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Mr. Simon Hughes: I am grateful that the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) had a chance to speak. He led for the Conservatives on the issue in Committee. We were grateful to him then, as we are now. Like him, I listened to the Minister's reply and found unconvincing the simple logic that, because at least some of the other agencies that will be set up by the Greater London Authority--functional agencies, as they are described--have to have a particular shape, it follows that the Metropolitan police authority has to have a particular shape.

I reflect on the speech of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway), who tried to describe how the proposals that we were putting forward were dangerous because they reflected an electoral system that was in the Bill, which gives proportionality to the make-up of the assembly. We argue that it would far better for an assembly that was representative of the votes that were cast in London to choose the members of the police authority, rather than the mayor who, first, might not have won a majority in being elected; secondly, might be some way off having won a majority, even of those who cast their votes; and thirdly, might have won by a handful of votes, whether or not he or she had a majority. As a result, the mayor would be vested with all the power. In choosing the representatives of the Metropolitan police authority, it would be better to have the power shared, rather than concentrated.

The right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster shares a second argument with us. The Minister said that we should not draw a parallel with other police authorities in England, whose representatives are selected not by the chair of the authority, or by some other individual, but by members of the authority. She said that we should not follow the same logic here. She argued that it did not apply because the Metropolitan police authority is a different sort of police authority.

10.30 pm

The Metropolitan police service has a particular London focus, with some diplomatic and royal responsibilities, and it is bigger than other police services in the United Kingdom. However, it does not necessarily follow that the general principle established across England some years ago--when police legislation was amended providing a tripartite structure for police authorities, comprising magistrates, local authority representatives, and those chosen by the two groups--should not apply also to London.

Liberal Democrat Members have also not been won over by the argument that we have to give the mayor the substitute power to appoint members, rather than allowing a process by which police authority representatives are chosen by London's councillors.

As the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster said, thereby setting bells ringing, and as I said--which the Minister acknowledged, for which I

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am grateful--although the Government are ending the Home Secretary's role as London police authority and democratising the authority, which we welcome, we should still be trying--now, at the beginning--to get it right.

If the Government insist on their position, gradually the assembly will wish to assert its right to choose its representatives, not only in the police authority but possibly in other bodies. Londoners would prefer that the authority be a chosen, representative body, rather than an appointed one. I predict that--even if the Government get their way today, and sustain their position when the Bill goes to the other place--the logic of their position, and its consequences for representation of the people of London, dictates that that position will not hold for all time.

If policing in London is to be credible to the maximum number of Londoners, and if Londoners are really to believe that they have the best policing, more of their elected representatives should participate in the selection of the London police authority.

The Minister has reiterated the Government's position, and I realise that the Government will not give way on it. We shall therefore not press the amendment to a vote, as we did in Committee. Although we may well return to the issue in other debates, for now, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 234

Appointment of Commissioner.

Kate Hoey: I beg to move amendment No. 146, in page 127, leave out lines 18 to 22 and insert--

'(5) Before recommending to Her Majesty that She appoint a person as the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the Secretary of State shall have regard to--
(a) any recommendations made to him by the Metropolitan Police Authority; and
(b) any representations made to him by the Mayor.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin): With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government amendments Nos. 147 to 149.

Government new clause 47--Appointment and removal of commanders

Government new clause 48--Other members of the Metropolitan Police Force.

Government amendment No. 150.

Kate Hoey: This group of amendments is concerned primarily with the appointment of Metropolitan police officers. There are also provisions on the removal of Metropolitan officers, and some miscellaneous matters.

I should like to speak first to amendments Nos. 146 and 147, which deal with appointment of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. As I informed the Committee when we were debating the Bill's current provisions, it has always been our intention that the Metropolitan police authority shall have a role in the appointment of those two officers. Amendments Nos. 146 and 147 fulfil the commitment that I gave to the Committee that we should table amendments enshrining the MPA's role in the Bill.

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Amendment No. 146 deals with the appointment of the commissioner. It provides that, before the Secretary of State makes his recommendation to Her Majesty, he shall have regard to any recommendations from the MPA and any representations from the mayor.

Amendment No. 147 makes equivalent provision for the appointment of the deputy commissioner--except that the commissioner, rather than the mayor, will have the right to make representations.

The amendments give the MPA an important role in the appointment process. They are consistent with our policy of giving the MPA, so far as possible, the same powers and duties as those held by police authorities outside London. They also take account of recommendation 6 of the Macpherson report, on the appointment of chief officers of the Metropolitan police.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House will realise that the posts of commissioner and deputy commissioner are special ones. They head the capital's police force, which is the largest force in the country--20 per cent. of all police in England and Wales are in the Met--and performs a range of national and international functions far greater than those of police forces outside London.

Given the importance of the posts and the continuing responsibilities that the Home Secretary will have for the national and international functions of the Met, it would be wrong for the appointment of the commissioner and deputy commissioner to mirror exactly the appointment of chief constables. Our amendments reflect that. The appointments will remain royal ones and the Home Secretary will have the responsibility of making the recommendation to the Queen.

The precise arrangements for handling the appointments will be decided later, taking account as necessary of the outcome of the working group on leadership, which is currently considering the selection, training and support of senior police officers. We envisage the MPA identifying a few preferred candidates--probably between two and four--and submitting details and recommendations to the Home Secretary. He would then make his recommendation to Her Majesty having regard to that list and any representations made by the mayor.

We believe that the amendments strike the right balance. Through the MPA and the mayor, they will give Londoners a say in who will lead the capital's police service, while recognising the distinct nature of the appointments and the need for the Home Secretary to play a more active role than he does in chief constable appointments.

New clause 47 makes provision for the appointment and removal of commanders, similar to clause 238 in respect of assistant commissioners. It gives the MPA the same role in their appointment and removal as police authorities outside London have in respect of assistant chief constables, to whom commanders are regarded as equivalent in rank. The MPA will be able to appoint commanders or call on them to retire, subject in both cases to the approval of the Home Secretary. That is consistent with the general policy of the Bill that the powers and duties of the MPA should, as far as possible, be the same as those of police authorities outside London. It is also consistent with Macpherson recommendation 6.

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Amendment No. 149 is related to the new clause. Paragraph 84 of schedule 22 provides that the Home Secretary may require the MPA to exercise its power to call on the commissioner, deputy commissioner or an assistant commissioner to retire, but before the Home Secretary does so, or approves a request by the MPA to sanction such a removal, the individual in question has a right to make representations to the Home Secretary. Now that we have made specific provision in the Bill for the arrangements governing the removal of commanders, we wish to apply the provisions of that paragraph to them as well as to the three commissioner ranks. Amendment No. 149 achieves that. For the sake of clarity, it also lists the four senior Met officer ranks to which the paragraph now applies.

New clause 48 is concerned with the remaining ranks of the Met. It lists those ranks below commander that may be held in the Met--superintendent, chief inspector, inspector, sergeant and constable. It also provides that their appointment and promotion are to be made by the commissioner in accordance with regulations under section 50 of the Police Act 1996. The new clause mirrors the provision made for forces outside London by section 13 of the 1996 Act. In effect, it replaces sections 4 and 5 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, which provide the current basis for appointing all Met ranks below that of assistant commissioner to be repealed by the Bill. That is another example of the Bill aligning arrangements in the Met with arrangements elsewhere.

Amendment No. 148 is also purely technical. It removes a reference in section 1(3) of the 1996 Act, which will no longer be required once the boundaries of the Metropolitan police district are redrawn to bring them into line with the outer boundary of Greater London. Provision for changing the MPD boundary is contained in clause 239. We intend that those changes will take place on 1 April 2000.

The amendments and new clauses set the right legislative framework for the appointment and removal of officers in the Met. They are a positive step forward in the policing of London, and I commend them to the House.

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