House of Commons
|Session 2006 - 07|
Publications on the internet
Public Bill Committee Debates
Draft Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007
The Committee consisted of the following Members:
James Davies, Committee Clerk
attended the Committee
Tenth Delegated Legislation Committee
Wednesday 14 March 2007
[John Cummings in the Chair]
Draft Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007
That the Committee has considered the Draft Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the Draft Tourist Boards (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2007.
David Cairns: I thank the Committee, through you, Mr. Cummings, for agreeing to take the two orders together. I suspect that they may not be the most controversial business before Parliament this afternoon.
I welcome the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby to the Conservative Front Bench. It is the first time that I have had the pleasure of welcoming someone to the Front Bench in a Scottish Committee. I am disappointed not to see the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, but I am sure that he has pressing constituency business that prevents him being here todayor anywhere else, for that matter.
The orders before us are both made under section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998, which allows for necessary or expedient changes in consequence of an Act of the Scottish Parliament. I shall deal with the orders in turn.
The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007 is consequent upon an Act of the Scottish Parliament that received Royal Assent on 4 July 2006. That Act introduced three new police organisations in Scotlandthe Scottish Police Services Authority, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and the Police Complaints Commission for Scotland. The Act allowed for police constables from Scotland and from United Kingdom-wide police forces to be seconded to the SPSA and the SCDEA. Constables may also be recruited directly to the SCDEA.
The order makes a number of straightforward modifications to UK legislation so that police members of the SCDEA may receive pensions, and so that constables from elsewhere in the UK seconded to those organisations may continue to belong to the Police Federation.
The 2006 Act also established the post of Police Complaints Commissioner, who will be responsible for overseeing the existing police complaints process in Scotland. The order allows UK-wide law enforcement agencies operating in Scotland to enter into agreements
The order will also make provision for UK bodies such as the British Transport police, that are regulated by reserved legislation, to disclose information to the SCDEA and the Police Complaints Commissioner without breaching any obligation of secrecy or other restrictions placed on the disclosure of information.
The 2006 Act extends the investigatory powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland)Act 2000 to the director general of the SCDEA and revokes the powers exercised by the director general of the predecessor organisation, the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency. The order mirrors the 2006 Act by extending investigatory powers to the director general under the equivalent Westminster legislationthe Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. That will ensure that the director general of the SCDEA has parity with police forces and other law enforcement agencies when dealing with cross-border matters.
The order also amends the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to replace references to the SDEA with references to the new SCDEA.
The 2006 Act also allows Scottish courts to impose football banning orders on individuals convicted of a football-related offence, instead of or in addition to any sentence handed down by the court. The order will give police and courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland powers to enforce Scottish banning orders. Where a person is subject to a Scottish football banning order and breaches it in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, they will be committing an offence in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. That mitigates the need for multiple banning orders to be taken out in each of the jurisdictions against one individual.
The second order before us, the Tourist Boards (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2007, is far simpler and more straightforward. It is made in consequence of the Tourist Boards (Scotland) Act 2006, an Act of the Scottish Parliament that received Royal Assent on 30 November 2006. The Scottish Tourist Board is already operating under the name of VisitScotland, but it is the 2006 Act, which comes into force on 1 April 2007, that officially changes the name of the organisation. So the order simply amends primary legislation by removing references to the Scottish Tourist Board and substituting them with references to VisitScotland. That applies to various pieces of legislation.
The order also amends the Development of Tourism Act 1969 by replacing references to the Scottish Tourist Board with references to VisitScotland. The Act also contains references to the board of the Scottish Tourist Board and its maximum size. The order will amend these references to reflect the changes made by the 2006 Act. That Act removed the statutory requirement that there be area tourist boards, so the maximum size of the board of VisitScotland has been increased from six to 11 to take account of the wider role of the new organisation in promoting tourism throughout Scotland. The order will amend the UK statute book to reflect those changes.
The two orders are a straightforward and sensible use of powers contained in the Scotland Act 1998, and I commend them to the Committee.
Mr. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Cummings. I thank the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland for his kind comments. He said that the draft orders were not contentious, which is perhaps the reason why I have been trusted to come and represent the official Opposition.
The Scottish Conservatives generally welcome the draft Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007 and voted for it at stages 1 and 3. The draft order is a wide-ranging measure aimed at improving the justice situation in Scotland and is to be welcomed. The Labour and Liberal Democrat Executive have presided over a dismal record. Ensuring order is the first priority of Government: crime blights lives and ruins communities. It should not be excused, but condemned and punished. That means drawing a clear distinction between right and wrong, and restoring respect, discipline and decent values. There is no way that the coalitions record in Scotland could be described as being tough on crime or the causes of crime. Between 1999-2000 and 2005-06, we have seen an 8 per cent. rise in total crime; an 11 per cent. rise in crimes of indecency; a 53 per cent. rise in rape and attempted rape, from 755 to 1,161 cases; and a 57 per cent. rise in crime relating to vandalism. We have also seen a 19 per cent. rise in the handling of offensive weapons.
Drug crime is a particular problem north of the borderthere has been an increase of 46 per cent. By way of a caveat, drug crime is not always reported, so a rise in detected drug crime is in some cases a good thing, but the figures are worrying. In 2005-06, there were 121 drug crimes a day, and nearly one drug-related death a day336 a yearand 1,252 methadone prescriptions were issued a day.
We welcome the order, containing as it does a range of measures to improve police effectiveness, strengthen the hand of law enforcement bodies in the fight against crime, including serious organised crime, and enhance the safety of communities throughout Scotland. In order that both the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland can carry out their remits, it is vital that information can be legally disclosed to them. It is also important that disclosed information is protected from widespread dissemination. As we have seen in a case nearer to London than Holyrood, leaked e-mails can be used to try to prejudice a case before a prosecution can be brought. Other measures facilitate the work of the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland and tie in the work of immigration and Revenue and Customs officers.
The extension of Scottish football banning orders to other parts of the UK is infinitely sensible. Many Scots work south of the border. Banning orders given for offences committed by people visiting their home team in Scotland at the weekend should not leave a football hooligan or thug with the opportunity to watch the English game without restriction, no matter how inferior the standard of play.
The powers related to the divulging of dates and place of birth, fingerprinting and drug testing are welcome, as are the provisions on plea bargaining, provided they are used wisely and in a measured way.
I have two questions for the Under-Secretary on the issue of the football banning orders that are already in force north of the border. What progress has been made in recruiting staff? Is he satisfied that the structures are in place and operating efficiently to enable the new cross-border facility to function correctly?
Tourism is one of Scotlands largest business sectors. It provides direct employment for 200,000 people and generates spending by visitors of more than £46 billion per year. Tourism in Scotland is increasing partly as a result of some well-targeted marketing by VisitScotland, which attracts visitors not only from the rest of the country but from further afield. However, I am not sure whether VisitScotland would like to take credit for attracting the large number of midges that seem to accompany my forays north of the border as a holidaymaker. Scotland has everything: winter sports, a spectacular coastline, Edinburgh and other fine cities, mountains and hills, lowlands, rivers and lochs.
We generally support the draft measure and the change of name to VisitScotland, because that fits in with the national strategy with Visit England or, dare I say it, Visit Yorkshire. Scottish Conservative MSPs tabled unsuccessful amendments to retain the official title of the Scottish Tourist Board. Does the Minister think that retaining its official title but continuing with the VisitScotland branding would enhance the status of the official body and prevent imitation?
Removing the vestigial interim area tourist boards is a nominal change. Is the Minister content that far-flung parts of Scotland will be happy that they are getting their fair share of promotion after the changes? How will Edinburgh fare as the only European capital without its own tourist body following the scrapping of the Edinburgh and Lothians tourist board?
Increasing the size of the VisitScotland board from six members to 11 is probably realistic given the size of Scotland. What efforts is the Minister making to ensure that there will be representation from all parts of the country? What is the honorarium paid to the chairman and board members? What is the cost of implementing the change from seven members to 12 in total?
Finally, I make a plea for one sector of tourism in Scotland that I am not sure gets a fair share of promotionfield sports. Many people enjoy holidays that include shooting, stalking and salmon fishing. I am reminded of the story about the English gentleman who spent a week rod-fishing on a river in Scotland, but caught only one fairly medium-sized salmon on the last day. Turning to the gillie, he said, Do you realise that that salmon has cost me £2,000? to which the gillie replied, Oh, sir, its a good job you didnae catch two. That story illustrates that people who come north of the border to participate in country sports bring an awful lot of money with them. Will VisitScotland give the field sports sector its fair share of promotion, or will it feel bound by political correctness not to do so?
We hope that the order will strengthen VisitScotland and that more people will do just that as a result. Her Majesty the Queen sets a wonderful example by holidaying at Balmoral. After the measure is introduced,there should be more reasons for more of us to do the same.
Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Cummings. I am sure that it will be a delight to serve under your chairmanship, however brief the sitting might be. I start with the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 order, much in which is to be welcomed, particularly the introduction of an independent Police Complaints Commissioner. That is an especially welcome step forward to give Scotland parity with the rest of the UK regarding complaints procedures.
I have a few questions for the Minister about football banning orders. I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House welcome any measures to reduce hooliganism and keep football for those who genuinely want to support their teams and enjoy the game. Under the order, bans that are implemented in Scotland will apply in England and Wales, but will that also work the other way around? If someone is banned in England or Wales, will they be subject to the same restrictions in Scotland?
I want to touch on some of the concerns that have been raised in Holyrood about the practical implementation of the banning orders, particularly on how they will work for fans who misbehave at away matches. I understand that it is somewhat more difficult to work such a ban when dealing with police and security staff at away grounds who do not necessarily know the troublemakers. Given that that is difficult to co-ordinate at away matches across Scotland, I hope that some thought has been given to how the implementation of the order will be co-ordinated across the border and in the rest of the UK. I am sure that the problems can be resolved; I know that some thought has been given to them and I wondered what extra work had been done to clarify how they will work in practice.
What data sharing will there be on football hooligans, and will it be encouraged Europe-wide and further afield? I appreciate that football governing bodies and the police also have a role to play in that respect.
Although it is not directly relevant to this order, one of the most welcome things in the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 was the new rule on DNA capture in Scotland. For the record, as with many things, Scotland is leading the way for the rest of the UK in defending civil liberties and not creating a huge database storing the details of innocent people. I wish that the Government in Westminster would take a leaf from Scotlands book in that respect.
The tourist boards order is uncontentious but particularly well timed as this week is the first ever British tourism week and the second ever Scottish tourism week. I am sure that all hon. Members will be promoting the cause of VisitScotland and encouraging people to come to their constituencies for fine holidays. My constituency boasts a potential world heritage site in the Antonine wall and is the canal capital of Scotland. Tomorrow, I will be visiting the new marina being built in Kirkintilloch and I encourage all hon. Members to come and see it for themselves.
I hope that the Minister will be able to answer my questions.
David Cairns: I can be brief. I thank hon. Members who have welcomed the measures. I have visited the constituency of the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, which is a very beautiful part of the world. He made a couple of points about the record of the Scottish Executive in restoring respect for law and order. Frankly, he would have more credibility if his party had not presided over the doubling of crime and the cutting of police numbers. If we have any lessons to learn on combating crime, they are not from the Scottish Conservative party. However, the hon. Gentleman did a good job of auditioning for the soon-to-be-vacant role of shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, and I wish him every success in his promotion.
The hon. Gentleman asked about the numbers of people with football banning orders. It is very early days, but at the moment there is only one football banning order in place, against a supporter of Airdrie. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw shares the shame of that. [Interruption.] It is only one, but that is a fairly significant proportion of the Airdrie fan base. I am told that there are 100 prosecutions in the pipeline and there are enough resources to deal with them.
The hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire also asked about football banning orders. Her question highlighted the fact that the banning orders in place in England do not have reciprocity in Scotland. That gap in the circle needs to be closed and the Scottish Executive and the Home Office are working closely together to do so. The police forces work well together; if it is necessary to impose a football banning order in Scotland, the police forces speak to one another and then they can put it in place. That is unnecessarily bureaucratic and it would be simpler if there was reciprocity, as the hon. Lady said.
The hon. Lady was also right to say that it is important to ensure that football banning orders in Scotland are recognised and respected Europe-wide. There is a huge amount of international co-operation by police forces across Europe on these issues. I say in passing that, unlike football banning orders elsewhere in the UK, in Scotland they have an element that means that people can be convicted of sectarian offences, too. It is a tribute to the First Ministers commitment to getting tough on sectarianism in Scotland.
I want to move on to VisitScotland
Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): I apologise for my ignorance, but as hon. Members can probably tell from my accent, football has a different meaning where I come fromthe ball is slightly tweaked. Does the ban apply to other sports? Do all the 100 cases that are coming forward relate to football, or soccer as it is known, or are other sports included?
David Cairns: I will clarify that for the hon. Gentleman shortly. There is a long list of organisations that arrange sporting matches. The measure applies not only to football grounds and matches, but to town centres, railway stations or anywhere else where hooliganism might occur. Whether it can be applicable to sports played with funny-shaped balls I am not entirely sure, but I will clarify that and get back to him before I sit down, if that is possible.
I think that everybody supported the name change to VisitScotland. This is an entirely sensible use of the order; we are simply removing from various legislation the words Scottish Tourist Board and sticking in VisitScotland. I do not think that it will result in a diminution of the organisations activity; far from it. It is meant to focus its activity and push it up the agenda. I am happy to give way for my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian to extol the virtues and the beauties of Midlothian.
Mr. David Hamilton (Midlothian) (Lab): When we talk about increasing from six to 11 the number of people representing VisitScotland, that does not diminish the local areas, such as Midlothian, East Lothian or West Lothian, that could be dominated by cities such as Edinburgh. There are some beauties, such as Rosslyn chapel and the Scottish mining museum, in Midlothian.
David Cairns: My hon. Friend is a tireless promoter of the beauties and historical sites of his constituency. As a representative of a part of Scotland that is not in a city, I would not be sanguine about any moves that resulted in cities getting all the focus. I do not think that that is what the measure is about. We are looking to have a coherent tourist strategy across Scotland to get visitors there in the first place. When they are there, there will be a variety of local strategies for entertaining them. I hope that his fears are misplaced.
To the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, I say that issues of appointment to the board and honorariums, as well as the strategic plan of the board, are matters for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive. I therefore do not have details of costs in front of me, but I will write to him with them. They are devolved matters, however.
I can confirm for the hon. Member for Mole Valley that the ban applies only to soccer, or association football. With the answer to those questions, I commend the instruments to the Committee.
Question put and agreed to.
That the Committee has considered the draft Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007.
DRAFT TOURIST BOARDS (SCOTLAND) ACT 2006 (CONSEQUENTIAL MODIFICATIONS) ORDER 2007
That the Committee has considered the draft Tourist Boards (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2007.[David Cairns.]
Committee rose at seven minutes to Three oclock.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2007||Prepared 15 March 2007|