§ 3.5 p.m.
§ Report received.
§ Schedule 1 [Schedule to be inserted in Police Act 1964: police areas]:
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Arnendment No. 1
Page 49, line 23, at end insert:
("British Transport Police The British Transport Police").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I return to an issue which I referred to on the first day of the Committee stage of the Bill. Precisely a month ago, on 15th February, I pointed out that a serious error had been made in the drafting of the Railways Act. As a result, quite inadvertently, the British Transport Police will have their powers as constables removed from 1st April this year when following alleged offenders to their homes, interviewing them and, when appropriate, arresting them. They will only be able to pursue an offender or a suspect if they still regard themselves as being, in the language of the Act,
In the vicinity of Railtrack property".
What does that mean? Does it mean 100 yards, a quarter of a mile, half a mile, or what? The result will be almost a stream of endless litigation. The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, told us during the debate that the British Transport Police will have jurisdiction when it comes to an offence committed on the property of Railtrack. The noble Earl added:
We are aware that there may be some doubt now as to the precise extent of the powers which the British Transport Police may have beyond Railtrack property".—[Official Report. 15/2/94; col. 103.]
Thirteen days later, on 28th February, the Minister for Public Transport, Mr. Freeman, wrote to me and went further than the noble Earl. He said:
I can assure you that we shall take the earliest possible legislative opportunity to correct the position. In the meantime we are urgently considering with British Railways and the British Transport Police the extent of the problem and how to address. it until we can change the legislation".
The House will want to note those words. It is accepted by the Government that the legislation will have to he changed. Subsequently, I met Mr. Freeman and a number of his officials. I believe all of us accepted that amending legislation is necessary. The problem is now urgent because, as I indicated, the transport police will lose many of their existing powers on 1st April.
The purpose of my amendment is to give the Government the opportunity of telling us what action 105 they propose to take to deal with the situation. There are three choices. I believe that that is common ground. The first is to amend the Bill; the second is to amend the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill which is in the other place at the moment; and the third is to introduce a one-clause Bill to amend the Railways Act. The problem with the first two choices is that neither the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill nor the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill is likely to reach the statute book until July this year. That would result in the work of the transport police being gravely jeopardised for at least four months.
Thus the solution appears to be a one-clause Bill, introduced at once in this House or the other place. The Opposition in both Houses would inevitably have to agree to that course of action. Speaking for my noble friends alone —I cannot and could not commit anyone else—I have told Mr. Freeman that I would urge my colleagues to accept that procedure and endeavour to get the Bill on the statute book before Easter, if at all possible. I should be grateful if the noble Earl can tell us what action the Government propose to take. I hope that he will say that they are prepared to introduce such a one-clause Bill. The consequences of a failure to introduce such a Bill are obvious.
As I said on 15th February, 23 police forces in this country are smaller than the British Transport Police. Last year, excluding the London Underground, the BTP had to investigate over 1,200 offences of violence; nearly 400 sexual offences; over 900 robberies; over 3,000 burglaries; over 2,800 cases of fraud; and 37,000 cases of theft. As I said, from 1st April, unless offenders are caught virtually red-handed, most of the work will have to be carried out by the rest of our severely over-stretched police forces. That would be wholly unacceptable.
I assume that the Association of Chief Police Officers has already been informed of the situation. Perhaps the noble Earl will confirm that. This is a profoundly serious matter. I hope very much that the noble Earl will be able to meet us on the basis that I have outlined. I beg to move.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, drew attention to this matter in Committee and I was most grateful to him for that. As he knows, I said then that we would consider the matter and enter into consultations about how best to get round the problem. I can tell him that we have been concerned. I agree that the word "vicinity" is difficult to define and that there is some curtailment of the powers of the British Transport Police. In recognition of that, it is the Government's intention to bring forward a one-clause Bill at the earliest possible moment in order to clarify the jurisdiction of the BTP. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for saying that he will help to expedite that Bill when it comes to your Lordships' House.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Earl has met my point completely. I am grateful to him for that. It will give great reassurance to both the British Transport Police and the rest of the police service.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, before the noble Lord seeks to withdraw his amendment, perhaps I should say on behalf of the Opposition that we, too, will give our full co-operation to ensuring the rapid passage of such a one-clause Bill. We add our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for raising the matter in the House.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for what he has just said. This is a matter of considerable importance. I am very glad that the noble Earl has been able to meet us entirely on this point. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Clause 2 [Police forces and police authorities]:
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 2, leave out lines 17 to 42.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 2, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 44, 72, 120, 214, 215 and 216. This large group of amendments deals with the size and composition of the police authorities. It may be for the convenience of the House if, at the same time, we consider also the amendments that stand in the name of my noble friend Lord Mottistone, which are Amendments Nos. 3 to 6, 10, 12, 17 and 18 because they all cover the same ground. Although the number of the Government's amendments—
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 are separately grouped and deal with a separate subject.
My Lords, I am sorry. I beg my noble friend's pardon. He is quite correct.
Although the number of the amendments that stand in the name of the Government is large, I hope that there is not a great deal to detain your Lordships for long because the main amendments reflect the proposals that I explained when we last considered these clauses on 1st March. The other amendments in the group are simply consequential.
Amendment No. 7 requires each police authority to consist of 17 members. It also provides a power for the Secretary of State by order to increase that number to a specified odd number greater than 17. As we have all agreed that police authorities should, in general, be smaller and sharper bodies, I do not anticipate that the Secretary of State will use the power very often. However, we have all accepted that there may be exceptional cases where a larger authority is necessary. The amendment does not put any limit on how large an authority may be, but I doubt very much whether there will be any cases in which a number substantially larger than 17 is needed.
Amendment No. 8 deals with the composition of an authority. In a 17-member authority, nine are to be 107 members of relevant councils, three will be magistrates and five will be independent members. We shall be considering shortly the procedure for the appointment of the independent members. In the case of an authority which is larger than 17 members, councillors will still be in a majority of one and the number of independent members will not exceed one-third of the total membership.
We have discussed at great length both inside and outside the Chamber what the proportion of councillors, independents and magistrates should be. I know that some noble Lords would have preferred to see a few more councillors while others would have liked more magistrates. However, at some point, we have to conclude the debate and reach a firm decision. I hope that, by introducing these amendments, I shall expedite that process. On 1st March, most noble Lords from all parties in the House indicated that they found that composition acceptable. I hope that that will be your Lordships' view today.
The other amendments in the group are consequential amendments to Schedule 2 and Clauses 9 and 23. As I hope that your Lordships will approve the substance of Amendments Nos. 7 and 8, the others will then follow. I beg to move.
§ The Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill)
My Lords, I should remind the House that if Amendment No. 2 is agreed to, I shall be unable to call Amendments Nos. 3 to 6.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6, which are the principal amendments, and to Amendments Nos. 10, 12, and 15, which are consequential upon them.
My noble friend says that he has gone a long way towards satisfying what we wanted. I agree and thank him very much for what he has done so far. However, I think it would be helpful if, before the Bill leaves Parliament—if not before it leaves your Lordships' House—my noble friend could think more deeply about how the provisions may work out. My first point is that we have an amendment before us that will provide one more councillor. I am not sure whether that will be enough because those who attend the meetings need to be those who will have some effect in carrying through the business being considered. I do not consider one extra councillor a sufficient enough precaution.
I have therefore approached the matter from a slightly different point of view. I suggest that three-fifths of the members should be councillors and that magistrates and independent members should each comprise one-fifth of the membership. I know that that will reduce the number of independent members to below that which my noble friend said was wanted in the first place, but I am not sure whether having a vast number of independent members will be as effective as might he thought. However, I propose to keep that argument until later.
What really concerns me is the position of the police authorities which cover the area of more than one local authority. If your Lordships would care to read Schedule I, you will find that a very large number of police authority areas comprise more than one local authority. 108 One of the problems that will arise from the numbers that my noble friend seeks is that there may not be enough members to satisfy several of the authorities that they are properly represented. There are two aspects. The first is the kind of police authority which covers the area of more than one local authority. The second is where the difference in number of local authorities covered is great. Schedule 1 shows that the police authorities in Greater Manchester and Northumbria cover a great number.
Another problem arises when one of the two local authorities is big and the other is small. That is the situation with regard to my county, the Isle of Wight and Hampshire. Out of 36 members of the police authority —and I agree that that is too many—six come from the Isle of Wight. As is the process, two-thirds are councillors and one-third are magistrates. It looks as though the reduced number will be 17 and therefore the Isle of Wight's contribution will be reduced to not more than three. That will be difficult if two of them are to be councillors, because they must be in the majority, and one is to be an independent, say, and one a magistrate.
For those reasons I hope that my noble friend w ill not consider that the situation is all wrapped up and that he does not have to think a little harder about what will happen in individual cases. Of course we note the powers of Amendment No. 7, which will allow the Secretary of State to increase the number of police authorities. However, in introducing the amendments, my noble friend said that he did not believe that those powers would be used very often. I suspect that examples such as the case of the two counties that I mentioned will not often arise. It is essential that they should if we are not to have amendments on the lines of my own.
I do not propose to push the amendments in any sense but I implore my noble friend to give further thought to the matter before the proposed legislation becomes law.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, the House will not wish me to repeat speeches that were made at previous stages when we considered this clause and this schedule. The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, is right in saying that the general feeling of the House was not only in favour of a majority for local authority members, which is now provided in the government amendment, but for a significant majority. A number of noble Lords on the Government Benches specifically stated that of the options available to them they preferred a two-thirds majority rather than the simple majority that the Government are now providing.
As regards the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, I take his point about the difficulty of having police authorities that are too small to represent the smaller local authorities. However, his amendment does not help; it still has a smaller police authority of 15 as compared with the Government's minimum on which there are only nine local authority members. That is the same number as the Government propose. His amendments and the Government amendments allow for larger authorities so in that sense the argument is not very powerful —
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, I was hoping that the size of our police authorities would go up to 20 or 25.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, so they could but the size of the Government's could increase in steps of two as well. It might be wise for that to happen in the case of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Greater Manchester and a number of other police authorities. I am making the point that in that respect there is no difference between the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, and the Government.
I prefer a larger majority for local authorities but the agreement was reached after a significant amount of negotiation. I do not propose to go back on it and, with regret, I believe it is right that we should support the amendments proposed by the Government.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, when the Government and Opposition Front Benches have agreed upon something there is little that any of us—even keen government supporters on the Back Benches—can do about it. However, I feel bound to place on record not only my agreement with my noble friend Lord Mottistone but my admiration for the careful, restrained and effective way in which he has put forward his point of view. However, let us count such blessings as there are and be thankful that the size of the police authority is to be 17 rather than 16, with the capability of enlargement. If Devon and Cornwall are to be one police authority it will have to be enlarged.
As I mentioned previously, my main reason for agreeing with my noble friend Lord Mottistone is that his proposal gives the weight that should be given on a police authority to the experience of magistrates. Since 1964 one-third of every police authority has consisted of magistrates. As a result of their experience of trying cases in court, they have seen the difficulties and sometimes the shortcomings of the police. They have learnt how in order to maintain law and order it is necessary to have a police authority which gets things right. I believe that for almost a quarter of a century magistrates have helped the police authorities to get things right.
But now we are to have only three magistrates on an authority. I had hoped that in the course of applying this complicated method of selection of the so-called "independent" members, the number of magistrates might be added to. However, under Amendment No. 26 that cannot be done. In new paragraph 8B(1) (b), which it is proposed to add to Schedule 2, one sees that among those,disqualified for being appointed as a member of a police authority under paragraph 3A of this Schedule".is,a magistrate eligible for appointment … under paragraph 5 of this Schedule".Therefore, the number of magistrates on the police authority cannot be increased.
That is most regrettable. I hope that my noble friend Lord Ferrers and the Home Secretary, who has the ultimate responsibility, will bear that in mind during further proceedings of the Bill. I hope that it will be rectified on Report, when I shall move an amendment to leave out—
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I mean on Third Reading. I am grateful to my noble and learned friend for his quick-witted correction. I hope that either on Third Reading in your Lordships' House or in another place that prohibition will be deleted.
I wish to add only one comment, if I dare; that is to quote the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, who is a former Home Secretary of great experience and is highly respected. He referred to the method of sending 20 names to the Home Office, receiving 10 names in return and then selecting five as "an elaborate farce". I must say that I cannot disagree with that description. He added:But I ask please not to produce any more legislation like this".I can but agree with him.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Allen of Abbeydale
My Lords, although I do not regard the arrangements proposed by the Government as ideal, I am certainly prepared to support them this afternoon. They were hammered out after due deliberation and they should be given their chance.
The only comment that I wish to make reinforces a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone. I think and hope that in practice it may be found necessary to have authorities with a membership larger than 17 in perhaps more cases than the noble Earl indicated. When one looks at the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, and in particular Greater Manchester and Merseyside, which happens to function through a large number of subcommittees, one may well find that there are quite a few cases where a larger authority is needed. One must also bear in mind the forces which will come into being as a result of amalgamations following changes in local government structure. But we shall see. In the meantime, I go along with the government amendments.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey. I can see no case for changing the basis of police authorities as they now exist. That case has never been made, but I do not intend to go again down that particular road.
As the House is aware, we have been involved in prolonged discussions on this issue. We have accepted the Government's proposals. I have no pride of authorship as regards the content of the amendment. As I have indicated, I should prefer to leave things exactly as they are. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to begin unpicking the formula now. For that reason, I support the noble Earl's proposals.
§ Viscount Tenby
My Lords, I speak as a member of an authority. Agreement has been reached after lengthy negotiations on this matter. Although some of us may have wished for greater local government involvement, we have now reached a solution which is acceptable to the House.
111 Perhaps I may refer briefly to the view of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that there should be a greater representation by magistrates. Speaking as a magistrate member, I am not sure that I go along with that. It seems to me that it should be a case of quality and not quantity. I should have thought that three magistrates would be quite sufficient for the purpose that we have in mind and that a greater spread of independent views would be a good solution.
My Lords, not for the first time my noble friend Lord Mottistone puts me in some difficulty. He said that he hoped that I should not consider the matter to be wrapped up so that I did not have to think any further. I assure my noble friend that I have been thinking about this subject almost morning, noon and night for the past two weeks and I should love dearly not to think about it any further. I shall accede to my noble friend's request. I will consider the matter further. But before he gets too excited, I should tell him that I do not believe that even after I have considered the matter further, I shall reach a different conclusion.
My noble friend Lord Renton said that when the Government and Opposition Front Benches agree on matters, it is extremely difficult for noble Lords on the Back Benches to get their oar in. I have not noticed much difficulty among my noble friends behind me. I wish that they would feel rather more constrained, but that is for them!
What are the facts of the matter? My right honourable friend the Home Secretary made various propositions which did not meet with the approval of your Lordships and others. Therefore, we tried to find a way of achieving agreement. I know that my right honourable friend would have preferred a different figure and that is why his original proposals were in a different form. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, wanted a figure of two-thirds. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, said that he does not go along with everything. The noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, said that on the whole, he is in favour of the present proposal. We have tried to find an arrangement which would satisfy everyone. In doing that, everyone had to give a bit. We tried to find—I use the word of the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan—a consensus. In fact, I do not know whether that is what we were trying to find, but that is what we have now. We now propose a system which, on the whole, meets with the approval of all interested parties, and that is why I have tabled these amendments.
My noble friend Lord Mottistone reminded me of the schoolboy who puts his hand up at the back of the classroom and says. "Please sir, I think that my system is better". Of course his system may seem better to him, but it would not meet with the approval of everyone else.
My noble friend is concerned about the Isle of Wight. I cannot guarantee that the Isle of Wight will be represented, but it is likely that it will be, either by councillors, by the independent members, or both. Initially people wanted different things. My noble friend Lord Renton wanted to see more magistrates and my noble friend Lord Mottistone wants three-fifths of the members to be councillors. The noble Lord, Lord 112 McIntosh, wants two-thirds of the members to be councillors. But we have reached an arrangement which I believe is acceptable to most people.
My noble friend Lord Mottistone rather reminds one of a battleship ploughing through the waters totally regardless of the waves blowing over the bows. I advise my noble friend to switch on his ASDIC equipment to see whether there are any rocks underneath which may hole his boat. I understand that he is not enarnoured of all the proposals but I assure him that we have gone to a great deal of trouble. I believe that the present proposals are most likely to be acceptable to the House.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 3 to 6 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 7:
After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:
Membership of police authorities etc
(".—(1) After section 3 of the 1964 Act there shall he inserted—
"Membership of police authorities etc.
3A.—(1) Subject to subsection (2) of this section, each police authority established under section 3 of this Act shall consist of seventeen members.
(2)The Secretary of State may by order provide in relation to a police authority specified in the order that the number of its members shall be a specified odd number greater than seventeen.
(3)A statutory instrument containing an order made under subsection (2) of this section shall be laid before Parliament after being made.
(4)Schedules 1B and 1C to this Act shall have effect in relation to police authorities established under section 3 and the appointment of their members.
(2) After Schedule 1A to the 1964 Act there shall he inserted (as Schedule 18 and 1C) the Schedules set out in Schedule 2 to this Act.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 2 [Schedule to be inserted in Police Act 1964: police authorities]:
Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 8 and 9:
Page 49, line 27, at end insert:
("Membership of police authorities
A 1.—(1) Where, by virtue of section 3A of this Act, a police authority is to consist of seventeen members—
(2) Where, by virtue of an order under subsection (2) of that section, a police authority is to consist of more than seventeen members—
Page 49. line 30, leave out ("eight").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 10 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 49, line 30. leave out from ("in") to ("shall") in line 31 and insert ("paragraph A 1 (1) (a) or (2) (a) of this Schedule").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.113
§ [Amendment No. 12 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 49, line 32, leave out ("eight").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 49, line 46, at end insert:
("Appointment of independent members
(2) A police authority shall send to the Secretary of State a copy of any notice which it has arranged to be published under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 26, 29 and 45. This substantial set of amendments gives effect to the announcement which I made on 1st March on recommitment about the way in which the independent members of police authorities will be selected. I gave a fairly detailed description then. I thought it cheered the House up no end and even produced laughter. I am always happy to have a good laugh at anything but I never expected to find anything in this Bill to laugh about. However, it may look slightly less amusing now that it is set out with the customary precision and clarity of the parliamentary counsel.
Amendment No. 14 specifies that the independent members of the police authority are to be appointed by the councillor and magistrate members of the authority. They are to make their choice from a short list which they will receive from the Secretary of State. The police authority must publish a notice giving the names of independent members once they have been appointed, and they must copy that notice to the Secretary of State.
Amendment No. 26 sets out the disqualifications for appointment as an independent member and is, I hope, self-explanatory. Independent members must live or work locally on appointment (and in the preceding 12 months) and they must leave office if they cease to do so during their term of office.
Paragraph 8B of the amendment lists others disqualifications. Those elected to local government in the police area should not be eligible; nor should magistrates or members of the selection panel. The remaining disqualifications—police officers, police authority employees or the employees of local authorities which are eligible to nominate members to the authority—are equally obvious.
Amendment No. 45 contains a self-contained schedule setting out the process for appointing independent members. It may be helpful if I explain the process in a little more detail.
Paragraph 1 defines the composition and the method of appointment of the selection panel. Sub-paragraphs 114 (3) and (4) ensure that a councillor or a magistrate for the area may be appointed as a member of the selection panel only as the nominee of the councillors and the magistrates on the police authority. They may not be so appointed by the Secretary of State or as the third member appointed by the other two.
Paragraph 2 deals with disqualifications and terms of office for members of the selection panel. Basically, the disqualifications for membership of the police authority apply equally to the selection panel. We propose a two-year term of office, although those appointing the members may reappoint them if they remain eligible. Natural wastage over time will result in the terms of office of the selection panel becoming staggered. That is no bad thing in the interests of continuity.
Those who are appointed to selection panels should exercise independent judgment and should not be the delegates of those appointing them. It follows that the appointment of a member of the selection panel does not cease with the departure from office of those who appointed him. That would be relevant in the case of the first member of the selection panel if, for example, the political complexion of the police authority were to change. In the case of the second member, it would be the same if the Home Secretary were to change. In the case of the third member, the same would apply if either of the other two members were to change.
Paragraph 8 onwards of the new Schedule 1C deals with the functions of the selection panels. I think it would be helpful if I were to take the paragraphs of the section out of the order in which they appear on the Marshalled List and put them in the chronological order of what will happen.
Under paragraph 11 of the schedule, the Secretary of State may make regulations for the procedures to be adopted in inviting applications from persons wishing to be appointed as independent members and the criteria to be used by the panel in making its choices. No doubt some detail of those procedures and the selection criteria will need to be changed from time to time. That can be done by way of those regulations which will be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
The basic feature of the selection process is that those to be appointed as independent members should represent the interests of a wide range of people in the police areas. That requirement is set out in paragraph 10 and is not subject to change. The task of the selection panel, within the procedural regulations, is then to provide for the Secretary of State a list of the most suitable names from among those who apply. The selection panel is to give four times as many names as there are vacancies. As the House will recall, the Secretary of State will then forward to the police authority a list containing half that number of names, representing those whom the Secretary of State regards as best qualified to serve on the police authority. The police authority will then make its own selection from that list. That is dealt with in paragraphs 12 to 14 of the schedule.
Perhaps I may just add that we need to be sure that each police authority has its full complement of members, with only brief intervals below strength when perhaps a casual vacancy has arisen unexpectedly. 115 There may be a remote possibility that we need to provide for the case where the selection panel is unable to put forward a full list containing four times the number of vacancies which require to be filled. That could arise where it appeared to the panel that there was not a sufficient number of people meeting the selection criteria among those who applied. That possibility is dealt with in paragraphs 8(2), 12(2) and 13.
If the selection panel were to send forward a list containing fewer than four times the number of vacancies, the Secretary of State would continue to send to the police authority a list containing half the number of names put forward by the panel. In other words, any curtailment of choice resulting from the restricted number put forward by the selection panel is shared equally by the Secretary of State and the police authority.
An even more remote possibility is that the selection panel may find itself able to send forward to the Secretary of State such a restricted number of names that, when the number is halved by the Secretary of State, the police authority would be left with a smaller number of names than the number of vacancies to be filled. That impasse needs to be resolved. That is the purpose of paragraph 13. In that event, the Secretary of State would add sufficient names (that he chooses) so that the list sent forward to the police authority matches the number of vacancies to be filled. I emphasise that that is an exceedingly remote possibility. I have little doubt that the selection panels will do all that they can to provide a sufficient number of names.
After the initial appointments, when there will be at least five independent members to be appointed to each authority, the process of appointment and reappointment will become irregular as a result of natural wastage. Therefore, it is likely that after the beginning the appointment of five members simultaneously in every police force area will be a rarity. I believe that those arrangements fully comply with what I described to the Chamber on 1st March, which noble Lords generally found acceptable. I beg to move.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Callaghan of Cardiff
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, has particularly clear diction. It is always a pleasure to listen to him, especially for those of us who are perhaps not quite so acute of hearing as we were in our youth. He combined that clarity of diction this afternoon with such a rapidity that I thought a machine gun was going off. I do not blame the noble Earl. I thought that it was the best way to do it. I do not know whether all noble Lords managed to catch everything that the noble Earl said or, if they did, whether they understood it.
However, if I may say so, I thought that the noble Earl was very wise to speak with both clarity and rapidity. I say that because the elaborate farce that has had to be constructed in order to get an accommodation, as the noble Earl properly said, among everyone on the matter is of such a character that it does not stand scrutiny by any rational person applying a modicum of common sense. As the noble Earl rightly said, it was necessary to do so to get an accommodation. Indeed, the 116 noble Earl worked hard to secure it. We have all gone along with it, although, as he said, everyone has given a little away in order to get that accommodation. All of that is of course very desirable, but I do not know what those in another place will think when they read about it. However, I dare say that the Government's majority will carry them through. They do not have to withstand quite the independence of mind which characterises this House.
I thank the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, for the way in which he has steered the matter through this Chamber. I would only add that, if such an elaborate farce has been staged, the noble Earl is entirely acquitted of any responsibility for it. He told me last time that I was quite out of order to suggest that he had any responsibility for the Bill. I fully appreciate that. Indeed, I believe that the noble Earl is very wise to say so. As regards the noble Earl's rebuke to me when I suggested that he might have had something to do with the Bill, the plain truth is that when history comes to be written the further he can distance himself from the provisions of the clause the better it will be for his reputation, which stands so high.
I gladly assent to the proposal, but venture to make one prophecy. If there is another police Bill—certainly I doubt whether the present provisions will last the same length of time as those in the 1964 Act—and we have a new Home Secretary, I believe that this provision w ill be one of the first to go.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, referred to my noble friend's speech as a farce. No one knows better than the noble Lord that politics is the art of the possible. Moreover. no one knows better than a former Prime Minister that if you want to work the system where all sorts of different points of view are generally put forward from all parts of the House, you must accommodate in order to reach a point where you can actually achieve something.
I believe that my noble friend has achieved that aim in the light of all the different points of view put to him in a way which is totally admirable. If the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, will permit me to say so, my noble friend's efforts do not deserve to be described as farcical: he has shown us a skilful way of working the system. We are all part of the system, and fully aware of its strengths and weaknesses.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, it is well recognised that the arrangements are those to which we assented in order to achieve agreement. We shall not back off from such agreements. I would prefer to have two-thirds of what I wanted not being overturned in another place than to lose everything that would have been gained with a victory in the Division Lobbies here. My noble friend Lord Callaghan is quite right. The discipline which applies in another place makes it likely that whatever we put forward for its consideration, provided that it is approved by the Government, will in fact go forward.
The Minister referred to the precision and clarity of the parliamentary draftsman. I do not deny those qualities. But the draftsman can scarcely be congratulated on his brevity when the effect of the agreement which we reached has resulted in a new schedule which is 117 exceedingly complex. It is three pages in length and adds more to the Bill than any other element which might have been devised. And there are still defects which I regret and which I should refer to.
These are inevitably complex arrangements and they still provide for a degree of flexibility and power on the part of the Secretary of State to impose further conditions by regulation, notably under paragraph 11 of the new schedule where he may make regulations on the procedures to be followed. He may also make regulations on the criteria to be applied in the selection both by the selection panel and by himself in considering the choice made by the selection panel. The Secretary of State has the power, if he wishes to use it, to make regulations which will secure political objectives laid down by the holder of that office at the time, without reference to Parliament, which could influence the membership of police authorities. To that extent the amendments proposed are defective and are not fully in accord with what I understood to be the agreement we reached.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. When he says "without reference to Parliament" he overlooks the fact that the regulations have to be contained in the statutory instrument and are subject to annulment.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I accept the correction of the noble Lord. Of course paragraph 11(4) makes that point. But the noble Lord knows as well as I how little influence Parliament can exercise on a negative resolution. A second problem, mentioned by the Minister when replying to his noble friend Lord Mottistone, concerns exclusions from membership of police authorities. It is not just the case that magistrates are excluded; employees of local authorities are also excluded. That means that some people who might make admirable members of police authorities, for example, youth workers or indeed teachers, will be excluded from such membership. That is laid down in statute and cannot be altered except by statute. It is an unnecessary and an undesirable exclusion.
However, my fundamental worry about these amendments—although I shall not oppose them—relates to what my noble friend Lord Callaghan said. I believe that what we have is a complex procedure which is open to the possibility that it will not work at all. We may end up with a future Home Secretary asking whether it is necessary to go through all these procedures to obtain independent members of police authorities. I regret that the drafting of the amendments leaves a future Home Secretary with no choice in the matter. If the amendments had been drafted to enable the present Home Secretary to apply the procedures at the beginning and to do his best to ensure that they work and would work in future, that would be one thing. However, the amendments have been drafted in such a way that no future Home Secretary can short-cut the procedures without primary legislation. I believe that that is a mistake which the Government and future 118 governments will come to regret. Nevertheless, for the reasons I have explained, we do not propose to oppose the amendments.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, for saying that he will not oppose the amendments. I am sorry if I gave the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, the impression that I was speaking like a machine-gun. I would, of course, be happy to repeat my speech which, as he will observe with his normal perspicacity, I remember totally, although it was a completely off-the-cuff speech. If the noble Lord wishes me to repeat my speech I shall do so, but I rather fancy that it may be for the convenience of noble Lords who are interested in these matters to read the speech in Hansard at their leisure. That would satisfy those who wish to know all the details of the matter. I am bound to say that I shall always be apprehensive about the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan. He sits in the Chamber smiling and then rises to his feet and makes a wonderfully complimentary speech. However, one knows that he is about to unsheath the awful sword he has in his hand.
Oh yes, there is a sword. If ever the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, were to invite me to dinner —I am not touting for such an invitation, as the likelihood of him inviting me to dinner is small—I would bring a taster with me because as soon as the noble Lord pays a compliment he follows it with a devastating castigation. On the previous occasion we discussed this matter, the noble Lord said that one could tell that it was I who was in charge of the Bill and not my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. When I suggested that for once the noble Lord had misread the position, he then said that he quite understood that the Home Secretary was now in charge of the Bill and he advised me to distance myself from it as far as possible. The noble Lord reminds one of a snake that weaves its way through the grass, twisting left and right.
I say that as a compliment. It is the ability of the noble Lord to move around the various parts of the Bill like a snake that I admire so much. I must assure the noble Lord that I do not seek to insult him in saying that. I merely wish to compliment him on his great ability to weave between difficult subjects. Perhaps the noble Lord wishes to intervene? No, it appears that he does not.
The noble Lord referred to the exercise we are discussing as an elaborate farce. Regrettably, my noble friend inadvertently reminded him of that. I do not accept that. We proposed a much simpler arrangement in the Bill when it was originally introduced. However, your Lordships did not like that arrangement. We then said that we had to listen to what your Lordships said and would try to make the Bill more acceptable. Of course when one is trying to appoint independent people to a police authority—whoever appoints them—someone will say that those appointees owe their allegiance to the person who has appointed them. Your Lordships did not like the idea that my right honourable 119 friend the Home Secretary should appoint the members of police authorities as your Lordships suggested the appointees would owe allegiance to my right honourable friend. However, if local authorities co-opt people, that has disadvantages. We had to devise a system which ensures that the appointees are wholly and truly independent. If I may say so, your Lordships insisted on that point again and again and spoke on it at substantial length in Committee.
We have produced a measure to deal with the matter. It is a complicated arrangement but it is not an elaborate farce. The arrangement is perhaps more complicated than some of us would wish but it is a smashing arrangement really because it meets—I hope—all of your Lordships' concerns. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 15 and 16:
Page 50, line 2, leave out ("three").
Page 50, line 2, leave out from ("in") to end of line 3 and insert ("paragraph A1(1) (c) or (2) (c) of this Schedule.").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 17 not moved.]
Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 18:
Page 50, line 20, at end insert:
("Appointment by the Secretary of State
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to speak briefly to Amendment No. 18 but I have one or two important points to make. First, I hope that my noble friend will appreciate that I tabled the amendment to enable him to see how his complicated arrangement might be made simpler. I wish my noble friend to know that I tabled an amendment similar to this one before I heard about my noble friend's complicated system because it seemed to me that what my noble friend was seeking—and indeed perhaps what the House would like—was something not dissimilar to the process by which advisory committees recommend magistrates to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor.
In that process the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor invites the Keeper of the Rolls to chair a committee which consists of magistrates and one or two outsiders. He lays down many complicated rules—this is the first point which I suggest my noble friend might consider—and so far all those complicated rules have been laid down on the direction of successive Lord Chancellors and not by means of statutory order. The advisory committees have welcomed the rules as they have provided good guidance in terms of ensuring that the right proportion of men and women and of political balance is obtained in the magistracy. The rules have ensured that the right proportion of people from ethnic 120 minorities is appointed, if that is relevant, and that the correct proportion of professional people is appointed. They have provided us with a variety of good guidance. It is those rules to which the first paragraph of Amendment No. 18 refers.
I mentioned an order solely in order to encompass what my noble friend had included in an earlier amendment of his own. That is included in subsection (2) of my amendment. That provision obviously needed to be covered by an order. The detailed guidance which I suggest to provide advice to the councillor and magistrate members of the police authority should be on the same lines as that which is supplied to advisory committees by the Lord Chancellor.
It seems to me that that would be very much simpler. It would enable the Home Secretary to give as much guidance as he likes—which is his purpose in trying to include what he believes to be the right sort of people on the police authority. I understand why he wants to do that. Then the relevant number of people are recommended to him and he is in a position to approve or to disapprove them.
When I mentioned that proposal briefly to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and asked whether he agreed that the system produced for him a succession of magistrates who have been almost entirely satisfactory, he said that it had. Perhaps my noble and learned friend who has been Lord Chancellor and who is in our midst would like to add to that if he thinks that there is time. However, the fact is that over many years that system has produced first class magistrates to conduct the law in their own part of the country.
I believe that something on the lines of my amendment would be very much more suitable. I can see that the Government may now have gone too far and may feel that they have to go all the way down this road. It would be wonderful if they did not and were able to give the matter further thought, because I am sure that what I suggest would be better.
I should like to make one comment on my noble friend's amendment, which we shall shortly accept, in respect of the selection panel of only three people. The panel is to be selected in a most complicated fashion. In the police authorities to which I referred earlier, where more than one local authority is involved, inevitably some local authorities will not have people from their own part of the world on the selection committee. In my experience, not only in the Isle of Wight but also in other parts of England, people do not feel that their interests are automatically served if persons are chosen for important local tasks by people wholly from adjacent communities. I hope that my noble friend will appreciate that that is a very strong feeling. When the independent members are chosen and people in individual communities locally do not feel that they have had an opportunity either to produce one of the independent members or to have had some say in how those people were appointed, a great deal of unnecessary dissension will be caused. The process that I suggest in Amendment No. 18 would meet that aspect of the matter satisfactorily.
I shall not go further at this stage. In the hope of receiving a satisfactory reply, I beg to move.121
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Mottistone has made a constructive attempt to show that there are other ways of dealing with this problem. It would be idle to hope that the amendment could be accepted by the Government or by your Lordships' House at this stage. However, my noble friend's experience in the Isle of Wight and elsewhere should alert us to the difficulties that can arise when a scheme of the kind that will come into force is applied.
I do not agree entirely with the detail of the machinery which my noble friend mentioned. Indeed, he said that he hoped that something on those lines might one day prevail. I agree. It is good to have on the record what my noble friend said, and it is sad that we cannot do more than that at this time.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Mottistone is nothing if not persistent. I agree with my noble friend Lord Renton that there are other ways of dealing with the problem. We went through them all. When we produced other suggestions for dealing with the problem they did not meet with your Lordships' approval.
I revert to what was said in relation to the earlier amendments. We have taken account of the variety of views that have been expressed, not only in the House but also outside it, to try to find a common system which is relatively acceptable to everyone. I know that my noble friend Lord Mottistone has had a great deal of experience in these matters. I understand the force of the arguments which he put forward from his own experience. But other noble Lords and other people have had different experience. In order to find a way through those different experiences we have arrived at the arrangements set out in the Bill.
My noble friend is misdirected always to refer to the arrangements which are used for appointing magistrates and to say that that is an acceptable method for appointing independent members of the police authority. My noble friend suggests that the independent members should be chosen by those people who are already members of the police authority and should have the approval of the Secretary of State. The fundamental objection to that is that we want to see a wide variety of people brought in as independent members in order to help. If one restricts that membership to those who are co-opted by members of the police authority one severely restricts the area from which those people can be drawn. That is why we did not particularly want to go down that route.
There is an endless variety of possible sizes for a police authority, of different proportions within its membership and different methods of arriving at the appointment of the independent members. I urge my noble friend to recognise that however much he may wish us to take a different course almost everyone else feels the same and we have arrived at a course which on the whole meets with general approval. I hope that my noble friend will accept that.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that response. I should like to make one small point. 122 In the process by which the magistrate and councillor members of the police authority would select people, the individuals themselves would volunteer, as is the case with magistrates. It is not a question of picking their own chums from anywhere. There would be strict rules about who would be suitable people. It is not quite as my noble friend suggested. The system has enormous potential, adjusted for this special circumstance. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 19:
Page 50, line 32, at end insert:
(" 7A. A person shall be disqualified for being appointed as a member of a police authority if he has attained the age of seventy years.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 19 I should like to speak also to Amendment Nos. 27 and 40. It is probably correct to speak at the same time to Amendment No. 28 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, which is grouped with those amendments.
Amendments Nos. 19, 27 and 40 tidy up the provisions in Schedule 2 which relate to police authority members who reach the age of 70. The schedule originally provided that no one should be appointed for a term which would expire after he had attained the age of 70. The standard term of office would be four years or such shorter period as might be determined in a particular case. A person who was appointed on a 66th birthday would therefore have to be appointed for a term of four years minus one day.
When we considered the schedule earlier the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, suggested that that would be an obstacle to people being appointed once they had reached the age of 66. He thought that at that age they still had a lot of go in them, and I do not disagree with that. Although this would not necessarily have been the effect of the schedule, we are anxious to clarify the position. The amendments make clear that a person can be appointed as a member of a police authority at any time below the age of 70 but that he must cease to be a member of the police authority when he reaches the age of 70.
I hope that that explanation will satisfy the noble Lord without appearing to discriminate unduly against those who are, as they say, of more mature years.
Amendment No. 27 also ensures that the length of a member's term of office is decided by the body which appoints him subject to a maximum of four years. We would expect the normal term of office to be four years, but it will be possible for the appointing body to choose a shorter period in a particular case. I beg to move.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, having raised the matter, I am grateful to the noble Earl for having met my point. I am sure that the 66 year-olds will always be deeply grateful to the noble Earl for not discriminating against them in the way that might have been possible had the Bill been read in a specific way.
On Amendment No. 28 which I was going to propose, the noble Earl slightly dropped his voice as he spoke and I missed two or three words that he uttered. Is it my understanding that the authorities concerned can 123 appoint people for a period of less than four years if that is their wish? I believe that he said that. If so, I am grateful to him and I shall not trouble the House by moving Amendment No. 28.
My Lords, I apologise if my diction was slipping for the noble Lords, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and Lord Callaghan. I must learn to shout a little more.
The noble Lord. Lord Harris, is quite right. An appointing body may appoint for less than four years.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I hear what noble Lords have said in that exchange. I do not entirely agree. Although the government amendment deals with the anomaly which would have excluded 66 year-olds, it still leaves the age limit of 70. I am not convinced that that is right. I am riot convinced that people who, for example, can perfectly well serve on local authorities should be excluded from serving on police authorities. It is not a matter to press and I do not have my name to any of the amendments. However, I think that it is a pity to let that issue go.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, perhaps I may intervene briefly to ask the Minister, with an apology if I am wrong, whether he was right in saying that the amendment means that upon attaining the age of 70 the person concerned is then disqualified. As I read the amendment, it states that a person who has reached the age of 70 cannot be appointed. Therefore if he is appointed aged under 70 years, he can obviously continue to serve.
My Lords, the objective is to attain an age limit at which people would cease to be members of the police authority. There is no hard and fast rule about the right age to step down from a post. However, I believe it is right that we should impose some limit. All magistrates have to step down when they reach the age of 70. Schedule 2 would put all police authority members on the same footing. I hesitate to say that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is wrong, but I believe that he is wrong: that one must step down at the age of 70. That is what we propose in the Bill.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I must not waste the time of the House. If the Minister is certain that that is what the Bill provides, far be it from me to utter a dissentient note. However, his amendment provides that one cannot be appointed if one has attained the age of 70. The provision does not say that one cannot serve over the age of 70. One cannot be appointed originally if one has reached that age. However, if the Minister is quite sure that I am wrong aid he is right, I sit down with great alacrity.
My Lords, I see that the noble Lord has sat down with great alacrity in anticipation. The position is that a person can be appointed after the age of 66 but he has to retire at the age of 70. The provision relates to a term of four years or a term expiring on his attaining the age of 70 years, whichever is the shorter. The noble Lord is an experienced lawyer and I would not wish to cross swords with him on that point. 124 However, my modest reading of that paragraph indicates that I am right and the noble Lord, for the first time in his life, is in error.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 20:
Page 50, line 34, leave out ("or acting as") and insert ("as or being").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 25 and 34. These are technical amendments in relation to people who become disqualified for membership of a police authority after they have been appointed. It would arise, for example, if a person went bankrupt in the middle of his term of appointment. It might have been argued that the schedule as drafted could have had the effect of allowing such a person to continue to be a member of a police authority although he would not be able to act as a member of the police authority. The amendments put that curious position beyond doubt. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 21:
§ Page 50, line 42, leave out ("or").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 22 and 24. We put down our two amendments before the Government had produced their own draft. I readily acknowledge that the Government's draft must be superior to mine. It achieves the same objective. I am delighted to accept the Government's recognition that we had a valid point when we put forward at Committee stage amendments on disqualification of police authority members.
§ [Amendment No. 21 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 22:
Page 50, line 42, leave out ("or") and insert:
("( ) he is subject to a disqualification order under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, or to an order made under section 429(2) (b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under county court administration order); or").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, concedes that the drafting of the Government is all way better than his.
My Lords, I was going to say that hope that he agrees that the arguments of the Government are usually better too.
The noble Lord had amendments on the Marshalled List at Committee about this issue although we did not reach them. We considered what he had in mind and 1 am happy to bring forward an amendment which reflects the substance of the noble Lord's earlier proposal
The amendment would disqualify for membership of a police authority any person who was disqualified under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 from being a director of a limited company, or who was disqualified under the Insolvency Act 1986 from being a director or obtaining credit or engaging in any business transactions. I hope that your Lordships will 125 agree that it would not be right for such people to be members of a police authority and will therefore welcome the amendment. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, welcomes it too. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 23:
Page 50, line 47, at end insert (", or has been convicted of an offence in any country which would be an imprisonable offence in the United Kingdom.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment is an attempt to deal with the fact that nowadays we live in a more international world and that membership of the European Union means that people who may have been convicted in other countries can now rightfully be resident in this country and could become members of a police authority.
My noble friend Lord Mishcon has a more elegant suggestion about how the same effect could be achieved with a rather different amendment. But the underlying principle is the idea that we should not have people on police authorities who are criminals or who have committed imprisonable offences. Perhaps the noble Earl would like to hear what my noble friend Lord Mishcon has to say on the subject. I beg to move.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I hope that this will be a happier intervention than my last one. I at once acknowledge the principle of the amendment as being correct and one which ought to be covered. It is obviously absurd that someone who is convicted in this country and imprisoned for a period of not less than three months—whether or not it is a suspended sentence —is disqualified, but a person who commits an offence while abroad has no such disqualification. The only problem that I can see, which I respectfully mention to my noble friend, is this. The wording of the amendment would mean that someone who had been convicted abroad would be far worse off under the amendment than someone who had been convicted in this country. The person abroad only has to commit an offence, be convicted of it and fined the equivalent of £2 in foreign currency to discover that he is disqualified because in this country the offence is an imprisonable offence. That is what the amendment suggests.
Therefore, to achieve at least equality between a person who is convicted in this country and one convicted abroad, one has to alter the present clause making the offence equal; namely, if the person concerned is convicted abroad and is sentenced abroad to a period of three months or more, that person is disqualified. However, I support the principle of the amendment and merely point out that it does not propose a just arrangement, but that can be put right at Third Reading.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, for drawing attention to the matter. I have considerable sympathy with the objective behind the amendment, which is to disqualify from membership of a police authority any person who had been convicted of 126 an offence abroad which would be serious enough for him to have been liable to imprisonment if it had been committed in the United Kingdom.
However, I think that there are considerable practical difficulties which would have unfair and inconsistent results if we attempted to implement the amendment as it is. Offences in foreign legislation would not necessarily be defined in terms which equated directly to some United Kingdom offence. The law varies in different parts of the United Kingdom too. The disqualification already in the Bill relates to sentences which are actually imposed—the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, referred—and the disqualification has, therefore, some regard to the court's assessment of the seriousness of the offence. The amendment would apply the disqualification to any offence in another country which could have given rise to imprisonment if it had been committed in the United Kingdom, whether or not a UK court would actually have imposed a sentence of imprisonment. I think that the amendment would take us into the realms of guesswork.
To take the case of dangerous driving—an offence for which someone could be imprisoned under the law of England and Wales—such a sentence would be passed only in a very serious case. It would be difficult to determine whether a driving offence, for example, under the law of Portugal, Russia or Turkey could properly be translated into English as "dangerous driving".
The objection to the noble Lord's point that one should require someone to be sentenced abroad to any actual period of imprisonment is that we would not wish to accept sentences from some countries. I do not know whether it would be appropriate to suggest countries, but they might pass punitive sentences against British citizens. It would be difficult if we started using that as an example of the type of person whom we would not want to see on the police authority. Having said that, I do not disagree with the intent behind the noble Lord's point, but it is difficult to put it into practice.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that reply. I propose to withdraw the amendment in any case, but I should like to think about the matter a little further to see whether a form of words could more clearly define it as a criminal offence abroad rather than an offence against the state or some other offence which one might not think was serious in the context. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 24 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 25:
Page 51, line 1, leave out ("from being appointed or acting as") and insert ("for being appointed as or being").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 20. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 26:
Page 51, line 20, at end insert:
("8A.—(1) Without prejudice to paragraphs 7A and 8 of this Schedule, a person shall be disqualified for being appointed as a member of a police authority under paragraph 3A of this Schedule if—
(2) Without prejudice to paragraphs 7A and 8 of this Schedule, a person shall be disqualified for being a member so appointed if, at any time, neither his principal or only place of work, nor his principal or only place of residence, is within that area.
8B.—(1) Without prejudice to paragraphs 7A and 8 of this Schedule, a person shall be disqualified for being appointed as a member of a police authority under paragraph 3A of this Schedule, and for being a member so appointed, if he is—
(2) A person shall not be regarded for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) (f) of this paragraph as an employee of a relevant council by reason of his holding—
The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 14. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 27:
Page 51, line 24, leave Out from ("for") to end of line 25 and insert:
("(a) a term of four years or a term expiring on his attaining the age of seventy years, whichever is the shorter, or
(b) such shorter period as the body appointing him may determine in any particular case.
(2) A person shall not, by virtue of sub-paragraph (1) (b) of this paragraph, be appointed under paragraph 3A of this Schedule for a period shorter than four years without the approval of the Secretary of State.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 19. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 28 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 29:
Page 51, line 28, leave out ("by the Secretary of State") and insert ("under paragraph 3A of this Schedule").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 14. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 30:
Page 51, line 38, at end insert:
("12A. A police authority may suspend a member from office for a fixed term by notice in writing if—
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not think that I have quite achieved an earldom yet but no doubt the next Honours List will put that right.
In moving Amendment No. 30 I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 32, 33, 37 and 39. The object of the amendments is to transfer a responsibility from the Secretary of State to the appointing body. The first amendment allows a police authority to suspend a member from office if,
he has been charged with a criminal offence … it is satisfied that the member is incapacitated by physical or mental illness", and so on.
The second amendment removes the Home Secretary's power to remove members, passing that responsibility on to the appointing body. Other amendments give the power to the police authority to remove members by reason of absence. Amendment No. 37 would remove as a criterion for removal the belief that a member is unfit. On the latter point the noble Earl will remember that we have discussed the issue with him on many occasions, asking what "unfit" means. We have not yet had the good fortune of receiving a clear answer.
The amendment to allow suspension in the case of a member having been charged with a criminal offence or being temporarily incapacitated seems to me sensible. It could easily be carried out by the police authority itself. As it stands, the Bill provides the Secretary of State with the power to remove any members of the police authority from office, whether it be an elected local authority appointee, a magistrate member or a co-optec. That is an entirely new power, without precedent either in legislation governing the police or as regards local government itself. I can understand that it may have been in the Government's mind, before they accepted the substantial number of amendments to Clause 2 and Schedule 2, that this might have been appropriate. However, given that the clause and the schedule have been drastically rewritten, I do not think there is much merit in retaining the present form of words.
Central government have not previously been concerned with, responsible for or interested in the activities of local or police authority individual members such as to be in a position to exercise the power that it provided in the Bill. The appointment of police authority members is to be in the hands of clearly defined groups of people. It should be for them to decide whether their appointees have become unfit or unable to hold office. It is not clear how a Minister in Whitehall can make a decision about a member of a police authority in Cumbria, Dyfed, Powys or anywhere similar. Why should it not be left to the appointing bodies? That seems to me to be the sensible way forward.
As well as passing to the authority the role of removing members by reason of absence, the period of absence in these amendments is extended to six months to accord with general local authority practice. After all, many authorities only meet quarterly, making three months an absurdly short period. With those observations, I beg to move the first of these amendments.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, under the Government amendments in this group basically the power is transferred to the police authority to remove its members. My chief concern remains Amendment No. 129 37 and the slight looseness of the word "unfit". The suggestion is that there should be a better definition of the grounds upon which people are removed from a police authority. It seems to me that unfitness can cover any possible sin or offence—not getting on with the chairman, or whatever. This is a piece of poor drafting and we could do with rather better definition on the face of the Bill. That is the specific amendment within this group that I wish to address.
§ 4.30 p.m.
My Lords, in discussing this particular group of amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, perhaps I may also include Amendments Nos. 31, 35, 36 and 38 which appear in my name. All of these amendments deal with the removal from office of police authority members. A person can be removed from office only in certain circumstances, including continuous absence from meetings, conviction of a criminal offence, physical or mental incapacity or where a person is otherwise unable or unfit to discharge his responsibilities.
I think we can all agree that there must be effective sanctions against police authority members who act improperly or fail to carry out their responsibilities. It is not in the interests of any authority, or the local people whom it serves, to tolerate as members of the authority people whose continued presence is not acceptable because of incapacity or criminal conviction.
The provisions of the schedule as drafted offered one means of achieving that. We did not think that a relevant council, or in particular a joint committee or magistrates selection panel which would only meet from time to time, would be in a position to take action against a corrupt or unfit police authority member. That was why the Bill proposed that the Secretary of State should have the power to remove police authority members in certain circumstances. In practice, the Secretary of State would not have exercised the power unless it had been drawn to his attention by the police authority that action needed to be taken.
Some noble Lords opposite put down a number of amendments drawing attention to this at Committee stage and we have considered them. As a result, I do not accept that our previous proposals might have appeared to put too much influence in the hands of the Secretary of State. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich that there is some force in the argument that the people who are most likely to know when an individual member needs to be dealt with are the other members of the authority. Amendments Nos. 31, 34, 35, 36 and 38 in my name would, therefore, mean that the power of removal rested with the police authority as a whole.
I hope that that reply meets the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. Where the police authority considers it necessary to remove a member it will be required to notify the body which appoints the member and, in the case of an independent member, the Secretary of State. This will ensure that the appointing body has the opportunity to make a fresh appointment.
130 Amendments Nos. 30, 32, 33, 37 and 39 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, are similar but will have slightly different effects. The police authority could suspend members, but only other bodies could remove them, except in the case of extended absence. This could produce an odd position where a police authority had suspended a member but he was not removed. He might remain in suspended animation indefinitely. I think we should trust the collective judgment of the police authority: it will know best when action needs to be taken.
On the question of extended absence, the noble Lord suggests that a member should be liable to be removed after six months' absence. The Government suggest three months. I appreciate that six months applies in local government generally, but local councils are usually much larger bodies. A small police authority needs a full complement of active members if it is to function properly. A three-month period is not uncommon in relation to small bodies.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris, returned to the definition of fitness. He wished to delete "unfit" as a ground for possible removal. That matter also worried the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton. I believe that they both suggested that that was too vague a term, which would be open to abuse. I accept that it is difficult to define precisely what unfitness is but, rather like an elephant, it can be recognised when it is seen. A person who disclosed details of planned police operations against crime, for example, should be considered to be unfit to be a police authority member, although he might be, mentally and physically, perfectly fit. The same might be said of a person who was perpetually drunk and abusive at meetings. He would be unfit to be a member of a police authority, although in other ways both mentally and physically he might be perfectly fit. But if the noble Lord's amendments were carried these characters could not be removed from membership on any of the grounds in paragraph 13 of the schedule.
The use of the term "unfit" is I believe, fairly well precedented. It applies, for example, to members of the Audit Commission under the Local Government Finance Act 1982; members of the Police Complaints Authority under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and members of the Local Government Commission under the Local Government Act 1992. I do not think there is any suggestion that the term has been open to abuse in relation to any of those bodies.
Therefore, with due modesty, I hope that your Lordships agree that the amendments in my name probably offer a better way forward. If that is so, I will be happy if your Lordships approve them.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I do not propose to continue this discussion on the use of the word "fit" or "unfit". If I may say so, I do not believe there is much of a parallel between the Audit Commission and regular meetings in public of a police authority. I find it difficult to believe that there is a need for a provision concerned with unfitness to deal with drunken members of the Audit Commission—as far as 131 I can understand the parallel drawn by the noble Earl. That seemed to me to be a singularly unlikely development.
My Lords, I really cannot allow the noble Lord to get away with the suggestion that I am equating drunkenness with members of the Audit Commission. That is an extension of the noble Lord's imagination, which is grand even for him.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I certainly do not wish to get the noble Earl into any kind of trouble with the Audit Commission. I am glad that he has clarified his reference to the Audit Commission.
I believe that the amendments he has introduced improve the situation for the reasons that I have indicated. I still do riot like the use of the word "unfit", but we will have a look at the matter between now and Third Reading to see whether or not we wish to come back to the point. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the first of my amendments.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 31:
Page 51, line 39, leave out ("The Secretary of State") and insert (" A police authority").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 32 and 33 not moved]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 34:
Page 51, line 44, leave out ("from acting as") and insert ("for being").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 20. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 35 and 36:
Page 51, line 46, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("police authority").
Page 51, line 48, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("police authority").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, these amendments go with Amendment No. 30. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 37 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 38:
Page 51. line 49, at end insert:
("() Where a police authority removes a member under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph, it shall give notice of that fact—
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 39 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 40:
Page 52, leave out lines 10 and 11.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 19. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 41:
Page 52, line 21, leave out from ("may") to ("as") in line 22 and insert ("make to its chairman and other members such payments by way of reimbursement of expenses and allowances").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 43. 132 These are minor and consequential amendments which clarify the position in relation to the allowances and expenses which are paid to police authority members. The first amendment makes clear that members may receive out-of-pocket expenses. The schedule previously referred only to allowances. That might have left some doubt about expenses. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that no member should be out of pocket because of police authority business and that it should be possible to pay expenses.
The second amendment is consequential upon the first and on the other amendments to the schedule. It allows for the possibility of different allowances for different types of member. For example, I know that magistrate members of police authorities often prefer not to receive any payment other than out-of-pocket expenses. This paragraph would allow for that. I beg to move.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for explaining his two amendments. My amendment, which is grouped with those two, goes a little further. Although we do not disagree with the Government amendments, we think there ought to be a clearer and more open way of settling the allowances to be paid to the chairmen and members of police authorities. We believe that the proper analogy, since the majority of members of police authorities are also members of local authorities, is the local authority analogy.
Therefore, we propose that the allowances to be paid should be authorised by regulations made under Section 18 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. It seems to us that there is still considerable scope for both secrecy and inequity in different parts of the country between the allowances paid to members of police authorities. Amendment No. 42 would tidy up the situation.
My Lords, the noble Lord's amendment would make the allowances of police authority members subject to regulations which are made under Section 18 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. That section governs the payment of allowances to local authority members. Its provisions are considerably more complex than those which would apply under paragraph 20 of Schedule 2 of the Bill. I hope that on reflection the noble Lord might be content to rely on the provision of Schedule 2 with the amendments that the Government now make. However, I am happy to consider whether it would be helpful to attract all or part of that section. I hope that the noble Lord will feel content with that thought.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 42 not moved,]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 43:
Page 52, leave out lines 24 to 26 and insert:
("(2) Payments made under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph may differ according to whether the recipient is a chairman or other member or was appointed under paragraph 1, 3A or 5 of this Schedule.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 44:
Page 52. line 26, at end insert:
—(1) For the purposes of this Schedule, a council is a "relevant council" in relation to a police authority if—
(2) In determining for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph whether a county or district is wholly within a police area, any part of the county or district which is within the metropolitan police district shall be disregarded.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 2. I beg to move. On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 45:
Page 52, line 26, at end insert:
POLICE AUTHORITIES: SELECTION OF INDEPENDENT MEMBERS
1.—(1) There shall be a selection panel for each police area for the time being listed in Schedule IA to this Act.
(2) Each selection panel shall consist of three members, one of whom shall be appointed by each of the following
(3) A designated member may be appointed as a member of a selection panel by virtue of paragraph (a) (but not paragraph (b) or (c)) of sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph.
(4) In this Schedule "designated member" means a member appointed under paragraph 1 or 5 of Schedule 1B to this Act.
2. A person shall be disqualified for being appointed as or being a member of a selection panel if, by virtue of paragraph 7A, 8, 8A or 8B(1) (d) to (f) of Schedule 1B to this Act, he is disqualified—
3.—(1) A person shall be appointed to hold office as a member of a selection panel for a term of two years, or for a period expiring on his attaining seventy years of age, whichever is the shorter.
(2) A person may at any time resign his office as a member by notice in writing to the persons who under paragraph 1 of this Schedule would be required to appoint his successor.
(3) A person shall not cease to be a member by reason only that any of the persons appointing him cease to hold the positions by virtue of which they appointed him.
4. A member of a selection panel may be removed from office by notice in writing by the persons who, under paragraph 1 of this Schedule, would be required to appoint his successor ("the appointer") if—
5. A person who ceases to be a member of a selection panel, otherwise than by virtue of paragraph 4 of this Schedule may (if otherwise eligible) be re-appointed.
6.—(1) The acts and proceedings of any person appointed to be a member of a selection panel and acting in that office shall, notwithstanding his disqualification or want of qualification, be as valid and effectual as if he had been qualified.
(2) Subject to the provisions of any regulations made under paragraph 11 of this Schedule, the proceedings of a selection panel shall not be invalidated by—
7.—(1) A police authority shall make to members of the selection panel for the authority's area such payments by way of reimbursement of expenses and allowances as it may determine.
(2) A police authority shall—
Functions of selection panel
8.—(1) Where appointments to a police authority are to be made under paragraph 3A of Schedule 1B to this Act, the selection panel for the authority's area shall nominate persons willing to be candidates for appointment.
(2) Unless the selection panel are able to identify only a smaller number, the number of persons to be nominated by a selection panel under this- paragraph on any occasion shall be a number four times greater than the number of appointments to be made under paragraph 3A of Schedule 1B to this Act.
(3) A selection panel shall notify the Secretary of State of—
9. A person shall not be nominated under paragraph 8 of this Schedule in relation to an authority if, by virtue of paragraph 7A, 8, 8A or 8B of Schedule 1B to this Act, he is disqualified for being appointed as a member of the authority under paragraph 3A of that Schedule.
10 In exercising their functions a selection panel shall have regard to the desirability of ensuring that, so far as reasonably practicable, the persons nominated by them under paragraph 8 of this Schedule—
11.—(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations as to—
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph, regulations under this paragraph may—
(3) Regulations under this paragraph may make different provision for different cases and circumstances.
(4) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this paragraph shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
Secretary of State's short-list
12.—(1) Where the Secretary of State receives a notice under paragraph 8(3) of this Schedule, he shall as soon as practicable prepare a short-list of candidates and send it to the police authority concerned.
(2) Subject to paragraph 13 of this Schedule, the candidates on the short-list prepared by the Secretary of State shall he persons nominated by the selection panel, and their number shall be one half of the number of those persons.
(3) Where the number of persons nominated by the panel is an odd number, the number to be short-listed by the Secretary of State shall be one half of the number nominated reduced by one.
13.—(1) This paragraph has effect where the number of persons nominated by the selection panel is less than twice the number of vacancies to be filled by appointments under paragraph 3A of Schedule 1B.
(2) The Secretary of State may himself nominate such number of candidates as, when added to the number nominated by the selection panel, equals twice the number of vacancies; and if he does so, paragraph 12 of this Schedule shall have effect as if the selection panel had nominated the Secretary of State's nominees as well as their own.
14. The Secretary of State shall give to the designated members any information regarding the persons on his short-list which they request and which he has received under paragraph 8 of this Schedule.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 14. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Clause 3 [Functions of police authorities]:
Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 46:
Page 3, line 4, at end insert ("and to promote crime prevention activities by itself, the police force for its area and other local authorities in the area").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment that I move yet again is to attempt to make police authorities responsible for crime prevention. It seems to me to be one of the most serious omissions from the Bill that police authorities are not in any way responsible for preventing crime in their area. If the Government were serious about attempting to reduce crime, surely that is one of the prime ways to do it.
Although crime in this country has continued to rise in astronomical fashion over the past many years, there have been notable exceptions. They have tended to be where there are local partnerships between local authorities, police and other organisations. Surely that is exactly the sort of thing that police authorities should be promoting. We have mentioned previously partnerships with some of the more difficult London boroughs. There have been initiatives in Northumbria and some of those areas where there have been great difficulties with car crime, ram-raiding of shops and so on. When people get together and make a conjoint and concerted effort, crime levels are reduced. Crime is very much about community action. This is surely the sort of thing that police authorities should be doing. I cannot understand why the Government resist having this section in the Bill.
The Morgan Report—the Government's Home Office report in 1990—recommended that local authorities should be given direct responsibility for crime prevention. My understanding is that the Government shrank at that stage from making it a statutory obligation on local authorities because it would have meant additional cost to local authorities and perhaps setting up a crime prevention department within the local authority structure. But surely that does not apply to police authorities. There would be no question of any additional cost to the police authority if crime prevention was made one of its responsibilities. It seems to me that that reason for lack of government action on this front has been totally shot away in relation to the provisions of the Bill.
136 This amendment is a further attempt to seek some kind of compromise between what the Morgan Report recommended and what could be contained in the Bill. I do not understand—we have pushed this point at previous stages of the Bill—why the Government continue to resist the idea that crime prevention should be an essential part of a police authority's responsibilities. The work of local authorities is an appropriate place for crime prevention. It is essentially a part of being responsible to the local community.
At present there are very piecemeal arrangements for crime prevention throughout the country. Some chief constables and some police authorities are enthusiastic about crime prevention and some very good results have been produced. Other police forces are much more reactive and perhaps one might even say old-fashioned in their approach to crime and have not placed crime prevention very high in their order of priorities. A much more uniform approach could be achieved throughout the country if crime prevention were part of a police authority's responsibilities.
Only last month, Charles Wardle, the Home Office Minister, said that crime prevention was a very important part of the Government's strategy in dealing with crime. He said:
The whole community must play its part, either as concerned neighbours or as responsible parents or as individual citizens to ensure that the opportunities for crime are reduced".
He further went on to say,
Local authorities have an important role to play and the Government wants to see the police, local government and business getting together in a concerted effort to make their area a safer place for those who live and work there".
That is surely a clear function for a police authority. I cannot understand why the Government continue to resist the amendment. I beg to move.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, everybody agrees that crime prevention is a vital part of police activity. Indeed, I do not see how there could be,an efficient and effective police force"—to use the words in line 3 on page 3—unless crime prevention were a part of it. However, I should not have thought it necessary to write that specific duty into the statute. If one were to do that, many other activities would need to be written in as well.
I find the wording of the amendment rather strange. The provision comes to this: police authorities have a duty to,promote crime prevention activities by itself".I am not sure what those words signify. The amendment then says,the police force for its area".That is all right. But it goes on,and other local authorities in the area".I do not see how they come into the question of crime prevention except in a limited way where, for example, there is a weights and measures inspector appointed by the local authority and one or two other similar officials. For the reasons I have given I should not expect my noble friend to accept the amendment.
My Lords, the amendment deals with the question of statutory obligations and what should and should not be written into the Bill. I am bound to say that it is difficult to see, as my noble friend Lord Renton 137 said, how one could have an effective and efficient police force which did not have any form of crime prevention policy. The effect of the amendment would be to add to the general duties of police authorities a specific duty relating to crime prevention.
The general duty set out in subsection (1) of new Section 4 of the 1964 Act, which is provided by Clause 3, is to secure the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force. With the addition of a reference to effectiveness, that is identical to the existing provision in the 1964 Act as it now stands.
I am sure that every force and every police authority, and indeed local authorities, acknowledge the importance of crime prevention. I am sure that as part of their normal functions they try to promote it to the best of their abilities. But I do not think it would be right, in a provision which specifies the general overall duty of a police authority, to single out one specific function; that is, crime prevention. I do not for one moment deny its importance. But if we link it in this way to the overall and overriding duty of a police authority we risk appearing to demote all the other functions of the police authority and the police force.
I entirely support the concern of the noble Baroness for the importance of crime prevention. I hope—indeed, I expect —that it would feature in the objectives which will be set by police authorities and that the excellent work which goes on at the moment between police forces, local authorities and other agencies in the field of crime prevention will continue. However, I suggest that it would be wrong to single out this specific function, however important it is, in describing the general overall duty of a police authority.
The noble Baroness referred to the Morgan Report. I remind her that that was the work of an independent working group. It was a report to government and not a government report. The Government wholeheartedly welcomed the report's endorsement of the partnership approach to crime prevention and acknowledged the important contributions of the key players—the police, the local authorities, the probation service, the voluntary sectors and local business. But we do not believe that the Morgan approach of giving local authorities statutory responsibilities for crime prevention is the right way forward. A great deal is already being achieved at local level without the need for specific legislation. In this specific case it would detract from the virtue of other practices by singling out one area as needing statutory responsibility.
I hope that the noble Baroness will agree that we are not far apart on this matter. It is a question of what is and what is not written in the Bill. It is not a question of what is and what is not being done.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, I do not see crime prevention as a distinct function of the police. I see it as something that should pervade the whole of police work. If one goes back to Rowan and Mayne, the first commissioners of the Metropolitan Police in 1829, their opening words to the police service at that time were that the primary object of an efficient police force was the prevention of crime. Those words are graven on 138 the heart of every Metropolitan police recruit. It is only after one has failed to prevent crime that one goes on to detect it and seek to punish offenders.
I therefore see crime prevention as being something that should be at the top of the list and as something which pervades all police duties rather than being a distinct and separate function. However, it is clear that we shall not prevail on this occasion and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 47:
Page 3, line 7, after ("state") insert ("after consultation with persons representative of police authorities and persons representative of chief constables").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 47 I shall speak also to the other amendments in the group. We are back to the issue of national policing objectives and performance targets. The amendments deal with a limited issue; namely, the question of consultation.
I must make it clear at the outset that we are wholly opposed to the idea of national policing objectives set by a politician in London who is for the moment Home Secretary. In my view it is that degree of relentless intervention which will cause nothing but ill will and confusion in the future. The reason for that is the list of priority tasks or national objectives defined from time to time by the Home Secretary of the day.
At the moment we are told that crimes of violence are to receive priority attention. As I said during the Committee stage, that sounds entirely sensible until one realises that crimes of violence include murder, rape and manslaughter—which already receive a high degree of police attention—and go down to common assault, the most limited form of criminal offence in relation to crimes of violence. All those crimes, when cleared up, will score high on the performance indicators. But the war against drugs, which is not defined as a national policing objective, will not earn one a high place in the league table.
To that argument the noble Earl responded by saying that when consulted by ACPO, drugs were not defined as being a desirable national policing objective. That makes sense in relation to one part of the argument because not all police forces face a major drugs problem. But in South London—I take it merely as an example—we have seen what is taking place. We had the murder of one police officer and two other police officers were seriously injured. We know that in parts of South London a drug culture exists. There is a degree of drug abuse among a substantial proportion of the population and we know that a large number of drug traffickers are active in those areas.
It is ironic that the war against those criminals is not to be a national policing objective. That being so, even if the Metropolitan police are highly successful in dealing with that contagion—because contagion it is —it may still find itself towards the bottom of the league table because other forces have been remarkably successful in charging people with common assault as a result of a series of minor fracas in public houses. That seems to be totally foolish.
139 I cannot see over any period of time that the national policing objectives are likely to remain part of the pattern of policing in this country. Like the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, I suspect that we shall be having another police Bill before possibly even the end of this century.
I put that on one side and come to the issues specifically raised in the amendments. Having made it clear that I dislike, and redislike intensely, the whole idea of national policing objectives, we now have to work on the assumption that we are going to get them. That being so, it seems desirable for us to discuss the arrangements by which they will be set. It is highly desirable that they should be set only as a result of consultations which will take place with representatives of the police authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers. That is an extremely modest request given the fact that there has been strong opposition in the police service to national policing objectives. This is the least the Government can do. I very much hope that they will take the opportunity and accept the general thrust of the amendments. I beg to move.
§ 5 p m
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, I rise in support of these amendments. For my last 10 years in the police service I suffered with the setting of objectives by a succession of commissioners which often had very little relevance to what one was trying to do in one's own division or part of London. I am very conscious that national objectives will fall into the same kind of trap in that they will often have very little local relevance. If they have little local relevance, people are not committed to them. There is no enthusiasm, it is disheartening, it breeds cynicism and so on. There are great dangers in setting objectives for the police service on a national basis.
However, some of my concerns have been ameliorated to some extent by the strengthening of the local position and by the proposed government amendments which seem to a certain extent to take into account the concerns of chief constables and of local authorities. Even in so doing one will have people making representations relating to their own part of the country and it will be impossible to set objectives which are other than vapid and generalised. I cannot believe that they will concentrate police effort in any direction. It seems to me that this is a rather cynical political device for Home Secretaries to respond probably to the latest concerns of the populace, such as dangerous dogs or some of the other matters on which we have had legislation over the past year or two which subsequently has had to be unscrambled in various ways.
I continue to be unhappy about the reality or relevance of national objectives although there has been some movement towards consultation with those who will have to carry them out. I support what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, on the amendments.
§ Viscount Mountgarret
My Lords, I put my name to this amendment simply out of concern not only for my noble friend and this Government but indeed for governments of any political complexion. It has been 140 apparent over a period of time that politicians generally tend to overlook, ignore or fail to take account of people who are experts in their fields, whatever they may be. That is regrettable. No politician can conceivably know everything. They are advised by as good a Civil Service as we can get, but civil servants are not necessarily well versed and well tuned in the more specialist areas of life. It would be of help to any government or department to take on board the views of people who are engaged for specific jobs and hold high office. That is the only reason I support the amendment. Other reasons have been expounded by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton. They are better versed than I in other aspects of the amendment and of the Bill. I hope that my remarks might be borne in mind by my noble friend because I think that they are relevant and fairly important.
My Lords, in discussing these amendments perhaps we can also consider my amendment, Amendment No. 82, which is part of the same matter. They all require the Home Secretary to consult representatives of police authorities and chief constables before determining what will be his key objectives for policing each year. They make what is already happening in practice a statutory requirement.
The amendments seek to deal with a concern which has been expressed by several of your Lordships about the Home Secretary's role in setting key objectives. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said that he does not like them. He is entitled to that view. It has been argued that, in setting the key objectives, the Home Secretary may be interfering with the position of chief constables and police authorities and that, in the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, the objectives may be an irrelevance. I do not believe that that is the case. The Home Secretary has always had an influence on operational policy. There is nothing new in that. He has issued guidelines, Home Office circulars and so forth for many years. I think it is right that he should have some say in these matters in order to fulfil his responsibilities for law and order and his accountability to Parliament for police expenditure in England and Wales. But operational policy is not the same as operational direction. The way in which, and indeed the extent to which, operational policy is carried out remains a matter for the chief constable and for him alone. That is the current position, and it will remain so under the Bill.
In line with this argument is the fact that the Bill requires the chief constable to have regard to the Home Secretary's key objectives. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, does not like that. But it does not instruct the chief constable what to do. Although the key objectives represent the major policing concerns in England and Wales which the public have expressed, the extent to which they are applicable will inevitably vary from force to force.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was worried about drugs and asked why drugs matters were not part of the key objectives. He will remember that one of the key objectives will require police to target and prevent crimes which are of particular local concern. That gives ample scope for metropolitan forces, where drugs are a 141 problem, to target drugs under that objective. But drugs are not an overriding priority of equal concern to all forces. We did not therefore set detection or prevention of drug related crime as a national key objective, but it can be a local objective and, indeed, in many cases I have no doubt that it will be.
We have always recognised that the Home Secretary will not set key objectives in isolation. No sensible Home Secretary is likely to try to determine national policing objectives without consulting the people at the sharp end—such as the chief constables and the police authorities. That just would not make sense. In fact, this is exactly what he did before he determined the trial run objectives for 1994–95. And, in practice, it is precisely what he has always intended to do in the future.
In accordance with the sound principle that what is intended in legislation should as far as possible be clear on the face of Bills, we accept that it should be a requirement for the Home Secretary to consult representatives of chief constables and police authorities before he sets key objectives. That is the effect of Amendment No. 82. I hope your Lordships will agree that this is a simple and straightforward way of meeting your Lordships' concerns on this matter. Amendment No. 81 would require the Home Secretary's objectives to be couched in general terms. That is another amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris.
It might be argued that an objective which is to apply to all police authorities is necessarily general. However, the aim of the amendment seems to be to provide that the Home Secretary would not be able to set measurable objectives. I cannot believe that this is right. The aim of the key objectives is to reflect major national concerns about policing which the public have expressed. Given, as I have explained, the Home Secretary's responsibility for law and order and his accountability to Parliament for policing matters, it must be right that he should at least be able to set out clearly those major areas which he expects police forces across England and Wales to address. It is right, too, that the public should know what these are, and that they should be able to see how the police have measured up to them. Without clear objectives, it would be next to impossible to set performance targets.
I can assure your Lordships that the Home Secretary has no intention of setting objectives which are more restrictive or precise than those which he has proposed as a trial run for 1994–95. These are themselves derived from the list of performance indicators to which all forces are working, and we do not expect the key objectives to change radically from year to year. We do not, therefore, expect them to constrain chief constables' activities in a way which would weaken their operational independence.
Amendment No. 83 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, would require the Home Secretary's order determining key objectives to be subject to negative resolution by either House, rather than simply being laid before Parliament after being made.
I do not believe that that would be right. By virtue of my Amendment No. 82, the Home Secretary will have consulted representatives both of police authorities and 142 of the chief constables before he determines his objectives for the year. These representatives will have had the opportunity to express their views on what he proposes. With great deference to your Lordships, and indeed to another place, this seems to us the right way to proceed, rather than to go through a parliamentary debate on the matter.
Turning to Amendments Nos. 84, 89 and 90 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, performance targets are not a matter for the police authority alone as these amendments suggest. Taken together, these amendments would remove from the Secretary of State the right to direct police authorities to establish performance targets. Amendment No. 53 would remove any obligation on the police authority to comply with a direction from the Home Secretary to set targets. But it is reasonable that the Home Secretary, who has also set the key objectives, should have the right to direct police authorities in their setting of performance targets. And police authorities would have to have regard to this. Without this, police authorities would be free to set targets as high or as low as they wished—or not to set any targets at all—thus frustrating the Home Secretary's desire to improve performance across the police service as a whole.
I hope that your Lordships will agree that my Amendment No. 82 would be a suitable addition to the Bill, which would ensure that consultations over these matters are discussed and take place before these objectives are set both for the representatives of the police authorities and the chief constables.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Earl has referred to his Amendment No. 82, which meets our point as regards consultation. But the Bill still does not address the blunt absurdity of the national policing objectives. Perhaps I may deal with the response of the noble Earl as regards drugs. He said that a force can make the war against drug offenders part of its local objectives, and that is perfectly true. But the league table will be a national league table. It will be published in the newspapers. The forces which are at the bottom of the table will be described as inefficient or less efficient than those at the top of the league table. There is no way in which the noble Earl can get over that point. It is absolutely central to what the Home Secretary is proposing.
There is no comparison between the policing problems of Dyfed-Powys and those of Islington, Hackney and Southwark. It is absurd to suggest that there is any similarity. What worries me about this matter is that the more socially responsible the chief constable, the greater the danger that his force will appear at the bottom of the league table. We already know who is going to be at the top or among the top three; it will be Dyfed-Powys, which polices a rural and largely settled population in Wales and has a very remarkable clear-up rate because of the character of the population it polices.
But some of the most fundamental policing problems in this country are faced by the Metropolitan Police and the police forces of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire 143 and Merseyside. I say to the noble Earl that the more resources they devote to dealing with the problem of drugs in their communities, the more likely it will be that their forces will appear at the bottom of the league table. It will be suggested that those forces are less efficient than the ones at the top. That is extremely foolish. It will be damaging to the police service and lead to a very substantial debate in many local communities. People will be worried that their local forces are not doing better, whereas in fact they are grappling with immensely more difficult problems.
Perhaps I may give another example. Consider the hundreds of police officers who have been sent in the past few days to deal with the IRA problem at Heathrow. That is not a national policing objective. The more officers who are taken away from issues relating to national policing objectives and sent to Heathrow to deal with IRA terrorism, the less likely it is that the Metropolitan Police will appear high in the league table. What is the point of all this foolishness? It has nothing to do with the real problems facing the police service in this country. It will lead to a damaging debate in many local communities. That is inescapable given the character of the Government's proposals. I regret that. I very much hope that a more sensible government in future will take action to amend these very undesirable provisions.
I have made my position clear on the point of consultation. I am grateful to the noble Earl for having met us. We shall look at the detail of what he has said to see whether it is necessary to come back on this matter at Third Reading. Having said that, I welcome the fact that on this limited issue he has met us. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 48 not moved.]
Lord Peyton of Yeovil moved Amendment No. 49:
Page 3, line 10, at end insert:
("() any objectives determined by the Chief Constable,").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I simply expected to rise to my feet to say that I warmly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harris, but, as he did not move his amendment, perhaps I may briefly make a point here. We are seeking to amend Section 4 of the Police Act 1964. In subsection (2) the duty imposed is simply, "shall have regard to". That is not a very onerous duty. Rather surprisingly, it is imposed on the police authority to take account of or to have regard to the objectives determined by the Secretary of State. I wonder why that is necessary, because I thought they were bound to do so anyway under the Act. That is not a very major point.
Further, in subsection (2) (b) one would have assumed, without going too far, that the police authority would naturally have regard to any objectives determined by itself. One wonders why it is necessary to put that in the Bill. My last point is a more serious one. Since the duty is imposed on the authority to have regard to what the Secretary of State has determined and also to what it has itself determined, there seems to be a glaring omission of the chief constable.
At this stage of the proceedings, I do not think that I need repeat how absolutely crucial the role of the chief constable is. As I have said, it seems unnecessary that
such duties should be imposed upon a police authority, but if it is thought to be necessary to impose upon a police authority the necessity to have regard to its own views and to those of the Secretary of State, I should have thought that it was even more necessary to require the authority to have regard to,
any objectives determined by the Chief Constable",
who is, after all, the most crucial figure in all this. I very much hope that my noble friend will be able to tell me that he will at least consider what I regard as a serious point. I beg to move.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I am sure that the noble Earl will comment on what the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, has just said. Notwithstanding what was said in the previous debate, I cannot see the objection to "having regard to" the views of the chief officer. That seems a reasonable suggestion and I have no doubt that the Minister will deal with it when he replies.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, we had a long discussion in Committee about the word "agree" in relation to the chief constable. We were told that it was not possible in legal terms to use the words "in agreement" because that would be legally binding and might be challenged in court. Therefore, we tried to come up with other amendments that would involve the chief constable more closely in the setting of the local objectives for the policing plan. We are suggesting that the plan should be drawn up,having had regard to the views of the Chief Constable".I should have liked something even stronger and for the provisions to state that the plan should be drawn up "in co-operation with the chief constable". The Government are offering "consultation", which is much weaker than,having had regard to the views of".That does not seem sufficient. As we know, mere consultation can be a total charade. It does not necessarily mean that the least bit of attention will be paid to the views of somebody who has been consulted. That is why Amendments Nos. 51, 54, 63 and 64 require the police authority to draw up a plan,having had regard to the views of the Chief Constable".We hope that that will to some extent ensure that an authority will not do something totally idiotic and go down some odd route of wanting a particular style of policing in its area.
Perhaps I may reminisce for a moment. When I was the chief superintendent at Chiswick, some very powerful local people who knew all the strings to pull in the Department of Transport managed to get traffic lights installed where we could not and other things like that. Those people were always badgering me about motorists speeding down their road. They thought that I could put about six police officers down that street. Eventually, I invited them all into the police station, plied them with tea and biscuits and read them a firm lecture about the fact that I was lucky if at any one time I had six police officers for the whole of Chiswick and Brentford, including two extremely difficult local authority estates.
145 My concern, therefore, is not so much about Left-wing authorities seizing control of policing, but much more about the members of middle-class police authorities, who know how to work the machinery, deciding to draw up plans or set objectives relating to their own views of how their lives should be made more comfortable. It is extremely important that the views of the chief constable should be clearly seen to influence the plans of the police authority; otherwise there may be a total distortion of what happens in a particular area. Therefore, I think that the amendments in this group, requiring the policing plan to be drawn up and the objectives to be set,having had regard to the views of the Chief Constable",are essential.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, I should like to speak to Amendment No. 55. I very much support what has been said already. My choice of phrase is,will have regard to the advice of the Chief Constable".I do not know whether that is a better alternative. Perhaps my noble friend could consider it.
It seems obvious that as the policing plans have to be prepared by the chief constable under what will be new Section 4B(3), the chief constable's advice should be sought on the objectives. In Amendment No. 56, my noble friend is seeking to achieve the same objective, but in a slightly weaker way. It seems to me that the advice of the chief constable would also be useful with regard to the performance targets. Not every noble Lord has touched on that point. I think that the technical advice of the chief constable needs to be sought before the performance targets can satisfactorily be set by the police authority. I should have thought that that would fall into exactly the same sort of heading as the setting of objectives.
I should like to direct your Lordships' attention to another point in relation to Amendment No. 55. It is important that the various directions should be sufficiently flexible so that they can cope with the unexpected. I am told, for example, that tight objectives and tight performance targets might have made it practically impossible for the Gloucestershire police to handle the extraordinary mass murder case on which they are now working. Nobody could have foreseen that a year ago. Therefore, one wants to be absolutely certain that the provisions are sufficiently flexible. I think that that is sufficiently important for it to appear somewhere in the text of the Bill. The question of whether that should be where I have suggested is quite another matter, but I hope that my noble friend will be able to pay some regard to it.
§ Lord Carr of Hadley
My Lords, I rise only briefly to say that, although I do not wish to support any particular form of words, I hope that my noble friend will accept that it is extremely important for the Government to take any reasonable opportunity that they can to underline the unique role and importance of the chief constables. Although the Government do not intend to undermine that, I fear that they may well be 146 doing so in the Bill. Therefore, I hope that they will bend over backwards to try to take that fear on board and to allay it by some form of words on the face of the Bill.
My Lords, I agree totally with my noble friend Lord Carr about the extreme importance of the chief constables. I know that they have been worried about their operational independence and so forth. We have tried to allay those fears in many respects by our amendments. There is no question but that the operational independence of the chief constables must be reserved and preserved. As I have said, I understand my noble friend's concerns about this and we have tried to address and allay those concerns as far as possible. I remind him of this fact—I know that he knows it—that Clause 5 specifically puts the operational independence of the chief constables on the face of the Bill. Whenever one makes alterations such as we are proposing, it is right that people are apprehensive about what will happen in the future. I do not think that there is very much between us on these matters.
We have always taken the view that there must, of course, be consultation between the police authority and the chief constable about the local objectives which we would expect the chief constable to be proposing in his draft policing plan. Even if there were no consultation, the chief constable neither would nor could be bound rigidly to meet the objectives, but there should be consultation.
We propose, therefore, that it should be a requirement for police authorities to consult chief constables before the police authority sets its local objectives. In Amendments Nos. 48, 49, 51, 54, 55 and my Amendment No. 56, as well as in Amendments Nos. 63 and 64, it is proposed to achieve that by adding a requirement to involve the chief constable to the existing requirement to consult the local community.
My noble friend Lord Mottistone was concerned to have the chief constable's advice. I cannot see how one can consult the chief constable without obtaining his advice. My noble friend's point ought to be covered by that provision. This is the right way to proceed. It ensures that the chief constable's views are taken into account before the local objectives are set, while leaving the ultimate responsibility with the police authority. I hope that your Lordships will accept my Amendment No. 56 in the spirit in which it is tabled.
I turn to Amendment No. 55. I think that this is both unnecessary and inoperable in practice, although I sympathise with what it is seeking to achieve. I have no difficulty with the first part, which requires the police authority to have regard to the chief constable's advice. Amendments Nos. 51 and 64 would have the same effect. But I think that this is made unnecessary by my Amendment No. 67, which imposes on the police authority the duty to consult the chief constable before issuing a policing plan which differs from his draft. As the policing plan must cover performance targets, consultation between the chief constable and the police authority will clearly take place at this point, if not before.
My noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil was concerned about the chief constable putting forward 147 objectives. It is not for the chief constable to put forward objectives; his view will be taken into account by his police authority when drawing up its local objectives and at national level by the Association of Chief Police Officers and by the Home Secretary when he draws up national objectives.
I have considerable difficulty with the proposal that the Bill should require the local objectives and the targets to allow sufficient flexibility to take care of any unexpected policing requirements. My noble friend Lord Mottistone referred to Gloucestershire. One can never plan for the unexpected. All that one can do in the policing plan is to say, "During the next year this is what we intend to do. These are the lines that we hope our police force will be able to address".
Of course they must be allowed room for manoeuvre and all chief constables must have that responsibility in order to deal with the unexpected, whether Gloucestershire, Heathrow or wherever. If the local objectives and the targets are to mean anything they must be specific. It must be clear what the police authority and the chief constable are seeking to achieve and how that achievement will be measured.
Of course there needs to be flexibility. Flexibility is already built into the whole process by the very fact that both the police authority and the chief constable must have regard only to the objectives. They do not have to follow them slavishly; they must have regard to them. The whole point of inserting this provision is to enable the chief constable, and indeed the police authority, to depart from the provisions of the plan if operational policing requirements make it necessary to do so. An obvious example of a situation where it may not be possible to meet the local objectives is where unexpected policing requirements during the year require the chief constable to redirect his resources. I am sure that Gloucestershire is a typical and good example. But the word "unexpected" means that one cannot describe, either in the plan or in the local objectives, the kind of event which might require departure from them, other than in the most general terms.
I do not believe that it would be right to try to prescribe how police authorities and chief constables might wish to set out in the plan their proposals for dealing with the unexpected. By virtue of its being a plan rather than a rigid blueprint, flexibility is already built into it. Therefore, I do not believe that it is either necessary or appropriate to insert such a provision into the Bill. I believe that the provision that is made by my Amendment No. 56 is a substantial advance and I hope—
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, before the Minister sits down perhaps I may ask a question. In addressing the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, the Minister said that he had no difficulty with the phrase:the police shall have regard to the advice of the chief constable".He went on to say that he found other features of the amendment unacceptable but that he was happy with those words.
148 If that is the Minister's view, what is the objection to the several amendments which use almost identical language; namely,having had regard to the views of the Chief Constable"?This is an extremely important issue. As was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, the word "consultation" is not enough. Government and others offer to consult, but often the result of that consultation leaves an impression that no one seriously listened to what was said.
The Minister said that he is happy with the words used by his noble friend Lord Mottistone. Surely he will concede that these amendments meet exactly the point to which his noble friend referred. That will put at ease the minds of many chief officers and others who are seriously anxious about the Bill as drafted. Will he say merely that he will look at the matter between now and the next stage to see whether it is possible to meet their views on this matter?
My Lords, the chief constable will prepare a plan and present it to the police authority. Before the police authority changes that plan, which is its right, it will consult with the chief constable. It will say, "This is what we intend to do", and the chief constable can say what he thinks about that. If, despite what the chief constable says, the police authority decides that it wishes to make its plan in such and such a way, that is its right. It will be consulting the chief constable about its proposed plan. I find it inconceivable that one can consult the chief constable without listening to and taking his advice. The two are almost the same.
Of course, I shall certainly look at the matter before the next stage of the Bill to see whether there is any difference. If there are ways in which we can alleviate the anxieties I shall be prepared to look at them.
§ Lord Peyton of Yeovil
My Lords, I blame myself for not having made my initial question sufficiently clear to my noble friend. I sought to find out whether it is necessary for the Bill to contain a provision that every police authority shall have regard to objectives determined by the Secretary of State and by itself. Without putting the provision in this part of the Bill, I believe that it is highly likely that the police authority will take account of the views of the Home Secretary and will certainly be likely to take account of its own views.
I proceeded to say that if it were thought necessary to make that provision, about which I am doubtful, the omission of the chief constable from this part of the Bill is serious. The noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, put the matter correctly—in no way do I stand on the particular drafting of the amendment. She said that it was necessary to involve the chief constable more closely, which is my aim entirely.
My noble friend is offering consultation. Almost every Act of Parliament on the statute book is littered with the requirement of consultation. Everybody that anybody can think of is due to be consulted under one Act of Parliament or another. I doubt whether that is of very much value.
It is a duty which is easily discharged. It is exceedingly easy for anybody with minimal skill to 149 consult people without their being aware that they are being consulted. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend will not seek to rely too much on consultation as an adequate discharge of the need to keep the chief constable in the picture in this regard.
I do not wish to harass my noble friend unduly because I realise that the Bill has presented him with an immense task and we are grateful to him for the way in which he has fulfilled it. But I wonder whether something is amiss here and I should be grateful if my noble friend would give the matter a little further thought.
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I believe that I understand the anxiety of my noble friend. He said that the chief constable will have to have regard to the objectives set by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and he could not believe that the chief constable would do anything else. But, of course, the performance of those objectives will be measurable and it is important that chief constables should have to have regard to them.
Perhaps I may remind the House what those objectives are because they are not sinister and terrible, as some people seem to believe that they are. One objective is to maintain and, if possible, increase the number of detections for violent crime. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, pointed out when speaking to an earlier amendment, that would apply in the same way to the people of Dyfed-Powys as it would to the people of Islington. Other objectives are to increase the number of detections of burglars of people's homes; to target and prevent crimes which are a particular local problem in partnership with the public and other local agencies; to provide high visibility policing so as to reassure the public; and to respond promptly to emergency calls from the public. They are the key objectives, which are not intrusive but they are measurable.
Then we must have the local objectives. They will appear in the policing plan. The Bill imposes on the police authority a duty to consult the chief constable before a policing plan is issued which differs from his draft. My noble friend Lord Peyton says that sometimes it is difficult to know whether one has been consulted. If a police authority says to the chief constable, "Look, we want to change the plan. What do you think about it?", it is inconceivable to believe that any chief constable who has any sense—and the majority of them have a great deal of sense—would not realise that he was being consulted, because he will be given the opportunity to say what he thinks about that revised plan.
Of course I shall look again at this matter to see whether there are ways in which we have misinterpreted the views or anxieties expressed. I repeat that the chief constable is an extremely important and fundamental part of the success of any police force. His operational independence is without question. He will be consulted on the policing plan and the objectives. For those reasons, I believe that it is inconceivable that the chief constable cannot give his advice. But I shall consider the matter.
§ Lord Peyton of Yeovil
My Lords, I do not wish to repeat everything that I said. The consultation which my noble friend described would be adequate, but there are many different kinds of consultation. Sometimes that consultation is meaningless. Even somebody as perceptive and sensitive as a chief constable may not realise that a letter which he barely bothered to read because it did not seem very important was passing for consultation. But I shall leave that matter. I am grateful to my noble friend for his assurance that he will look again at this issue. I believe that there may be something missing, but I am grateful to him.
§ Viscount Whitelaw
My Lords, perhaps I may make just one point which is important. We are all in favour of dealing with the position of chief constables. I am grateful for Amendments Nos. 67 and 82 which have been tabled by my noble friend. I hope that, although the Minister has undertaken to think again on some of these issues, those two amendments will be incorporated into the Bill this evening because there seems to be total agreement about them. I hope that, if that is agreeable to the House, it will be done.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.45 p.m.
Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 50:
Page 3, leave out lines 11 and 12.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to delete paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of the new Section 4 to be inserted into the 1964 Act. That subsection deals with performance targets. I have tabled the amendment in order to clarify and define what those performance targets will be. In other words, it is an exploratory amendment.
When discussing the previous group of amendments, my noble friend Lord Ferrers said that performance will be measurable. I hope that we shall go into that in more detail. Amendment No. 50 is grouped with a number of other amendments which seem to have a quite different purpose. When we discuss this amendment I hope that we shall confine ourselves to discovering what the performance targets will be and how they will be measured and enforced.
Paragraph (c) refers to the setting of performance targets. New Section 28B, which is to be found near the top of page 9, states:
the Secretary of State may direct police authorities to establish specific levels of performance ('performance targets')".
As I say, performance targets are not defined. They are not mentioned in the 1964 Act—and perhaps I may say in passing that that was a wise Conservative measure. They are not defined in this Bill.
I have heard a great deal of anxiety expressed not merely by people concerned directly with the police but by members of the public. Some people fear that it means that police authorities and police forces will be judged by the number of convictions under any particular heading which they manage to secure against members of the public. The police must not only prevent 151 crime; they must detect it and bring criminals to court. But the mere obtaining of convictions should not be regarded as the principal measure of efficiency.
I can well understand that if there is a particular drug problem in a police area, the police should be encouraged to deal with it. The same applies to problems of burglary, violence and even motoring offences. But to say that performance is to be measured by the proportion of convictions secured against the imagined or even established number of crimes of that type committed, seems to me to be perhaps using the wrong judgment.
I should be very grateful if my noble friend could enlighten us on the question of performance targets. I beg to move.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Lord Alport)
My Lords, I have to advise your Lordships that if the amendment is agreed to, I shall be unable to call Amendments Nos. 51 and 52.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, I, too, am very concerned about setting performance targets. I have spoken before about clear-up rates and the extent to which figures can be fiddled. It would be much better if one actually had the number of people who had been arrested for specific offences rather than clear-up rates. There are all sorts of ingenious ways of fiddling the figures which are theoretically legitimate, but which can produce very disparate results in terms of clear-ups. I am also worried about league tables and the way in which the press could make hay with the performance of different forces.
I should like to return now to the crime prevention issue. It may well be that the force which is most successful in preventing crime, because it is putting its resources in that direction—and that is surely something that the public would welcome—may have fewer resources put into the various ways in which clear-up rates can be improved. Therefore, it may appear at the bottom of the table whereas it may in fact have been very much more effective in terms of the sorts of things that the public would actually like; for example, a reduction in the number of burglaries, car thefts and so on.
There are very simple ways in which one can prevent crime by deploying small amounts of extra resources. For example, if one has effective home beat officers and combines them into small teams, one can produce quite dramatic results in terms, not just of a reduction in burglaries and car thefts, but also by a reduction of all those things that make people's lives miserable, such as racial harassment, petty vandalism, drunkenness and hooliganism, which can be deterred and prevented by having more uniformed patrols—even a small number—in an area.
I shall give as an example my experience in Chiswick. On one of my council estates, I gave one of my mature home beat officers two young officers. They formed a very active team which networked with local authority people, voluntary organisations and so on. They produced a 40 per cent. reduction in reported crime. Of course, it was petty crime and not the sort that hits the headlines. However, it was the sort of crime that 152 made people's lives miserable. Those officers also provided, for the first time, protection for an Asian family who had been endlessly harassed by their rather brutal white neighbours. Moreover, Asian shopkeepers began to feel the benefit of having a few extra uniformed police officers in the area. None of the latter would have appeared in the kind of performance targets that are normally set, which tend to be in relation to measurable activities rather than in relation to those which actually improve the quality of people's lives.
I am very sceptical about the kind of performance targets which can be set in relation to a service industry. It is not like a factory where you count the number of completed widgets or whatever which come off the factory line. The whole service is much more to do with human relationships and improving the quality of life. I am extremely doubtful about the usefulness of the sort of performance targets which can be set in relation to jobs such as policing.
My Lords, I am not sure, but I think that we are discussing Amendments Nos. 52, 65, 85 to 88, and 91 to 94, with my noble friend's amendment. Indeed, they are all grouped together.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I must confess that I was puzzled as to why the other amendments were grouped with my amendment. My amendment is confined to the question of performance targets, and the other amendments deal with further consultation and various matters that we have already discussed to some extent. I would be most grateful, as I am sure would other noble Lords, if my noble friend would, first, confine himself to the question of performance targets.
My Lords, I quite understand that my noble friend wishes to confine this part of the debate to matters regarding performance targets. I explained to the House that there will be key objectives and what they will be. Such objectives will be subject to performance targets. It will mean that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will be able to say, "I hope that we will be able to have an improvement of a certain percentage in some of the areas in question". He may say that the percentage improvement will, for example, be between 2 per cent. and 6 per cent. It will be up to the police authority actually to say what those targets will be. It may say, "We will set the target for our police authority at 4 per cent; that is what we will try to aim for". My right honourable friend will set the range of targets within which the local authority will be able to set its own target. Then, it will be possible for the performance of the police authority to be monitored.
My noble friend Lord Renton suggested that performance targets could, for example, cover the number of convictions. That would not, in fact, be the case. I say that because it would be an absurdly narrow range upon which to decide the efficiency or otherwise of a police authority. There will be a target for each key objective. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of those key objectives: to maintain and, if possible, increase the number of detections for violent crime; to increase the number of detections for burglaries of 153 people's homes; to target and prevent crimes which are a particular local problem in partnership with the public and other local agencies; to provide high visibility policing so as to reassure the public; and, finally, to respond promptly to emergency calls from the public. It will be up to the local authority to determine what sort of target it will set in order to try to achieve such objectives. I hope that I have explained the position adequately to my noble friend.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that explanation. However, I must say to him with the greatest respect, because I know that he is very conscientious, that it does not go very far. It really goes towards detection, and that is all that we now know. Nevertheless, it is good to know. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 51:
§ Page 3, line 11, at end insert (", having had regard to the views of the Chief Constable,").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Earl indicated earlier that he proposes to reconsider the matter between now and Third Reading. I do not propose to repeat the arguments, except to say that there is a strongly-held view among chief officers that this is a very significant amendment. They do not consider the word "consultation" to be satisfactory. They consider that the form of words in the amendment is significantly preferable. That being so, and given the fact that the noble Earl indicated earlier that he was not opposed to what his noble friend Lord Mottistone suggested when he used very nearly the same language, I hope that he will come to the conclusion between now and Third Reading that the amendment is reasonable and that he will introduce a government amendment along the same lines. Having said that, I shall not move the above amendment or any of the similar amendments. I wait, with hope, to hear what the noble Earl has to say on Third Reading.
§ [Amendment No. 51 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 52:
Page 3, line 12, after ("whether") insert ("in compliance with a direction").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, the amendment deals with matters which we have been discussing. The Home Secretary will indicate the range of improvement which he expects to see. Within that range, police authorities, in consultation with their chief constable, will be free to decide on specific performance targets. We envisage that the range may be different for different kinds of police authorities. The Home Secretary may want to set one range for small rural forces and another for metropolitan forces.
My Amendments Nos. 52 and 65 also seek to clarify the point that performance targets are not established under Section 28B, although they may be set in compliance with a direction under that section. Performance targets are a key element in our strategy to improve police performance. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.154
§ [Amendments Nos. 53 to 55 not moved.]
§ 6 p.m.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 56:
Page 3, line 32, after ("shall") insert:
("(a) consult the chief constable for the area, and
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 48. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 57 and 58 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 59:
Page 3, line 42, after second ("the") insert ("financial").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 59, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 61 and 67. I undertook to see whether we could strengthen what had always been our intention by inserting in the legislation a requirement for the police authority to consult the chief constable over the matters we have been discussing earlier this afternoon. We have considered this further, in the light of your Lordships' concerns and those of representatives of chief constables, who met my right honourable friend the Home Secretary last week to discuss this and other matters. As a result, we have accepted that it would be right to make it clear on the face of the Bill what we had always intended should be the case.
As far as policing plans are concerned, therefore, it will be a requirement for the police authority to consult the chief constable before seeking to make any amendments to his draft. This means that a police authority could not simply replace the chief constable's plan with one of its own; nor could it make any changes to the chief constable's draft without consulting him first. As I explained earlier, I consider that with such a requirement a police authority will be bound to seek the advice of the chief constable. As I have explained, I will consider your Lordships' views on that matter, but I can give no undertakings because, as far as I can see, the amendment covers the points that were of concern. Nevertheless, as I have said, I will consider the matter further.
I hope that your Lordships will agree that we have gone a reasonable way on this matter. Responsibility for the policing plan must remain with the police authority. But the amendment ensures that the chief constable has the opportunity to voice his own views and that these are heard and considered by the police authority. Coupled with the chief constable's operational independence, and the fact that he is not bound rigidly by the plan, I think that this considerably strengthens the chief constable's position in his relationship with the police authority. I beg to move.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, and I have raised this matter with the noble Earl. I do not believe that the amendment meets all of our concerns by a long way. Nevertheless it represents an improvement and for that I express my gratitude.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.155
§ [Amendment No. 60 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 61:
Page 3, line 43, leave out ("intended") and insert ("proposed").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 62, 63 and 64 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 65:
Page 4, line 2, after ("whether") insert ("in compliance with a direction").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 50. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 66 not moved.]
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 67:
Page 4, line 5, at end insert:
("() Before issuing a local policing plan which differs from the draft submitted by the chief constable under subsection (3) of this section. a police authority shall consult the chief constable.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 68:
Page 4, line 17, leave out from ("out") to end of line 20.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 68, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 73, 122, 123, 124, 125 and 220. These amendments deal with the annual reports which chief constables make to their police authorities. The present position is that each chief constable must make such a report to his police authority, and must send a copy of that report to the Secretary of State. Under Clause 3 of the Bill we had proposed that there should be one published document, which would contain the annual reports both of the police authority and of the chief constable. Some chief constables and some of your Lordships expressed concerns that this would, in some way, devalue the chief constable's report and make it a subordinate document. That was never the intention, nor do I believe that it would have been the effect. It would simply have meant that there was one published document for people to read containing a comprehensive account of the policing of the area.
However, I understood the anxieties which your Lordships expressed and, in order to satisfy those who were concerned about this matter these amendments will in effect restore the present position and make the chief constable's report a free standing report. The noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, will notice that her own amendment on this point is identical with the government amendment. The chief constable will be required, as now, to send a copy of his report which he makes to the police authority to the Secretary of State. He will also be required to publish his report in such manner as he thinks fit. That should satisfy any possible concerns that a chief constable might be inhibited about the contents of his report.
The new clause of the noble Baroness proposed in Amendment No. 73 goes a little further, however, in that it would apply to the chief constable the same obligation as is already applied by new Section 4C to the police authority; namely, to assess the extent to which the local policing plan has been carried out. However, the 156 policing plan will, wherever possible, be agreed between the police authority and the chief constable. It is certainly not rigidly binding on the chief constable as I mentioned before, and indeed the uncertainties of policing are likely to mean that it is necessary to depart from it in the face of unforeseen circumstances. Subject to those safeguards for the chief constable's operational independence, we have established that as a plan—as a set of proposals which may later require to be adapted in the light of circumstances—and the last word on the content of the plan rests with the police authority. On balance, we therefore think it is right that the obligation to account for the extent to which that plan has been followed during the year should rest with the police authority.
For that reason I think it is reasonable to specify that the policing plan should be covered in the police authority's annual report. I am slightly reluctant to match that by a similar statutory requirement on the chief constable, even though in practice I have no doubt that he will deal with such matters to the extent necessary in his report. But I doubt whether we should require him to cover the same ground as will be obligatory on the police authority in its report. The chief constable's responsibilities are wider than those of the police authority, and it has been the concern of the Government throughout the preparation of this Bill to preserve his operational independence. On balance, therefore, I would recommend to the House that we should not accept the amendment of the noble Baroness, and should impose no statutory requirement on the chief constable as to the matters which he is to include in his report. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, I welcome this amendment from the Government and I shall not move my amendment. The Government's amendment constitutes a recognition of the independence of the chief constable and of course we welcome that. However, the sadness is that the status of the chief constable is not recognised in relation to the amendments that we discussed earlier on the local policing plan objectives and other matters. I would hope that the fact that the Government have moved this far in relation to the equal status of the chief constable might encourage them to think again about the earlier amendments. However, I thank the Government for acceding to our request on this particular matter.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 4 [Chief constables]:
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 69:
Page 4, line 36, at end insert ("which shall not contain reference to performance related pay and fixed term appointments for chief constables unless by agreement between the Secretary of State, persons representative of police authorities and persons representative of chief constables.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, we now come to the questions of performance-related pay and fixed-term contracts. As the noble Earl will be aware, this is an issue of the highest degree of importance. At present a police authority can remove a chief officer only if the 157 Secretary of State agrees. We are now giving a police authority the power to impose a fixed term contract on a chief officer.
The noble Earl has repeatedly said during the debate that it is his view that the operational independence of the chief officer must be sustained at all costs. However, the reality is that once fixed term contracts are introduced a chief officer can be pressured by a police authority to take the same view as it does on some question of operational policing, with the risk that if he is in the last year of his contract he may find it necessary to pay a substantial amount of attention to what the authority says. In my view, in that situation we are destroying the operational independence of the chief officer. It is a most ominous move and the House should reflect on the full consequences that may result from this new procedure.
Like so many unsatisfactory features of the Bill, this aspect stems from the Sheehy Report. The Sheehy Committee was appointed by Mr. Clarke when he was Home Secretary, the principal requirement for membership of that committee being no direct knowledge of policing at all. If one had any knowledge of the subject one was not appointed to the committee. We are now responding to the Sheehy recommendations by discussing fixed term contracts, which carry direct implications for the operational independence of chief officers. It is an appalling move, and in future years the House may look back and see this departure from the present situation as one of the most serious mistakes that we have made in respect of police legislation.
Having said that, I should like to ask the noble Earl a number of questions. Fifteen minutes ago I received a letter from the noble Earl on this point. It raises a number of significant issues and I have not had enough time to reflect upon its contents. I do not want to make heavy weather of the matter, but it is unfortunate that a letter should arrive in the middle of a debate on an issue of such fundamental importance as this. However, I shall now turn to the series of questions which I want to put to the Minister.
Fixed term contracts will apply to all officers of ACPO rank. It is intended that they should eventually also extend to superintendents. In Scotland fixed term contracts for superintendents are to be introduced at once, but not in England and Wales. No doubt the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, will be able to explain why it is right to adopt one procedure in England and Wales and a totally different one in Scotland.
The problems involved should not be underestimated. There is a substantial risk that officers of the rank below that at which fixed-term contracts are introduced will decide not to apply for promotion. If one is a superintendent aged 35 or 36 why should one apply for promotion to assistant chief constable if, once one becomes an assistant chief constable, one will have to have a fixed term contract? If one has children at school one possibly has an obligation to send them to university and pay their fees. One may feel that there is a risk that at the age of 42 or so one could find oneself in a situation in which one's contract is not extended.
158 For those in the private sector it is not necessarily a disaster if one's contract is not extended because one can move on and work somewhere else. However, where will a police officer in his early forties find another job? He will not find it in the police service because it will be made clear immediately that his contract was not extended by his employer. The authority will not have to give any explanation as to why the contract is not being renewed. The officer may have fallen foul of a powerful member of the police authority. There may have been a dispute on an operational policing issue, such as the way in which hunt saboteurs are to be handled in an operational situation, or in relation to New Age travellers or a public order demonstration. In any such cases an officer may find himself making powerful enemies on the police authority. That is a risk which is inescapable in the procedure which is to be laid down.
Why are we to have fixed term contracts? Perhaps the noble Earl will be able to help us in this matter. We have the Sheehy recommendations. That is where the arrangement originates. Side by side with the Sheehy Report is the Oughton Report on career management and succession planning. Mr. Oughton is involved in the Efficiency Unit of the Office of Public Service and Science. The report was submitted to Sir Robin Butler and Sir Peter Levene in November last year.
What the report says about fixed term contracts is not the most encouraging message for the police service. Paragraph 7.14 states:
Helen Murlis of Hay Management Consultants (in The Use and Experience of Service Contracts at Senior Management Levels …) has identified four main kinds of employment contract used in the private sector".
This is what is said about fixed term contracts:
where renewal or otherwise is provided for towards the end of the contract—typically in the last year or six months before the contract is due to end. Contracts that are renewed may or may not be for a new term of the same length. This form of contract is rarely used in the UK private sector and such use as there is appears to be declining".
If it is declining, why is it recommended that it is introduced in the police service? That is an interesting question which I hope the noble Earl will be able to answer.
The quotation continues:
The principal reason for this is that executives have found the arrangement unsatisfactory, disliking the insecurity of waiting until the last year—and sometimes very late on".
That is a procedure which is being recommended for the appointment of assistant chief constables and chief constables in the police service of this country. Why, given the contents of that report, are we being asked to adopt precisely that procedure?
Paragraph 7.19 states:
How far one moves along the spectrum from current terms towards the extreme of fixed term contracts is a matter for judgement. We have identified the clear disadvantages of a fixed term contract arrangement and we do not propose that it is either desirable or necessary to go that far".
It is being recommended for the police service and we are being asked to approve it this afternoon.
There is also a quotation from an agency chief executive who was consulted about the report, who said:
A 3 year contract makes me feel less secure and more wary; discourages me from putting all my cards on the table, … and encourages staff to believe that they can sit tight and resist change until my contract is over".
That is the Oughton Report. That being so, what are the Government going to do? Will they persist with the Sheehy recommendations despite the Oughton Report, or will they modify their approach in the light of the report and the general arguments which have been brought forward since the proposal was first made? This is a matter of high importance to the police service. It is essential that this House insists on getting the matter right.
Subsequent to the debate, I shall gladly read the noble Earl's letter which deals with discussions which he has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers. But he will understand that in the 20 minutes which have elapsed since I received it I have not had an opportunity to form a clear view on it. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, I, too, received a copy of the letter about 20 minutes ago. It is therefore difficult to be sure that we are still talking about the same animal in relation to fixed term appointments. However, I wish to support what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said about the problems of fixed term appointments in the police service.
The false analogy with the business world has haunted the Bill. Being a police officer is much more like becoming a doctor: if one gets struck off there is no prospect of future employment. In some ways the consequences of a fixed term contract which may terminate in someone 's mid-forties are that effectively that person has no prospect of future employment in his or her chosen career. It is not like the business world where there are many other firms, businesses, factories and places to which one can apply. A police officer has nowhere to turn to if his or her contract comes to an end. That is why fixed term contracts have been viewed with such disquiet in the police service.
Such contracts do not motivate those in the ranks below if one does not have fixed term contracts at all levels. People will be reluctant to apply for posts as assistant chief constables, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said. One may not therefore have the best motivated, best officers applying for the highest ranks in the police service.
Those are specific problems in relation to fixed term appointments. However, I wish in particular to endorse the Scottish problem. I cannot understand why poor Scotland again is being used as a guinea-pig when England is not. I understand that the changes to the rank structure and conditions of employment will not apply to Northern Ireland in the same way, but we shall come to that point when we discuss future amendments. It seems curious that different parts of Great Britain are being treated in different ways in the Bill. I cannot understand that. It is not only for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, but also for the Minister to explain why Scotland appears to be being treated differently from England in some respects.
In view of the letter that we have just received, it is difficult to discuss the question of fixed term contracts.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, I do not object to Scotland being treated differently if she is treated better; that appears to be absolutely logical, right and proper. I am glad to see that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, is present. Although we are only discussing Amendment No. 135, the principle ties in extraordinarily well with the amendments relating to England.
The Scottish police are frightened by the provisions mainly because of the effect on recruitment and the quality of the police. The great attraction of becoming a policeman is, of course, that one has a fixed 30-year term before receiving a decent pension. It is a tremendous attraction, and one which is being put in danger. Under the proposed system a large number of people will say, "If I tool away at the lower rank at which there is no danger, then all will be well". That is an appalling situation.
I cannot understand why much of the Bill is being introduced. The present system has worked extraordinarily well. I wholly agree with my noble friend Lord Harris that there is no real case for fixed term contracts in the police. With regard to a chief constable, it is possible to argue that a fixed term is useful because one never knows when promotion might be above a person's ability. However, I should have thought that in the police service one would know a person's potential. There might be a case for fixed term contracts for the chief constable.
I have read quickly the letter which I, too, have received. I thank the Minister for it. The Government appear to be moving away from a three-year period to four years with an extension to seven years. The provision has not been thought out in any shape or form; otherwise such ridiculous matters would never have been put in the Bill. There is no argument whatever for fixed term contracts for those below the rank of chief constable. The argument for them with regard to assistant chief constables has not been made.
I do not believe that one can say much more on the subject. The Bill seems to be totally ill thought out. The Government are amending it daily. It has all the marks of a very bad piece of legislation.
§ Lord Ewing of Kirkford
My Lords, I speak to Amendment No. 135 which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. I am one Member of your Lordships' House who has not received the letter which was so much discussed on moving the amendment. Is there an identical letter from the Scottish Office on the same subject? If, as I now gather, the letter deals not with the principle but merely with the period of fixed term contracts that would not make the principle any more acceptable.
Before I develop my argument briefly, perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and my noble friend Lady Hilton that there may be some misunderstanding. I shall be surprised if Scotland introduces immediately the principle of fixed term contracts at a time when we are busily reorganising local government in Scotland. If the Government succeed in getting that legislation onto the statute book the new authorities will come into being in 1996. It seems to be 161 insensible to introduce the fixed term contracts immediately in Scotland when we are in the middle of that reorganisation.
I make it absolutely clear that I am firmly opposed to the principle of fixed term contracts in the police force. I was sorry when I heard the representative of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland) and, to a lesser extent, the Superintendents' Association say that they accepted the principle of fixed term contracts, albeit for assistant chief constables and chief constables.
The principle of fixed term contracts for chief constables and assistant chief constables is a dangerous approach, as the noble Lords, Lord Harris, and Lord Mackie of Benshie, said. We are moving to a stage—to be humorous for a moment—when we are about to treat chief constables and assistant chief constables in the same way that we treat football managers. As an ex-director of a football club, I have been involved in sacking a few football managers in my time. The procedure is that as soon as you become fed up with your football club manager you leak to the press that his contract will not be renewed. Before you know where you are, there is a queue of people telephoning you and whispering to you, and before the poor guy is sacked you have his replacement in your hip pocket. We put the chief constable in that position. He gains a four, five or even seven-year fixed term contract. But at the end of the penultimate year it is decided that that contract will not be renewed. He immediately becomes a lame duck chief constable. There are no "ifs" or "buts" about it. He or she loses all his or her authority with the police force. Discipline goes out of the window and the confidence of the population in the police area for which that chief constable is responsible is seriously undermined. Then there is a situation where people are queuing up for the outgoing chief constable's job.
In another part of the Bill, the position of the chief constable becomes ludicrous because he is given the responsibility of advising the police authority who from among his or her senior officers should run the police force for a period of no more than three months during the time the police authority is searching for a chief constable's successor. What a way to run policing.
I have never heard the case argued for fixed term contracts. I leave with noble Lords the only explanation I have heard of the fixed term contract argument from Mr. Paul Fox. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, Paul Fox was a member of the Sheehy Committee of inquiry. I give him this much credit—he was, if not the only member, certainly one of the few members prepared to appear on television to defend the Sheehy proposals. If I had still been a Member of another place, I would have remembered not only the programme on the proposals but also the company that screened the programme, the time it was screened and the date, and I would have been guaranteed a mention tomorrow morning. However, being a Member of this place, I forget such matters.
But I remember the programme. Paul Fox was asked what the thinking was behind the fixed term contract at that time for superintendents and above. It has to be understood that Paul Fox is an impresario involved in leisure and entertainments. He said: "Well, I have been 162 in the entertainment world all my life and I have always worked to contracts". There you have it. Because Des O'Connor has a contract the chief constable has to have one. That is no way to run police forces throughout Great Britain. The provision does not apply to Northern Ireland.
Far from extending the period of the contract—whether it be the initial contract or the renewal—the sensible approach is to get rid of the idea altogether. Policemen are not managing directors; chief constables are not managing directors. They are not involved in companies. There is nothing worse than a chief constable, as he nears the end of his contract, having one eye on the renewal and the other eye on policing. That is outrageous.
The noble Earl has been superb this afternoon in his co-operative spirit across the Floor of the House. He has an opportunity to write his name in headlines tonight and tell us that he is removing this from the Bill altogether. Then we can consign to the dustbin the madcap idea of fixed term contracts for assistant chief constables and chief constables.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, as my neighbour, the noble Lord Mackie, mentioned, my name is attached with his to Amendment No. 135. Thus it would be appropriate for me to support his excellent comments and those of the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, on the problem. The policemen to whom I have spoken—and that includes those in my area of Angus or Tayside, which is unique in its way—even in Tayside have fears which have been expressed very well by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie.
I would not wish to follow the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, in equating fixed term contracts for chief constables and other senior police officers with the success or otherwise of his notable football club. Even though I was 8,000 miles away last week, I noticed that for the noble Lord's beloved football team the game was cancelled due to snow. That clearly cannot be equated with fixed term contracts or managing necessarily.
However, I believe that police forces and the way in which they perform their duties are far removed from what the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, mentioned. I believe that Amendment No. 135 goes a long way to meet the fears that are felt by me and many noble Lords from Scotland.
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)
My Lords, it was proposed that from this Front Bench my noble friend should respond to the debate. However, as a specific matter relating to Scotland has been raised, it may be appropriate if I say something.
The matter was raised during the Committee stage by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. As I understood it, his anxiety was that, while the provision for England, which is to be found in Clause 14(4), also indicates that fixed term contracts might be available in relation to superintendents, he had understood my noble friend to indicate that the Government did not propose to do that immediately this side of the Border. Noble Lords may care to look at columns 486 and 487 of Hansard for 21 st 163 February 1994 to see that I made clear that it is the same position as we are striking in relation to Scotland. The provision in Clause 46 is in identical terms to that to be found in Clause 14(4). The way in which we propose to implement it is precisely the same as that proposed for England and Wales.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord clarify one point further? Although there is no intention of applying fixed term contracts other than to chief constables—which is what he was saying--neither is there any intention of removing from the Bill the ability to apply them further down.
§ Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
My Lords, I thought I had made it as clear as I could. There is no intention to introduce fixed term contracts in relation to superintendents. As regards chief officers, the timetable for implementation will be exactly the same on both sides of the Border. That is the simple position and I have already placed the matter on record at Committee stage. I do not think that I can give further elaboration.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps I may ask about the letter we have received aid whether the changes for England also apply to Scotland. I am not an expert in such matters but, as I understand the letter, it seems to me that the proposals offer rolling appointments rather than fixed term appointments. Will the same arrangements apply for Scotland?
My Lords, it is always dangerous to try to be helpful. We have been discussing these matters for a long while and there was anxiety about fixed term appointments at the Committee stage. Since then, we have taken note of what was said at that stage and have had discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers. We have tried to find ways around the difficulties. One of the problems was what would be put in the regulations which will apply to fixed term contracts. I was going to say during this debate what I thought would appear in the regulations. In order to be helpful, I said: "I must let the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton. the noble Lords, Lord Harris of Greenwich and Lord McIntosh, and other people know what will be in the regulations in order not to bounce noble Lords".
Of course, what happened was that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, castigated me for giving him a letter with only 15 minutes to spare. I quite agree that there is something to complain of; I signed the letter this morning or this afternoon and something must have gone wrong with the pigeon post, which resulted in your Lordships' receiving it so late. For that, I apologise. If the moral lies anywhere, it is: "Don't try to be helpful. Let the matter go through its natural course". I apologise for the error of irritating the noble Lord, Lord Harris, but perhaps I may be acquitted of discourtesy in the intent, which was to try to be helpful.
Perhaps I may deal with the question of fixed-term contracts which I know have given rise to a good deal of anxiety. The Government announced that in future chief constables and assistant chief constables should be appointed on fixed terms and that pay should be related to performance for all ranks of officers. In order to 164 implement these proposals my right honourable friend will require that these aspects of chief constables' and assistant chief constables' conditions of service should be specified in regulations that will have to be laid before Parliament. The intention of the first two amendments that we are now discussing is that the Home Secretary will have those powers only if they are agreed to by representatives of police authorities and chief constables.
I turn to Amendments Nos. 69 and 104 which deal with England and Wales before I address the related Scottish points. I re-emphasise what my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser has said that the starling point in Scotland is exactly the same as in England. The terms of the letter, which has so agitated everyone, applies to Scotland just as much as it does to England. If I may, I shall return to that letter in a short while. While the Home Secretary will be required to obtain consent to his proposals, no means is provided to establish which persons can be said to be representative for the purposes of these amendments. My right honourable friend will continue to consult the police authorities, the Association of Chief Constables and other police staff associations before he introduces or amends police regulations. He is, and will continue to be, required by statute to do so. The Government place great emphasis and value on the consultation process. But 'we cannot agree to a proposal that the Secretary of State's authority to regulate in respect of matters for which he is accountable to Parliament should be constrained by the need, first, to achieve agreement.
Relating pay to performance is a perfectly natural and reasonable proposition. It distinguishes especially good performance from average performance and provides an incentive to people to improve the effectiveness of their contribution. It is done in many other parts of society. It benefits both the organisation and the individual. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, says that he does not like fixed-term appointments. I understand that. The noble Lord, Lord Ewing, says that authority and morale go once it is known that a chief constable is what may be called "on the way out". I do not agree with that. Even now, there are plenty of occasions when everyone knows that a chief constable is to retire in one or two years' time. Morale and the chief constable's authority do not go. Some people may say, "It will be nice to have a change"; others may say, "What a great pity. He is a wonderful chief constable". But I do not accept that the morale of the force goes; nor do I accept that the chief constable has one eye on his contract and the other on his policing, as has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Ewing. I believe this to be a perfectly natural progression.
I come to the point that I know worries the noble Lord. We consider that fixed-term appointments for the top managers of the police service are an important element of the new managerial arrangements which will be introduced as part of the reform of police personnel management. Fixed-term appointments, among other things, will emphasise the importance of performance and accountability in the police service, and they will 165 reflect the established arrangements which are quite common in other walks of life, including the public sector.
I should make it clear that it is not the purpose of fixed-term appointments to disadvantage chief constables. The purpose is to ensure that both parties have a clear opportunity to review periodically whether it is in the interests of the force and the individual for him to continue in a particular post. It would not be unreasonable for a police authority for a number of good reasons to consider a change of chief constable, but under the current arrangements a police authority may have to continue to work with a chief constable, whether or not it likes it, whether or not he is as good as it thinks he should be, or he is someone whom it would prefer to replace, for 10 to 15 years or even longer. The same point applies to assistant chief constables. Fixed-term appointments provide an effective and dignified means of managing those circumstances.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was worried about superintendents not wishing to become assistant chief constables or chief constables if they were to be on fixed-term appointments, to which principle they might take exception. There is bound to be that risk if we cannot ensure that they have continuity and confidence in the system. That is why the point made by the noble Lord, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, is a very important one. I accept that fair and reasonable arrangements need to be in place to safeguard the interests of chief constables and assistant chief constables who, having completed fixed-term appointments, are unable to secure other appointments and yet do not qualify to receive pensions.
We have discussed that and other issues relating to the sensible management of fixed-term appointments with the Association of Chief Police Officers. We have suggested various things to them. It was those suggestions that I put into the letter, in my great effort to try to be accommodating, which so agitated and irritated everyone. We have suggested that the minimum period of appointment should be four years, and that fixed-term appointments should be reviewed annually on a rolling basis; in other words, an appointment would be for four years. After the first year the appointment can be renewed for another four years, and after the second year it can be renewed for another four years. However, the final appointment cannot last for more than seven years. Therefore, he will know that at seven years that length of appointment will come to an end. After seven years (or 10 years for assistant chief constables) the post will have to be re-advertised, and the post holder will then be eligible for re-selection.
We are also considering what arrangements should be made to compensate people for the risk that is to some extent inherent in a fixed-term appointment, that it may not be renewed or a new appointment secured before the person has qualified to receive a pension. I believe that that satisfies a good number of the points about which the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, was concerned. One does not get a four-year appointment and wonder towards the end of the fourth year whether or not it will be renewed. The chief constable will know 166 that he has a four-year appointment and that next year and the year after he will have a four-year appointment, if that is the agreement between him and the local authority.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Earl the following question. Is it not true that one is introducing more uncertainty? After the first year the chief officer has to suck up to the authority to get another four years; in the second year he does the same and so on until it comes to the final period which brings him to seven years.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, really has some extraordinary ideas. If he believes that chief constables have to spend their time sucking up to police authorities because otherwise they will not be reappointed, the choice of appointment was probably wrong in the first place. All we are trying to do is to make it perfectly clear that a fixed-term appointment is made and runs for four years. At the end of the next year it runs for another four years. But of course if the chief constable has so fouled his copybook or shown himself to be so incompetent that the police authority says, "Look, we do not want you to continue after that", he will know that he has only three years. That seems to me to be perfectly reasonable.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has not yet had an opportunity to consider fully these proposals, but I have reason to believe that they will be acceptable to that body.
I understand the concerns that have been expressed about operational independence. I fully appreciate the need to ensure that there are safeguards to prevent any police authority from acting capriciously, because that would be intolerable. We believe that the proposals just outlined provide the right kind of safeguards. The detail of these important personnel management issues must be settled in consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the police authorities. We have benefited from listening to what they have already had to say about fixed-term appointments and performance-related pay for chief constables. We shall continue to develop those arrangements in discussion with them.
During the Committee debate on 15th February, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, asked me, with what I am bound to say was some vigour, what were the Government's proposals in respect of the long-standing requirement for officers aspiring to the Association of Chief Police Officers' rank to have served in another force. I said that I would consider the point and that I hoped to be able to report to the House by Report stage. We have now developed proposals which we shall be discussing with the Association of Chief Police Officers. These are that to be eligible for consideration for an assistant chief constable post an officer must have served as a superintendent for at least two years outside the force; and to be eligible for consideration for the chief constable post an officer must have served as assistant chief constable for at least two years outside the force.
These proposals vary slightly from the existing requirements in that they refer to experience which has been gained outside of the force. This means that central 167 service postings and, indeed, experience gained outside the police service can count towards the qualifying period. The existing Police Regulations require experience in some other force, which we now consider to be too restrictive.
I hope that that satisfactorily clears up the point about which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, was worried.
I come now to the Scottish amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, and my noble friend Lord Lyell. This would have the effect of restricting the introduction of fixed term appointments to the ranks of chief constable and assistant chief constable only in respect of officers who are serving in Scottish police forces.
The amendment also addresses the renewal of fixed term appointments and compensation when the appointment is not renewed. But I hope that noble Lords will accept that what I have just said about our proposals for the management of fixed term contracts satisfactorily meets the concerns which lie behind those aspects of the proposed amendment.
The superintending rank provides the senior managers of the police service. We consider that fixed term appointments may well have similar advantages for the superintending ranks as those which I have described in respect of the top managers of the police service.
The main point of Clause 46 is to specify that fixed term appointments cannot be introduced for officers below the rank of superintendent. Clause 14(4) does the same for England and Wales. We will not extend fixed term appointments to the superintending ranks until we have had an opportunity to judge the benefits in the light of experience with the ACPO ranks. But we need to be able to extend fixed term appointments to the superintending rank; if it is sensible to do so. That is what we propose.
This is a longer speech than I would wish to have made. I have tried 1.0 allay some of the anxieties that your Lordships and others have expressed. I accept that fixed term appointments are different. Of course they carry risks, but there is no reason why those should not be containable risks and no reason why this provision should not be of benefit to chief constables and police authorities. I hope your Lordships will agree to that.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I acquit the noble Earl from any discourtesy as regards the letter which helpfully arrived 15 minutes before this debate began. As he will realise, it is mildly difficult in the middle of a debate to start reading a detailed letter on a matter of such fundamental importance. I make no criticism apart from that. The noble Earl's private office is always extremely helpful to us.
As the Minister will realise, I have no intention of pressing this matter today, given the fact that the letter which he has now sent to us and the speech which he has just delivered have to some extent changed the character of the situation that we are debating. Obviously we shall have to look at what is proposed.
Perhaps I may just say one thing to him. He used the phrase "the incompetence of the chief constable". He said that the police authority might wish to remove a 168 chief constable on the ground of incompetence. Some noble Lords seemed to find that a rather attractive argument. But that is not the issue at all. Of course there may be incompetent chief constables, just as there may be incompetent Ministers of the Crown. That is true. But the fact of the matter is that, by and large, chief constables and police authorities get on rather well together. They always have done and we hope that it will continue.
Let me make a point which may be attractive to some noble Lords opposite; namely, the issue of the South Yorkshire police horses during the miners' strike. The noble Earl will recall that that issue eventually went to the courts. The police authority took the view that for very understandable reasons it had strong sympathies with the miners who were in dispute. The police authority of South Yorkshire decided to stand down or abolish the police horse section of the South Yorkshire force on the ground that those horses had been used in policing demonstrations by working miners. I have no intention of going back into the rights and wrongs of that issue. But I wonder what would have happened to the contract of the chief constable of South Yorkshire if this procedure had been on the statute book. It is not a question of the competence of the chief officer.
The danger in what is being provided for in this Clause is that it strikes at the heart of the operational independence of chief officers. The noble Earl can speak as long as he likes on the subject of what is proposed, but the real danger of what is proposed in this clause is that in the future chief officers will become merely chief executives of some police authorities—not all.; I am sure that the working relationship with many will remain unaffected. However, as soon as an issue of high public controversy arises, where some members of the police authority believe that the force is not handling, the matter on an operational basis in a way that they find attractive, the danger is that that chief officer's contract is at risk.
I believe that this is a quite intolerable provision. Let there be no doubt about it. I believe that we are creating a most dangerous situation. I feel that the House and Parliament will long regret introducing procedures of this kind. I have spoken about one issue affecting a police authority Left of centre. There are plenty of other examples of police authorities which are Right of centre and may have strong feelings about how hunt saboteurs should be dealt with. The problem is that we are not talking about management but about operational independence. I still believe that what is provided here is ominous and we shall regret it.
Nevertheless, the noble Earl has put forward a series of changes in what was previously the Government's position. The Oughton Report demolished totally the case for fixed term appointments, as I indicated. Nevertheless, I welcome what the Government said on this issue. Our objection to it is still one of principle. We are opposed to what is being provided. But given the fact that the noble Earl has now come forward with his letter and that the Association of Chief Police Officers, as he says in that letter, is still considering the matter, I prefer to come back to the issue on Third Reading. With the permission of the House, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 5 [Deputy and assistant chief constables]:
§ [Amendment No. 70 not moved]
§ 7 p.m.
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 71
After Clause 5, insert the following new clause:
("Chief superintendents and chief inspectors
In section 7 of the 1964 Act in subsection 1 after "in addition to chief constable, deputy chief constable and assistant chief constable, the ranks of ' there shall be inserted "chief superintendent", and after "superintendent" there shall be inserted "chief inspector".").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an issue of high importance. It affects the abolition of a number of ranks —of chief inspector and chief superintendent. The police service has only nine ranks and it is to be reduced to six. When the question is asked, "Why is the number of ranks to be reduced?" we are referred to our old familiar friend Sheehy. We are told that another of its recommendations is that that should be done. No doubt that is found to be appropriate in the private sector, but it bears absolutely no relationship to a disciplined service such as the police service.
As I understand it, the argument of the Government —or the argument of Sheehy, because this is one of the few recommendations in Sheehy which has been introduced in the Bill—is that there are too many middle ranking officers. Nevertheless, since 1990 there have been reductions of 155 in the number of chief inspectors, 120 in the number of superintendents and 84 in the number of chief superintendents.
As I indicated, the police service is the only disciplined service comparable to the Armed Forces. For instance, in both it is an offence against military law to take any form of industrial action. What is needed is a clearly defined rank structure which can deal with day-to-day operational issues and with difficult public order situations. I refer to a major public disturbance or a disaster where officers from many forces may have to work side by side in dealing with what may be a human tragedy or often extreme violence. Officers from three or four forces may be required because they are in a mutual aid situation. Of course, one force can reinforce another when dealing with a specific situation.
What is being suggested is that we abolish both the rank of chief inspector and the rank of chief superintendent. There will therefore remain only six ranks in the police service. Perhaps I can give an example, if I can have the noble Earl's attention for a moment. I apologise to him but the argument is important and I am sure that he will wish to reply to it as helpfully as he always tries to do. A difficult public order situation arises producing much confusion. Many scores, if not hundreds, of police officers are involved and there is a substantial amount of violence. In the new situation there will be no chief superintendents, no chief inspectors; only superintendents or inspectors. In that highly confused situation—many of them arise—there are three or four officers holding the same rank of 170 superintendent. Who will be in charge? Do they start discussing who is to be in charge when extreme violence is being visited upon their men and women officers?
Perhaps I may give another illustration. I do not know whether the noble Earl saw the film "Zulu". It concerned a battle at Rourke's Drift in which the whole Zulu nation came upon a small detachment of troops from the South Wales Borderers and Royal Engineers. The two actors, Stanley Baker and Michael Caine, were both playing lieutenants. The question arose as to who was to be in charge; who was to be the officer in command; who was to give directions. They decided it on the basis of the seniority of their commissions. I wonder whether that will be the way in which this issue will be addressed if an episode of extreme violence occurs on a picket line or a demonstration involving possibly thousands of people.
It may be that several officers of the same rank are present. Who will be in charge? Those issues must be addressed and clear answers given. Once again the Government are flying in the face of all professional opinion—as they know. If Ministers ignore professional opinion—in the final analysis that is their right—they must answer specific questions of this sort. What will happen if events get out of hand, as happened in Red Lion Square—there have been many others—is that there will subsequently be some sort of judicial inquiry. Senior police officers will be brought to account as to why they took certain actions and did not take others.
All I am saying is that by striking away these ranks from the police service the Government are creating what may be a dangerously confused situation at a time when there is serious civic turmoil. I wonder whether even now they are prepared to reconsider the matter. If not, they will once again be accepting a heavy degree of personal responsibility for what follows. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, during my 34 years of service I saw many ranks in the police service come and go. At one stage there were superintendent grades I and 2. There were station sergeants. The Met. then introduced deputy assistant commissioners. It abolished superintendents at one stage and then reintroduced them. I am therefore used to ranks coming and going, but normally one at a time and it did not have a serious dislocating effect on the police structure.
For many years I have also been an advocate for the Metropolitan police reducing the number of ranks. In fact, currently it has 11 ranks as opposed to nine elsewhere in the country. I have seen the virtues of removing at least one of those. The police service tends to be over conscious of promotion. There is sometimes a tendency for too much rank consciousness. Information flows from top to bottom and can be affected if there are too many ranks. When one has a force through which people move rapidly because there are a great number of layers, there is a tendency always to be looking at the next rank rather than concentrating on one's current job.
But it is possible to overstate those problems. What is currently being proposed is seriously disturbing. I have also always been in favour of delegation of 171 authority, which in one of the other justifications for flattening the hierarchy. It is said that it is important to move responsibility downwards. My experience as a manager was always to give as much responsibility as possible right down to the rank of constable. One sees much more effective policing if it is done at the level at which people know what is happening.
All those points apply within the managerial everyday situation and analogies can be drawn with other organisations. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, it does not apply when one is in the centre of a public order situation, or command on the streets, at football matches, state occasions and major demonstrations when it is absolutely essential that one has all the links from top to bottom without too great a span of command.
At Committee stage I spoke of the problems of policing Brentford football ground, with which I became familiar over some three-and-a-half years as senior manager. I can assure the House that it concentrates the mind when one is standing on the terraces in a cold north-east wind trying to sort out hooligans and moving one's small force of 30 or 40 officers around all four stands in a football stadium. It is essential that if one is to do that and control minor spots of trouble one must have links with different parts of the ground. Those links are normally at chief inspector level. They are the link between the basic operational policing carried out by constables, sergeants and inspectors who are given assigned tasks to do in a specific area of the ground. But there must be somebody who can decide that one inspector's group of officers can afford to spare half-a-dozen men to help in some other part of the ground where trouble is brewing. That needs to be done at a tactical level. It is not a question of superintendents conducting the situation from a distance like an orchestra. It must be done on the ground where one can see what is happening.
To take another analogy, one may have a state visit coming down Victoria Street—the kind of thing with which we are all familiar. Large numbers of police officers line the route, in groups of 20 or 30 constables, a couple of sergeants and an inspector responsible for one stretch of the street. One cannot expect the superintendent or commander to see the whole of Victoria Street and when a minor problem arises one needs the chief inspector to act as a link to be able to tell one inspector to release half his men to help the next door serial. That cannot be done by individual inspectors deciding to lend their officers; anarchy would ensue. What happens is everybody wants to be involved and the whole route-lining situation breaks down completely. Everybody tries to deal with that spot of trouble because they enjoy being involved. Control of the situation is then completely lost. It is essential to have a localised operational link where one can see what is happening. It is not a question of doing it strategically or at management level at the far end of Victoria Station when the trouble is occurring at this end of Victoria Street.
The other function that is absolutely essential is the fact that the police service is a 24-hour service. The basic unit of policing is normally what is called a relief 172 or shift of police officers which consists of a large number of constables and a few sergeants. One normally has an inspector who is the relief inspector who runs his team which covers the ground for an eight-hour period. Under the shift system there are normally four such teams of officers running the 24-hour policing in any territorial part of this country. But if those individual teams are to pursue common objectives, if they are to pass on information, if they are to deal with particular local problems, one needs someone at the operational linking level; not at the managerial strategic level of superintendent or chief superintendent.
One essentially needs someone at that halfway point where they are very much in touch with what is happening on the ground—which pubs are causing trouble, where the current spate of burglaries are--to ensure that there is liaison and a flow of information from one team of officers coming on and the next one going off. That is what does not seem to be understood when these managerial analogies of pushing responsibility downwards are used. It needs co-ordination in the police service over both space and time. The police service is extended over very large areas. It is perhaps easier in London where on the whole the spaces are not so large, but if one imagines having to do the same kind of co-ordination and ensuring that the whole thing works in some of the wilder parts of this country—particularly in Scotland; I am sure that my Scottish colleagues will support what I am saying—it is essential to have those linking levels of command.
It is not just a question of setting a strategy right at the top and then everyone doing their best at the bottom to carry it out. One needs people to co-ordinate and to ensure that people work together, that there is a flow of information and that things are controlled. That is what does not seem to be understood in this suggestion that the police service generally should be reduced from nine ranks to six. It is extraordinary that it can actually be thought that one can run elaborate situations such as the Notting Hill Carnival, where one has 5,000 or 6,000 police officers, and that that number of police officers can be managed with only six levels, including the chief constable. It will not work. I am seriously concerned about the reduction in numbers as proposed in the Bill.
§ Lord Bramall
My Lords, we have been listening to the voice of frontline experience. And there is no substitute for that. But as one who has had some experience in designing and making work economical hierarchical organisations, both at headquarters level and in the field, perhaps I may also say something about the amendment which also stands in my name.
I am amazed and indeed dismayed that the Government should have incorporated into this Bill a tinkering-about with the very limited number of ranks of the police. A proper and comprehensive rank structure has, from my experience, many very positive advantages. It provides a sound basis for operational command which has enough flexibility to cope with any expected or unexpected developments and it reflects, or it should do, the scale and range of responsibilities of the holder of that rank, just like the captain of a Royal Navy warship who may be anything from a lieutenant to 173 a captain, depending on the size of the ship. It ensures proper remuneration for any increase in responsibilities. It assists in administration and dispensing of discipline. The noble Earl will appreciate this as much as I do. It is quite clear who under any situation is the boss. Finally, and very importantly, it constitutes an important ingredient in self respect, morale and motivation by providing a stimulating career structure and by indicating to all concerned when an individual has made successful progress and advancement in his or her chosen career.
To cut the police ranks to six which, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, in any case number only nine, with slight variations in the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in contrast with about 18 in each of the Armed Forces of the Crown, would run counter to all the advantages I have just mentioned. By removing the chief rank from both superintendent and inspector it would not accurately reflect extra or wider responsibility and the key middle man of operational command would be reduced to only one—the superintendent's rank. It is just like the Army having only one rank between captain and brigadier. Then by calling a hitherto chief superintendent a superintendent and a chief inspector just inspector it would almost certainly in time reduce the remuneration for many while not reducing their responsibilities. It would certainly hit morale and motivation by increasing the time spent in each rank and thus severely reducing career prospects.
I cannot see very much point in doing away with the deputy chief constable's rank if, as is admitted by the Home Office, it may be very necessary to have that appointment in some, if not all, of the forces in this country. In the case of the Armed Forces there is only one instance where the appointment is not matched by rank. That is commodore, Royal Navy, and that has not been considered to be entirely satisfactory.
Altogether this petty tinkering with ranks seems to be a totally needless exercise, introduced for what purpose it is not at all clear. I believe it will seriously reduce operational flexibility and will harm morale and motivation without any consequent benefits to the organisation. I am not saying that the police cannot do anything to sharpen and streamline their management structure. I am quite sure that they can, and there is a lot that they can do. But if the aim of the exercise is to cut management numbers on purely financial grounds or to streamline the organisation in search of greater efficiency, it would be far better to reduce the number of managers and the links in the management chain, which is not at all the same thing as the rank structure.
In my experience, no command decisions or submission for decisions should have to go through more than two management or command levels, but this can easily be achieved by not having a full hierarchical system under each rank, which has, I believe, in any case been abandoned by the police some time ago. as we have heard, the numbers of middle chief superintendents have been significantly and. So, for example, inspectors can report direct receive orders direct from superintendents, or 174 chief inspectors can do the same with chief superintendents. That is a far more sensible way forward than doing something which undoubtedly will demoralise the force by striking at their very esprit de corps and incentive, something at this time which I suggest the Government do at their peril. It is for that reason that I strongly support the amendment to the Bill. I ask the noble Earl not to confuse ranks with management posts and to think again before a tampering which will go right to the heart of police morale.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, I rise to speak about the Scottish situation. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, has been kind enough to discuss the matter with a number of us. As I understand it, the reason for the reduction in the number of ranks is to suit small police forces. In Scotland the Glasgow area is the only one that has a very large number of policemen and needs all the ranks whereas Ayrshire and Galloway are very small and do not need all the ranks that we have. That can be very easily resolved through the negotiations over money and the establishment of the force which take place every year. The number of senior ranks and their stations are obviously sorted out each year.
The Government have had some admirable advice from professionals on the matter, and if they will not listen to that, they should go back to the time when they read C.S. Forester and his lovely stories about Hornblower. Time and again Hornblower was foiled in his admirable planning by the arrival of a captain senior to him on the list. If we are going to introduce that kind of procedure in the police force, it will introduce chaos if an officer has to look up a list to see whether he will take orders from someone who is a superintendent of lesser standing than he is. That argument is bad and foolish, and it is a serious one.
I cannot see why the Government are taking this course. There is no trouble about keeping down the number of senior people in a small police force. Certainly, the numbers are needed in the great conurbations of western Scotland or in the east in the cities, where there are large police forces and large crowds and all the situations which have been so well described by the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall. The Government must think again. I hope they feel at this stage that they will listen to the voice of experience coming from the Benches beside me and do something as they have done in practically every other case in this Bill.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, I very much endorse what the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, said. Taking up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, if a small police force does not require all the ranks, then the establishment does not include the ranks that are not wanted. In the same way a small ship has certain kinds of officers and petty officers, but it may not have them all. It is very easy and flexible to have such a system; but one does not want a basic Act of Parliament to sweep away three out of only nine ranks. It is quite extraordinary ! I shall not repeat all that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, said. He knows about these things. If the Home Office has to be 175 advised by a businessman on how to organise a uniformed, disciplined force, it needs its head examined.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, quite apart from the last excellent comment from my noble friend, my noble neighbour Lord Mackie just alluded to Scotland. But he was too humble. He did not allude to the area known to him, to myself and to my noble and learned friend on the Front. Bench. Perhaps I may put the matter into English terms by comparing the semi-rural areas where I and the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, live, as something akin to Cumbria or perhaps East Yorkshire; whereas Strathclyde, with its enormous population and problems of policing, might be something akin to Kent where one has a mixture of both rural and highly urban and complicated policing is needed.
I ask my noble and learned friend as regards the Scottish element of Amendment No. 130, to look at the comments which have been made, certainly by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, but above all by the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton. We do not have state visits—certainly not in Angus. I understand that there is to be a state visit this year to Edinburgh and no doubt her excellent and humorous comments will be noted in their respective areas. I say to the noble Baroness that I shall always look at what is away from the main event particularly as regards her comments about inspectors wishing—I believe I quote her correctly—to "join in". The noble Baroness has experience of these matters. Her comments as well as those of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, bear very heavily on this particular amendment with which I and many of my noble friends on these Benches wish to be associated.
§ Lord Ewing of Kirkford
My Lords, we have come to the heart of the matter in the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, and that of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, as regards the difference between small and large police forces. As the noble Earl knows, at the present time the Government have control over the number of officers in each rank. The minimum number of officers is laid down in the establishment levels prescribed for forces in England and Wales by the Home Secretary and in Scotland by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
There is provision in this Bill which relaxes these controls presently being exercised by government and passes to the chief constable the responsibility for deciding the number of officers which he wishes to have in each rank. There is also provision in the Bill for introducing single-line budgets; namely, financial limits, as they are commonly called.
What we have as a result of this proposed legislation is control being passed to the chief constable for deciding how many officers are in each rank in his or her force and the financial control of that force as well. Against that background it is sensible to leave the rank structure to the chief constable. If he wants to have, as in the case of Strathclyde at the moment, 36 chief superintendents and, as regards other smaller forces, four or five—and in some cases only three—then so be 176 it. That ought to be a matter for the chief constable. Indeed, that is the power which the Government are giving through this Bill to the chief constable.
The chief constable is also responsible for the budget of his or her police force. If he or she spends more money on chief superintendents, it is fairly obvious that the money is not there for constables. That would then be a matter for the police authority and the chief constable. But for the Government to take to themselves the right to abolish these three ranks is a mistake. I say particularly to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, that the rank structure of the police force has developed over the years not to provide a career structure, but because of the operational necessities of the police force. Had there not been a need for chief superintendents, chief inspectors and deputy chief constables, they would never have been created in the first place. It is because of the continuing need of the operational requirements of police forces that the rank structure has been developed.
The Government are getting themselves involved in an area in which they need not be involved. Because of the new powers which they are giving to chief constables, it is sensible to leave to them decisions as regards the rank structure of their respective forces. It is right, as the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, said, that in Dumfries and Galloway (and in a very small force of 200 officers) there would obviously not be the same requirement for some of these ranks as there is in such forces as Lothian and the Borders, Strathclyde and Tayside which are very widespread. Grampian is very much the same with massive rural areas to police. I suggest in all sincerity that the Government ought to reflect on this and leave to the chief constables to decide the rank structure.
My final point is in the form of a question. When I spoke previously on this matter I made the point that my understanding was that the badges of office were to remain. In other words, the badges of the chief superintendent, the chief inspector and the deputy chief constable would remain and could be worn. The salary structure was also to remain.
I noticed that negotiations last week at the Police Negotiating Board about the pay of chief superintendents broke down and that the matter is to go to arbitration. I do not know the reason for the breakdown, but I have no doubt that it has something to do with the legislation that we are discussing. I wonder whether the noble Earl can confirm or clear up my doubts about whether the badges of office are to remain and whether, until such time as the negotiations at the Police Negotiating Board on the new salary structure are completed, the salary structure is to remain as well. It seems to me that if the badges of office, insignia and salaries are to remain, it would be sensible to leave the ranks as they are. Indeed, I think that it would be sensible to leave the whole thing to the chief constables to decide. When all is said and done, the Government are, in my view, sensibly delegating to the chief constables much more power to decide how many officers there shall be in each rank.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Lady Saltoun of Abernethy
My Lords, although Amendment No. 130 also bears my name, following the eloquence and expertise that we have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, and the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, there is nothing that I can add except to say that it goes without saying that I support the amendment.
§ Lord Forbes
My Lords, there is no doubt at all that if the Government want to maintain the morale in the police force, they must accept the amendment.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, before the Minister replies, as he is about to do, perhaps I may comment on one matter which concerns me which has not yet been mentioned. I am not an expert on the police. I have merely served on a local authority which was a police authority, but I was not a member of the police committee, although I frequently attended its meetings.
My understanding of the proposal—the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, reiterated most of it, but not all—is that having fewer ranks would give a chief constable greater freedom within the overall budget to arrange the structure as he or she wants—and it might be a "she" one day. If a given chief constable allocates all the ranks in the sort of hierarchal structure of which the noble and gallant Lord spoke with such experience, he lands his successor with all those ranks and all the incumbents have to be given a job. Presumably, the chief inspector in a fairly small authority has certain responsibilities which cannot really be changed. Indeed, perhaps they cannot be changed in a larger authority.
My understanding of the previous discussion was that it might be possible with fewer ranks to allocate the jobs differently, with officers retaining their pay and, as I understand it, their badge of office, without necessarily having to have the same job simply because they are in a certain rank. It would be advantageous if there were more flexibility in the proposed arrangements.
Most noble Lords have considered this matter from the point of view of the police and that is the view that they have expressed to the House. I am trying to consider it from the point of view of the police authority and the public generally. Is there a way of retaining the status and ranks which the police clearly enjoy and which those operating the police service find helpful while at the same time making it possible to move people around from year to year, from circumstance to circumstance or from the command of one chief constable to that of another? Sometimes chief constables are landed with their predecessor's arrangements and find it difficult to change them.
Perhaps this issue does not arise in the Army in the same way because the officer in command of the Army is not given a budget with total freedom to decide how many staff to have and of what rank. It is slightly different under the new arrangements. When my noble friend replies, perhaps he will tell us whether he sees any way of compromising on this matter because it seems to me that there are advantages which nobody has yet considered.
My Lords, whenever one does anything like removing a rank structure, it causes a tremendous amount of concern. When the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, was speaking so impressively, I was taken back to the time when the regiments in the Army were amalgamated. I remembered some of the debates that took place then in your Lordships' House in which considerable anxiety was expressed. But the regiments were amalgamated and the Army continued. I do not think that we have suffered that much, other than that there has been a certain amount of territorial anxiety about the fact that something that used to be local to certain areas of the country would no longer be so local.
I accept that such matters cause anxiety and I sympathise with anyone, and particularly with the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, who has served in the police and knows all about it, as they see the prospect of a rank structure being changed and various ranks being removed.
I am not sure whether the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, was right to compare this with the military. The police are different. They do not have the same military structure as the Army, although the police have a disciplined structure also.
In his enormously generous way, my noble friend Lord Mottistone said that I ought to have my head examined for proposing this. I always enjoy my noble friend's interventions, but if I am going to have my head examined, I must tell him that I would not put it into his tender care.
The purpose of removing these ranks is fairly straightforward, although it may not be readily digestible by some of your Lordships. It is to enable the further streamlining of the management hierarchy by simplifying the structure. That will provide clearer and more direct communication, enable those police officers with the greatest ability to move more quickly through the ranks and provide chief constables with the opportunity for exchanging middle management posts for more police officers on the beat. Here, I agree with my noble friend Lady Carnegy that if there are fewer positions in the hierarchy, people will move up that hierarchy more quickly. That will give the chief constables more flexibility about who to place where, as opposed to ensuring that a post is occupied by someone of a specific rank.
The need for streamlining force management structures has been accepted for some time by the police service. Many forces have gone some way to reducing the number of middle management posts. Six or seven years ago people might have thought that it was unnecessary to reduce middle management posts, yet it has happened and the police service is better as a result of it. It is now possible to have more constables on the beat, which is something which everyone is concerned to achieve.
The existing rank structure, which has six separate ranks from sergeant to assistant chief constable, hinders forces from achieving the optimum management restructuring. Experience from all walks of life, when reform of hierarchies has been proposed or implemented, is that unless the tiers of responsibility are 179 streamlined, the management functions tend to expand to fill the available rank structure. Most people recognise that there are too many higher ranking police management posts. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, expressed a concern about that which I respect and understand. I was talking the other day about rank restructuring to a chief constable—not of a small force —and he said that he was not at all worried about it. He thought that it was perfectly acceptable. That shows that there are different opinions about the matter.
The noble Lords, Lord Ewing and Lord Bramall, referred to deputy chief constables. We are abolishing the rank but not the appointment. In other words, it will be possible for a chief constable to designate an assistant chief constable as deputy chief constable to take over when he, the chief constable, is not there. In relation to a previous amendment the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, said that the deputy chief constable would have to return to the Home Secretary for approval. The only approval that is necessary from the Home Secretary is when the assistant chief constable occupies the position of deputy chief constable and acts in lieu of the chief constable for more than three months. Then he must have the Home Secretary's approval. The appointment of deputy chief constable can be given to one assistant chief constable for any length of time, or it can be given to one assistant chief constable for a certain period and to another for a different period. Therefore, the appointment is not disappearing, merely the rank.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris, spoke of the public order chain of command. That is quite clear. Of course, there are difficulties in relation to public order situations but there is a distinct hierarchy. The appointment will be of a gold, silver and bronze officer, which depicts clearly where the chain of command lies. That supersedes the rank structure and is already the position.
The anxiety raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, relates to roles and not to rank. Force structures will make it clear which officers have responsibility for which functions. That is a management function and is not dependent on rank. The police rank structure changes will take place in the context of a thorough review of police force responsibilities. It is not a question merely of keeping the current levels of managerial responsibility but having fewer ranks. The new rank structure will be applied in conjunction with a reassessment and reallocation of the roles and responsibilities at all levels.
We must have clear and effective management. That is no less important for large forces than for small forces. The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, said, "This is fine for small forces but not for large forces". The same principle applies; what is necessary for small and large forces is a clear management structure.
The noble Lord, Lord Ewing, was concerned about badges of office. We expect ACPO to reach agreement on insignia which will apply in Great Britain. It is for the police service to decide whether to carry the same insignia. Pay will continue to be negotiated in the police negotiating board and it will be implemented subject to agreement by the Secretary of State. No serving officer will have his or her pay reduced as a consequence of restructuring.
180 I return to the point that I made at the beginning of my reply. The whole purpose of the restructuring is, first, to cut out the middle management layer, to slim it down, as is being done with great success by many police forces. The second purpose is to enable the best people to move more quickly through the ranks, which they will do if there are fewer ranks rather than having progressively to go through one rank and another until they reach the top.
I hope that your Lordships will agree that this restructuring, difficult though it may be and causing pain as it will, is likely to lead to a more effective and efficient police service.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I shall respond briefly. The Minister said that the restructuring will lead to a more efficient police force. What a pity it is that the Association of Chief Police Officers takes the contrary view. It is at least possible that it has a fair degree of experience of this issue.
The Minister said that one of the objectives of the exercise is to streamline the structure and to reduce the number of middle managers. He said that the numbers have been cut. Indeed they have, as I pointed out when moving the amendment. Once again the Government are totally ignoring the professional view of senior members of the police service. The Government are taking risks as regards public safety in many communities, which may experience the kind of violence that we have seen in this country all too often. They may experience dangerously confused situations without anyone being clear who is in command and human life could be at risk. That is wholly unacceptable and therefore I invite the House to make a decision.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 71) shall be agreed to?
§ *Their Lordships divided: Contents, 71; Not-Contents, 81.181
|Division No. 1|
|Ackner, L.||Hooson, L.|
|Acton, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Addington, L.||Hylton, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Allen of Abbeydale||Jeger, B.|
|Archer of Sandwell, L.||Jenkins of Hillhead, L.|
|Bramall, L.||Judd, L.|
|Cross, V.||Lester of Herne Hill, L.|
|David, B.||Lyell, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Desai, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Dormand of Essington, L.||McNair, L.|
|Erroll, E.||Merlyn-Rees, L.|
|Ewing of Kirkford, L.||Meston, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Mottistone, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Foot, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Forbes, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]||Peston, L.|
|Pitt of Hampstead, L|
|Halsbury, E.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Hamwee, B.||Redesdale, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Ridley, V.|
|Haskel, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Hilton of Eggardon, B.||Russell, E.|
|Hollis of Heigham, B.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Seear, B.||Trevor, L.|
|Sefton of Garston, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Selkirk, E.||Walpole, L.|
|Shepherd, L.||Westbury, L.|
|St. John of Bletso, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Taylor of Blackburn, L.||White, B.|
|Thomson of Monifieth, L.||Williams of Crosby, B.|
|Tonypandy, V.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Addison, V.||Hooper, B.|
|Annaly, L.||Howe, E.|
|Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.||Huntly, M.|
|Arran, E.||Kenyon, L.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Kimball, L.|
|Astor, V.||Kitchener, E.|
|Balfour, E.||Knutsford, V.|
|Barber, L.||Leigh, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Long, V.|
|Blatch, B.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||McColl of Dulwich, L.|
|Cadman, L.||Miller of Hendon, B.|
|Caithness, E.||Mountevans, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Norrie, L.|
|Cavendish of Furness, L.||Parkinson, L.|
|Clark of Kempston, L.||Pearson of Rannoch, L.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Perry of Southwark, B.|
|Craigavon, V.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Prentice, L.|
|Cranborne, V.||Renton, L.|
|Crickhowell, L.||Rodger of Earlsferry, L.|
|Cumberlege, B.||Seccombe, B.|
|Dean of Harptree, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Denton of Wakefield, B.||Sharples, B.|
|Dixon-Smith, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Dormer, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Elton, L.||Stewartby, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Stockton, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Finsberg, L.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E. [Teller.]|
|Fraser of Carmyllie, L.|
|Gisborough, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Tollemache, L.|
|Hacking, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Ullswater, V. [Teller.]|
|Harmsworth, L.||Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]|
|Harvington, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Henley, L.||Wynford, L.|
§ [*The Tellers for the Contents reported 71 names. The Clerks recorded 70 names.]
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Clause 9 [Questions by local councilors]:
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 72:
Page 6, line 42, leave out ("section 3A of') and insert ("Schedule 1 B to").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment has been spoken to with Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 73 not moved.]
§ Baroness Trumpington
My Lords, I beg to move that consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving that Motion, I suggest that the Report stage is resumed not before five minutes before nine o'clock.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.