police forces throughout the country.

Clause 42 authorises the setting up of the Home Office Research and Planning Branch which was recommended by the Royal Commission. The Branch is already in existence, and it is giving priority to problems of unsolved crime and of congestion on the roads. There will be an opportunity, if your Lordships wish, for me to say more about the work of this important Branch in the course of our debates on the Bill.

Clause 43 makes provision for the secondment of police officers to the many posts in the various central services—the Research Branch, the Police College, the police training centres and other organisations—which have come to play an increasingly important part in the modern police service.

Part III deals with Scotland as well as England and Wales. I need refer only briefly to Part III of the Bill. Clause 44 continues the Police Federations as the representative organisations for ranks below that of superintendent. The negotiating machinery for the Police Service, the Police Council for Great Britain, which was set up in 1953 following recommendations of the Oaksey Committee, is given statutory authority by Clause 45. It is not the intention of the Government to interfere with the present negotiating arrangements for dealing with pay and related matters, which, I am glad to say, give satisfaction to all the parties concerned.

The Government attach importance to the provision in Clause 46 for the appointment of Police Advisory Boards. These will replace the Police Councils set up under the Police Act of 1919 as the principal advisory bodies to the Secretaries of State on general questions affecting the police. The Royal Commission laid great stress on the need for the Secretaries of State to play a much more active part in the future in influencing the development of the Service. My right honourable friend intends to take the chair from time to time at meetings of the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales; and he will place great reliance upon it as the central forum for discussions among all the interests concerned—the local authority associations and the police representative bodies.

Part IV deals with complaints against the police—at least, the most important provisions in Part IV of the Bill deal with complaints against the police. The Royal Commission devoted a great deal of attention to this difficult problem, and I commend to your Lordships' attention Chapter IX of their Report, which sets out, I think very fairly, the conflicting principles which must be reconciled if an acceptable solution is to be found. The fundamental issue here is whether provision should be made for some system for investigating complaints which lies entirely outside the Police Service itself; or, short of this, some provision for an appeal against the decision of a chief constable. A minority of the Royal Commission recommended, in an Appendix to the Report, the appointment of a Commissioner of Rights, who would play a part comparable to that of the Ombudsman in some of the Scandinavian countries. But the great majority of the Commission rejected this proposal; and the Government agree with them, for the reasons summarised in paragraph 478 of the Report.

In the Government's view the present arrangements for dealing with complaints against the police are on the right lines. But their weakness is that, relying as they do on senior members of the Police Service itself investigating complaints against their colleagues, it is sometimes difficult to convince the public that they are fair. Recognising this, the Royal Commission made a substantial number of recommendations designed to improve the present procedure, and in particular to make it more abundantly clear not only that justice would be done, but that it would be seen to be done. The Government fully accept all these recommendations. Those that could be put into effect administratively have already been commended to chief officers of police in a circular issued in May last year. Others are embodied in the Bill. But the Government go rather further than the Commission in ways which I will describe.

I deal first with the more serious complaints. The complainant who thinks he may have cause for a civil action against a policeman may in the past have been deterred by his inability to identify the officer concerned. Clause 48 adopts the spirit of a recommendation of the Royal Commission (recommendation 28) and places vicarious liability for the wrongful acts of a constable on the chief officer of police. This will enable a litigant to sue whether or not he can identify the officer complained of, and if he wins his action damages or costs awarded against the chief officer will be payable out of the local police fund.

If the complaint amounts to an allegation of a criminal offence it will be caught by the provisions of Clause 49. This requires that every complaint must at once be recorded and investigated by the chief officer. The chief officer may at his discretion bring in an investigating officer from another force, and if he is directed to do so by the Secretary of State an outside officer must be appointed to investigate the complaint. This is a vital provision, since any decision taken at a later stage may well depend on the thoroughness and impartiality of the investigation. Unless it is clear from the investigation that no criminal offence has been committed, the report of the investigation must be sent to the Director of Public Prosecu- tions. An independent mind will then be brought to bear on the matter.

The final disposal of the complaint will obviously depend on its merits. It may lead to a criminal prosecution, or to a formal disciplinary charge against the officer complained of; or there may be no case for either a prosecution or a disciplinary charge. The procedure which I have described will not apply only where the complaint is serious in the sense of alleging a criminal offence. The clause has been drafted widely so as to apply to any complaint made by a member of the public against a police officer, however trivial the complaint may be.

Next we come to the arrangements for supervising the way in which complaints are handled. Acting again on recommendations of the Royal Commission (recommendations 96 and 107) Clause 50 places on police authorities and Inspectors of Constabulary a duty to inform themselves as to the manner in which complaints are dealt with. Hence any failure on the part of the chief constable to carry out this important part of his duty properly will bring in issue his fitness for office. These provisions do not, however, exhaust the means available to deal with complaints. The Government are satisfied that they will effectively provide for the great bulk of complaints against the police to be properly and impartially dealt with, and that as their cumulative effect is felt public confidence—which has never been shaken to the extent sometimes suggested—will be steadily increased. But there will always he the occasional complaint for which the ordinary arrangements which I have described prove to be inadequate.

In this type of case it is to be expected that the Secretary of State will be asked to exercise his power under Clause 30 to call for a report from the chief constable concerned, and to that extent the complaint may become a matter of Parliamentary interest. And I have no doubt that the Secretary of State will from time to time cause a local inquiry to be set up, under Clause 32, to investigate matters arising out of a specific complaint. Hitherto, there has been no provision for statutory inquiries into matters connected with the policing of an area, and reliance has occasionally been placed on the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921. Inquiries set up under Clause 32 will have power to hear evidence on oath and to subpœna witnesses.

The Government are satisfied that the arrangements which I have described will preserve a proper balance between the interests of the police and those of the complainant, and that to go further, by way of establishing a system of independent tribunals to hear complaints, or other arrangements on these lines, would do more harm than good. Chief officers of police are entrusted to exercise important responsibilities in the field of law enforcement, and we ought not to shrink from entrusting them with responsibility to handle complaints against their own men—bearing in mind that, under other provisions of the Bill they may be called to account both to the police authority and to the Secretary of State for the manner in which they discharge their duties.

To embark on more radical proposals would, in the Government's view, tend to undermine the morale of the police without serving any useful purpose; and the public would be the first to suffer. Already some chief constables are concerned about the effects on their men of the publicity which has attended a few recent complaints against the police, and I will, with permission, read an extract from a letter from a senior chief constable which I think fairly illustrates the danger of yielding too much to uninformed public pressure in this matter.

This chief constable refers to the increase in the number of complaints made against the police as a result of the publicity given to this matter in recent years, and goes on to say—I quote his own words: I am very greatly concerned in case this constant nagging, because that is what it is, may have the effect of making some of the policemen, if not go slow, then certainly not go out of their way to perform their duties. As you will know, no one can compel a police officer to see things he does not want to see. A policeman can serve for thirty years, and if his idea is to keep out of trouble the easiest way of doing that is to do no work at all, to report no one for process, to arrest no one and just drift through his day always looking the other way. We depend entirely upon the zeal, integrity and loyalty of the individual policeman. Neither supervision nor discipline can make a man work if he does not want to do so, and one effect of these endless complaints could be to make the older man, who sees his pension round the corner, act very cautiously, and where there is any risk of a complaint following a legitimate action by him then he may well do nothing. There are undoubtedly cases of this nature now. I do not think the rot has spread very deeply, but unless this nagging is checked there is no doubt that more men will be affected. Should this become serious there can only be one winner—the criminal, and one loser—the public. He goes on to say: The police service is anxious to remove from its ranks defaulters and delinquents, but members of the public must support the loyal policeman from malicious and stupid complaints. We are a sitting target, and far too much time is now being spent by policemen in writing out reports on complaints, and the time of senior officers, instead of being spent in efforts to reduce this appalling crime wave, is being devoted to the investigation of unfounded allegations and in correspondence with unreasonable complainants. I fully realise that that is a strong statement of one side of the problem; but it is one that is often overlooked. In the Government's view, the proposals in the Bill hold the right balance. They are based on a concern for both police and public, and with justice for both. Much will inevitably depend on the way in which the new provisions are operated when they become law—as we hope they will—and I am sure that your Lordships will recognise the need for complainants and those supporting them, as well as for those dealing with the complaints, to act in a responsible way.

The only other provisions which I need draw to the attention of your Lordships are those in Clauses 51 to 53, which very largely re-enact existing provisions dealing with offences against the police. But the opportunity has been taken to increase some of the maximum penalties, which mostly date from the last century.

My Lords, I think, I should say a few words about the method chosen for applying the Bill to Scotland. As the House knows, Scotland already have an up-to-date, consolidating Statute, the Police (Scotland) Act, 1956, which is, I must admit, superior to anything at present in force in England. The Scots naturally wish to retain the general framework of that Act but, equally, wish to improve it by inserting most of the new provisions suggested by the Royal Commission and adopted for England in the main part of the Bill. They have also taken the opportunity of making one or two other amendments—for example, to repeal the right of any burgh attaining the population of 50,000 to set up its own, separate police force.

These changes are set out in Schedule 7, in the form of amendments to the 1956 Act. We all recognise that they look complicated and are difficult to understand, and that it will be necessary for the Scots to promote a new Consolidation Act at the earliest opportunity. But it was felt that there was no other way of enabling Scotland to adopt the new provisions that are being applied to England, unless there had been time for an entirely separate, self-contained Scottish Bill and Parliament had been prepared to discuss the same question twice over.

My Lords, I have described the main changes made by the Bill, and I can sum up its purposes very briefly. First, the Bill preserves the system of partnership between local and central government in administering our police forces, but it provides for very much firmer control and supervision by the Secretary of State over police forces outside London. This firmer control will secure the advantage of promoting greater efficiency and, because of the increase in the powers available to the Secretary of State, it will increase his answerability to Parliament for the efficiency of the police outside London. Second, the Bill paves the way for a substantial reduction in the number of separate police forces, and it provides for greater collaboration between the larger forces that will remain.

Third, by providing new statutory arrangements for handling complaints against the police the Bill should allay public anxiety, which, if allowed to go unchecked, could seriously impair relations between the police and the public. No one realises more keenly than the police how much they depend on public support. We rely on a relatively small police force to deal with a large population and severe problems of crime and traffic congestion. The police fully realise that they can hope to tackle these problems successfully only if they enjoy the full confidence of the public. The Government are confident that this Bill will make a substantial contribution towards restoring that confidence to the extent that it may have been weakened in recent years; and that, as its full effects begin to be apparent, it will promote a closer understanding between the police and the public they serve. I beg to move, that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Derwent.)

3.19 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we are all greatly obliged to the noble Lord for his admirably concise and clear account of the main objects and provisions of the Bill. I will try to be even more brief, bearing in mind that the Bill has already been explained to us this afternoon and has been fully discussed elsewhere, and that a number of expert speakers are to address the House from this side later. I refer, in particular, to the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who is to make his maiden speech. As the House knows, he is the father of "Dixon of Dock Green" perhaps the most popular figure in the war against crime since Conan Doyle invented Sherlock Holmes, who was, on the whole, a much less reassuring type. I am sure we shall listen to Lord Willis with special interest.

I need not dwell on the main provisions of the Bill, which have been gone through by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent. In general, we on this side, both elsewhere and in this House, sympathise with the objectives of this Bill. We feel in a modest way that we as a Party have played our part in contributing to the Bill in its present form. At the last stage elsewhere our Parliamentary spokesman was able to say of the Bill that on the whole it was a good Bill. That in general is the attitude we adopt at this stage. We welcome it on these Benches.

That does not mean that we regard the Bill as perfect, or even as having achieved the limited perfection which is open to human legislation. A number of improvements were made elsewhere, to some extent, at any rate, under Opposition pressure. I will not dwell on them, for if anyone is interested he need only read the speech made by Miss Bacon on the Third Reading in the House of Commons. For these and other improvements made in the discus- sion in the House of Commons there is reason to be grateful. There are certain defects which there is still time to correct and into which I will not now go in detail. The Minister, however, will be well aware of our objections to the provision for a number of magistrates to be appointed to the police authorities, and no doubt that point will be pressed to-day and at other stages. The Minister is also sure to be aware of our request for an independent person to be present at the disciplinary inquiries or investigations, and no doubt in these and other matters we shall be putting down Amendments at a later stage.

Nevertheless, I hope all of us on this side agree that a number of balances have been struck about right in this Bill, though only experience will show whether they are as satisfactory as we suppose now. Obviously, whoever is in power will have to alter them if things do not work out as well as we hope. I refer particularly to the delicate balance between central and local powers. There is no disguising the fact—and it is something I welcome—that the present Bill extends the responsibility of the Home Secretary of the day, though I should hope that, by clarifying his role while extending his responsibilities, it makes his task easier to carry out. There is a passage in paragraph 325 in the Willink Report which goes to the heart of the matter, but I gather from the Minister that this Bill does not give full effect to this particular paragraph. It runs as follows: Henceforth, under our proposals, Ministers will not merely be entitled to intervene in the local administration of the police where they have reason to suspect inefficiency: they will have a duty to do so. The administrative attitude of the central Departments towards police affairs will thus become positive. Their responsibility will be not merely to correct inefficiency, but to promote efficiency". I gather from the Minister that the Bill does not go as far as that. I shall be quite happy if it does, and I certainly sympathise with that objective. Perhaps the Minister will tell us before he finishes whether that proposal is in fact carried out in the Bill.

One must admit that the position of the chief constable remains peculiar and somewhat imprecise. Perhaps that is inevitable. Certainly the position of the chief constable will be a good deal more precise and less peculiar than hitherto. I well remember sampling at first-hand the mysterious ambiguity of the chief constable's position in 1936. I was involved, in days when I was much younger and friskier than I am now, in a miniature battle, dignified by the name of fracas, in the Carfax Assembly Rooms in Oxford, between the visiting team of black-shirted: Fascists and the home team, who were composed mainly of busmen. I will not say which side I was on—but it was not the Fascist side. I retired to bed with concussion, as did a good many other people—some were taken to hospital—and, whether or not it was because of my concussed condition, I acquired the idea that the police had favoured the Fascists. I may or may not have been right in that. The chief constable, however, an excellent man, no doubt known to a number of your Lordships if you cast your minds back, took the view that in a matter of this kind he was a Crown servant, and that if I had any complaint I should have to make it to the Home Secretary.

I duly repaired to London and was interviewed by Sir John Simon (later Lord Simon), who was then Home Secretary. He was buttressed by Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd, so your Lordships can see how seriously they were taking the whole thing. I got no satisfaction there. Lord Simon was fully equal to the task of passing me back to the Watch Committee, and I, so to speak, ricochetted backwards and forwards between these authorities without ever being able to discover where the ultimate responsibility lay. The end of that story came about when Sir Alan Herbert, the Independent Member for Oxford University, tried to raise the matter in the House of Commons. But he was told that, as this had occurred outside the Metropolitan Area, although the discussion was concerned with the Police Vote, there was nothing the Home Secretary could do about it. Sir Alan Herbert had to raise it as a hypothetical case of an Oxford don being beaten up inside the Metropolitan Area. That was the only way the matter could be raised, and the matter was duly publicised. From that day, a quarter of a century ago, to this I have always thought it extremely difficult to know how to pin down a chief constable of whose conduct one was complaining. Perhaps my descendants, if they are ever foolish enough to get involved in activities of this kind in Oxford, will be more fortunate in being able to find a receptacle for their complaints.

Perhaps, on the wider point, the noble Lord when he winds up will tell us whether complaints of that, or of a similar, character as to the general conduct of a chief constable outside the Metropolitan Area in future could be raised by Parliamentary Question or in a debate on the Home Office Vote in the House of Commons. It would help us to be told how Parliamentary Questions can be asked in future on matters outside the Metropolitan Area.

There are a number of genuine experts on this subject on this side of the House: Lord Willis, Lady Wootton of Abinger and Lord Stonham to mention three. Before I hand over to them I should like to say a few words on the wider problem with which we are all ultimately concerned. However, the Leader of the House now wishes to address the House.