HL Deb 09 December 1986 vol 482 cc1075-6

2.53 p.m.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Metropolitan Police Band is to be disbanded.

The Earl of Caithness

No, my Lords. Following a recent scrutiny of the band, the commissioner has decided that it should remain in being but that changes should be made to its organisation, use and staffing, with the aim of improving value for money.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that encouraging Answer. Am I to understand that the band will eventually consist entirely of civilians, and if so will they be in mufti or in uniform? Morever, will there be sufficient publicity generated by the band to encourage members of the ethnic minorities to join the police force?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, the band will be in uniform. I am sure that the Metropolitan Police will make sure that the positions in the band are widely advertised so that ethnic minorities and others can take part.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, can the noble Earl say what new use is contemplated for the Metropolitan Police Band?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, it will concentrate more on community events and will spend less time on commercial engagements.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, may I take the opportunity to ask whether the band is occasionally heard by schools so that the pupils learn to respect the police and like them, as they should do?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord for that question because at the moment the band plays at community events, schools and charity concerts, as well as on ceremonial occasions. We wish to encourage that side of the use of the band. As the noble Lord rightly said, it is important that our children become used to the police and see them in all their forms. This is a particularly good PR exercise for them.

Lord Sandys

My Lords, although I recognise the merits of the Government's proposals in saving police manpower, can the Minister say whether it is intended that membership of the band will entail being a member of Equity in the future, and will that create problems?

The Earl of Caithness

At the moment, my Lords, I cannot answer my noble friend but I shall write to him once I have looked into the matter.

Lord Annan

My Lords, when the noble Earl says that it is moving toward becoming more of a community band does he mean that it will no longer be an oompah band but a steel band?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am sure that that strain in music will also be played by the police band.