HL Deb 21 February 1994 vol 552 cc423-508

3.4 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee. — (Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Boston of Faversham) in the Chair.]

Lord Campbell of Alloway

May I raise a question on the grouping, if that is in order?

Noble Lords

Order, order!

Clause 21 [Acceptance of gifts and loans]:

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No.123A: Page 15, line 8, after ("gifts") insert ("and rewards").

The noble Lord said: My noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes has asked me to move this amendment on her behalf.

If one reads Clause 21 and subsection (1) of the new Section 53B, one sees that: A police authority may, in connection with the discharge of any of its functions, accept gifts of money, and gifts or loans of other property, on such terms as the authority thinks fit". My noble friend seeks to add the words "and rewards" to that provision. The Committee may feel that "rewards" normally take the form of "gifts of money" or of "other property", but I understand that, first, up to now police authorities have been allowed to accept rewards. Secondly, if the words "and rewards" are not included in the Bill in the way that my noble friend suggests, it could be that even if a reward took the form of a gift of money or property, somebody might challenge the propriety of a police authority accepting such a reward. It all depends on the form of the reward and one could speculate indefinitely about the various forms that it might take. Therefore, I think that it would be appropriate to add this small correction to the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Knights

The question of rewards is rather different, I believe, from the question of gifts or money. In my experience, the word "rewards" has been held to cover money or gifts which are given, usually by a victim, to reward or to say "thank you" to people who have helped to recover his property or who have given help that has led to the conviction of a criminal, rather than rewards to the police authority or rewards or gifts to the police themselves. Rewards have a special connotation in police circles. They are not gifts to the police or to the police authority. As I have said, they are gifts from a victim or a company, offered in order to gain information that may lead to the solution of a particular crime. They have to be handled very carefully. I do not believe that they fall within the responsibility of the police authority: they are much more matters to be handled by the police themselves in their dealings with victims, complainants and people who have offended against them.

I do not believe that police authorities should become involved in what can often be a difficult and complicated matter when it comes to prosecuting someone. Allegations can quickly be made that prosecutions have been brought about or affected by way of gifts or inducements of one kind or another. This matter is better left to be handled by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service rather than involving the police authorities. I do not believe that it would be appropriate for rewards to be handled by members of a police authority.

Earl Ferrers

If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Knights, was wise to add that caution in respect of my noble friend's amendment. Gifts are different from rewards. I agree with the noble Lord when he said that all these matters have to be dealt with very carefully indeed for fear that one might induce some notion of bribery or return for services rendered. That would be wholly undesirable.

Clause 21(1) enables the police service to accept gifts of money on such terms as the authority thinks fit"— for example, for sponsoring work in relation to crime prevention or community relations. We do not believe that the terms should be further extended to cover the acceptance of financial rewards. Those rewards would probably be offered in return for specific achievements, such as solving certain crimes. They would almost certainly give rise to anxieties about police impartiality and the operational independence of the police as well as the impression that those companies or organisations with wealth might have an undue influence over policing matters.

Rewards would be most likely to be offered in return for police activities which are, and must continue to be, funded through government expenditure. It would be wrong for a company to be able to offer to reward the police for their success in a particular operation. It can offer rewards to the public to encourage them to co-operate with the police but not to the police "for services rendered".

The Bill allows individuals or organisations wishing to make a general contribution to the police to do so in the form of a gift. We believe that that is the right way to treat gifts to the police service.

Lord Mottistone

I thank my noble friend for that explanation and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Knights, for his contribution. I understand what was said. I must reserve the right of my noble friend to come back on Report if for some reason she has a different view from that expressed. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 21 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

The clause allows a police authority to accept gifts of money and gifts or loans of other property. The terms under which such gifts or loans may be accepted can include, commercial sponsorship of any activity of the police authority or of the police force maintained by it". It has been helpful to have the support of the private sector in crime prevention campaigns. That has been done on a non-statutory basis and there is no need for it to be placed in statutory form; the practice can continue. However, the Bill proposes something which is a great deal wider. The clause refers to: any activity of the … police force". I wish to ask the Minister a number of questions about that provision. First, is a code of practice to come into force at the same date as the Bill which defines the way in which financial gifts or commercial sponsorship should be allowed? Clearly, a number of problems arise. What will happen if, unknown to members of the police authority, the police force concerned is undertaking a criminal investigation of a number of those involved in the business which has offered to sponsor some of its activities? It would be undesirable and improper for the chief constable concerned to disclose to members of the police authority the fact that there was an ongoing criminal investigation. But by remaining silent he could find himself in a difficult situation. There is no point in pretending that difficulties do not exist.

Secondly, there was in recent years a well-publicised case of a businessman who made generous donations to charitable and other activities. Unhappily, he did so with other people's money. I knew that gentleman who, I am sure, under the terms of this clause would have made a generous offer to the police force in the area in which he lived. He was an influence pedlar of high quality. At the time the police authority would have had no way of knowing about his criminal activities. Yet subsequently both the authority and the police force could have been deeply embarrassed by the revelation of where the money had come from in regard to his commercial sponsorship.

Thirdly, at times of severe constraints on spending, a police authority might be tempted to urge its senior officers to establish financial targets for commercial sponsorship. That would be highly undesirable. If that were in any way linked to the performance related pay of senior police officers, which is being introduced in this legislation, the situation would be even worse.

Finally, what would happen if a commercial sponsor offered money to a police authority on the basis that the company was prepared to pay for the area in which it operated to be policed more intensively than other areas? That would put the chief officer of the force concerned in a very difficult situation and it could easily lead to the gravest public disquiet.

I am uneasy about some of the unintended secondary effects of the clause as drafted. I hope that we shall hear a detailed explanation from the Minister about how the Government propose to deal with the situations that I have described and, in particular, whether there will be some clearly defined code of practice indicating what is and what is not allowed.

3.15 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I support the opposition to the clause which was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. It is an extraordinary addition to the powers already contained in the Bill. I understand from police authorities and chief constables that there is already a certain amount of sponsorship and the giving of gifts. If that is right, what is the legal basis for such sponsorship and gifts? If the legal basis is adequate, what is the need for an explicit reference by means of an additional clause in the Bill?

Our fundamental anxiety is the possibility of gifts or sponsorship leading to a distortion of police priorities. I am sure that the Minister will understand that danger. Of course, some kinds of other income for police forces is perfectly acceptable; for example, there is nothing wrong in making charges for extra attendances at football matches. On a smaller scale, there is nothing wrong with the charges that used to be made for having a policeman on duty to stop pilfering at a local scouts' jumble sale. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with local authorities within the police force area making grants for such matters as crime prevention or education in crime prevention. Those are all perfectly legitimate reasons. However, when the possibility of grants, sponsorship and fees is raised, one must ask: what will the people who make such payments expect for the money which they pay to the police force? The noble Lord, Lord Harris, correctly asked whether the result will be more intensive policing in certain areas. Will it result in the more intensive policing of, for example, certain commercial premises at the expense of the policing of residential premises? What safeguards will ensure that those who are prepared to give money in this way are doing so for legitimate reasons, such as those which are already possible? Is there to be an approved list? Is there to be a code of practice?

All those questions are raised not because additional funding for police forces is unacceptable, but because the clause is drafted so widely. It appears to raise the possibility of an unacceptable influence on the priorities of the police authority and the chief constable. It may also tempt weaker police authorities and chief constables to distort their priorities away from those which are established elsewhere in the Bill towards priorities which are determined by outside finance. That cannot be the right way to proceed.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I wonder whether my noble friend will answer a question which troubles me. As has been said, a number of payments are made which are perfectly in order and proper. But if the clause is taken out of the Bill, will it become impossible or difficult in law for those payments to be made? In other words, will my noble friend tell the Committee what will be the practical effect of agreeing to the Motion?

Lord Renton

As has been pointed out already by several Members of the Committee, the clause covers certain legitimate matters with which we are quite familiar; for example, I remember the mounted police division of the Metropolitan Police being given some horses as a gift. That was quite proper. But when we come to commercial sponsorship, it would help if my noble friend Lord Ferrers would tell us a little more about what is envisaged.

Something that puzzles me rather is that very often commercial sponsorship, even of great national events, takes place in order to advertise. The main motive of commercial sponsorship is to advertise the reputation of the services or products of a particular company which is financing the sponsorship. I rather doubt that it is desirable for any police activities to become a means of commercial advertising. But on the other hand, if it is a question of saving public money or giving more money to the police authorities than they can get from the Treasury, then there may be something to be said in favour of it.

Lord Knights

I join the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh and Lord Harris of Greenwich, in inquiring why this clause has been included. I cannot recall having seen any reference to it in the White Paper, although I may have overlooked it entirely. But it seems to me that we need to know why the Government believe the clause to be necessary.

The idea of private individuals or companies sponsoring police activities and, indeed, perhaps making direct donations to police sports and social clubs, for example, has been a matter of anxiety over the years. I can recall in the early 1970s that there was a great deal of concern about corruption in local authorities— indeed, some rather well known prosecutions took place at that time. The whole question of gifts to police forces and police bodies was a matter of real anxiety to chief constables. It was the generally held view that such a practice was undesirable because it was likely to put the police under obligation to the sponsor or, at the very least, it could lead to accusations of partiality, whether or not they were true. Certainly 20 years ago, such gifts were looked upon almost with horror.

The barriers began to come down in the field of sport and other recreational activities. The Association of Chief Police Officers devised a code of practice, or perhaps I may describe it as a policy, which sought to make it clear that, fo-example, advertisements in police sports programmes were matters between the advertisers and the printers of the programmes rather than the police service itself.

Subsequently, sponsorship of crime prevention activities began to raise its head and became— and I think still is — an accepted practice, generally without difficulty. In general the reference to the sponsor in crime prevention activities has been kept very low key; for example, a small reference at the bottom of a calendar which is surrounded by crime prevention slogans.

Clearly if those matters are to go forward, they need to be handled with considerable care if the police authority is not to find itself open to the same challenges of possible corruption and accusations of being beholden to those individuals or organisations which have given either money or gifts by way of sponsorship. If the clause is to stand, a code of practice, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, suggested, will be essential. Moreover, there should be no question of lowering the dignity of the service by advertisements on police buildings and vehicles. That is not lightly said. I can recall one police authority some years ago considering whether it should raise additional revenue by allowing advertising hoardings to be erected on the blank walls of some of its police stations. That was considered quite seriously and rejected, I am pleased to say.

While I am not utterly opposed to the clause, we need to know why it is thought necessary. I hope that a code of practice will be drawn up to ensure that the problems which exist are recognised and ameliorated.

Lord Merlyn-Rees

The noble Lord, Lord Knights, has raised most of the issues about which I have been anxious during the past quarter of an hour. He talked about his experience of the 1970s, and I have different experiences as regards police corruption. Certain remarks were made about smaller forces and their associations with prominent businessmen. One of the reasons for the larger police forces was to move away from those smaller forces where it was said that such matters may have been more prevalent.

The noble Lord, Lord Knights, asks why the Home Office wishes to amend the Police Act 1964. What has arisen to make that necessary? There must be a reason which triggered such advice being given to Ministers.

I still read the published annual reports of police forces. These days, I read only those reports which interest me. The Royal Ulster Constabulary is not affected by the Bill, but I read its reports with great interest, as I do those of the West Yorkshire Police, the Gwent Police and the Metropolitan Police. I cannot recall seeing anywhere a list of donations made in the course of the year for some reason or other. I should have been astonished to find such a list. It may be that I am wrong. It may be that there is a list of donations, gifts, or rewards made to the police and I have missed it. It may be in some esoteric financial section of the report to which my eye does not immediately turn.

There are questions to be asked in this regard. The basic question, which has been asked once or twice, is why there is this need for change, because I cannot conceive of it arising 10 or 20 years ago. It has arisen now. The Home Office does not make such decisions gratuitously. There must be a reason for it, and I am not clear as to what it is.

Earl Ferrers

The reason— and I shall come to it shortly— that the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, is concerned is that, as he said, the situation would not have arisen 10 or 20 years ago. Things have changed and the kind of sponsorship that we are considering now would not have happened 10 or 20 years ago. It is now happening on a reasonably wide scale.

It is right that the Committee should be apprehensive and should raise questions about the matter for the reasons which the noble Lord, Lord Knights, gave. Where we are dealing with money and the police, all possible steps must be taken to ensure that there is no corruption or thought of corruption.

The purpose of Clause 21 is to formalise the existing position as regards gifts and sponsorship and to allow those forces which are active in that area to continue with their programmes. There are all sorts of examples of ventures which involved gifts, loans and sponsorships. They include, for example, support for regional neighbourhood watch conferences which I understand General Accident has sponsored. There have also been loans of cars fitted with crime prevention devices which Vauxhall have provided and there are publicity booklets and schools liaison information packs which could also be funded in that way. Clause 21 will give forces a clear legal basis on which to operate.

The noble Lords, Lord Merlyn-Rees, Lord Harris of Greenwich and Lord Knights, all quite reasonably asked why the clause is necessary. The answer is that the law is not absolutely clear about the position. Such funding did not happen years ago. However, we are now encouraging the police, the communities and organisations to work together to co-operate against crime. If it is possible for some of those institutions to fund something, then that should be encouraged.

I understand the worry that improper use might be made of such gifts or that giving them might want to use them as a means of influencing a police force. The noble Lords, Lord Harris of Greenwich and Lord Knights, were concerned about codes of practice, as, indeed, was the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. I can tell them that it is our intention to make use of Clause 11 of the Bill, which enables the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice to provide the means to control the use of gifts, loans and sponsorship. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, asked whether such a code would come into force on the day that the Bill is enacted. I can only tell him that the codes of practice will come into operation as soon as possible after Royal Assent.

I believe that I answered the point made by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter. He asked what the practical effect would be of not having the clause in the Bill. The practical effect would be that the law would remain uncertain. The clause is a method of trying to clarify the law. My noble friend Lord Renton said that advertising is very often a thought in the minds of those who give money. I quite agree with him, it is. It would be quite intolerable if all police cars were travelling around with "By courtesy of ICI" on the bodywork or if all police forces were to have helmets upon which the words "By courtesy of General Accident" appeared. Of course, that would be quite absurd. However, on the other hand, if a crime prevention conference was sponsored by an organisation I do not think it would be wrong to state that fact on the leaflet.

Such points are precisely those which will have to be covered by the codes of practice. Nevertheless, it will be for the police authorities to determine the terms upon which gifts, loans and sponsorship might be accepted. Here I should like to draw the attention of Members of the Committee to a point made by one noble Lord who stated that you had to be very careful about bribing chief constables. I cannot remember which noble Lord mentioned it, nor do I think that he expressed his concern in quite such vulgar terms, but that was the implication of what he said. It is the police authority, not the chief constable, which will have the responsibility for saying whether such sponsorship should be offered and for determining the terms that would apply. Those concerned would need to have regard to any relevant code of practice issued by the Secretary of State. The latter would set out what should and should not be permitted. Police authorities would also be expected to have due regard for the issues of probity and propriety, which would also be set out in the codes of practice.

It is not, and it has never been, our intention that gifts, loans or sponsorship should be used by forces to replace planned activity. They represent a way in which the police service and the community as a whole can work together in partnership to deliver an improved level of service. They would bring the police service more into line with other public services and offer the police further flexible opportunities. Police authorities would not be under any obligation to accept offers. We would expect police authorities to think very carefully about any conditions that they might want to make before accepting gifts, loans or sponsorship. We expect all that to contribute, as it does now, to that part of policing. It is not likely to be a large part; but it is a small part of policing.

We believe that it is right to give such activities a clear legislative basis under which police authorities can control and guide them. The removal of Clause 21 would perpetuate the uncertainty about what should and should not be permitted. Its absence would not resolve the practical problems facing forces at present.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, posed several questions. I have answered the point about the code of practice. However, the noble Lord also asked what would happen if the police had to investigate an organisation which was sponsoring an activity. That may be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it would not be the first time that the police have had to investigate people of great probity. It does happen. I do not see that there would be any difficulty in such a case.

The noble Lord also asked what would happen if the person sponsoring an event was found to be a fraudster. That would be terrible. However, any organisation to which that individual was giving his money would be equally horrified on realising that the money that it was receiving was not genuine but money fraudulently obtained. The noble Lord also asked about the possible situation where money might be given to the police in order to ensure that policing over certain areas was carried out more effectively. Of course, that would be wrong; it would be interfering with the operational independence of the chief constable. It is worth remembering that it is the sponsors who will have conditions imposed upon them by the police authority: the police authority will not have conditions imposed upon it by sponsors. With that explanation, I hope that Members of the Committee will agree that the clause is a valuable adjunct of the Bill.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Renton

Before the noble Lord, Lord Harris, replies, I should like to express my gratitude to my noble friend for his explanation. I respectfully agree with him. However, I believe that it would be most helpful if in Clause 21 (which inserts a new Section 53B to the Police Act 1954) a subsection were to be added in order to give notice and embody the point that my noble friend made— which none of us had anticipated— stating that the provision is subject to a code of practice. An internal cross-reference there would be most helpful.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I very much agree with that point. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, is quite right. It is desirable that we should have some reference to a code of practice in Clause 21. That would make it clear that there is some limitation on the use of the provision.

I was glad to hear what the Minister said about the problem that would arise if a commercial sponsor said that the purpose of sponsorship was to ensure that there would be more heavy policing of the area in which the company was based than in some other area. As the noble Earl quite rightly said, that would be an attack on the operational independence of the chief officer and would be quite unacceptable. Therefore, I take it that such a provision would be included in the code of practice. It is most important that such matters should be spelt out so that we do not have a horror situation in the future where a police authority agrees to such a request in return for an offer of perhaps quite substantial sums of money.

The noble Earl did not reply to one of the points I made. Although I do not expect him to respond on this occasion, I hope we agree that, again, it is a matter which can be dealt with in the code of practice. I am referring to the effect of any pressure by a police authority on an officer of chief officer rank by setting a financial target for him to raise certain sums of money by commercial sponsorship and then to relate that to his performance-related pay. That would, in my view, be wholly improper and I am sure that the noble Earl, on reflection, will almost certainly agree with that. Again I very much hope that that issue would be dealt with in the code of practice so as to avoid the danger in the future that some chief officer might be put under that sort of pressure.

The only other point I wish to make is simply to emphasise the difficulties that could arise in this situation. I could envisage a situation where a substantial commercial enterprise, or any form of commercial enterprise for that matter, was offering a significant sum of money to a police force in connection with a particular campaign, and the only person sitting round the table at the police authority meeting was the chief constable who would know that his officers were at that time investigating the company concerned for breaches of the criminal law. That seems to me to raise substantial difficulties because the chief constable could not disclose to the authority that such an investigation was under way but on the other hand, as I indicated earlier, by remaining silent he could put himself at risk. However, I have made our position on this matter clear. The noble Earl has kindly said there will be a code of practice. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, has suggested there should be an amendment to take account of that and I very much hope the noble Earl will agree to consider it. Subject to the points which have been made in the debate, I suggest— there is obviously no amendment before us— that we should not try to reach a conclusion on this matter today.

Clause 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Precepts]:

3.45 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No.123B: Page 15, leave out lines 27 to 31.

The noble Lord said: Ministers often argue that the Home Secretary has to have a direct input into the work of police authorities and police forces because it is the Home Secretary who takes the blame if something goes wrong. I suggest to the Committee that the same thing happens to members of police authorities when issues of the police budget are debated because it is, or ought to be, a proper assumption that members of police authorities, certainly local authority members of police authorities who are responsible for precepting on the council or constituent councils, have a responsibility for the size of that budget.

We have already debated clauses which make it clear that that responsibility for the budget is severely diminished. We have debated Clause 13, which makes it clear that budgets have to be related to standard spending assessments. We have also debated rules under which the Secretary of State can dictate budgetary rules for police authorities which may be different for different classes of authority and for different individual authorities. Those provisions already constrain the power of the police authority to set the budget which it thinks proper for policing in its area.

Now it is proposed that the power of capping— this is the meaning of lines 27 to 31 in Clause 22— which already applies to the rest of local authority expenditure but not so far to police expenditure, should be extended to police authorities. What that means is that both the upper and the lower limit of police authorities' budgets are set tightly by the Secretary of State rather than being a matter for local decision, and that within that upper and lower limit the Secretary of State has the power to set rules for how expenditure should be made and for what purposes it should be made, and those rules can be separate for individual police authorities.

It will be seen that this leaves little scope for police authorities to make their own judgments, based on local knowledge, of what is required for the budget for the police force. Whatever the chief constable may put up as a budget, the police authority will have little power to do anything about it as regards reflecting the chief constable's judgment or their own judgment about the chief constable's judgment. This is not purely a theoretical argument. If we look at the budgets of 35 police forces in England and Wales this year,1993–94, and we compare that with standard spending assessments, we can see that 15 of these police authorities are likely to spend more than their standard spending assessment and therefore run the risk of being capped under the provisions of this clause.

We object to capping altogether for the whole of local government. We believe that, as the Government have had the opportunity on a number of occasions to reform or change the law relating to local authority expenditure, they should be satisfied with the controls they have over local authority expenditure and the way in which local authority finance is raised. They should not be using generalised powers of capping for any part of local government expenditure; still less should they now be extending that to police authorities for the first time.

I cannot see on what basis the Government can argue that police authorities have been extravagant in the budgets they set for their police forces. Indeed the only complaint we have ever heard from the Government benches has been about those one or two police authorities which have been considered to set budgets which were too small for adequate policing in their area. This is the Derbyshire argument, which is always used in support of this Bill. To allow capping to be extended now to police authorities takes away virtually every vestige of financial independence for police authorities; their control at the top and at the bottom and as regards the way they spend any money in between those two tight limits. It cannot be acceptable to add this further constraint to police authorities. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

I merely rise to make a point about the grouping. It seems to me that Amendments Nos.123B,123C,124 and 125 all overlap with each other and to a considerable extent deal with a similar point. There are slight differences but in any event the outcome would depend upon the ultimate consideration, about which many of us are hopeful, of Clause 3 as it will become. I would have thought that, if my noble friend Lord Ferrers could give an answer which covers these various matters, that would shorten the discussion and clarify it.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I hope I may respond to that point straight away. I am all in favour of shortening and clarifying debate. However, the point I wish to make on Amendment No.123C, which concerns who within a police authority should determine the budget, is a different point from the point about central government control of the total budget of police authorities. I believe the arguments are different and I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Renton, hears the arguments he will agree they are different.

The point the noble Lord makes about Amendments Nos.124 and 125 has, I believe, been discussed in negotiations on the grouping. My understanding is that it is agreed that both Amendments Nos.124 and 125 are affected by Clauses 2,3 and 4 and therefore may not even be moved, and certainly need not be debated today because they would be consequential on the recommitment which has been agreed for next week. Having said that, I am delighted to hear the noble Lord say that he is hopeful about the outcome of next week's debate. I hope that means he is hopeful for change in the Government's position.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I propose to speak only briefly. As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, has rightly said, the principal complaint at the moment is that a handful— indeed even less than a handful— of police authorities spend too little on the police. Here we have a capping power to oblige police authorities to spend less on the police. That is an extraordinary proposition at a time when there is serious public disquiet about the level of crime. I find it very difficult to see how it can be justified. I very much hope that even now the Government will reflect upon their position.

Whatever decision is taken next week in respect of Clause 2 and Schedule 2 concerning the constitution of police authorities, to impose capping on these new police authorities, however they may be constituted, is wrong in principle. How can it be right for a police authority not to be allowed to spend the amount of money which it regards as essential to safeguard the interests of the local community?

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I hope that my noble friend will resist the amendment. In many cases capping may not be necessary, but to remove the power to cap seems to invite a move towards financial irresponsibility. All public expenditure poses real problems. One of the most difficult jobs of Government, as many of us remember, is using the capping powers in certain areas to prevent excessive spending. To take out the capping power, which may not necessarily be exercisable in the near future, seems to encourage financial irresponsibility. I hope that we shall not accept it.

Earl Ferrers

I find that a very helpful intervention by my noble friend. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said that he does not like capping. We all know that he does not like capping. He said that it would virtually take away the independence of the police authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, asked how police authorities could be allowed to be capped and not be able to raise the finance they need.

There is a very simple reason. The police authorities are subject to capping because they are major precepting authorities for the purposes of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. That does not depend on Clause 22(2), to which the amendment relates. I emphasise what my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter said. Everywhere in Government there has always been anxiety about the money that needs to be spent in order to achieve certain objectives and the ability to apply restraint in order to stop total government expenditure going too far. That is a fact of life with which every government have wrestled for years and years.

Perhaps I may set out briefly how the capping regime operates at present. Under the 1992 Act my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment determines principles which provide the capping rules for that particular year. To date those principles have applied to all authorities which are subject to capping without distinction. There has never been any reason to distinguish between the various classes of authority which are provided under the 1992 Act.

It is perfectly possible that at some time in the future there could be good reason for singling out a particular class of authority for special treatment. For example, it might be felt that councils of inner London boroughs should be capped differently from other authorities. That would be perfectly possible under the 1992 Act as it stands. It would also be possible under the Bill as it stands to treat the class of new police authorities differently. However, if the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, were accepted that would not be possible.

Under that amendment the new police authorities would be subject to the original principles determined by the Secretary of State, whatever the special circumstances of the police authorities. That would be odd as police authorities would be the only class of authority which could not be singled out for special treatment.

The 1992 Act contains a specific provision— enacted only two years ago— which allows for the possibility that circumstances could arise which might require different treatment for different classes of authority, including police authorities. The amendment seeks to undermine that principle by removing police authorities as a separate class for capping purposes. I cannot see that that would be helpful.

The effect of Amendment No.123B would be to remove the new police authorities from the list of classes which is included in the Local Government Finance Act whose members must be treated in the same way for capping purposes. It does not have the effect of removing police authorities from the capping regime altogether. The amendment only removes police authorities as a class. It would still leave every police authority subject to capping according to whatever principles were determined by the Secretary of State under the 1992 Act. If the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, wants to prevent police authorities being subject to the capping rules, I suggest that he has the wrong amendment.

The amendment would prevent the new police authorities from being treated as a separate class for capping purposes. That is not what happens at the moment. At present all metropolitan county police authorities are treated as a class. All county councils are treated as a class, which catches the non-metropolitan police authorities. The amendment would change all that.

For those reasons I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will agree that the Bill is best left as it is.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The Minister invites me to seek, by amendment to the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill, a much wider restriction on capping than I thought was possible. If it is possible in this Bill to amend the 1992 Act in order to remove some of the possibilities for capping, nobody would be more willing than I to try to do that. Unfortunately, as the Minister knows perfectly well, within the Long Title of the Bill I cannot do that. I am restricted to the issue of police authorities.

With the amendment I seek to remove the possibility that police authorities, and particularly county police authorities which have not been treated in this way before, should be subject to capping as a general rule. I should have liked also to remove the possibility of capping on an individual basis on the judgment of the Secretary of State, but I did not feel that it was possible to do that. Therefore, in that sense the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, — whose intervention was, as always, thought helpful by the Government— was to some extent in error. He assumed that we propose to remove the possibility of capping. We seek to prevent the addition of the possibility of generalised capping of the expenditure of police authorities. We are doing what we can within the context, and the Long Title, of the Bill to oppose this unnecessary extension of central government power.

I believe that there is an issue of principle which cannot be resolved by negotiation. It is clear that the Government are not going to give way in this Bill on the issue which fundamentally lies between the parties regarding the relationship between central and local government. I believe that it is proper that I should seek the opinion of the Committee on the amendment.

3.58 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No.123B) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents,90; Not-Contents,128.

Division No.1
Acton, L. Gould of Pottemewton, B.
Allen of Abbeydale, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Ardwick, L. [Teller.]
Ashley of Stoke, L. Gregson, L.
Aylestone, L. Grey, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Halsbury, E.
Blackstone, B. Hanwoith, V.
Boston of Faversham, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Bottomley, L. Haskel, L. [Teller.]
Brain, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Broadbridge, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Irvine of Lairg, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Jay of Paddington, B.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Jay, L.
David, B. Jeger, B.
Dean of Beswick, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Desai, L. Judd, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Kagan, L.
Ennals, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L. Kinloss, Ly.
Falkland, V. Knights, L.
Fitt, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B
Gallacher, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Gladwyn, L. Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Mclntosh of Haringey, L. Serota, B.
McNair, L. Shepherd, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L. Stallard, L.
Milner of Leeds, L. Stedman, B.
Molloy, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Strabolgi, L.
Mulley, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Nelson, E. Tenby, V.
Nicol, B. Thurlow, L.
Peston, L. Tordoff, L.
Pitt of Hampstead, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Plant of Highfield, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Prys-Davies, L. Wharton, B.
Redesdale, L. White, B.
Richard, L Wigoder, L.
Rochester, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Sainsbury, L. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Saltoun of Abemethy, Ly. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Seear, B.
Aberdare, L. Gridley, L.
Addison, V. Grimthorpe, L.
Aldington, L. Haig, E.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L
Annaly, L. Harding of Petherton, L.
Annan, L. Hayhoe, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Henley, L.
Arran, E. HolmPatrick, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Hood, V.
Astor, V. Howe, E.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Jenkin of Roding, L.
Beloff, L. Johnston of Rockport, L.
Bethell, L. Killearn, L.
Birdwood, L. Kimball, L.
Blatch, B. Lane of Horsell, L.
Borthwick, L. Lauderdale, E.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Leigh, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Liverpool, E.
Cadman, L. Long, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Lyell, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Carnock, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord
Chelmsford, V. Chancellor.]
Clanwilliam, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Clinton, L. Malmesbury, E.
Coleraine, L. Mancroft, L.
Colnbrook, L. Merrivale, L.
Courtown, E. Mersey, V.
Craigavon, V. Miller of Hendon, B.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Milverton, L.
Cumberlege, B. Morris, L.
Davidson, V. Mottistone, L.
Dean of Harptree, L. Mountgarret, V.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Digby, L. Moyne, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Munster, E.
Donegal 1, M. Murton of Lindisfame, L.
Eccles, V. Nome, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Onslow, E.
Ellenborough, L. Oxfuird, V.
Elles, B. Pender, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Perry of Southwark, B.
Elton, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Erne, E. Pym, L.
Enoll of Hale, L. Rankeillour, L.
Ferrers, E. Renton, L.
Finsberg, L. Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Forbes, L. Seccombe, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Selkirk, E.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Gainford, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Gainsborough, E. Skidelsky, L.
Geddes, L. St. Davids, V.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L. Strange, B.
Goschen, V. Strathcarron, L.
Granville of Eye, L. Strathclyde, L.
Greenway, L.
Stralhmore and Kinghorne, E. Ullswater, V. [Teller.]
[Teller.] Vivian, L.
Sudeley, L. Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Swinfen, L. Westbury, L.
Teviot, L. Whitelaw, V.
Thomas of Gwydir, L. Wise, L.
Torrington, V. Wynford, L.
Trumpington, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.6 p.m.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 [Approval of decisions about precepts]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No.123C: Page 15, line 39, leave out from ("if") to end of line 2 on page 16 and insert ("it has been considered by the members who are within section 3A(1) (a) of the 1964 Act and a majority of such members approve it.").

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I hope to convince the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that the issue is different from that referred to in Amendment No.123B. As the noble Lord will recognise, the amendment relates to a different clause.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that only those members of police authorities who fall within Section 3A(1) (a) of the 1964 Act— that means the local authority members of the police authorities— shall have responsibility for considering the budget for the police authority. The provision refers to five because none of the amendments about the composition of the police authority has yet been considered in Committee; although they started to be considered, they were recommitted until next week. The police authority sets the budget for the local police force and provides the necessary manpower, buildings, vehicles and equipment. With a police force which is coterminous with a county council, the police authority's budget is set by the county finance committee. In the metropolitan and combined areas, the police authority precepts on the relevant local authorities. As the Committee will know,49 per cent. of the cost of policing is met from the local authorities and 51 per cent. by central government through a specific policing grant.

The Bill provides that the police authority shall only precept if at least half of the total membership of the authority— and that includes the magistrates and any extra members, the members of whom may or may not be agreed by the Committee when we reconvene next week— and more than half of the local authority members agree to do so. That is provided in Amendment No.124, which I believe will be treated as being consequent upon Clauses 2,3 and 4 and Schedule 2.

However, it is only the local authority members who have to represent the interests of their council tax payers. It seems reasonable therefore that they should have an effective say in the level of police authority budgets. The Committee has decided, in the vote on the last amendment, that there should be capping of police authority budgets. I very much regret that; but I still think it is possible to rescue some element of responsibility for the local authority members of a police authority who have to answer to their electors for the total amount which that local authority raises for policing, as well as for other purposes, by giving them the extra bit of authority over the police authority's budget. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Skelmersdale)

If this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos.124 or 125.

Lord Mottistone

I wish to intervene briefly to say that, depending on what it is agreed will happen next Tuesday, I hope that it will not automatically be taken for granted that, whatever comes out of this debate, paragraph (b) at the top of page 16 of the Bill will remain. It could well be that it will have to be removed as a result of what happens next Tuesday when we debate only the earlier clauses of the Bill. There may be many other consequential amendments to other parts of the Bill, and perhaps it will be all right to leave the matter until Report stage. However, I leave the thought with the Committee that it would be helpful if this amendment also were left until later. I do not like paragraph (b) and I hope that it does not survive the passage of the Bill.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

As the person who first suggested recommittal next week, I take the point that the noble Lord makes. The officials with whom we talked in the course of the proceedings last Tuesday described the subsequent clauses after the early amendments as being not in clear water and therefore, by inference, being in muddy water because they are affected by the decision which the Committee ultimately takes on the composition of the police authorities. I agree with the noble Lord that removing the first two lines on page 16 would be an important consequence of any significant change in the composition of police authorities. Since there is a Government amendment to take out those two lines, I take it that the Government agree; but the noble Lord has a valid point. I should make it clear that because of the effect which later decisions will have on the amendment, I do not propose to press it to a vote.

Earl Ferrers

It is nice to know that. The noble Lord's amendment would remove from the magistrate and independent members of the police authority the responsibility for considering and voting on decisions about the level of the precept.

In decisions which directly affect the financial contribution to be made by local taxpayers towards policing, I entirely agree that a majority of elected members should be in favour. The Bill already embodies that principle. But it also permits the remaining members of the authority to have a say in such matters. I think that is only right. The Bill requires that at least half of all the police authority members should be in favour of a decision on the level of the precept. It also requires that more than half of the councillor members themselves must approve the decision.

It is the whole police authority which is, by statute, the major precepting authority; not half of it. It is the whole police authority which issues the demand for the precept to be raised; not half of it. It therefore seems to me only right that it should be the whole of the police authority and not just half of it which should be legally responsible for setting the amount of the precept. That seems to me, as I am sure it will to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, to be an overwhelming argument.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The Minister is easily overwhelmed by the force of his own arguments, that is all I can say ! What he appears to forget is that until further notice the Government seem still to be determined to have the Secretary of State's nominations on the police authorities forming a significant part of those authorities.

The effect is that the nominees of the Secretary of State will be in the position of determining a part of the budget of a county council and the precepts on participating authorities in metropolitan areas and combined police authorities. That cannot be acceptable and it is a further argument for the amendments which we shall place before the Committee again next Tuesday. Perhaps it is better to leave the major issue to be determined and to expect, as the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, rightly reminded us, that the minor issues will flow from that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

In calling Amendment No.124, I should point out to the Committee that if it is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No.125.

4.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No.124:

Page 16, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert: ("(b) include more than half of the members (at that time) who are within subsection (1) (a) or, as the case may be, (IA) (a) of section 3A of the 1964 Act (local authority appointees).").

The noble Earl said: As this amendment relates to matters which are to be dealt with at recommittal, my noble friend Lord Mottistone will be delighted to know that I do not intend to move this amendment. today.

[Amendment No.124 not moved.]

[Amendment No.125 not moved.]

Clauses 23 to 28 agreed to.

Clause 29 [Reference of matters other than complaints to Complaints Authority]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No.126: Page 17, line 14, leave out from ("(a)") to end and insert ("for the words "an offence against discipline" there shall be substituted the words "behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings".").

The noble Earl said: I think that this amendment itself is uncontroversial. The original draft of the clause caused some anxieties; but this amendment substantially restores the position to what it was. However, before I move it, I thought that it might be helpful if I were to make some preliminary points about Clauses 29 to 33 as a whole.

The clauses all deal with amendments to the provisions for handling complaints about the conduct of police officers which are set out in Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The principal object of any such complaint investigation is to determine whether the police officer in question has misbehaved in any way, and complaints legislation therefore contains a number of references to police discipline.

As the Committee is already aware, the Government intend to introduce new discipline regulations which will enable disciplinary procedures to be more aligned to those which exist in the outside world. Most of the amendments which refer to clauses with which the Committee is about to deal cover the minor drafting changes which are needed to enable the introduction of those new regulations and the new terminology which will be used. References to "charges" and "offences" have, for example, been amended. Where that is not so, and where the amendment covers some matters of great substance, I shall draw it to the Committee's attention as the consideration of those matters proceeds.

On the particular matter of Clause 29, the clause, as we propose that it should be amended, has substantially the same effect as the current legislation, enabling the Police Complaints Authority to accept a reference on any matter which may justify disciplinary proceedings. However, this will not cover all the matters which can at present be referred to the Police Complaints Authority since the whole pattern of handling any failure among police officers to reach proper standards will be different.

Although this is rather far from the actual subject of this amendment, it may help the Committee if I were to outline the way in which we envisage failures by police officers to meet proper police standards will be handled in future. At present, and for the past 70 years, any failure of any sort for which the officer can be penalised has been dealt with under the discipline regulations. The regulations have covered everything from poor time-keeping and omissions in paperwork, to the most serious crimes— even murder, though fortunately not frequently.

The cumbersome, legalistic, and lengthy nature of these procedures has meant that little could be done formally to encourage police officers to improve their performance. The system provided for the punishment of past faults but it did not help officers to avoid failing again in the future. Revised regulations under Clause 14 of the Bill will free police managers to deal with the failures of officers more flexibly, so as to encourage officers to improve their performance and behaviour and to avoid, where possible, any risk of dismissal. Only in cases where prospects for improvement seem minimal, or where a repetition of past actions could not be tolerated, would we expect the ultimate sanction of dismissal to apply.

That is all very well and good, of course, for matters which solely concern the internal management of the police force. But where wrongful actions by police officers can cause harm to members of the public, a whole new consideration arises; namely, that of the public interest in ensuring that its police service acts properly. It is these issues which the new disciplinary procedures will address; and it is the changes in those procedures which have made necessary the amendments to Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which are contained in Clauses 29 to 33 of the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Mountgarret referred on Thursday to courts martial. I shall not enter here into the ways in which a soldier, who is required to obey orders, differs from a constable, who has a duty to form his own conclusions as to how best to uphold the Queen's peace. I shall content myself with saying that in our view it is unhelpful to treat a simple question of whether or not a police officer has filled in a form correctly, for example, as a matter for court-like proceedings requiring a criminal burden of proof. That is a job-related issue. The question would be: is the officer doing what he is paid to do in the way required or not? And it should be treated as such.

This rejection of the court-like or tribunal-like approach to police discipline brings me naturally to the question of the burden of proof, which my noble friend Lord Bethell and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, were very insistent on Thursday that I should deal with on the Floor of the House.

Noble Lords have been concerned to establish the position that any accusation against a police officer should be proved beyond reasonable doubt at police disciplinary hearings, in other words to the criminal standard of proof. In practice, that can raise problems. It constrains the whole way in which the hearing will work, requiring it to concentrate on particular issues and to admit only evidence of a type which would be acceptable in a criminal court. I do not think that that is a reasonable way to go on when managers are seeking to consider how far a member of the police force has met the requirements of his office. That is different from whether or not he should be prosecuted for a crime.

The concern of the police managers who will be hearing the case will be to evaluate the evidence about the incident as a whole and to consider what the totality of the officer's conduct means for his future as a police officer. The issue will not be whether it is proved that he or she has committed a criminal offence, but whether, in the light of his or her actions, any corrective action needs to be taken by police managers.

I expect chief officers to require in the future just as much as they did in the past, to be convinced of the truth of an allegation that a police officer had performed an offending action if they are going to come to any decision so serious as one that would deprive a police officer of his office.

Most situations where the matters between members of the police force and the public go badly wrong result in a complaint. Such a complaint is investigated and the investigation report goes to the Police Complaints Authority under the provisions of Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which these clauses propose to amend. The most serious complaints have their investigations supervised by a member of the authority personally. These clauses in the Bill, as I have said, seek to leave current arrangements for handling police complaints largely undisturbed, and the Police Complaints Authority will continue to do its useful work in this area.

If I may now turn to my Amendment No.126, I should just explain that it was never the Government's intention to remove the power of the Police Complaints Authority to accept referrals from chief officers over disciplinary matters and the amendment seeks to make that clear on the face of the Bill. I hope that the amendment is therefore quite acceptable and uncontroversial; and I hope that my explanation of what we have in mind over these clauses has also been helpful. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I am grateful to the Minister for that lengthy but necessary explanation of the amendment. I had three or four stabs at understanding what the original clause meant and what the amendment meant. I think that I have it the right way round now. The original phrase in Clause 29 would have severely restricted the power of a police authority to refer complaints to the Police Complaints Authority because offences against discipline which were not criminal offences would not have been capable of being referred. The amendment now proposed would extend the scope of reverences to the Police Complaints Authority because the wording, instead of being "an offence against discipline", now covers behaviour, in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings". Therefore from moving to restrict references to the Police Complaints Authority the Government are now moving to extend references to the Police Complaints Authority. If I have got that wrong, and if I have still not reached the end of my inquiry into the meaning of the amendment, I should be very grateful if the Minister would tell me.

Lord Bethell

I wonder if my noble friend can clarify one particular point which we discussed last Thursday evening. (He read a very interesting statement which was rather long and rather fast.) If I understood him correctly a moment ago, he said that complaints that appear before the police complaints committee under the new rules will have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt; and it is only those matters that come before a disciplinary hearing that would be heard on a question of the balance of probabilities. Can he confirm that my understanding is correct?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I do not intend to repeat what I said last Thursday in relation to a number of matters which were then before the Committee. There is, however, one matter that I should like to put to the noble Earl, if he will forgive me. I am worried about a term which he has used on a number of occasions. He has said that the Government are trying to bring to the police the type of powers and authority that are available to managers in the private sector. I believe that the noble Earl used the phrase "the world outside", or words to that effect.

I am certainly firmly in favour of getting rid of policemen who behave unprofessionally. As an objective that is manifestly right. But I must point out to the Committee that police officers are in a different position from people who are in the world outside. Although, unhappily, a number of them do commit serious offences against discipline, there is quite a substantial number of criminal defendants who think that the right way to approach an appearance in court is to make a series of allegations against police officers in the hope of throwing dust in the eyes of the jury. I hope, therefore, that we shall be a little cautious about assuming that everything that is done in the world outside the police service is right, and that if we simply transfer to the police management practices from the private sector everything will be well. I do not share that view. As I have indicated, I am warmly in favour of taking action to deal with policemen who behave with any degree of impropriety. But one has to accept that a number of complaints made against the police are made by self-interested individuals who are trying to establish some prospect of being acquitted in a criminal court.

Earl Ferrers

I understand the noble Lord's concern. There is no doubt that there are some people who deliberately make complaints against police officers in order to devalue an officer's own judgment and standing. It is right that those matters should be dealt with carefully and that the police officer should be fairly and properly treated. We are more concerned with the day-to-day management of the police force in a situation where an officer may do something that is not right and where one wants to help the officer to improve himself rather than enter into a strict, formal and legalistic procedure.

There have been many occasions when officers have misbehaved or not come up to the required standard. In those circumstances, what I describe as the rigmarole of a court martial or tribunal procedure is inappropriate. There should be a procedure which would enable the police officer to get back on the rails.

Noble Lords have been concerned to establish the position that any accusation made against a police officer should be proved beyond reasonable doubt at police hearings; in other words, to the criminal standard of proof. That situation could present problems. It would constrain the way in which the hearing would work and would require it to concentrate on particular issues and to admit only evidence of a type that would be acceptable in a criminal court. That is not a reasonable way in which to proceed when managers are deciding how far a police officer has met the requirements of his office.

Police managers will hear the cases and evaluate the evidence about the incident as a whole. They will consider the totality of the officer's means in regard to his future as a police officer. The issue will not be whether it is proved that he or she has committed a criminal offence but whether, in the light of his or her action, any corrective action needs to be taken. I hope that my reply clarifies the position.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clauses 29, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 30 and 31 agreed to.

Clause 32 [Repeal of certain provisions about discipline]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No.127: Page 18, line 39, at end insert: ("() section 97(4) (review of complaints procedure and reports by Complaints Authority); ")

The noble Earl said: We propose the repeal of this section because it is superfluous. The Police Complaints Authority has an annual opportunity, of which it makes use, to comment on the working of police complaints procedures when it presents its annual report to my right honourable friend. The requirement to produce a triennial review places on the authority an additional and unnecessary burden, and I understand that it has agreed with my right honourable friend that the provision is superfluous. I therefore commend the amendment to your Lordships. I beg to move.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I support the amendment. The Police Complaints Authority does a most valuable job on behalf of the community, and it is only right to say so.

I agree with the noble Earl that there is not much advantage in the triennial report. One or two of them have been quite useful but in reality the kinds of issues that are raised in the triennial report can easily be dealt with in the annual report. I can see no justification for such an expenditure of time, effort and money.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bethell moved Amendment No.128: Page 18, leave out lines 41 to 44.

The noble Lord said: Last Thursday a number of matters concerned with the administration of police discipline were discussed by the Committee late at night in a very thin House with no more than a dozen or so noble Lords present. A number of decisions were taken by the Committee which are of deep concern to the Police Federation, to which I am an adviser. The good side of the story is that one amendment remained that was not discussed last Thursday and I hope, therefore, to be able to present it as a symbol of all the changes in the Bill which have caused me and so many other people such alarm.

Last Thursday evening the Committee agreed, among other things, to limit the right of appeal of policemen who are subject to disciplinary proceedings to those convicted and dismissed from the force or required to resign. Under the provision, those convicted of any other offence will not in future, have the right of appeal.

It was decided that the costs of any appeal should be borne by the policeman in question. It was also decided that, unlike the situation at present, no member of the police officers' staff association may sit on the appeal tribunal board. The Minister has just confirmed my fear about the matter; that a less onerous burden of proof will be applied to police complaints tribunals than is the case at present.

The amendment seeks to nullify a further provision which the police force finds objectionable; that a police officer who is charged with a disciplinary offence shall no longer have the right to legal representation. The amendment also deals with the provision in the Bill which allows a police officer who is acquitted of a criminal charge to be arraigned before a disciplinary hearing, which carries a less onerous burden of proof, on the same charge. In other words, if the Bill is passed, a police officer could be acquitted on the basis of reasonable doubt in a criminal hearing and then charged again in relation to the same offence and he or she would have to show his or her innocence on the balance of probabilities.

I do not believe that those changes in the disciplinary provisions are appropriate and I hope that noble Lords will share my view.

The Minister has used a number of phrases in the course of the debate and in letters to noble Lords which indicate a different approach to the police force from the one that currently prevails. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, spoke about the outside world. I suppose that he meant the world that is outside the discipline of the police force. My noble friend the Minister mentioned that the present provisions are a rigmarole. However, they are seen by police officers as being a protection against the frivolous or unjust accusations that are so often made against them.

Police officers often see themselves as a body of disciplined men and women who serve their nation and preserve the peace as an elite force, as constables who have taken an oath to Her Majesty. They have to face the fact that if they lose their position through a disciplinary offence they cannot be re-employed. It is not possible to be dismissed from one force and to join another force. Even a soldier could conceivably join the service of a foreign army, but a constable cannot join another force. In the Law Society and the British Medical Association those who are accused of professional offences are allowed legal representation and many of the other provisions which were rejected by the Committee on Thursday evening.

There is no reason why the principle of double jeopardy should apply to police officers by being charged with a criminal offence and then, after acquittal, with a disciplinary offence.

I cannot exaggerate the strength of feeling among members of the police force on these matters. While in this Chamber I speak for myself, but I must tell the Minister in all conscience that I share their deep concerns. A number of radical changes are being proposed to the way in which they will be judged at disciplinary hearings. Most police officers do not accept that they are part of the "normal flexibility of the workplace"— a phrase used by my noble friend in a letter to me from the Home Office. They do not relish the idea, if they should commit a breach of discipline, of appearing before hearings in the workplace covering management issues. And I wonder whether management issues are appropriate in dealing with the police force of this country.

I hope that the Committee will consider the amendment— it comes on at a good hour and we have a fair number of Members present— as representative of the many other matters already discussed, and therefore whether to allow it to proceed. I beg to move.

Viscount Mountgarret

I strongly support my noble friend in his amendment. There is a danger here of striking at the heart of natural justice. It is an inalienable right of every British citizen to defend himself on any charge, be it criminal or, in this case, misconduct which could jeopardise his career and indeed his livelihood, in the best possible way that he thinks fit. If that means, in his view, that he requires legal and professional representation to speak on his behalf, then that right should not be taken away, as the Bill currently proposes.

I cannot remember exactly the details of my military law, but I believe I am right in saying that a soldier — be it a non-commissioned officer or any other rank — has the right of legal representation. It may be that there are times when the legal representation is not granted automatically, on what may be called minor offences, but if he is to run the risk of losing his job, being stripped of his rank or deprived of his pay, which again would affect his pension, he is entitled to that representation. For the life of me I cannot understand why police officers should be treated and viewed in any other way than either as citizens of this country or as someone who is akin to the police force; namely, a member of the Armed Forces.

I hope that my noble friend will take on board the points made by my noble friend Lord Bethell. They are vitally important. I shall be grateful to hear some indication that the Minister will take the matter away and consider it carefully. In the absence of any reaction in the Committee on Thursday night, to which my noble friend referred, we feel, along with a number of other Members of the Committee, that matters in the Bill relating to the element of justice to the police force are extremely unpleasant. I hope that the Committee will support my noble friend in his amendment.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

I too support the amendment. I have experience of sitting on disciplinary boards and being irritated by lawyers representing officers in front of me who spent a long time producing flowery speeches which often did not address the facts of the case. Nevertheless, the officers were fully entitled to be represented by lawyers.

The point in relation to natural justice is an important one. It is essential that when a person is in jeopardy of losing his livelihood— in the same way that people in other professions are endangered; for example, doctors, barristers and so forth, as the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, said— that person should not lose the right to representation. Once a police officer is dismissed from the police service he does not carry with him qualifications or skills which may be applicable in other jobs. He is therefore losing his professional way of life, and that is extremely serious. In that situation he should be allowed to have someone to speak for him. A person under the pressure of a disciplinary hearing is not capable of presenting his case coherently and with authority and it is essential that he or she should have someone to present the case for them.

The Government persist in drawing a false analogy with the world of business. They appear to think that the police service have some difficulty in dismissing officers. The Metropolitan police dismisses around 60 officers a year as a result of disciplinary proceedings. That does not suggest, if one extrapolates it to the rest of the country, that there is any particular difficulty in getting rid of the small minority of officers who should no longer be serving, and that is with the current system of the right to leg al representation.

There seems to be a curious obsession with wanting to remove the barriers to being able to dismiss officers who should not be in the police service. I do not understand that obsession. It suggests a negative view of the police service. It ignores the fact that more than 99 per cent. of police officers are carrying out their duties in a dedicated and enthusiastic fashion. Inevitably, in any profession, there are some who do not behave as they should. The present situation does not inhibit the police service from dismissing those who should be dismissed.

That addresses the first part of the amendment in relation to the right of legal representation for officers. The other part of the amendment concerns the question of "double jeopardy", which was addressed by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell. It is wholly contrary to natural justice that, when an officer has been acquitted of a specific criminal offence, a tribunal which would use a lower standard of proof should be able to convict that officer, using the same evidence, and dismiss him from the service. That must be contrary to natural justice and I support the amendment.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

The speeches made so far made out clearly and cogently the case for the amendment. I wish only to refer to the right of legal representation.

It is generally felt that where there is a risk of serious penalties an individual citizen is entitled to legal representation by a person who is trained to make his case in the way he would himself wish to make it if he had the training. As has been pointed out by the noble Lord, the noble Viscount and the noble Baroness, the sanctions attendant on a disciplinary hearing can be extremely serious — far too serious to allow us to do away with the right to legal representation. I hope that the noble Earl will at least accept that part of the amendment.

Lord Renton

I too support the amendment and do so strongly. I hope that my noble friend will understand the feelings expressed on both sides of the Chamber and not force us to a conclusion on the matter today.

Perhaps I can remind the Committee of the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act as they stand. Section 102 allows the legal representation of officers on disciplinary hearings in cases where the officer is at risk of demotion, requirement to resign or dismissal. In view of the tradition of justice in this country, it is unthinkable that a police officer— perhaps quite a junior officer without even an O-level or two — should not have legal representation at a hearing at which he may be dismissed and thereby could be ruined for life. I regard this as a very serious matter indeed.

Section 104(1) and (2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 prevent an officer acquitted of a criminal offence from being disciplined by his force in respect of the same actions. It has for hundreds of years been part of our legal system that no one shall be tried twice for the same offence. But by repealing that section of the Act that is just what we should be imposing upon the police. I do not think that it is right to do so. We shall of course hear what my noble friend Lord Ferrers has to say, but I hope he will realise that this matter is taken very seriously not only by the police but I think by a much wider section of opinion.

I conclude by saying this. In asking for legal representation, I do not do so merely in order to get work for my own profession, of which I used to be an active member, but as a matter of principle.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I shall be very brief, and I apologise to the Committee for not being in my place when my noble friend moved his amendment. This is the only amendment to Part I on which I wish to intervene. It is my privilege to associate myself with what has been said by all Members of the Committee and to support the amendment. I cannot conceive that any self-respecting lawyer in his right mind could do otherwise.

Lord Callaghan of Cardiff

I add my voice to those asking that the Minister should think again. When the Police Federation came to see me some time ago it emphasised how strongly it feels on this issue. There are clearly issues here which go well beyond those of administrative convenience. I fully understand what my noble friend had to say about the irritation of sitting and hearing old stories over time, and a good deal that is irrelevant; but this is an area where administrative convenience should not triumph but the rights of civil justice should. I hope that the Minister will agree to consider it.

Lord Mottistone

In the Navy every rating down to the most junior in even the most simple case was defended by his divisional officer. My noble friend Lord Mountgarret was trying to remember what happens in the Army. I do not think the Army has divisional officers in the same sense that the Navy does. Every rating has a divisional officer. If the offence is more serious, and the consequences are more serious, like some of the ones mentioned in Section 102 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, then the rating is entitled, if need be, to legal representation. The important point is that he is entitled to have a prisoner's friend of some kind or another for everything. I hope that that will be applicable to the police force. I strongly support my noble friend's amendment.

Section 104(1) and (2) concerns being tried twice for the same offence. It is absurd that should be allowed in any sense at all. I do hope that my noble friend will be able to think again about these points.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford

I wish to intervene briefly in the debate and break my silence on this Bill. This is indeed a very important issue. I should like to join noble Lords in all parts of the Committee who have encouraged the noble Earl to accept the amendment and encouraged him in this respect. He ought not to take for granted that every case on appeal or even before its original hearing will be legally represented. If the Minister is apprehensive at the prospect that every case will have legal representation, perhaps I may dispel him of any doubts he may have on the basis of my own experience of dealing with the Police Federation in particular. I know of incidents where the Police Federation itself said to a member that it was not prepared legally to represent that member at a hearing because the case was, to put it mildly, so open and shut. I know of instances where the Police Federation declined to give legal representation. We are not dealing here with a frivolous situation where the staff associations will provide legal representation almost at the drop of a hat. They are all responsible staff associations, a point which the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, made clear. I say that in order to encourage the noble Earl to accept the amendment.

My second point is on the question of double jeopardy. In my view, the problem is not one of being tried twice for the same offence. The problem arises because, on being tried on the original offence, evidence emerges that was not known before the case went to trial. Evidence emerges that clearly constitutes a disciplinary offence. I believe that the Minister has to make it clear whether the emergence of that evidence, which would clearly constitute a disciplinary offence, would then be heard under the disciplinary procedures. If that evidence was not known in the first place and it emerged almost by accident in hearing the original offence, there is a case for saying that it ought not to be heard as a disciplinary matter either because, in a sense, there is some double jeopardy there as well. I hope in what I have said I have added to the encouragement for the Minister to accept the amendment. It is an important matter.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I am sure that my noble friend the Minister has noted the unanimous view in all quarters of the Committee in favour of the amendments. I am sure he also realises that they are quite simple and quite clear and that it is unlikely that those of us who have been impressed by the argument have been muddled in any way. Therefore I ask him to consider carefully what an impossible position he will create for those of us who normally support the Government, and who wish to support the Government in general, unless he is able to offer some advance or some compromise on this matter. I have to tell him that, as matters stand at the moment, subject of course to anything he says, if we had a straight vote on the amendment I should feel it impossible not to vote for it.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I do not know whether it would help the Minister; but if he were to accede to the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, I for one would not be suggesting recommittal. If he were prepared to make concessions, the matters could be dealt with at Report stage.

Lord Knights

I would not wish to repeat much of what has already been said most adequately by other Members of the Committee, but I should like to draw attention to the link which this matter has with, as the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, said, the discussions last Thursday.

The present position is that an officer is entitled to legal aid where he runs the risk of being dismissed, required to resign, or reduced in rank. He is also entitled to legal aid, if he so wishes it, in any appeal he may make to the Secretary of State against any punishment that he may have incurred, and indeed an appeal against the facts on which he has been convicted. That is the present position.

The new position will be that he will not be entitled to any legal aid except when he appears before a tribunal to appeal against a dismissal or a requirement to resign. He will not be entitled to legal aid if he is required to drop one or more ranks. In fact he will have no appeal to a tribunal for that punishment. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said last Thursday, it is a punishment which may mean that an inspector with 15 years' service and reduced to the rank of constable, might lose in pay and subsequent pension a total of £ 143,799. He should have the best legal representation in order to fight such a penalty.

But I am not sure where he is going to fight it. He is not entitled to go to a tribunal concerning that penalty, so to whom can he appeal? Who will be imposing the penalty in the first place? At the moment the penalty of a reduction in rank can only be imposed by the chief constable himself. If he has delegated to a deputy chief constable some of his disciplinary responsibilities, that officer cannot impose that penalty. If the deputy chief constable felt that was the deserved penalty, he would have to refer the case to the chief constable.

All those factors have to be weighed up against the withdrawal of the right to have legal representation. There will be no legal representation whatever until such time as the officer comes to the appeal tribunal set up by the pace authority under the new Bill. I do not think that anyone can believe that that is sufficient assistance for a person facing a penalty of the kind in question.

As regards the other part of the amendment and whether the officer should be disciplined where he has been found not guilty, I have a little sympathy with the Minister in this matter. It is possible for a person to be acquitted at a court of law on what everybody sees as a technicality. Some consideration has to be given as to what should happen where the conduct indicates that he is not really fit to be a police officer but for technical reasons there has been an acquittal at a court of law. That causes me something of a problem. I am not quite sure how we can overcome it. But in the normal way I would agree entirely with everything which has been said. If an officer has been found not guilty or the Crown Prosecution Service has found that there is no case to prosecute, then I do not believe that disciplinary proceedings should follow.

Lord Renton

Perhaps I may correct one point which the noble Lord made. This technical acquittal can arise only in the magistrates' court and formerly could arise at Quarter Sessions. But in a case of a man tried before a judge, that procedure cannot happen. Once the man has been acquitted before a judge, that is the end of the matter.

Lord Knights

I accept that. I would not wish to argue that point at all. As I say, there are cases occasionally where the Crown Prosecution Service may have advised that there is insufficient evidence or a case has gone before the court and an acquittal has resulted — whether at a magistrates' court or a crown court— because some doubt exists. I am not at all happy about how we resolve that particular case. It may well be that those occasions are so few in terms of the overall reputation of the police service that they do not affect matters very much. However, there is always the niggling little thought that perhaps there was a little bit of smoke with the fire.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

This is a very woolly form of thinking. An acquittal is an acquittal whether it is on technical or other grounds. Is the noble Lord seriously suggesting that a police officer should be put at any disadvantage compared with anyone else in the land?

Lord Knights

I am not suggesting that and I would hate anyone to think that I was, but I believe that there is a difference between a conviction in a criminal court and dealing with a person in terms of his job. Autrefois convict is a well-known principle which certainly applies in the criminal courts. But it was not until 1984, when the Police and Criminal Evidence Act was introduced, that that principle was applied to police officers and matters of discipline. Prior to 1984 this particular situation could never have arisen. If the man had been found not guilty at a criminal court he could still have been brought before a disciplinary hearing if it was felt necessary.

Viscount Mountgarret

Does the noble Lord not appreciate that, by his suggestion that it is possible to be acquitted in a criminal court and yet be found guilty of an offence by a tribunal, one is raising the rather unpleasant spectre of Captain Dreyfus? I am sure that the noble Lord will know what I am talking about. I hope that nothing like that will ever come to this country.

Lord Knights

I believe that I have made my point as clearly as I can and I do not wish to go any further.

Lord Archer of Sandwell

I venture to delay the Committee for a moment longer largely because in the course of the debate I have been reminded of some of the reasons offered by the noble Earl to those of us who sat very late on Thursday night. As I understand it, there were three reasons offered for the somewhat novel approach of the Government to police disciplinary proceedings in this Bill. We have been reminded by a noble Lord of the expressions used by the noble Earl. The first reason suggested was that we are really dealing with management issues and flexibility in the workplace.

If there is any tribunal in which one would expect that argument to apply, it must be the industrial tribunal. I have never heard it suggested that the right to be legally represented should be taken away from the industrial tribunal. Whether there should be legal aid for that is a different matter and the reasons applicable in the two cases are different. That there should not be a right to representation has never been suggested to my knowledge in cases before industrial tribunals. Indeed, all the chairmen of such tribunals with whom I have discussed this matter have said that it is true, as my noble friend Lady Hilton indicated, that sometimes lawyers are long-winded and not very effective, like those who practise any other profession, but that generally they are found to be welcome because it is of assistance to a chairman to identify the issues and to muster the evidence in such a way that the tribunal does not have to spend longer than is necessary in analysing the case. Frequently it brings a saving in time and money.

The second reason which is sometimes suggested is that we are dealing with a procedure which should be informal. That again is an argument which is frequently applied to all tribunals. The danger is that informality can so easily be confused with unfairness. We are all in favour of informality where that will help to expedite proceedings and so set people at their ease, but to take away what may be a fundamental right in the interests of informality is to confuse informality with sloppiness.

The third reason which has been suggested is that the procedure probably would not make a great deal of difference anyway because the tribunal is capable of listening to what the officer has to say; of assisting him in bringing out his case and of asking the relevant questions. Any of us who have had the experience of trying to marshal a case before the hearing when someone has not had the opportunity of instructing either a lawyer or a competent helper will know that that is not something which any chairman of a tribunal would relish. In the course of a hearing one frequently cannot be sure that one has brought out what are the relevant questions.

We are all aware of the research carried out some years ago by Professor Hazel Genn on a whole variety of tribunals from which it emerged that the prospects of success are substantially greater for those who are either legally represented or at least properly represented. I hope that none of those three reasons will be advanced to the Committee by the Minister. I respectfully support the amendment.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, will pay due attention to what his noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter said a few moments ago— I am sure that he will— and that he will indicate that the Government are prepared to look again at this matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Knights, was good enough to quote something that I said in Committee on Thursday evening when I referred to the case of an inspector of police who may be disciplined under the proposed arrangements. I pointed out that, taking account of pay, pensions, and all the other benefits, the consequences for such an officer might be that he is deprived of a sum of over £ 140,000 as a result of a decision by a tribunal. I stated my concern about the inspector not only having his right of appeal withdrawn (because what was being suggested was that he should be reduced to the ranks rather than dismissed) but also his loss of the right to legal representation. I said that I thought that that was oppressive behaviour. I do not see how that approach can be justified.

In answer to what was said by a number of us, and referring specifically to me, the noble Earl said at col.394 of Hansard: I have no doubt that one can always find difficult and tragic circumstances visited upon people who either lose their job or rank". Indeed, one can. But the issue here is not simply the consequences, but the deprivation of the rights of appeal and of legal representation. I do not see how that can be justified.

The noble Earl also said: The proposed system is much simpler than the previous system". — [Official Report, 17/2/94; col.394.] That is true, but I am afraid that it also withdraws the right of a defendant in such circumstances to have an appropriate hearing with legal representation.

This situation has arisen as a result of the passage of the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act. It was probably Sir Leon Brittan who made the decision rather than the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, who preceded him, but the Act provided that the appellate position of policemen who found themselves subject to disciplinary charges should be improved and that such officers should be given the right to legal representation and adequate appeal rights. What I find surprising is that that is being withdrawn after a mere 10 years. I know that there is argument about some aspects of the present system— the noble Lord, Lord Knights, referred to that — but I have heard no evidence. It is one thing to give people rights of appeal and of legal representation; it is a far more serious matter to withdraw those rights.

5.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

I understand your Lordships being concerned when a change of this nature is proposed. I do not hesitate in saying that it is a change, but I think that there are some fairly good reasons for it. It was, I believe, my noble friend Lord Bethell who said that there was deep concern among police officers about the proposed change— and I know that there has been such concern. However, I am bound to say that since I have had the privilege of being at the Home Office, I have been deeply concerned at the extended period of time that it takes to decide a disciplinary case. A case has to go through all the procedures that I have pointed out. They are legalistic and protracted procedures by which the case eventually comes to me and then moves on to my right honourable friend. Sometimes it takes two years; sometimes three years; and sometimes even longer than that. I have frequently expressed my great concern that the procedures should be as extended as that. It does not seem to me to be anywhere approaching justice.

As I said, I have no hesitation in saying that we are making a change. Police disciplinary proceedings for the past 70 years have been conducted on lines very similar to those of courts martial and, indeed, to the criminal courts themselves. Evidence has been collected and presented as for a criminal court and legal argument has been offered.

The reforms that we are proposing have as their object the introduction of modern personnel procedures on similar lines to those in operation elsewhere. In line with this, police disciplinary hearings in future will concern themselves much more directly with the way in which the officer has performed his duty and much less with proving a particular offence. In those respects, legal representation will not be necessary and police officers will be in the same position as almost all other employees. It is for that reason that we consider that the section should be repealed. As I said, the police are not employees. No other employee has a statutory right to legal representation at an internal disciplinary hearing, although in practice some employers may allow it. The intention is to put the police in the same position as other people.

However, a distinction should be made. A disciplinary case will be considered by the assistant chief constable and two superintendents. If they say, having heard the case,"This man should have such and such a punishment", that officer can then appeal to his chief constable. If the chief constable agrees with the earlier decision, the constable will have been investigated by four senior police officers who will all have considered that it is right that he should have that form of punishment. I do not see that that in itself is wrong. Indeed, I think that it is right that the police should be responsible for disciplining those in their force.

However, it is different if it comes to a question of being required to resign or of being dismissed. If the chief constable says that he agrees with the earlier decision, the officer concerned can take his case to a tribunal which will comprise three people. One will be a qualified lawyer; one a serving or former chief constable; and the third a member of the police authority. There is, therefore, a distinction between those two courses. At the tribunal hearing, the officer may be legally represented.

We come to the point which concerned my noble friends Lord Renton, Lord Bethell, Lord Mottistone and Lord Campbell of Alloway who said that no self-respecting lawyer would take a different view. Well, I am not a self-respecting lawyer and I do take a different view. I am referring to the question of double jeopardy. The fact that the double jeopardy provision is on the statute book at all serves to illustrate the point that I have been trying to make about how close to criminal proceedings police disciplinary hearings have been. In fact, the two questions are quite different. A particular act may be held by a court not to be a crime. A police officer may not have been found guilty of holding a person in a half nelson, but whatever he did may still be something which is quite unsuitable for a police officer to have done. The fact that a criminal court has decided that the officer is not guilty of that criminal charge does not mean to say that the police force as a whole should consider that whatever he did was not commensurate with the behaviour of a police officer. There is therefore a distinct difference between the two cases. The first is the case in which a person is being tried for a crime and the second is the case of considering whether that person is suitable to remain as an officer in the police service.

I do not believe that the measure is wrong; in fact, it is an improvement. It is quicker and more just. We are considering not so much whether a particular act done by an officer is such that he should be disciplined but whether the act is such as to make him unsatisfactory to remain in the police service. I suggest that the changes are not unreasonable. They would also have the advantage— and I would not minimise the advantage of this advantage— that they speed up considerably the results of such proceedings, which is important.

Lord Renton

I hope that my noble friend has not convinced himself so easily. First, not in every case has the time seemed lengthy or unreasonable. Surely, that has been so only in a minority of cases. Secondly, if only in a minority of cases that has been so, why should we create the injustice of having no legal representation?

My noble friend said that the police should be put in the same position as other people. They are not like other people, who do not have the same discipline or the same risks in their daily lives. If my noble friend says that the police are to be put in the same position as other people, I ask the simple question: which other people?

As regards the appeal tribunal, my noble friend has a point. However, he says that we should ignore double jeopardy because it is not on the statute book. I am happy to say that various principles of justice have prevailed in this country for hundreds of years and they are so well established that Parliament has never found it necessary to put them on the statute book.

As regards this measure, almost certainly cases will arise in which people are thoroughly tried before a judge and jury and after a lengthy hearing found not guilty. That they should then be in jeopardy of being taken before a police disciplinary tribunal for virtually the same offence— but phrased in another way because it affects police discipline — is wrong in principle.

Lord Bethell

I had hoped that my noble friend would be able to help the Committee a little more. With the exception of my noble friend, all Members who have spoken have been in favour of the amendment. He has not been able to say that he sees any merit in it or that he feels inclined to take it away and reconsider it. In the circumstances, it would be useful to test the opinion of the Committee.

5.24 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No.128) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents,107; Not-Contents,100.

Division No.2
Addington, L. Charteris of Amisfielcl, L.
Airedale, L. Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Clinton-Davis, L.
Ardwick, L. Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Aylestone, L. Craigavon, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. David, B.
Bethell, L. [Teller.] Dean of Beswick, L.
Blackstone, B. Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B
Botthwick, L. Desai, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Donoughue, L
Bumham, L. Dormand of Easington, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Eat well, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Ennals, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Carter, L. Falkland, V.
Forbes, L. Nelson, E.
Gainsborough, E. Nicol, B.
Gladwyn, L. Norwich, Bp.
Gould of Pottemewton, B. Onslow, E.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Palmer, L.
[Teller.] Peston, L.
Grey, E. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Haddington, E. Plant of Highfield, L.
Halsbury, E. Prys-Davies, L.
Hanworth, V. Rea, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Redesdale, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Renton, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Richard, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L. Ridley, V.
Howie of Troon, L. Rippon of Hexham, L.
Hunt, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Rochester, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Jay, L. Sainsbury, L.
Jeger, B. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L. Seear, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Knights, L. Shepherd, L.
Longford, E. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Stedman, B.
Mallalieu, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Malmesbury, E. Strabolgi, L.
Manton, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L
Mason of Barnsley, L. Swinfen, L.
Mclntosh of Haringey, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
McNair, L. Thurlow, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L. Tordoff, L.
Milner of Leeds, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Molloy, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Wharton, B.
Morton of Shuna, L. White, B.
Mottistone, L. Wigoder, L.
Mountevans, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Mountgarret, V. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Aberdare, L. Goschen, V.
Addison, V. Gridley, L.
Ailesbury, M. Haig, E.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Harding of Petherton, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Harmsworth, L.
Arran, E. Hayhoe, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Hemphill, L.
Astor, V. Henley, L.
Beloff, L. HolmPatrick, L.
Blatch, B. Hood, V.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Howe, E.
Braine of Wheatley, L. Jenkin of Roding, L.
Brigstocke, B. Johnston of Rockport, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Kenyon, L.
Cadman, L. Killearn, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Kimball, L.
Carnock, L. Kinnoull, E.
Chelmsford, V. Lauderdale, E.
Clark of Kempston, L. Layton, L.
Colnbrook, L. Leigh, L.
Courtown, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Cumberlege, B. Liverpool, E.
Davidson, V. Long, V.
Dean of Harptree, L. Lyell, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Digby, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord
Dixon-Smith, L. Chancellor.]
Donegall, M. Merrivale, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Mersey, V.
Elles, B. Miller of Hendon, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Milverton, L.
Elton, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Faithfull, B. Moyne, L.
Ferrers, E. Munster, E.
Finsberg, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Flather, B. Norrie, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Pender, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Perry of Southwark, B.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L. Pike, B.
Prior, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Pym, L. [Teller.]
Quinton, L. Sudeley, L.
Rankeillour, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Reading, M. Trefgarne, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L. Trumpington, B.
Rodney, L. Ullswater, V. [Teller.]
Sanderson of Bowden, L. Vivian, L.
Seccombe, B. Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
St. Davids, V. Westbury, L.
Strange, B. Whitelaw, V.
Strathclyde, L. Young, B

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.32 p.m.

Clause 32, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 33 to 38 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Application to police authorities of enactments relating to local authorities]:

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No.128A: Page 56, leave out lines 27 and 28 and insert: ("(3) In subsections (3) and (8) for the words "for the purposes of there shall be substituted the words "or appointed by.").

The noble Baroness said: The general principles behind the amendment are that the new police authorities should be able to continue to have the use of their existing personnel and services presently engaged in providing policy advice and support. Many are employees of local authorities at chief officer level and they provide professional services and advice on finance, the law, personnel and so on.

The other general principle is to provide the new police authorities with the facility to appoint or employ staff to assist in the discharge of their statutory functions. The functions of the police authority and the chief constable are separate and distinct and it is therefore necessary for the police authorities to be able to appoint their own staff.

Additionally, the Bill seeks to amend the powers under Section 107 of the Local Government Act 1972 and to restrict the officers who are able to discharge the functions of a police authority to civilian officers employed directly by that authority. But at present, the 1972 Act allows such functions to be discharged by any civilian officer employed for the purposes of the police authority so that local authority staff may supplement the staff whom the police authority employs directly.

Such an arrangement has considerable advantages in terms of flexibility of staff and effective use of resources. It allows police authorities to have access to experienced staff and to have the benefit of professional expertise in such matters as computing, architecture and so on. That assists to provide flexibility and enables a greater use of resources.

The other amendment which is grouped with Amendment No.128A would allow the police authorities to appoint their own staff to discharge their functions. That is obviously a related power which provides for the employment of staff and places such staff under the direction and control of the chief constable except where agreed to the contrary between the chief constable and the authority.

The amendment allows specific provision in the Local Government Act 1972 relating to the appointment of staff to continue to apply to police authorities. Without such an amendment, the police authority would be able to appoint staff only if the chief constable or the Secretary of State agrees. Therefore, it is in the interests of the efficient functioning of the police authority that it should have that ability. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

An important element of the new framework for policing which the Bill provides is to ensure that in future, chief constables should have direct responsibility for the management and control of all civilians working with and in support of the police, without the detailed involvement of a police authority. Acceptance of the amendments would allow a police authority to appoint additional people who would not come under the control of the chief constable, but who could become involved in detailed police civilian matters in a way which would undermine the chief constable's new powers. As I said earlier in the debate, that would be undesirable and would seriously affect this key feature of the Bill.

Nor is it necessary for a police authority to have this power to enable it to appoint a clerk. As I explained when we discussed Clause 8 of the Bill, while it is important that each authority should appoint a person who is responsible for the running of that authority and the proper management and organisation of any staff who work directly for the authority, the Bill already provides for that.

Paragraphs 34 and 37 of this schedule ensure that Section 4 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 will apply to the new police authorities. This requires every authority to designate one of its officers as the "head of its paid services" and it gives that officer the duty to report to the authority when appropriate on the way in which the different functions of the authority are co-ordinated, the numbers and grades of staff required, their organisation, appointment and management.

What concerns the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, is that the police authority will be able to appoint people only with the approval of the chief constable. In fact, the position is that people may be appointed by the police authority, but the chief constable has control over all civilians under his control with the exception of those who are appointed specifically by the police authority for its purposes, who could not become involved in the day-to-day running of the police force.

It is right that the chief constable should have that power. Otherwise, an absurd situation may arise in which a chairman of a police authority says that he wants to employ 28 private secretaries and the chief constable would be unable to do anything about it. That would mean that vast sums of money would be spent not on policing but on employing private secretaries. I use a totally absurd analogy, but it is right that the chief constable should be able to say whether or not an appointment comes directly under the authority and, if it does, that he has no control over that appointment.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

I thank the noble Earl for that reply. I understand that aspect of the matter. The amendment was intended to help the police authority and thereby enable it to continue to use local authority facilities, such as expert computing staff, legal representation and so on. Therefore, the proposal was partly intended to give the police authority such flexibility of use as well as enabling it to employ its own staff. I shall read carefully the Minister's response. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.128B not moved.]

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No.128C: Page 59, line 30, leave out paragraph 34.

The noble Baroness said: The intention of the amendment is to remove the position of head of paid service for staff working for the police authority. Section 4 of the Local Government Act 1939 places a duty on local authorities, but not police authorities, to designate an officer as head of paid service. The officer's responsibility covers staff requirements, organisation and the appointment and proper management of the authority's staff.

The Bill provides for the appointment of a head of paid service in a similar fashion. But as the noble Earl just said in response to a previous amendment, under the proposed legislation most civilians (and all police officers) will be under the direction and control of the chief constable, the chief officer of the local force. In those circumstances, it is not understood why there needs to be a head of paid service, who is likely to hold such an appointment and what duties the position of head of paid service requires the post-holder to carry out. Therefore, this is a probing amendment and an attempt to try to understand the purpose of that post and the functions of that post-holder. We propose that such an appointment should be omitted from the Bill. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

I am glad that the noble Baroness has moved the amendment. Her noble friend Lord McIntosh asked on February 15th about the meaning of paragraph 34 of Schedule 4. We discussed the matter briefly when considering Clause 8 of the Bill. I shall try to put the noble Baroness and indeed, the noble Lord in the picture.

Paragraph 34 of the schedule has to be read in conjunction with paragraph 37. Paragraph 34 refers to paragraph (g) of Section 21(1) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. The meaning of paragraph (g) is clear from paragraph 37 of the schedule. It is a reference to, a police authority established under section 3 of the Police Act 1964 The effect of those paragraphs is to ensure that Section 4 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 will apply to the new police authorities. That section requires every authority to designate one of its officers as the head of its paid service. It gives that officer the duty to report to the authority when appropriate on the way in which the different functions of the authority are co-ordinated, the number and grades of the staff required by the authority, the organisation of that staff and the appointment and proper management of that staff.

Therefore, the section ensures that each authority should appoint a person who is clearly responsible for the running of that authority and for the proper management and organisation of the staff who work for it. I hope that it is not the intention of the noble Baroness to remove what is obviously a sensible obligation. I trust that my explanation of it will at least have made clear to the noble Baroness the purpose and duties of the head of paid staff.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

I thank the Minister for that response which I shall read with care. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

5.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 39 shall stand part of the Bill?

Earl Ferrers

It is my intention to oppose the Question that Clause 39 should stand part of the Bill. The amendment is a consequence of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State relinquishing his power to appoint the chairman of the police authority. We thought it right, when the Secretary of State was going to appoint the chairman of the police authority, that he should not appoint one who was a Member of Parliament. As it is now agreed that the chairman should be elected by the other members of the police authority, that restriction no longer applies. Therefore, I oppose the Question that Clause 39 stand part of the Bill.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I believe that the Minister rose to oppose a Motion that has not yet been decided upon. The Minister is right in thinking that we would not have opposed Amendment No.31 if it had not been recommitted and that we entirely support the Government in removing the Home Secretary's power to appoint the chairman of a police authority. We are grateful for the major concession that has been made. We support the removal of Clause 39 from the Bill.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

The reason for the exclusion of Clause 39 has been clearly and conclusively shown. However, it gives us an opportunity to consider those officers of profit under the Crown. In the 18th century, the Crown obtained very great influence by appointing its officers of profit as Members of the House of Commons. That became a scandal and, after a time, those officers of profit under the Crown were disqualified from the other place.

The latter were all brought together in an amending Act about 30 years ago. Since then, we have painfully added office after office, often of minor importance, because the Crown had the appointment. But, in doing so, we have shut our eyes to a much more serious constitutional matter; namely, the enormous power that the Government have in another place, and not only through Ministers being very much more numerous than they were. When I became a Treasury Minister there were only two of us. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, added another when he became Chief Secretary. However, before then, when he was Financial Secretary, there were only two or three: but now there are five.

Most of those Ministers now have their parliamentary private secretaries who are viewed as being on the lowest rung of the ladder towards ministerial office and who are disciplined and, in fact, dismissed unless they toe the government line. It seems to me that that is a far more serious modern development than the officers of profit under the Crown. It is obvious that they would not vote against the noble Earl's excision of the clause. Indeed, I think that we have already had enough voting against him. I suggest we note that constitutional development, particularly in the sphere of the proliferation of parliamentary private secretaries.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I welcome the proposal that Clause 39 be removed from the Bill as I welcome the Government's recent decision to drop the very unattractive idea of the Home Secretary appointing the chairman of a police authority. Although the remarks just made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, were slightly wide of the Bill, he is in fact entirely right; there are now basically twice as many junior Ministers as there were when Lord Attlee was Prime Minister after the war and when we were running an empire. In the light of the growth of executive agencies (there are now 90 in existence) it would be a good idea on value-for-money terms to reduce the number of junior Ministers.

Earl Ferrers

I am not quite sure about that. It depends which ones are to be removed. I believe that we have gone off, as they say, rather like a fish on the end of a long reel. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, whose knowledge of all matters constitutional is remarkable and to be respected, has suggested that we should not have a lot of parliamentary private secretaries because they toe the Government line and do all kinds of terrible things like that. However, this has nothing to do with parliamentary private secretaries.

All we have done in the Bill is to say that when my right honourable friend had the duty— as was intended originally — to appoint the chairman of the police authority, it would not have been suitable for him to choose a Member of Parliament, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, could accuse him of choosing a "placeman", and say that that should not be allowed. However, now that members of police authorities are to elect their own chairmen, if a Member of Parliament happens to be on a police authority, he could be elected as chairman. The matter is quite simple. I should have thought that that provision would meet with enormous approval, particularly from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I assure him that this has nothing to do with parliamentary private secretaries and I can inform the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that it has nothing to do with junior ministers or Ministers of State, or other such people.

Clause 39 negatived.

Clause 40 agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Police: minor and consequential amendments]:

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No.128D: Page 66, line 28, at end insert: ("(4) In section 2(1) after "section 1(1)" leave out "(other than pensions)".").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee I rise to move the amendment in the name of my noble friend. The intention of the amendment is to place the discussion of pensions on the same footing as discussion of other aspects of police pay and conditions. Police pay, allowances and pensions are determined in the Police Negotiating Board through five committees. The business arrangements of four of these, dealing with various pay and allowance provisions, provide that agreements reached between the two sides are put to the Home Secretary for his approval or otherwise. But the arrangement for the committee dealing with pensions is an exception to this provision. If the two sides in relation to the other committees fail to reach agreement, the issue may be referred for settlement by independent arbitration. The arbitrator's decision is treated as though it were an agreement between the two sides and sent likewise to the Home Secretary for his approval or otherwise.

It is not clear why pensions do not fall within the same system of approval as the matters dealt with in the other four committees. Police pensions are contributory pensions. One-third of their cost comes from police officers and throughout their service 11 per cent. of their pay— it can be a considerable amount of money— goes each year towards the cost of setting up their pensions. It would seem appropriate that pensions are subject to the same level of arbitration as other aspects of police pay and conditions. The arbitration procedure provides a further opportunity for the parties to consider their arguments and for an independent mind to be brought to bear. It can be an extremely helpful arrangement and it would seem tidier to extend it also to pension matters where potentially there can be so much at stake.

As so much of an officer' s salary goes towards his pension, it is reasonable that when he retires he will want to know that that sum is safe and has not been spent on other matters as has happened with other pension funds. It seams appropriate that good procedures are in place to allow the staff associations a full and proper say in pension matters as is the case with other pay and allowances. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

Pension matters always arouse great concern and are deeply complex. The amendment which the noble Baroness has moved would enable the Police Negotiating Board to negotiate about pension issues, and would allow any dispute between the official and staff sides to go to arbitration, and would require the Secretary of State to take into account any recommendation by the Police Negotiating Board. This amendment seeks to change the procedure, which has been in place since 1980, whereby the Secretary of State consults the Police Negotiating Board before he makes any regulations relating to pensions, to one which would permit the staff and official sides of the Police Negotiating Board to negotiate and, if necessary, to seek arbitration about pensions issues before any recommend-dations were put to the Secretary of State.

The present arrangements have stood all parties in good stead for many years. I am not aware that they have ever caused difficulty for any of the constituent bodies of the Police Negotiating Board. The amendment would introduce a good deal of bureaucracy into a system which is not devoid of it and would not at the end of the day provide for the Police Negotiating Board to exert any more influence than it is able to do under the present statutory consultation procedures. In either case, the Secretary of State has the right to reject advice or recommendations and act as he sees tit, subject to parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations he proposes to bring into force.

If the concern which lies behind the amendment moved by the noble Baroness is that of securing fair treatment for police officers in dealing with their pension provisions, then I can say that the current procedures provide it. And, as I have said, Parliament will always have the last word in relation to any proposed new or amended regulations.

These are complicated matters and I believe it is right that my right honourable friend should be advised by experts. There is always the possibility of the various parties concerned making their views known to my right honourable friend before he lays the regulations.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

I certainly agree that pension matters are extremely complex and I do not pretend to understand them myself. I am grateful for the Minister's reply which I shall study in detail. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No.128E: Page 68, line 2, at end insert:

  1. ("33A. (1) Section 106 of that Act (arrangements for obtaining the views of the community on policing) shall be amended as follows.
  2. (2) In subsection (1) after "area" there shall be inserted "and of the local authorities for the area".").

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to extend the whole series of amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which have already been considered by adding a further amendment to Section 106 of that Act which is concerned with arrangements for obtaining the views of a community on policing. Whatever decision is taken next week about the composition of police authorities, I think it will be generally agreed that policing by consent requires that a police authority should consult as widely as possible about policing issues. There is indeed a requirement in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 about seeking the views of the community on the policing of each area. As I have said, we do not yet know what will be the result of further deliberation in Committee, but whatever the result it seems appropriate that the local authorities in an area should be consulted in the same way as are the communities.

We hope, of course, that the new composition of police authorities will give adequate weight to the members of local authorities. In amendments which we shall table next week we shall seek to ensure the addition of co-opted members of police authorities who will bring to the police authority the views of different communities within the area. That does not remove the necessity for further consultation and we hope that the Government will feel that this amendment is an appropriate if minor change to the existing procedures under Section 106 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. I beg to move.

6 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

Being helpful, as always, to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, I can meet him half way. He hoped that we would regard this as an appropriate, if minor, amendment. I agree that it is a minor amendment, but I do not think that it is an appropriate one. That makes the score 15 all.

I can understand why the noble Lord thought it necessary to table the amendment. However, I believe that it is unnecessary. Local authorities will have a voice on the police authority and will continue to be well placed to make representations on behalf of local government. A separate and additional duty to obtain the views of local authorities on policing would be an unnecessary duplication.

Section 106 arrangements are intended to allow the voice of the community to be heard directly on policing matters. Section 106 requires police authorities to provide arrangements to ensure that that is done, except in the case of the Metropolitan police district where responsibility lies with the commissioner after consulting the borough and district councils. Those consultative arrangements take different forms in different places. In most cases they involve locally based groups in which shopkeepers, voluntary groups and ordinary members of the public can put their comments to the police. I would very much regret anything which diverted the police from that important obligation to consult at the grass roots level.

The amendment requires the police authority to consult with the local authority. But the local authority will already have representatives on the police authority. Therefore I do not believe that it is necessary for the police authority specifically to consult with the local authority. It will have— dare I say— its placemen on the police authority who will be able to inform the police authority of the local authority's view.

I see that I have disturbed the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. That is a terrible thing to do. I am not sure what I said to do that, but I have a good idea.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I fear that I must make the inevitable riposte: elected placemen, not ministerial placemen. The distinction is a substantial one.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord is always meticulous in his observations. The fact that I pass him that gratuity does not mean that I necessarily agree with him.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I am not much in sympathy with the Minister's manner of scoring in tennis either if he thinks that it is 15 all.

Let us agree on the terms that we use in relation to the Bill. Appointees of the Secretary of State are not independent: they are placemen. Those who are nominated by local authorities to serve on a police authority are not placemen; they are elected representatives. If we remember that and stick to it in all of our future discussions matters will be a great deal clearer.

We shall consider the more important issue of the composition of police authorities again next week. In the circumstances it is better if I seek leave to withdraw the amendment today.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No.129: Page 68, line 20, at end insert: ("Public Order Act 1986

In section 15 of the Public Order Act 1986 (delegation of functions of chief officer of police), for the words "a deputy or", in both places where they occur, there shall be substituted the word "an".").

The noble Earl said: The amendment removes a reference to deputy chief constable in the Public Order Act 1986 which Clause 5 of the Bill makes redundant. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Constitution of police force]:

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie) moved Amendment No.129A: Page 21, line 13, leave out from beginning to ("A") in line 15 and insert: ("For section 3 of the 1967 Act there shall be substituted "Establishments of police forces 3.").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No.129A I wish to speak also to Amendment No.129D. The amendments remove redundant references to a class of constable in Scotland which no longer exists. We have regular constables and special constables but there are no longer any temporary constables. Clause 42 as drafted removes the principal reference to temporary constables and the amendments remove the others. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Campbell of Alloway moved Amendment No.129B: Page 21, line 16, leave out from first ("constables") to end of line 20 and insert ("and special constables. (2) In subsection (1)— regular constables" means permanent or probationary constables who are appointed to act (whether full-time or part-time) on a paid basis and includes those constables who hold an appointment jointly with another constable; and special constables" means constables who are appointed to act on a part-time, unpaid basis.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment was to have been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. I am grateful to my noble friend the Government Chief Whip for sorting out the grouping so that Amendments Nos.129B and 129C may be taken separately from the Government's Amendments Nos.129A and 129D and Amendment No.129K, which is not in pari materia.

Amendments Nos.129B and 129C relate to Clause 42 which, as it stands, gives rise to considerable anxiety. Those anxieties relate to the effect on efficiency of the abolition of three ranks and the creation of serious operational management problems when operating a 24-hour emergency service over large geographical areas with only four ranks. Has something gone wrong?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I understood that my noble friend was speaking to Amendment No.129B, which relates to regular constables and special constables. If he cares to move the amendment, he may be surprised.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I hope that it is in order for me to speak to Amendments Nos.129B and 129C.

The other aspect of anxiety is the power of the Secretary of State under Clause 42 as it stands to create constables of other classes. That is another manifestation of the spread of the virus of centralisation. Such anxieties were expressed by the three Scottish police associations, and their concerns surely command some attention and respect. The amendments to Clause 42 reflect the most serious anxiety expressed by Dr. Ian Oliver, Chief Superintendent Urquhart and Mr. James Fraser, president of the Scottish Police Federation, at an all-party meeting on 14th February which was chaired by my noble friend Lord Whitelaw. As the Committee may know, he was vice chairman and chairman-elect of the Scottish Peers Association, which is an all-party institution.

As in the case of the other amendments to which I have set my name, these amendments manifest a degree of political consensus which, as my noble friend Lord Whitelaw said, is desirable on questions concerning reorganisation of the police service. I wish to assure the Committee that the amendments are not tabled as an exercise of confrontation with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. At this stage of the parliamentary process it is idle and indeed mischievous to speak of confrontation. That could only arise at the end of the process.

The amendments are tabled at a very early stage in the parliamentary process, so that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, who is on record as wishing to listen to the views expressed in your Lordships' House and has already made certain concessions— he has removed Clause 45— may consider the views of the Committee which the amendment evinces as regards Clause 42 as it stands.

Perhaps my right honourable friend as a matter of principle could also consider whether his proposed reorganisation could not be achieved by thinning nine ranks instead of abolishing three. If so, Clauses 43 and 57 would be otiose The drafting concept is not a matter for Committee.

The hope is that my noble friend will be able to take on board for discussion and further consultation the views noble Lords have expressed in Committee. The hope is that those who have spoken in the debate may attend. I beg to move.

Lord Morton of Shuna

I support Amendment No.129B. As drafted, the Bill seems to suggest that we shall have a variety of grades or ranks of constables who will not be interchangeable. Going back several years, I had thought that there was considerable trouble when the CID became separate, so to speak, from the uniformed side. There was then a separate drugs unit inside the CID. Now modern policing, so far as I understand which is no doubt little, involves people being transferred from one unit to another. That seems to be exactly what the clause as drafted is against, and what I would be in favour of. That would leave just one category of constable, perhaps with the addition of the unpaid special constable as a second category. For that reason, I support the amendment.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford

Before the Minster replies, it may be worth noting that in Scotland the police forces have taken some action in this regard. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, said, at one time the CID, the traffic branches, and indeed other branches were separate to such an extent that CID training was carried out at a different establishment from the police college at Tulliallan. That has now been taken care of. The police forces in Scotland have resolved the problem. The CID training now takes place in the same establishment as all other aspects of training. In saying that, I hope to encourage the Minister to accept the amendment.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to the amendment. It raises a number of important points which I should like to clarify. I also indicate at the outset how receptive I can be when constructive amendments are tabled in this Chamber.

The intention of the amendment is to endorse the main aims of the amendment to Section 3 of the Police (Scotland) Act. Those are to remove the establishment controls over police forces and to remove any impediment to the introduction of part-time working — I stress "part-time working"— by regular constables in Scotland. That is a particularly necessary and valuable change. I regret to say that it has to be acknowledged that the Scottish police forces have not been particularly distinguished in their employment of women officers in their ranks. Indeed, recently they have been the subject of critical public comment not only on recruitment but on the promotion of women in the police forces.

It is considered that a greater number of women might be recruited and maintained within the police forces if they were given some opportunity to do part-time work, or to do their tasks in a job-sharing fashion. That is all that we intend to introduce by this part of the clause. However, I understand that the Police Federation in Scotland, for example, suffered under the misapprehension and expressed a concern that we sought potentially to introduce a wholly new class of police officers— some constables who might still, in a sense, be private. We have no intention of doing that. I am glad to have the opportunity of making the position absolutely clear.

I propose therefore that the amendment should be accepted. Amendment No.129B as printed contains an errant singular instead of a plural. It makes reference to "another constable". That is such a technical point that I nevertheless suggest that the amendment is accepted and if the singular needs to be replaced by a plural it can be done technically and without difficulty at a later stage.

In moving Amendment No.129B, my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway discussed Amendment No.129C. That amendment requires police forces to prescribe as ranks, 'superintendent, chief inspector, inspector and sergeant"'. As noble Lords will be aware, such a provision flies in the face of later government amendments which seek to streamline the ranks of a police force. Those changes are not in any sense peculiar to Scotland. They are changes that have been proposed by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and spoken to in the earlier part of the Bill, as I understand it.

I believe that it is worth making this observation. Doubtless, given the comparability with the English provision, we shall wish to return to the matter at a later stage. However, I know of no police officer or group of police officers in Scotland who believe that the rank structure in Scotland should be different from that in England and Wales. That point was made clear to me during the many discussions that I had with various police associations during last summer when we were consulting on the Sheehy proposals. Perhaps I may suggest to my noble friend that while this is an important discussion and debate for the Committee to engage in, the subject is nevertheless an aspect which is not exclusively Scottish. It applies to both parts of the Bill.

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham

Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, perhaps I may offer the Committee an apology on behalf of my noble friend Lord Mackie of Benshie. He is unable to take part in the debate as he was unexpectedly and compellingly called away to Brussels.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Perhaps I may ask my noble friend to clarify what he said. I understand that he has it in mind to accept Amendment No.129B. If he does so, does that in any way affect the increased employment of women? It seems to me that the Government are right to seek to encourage such an increase. There is so much that women police officers can do very well, and it would be a great pity if that were in any way inhibited by the amendment. I believe that it is not, but perhaps the noble and learned Lord could confirm that.

The other point is that the meeting that noble Lords had with the police organisations from Scotland seemed to confirm that they would like the ranks to be the same. We discussed the matter of training with them and it seemed clear that they would like it. I am not sure how the noble and learned Lord intends to handle that.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

To confirm the matter, I understand that the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, which has been moved by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, was suggested by the police federation and other associations in Scotland. They seek to achieve exactly the same purpose as the Government; namely, that more women may be employed within the police forces because the opportunities would be that much greater for them if they could do part-time work and share jobs. The associations were concerned about the way the provision was originally drafted which appeared to open up further opportunities which they regarded as somewhat sinister. I hope that I have confirmed to the Committee that we have no sinister purpose. As the purpose is restrictive and beneficial, which we want, I am prepared to accept the amendment, subject to what I consider to be a small technical defect. I believe that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, nodded agreement that he also saw a small technical flaw in it.

Amendment No.129C includes the words: superintendent, chief inspector, inspector and sergeant". I did not regard those matters as being for debate exclusively in Scotland. Of course, they are relevant to Scotland, but they relate equally to England and Wales and any debate on them ought in a sense to be conjoint.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, perhaps I may clarify whether we are addressing Amendment No.129C. It has not been called and although we seem to be speaking to it, it is not grouped with Amendment No.129B.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Strabolgi)

Perhaps the noble Baroness will excuse me clarifying the matter. The amendment I called was Amendment No.129B which now has to be disposed of. Amendment No.129C, with the permission of the Committee, was spoken to quite properly by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. We shall deal with it separately when we come to it.

Lord Howie of Troon

On Amendment No.129C, as I understood the Minister, he seemed to suggest that the ranks in the police forces should be the same in Scotland as in England and Wales, the other parts of the United Kingdom, as they are called. I wonder whether he meant that the ranks in England and Wales should be the same as those in Scotland or that the ranks in Scotland should be the same as those in England and Wales. Amendment No.129C gives the Minister a good guide to the arrangement with which we should proceed.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

As I hope I made clear, I am perfectly happy that the ranks that are established in Scotland should be established in England and Wales. Whichever way it is put seems to me to be immaterial. What is important is that I understand that the police officers in Scotland, of whichever association they are members, take the same line. That is the point that I was making.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

Perhaps I may ask my noble and learned friend for clarification. There are nine ranks in Scotland; the proposal is to reduce those ranks by three, to six. The anxiety of the police federations is that that will affect efficiency and create operational management problems. In the circumstances, with the different policing problems in large areas of Scotland, is my noble and learned friend saying that we can only have six ranks in Scotland where the federations want nine, because there are only six ranks in England? Is that the position?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

No. In reaching an independent view of matters in Scotland, I believe that it would be desirable to have that reduction in the number of ranks. However, I consider the argument advanced to me by the Police Federation of Scotland, the superintendents and chief officers, to be important. Whatever the eventual decision with regard to ranks, whether it be nine or six as the Government suggest would be appropriate, it would be desirable that the same numbers obtain on both sides of the Border. As my noble friend Lady Carnegy indicated, one of the reasons is that it is desirable to have such ranks given, for example, the mutual arrangements that exist for training. There are also operational circumstances in which it is riot difficult to see that there could be confusion if there were differences between England and Wales and Scotland.

A further important consideration with beneficial effect to Scotland and England and Wales is the considerable degree of movement in the police ranks from one side of the Border to the other, as people are promoted. Senior police officers and chief constables in Scotland may have: done most of their time in England and vice versa.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

As we are clearly discussing Amendment No.129C, I should like to join in the debate. Yes, of course, the ranks north and south of the Border should be the same, but there are strong arguments for retaining the rank of chief inspector. That is the point that I wished to make and which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, made. By reducing the number of ranks from nine to six in this totally arbitrary fashion, the Government are placing extreme difficulties on operational policing, for example, of football matches.

I spent three years responsible for the policing of Brentford Football Club and I did it with fewer officers per member of the crowd than any other football club in London. To do that, I needed a chief inspector, two inspectors and four sergeants. There were four sides to the ground, two terraces and two covered stands, each of which was policed by a sergeant. I had two inspectors who policed each end of the ground. It needed myself and the chief inspector to cover that area and to ensure that there was proper crowd control, proper safety for people there. One cannot do something like that in an area as large as a football pitch without a reasonable number of supervising officers. One needs the different ranks and the hierarchy to control the situation. There was no way in which I or a chief inspector acting alone could cover the whole area.

In relation to situations like that, one clearly needs more levels. As I said last week, in a similar debate on the English police, about 360 senior officers have been thinned out of the higher ranks in the police service. That is the appropriate way to do it, to reduce the number of chief superintendents and superintendents, not arbitrarily to remove ranks. There are other situations in which one needs chief inspectors. The police service is a 24-hour service, which operates four reliefs, each of which is normally run by sergeants and inspectors. One needs a person to co-ordinate that at a level which is still operational and below the level of management of the division. In Scotland with police officers being spread over large areas, one needs someone to co-ordinate their activities in an operational way throughout the force area. Thus there are major arguments to be made about the number of ranks and it is something to which we shall return at Report stage.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

On the ranks situation, what is proposed here, as it is in England, is a reduction in the number of ranks from nine to six in a disciplined service, although there are 17 ranks in the Army. It is difficult to see why the Army requires 17 ranks, but the Government take the view that it is necessary to reduce the police to a far smaller number, from nine to six.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, argues that it would be wholly objectionable to have a situation in which the rank structure in Scotland differed from that in England and Wales. I hope that he will adopt the same argument when it comes to fixed term contracts. As he will know, what is being suggested in Scotland is that there should be fixed term contracts for officers of superintendent rank, whereas in England they w ill only cover ACPO ranks. If he uses that argument on this occasion he will realise that we shall put the other argument to him when we come to discuss fixed term contracts and we shall ask him to justify the differentiation between Scotland and England which he now argues is unacceptable.

6.30 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, said, by retaining the nine ranks one has a cut and dried chain of command. There is no argument about which superintendent or which inspector is senior. It is cut and dried and, particularly in an emergency, that is a very important point.

I was at the meeting that we had on Monday under the chairmanship of the noble Viscount Lord Whitelaw. It was quite clear to me that the chief police officers in Scotland wanted to retain the nine ranks. They wanted the nine ranks to be retained in England as well. They were not prepared to go down to six ranks simply because that was done in England.

Lord Morton of Shuna

I am not quite sure what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, is suggesting. Is he suggesting that this debate on the number of ranks should be held over until Report stage? Is he suggesting that Scotland should wait until England decides? If so, perhaps that might be suitable, considering what happened last Saturday. The Irish are keeping their ranks anyway; and perhaps, given the results on Saturday, they are entitled to that benefit. But surely at some point we cannot continue to go round in circles with the English saying,"We'll wait and see what the Scots do", and the Scots saying,"We'll wait and see what the English do". Surely there should be an answer from the Government as to why it is better to have six ranks than it is to have nine, rather than just saying,"Let's wait and see". With respect, there seem to be two different arguments here. One can have the argument that there are too many admirals in Whitehall, for example, but that does not necessarily mean that one should abolish the rank of admiral. I should have thought that there is something to be said for keeping the ranks even if all the police forces do not necessarily use all the ranks.

Lord Renton

Perhaps I may add just one point. I do not know whether or not it has already been made. The position of special constable does not seem to me to be a rank; it is more of a status. It is not a separate rank from that of an ordinary constable. It is a different function.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford

Perhaps I can help the noble and learned Lord the Minister. But first, I say as gently as I can to my noble friend Lady Hilton that if she thinks policing a football match is difficult— I say this after eight years as a director of Cowdenbeath football club— she should try running one.

I say just as gently to the Minister that the debate has moved on in relation to the proposed abolition of these ranks. What has now been established as a result of what was said by his noble friend Lord Ferrers is that the existing salary scale of chief superintendent, superintendent, chief inspector and deputy chief constable will remain. The badges of office for those ranks will remain. The manpower of those ranks will remain. All that is being removed is the title of the rank itself. Do the Government really want to go down the road of maintaining the salary structure, the badges of office and the manpower, and then get into the trivia of removing the title of the rank? The Minister has a marvellous chance to make a name for himself here by merely rising and accepting Amendment No.129C as well as Amendment No.129B.

Lord Elton

The remark of my noble friend Lord Renton about special constables reminds me that there is a rather useful parallel in the Army. As I recall— I do not know whether it is the same now— when I was a subaltern I was taught that whereas "colonel" was a rank,"brigadier" was an Office. A brigadier was simply a colonel who was marked out for special responsibility. I do not see that the difficulty of having more levels of responsibility than one has ranks is one that need trouble Members of the Committee.

We have at least two issues, and possibly three, before us at the moment. One is the question of the merits of the rank structure as it exists or as it might be changed. On that point I cannot help Members of the Committee further. Another is the question of whether there should be compatibility or similarity— identity — between the systems north and south of the Border. Here I believe that my noble and learned friend on the Front Bench is right to advise the Committee to await the counsels of what is decided in England. It might perhaps be a good thing if he were personally to be sitting on the Front Bench when that was decided. It would be a mistake if the debate on the question of what should happen in Scotland should determine what was to happen in England if it is already decided that the two should be the same. I can read the lips of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, as she says,"Why?". The answer is that Scotland is not as big as—

Lord Howie of Troon

Why not?

Lord Elton

I believe that it is the custom of this Chamber to speak only when one is standing up. The noble Lady is able to do that without disturbing the airwaves and that is not in breach of the Rules of Order, but I fear that the noble Lord is not able to do so.

To return to the question, it would be sensible to observe the fact that we broached this subject for England and Wales earlier in the Committee stage; that we shall return to it; and that your Lordships will be best able to decide the question for Scotland in the wake of the next stage of the debate on this Bill on what happens in England and Wales.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

I suggest to my noble friend who has just spoken that it would perhaps be even better if, when the matter is next discussed, there were to be a joint amendment which covers the whole of Great Britain. I am sure that that would be possible. My noble and learned friend has slightly upset some of us by suggesting that we might have to wait to see what England will do. There would be a very complicated procedure if we voted one way and England voted another but the police wanted the same. A joint amendment would be better. I see noble Lords sitting in the Chamber who might be able to arrange that.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

I can tell Members of the Committee that the suggestion that the Scots should have to wait to see what is done in England before a decision can be made goes down like a lead balloon in Scotland. We really do not see why the English should not have the opportunity of following the Scots.

Lord Howie of Troon

I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I was not intervening in his speech, I was merely muttering.

Lord Elton

If that was a mutter, I wonder what the noble Lord's speeches sound like.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I am reluctant to be churlish in view of the support that was offered, possibly unusually in this Bill, from behind me. I say to my noble friend that I have to take some exception to what he said. My view was not that we should wait to see what was determined in England and Wales and then adopt that in Scotland. What I said, as I am sure the record will reveal, is that it seemed to me that it would be more appropriate if consideration of these matters were conjoint. Senior police officers in Scotland indicate to me very firmly that they believe that the same number of ranks should be in place on both sides of the Border. I understand the noble Baroness on the Front Bench, who indicated that she certainly intended to return to this matter at Report Stage, also agrees that that might be the best way forward.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Will the noble and learned Lord be good enough to confirm the point that was made a moment or two ago in relation to what will happen if these ranks are abolished? Let us take as an example the rank of chief superintendent. As I understand the suggestion, in Scotland a person now holding the rank of chief superintendent would continue to wear the badge; of rank on his present uniform; in other words, he would not be made to remove the star. Is that statement correct or is it not correct? If he retains the present badges of rank, does that mean that he is in a position to insist that superintendents should follow any order that he gives?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

The noble Lord invites me to give a trailer of what I anticipate will be a more elaborate debate on Report. I do not understand it to be envisaged on this side of the Border that in the event of the abolition of those ranks the posts that are carried through would disappear, and within the rank of superintendent I envisage, one way or another, circumstances in which there was some degree of differentiation between them.

One of the issues that I consider appropriate to debate with regard to Scotland is that if all the ranks are maintained there is too much of a temptation in every circumstance to hold to that rigid hierarchy, and it may not always be appropriate to do so. That situation is particularly true in Scotland where we have the largest police force, in Strathclyde, outside the Metropolitan police force, and at the same time we have the smallest police force.

If there is an absolutely established hierarchy which appears to be immovable, every post is always filled and that situation is not always desirable in managerial structure. In certain circumstances a more direct approach would be desirable in order to short circuit some of the routes. In Scotland single ranks have been reporting on a one-to-one basis, which is undesirable. Perhaps we might draw the debate to a close because there appears to be general agreement that we shall return to the matter at a later stage.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Campbell, of Alloway moved Amendment No.129C: Page 21, line 21, after ("ranks)") insert: ("(a) in subsection (1) for the words "and superintendent" there shall be substituted the words "superintendent, chief inspector, inspector and sergeant"; and (b) ").

The noble Lord said: I should like to thank noble Lords who have spoken to the amendment, in particular my noble and learned friend on the Front Bench, the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich.

The debate has been very good humoured, which is a change compared with debates on other parts of the Bill. Your Lordship may think that it has been a most constructive debate. Out of it has arisen the question of disparity. I take the sense of what has been stated by noble Lords. Ought we at this stage to reduce ranks and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, stated, if so, with what effect? Those matters require discussion and consideration.

I address your Lordships at this stage not only to thank noble Lords but to point out that the discussion affects whether Clause 43 do stand part. That is why I ask whether my noble friend the Minister would be good enough to take the matter back for further discussion, if possible on an all-party basis. If he were prepared to do that I should be grateful. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I understood that I was being invited not only to reflect further on Amendment No.129C, in relation to which I have already rehearsed the arguments, but also to take away the whole of Clause 42. I am extremely reluctant to do so. I should advise the noble Lord that the chief constables of Scotland would be extremely alarmed if I were to take away the whole of Clause 42 for reconsideration, not least because it takes in one part of the Bill that they are delighted should be included; namely, that much of the control presently exercised by the Secretary of State in relation to their authorised strength is to be removed by the clause.

I have no doubt that we shall return to the matter at a later stage. The idea of abandoning or reconsidering the totality of the clause, particularly in view of my acceptance of the earlier amendment, would be a curious step to take.

Lord Morton of Shuna

I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord misheard his noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. I thought that he suggested that Clause 43 should be taken away and that he was talking as to whether Clause 43 should stand part. I do not think that the noble Lord was suggesting that the amendment that he has successfully got through should be taken away again. If the noble Lord had made that suggestion, I would not have been in favour of it.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Unless I have completely lost control and understanding of where we are in our deliberations, we have not yet reached Clause 43.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.129D: Page 21, line 25, at end insert: ("(4) In section 14(1) (extra policing of locality where works are being constructed), the words "(whether by the appointment of temporary constables or otherwise)" shall be omitted. (5) In section 26(2) (d) (regulations as to retirement of certain constables), the words "or temporary" shall be omitted.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 42, as amended, agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 43 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I have spoken to the problem, and your Lordships will not wish to hear any more. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, rightly divined the intention. My noble and learned friend on the Front Bench is fully apprised of the situation and I hope that he will be able to indicate that all the matters that we have discussed and the problems that arise shall be considered further in discussion, particularly the problem in Clause 43 which gives the power of the Secretary of State by regulation to make the ranks of constables.

Clause 43 agreed to.

Clause 44 [Civilian employees]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.129E: Page 22, line 29, at end insert ("; the chief constable being deemed, for the purposes of those sections as read with this subsection, to be an officer of the authority").

The noble Lord said: The amendment clarifies the position of a chief constable in relation to the police authority for the purpose of Clause 44, which requires authorities to delegate responsibility for the direction and control of police civilians. Delegation would be done by virtue of provisions in the Local Government (Scotland) Act which allows local authorities to delegate functions to officers. The amendment amplifies Clause 44 to make it clear that the chief constable is deemed to be an officer of the police authority for that purpose. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 44, as amended, agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 45 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Clause 45 has been subject to much lively debate in Scotland. The intention of the clause and the policy which lay behind it, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State saw it, was that we should seek to ensure that Scottish police forces would act jointly where that would improve the overall efficiency of policing in Scotland. As I indicated, there is an extraordinary difference in range of size of police forces in Scotland from Dumfries and Galloway-small— and its immediate neighbour— Strathclyde which is the largest in the country.

The clause proposed that the Secretary of State should have reserve power— I stress "reserve"— to direct forces to participate in activities in which other forces were engaged if he was satisfied that would enhance the efficiency of policing. He would only do that, according to the clause, having received the advice of the inspector of constabulary.

We took the view and still take the view that the public have a clear right to expect the police to work together because, increasingly, the problem of criminality in Scotland, as much as it would be the case on this side of the Border, is that criminals do not respect police force boundaries. From time to time there will be specific policing problems and difficulties which will require an approach which goes wider than simply the specific police authority area.

There was anxiety in Scotland that, again, the Secretary of State may have had more sinister purpose. I hasten to emphasise that there was nothing more elaborate or hidden in our approach. But since that clause was included in the Bill the chief constables of Scotland came forward with a memorandum or concordat of co-operation. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, in the discharge of his statutory duties to give advice, assured the Secretary of State that that concordat will ensure that forces throughout Scotland, if necessary, will take part in joint activities where appropriate.

I welcome that undertaking by the chief constables. It entirely fulfils the objective that lay behind Clause 45. As that objective has so fully been achieved without the direction or involvement of central government but simply by necessary co-operation between chief constables, not only is the objective achieved, but it is achieved in a fashion which is generally acceptable in Scotland.

With that brief explanation, I should like to indicate that it will be the Government's intention to remove the clause from the Bill.

Viscount Whitelaw

I rise simply to congratulate my noble and learned friend and, indeed, the Secretary of State, for coming to such a sensible and wise decision with the help of the inspector of the constabulary and the chief constables concerned. The wicked word "direct" has been removed; everybody is delighted and I thank my noble and learned friend for what has been done.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Perhaps I may echo the words of the noble Viscount. The Minister set an excellent example. A number of other clauses in the Bill contain the same offending words and could be dealt with by negotiation rather than by diktat from the centre. I hope the Minister's wise consultation and decision at the end of it will be taken to heart by other Ministers in other parts of the country.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I join the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, in expressing my gratitude to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, in tabling the amendment and making that announcement today. As he realised, there would have been a bitter division in the Committee, as there was in the Scottish Police Service, if Clause 45 had stood part of the Bill. I welcome the fact that there has been this accommodation at the end of what could have been an extremely difficult dispute between the Government and the police service.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I should like briefly to say how grateful I am. This was the main matter of concern of the Scottish police associations at the all-party meeting. It has been resolved by accepting a police memorandum. Perhaps my noble and learned friend the Minister could consider the police memorandum on thinning ranks— the previous matter — as a matter of principle instead of reducing ranks from nine to three. As we have resolved one matter so satisfactorily by resort to the police memorandum and discussion, perhaps in due course it will be possible to resolve the other matter.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I am grateful for the interventions in this brief debate. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Whitelaw not only for his comments but also for his assistance in convening meetings and ensuring that what was being proposed was clearly understood by so many in your Lordships' Chamber. While I am grateful to others who contributed and for what they say, I cannot offer the guarantee that I shall be as accommodating in other clauses.

Clause 45 negatived.

Clause 46 agreed to.

Clause 47 [Conduct and efficiency of police officers]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.129F: Page 23, line 22, leave out ("members of police forces") and insert ("constables").

The noble and learned Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No.129F I shall speak also to Amendments Nos.129G,129J,130B and 130E. These amendments ensure that new references inserted by the Bill into the Police (Scotland) Act are consistent with existing references in the Act to "constable" or "contables". I beg to move.

Lord Renton

I do not often begin addressing your Lordships by saying that I may be wrong. But I think I may be wrong and would be grateful for clarification.

My noble and learned friend and the Secretary of State are to consider further the question of ranks in the Scottish police forces. That was something to which we agreed just now. But if we leave out the broad expression "members of police forces" which, as I understand it, would include inspectors and superintendents, and replace that phrase by the word "constable", it means that the regulations to be made under Clause 47 could not refer to inspectors and superintendents if, at a later stage and after negotiation, the Government decide that they are to have inspectors and/or superintendents.

Lord Elton

Perhaps my noble friend will forgive me interrupting. I hope that I have not got it wrong, but my recollection is teat every policeman is a constable, regardless of his rank.

Lord Renton

I have been associated with police matters for almost longer than my noble friend has been alive, and I never realised that until this moment. I am sure he is right about it or he would not have said it. But if that is so then my cautionary opening words,"I may be wrong", were just as well made.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I believe "constable" is a generic term which covers all ranks of office.

7 p.m.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

Perhaps I may intervene for a moment. It is all ranks except Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police, who hold their office by right of the Queen's appointment. All other police officers are constables.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I rise with some trepidation to offer my noble friend advice. My understanding is that in comparable provisions in England and Wales the appropriate term would be "member of a police force". If my noble friend were to look to the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 he would find that the reference there throughout is to constable or constables. In those circumstances, with his keen eye to consistent drafting, it is simply for that reason that the change has been made to accommodate the Scottish provisions.

Lord Renton

I am grateful for that explanation. Does it mean that the expressions used in relation to the police and their ranks collectively are different or the same in Scotland and in England and Wales?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I hesitate to say anything about the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and any distinctive position he may hold. However, as has been indicated by my noble friend, every member of a Scottish police force except a chief constable would indeed be a constable and it would therefore be appropriate to use that terminology.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.129G: Page 23, line 27, leave out ("member of a police force") and insert ("constable").

The noble and learned Lord said: I spoke to this amendment when speaking to Amendment No. I 29F. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No.129H: Page 23, line 29, leave out ("or caution") and insert ("caution or warning").

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. The Scottish police associations believe that the regulations for disciplinary procedures should also include provision for a formal warning, thereby bringing the fullest range of disciplinary options within the regulations. The substitution of "constable" for "member of a police force" brings the terminology of the clause into line with terminology used elsewhere. This is a probing amendment to find out what is meant by the disciplinary regulations. It is a consequential amendment to ensure that the rank of chief superintendent is properly included within the appropriate procedure relating to disciplinary proceedings. I hope that the Minister will be able to clear up that point for us. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

As I understand the amendment, it would include a warning in the range of disposals for which procedures may be established in regulations. I would immediately wish to say to the noble Lord that it is not difficult to envisage circumstances when it would indeed be wholly appropriate within a police force for a warning to be given to a police constable in respect of his conduct or misconduct. I do not believe it to be appropriate that such a penalty should be available to chief constables following on a disciplinary hearing. It would not be considered appropriate to include it in the list of actions available to chief officers following the formal inefficiency or misconduct hearings. He does not have such a power at the moment, and once one has got into the formal procedure I would suggest that it is inappropriate to include "warning".

However, that does not mean that there is not a place for a warning in the informal proceedings which the management within a police force might employ in dealing with less serious lapses in performance or behaviour. As I think the noble Lord will appreciate, while in layman's terms a caution or a warning may appear to be somewhat interchangeable terms, in this context, for a police officer to be given a caution by his chief constable would be significantly more serious and it would appear in his record.

Lord Finsberg

I wonder whether as a practitioner in industrial relations for many years I might say this. I understand exactly what my noble and learned friend has said. But there are occasions when, having had a formal hearing, those who have to take a decision might want to have the least difficult option to take. The insertion of a warning could have that valuable effect. I would suggest to my noble and learned friend that he ought not to dismiss this amendment as much as he has without thinking that the chief constable might want to use this because he might feel that the formal hearing has not produced quite the result that would give fairness to all concerned.

Lord Morton of Shuna

I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord would consider taking from the courts the idea of an admonition, which would not appear in the record of a person's convictions and might be suitable for the kind of case that has been dealt with.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I am grateful for those two interventions. I thought that warnings were more appropriately given at the informal stage. However, I hear the argument that has been advanced and I am certainly prepared to reflect further on it.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The Minister has been most helpful. We are all grateful for the interventions and we look forward to hearing the Minister's views on the matter once he has taken it away. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.129J: Page 23, line 30, leave out ("member of a police force") and insert ("constable").

The noble and learned Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No.129F, I spoke to Amendment No.129J. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. I29K not moved.]

Clause 47, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 48 [Fixed term appointments]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.129L: Page 24, line I, after ("amended") insert: ("— (a) by inserting, after the words "administration of" in subsection (1), the words ", and the conditions of service in,"; and (b)").

The noble and learned Lord said: Section 26 of the Police (Scotland) Act gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations as to the government and administration of police forces. This amendment brings the Scottish Act into line with the equivalent provision for England and Wales— Section 33 of the Police Act 1964— and puts beyond any doubt that the regulation-making power covers conditions of service. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No.130 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lyell)

I call Amendment No.130A in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

By leave, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, to move the amendment.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

The noble Lord may indeed ask. I was considering a number of important public questions at the moment that the amendment was called, and I regret to say that included among those public questions was not Amendment No.130A. I shall gladly move the Motion formally in order to have this matter discussed and debated.

Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No.130A: Page 24, line 4, leave out from ("where") to end of line 5 and insert:

  1. ("(a) the person appointed holds the rank of assistant chief constable or a higher rank; and
  2. (b) the terms of the appointment include adequate provision for—
    1. (i) the renewal of the appointment at the same or a higher rank at the end of the fixed term (subject to the efficient performance by the person of his duties during the term); and
    2. (ii) the payment of compensation in cases where the appointment is not so renewed.").

The noble Lord said: The issue here, as I understand it from my recollection of the comparable English clauses, relates to the rank of deputy chief constable. This provoked a fair amount of debate when we were discussing the measure relating to England and Wales. I find it strange that we are being invited to abolish the rank and indeed the office of deputy chief constable without, so far as I can see, any powerful justification for that decision.

It is wholly desirable that a chief officer should have a clearly-defined deputy and that the force should know who he is. It does not seem sensible that in a disciplined organisation there should be any uncertainty about this matter. There should be a person holding that rank who is clearly identifiable to the rest of the force. But the Government are suggesting its abolition. I find it difficult to see the power of the argument for that. As I recall, there was a recommendation from the Sheehy committee on this matter but unhappily some of the recommendations had to be dropped. Unfortunately, Mr. Clarke did not appoint anybody to the committee who had any knowledge or direct experience of the police service. If he had done so I suspect that this recommendation and some others, would not have been made.

The number of deputy chief constables in Scotland is extremely limited because the number of police forces there is limited. For a force as large as Strathclyde it is undesirable to have a number of assistant chief constables without having a clearly defined deputy. I would like to hear from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, how he justifies that provision.

Lord Campbell of Alloway .

The problem of the fixed term is quite serious because it can be dangerous in certain circumstances where the constable concerned — using the term in its generic sense — is at odds with the authority. He comes towards the end of his fixed term and it is not renewed. There is no provision, as the amendment proposes, for compensation and no provision that his contract shall be renewed if he has performed efficiently. That is a safeguard which, if it were arbitrarily broken, would be subject to judicial review, as no doubt the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton, will say.

This amendment seeks not only to avoid injustice, broadly speaking, but any hint of improper pressure being brought on the constable by the authority. That is a mere appendix to the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, moved this amendment. I hope that my noble and learned friend will give an opportunity for discussion on this matter and will take it back.

Lord Morton of Shuna

It has been suggested that I say something. Unfortunately, I did not quite hear what it is I am to say. I shall try to do my best to say it. The clause as drafted suggests that people in the fourth rank of constable should get fixed terms because we are, under the Government's proposals, to have a constable, sergeant, inspector and superintendent. The superintendent is to get a fixed term. That would seem to carry some dangers because it might not encourage the right type of person to become a superintendent. One hopes that there will be some kind of fast track for the highly qualified police officer. But if someone can get three promotions in, say.10 years and then get a fixed-term contract, he will then wait to see whether he will get another fixed-term contract. What will happen to his pension? This matter needs rather careful consideration if one is to have people, possibly in their mid-30's, being given fixed-term contracts. It may be that the police bodies recommend that they should be restricted to higher ranks rather than what would be a more active rank; for example, chief constable or assistant chief constable.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Renton

If we make no provision for renewal at the end of the fixed term, it could be very unfair on the high flier— that is to say, the man who gets early promotion and then is given a fixed term for five years. He should have a good many more years of service ahead of him but because it is a fixed term without renewal, he would have to resign. That is an absurd situation. I hope that the Government will do something about it.

Lord Knights

Perhaps this is another matter where the forces in Scotland and those in England and Wales should be the same. My recollection of the debate so far is that in England and Wales the rank of superintendent will not, in the first instance, be called on to have a fixed-term contract which is to apply only to assistant chief constables and chief constables. The matter has still to be further discussed later in the proceedings. That is the first point. Why should there be different arrangements in Scotland from those in England and Wales?

The second point is to support the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, who has drawn attention to the man and his pension. I believe the pension conditions for police officers in Scotland to be the same as those in England and Wales; namely, that they qualify for pension at the half-pay rate once the officer has completed 25 years service. If the officer continues until he has completed 30 years service then the rate goes up to two-thirds of pay.

If officers are to progress to the rank of chief constable, of necessity they must begin to move up the ranks fairly quickly. If England is anything to go by, officers will be promoted to the rank of superintendent well before they have reached the 25-year level. It is much more likely that that would have occurred after 16,18 or 20 years service. If an officer cannot be sure, on taking the rank of superintendent, that he will be able to continue to complete full service to pension, that will be a very strong consideration as to whether he should put himself forward for promotion at all. He may wish to stay as an inspector and perhaps at the higher rates of that salary scale, qualifying for a full pension without taking the risk of having to drop out long before.

If the rank of superintendent is to be subject to fixed-term appointments that will militate against good men moving up the ranks, if not in joining the force at all. If they do not see a fairly certain future, subject to good conduct, diligence and being accepted for promotion, and they do not see a certainty of going on to full pension, either they will not join or if they do, and then realise what the position is, they will not wish to go forward beyond the rank of inspector. That would not only militate against the efficiency of forces in Scotland, because the same conditions would apply in England if that measure were ever to come here.

Lord Finsberg

It almost sounds as though the principle of fixed-term contracts is a new one. It is one which has been known for decades in the world of commerce and local government. If one looks at the principle of the high flier, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Knights, who has just spoken, it is more likely that the high flier will be put forward by his employing authority rather than putting himself forward. Therefore, one has to be a little careful on this matter.

If it is found by experience that the high flier is not available because of the problem of a fixed-term contract with nothing renewable, there is absolutely no reason why the routine should not be to have a fixed-term contract with a renewal clause. However, that brings problems because one then has to decide what triggers that renewal. The one thing that I am certain of is that a fixed-term contract cannot carry compensation with it if it is not renewed otherwise that would make a mockery of the term "fixed-term contract".

This is not an easy matter; but I am not convinced, if one looks at this in the broad generality of employment legislation, that it would be right to go quite so far as it seems that some noble Lords wish to go.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Perhaps I may deal with that point. The argument about the world of commerce has been addressed already; but there is a major distinction between the world of commerce, as described by the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, and a disciplined force. There is no analogy between them at all. Would the noble Lord suggest that officers up to the rank of major or lieutenant-colonel should be subject to the same terms and conditions as police in ranks up to inspector and that thereafter fixed-term contracts should apply? I should have thought that that was unlikely, and if it is unlikely for one disciplined service, why is it right for the police?

The critical issue in this debate was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Knights. An able young man of the rank of inspector will have to decide whether to put his career and his pension prospects at risk by applying to be promoted to the rank of superintendent, knowing that when he attains that rank he will be on a limited-term contract. I must tell the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Knights. Some people, including some of the most able, will not apply for promotion in those circumstances. They will take the view that they would be taking an unreasonable risk (certainly in relation to their pension prospects) if, by chance, they offended the police authority.

The appropriate analogy is not with the world of commerce, but with what happens in the United States. In most American police forces officers up to the rank of captain are treated in a way that is comparable with what happens in this country. Above the rank of captain in most large police forces in the United States, officers are on fixed-term contracts. I must advise the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, that in the United States a substantial number of officers of the rank of captain are not prepared to risk applying for a more senior job, knowing that their career can be terminated with extreme abruptness. That is the problem that we are discussing tonight.

What I find difficult to understand is this: the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, indicated to us how wrong and objectionable it would be if we had differences between Scotland and England and Wales in relation to rank, so I think that we need an explanation from him about why this provision is being proposed for Scotland but not for England and Wales— and the Home Office is not proposing this for England and Wales. I still do not understand why the Government are proposing this for Scotland.

Lord Finsberg

Before the noble Lord sits down, I hope that he will accept that I did not refer only to the world of commerce; I referred to the world of commerce and local government.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I rise briefly to say, with respect to my noble friend Lord Finsberg, that there is no analogy whatever with commerce or with local government. The police service is quite a different service with discipline, dangers, disciplinary procedures and so forth which do not exist in commerce or in local government. We have already been bedevilled by the concept that there is such an analogy. I shall not go on about it because we had a Division on that ground a short time ago. However, that concept ought to be knocked on the head, and with the greatest respect to my noble friend, I am trying to knock it on the head.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

I very much endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, has just said. The police service is not part of commerce. We keep looking at the negative aspects and at ways of disciplining police officers and giving them short-term contracts so that we can get rid of them. We do not look at the positive aspects of the police service such as the dedication, loyalty and motivation. Many aspects of the Bill would reduce the police service to a time-serving commercial organisation of people who do not put their lives at risk or work with enthusiasm or a high level of motivation. Fixed-term contracts are another way of trying to get rid of police officers as though they were all inefficient, corrupt and undesirable. Most police officers in this country operate to the highest standards of ethics. Most are enthusiastic and well motivated and do not require these punishments such as the attempts to restrict their service which litter the Bill.

I agree with most of the points that have been made, except with those from the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg. I cannot understand why Scotland is to have different provisions from England and Wales under this clause. Having fixed-term contracts for superintendents will create a bottle-neck at inspector level with people preferring to keep their current job rather than face the prospect of being thrown on the streets in their mid-thirties. This is one of the most demotivating aspects of the Bill, among many others. I support the amendment.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

We began with an extremely wide-ranging debate and I have nothing but admiration for the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for the way in which he recovered from having clearly set off in the wrong direction. Latterly, he got precisely to the point of the amendment and gave us a clear understanding of the point that we have to debate.

The main purpose of Clause 48 is to specify that fixed-term appointments cannot be introduced for officers below the rank of superintendent. What I wish to make clear is that the provision for England and Wales in Clause 14(4) is exactly the same as that to be found in Clause 48. The noble Lord, Lord Knights, was accurate in his understanding of the position. Where I think that the understanding of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, is slightly wrong is that I believe my noble friend Lord Ferrers has made it clear that at present there is no intention to introduce such fixed-term appointments below chief officer rank at this stage in England and Wales. However, I understand that my noble friend indicated that he would not wish to rule out the introduction at some future point of such fixed-term contracts for superintendents. I wish to make it as clear as I possibly can that in that respect the provisions for Scotland and for England and Wales are exactly the same. We have no plans to introduce such appointments below chief officer rank at this stage.

Ii is interesting to note that the amendment accepts the principle of fixed-term appointments. The details will be set out in the police regulations on which the police associations will be consulted in the usual way. However, it is perhaps not surprising that implicit in this amendment is some acceptance that there might be fixed-term appointments for chief officers because, as my noble friend Lord Ferrers said earlier in Committee: It the prospect of fixed-term contracts were so objectionable, one wonders why the Police Negotiating Board recommended in 1992 a pay settlement which included the acceptance of the principle of fixed-term appointments for chief constables". — [Official Report, 17/294; col.383.] It seems that at that level, even among the police, there is a willingness for, or an acceptance of, the position. I readily acknowledge that acceptance is not to be found at the superintendent rank. However, I hope that my assurance will be understood. At this stage we have no intention of making that arrangement but at the same time, as in England and Wales, we do not wish to rule it out. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Now that I know what the amendment is about I am in a stronger position than I was at the beginning of the debate. The noble and learned Lord quoted from his noble friend Lord Ferrers. I hope that he will forgive me for saying that that is a bad point. I do not expect the noble and learned Lord to have followed the detail of the English Bill.

Many of us would have been more relaxed about fixed.-term contracts for officers of ACPO rank if it had not been for the Home Secretary's proposal to put five Home Office appointees on every police authority in England and Wales. That created the belief among many in the police service that it was being politicised. The noble and learned Lord quoted a decision of the Police Negotiating Board in 1992 and he will realise that that was before Mr. Clarke indicated that he envisaged a situation in which he or his successors would appoint members to every police authority in England and Wales. The noble arid learned Lord will realise that that proposal is not contained in the Scottish Bill.

I take note of what he said about the Government's intentions. We shah want to look at the language of the Bill to see whether, given the intention not to proceed immediately as regards fixed-term contracts for superintendents, we shall wish to table a further amendment on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

This may be a convenient moment for the Committee to adjourn. I suggest that the Committee stage should begin again at 8.20 p.m.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.32 to 8.20 p.m.]

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.130B: Page 24, line 1f;, leave out ("member") and insert ("constable").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 48, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 49 [Power of Secretary of State to give directions to police authorities.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No.130C: Page 24, line 31, leave out from ("may") to end of line 38 and insert ("require the police authority for the area for which the force is maintained to allocate from their income such amounts as he may specify to the purpose of securing that the force performs its functions adequately.").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No.130D. There are significant differences between the proposals in this clause and those contained in Clause 11 which deals with England and Wales. In England, Wales and Scotland, there is a proper requirement for the Secretary of State to require the inspectors of constabulary to carry out inspections. In both cases, where a report made to the Secretary of State is carried out which states that in the opinion of the person making the report— that is, the inspector— the force inspected is not efficient or effective or that unless remedial measures are taken the force will cease to be efficient or effective (the wording is the same in both cases), Clause 11 for England and Wales states that, "the Secretary of State may direct the police authority responsible for maintaining the force to take such measures as may be specified in the direction".

The Scottish clause, Clause 49, goes a little further. It states, like the English clause, that, "the Secretary of State may direct the police authority for the area for which the force is maintained to take such measures as may be specified in the direction", and goes on: Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2) of section 26A of this Act, the Secretary of State may under that subsection direct a police authority to allocate front their income, to the purpose of ensuring that a police force is efficient, such amounts as he shall specify". It seems to us that that is going a little bit over the top.

Of course, if the inspector of constabulary produces an adverse report, it is entirely proper that something should be done. And surely the first responsibility for doing something, in whatever part of the United Kingdom, should fall on the police authority. However, to go on to say, as the Scottish clause says, that the actual amounts of money to be devoted to putting matters right can be specified by the Secretary of State seems to us unreasonable.

Amendment No.130C seeks to amend the wording of subsection (2). So instead of saying, take such measures as may be specified in the direction it should say, "require the police authority for the area for which the force is maintained to allocate from their income such amounts as he may specify to the purpose of securing that the force performs its functions adequately".

At line 40, we have taken out the words, any direction given to them under section 26A", and inserted, requirement imposed on them under section 26A". Differences between English and Scottish police forces are a sensitive area and one in which I do not wish to become involved if I can possibly avoid it. However, the staff associations at all three levels of the Scottish police are convinced that the measures proposed in Clause 49 are too restrictive and give too much power to the Secretary of State. They wish them to be amended in the way proposed in the two amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

As has been truly said by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, this is a matter of drafting. The clause is drafted too widely. It should be reduced so that the Secretary of State can make specific directions to a police authority but only to require a police authority to allocate sufficient funds to deal with the cause of an adverse report. That is the proper scope of the clause.

As it stands, the clause is too wide and allows for other directions to be given. It is not even certain that the Government wish to have such wide powers. If they do, I am sure that there would be objection. If they do not, then the clause could be amended without difficulty. The hope is that my noble and learned friend, as he has been good enough to do as regards other matters, will take back the amendment to reconsider the position.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, indicated, this is a matter about which the various police associations in Scotland are concerned. I am surprised about that, and perhaps I may take a few moments to explain the Government's position.

The aim of Clause 49 is to provide effective sanctions against a police authority which undermines the efficiency of its force by the low level of funding that it provides. If the report of an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary concludes that a force is not efficient, Clause 49 would give the Secretary of State power to direct the authority to take measures to remedy matters, and in particular to increase its funds accordingly.

I listened carefully to what my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway said, and I shall certainly re-examine the drafting with care. It is not our intention — and I do not believe that it is the proper construction of the clause— that the Secretary of State should be entitled, following the receipt of such an adverse report with regard to the efficiency of a police authority, to require an increase of funding of some figure totally at his discretion. The aim of the provision, as I read it and as it is intended, is to take that force out of the state of inefficiency as certified by Her Majesty's inspector into a state where it is once again efficient.

I cannot see how anyone, be he a member of the public or a police officer, could take exception to that proposal. I must advise the Committee that there is currently in Scotland— I do not know the situation in England— no way of ensuring that a force which is inefficient through lack of funds receives the additional funds required for it to operate efficiently. In a rather paradoxical way, the only sanction currently vested in the Secretary of State, having been advised of the inefficiency of the force, would be to withdraw its funding altogether. That would clearly be an absurd position for that force to find itself in. One should certainly consider it to be very much a reserve power.

If there are further suggestions to be made to the Government to tighten it up to ensure the direction of increasing funding is limited in the respect that I indicated, or if there is some suggestion that the drafting is too wide, I shall look at the matter. However, if the police force is deemed by the inspector of constabulary to be inefficient, and if the Secretary of State receives from the inspector notice that unless remedial measures are taken the force will cease to be efficient, then, unless such a problem can be resolved by funding, I would insist that at least a power to that extent is clearly given.

I had rather anticipated from my own discussions with the police that a slightly different point was being made; namely, that the Secretary of State should not be directing funding towards any particular activity. However, our anxiety, shortly stated, is this. If a particular part of the policing activity has rendered the force inefficient, it will be rather odd to say,"You will simply have an additional sum of money and you can spend it inefficiently in other directions". It must be directed to that part of the policing operation which does not meet the anxieties of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

As I understand it, the anxiety of the police associations could be so easily rectified by simple redrafting. If one looks at line 31 of subsection (2) of the clause, it seems to me that the position can be so easily rectified by simple drafting. Paragraph (b) reads: The Secretary of State may direct the police authority". However, if one then added the words, for the purpose of correcting or implementing recommendations in an adverse report", as I understand it, the point of the three police associations would be met. It is a matter of drafting. I am not trying to redraft in Committee, I am merely trying to be helpful.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

At the expense of revealing the depth of my ignorance, can the noble and learned Lord tell me what a police authority would spend its income on other than the working of the police force for which it is responsible?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I would suggest the circumstance where there is a particular aspect of the policing which has caused the inspector of constabulary some worry and where he has indicated not only generally that the police force is inefficient, but that in some particular it is inefficient. If it is only in one particular that it is inefficient, it would seem to me to be appropriate for the Secretary of State to direct expenditure on that so as to relieve the situation of inefficiency, rather than simply giving the police authority a direction that it should spend "X" amount of money additionally on its police force.

Let us take a simple example. If it is a criminal investigation that is concerning the inspector of constabulary, one would not want to require the police authority and the chief constable to spend more money on simply buying more motorbikes for the traffic department. It would seem to be appropriate that where an aspect of inefficiency is identified any additional funding is directed to it. Indeed, if I may put it this way, it would seem to be something of a restriction on the direction that the Secretary of State was giving rather than telling those concerned that they were to spend more money on policing.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I am grateful to the Minister for his thoughtful and constructive reply. Perhaps I may first say that I am quite aware that Derbyshire is not in Scotland. The noble and learned Lord's reply seemed to be addressed especially to Derbyshire. The difficulty that we have is not that the drafting of the amendment is perfect. In fact, the amendment puts into a different place the drafting to which I was objecting when proposing the amendment. The main difficulty is that there is no necessary relationship between the nature of the report of the inspector of constabulary and the remedies to be found in that respect. No one would object to the clause saying that if the inspector's report specified areas where certain action was required to be taken and that one of the reasons for a force failing to be efficient or effective was because of the lack of funding, and then went on to say that, where that is the case (and the police authority has not itself taken. steps to remedy the lack of funding or the specific failure), the power should apply.

We object— and I believe the same applies to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, and the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun— to the power which is given to the Secretary of State in response to a very general description of what the inspector of constabulary might say and which gives the Secretary of State power not only to specify what should be done but also how much should be spent on. it.

I understand that the Minister does not intend that where there is a fault in the CID, more money should be made available for motorbikes in the traffic department. However, it is possible that that might be a Secretary of State's reaction under the provisions of the clause as now drafted. The Minister said that he would think again about the exact wording. If he does so, I suggest that he should not Fay too much attention to the wording of our amendment, which does not really meet the point. What is required is a more specific statement of the circumstances in a report of the inspector of constabulary which gives rise to the powers sought for the Secretary of State. On the basis of the Minister's reply and of that gloss on his reply, if I may describe it as such, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.130D not moved]

Clause 49 agreed to.

Clause 50 [Appeals against dismissal etc.]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.130E. Page 24, line 43, leave out ("member of a police force") and insert ("constable").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No.129F, I spoke also to the above amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham moved Amendment No.131: Page 24, line 44, leave out ("required to resign by") and insert ("dealt with in any of the other ways mentioned in paragraph (a) of section 26(2A) of this Act as a result of').

The noble Earl said: In moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment Nos.132 and 133. The Government are proposing that only a "member of the police force who is dismissed or required to resign"

can appeal to the police appeals tribunal. As the clause stands, that would be grossly unfair. Police officers are entitled to natural justice, not simply to appeal against dismissal or a requirement to resign, but also in relation to any disciplinary punishment. That would enable appropriate appeal against a miscarriage of justice.

In civil and criminal cases, right of appeal against sentence is a cornerstone of the judicial system. The proposed amendment would ensure that that extends to police officers. Members of the Committee have just heard in considerable detail the debate as regards Clause 32, the debate caused by Amendment No.128 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and are aware of the resulting decision that expressed the opinion of the Committee. In view of the fact that such matters overlap quite considerably and significantly, we trust that the Government will take into account the decision taken earlier today in the Chamber. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

If I understand the amendment that is tabled and the context within which it is advanced, it should be appreciated that we are speaking about the provision in Scotland rather than the provision which—

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I did not wish to interrupt the noble and learned Lord so early in his reply, but he was arguing earlier about the desirability of maintaining the same situation in Scotland as in England. The Committee has now made a decision as regards the situation in England. It would be extremely difficult to suggest that the situation in Scot land should now be wholly different. Surely the noble and learned Lord will recognise the strength of that argument.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I recognise the argument that the noble Lord has advanced but the particular provision on which the Government were defeated earlier today was in respect of a set of statutory provisions which, as I understand it, apply only to England and Wales. If I am wrong in that, I will happily withdraw what I have said and reconsider the matter. What I understood this amendment to state was that there should be an extension of the right of appeal to appeals tribunals to include not only those circumstances where officers have been dismissed or required to resign, but also where they have been reduced in rank, had their pay reduced, or been fined, reprimanded or cautioned. My understanding is that this particular amendment goes much further than the amendments that were considered earlier today. Again if I am wrong on that I shall be happy to retreat from that assertion.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I wish to pursue the point made by the noble and learned Lord. Is he suggesting that if an amendment was put down on Report in terms wholly consistent with the decision which was taken on England and Wales, the Government would accept it? If that is the position, I am sure that we would be happy to accept it.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Which earlier amendment is the noble Lord referring to?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I was referring to the debate which took place earlier. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord had the good fortune to be present while we were discussing this, but we went over precisely this ground at some substantial length. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will look at the point following this debate. I do not wish to try to take advantage of him at the moment. If he is prepared to look at the matter between now and Report, I think that he will meet the view of the Committee.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I think that we might depart from it because as I understand it this particular amendment goes significantly further than the one that was previously examined. In those circumstances it would seem to me that we are in danger of getting ourselves in a position of some confusion because one cannot read directly across from those earlier amendments.

Viscount Whitelaw

If there is any doubt about the matter I think it is important that we should look at it again on Report, as a major issue was discussed this afternoon and an important Division was held. If the situation in Scotland were to be different from that in England in this respect, an embarrassing and difficult situation could develop. I believe that the fairest way to deal with this matter is to consider it further and return to it again on Report.

Lord Morton of Shuna

I join with the noble Viscount in that request because it seems to me that there is an obvious difference in the Vote that the Government appear to have lost as regards representa-tion on disciplinary proceedings and being charged with a disciplinary offence after being acquitted of a criminal offence. That is obviously different from the matter covered by these particular amendments. However, the thought that lies behind them of securing natural justice links them together quite decidedly. One can see that someone who is reduced in rank, for example from inspector to constable, has suffered a severe loss. If he is not allowed to appeal, he may suffer a considerable loss without having any recourse to natural justice. The general principle of the matter would suggest that it should be looked at carefully. I hope that the Government will do so.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I have a strong suspicion that we have in this brief debate been talking rather at cross purposes. I suspect that we shall not resolve that situation tonight. On that basis I shall certainly offer to return to the matter at a later stage.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

One does not want to pursue the matter at any length, but a measure of disparity between the position in Scotland and the position in England is to be expected and would be acceptable. I am talking about a measure of disparity.

Lord Tordoff

I am sure that my noble friend is not anxious to push his luck too far, but nevertheless I believe that there is a significant overlap between the amendments that he has proposed and the one that we carried earlier today. If the noble and learned Lord will accept that there is an overlap and if he is prepared to look at that, I am sure that my noble friend will be willing to withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham

In view of what has been said I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.132 and 133 not moved.] Clause 50, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Schedule to be inserted in Police (Scotland) Act 1967: appeals tribunals]:

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham moved Amendment No.134: Page 69, line 22, leave out ("member of the authority") and insert ("person chosen from a list maintained by the Secretary of State of persons who have within the last five years retired from a police force, and, in the case of an appellant who is a member of a body or association which is representative of the interests of police officers, shall be a former member of that body or association.").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No.134 I wish to speak also to Amendment No.135. These amendments would ensure that a police appeals tribunal dealing with an appeal from an officer below the rank of assistant chief constable would have one member who at the time of the trial was in the same staff association as the appellant officer. As the schedule stands, the tribunal would comprise a judge, a member of a police authority and a chief constable or retired chief constable. The staff associations do not see any merit in having a member of a police authority on an appeals tribunal for junior officers. It would be more appropriate to have a retired officer who belonged to the same association as the appellant, as that person would have a better understanding of the unique position of police officers while remaining sufficiently independent. A member of a police authority would rightly be on an appeals tribunal dealing with an appeal from a chief officer. Such officers are appointed by the police authority and therefore are representative of its interests. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

Does this marry with Schedule 3 in Part I?

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham

I believe it is Schedule 6.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

These amendments are there to alter the constitution of the police appeals tribunal for constables who are not senior officers. As I understand the changes which are proposed, they would substitute the police authority representative with a retired police officer from the same police association as the appellant. They would limit the senior officer representation to retired individuals and widen it to include chief officers rather than simply chief constables.

I do not feel that the amendments can be accepted. Our proposal is that one member of the tribunal should be a representative of the police authority. We believe that that is appropriate given that what is at issue is whether the appellant is fit to be a police officer and given that it is a police officer who is responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of that force. In addition, that representative would be an informed member of the public which that force serves. I believe that there is a role for a police association representative, but that would be at a much earlier stage in the disciplinary proceedings. For example, such a representative might accompany an officer who is invited to appear before the new-style misconduct hearing.

The further proposal to restrict the senior officer member to someone who is retired is unnecessarily prescriptive. Nor would I be in favour of the proposal to widen the membership from chief constables alone to chief officers. It is likely to be the decision of a chief constable which is being appealed against. Therefore, in the ordinary way one would expect the members of an appellate tribunal to be of at least an equal standing if there is to be an effective challenge to that decision. Thus there is the proposed inclusion of a chief constable as a third member of the tribunal.

I accept that while the amendments are grouped together they are not entirely without reference to earlier amendments that we have discussed. It may be that if we are to come to a view on this matter we need to know exactly what the tribunal will do. However, I give this explanation to the Committee on the basis that the matters which might be referred to the tribunal will remain the same. If they do not remain the same it must at least be open to discussion that some amendment is desirable.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I am grateful for what the noble and learned Lord said. That is a sensible way of proceeding.

I am not clear about one point of fact. I know the position so far as concerns England and Wales. In England and Wales at present a representative of a staff association is involved. It is suggested that that right should be withdrawn. I have already indicated that I am extremely uneasy about that approach because, in the case of an industrial tribunal, which is an analogous body, there is an employee's representative. Once again I am worried about withdrawing the right of the staff associations in the context of the situation which we are discussing. People have to have confidence in the system. As I indicated earlier, a substantial number of people make complaints against the police and against individual police officers as part of a preparation for a defence at their trial. Therefore, it is particularly important that the police service generally regards the disciplinary arrangements as satisfactory, fair and reasonable.

I am not concerned about the point relating to the chief officer. I accept what the noble and learned Lord said on that issue. However, the omission of the staff association representative worries me. It would worry me even more if the situation in Scotland were the same as it is in England; namely, that at present the staff associations have a right to representation. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord can answer that particular point because I am not clear about the facts.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

There are rights for police associations to be involved. I come back to the point that I sought to make. If the only issue to be determined by the tribunal is whether the individual is someone who ought to continue to be a member of a police force, I would argue vigorously that the type of tribunal that we have proposed should be established is the right one. However, if we revert to the previous arguments it could be suggested that if those proposals were to be accepted that would make the tribunal look more like an industrial tribunal. In that case there is a precedent to consider. I do not say that I accept that such changes should be made, but it seems to me that the correct order in which to consider these matters is, first, to decide what issues ought to be put to the tribunal.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I welcome the noble and learned Lord's confirmation that the situation in Scotland is as it is in England and that at present the staff associations have a representative on the tribunal. That is a situation which is analogous to an industrial tribunal. I welcome the fact that the noble and learned Lord is prepared to consider this general series of issues.

I do not wish to repeat the point remorselessly, but I believe that there is an important consideration which has to be borne in mind. I refer to the morale of the police service at a time when police officers are regularly subject to complaints about their conduct, many wholly unjustified, by sophisticated criminals who are anxious to throw dust into the eves of the authorities.

Subject to what the noble and learned Lord said, I would not urge my noble friend to press the amendment because the Minister has dealt with the situation.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

There is one matter of fact on which I must not mislead the noble Lord, intentionally or otherwise. We do not have the equivalent of an appeals tribunal in Scotland at present. Therefore, there is no representation of any police association member. Although it may not have been clear, I hope that I indicated that at earlier stages of the disciplinary proceedings concerning a police officer at present there is the opportunity for police association representatives to become involved.

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham

In view of the Minister's response, which I found extremely encouraging, I shall seek leave to withdraw the amendment. However, I still have certain reservations and may wish to return to the matter at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.135 not moved.]

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clause 51 [Expenditure in safeguarding national security]:

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved amendment No.135A: Page 25, line 29, at end insert ("with diplomatic protection and with major public events.").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment is analogous with an amendment moved earlier in relation to England and Wales. As it stands at present the clause does not cover visits by members of the Royal Family or, as we said in relation to England and Wales, party conferences, although it is not likely that either of the major parties is likely suddenly to hold its conference in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Lord Tordoff

I am obliged to the noble Baroness for giving way. Will she accept that there are more than two major parties in this country and that it is very likely that one of them will be holding a major conference in Scotland because we are a federal party?

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

I am very grateful for that information because it lends power to my elbow. There is a problem for police forces in that such expenditure tends to be lumpy and not something that can be predicted in advance when setting budgets. One cannot tell what there may be in the way of royal visits or party conferences of the major parties. Therefore that creates considerable budgeting difficulties. Although post hoc grants are sometimes made by the Home Office to help if security is heightened for various reasons in relation to particular people, forces are lucky to receive a partial monetary grant. It is not usually promised in advance. It does not help with the budgeting. The capacity of a force is stretched to its limit when it has to work overtime, thus neglecting the many other tasks which police officers should be doing and has to borrow police officers from neighbouring forces, and so on.

The addition to the clause is intended to cover the personal protection of people of national and international significance. The amendment does not refer only to members of the Royal Family and politicians of this country, but also to visitors from some of the more difficult parts of the world who require additional security protection. Thus, additional costs may be caused. There is a belief that the clause might be more widely drawn to cover such instances. I beg to move.

Lord Morton of Shuna

I shall be impartial and criticise both the amendment and the Bill as drafted. I do not understand the aim of the amendment. Without wishing to go into party conferences or events of that nature, I should like to know whether the Bill as drafted or as amended by this provision would cover four specific instances which have occurred in Scotland. I refer first to Lockerbie. Would the provision cover the Lockerbie expense? If the event had occurred without the aeroplane having taken off from London— if it had taken off from Frankfurt, for instance, and had come down over Scotland— would the considerable expense incurred be covered by the amendment? Some years ago, a NATO conference took place at the Turnberry Hotel. Is that expense covered? Although not in historical order, about a year ago a European summit was held in Edinburgh. Is the considerable police expense involved for such an event covered? Going back some years, a Prime Minister who was not entirely popular with all members of the Commonwealth attended the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Considerable expense was incurred in protecting her from any disturbance. Are those matters covered in the Bill or by the amendment? If not, what does the amendment or the Bill aim to do?

Lord Campbell of Alloway

We are concerned with what is a permissive, discretionary power. There is absolutely no mandatory obligation on the Secretary of State to make grants. All that is sought is an extension of that power to cover the burden on the police, in particular, according to the information the police associations gave me, at Balmoral and Edinburgh. There the funding situation is such that if the discretionary power of the Secretary of State cannot be enlarged the police duties have to be funded from the existing budget. That is done, and increasingly will be done, at the expense of community policing.

I take the noble and learned Lord's point about whether, within the words proposed, this or that might not be included. At this hour of night I do not wish to pursue an answer to the question. I ask only that the provision be taken back and the principle accepted that there should be some extension of the discretionary power to assist the police to meet the situations arising, to some of which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna referred.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

The Minister has listened to the examples given by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. They were examples which the police gave us at the meeting with the Scottish Peers Association. He will have listened also to the examples given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna. Can he give specific information of how the system works at present? The Scottish Conservative Party conference will take place in Inverness in May. I mention that to the noble Baroness on the Labour Front Bench. All or most of the Members of the Cabinet will attend. The Prime Minister will attend, if the conference is anything like the normal Scottish Conservative Party Conference. The Highland Region presumably will have a comparatively low police budget. It incurs comparatively few duties in regard to the protection of people of national and international importance visiting the area. Will the Highland Region receive help with that expense, because the conference is a one-off event? The conference has not been held at Inverness for many years and probably will not be held there again for a long time. It is a one-off event and no doubt will be quite expensive for the area. Can my noble and learned friend tell the Committee how matters are arranged at present?

Lord Merlyn-Rees

I rise on the same basis: what is good enough for England should be good enough for Scotland. I am working the other way round. I shall be interested to know what happens in England. There is some force to the point that these days a larger number of police is required for conferences and other events. I wonder whether the wording of the amendment is right."Diplomatic protection" means a great deal in London but it does not mean a great deal in the provinces. However, it involves a great deal of expense in London with a large number of police involved. A number of Cabinet Ministers and ex-Cabinet Ministers receive protection in London. I believe that in London they are protected by the diplomatic protection group. The moment that those people move out of London they are protected by another arm of the police.

The words,"diplomatic protection" are wrong. I approve of the idea behind the amendment, and I should be interested to learn whether that extra money will be provided for the Conservative Party Conference in Inverness. However, I am not sure that the words are right.

Regarding visits of the Royal Family, quite properly, to different parts of the country (but not referring to Scotland), the other day in South Wales the police had run out of or expended all their money for the year, and they were worried about their ability to spend money on protecting some of the Royals who were to visit South Wales. That makes me wonder whether enough money is provided these days for the greatly increased protection required for some Cabinet Ministers and the Royal Family when they visit different parts of the country. But this wording may not be appropriate.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

This argument has gone on for many years. The noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, will, I am sure, remember from his period as Home Secretary that many police authorities feel very cross when, for example, a major terrorist trial has to be held in their police force area because the judicial authorities take the view that that is where the trial should take place. It has major cost implications for the local police force.

I recognise that it is a difficult problem, both for the Scottish Office and for the Home Office. One cannot possibly agree to every application by every police force, irrespective of the merits of the argument, otherwise there would be open-ended public expenditure. That would be quite unacceptable to other departments.

On the other hand, however, one has to accept certain matters. The noble Baroness mentioned the Conservative Party Conference in Inverness, which was a good example; the police force there covers a large area with relatively limited resources. The conference must inevitably be regarded as a major or potential terrorist target and therefore the level of policing must be substantial. That being so, it is reasonable to ask whether special arrangements are made to take account of the situation.

That brings me to the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord. Morton of Shuna. I assume that when the European Council met in Edinburgh, special arrangements were made, otherwise the implications for the Lothian and Borders police would have been quite intolerable. How is the dividing line drawn on that? It would be helpful if the noble and learned Lord could assist us on the matter.

Lady Saltoutn of Abernethy

I wish to add to what has been said. At the meeting the Scottish Peers Association had with the chiefs of police staff associations last week, it was made quite clear to us that as regards the problems of security in Scotland at Balmoral, Holyrood and so on, the police were perfectly happy and had no problem. It was something that they knew would happen and they budgeted for it when they worked out their budgets. However, what they were worried about was that at some stage pressure might be put on them to reduce the amount that they spent. There was also the problem that sometimes the unexpected occurred, something cropped up at short notice for which they had not been able to budget and they might be in difficulty over it. I wish to make it clear that they were not complaining about the status quo; they merely wanted the power in case of problems in the future.

Lord Renton

In my opinion, the expression "safeguarding national security" is too narrow a term to cover the various matters about which Members of the Committee have expressed their doubts. It is a matter of drafting. With the phrase "safeguarding national security","safeguarding" means prevention. It does not mean taking action after there has been a breach of national security. So to that extent, the phrase "safeguarding national security" is too narrow.

National security makes me think of the risk of intervention from outside the country of terrorism within the country. But here we are quite rightly invited to consider diplomatic protection and major public events; the protection of the Royal Family has also been mentioned. We must be rather careful because if we start with a general phrase and then mention particular matters, the rule of interpretation is that if we express one thing, we are deemed to exclude another and that rule comes into operation so that we narrow the concept with which we started.

I suggest that the Minister should agree to take the matter away for the drafting to be considered and come back with something much broader. It could even be something as broad as "as the public interest requires". That would cover everything.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

As this interesting debate has developed, I cannot help reflecting that by the indirect route of providing funding from the centre, I am indirectly being asked to assume a responsibility on a national basis for policing which I had hitherto understood, as discussion of this Bill had progressed, to be complete anathema to all those who were participating in it. There would seem to be a more powerful argument; namely, that far from extending the particular provision of this clause, the most appropriate and the most consistent approach that I could take would be to suggest withdrawal of the particular provision allowing for special grants in relation to national security.

However, before I do that, I suggest that those who have discussed this matter with the chief constables of Scotland might like to go back to them on this. I cannot believe that they would wish to have taken from them that particular grant, even in this restricted area of national security.

I understand why my noble friend Lord Renton should look carefully at what might be contained within "safeguarding national security". I hope that my noble friend will appreciate that I certainly do not intend to examine or expand upon what I envisage might be covered within that particular definition. There are very sensitive matters which require particular policing activity. It would not be helpful in the national interest to elaborate upon that.

The general rule in Scotland is that the police authority funding is provided under what is Section 32 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967. The particular purpose of this new Section 32A is, as I said, to allow grant to be given for particular police operations against threats to national security. In our view, it is only right that if exceptions are to be made to the way in which police authorities are funded in Scotland, those exceptions should be kept to the minimum. The provision mirrors our experience that, in practice, funding special provision is required in very few cases.

The noble Lord, Lord Morton, mentioned one particular case in the recent history of Scotland which was so desperate and so exceptional that clearly 100 per cent. funding was required; namely, the Lockerbie disaster. It would have been quite beyond the smallest police force in the United Kingdom to have taken on board the massive task and the massive international investigation that followed from that tragedy. But those highly exceptional circumstances are, we trust, few and far between. A number of the other instances that were given are predictable in advance and are accommodated for already in the arrangements that are made for payments to particular police authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, made reference to the Edinburgh Summit. It was known well over a year in advance that the summit would be taking place in Edinburgh. Particular provision is made in such circumstances and will continue to be made in such circumstances under Section 32. That would also be the case in the circumstances of a party conference, be it a national one or an exclusively Scottish one, taking place in any particular police authority in Scotland.

I have for sound, principled reasons some real worry about central government taking on a wide range of policing funding. As I indicated in opening, it opens up a number of arguments which I had considered Members of the Committee wished to repel as vigorously as they could.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

Providing money for particular events is very different from running things from the centre. I take on board the observations of several noble Lords that these amendments might be better drafted, or might be more precise in their intent. We may well come back at Report stage with something that is more clearly pointed. I am grateful for the Minister's detailed response to this particular amendment. I think that we should like to consider it again at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 51 agreed to.

Clauses 52 and 53 agreed to.

Clause 54 [Common Services]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No.135B: Page 26, line 9, leave out from beginning to ("may") in line 11 and insert ("The Secretary of State").

The noble Lord said: We are dealing with Amendments Nos.135B to E. I am pleased to see that the Minister has put down Amendment No.135C which carries the spirit of the amendments that I propose. The Secretary of State is seeking wider powers to provide and maintain the common police services. There is no objection to that suggestion, but there has been a strong argument from the Scottish Police Federation that all police associations and police authorities should be consulted in advance. The clause inadvertently omits the Scottish Police Federation from the consultation process and the amendment restores its position in accordance with the current arrangements under the 1967 Act. I hope that the Minister, having gone as far as he has with Amendment No.135C, will be able to give us some good news on the other amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I would be minded to accept not only Amendment No.135B but also Amendments Nos.135D and E. Amendment No.135C is in a separate grouping. I am not sure whether noble Lords were advised that if I were to accept those three I could not move my amendment. If that is the case, I suggest that the noble Lord withdraws his amendment and I shall not move mine, thus ensuring that the four amendments, three of his and one of mine, are comprehensively drawn together and there is no contradiction in the proposals.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

That is a very good solution. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.135C,135D and 135E not moved.] Clause 54 agreed to.

Clause 55 [Examination of handling of complaints against constables]:

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham moved Amendment No.136: Page 26, line 46, at end insert ("if they are satisfied that the member of the public has shown good cause for the examination").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No.136 I should like to state that I have no problem with Clause 55. The only reason for moving the amendment is to try to eliminate the considerable possibility of specious requests being made which would result in a great waste of everyone's time.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

The noble Lord seeks to restrict the inspectors' examination to those cases where the member of the public has shown good cause for examination. While it is in nobody's interests that useless, frivolous and, mischievous claims and complaints should be pursued, I find it difficult to see how the inspectors would determine whether an approach from a member of the public had good grounds without first undertaking some form of assessment, however cursory.

In any case, the clause as drafted intends that there should be a residual discretion for the inspector to take no further steps where an approach from a member of the public is clearly unreasonable, frivolous, or malicious. But the whole point of the clause is to provide members of the public with access to an additional element of independent scrutiny. To be effective, that right of access must be unconditional. Further, the amendment would prevent the inspector from considering a complaint where further investigation had uncovered additional information not evident in the initial approach.

I am anxious— and I am sure that the police are anxious— to show that the police in Scotland have nothing to hide and that complaints made by members of the public are handled thoroughly and professionally. I would be concerned if the public were, unintention-ally, by the amendment, led to another conclusion. On that basis, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Renton

Before the noble Lord, Lord Harris, intervenes further perhaps I can point out to my noble and learned friend that up to now inspectors of constabulary have been constitutionally independent in all matters. Their sole duty is to advise the Secretary of State. So far they have not been given any powers of direction and here, for the first time, they are being given a power to direct a chief constable to reconsider a complaint. I find that rather strange. I wonder whether the inspectors of constabulary were consulted on the matter and accept that change in their constitutional position.

We should be alert to the fact that a fundamental change is being made. It may be said that it is of a relatively minor character and will not happen very often; that they do not have the last word, they can merely direct the chief constable. But it is a major constitutional change and I hope that my noble and learned friend will consider carefully whether it is a necessary change.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Scotland of course does not have the sort of police complaints machinery that is in existence in England and Wales, and we must accept that at the outset. I also accept that the Minister probably finds a difficulty in deciding how to deal with a dissatisfied complainant. I suspect that that is the reason for the amendment.

What worries me, first, is the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. One is here giving an inspector of constabulary a power which has not been present in the Scottish police service at any time; nor is it a power possessed by any inspector of constabulary in England and Wales. It is a unique power and would change the position of inspectors of constabulary— who are the Secretary of State's senior professional advisers— to a substantial extent. That causes me some anxiety.

Secondly, the position of the officer against whom the complaint is being made also causes me some concern. As I understand it— and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, will correct me if I am wrong— this matter will come to the attention of the inspector of constabulary after the chief constable has made a disposition of the case that the complainant feels has not been properly investigated by the police force concerned. Therefore, I assume that the officer involved will have been told that the matter is at an end. Then suddenly a member of the public may persuade an inspector of constabulary to reopen the question and there is a power of direction on the chief constable to do


We went through double jeopardy earlier so far as concerns the part of the Bill relating to England and Wales. I am bound to say that this sounds to me a little like double jeopardy. Will an officer who has been told that a complaint has not been made and that therefore he can clear the matter from his mind suddenly find that the matter will be reopened as the result of a direction from an inspector of constabulary? Not knowing the Scottish police disciplinary arrangements as well as I do those of England and Wales, that causes me some disquiet. I hope very much that the noble and learned Lord will be able to put my mind at rest.

9.30 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

I see the problem that the noble Lord has outlined but at the same time I think that the Committee must appreciate and bear in mind all the time that this issue really does concern the public. If they get a feeling that something has been hushed up and that the chief constable has not conducted a proper examination of the complaint they will want to know that someone will insist that it is looked at. My feeling on the line the Committee has been taking in general about that which the elected Secretary of State can do is that the Committee will not want the Secretary of State to give this direction. Someone has to give it: so it may be that we have to put something extra and different on the inspector. I am not sure how it should work. I do not know the detail of the internal workings of the police. The Scottish police organisations expressed this anxiety but I did not feel that they full appreciated the concern in the public's mind. I have discussed the matter with a number of people I happen to have bumped into in the street because I feel that public feeling is important. They want a provision that makes it possible to insist that the matter is looked at again.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for what she has just said. We should have careful regard in discussing this matter for the concerns of the public. They should be reassured that, should they have a basis for a complaint, that complaint will be thoroughly and independently examined.

I have two points to make which may be helpful. First, we do not have in Scotland a Police Complaints Authority, as is the position south of the Border. I do not believe that our position in Scotland is any the worse for that. We have a long tradition of the independent investigation of complaints against the police by the procurator fiscal and such complaints are in a significant number of cases passed all the way up to one of the Scottish Law Officers for final decision. So far as concerns complaints of a criminal character against police officers in Scotland, our system, if not always free from difficulty, is nevertheless sound.

Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that I am not sure what the position is in England. But in terms of Section 40 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, a duty is already imposed on inspectors of constabulary to keep themselves informed as to the manner in which complaints made by members of the public against constables are dealt with by the chief constable. I accept that the power does not confer on inspectors of constabulary the right to re-direct or direct a chief constable to re-open the examination of any particular case but I question the emphasis placed by the noble Lord on a wholly new constitutional innovation. The inspectors are already involved.

We are seeking to address what I consider to be a small number of cases where the complaint against the police officer is not one of criminal conduct. It may just be downright rudeness to a member of the public, obstructiveness or the like.

Nevertheless, those are matters which ought to be addressed in the broad public interest because they can do huge damage to good relations between the public and the police. As my noble friend Lady Carnegy indicated, if the public are to be reassured that their complaints are properly examined, it seems appropriate that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary should be involved.

A further point about which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and others are concerned is that if there has already been a criminal investigation— there may even have been a trial — that should not be re-opened. I invite the noble Lord to reflect on what is provided for in Clause 55(2) (a) and (b). The subsection indicates the restriction on the circumstances in which such a direction can be given. The way in which that is set out may seem slightly obscure; nevertheless there is a very real restriction on the re-opening of such matters.

While the inspector of constabulary may direct the chief constable to reconsider the complaint, obviously the reconsideration is by the chief constable himself. The inspector of constabulary is not usurping his essential function in that regard. With that rather fuller explanation I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment. It is an important point, and there are significant differences in relation to Scotland. I hope that I have explained them.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Perhaps I may say one or two words more before the brief debate comes to an end. Without going into the detail of the history of the matter, the fact is that during the period of the Labour government between 1974 and 1979, the Home Office introduced a police complaints Bill for England and Wales. Putting the matter as delicately as possible, there was a continuing argument about what should be done as regards Scotland and whether it should follow the position in England and Wales concerning an independent police complaints board or authority.

I agree entirely with what the noble Baroness said. It is right that the public should be reassured that there is no misconduct by police officers and that investigations are properly carried out. That is why we introduced the first police complaints Bill and why the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, went further and introduced legislation which led to the creation of the Police Complaints Authority. That was because it was felt necessary to reassure the public that matters were being properly considered.

The question which worries me is whether the arrival on the scene of the inspector of constabulary will necessarily have the consequences which the noble Baroness believes. I hope that it will. There is a common interest in ensuring that public anxiety is stilled. But I am slightly dubious as to whether that will necessarily work. If the matter is to be proceeded with, let us hope that it does.

I wish to put one matter to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, who has very helpfully answered the other points I made. I am slightly worried about the double jeopardy position as far as the individual officer is concerned. Here is a situation where there is an investigation, the officer is interviewed, and the deputy chief constable comes to the conclusion that it is not appropriate to take disciplinary action. The officer is so informed. The noble and learned Lord will know from his experience as Lord Advocate that the anxiety of the officer concerned is very substantial while the inquiry is taking place. As he rightly said, the matter could lead to a criminal prosecution in the final analysis or disciplinary action before the chief constable, possibly leading to the officer's dismissal in a serious case.

So the process is followed through. The officer is told that no disciplinary action is going to be taken against him. Then, a month or two later, a direction arrives from an inspector of constabulary that the chief officer must look again at the question. That seems pretty close to double jeopardy. It certainly imposes a considerable burden of anxiety on the officer concerned. I hope that noble Lords will reflect upon that.

To summarise my position, I wholly agree that there must be rigorous investigations when allegations of impropriety are made against police officers, be they of criminal conduct or, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, said, of incivility to a member of the public. The question that we must decide is the machinery that can deal with that situation. It is on that matter that I should be grateful for the noble and learned Lord's assistance by answering my points.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Perhaps I may invite the noble Lord to look again at what is provided, particularly in terms of the exceptions which would exclude the right of the inspector of constabulary to make such a direction. In the main, the first exception would exclude the problem that the noble Lord has set up. The noble Lord may describe this as "double jeopardy", but I think that it is open to question whether the protection of that principle (which I think is too widely stated) should be afforded.

Perhaps I may give just one example. It is common for the Procurator Fiscal to receive a report from the police when investigating a complaint that has been made by a member of the public. He may look at the complaint and determine that, however valid it may be, it nevertheless has no criminal content. He then sends the matter back to the police marking it "No proceedings". In the past, some police forces have regarded that as allowing them to look no further despite the fact that there might have been an outrageous incident of incivility. I have no doubt that that ought to be re-examined and it may be re-examined following a direction from the inspector of constabulary. However, I should add that there are some who would regard even that circumstance as being contained within the principle of double jeopardy.

The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham

I share the concerns that have been expressed this evening on this important matter. I tabled the amendment at the request of all three Scottish staff police associations. They felt that it was a constructive and helpful amendment which would or could result in a great deal of time being saved. I think that the police would be the first to say that any complaint that is brought against them must be seen by the public to have been dealt with fairly and straightforwardly. Having said that, although

I reserve the right to return to this matter at a later stage,

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.137 to 139 not moved.]

Lord Fraser or Carmyllie moved Amendment No.139A: Page 27, line 11, after ("been") insert (", or is,").

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a technical amendment that is required to ensure clarity and understanding of the clause. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos.140 to 142 not moved.]

Clause 55, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 56 [Transmission of criminal statistics]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No.142A: Page 27, line 33, leave out ("order") and insert ("direction").

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a technical amendment required to correct a point overlooked during the original drafting stage. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 56, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 57 and 58 agreed to.

Clause 59 [Regulations for administration, etc. of Royal Ulster Constabulary]:

[Amendment No.143 not moved.]

Clause 59 agreed to.

Clause 60 agreed to.

Clause 61 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No.143A: Page 29, line 41, at end insert: ("() after subsection (1) there shall be inserted—

  1. "(IA) The following regulations shall not be made without the concurrence of the Treasury, namely—
    1. (a) regulations under section 10 for regulating pensions;
    2. (b) regulations under section 25 providing for any of the matters specified in subsection (2) (k) of that section;
    3. (c) regulations under section 26 providing for the matter specified in subsection (2) (f) of that section."; ").

The noble Earl said: This is a technical amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 61, as amended, agreed to.

Baroness Trumpington

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.