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Session 2008 - 09
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General Committee Debates
Policing and Crime Bill

Policing and Crime Bill

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairmen: Hugh Bayley, † Sir Nicholas Winterton
Austin, Mr. Ian (Dudley, North)
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta (City of Durham) (Lab)
Brokenshire, James (Hornchurch) (Con)
Burns, Mr. Simon (West Chelmsford) (Con)
Campbell, Mr. Alan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Cawsey, Mr. Ian (Brigg and Goole) (Lab)
Coaker, Mr. Vernon (Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing)
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine (Mid-Bedfordshire) (Con)
Fitzpatrick, Jim (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport)
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD)
Holmes, Paul (Chesterfield) (LD)
Keeble, Ms Sally (Northampton, North) (Lab)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie (Bromsgrove) (Con)
Ruffley, Mr. David (Bury St. Edmunds) (Con)
Waltho, Lynda (Stourbridge) (Lab)
Wilson, Phil (Sedgefield) (Lab)
Chris Shaw, Andrew Kennon, Committee Clerks
† attended the Committee


Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable, West Yorkshire Police, Association of Chief Police Officers
Dave Whatton, Chief Constable, Cheshire Police, Association of Chief Police Officers
Bob Jones, Chair of the Association of Police Authorities
Robert Siddall, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association
Ian Hutcheson, Security Director, BAA Ltd, Chairman of the Airport Operators Association Security Committee
Denise Marshall, Chief Executive, Eaves, the POPPY Project
Frances Brodrick, Assistant Chief Executive, Eaves, the POPPY Project
Niki Adams, Spokeswoman, English Collective of Prostitutes
Hilary Kinnell, Co-Vice Chair of Safety, Violence and Policing Group, UK Network of Sex Work Projects
Kathy Evans, Policy Director, The Children’s Society
Sandrine Levêque, Campaigns Manager, Object

Public Bill Committee

Tuesday 27 January 2009


[Sir Nicholas Winterton in the Chair]

Policing and Crime Bill

10.30 am
The Chairman: I would like to deal with some domestic matters and make a few preliminary announcements. Members may remove their jackets during Committee sittings to ensure that they are attentive and comfortable at all times. Members should ensure that mobile phones, pagers, BlackBerrys and other electronic gadgets are turned off or switched to silent during Committee sittings—I feel that strongly and say it forcefully. There are money resolutions and Ways and Means resolutions related to the Bill, and copies are available in the Room.
I remind Members that adequate notice of amendments should be given: to be eligible for selection at a Tuesday sitting, amendments must be tabled by the rise of the House the previous Thursday; and for a Thursday sitting, they must be tabled by the previous Monday. As a general rule, my fellow Chairman, Mr. Hugh Bayley, who is sitting to my right, and I do not intend to call starred amendments. I hope that that is carefully noted by all Members, particularly by the political parties.
Not everyone is familiar with the process of taking oral evidence in Public Bill Committees, so it might be helpful if I briefly explained how we will proceed. This morning, the Committee will first be asked to consider the programme motion, which is on the amendment paper and for which debate is limited to half an hour. We will then proceed to a motion to report written evidence, then a motion to permit the Committee to deliberate in private in advance of the oral evidence sessions, which I hope we will be able to take formally. I will then ask members of the public to leave us briefly. Assuming that the second motion is agreed to, the Committee will then move into private session. After we have deliberated, witnesses and members of the public will be invited back and the oral evidence session will commence at approximately 11 o’clock.
I give the spokesman for Her Majesty’s Opposition due notice that, with regard to oral evidence, I will call him first to question our witnesses. If the Committee agrees to the programme motion, it will hear oral evidence today and on Thursday then revert next week to the more traditional—I was going to say “familiar”, but I prefer “traditional”—proceedings of clause-by-clause scrutiny.
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Vernon Coaker): On a point of order, Sir Nicholas. How should we address you in this sitting?
The Chairman: You can call me Chairman or Sir Nicholas, or anything else that describes me accurately and is polite.
Mr. Coaker: Thank you, Sir Nicholas. I hope that notwithstanding the serious matters that we are discussing, the atmosphere in which we have begun will continue throughout our sittings.
I beg to move,
(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 10.30 am on Tuesday 27 January meet—
(a) at 4.00 pm on Tuesday 27 January;
(b) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 29 January;
(c) at 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 3 February;
(d) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 5 February;
(e) at 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 10 February;
(f) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 12 February;
(g) at 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 24 February;
(h) at 9.00 am on Thursday 26 February;
(2) the Committee shall hear oral evidence in accordance with the following Table
Tuesday 27 January
Until no later than 12 noon
Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales and Northern Ireland; Association of Police Authorities; the Airport Operators Association
Tuesday 27 January
Until no later than 1.00 pm
The Poppy Project; English Collective of Prostitutes; UK Network of Sex Work Projects; the Children’s Society; Object
Tuesday 27 January
Until no later than 5.30 pm
Alcohol Concern; Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales and Northern Ireland; British Beer and Pub Association; Association of Convenience Stores; Local Government Association
Tuesday 27 January
Until no later than 7.00 pm
Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales and Northern Ireland; Serious Organised Crime Agency; Metropolitan Police Force
Thursday 29 January
Until no later than 10.25 am.
Liberty; the Bar Council
Thursday 29 January
Until no later than 3.00 pm.
Home Office; Department for Transport
(3) proceeding on consideration of the Bill in Committee shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 16; Schedule 1; Clauses 17 to 20; Schedule 2; Clauses 21 to 25; Schedule 3; Clauses 26 to 31; Schedule 4; Clauses 32 to 61; Schedule 5; Clauses 62 to 86; Schedules 6 and 7; Clauses 87 to 91; new Clauses; new Schedules; remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(4) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 10.25 am on Thursday 26 February.
I do not really want to say much at this stage. My understanding is that the programme motion has been agreed, but I shall respond if there are further comments.
Mr. David Ruffley (Bury St. Edmunds) (Con): It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Nicholas, and to debate with the Minister. We have previously debated measures in Standing Committee and in Statutory Instrument Committee, and we have always had a fruitful and businesslike way of dispatching business. I hope that that continues, but I have some comments to make.
The Bill is important, and Her Majesty’s Opposition are supportive of some of its principles. However, there are also some thorny questions about how the clauses will operate in practice, so it is incumbent on us to test carefully and scrutinise in detail the way in which many of those well-meant clauses would operate. In my judgment police reform is not thoroughly covered in part 1, and there are some omissions. I understand, and the Minister will no doubt remind us, that the announcements in the Green Paper have been carried through, particularly in relation to targets and the policing pledge. Changes in primary legislation are not needed to effect those—we understand that.
The same might also be said of reforms to Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary. However, it is disappointing not to see in the legislative programme—and certainly not in the Bill—important changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which would, if brought in quickly, ensure that more police time would be spent on the street. I shall not detain the Committee, but an important consultation was launched by the Minister’s predecessor in March 2007—it went to two consultations—on reforming the Act.
The Chairman: Order. I hesitate to stop the Opposition spokesman, but this is a programme motion. We should not be going into the substance of the Bill. I should like to establish with all members of the Committee, right at the outset, that my fellow Chairman, Hugh Bayley, and I are very much on the ball. We are following what is going on, not just sitting here. If hon. Members go off the subject and are not speaking either to the Bill or to the relevant amendment, we shall quickly remind them.
Mr. Ruffley: Your strictures are taken into account, Sir Nicholas. I shall move on to say that part 1 contains police reform provisions, which need adequate time for debate; where the Bill deals with police reform, in a way that does not involve reform of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the provisions partly contentious. The clauses on the senior appointments panel and on collaboration—a hugely important issue—will require the Committee’s time, although not to oppose the principle of the reform of arrangements to facilitate collaboration. With your permission, Sir Nicholas, I stress that while some of the issues in part 1 and other provisions are, in principle, not inimical to the Conservative position—some of the principles are sound—the manner in which the clauses have been drafted prompt many questions. I am sure, Sir Nicholas, that you would not want us just to rubber-stamp things that look okay on the face of it. That is not the case in relation to collaboration or the senior appointments panel in part 1, nor is it the case in relation to part 2, which deals with sex offences and has some important aims. However, as we shall hear from witnesses, and as we shall tease out in future sittings, the drafting of part 2 is incredibly contentious both for support groups that want to help vulnerable sex workers and victims in the sex industry, and for the bodies responsible for clamping down on trafficking. Those important issues are not contentious in principle, but their implementation under the Bill is contentious.
The same can be said of alcohol misuse and the proceeds of crime in part 4. The Opposition are tough on serious organised crime, and tough on terrorism, so the reform of the proceeds or assets from crime regime has our general support. The way in which those provisions will be implemented, however, is quite another question, and it must be teased out in full, not truncated, debate. Finally, aviation security, about which we shall hear more in our evidence-taking session, raises all kinds of questions for industry at a time at which the recession is biting. We certainly want to see what the balance is between better security arrangements, if that is what the clauses deliver, and the cost of implementing them. On the face of it, the programme motion appears to provide adequate time for hon. Members to debate important clauses in an important Bill, but I, for one, am not keen to truncate or cut short any of our sittings, and I expect that they will all be needed adequately to scrutinise the Bill.
The Chairman: Before I call Paul Holmes to speak on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, may I make the same observation that I made during the Programming Sub-Committee discussions? In its Tuesday and Thursday afternoon sittings, the Committee has the opportunity to sit rather longer than has become the custom. If there is a problem—if we are behind and there are issues that the Opposition parties want to debate at greater length—I remind Members that those sittings provide the opportunity for longer-than-normal debates. I urge Members to take advantage of that provision.
Paul Holmes (Chesterfield) (LD): May I welcome the way in which the Committee has begun proceedings under your chairmanship, Sir Nicholas, both this and last week, and the good signals sent out by the way in which the Government and the Opposition parties consulted last week, both informally and in the Programming Sub-Committee, to try to expedite business? Hopefully, that is a good sign of things to come in the forthcoming sittings. Following our debates and conversations last week, I am happy with the programme motion. The only thing that I would like to ask of the Minister is whether we managed to arrive at a resolution of the issue raised last Thursday in the Programming Sub-Committee about the clash between business in the Chamber and business in our Committee next Tuesday, and whether a rearrangement has been possible. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon wishes to raise the issue of proceedings on Report, after we have finished our consideration in Committee, but that is all that I wish to say.
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Prepared 28 January 2009