The hon. Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (Simon Hart) said that he had been converted to the Bill over the past couple of weeks. He is almost on his own in Wales, because the majority of

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Welsh Members of Parliament, the majority of Assembly Members, the majority of the non-Labour members of the Welsh Local Government Association, every single police authority in Wales and virtually every police officer I have talked to thinks that this is a bad idea.

In a devolved system in which the Government share responsibility for policing, the Government should immediately hold discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government and the National Assembly for Wales to talk about the principle of the election and the efficacy of the policy. To put it through in the way they are doing is the complete reverse of a respect agenda. Simply saying, “It is our responsibility in the British Parliament and only the British Government can do this,” completely goes against the spirit of proper negotiation and discussion that was a part of our United Kingdom. That goes to the heart of what this Government are often about: they say one thing and do another.

On this Bill, I join all my right hon. and hon. Friends in asking the Government to think again. In particular, on behalf of those of us from Wales who are concerned about this matter—many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have signed the amendment—I ask the Government to have an immediate discussion so that at least the people of Wales are heard and this preposterous and daft measure can be deferred.

Mr Burley: You will be pleased to note, Madam Deputy Speaker, that this time I remembered to stand up to be called—16 months in and we are still learning how this place works.

I rise to support the Government motions. I start by adding my congratulations to those of the Home Secretary and the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee to Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe on being named the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner. It is the toughest job in British policing. Following the riots, I am sure that everyone in this House would wish him well in his new job.

I will briefly restate the case for the reform of police authorities and explain why it is important, before addressing some of the challenges that have been posed by Opposition Members. The first thing to remember is the simple fact that the police are a monopoly service. The public cannot choose their force. Therefore, officers must be accountable for their actions and their performance. As this Government release the grip of Whitehall by scrapping centrally imposed targets and performance measures such as the policing pledge, the stop-and-account form and some of the uses of stop and search, we need to put in place other means to ensure that police forces deliver. What we are doing with police and crime commissioners is swapping bureaucratic control of the police for democratic accountability. In my view, we are putting in place far greater, far harsher and more publicly visible accountability—the accountability of the ballot box. Anybody who does not believe me should ask any sitting MP.

The second thing we must remember is that most crime is local. It is therefore far better that forces answer to local communities than to box-ticking officials in Whitehall. If local accountability is to substitute for the centralised performance regime of the past, it needs to be strong and democratic local accountability.

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The problem, therefore, is extremely simple: police authorities are not strong enough to exercise that alternative governance, and they are not sufficiently connected to the public whom they are supposed to serve. Consider this: only four of 22 inspected police authorities have been assessed as performing well in their most critical functions by HMIC and the Audit Commission; only 8% of wards in England and Wales are represented on a police authority; and according to a Cabinet Office survey conducted just a couple of years ago, only 7% of the public understand that they can approach their police authority if they are dissatisfied with policing in their area.

Virtually no one in that survey knew who their police authority chairman was. In fact, I would be interested to know how many hon. Members can intervene and tell me who their police authority chairman is.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Burley: I will take any interventions.

Owen Smith (Pontypridd) (Lab): Russell Roberts.

Graham Stringer: Councillor Murphy.

Mr Burley: Only two Members of the House could intervene and tell me who chairs their police authority, which tells us everything we need to know about their visibility. That is from MPs, not the public—we are supposed to know.

These invisible police authorities are supposed to serve the public. That is the same public who have no idea who they are, no idea what they do, no idea how to contact them, and certainly no idea that they cost them £50 million a year.

Paul Murphy: The Government prayed in aid an opinion poll that said that 7% of the people of England did not know anything about their police authorities or what they did. The hon. Gentleman might not be aware, however, that a recent survey in Wales showed that 82% of people did know about their police authority and believed that it did a good job.

Mr Burley: I understand that the survey to which the right hon. Gentleman refers was commissioned by the police authority. It might be that it posed the question to get the answer it wished to get.

A more recent survey has found that a typical police authority receives just two letters per week from the public. Let us compare that with what the de facto police and crime commissioner for London, Kit Malthouse, told the Home Affairs Committee in December last year. He said that when he was first given the title of deputy mayor with responsibility for policing,

“the postbag at City Hall on community safety went from 20 or 30 letters a week up to 200 or 300…We had a problem coping with it. That indicated to me there was a thirst for some sense of responsibility and accountability in the political firmament for the police”.

He said that having one person

“allows there to be a kind of funnel for public concern”.

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However, the absence of a direct line of public influence is problematic not only for the public, but for police forces. Back in the 19th century, the founder of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, said:

“The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.”

After a decade in which public approval of the police fell, it has now started to rise again. That is a welcome trend, but still only 56% of the public say that the police do a good or excellent job, and a survey by Consumer Research last year found that nearly a third of those who come into contact with the police—I do not mean criminals —were dissatisfied. Of the minority who complained, nearly two thirds were unhappy with the way the police dealt with their complaint. The police were among the worst performers of the public services.

Caroline Dinenage (Gosport) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that people feel dissatisfied with the police—unfairly, in many cases—because of the lack of visibility of police on the streets compared with previous years, and the ludicrous deployment of police in back-room jobs, rather than out in customer-facing roles?

Mr Burley: My hon. Friend makes a good point. For me, the natural corollary of that frustration at not seeing police on the streets or feeling that there are too many in back and middle offices, is that the public feel that they have no one to complain to. People do not know how to complain. They do not know who their police authority is—we have seen that from the surveys—and there is no single, high-profile, accountable individual to whom they can complain. That compounds the frustration that my hon. Friend talks about. They do not know to whom to go to say, “We want more police on the streets and we are going to hold you to account at the ballot box unless you deliver it.”

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con): Perhaps I can help my hon. Friend with his argument. A person who is minded to complain about Derbyshire police might try to find the police authority link on the front page of the Derbyshire police website, but they will find it right down in the bottom left—it has about the same significance as the link to the male voice choir.

Mr Burley: My hon. Friend makes my point for me. I would be fascinated to know whether any of the 43 police and crime commissioners elected next year will have such low visibility on their websites for people who want to contact them or complain about the police. All those points show why the introduction of police and crime commissioners is so important. They are a key element of the Government’s programme of decentralisation, where power is returned to people and communities.

I want the new commissioners to be big local figures with a powerful local mandate to drive the fight against crime and antisocial behaviour. After all, they will decide policing strategy; set the force budget and the local council tax precept; and appoint, and if necessary dismiss, the chief constable—that point has been made throughout the debate. They will do those things on behalf of the public who elected them, and who will then hold them to account at the ballot box.

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A key point is that the role of commissioners will also be greater than that of the police authorities that they replace. That is the significance of the words “and crime” in their title. Police and crime commissioners will have a broad remit to ensure community safety within their budgets, and to prevent crime and tackle drugs. They will work with local authorities, community safety partnerships and local criminal justice boards, helping to bring a strategic coherence to the actions of those organisations at force level. In future, their role could be extended to other elements of the local criminal justice system, ensuring that the police and those who manage offenders operate together, working to break the cycle of crime.

In short, police and crime commissioners will be big beasts: highly visible, highly accountable and highly effective. The contrast between them and today’s police authorities could hardly be greater.

Vernon Coaker: Is the hon. Gentleman arguing for criminal justice commissioners? In other words, does he want locally elected people in an analogous role to that of police and crime commissioners in respect of chief constables? In my view, he does want that, but is that what he is arguing for? The House would like to be clear on whether the next stage is to have criminal justice commissioners elected by the local population.

Mr Burley: I am not arguing for that, but speculating how the role of commissioners could develop over time. The key point that I would make to the hon. Gentleman is this: there will be pressure on elected police and crime commissioners to do things in a different way. There will be pressure on them to be far more collaborative with other forces and other police and crime commissioners, for example, as was mentioned earlier in the debate, to drive efficiencies through procurement. There is no real reason at the moment for police forces to collaborate to purchase cars or uniforms together. They have not had that driver, yet they have had increasing budgets for 10 years. The guys who are elected next year will want to work with neighbouring forces. If I were elected as police and crime commissioner for Staffordshire next year, the first call I would make would be to the police and crime commissioner in west midlands, to ask, “Can we do things together? Could we collaborate to procure things together?” I would have a reason to want to reduce my budget so that I could spend it on delivering the pledges that I put in my manifesto, such as a pledge to get more officers on the beat.

The hon. Gentleman and I discussed Tony Blair’s knife crime summit. I was thinking through his logic after he answered my question, but I still do not understand it, so perhaps he could help. It was okay, at a national level, for an elected politician—the former Prime Minister—to hold a summit at No. 10 Downing street, inviting all the chief constables from around the country, who no doubt could have been doing other things with their time, to ask them what they were doing about knife crime, which he had identified as an issue in this country. No doubt he was coming under a lot of pressure from the public, who were contacting him and their MPs demanding that something be done, and quite rightly he called together the police forces to bang heads together and come up with a strategy to deal with knife crime.

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7.30 pm

The hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) seemed to suggest that that was okay because it was a “national priority”—I wrote down his words—but that it was not okay locally. I cannot follow that logic at all. Let us imagine that we have a problem locally—it might be knife crime or kids racing cars down a disused road. Why is it okay to have a national priority and do something about it nationally, but not to have local priorities and to do something about it locally? I cannot understand the logic at all.

Mr David Ward (Bradford East) (LD): I am beginning to feel sorry for the hon. Gentleman, who seems to live in a really poorly policed area. My area has neighbourhood forums that the police attend. There are ward action teams involving local councillors. There are area committees on which the police are represented. There is an overview and scrutiny committee. In the police’s view, they are almost scrutinised too heavily. The link should be through democratically elected local councillors. There is no shortage of scrutiny of the police in my area. I feel sorry for him.

Mr Burley: I am fortunate to live in a very well- policed area. Staffordshire has an excellent chief constable. He is one of the few chief constables to come out and say that, despite his budget reductions, he will be making absolutely no cuts to the front line until 2013. We have forward looking police forces.

Vernon Coaker: Only to 2013?

Mr Burley: He has confirmed to 2013. I do not know how long the hon. Gentleman wants him to confirm.

On the point made by the hon. Member for Bradford East (Mr Ward), I would simply quote his party’s manifesto back at him. Page 72 of the Lib Dem manifesto—I do not know whether he helped to write it—stated:

“We will give local people a real say over their police force through the direct election of police authorities”.

Clearly, there is a problem. All the bodies that he named are bureaucracies. He just reeled off half a dozen bureaucratic bodies that no one has heard of, that no one knows how to contact and that do not deliver what local people want. His own party’s manifesto proposes a highly visible single individual who is accountable at the ballot box, whom people know how to contact and who is not next to the male choir on the website. How can that not be an improvement?

Mr Ward: Hansard will prove whether I am correct, but I thinkthat the hon. Gentleman read out the word “authorities”, not “commissioners”.

Mr Burley: I meant “commissioners”.

In the time left, I would like to deal with a few of the objections raised today. People listening to this debate in the Gallery could be forgiven for thinking that only the Conservatives want to reform police authorities. This is simply not true. As I said in an earlier intervention, the case for reform of police governance has been made across the political spectrum. There is party consensus in favour of the democratic reform of police authorities, although I accept that there are differences about the

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best model. I have read out the Lib Dem manifesto, but I ask Members to consider the following quote:

“Only direct election, based on geographic constituencies, will deliver the strong connection to the public which is critical”.

It continues:

“under the current system, 93 per cent of the country has no direct, elected representation. This is why we have proposed the Green Paper model; so that people know who to go to and are able to influence their policing through the ballot box.”

Those are not my words, but the words of the hon. Member for Gedling, the shadow policing Minister, in a speech in 2008.

Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman is talking about Staffordshire. People in my part of Staffordshire do not want £1 million spent on these elections. They want local policing and they feel that the directly elected councillors who sit on the police authority do a good job.

Mr Burley: The hon. Lady speaks for her part of Staffordshire and I speak for mine. I can tell her that people in my constituency do not feel that they have ample opportunity to influence the policing priorities in their area, they do not know what the police authority is, they do not know how to contact it and they do not know how to get involved in all these bureaucratic panels and committees that the hon. Member for Bradford East rattled off.

The Opposition’s latest form of direct accountability is not a million miles from what we are proposing—directly elected chairs of authorities. That is the Labour party’s proposal. It was an idea proposed in an amendment by the shadow Minister in Committee. I was on the Committee and remember him pushing it to a vote. In my view, that would be the worst of all worlds, because we would have an individual with a mandate but unable to deliver it because he could be outvoted routinely by a committee of appointees. This model would cost more and not produce the single focus of a police and crime commissioner.

Many Labour Members have made the point today about the cost of delaying the elections. I think that we should start by reflecting on some wise words:

“We’ve got to go further in demonstrating value for money and delivering efficiency. We are investing a lot of money in public services, it’s got to deliver results”.

That was the now shadow Home Secretary in an interview with The Daily Telegraph in January 2008, when she was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. I could not agree with her more. In fact, I also agree fully with the next quote from the interview:

“Margaret Thatcher did talk about, you know, the housewife adding up the sums. Every family recognises the need to make sure that you can manage each month.”

Quite right too! I am glad that she and I agree with Lady Thatcher.

As so often with Labour, however, when it comes to public spending, it is a case of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Its NHS national IT programme had a budget of £2.3 billion, but has now cost £12.6 billion—an overspend of 450%. Its pensions transformation programme at the Department for Work and Pensions had a budget of £429 million, but the current cost is £598 million—an overspend of 39%. Its A46 improvement programme had a budget of £157 million, but the current cost is

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£220 million—a 40% overspend. But worst of all was the cost of the millennium dome. It cost £789 million to build and £28 million a year to maintain.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. I think that we might be straying a little wide of the mark.

Mr Burley: I thank you for your direction, Mr Deputy Speaker. I shall focus my remarks. In April 2002, the National Audit Office showed that £28.4 million was spent on the dome’s maintenance in the year after it was closed. For just one year of maintaining the dome, we could elect someone who represents our views; for one year of maintaining the dome, we could let local people have a say over how their area is policed; and for one year of the dome, we could replace bureaucratic accountability to Whitehall with local accountability to the people. We will therefore take no lectures from Labour on how to spend £28 million. It is far better to spend it on reconnecting the public to the police than on Tony Blair’s Teflon-coated, flattened mushroom.

The Opposition object to delaying the election to November 2012. I am glad that it has been delayed to 15 November, not 5 November. Having a one-off election at the beginning of the cycle of elections for PCCs is a good idea because it will remove the charge of making them political. There will be no other elections on that day, so the first time that the PCCs are elected, no one will be able to claim that they were motivated to vote in a council vote or in a party political way. I support the delay on the grounds that it will make the first elections of these important PCCs non-political in the public’s eyes. Afterwards, they will revert to the same date as the council elections, thereby saving £50 million over four years.

In conclusion, policing is a monopoly service. The people cannot choose their force. This public service has to answer to someone, and we think that local people should have the power to do something about the problems that blight their towns and city centres. We are determined to rebuild the link between the people and the police forces that serve them, which is why these reforms are right for the people, right for the police and right for the times.

Graham Stringer: I was not going to speak in this debate, but so many interesting points have been made that I decided I would. The most interesting and perverse point was made by the hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Mr Burley) when he reached his conclusion. He said—I do not have the exact quotation; I am sure that it will be in Hansard—that he envisaged non-political elections taking place. I think that all elections—certainly all those to major positions representing millions of people, as they would in the case of the west midlands, Greater Manchester and our other great urban conurbations—are necessarily bound to be political. I would therefore suggest that he think through a little more what he is saying and doing, because what he described is completely impossible.

I am going to vote with my party against the Government on these Lords amendments for two reasons, even though Government Members have made significant arguments that I support. The first reason is that having elections in November is difficult to say the least. Some older Members of this House may remember that local

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government elections used to be held in the autumn. They were moved from the autumn because turnout was low, and also because they were a long way from the rate-setting process—it was thought that the finances and the elections should be put together so that the electorate could have a direct impact. They are solid arguments: it would be a mistake to have low-turnout elections in November.

However, that is not the most significant reason why I will not vote with the Government. The second reason is that there is clearly a democratic deficit with the police. There are many good councillors on police authorities in the metropolitan authorities, but they are not directly elected to that position, which means that it is more difficult for elected politicians to have real political accountability to the electorate. However well the chair of the police authority in Greater Manchester does—and Councillor Paul Murphy does an extremely good job in that position—he is not directly elected to that position. However, although I recognise that democratic deficit—I believe in direct elections for local politicians to control the police—it is not just the relationship with the electorate that is deficient; it is the relationship with other local public services.

It is good for the police to have to argue for their budget against other services. It is good for police forces to have to sit down with people whose jobs are about child protection, care of the elderly, transport and so on and argue for their priorities, so that they can understand more what is going on. Unfortunately, we are 30-or-so years into a series of ad hoc changes to local democracy—many have been made for good reasons; some have been made for poor reasons—which have left us in a mess. We need to take a more fundamental look at what is going on in local democracy than just saying, “We’ve got a problem with policing; we can make it more effective by introducing democracy.”

Those are the reasons why I will not be supporting the Government. On the other hand, I should like to remind some of my hon. Friends that democracy is expensive. If we asked most members of the public whether they would prefer money to be spent on two nurses or one Member of Parliament, virtually all of them would say that they wanted two nurses. However, if we asked them, “Do you want to be denied the right to determine locally who provides services?”—whether it be transport, policing or whatever—they will say that they want that right, and that right comes with a cost. Therefore, when people on this side of the Chamber say that now is not the time to spend money on improving and increasing democracy, I do not agree with them. Democracy is important and we have a deficiency; it is just that the Government’s proposals are not good enough at the moment.

The second thing that has been said is that rascals or the wrong people might be elected. Unfortunately, the electorate sometimes get it wrong—some people in the Chamber will know and respect that fact—but that is the nature of democracy, and hopefully they will put it right next time. However important policing is, it is not right to say that we can have a bureaucrat, however high up they might be in the police service, telling elected police commissioners or polices, authorities that they have got it wrong. The people who tell elected representatives that they have got it wrong are the electorate at the next election, not bureaucrats, and I do not think that we can have those decisions made failsafe.

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7.45 pm

The third point on which I would take issue with some Members on my side is this. I support the police—as I suspect every hon. Member in this House does—but that can sometimes be taken to mean that we cannot be critical or say that they could do the job better. They clearly could, and the riots are an interesting example to look at policing in this country. When the riots took place in Greater Manchester, the police could, in my view, have done a more effective job. That is not to criticise individual police officers who were on the streets, showing extreme bravery; it is to take issue with, potentially, the tactics and strategy used on that night. It is to take issue with the Greater Manchester police’s procurement policies, which put officers from tactical aid units on the streets of Greater Manchester with 17 or 18-year-old equipment that was too heavy. It is to take issue with the tactics and strategy that sent well-trained police officers from Greater Manchester to sit in coaches in London. This is essentially about saying that we should have been able to do better than we did in protecting the property and people of Greater Manchester on the nights of the riots.

That is not about not supporting the police; it is about saying that however brave they are, things can be improved, as in every other public service. That is part of the democratic process, which is about being able to be open and critical and about trying to improve those services. However good Councillor Murphy and the other members of the police authority are, having somebody directly elected for the whole of Greater Manchester would have meant a more creative and better public debate about what was happening that evening. Indeed, it is almost impossible to imagine that not being the case.

Guto Bebb (Aberconwy) (Con): I commend the hon. Gentleman for making a thoughtful and measured speech, but surely his points are equivalent to those made by my constituents in north Wales. They feel the same support for the police, but they occasionally feel frustrated. However, because we have six local authorities in north Wales, they do not know who to approach to get their message to the local police force. The Government’s measure will allow them to identify an individual who they can go to and make their point, so that they can ask for change while supporting the police.

Graham Stringer: I do not disagree with that. The hon. Gentleman makes a clear and explicit point; the point that I was trying to make is that there should not be just one person, who has only one service to think about. That person should also have to engage with the rest of our public services.

Greater Manchester has had an interesting history with its last four chief constables. They have been very different people. James Anderton ran a prejudiced police force. He was openly prejudiced against gay people, while the force that he ran was secretly—although most people knew—prejudiced in a racist kind of way. David Wilmot, who followed, was a very different chief constable who tried to improve relationships with the country. Mike Todd, who followed him, was a different kind of chief constable altogether, and now we have the current one. The interesting point is that the electorate of Greater Manchester have been left out of any of the debates about who their chief constable should be—from the

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bigot to the effective police officer to the peacemaker—and I do not think that that is a proper process for one of the most important services that is provided locally.

I am sorry, in a way, that I cannot vote with the Government, because there is a powerful argument for improving the accountability of police commissioners and the police service, and I hope that some of the people who have spoken on my side of the House will think a bit harder about some of those democratic arguments. Unfortunately, however, the Bill is seriously flawed, and I wish that the Government would go back and think again.

Nick Herbert: In the few minutes remaining, I want to pick up on a few of the points that have been made. First, however, I should like to add my own congratulations to Bernard Hogan-Howe on his appointment as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He had a fine record of fighting crime when he was with Merseyside police and, since then, as one of the inspectors of constabulary. He has a challenging task ahead of him, and I am sure that the whole House will wish to congratulate him on his appointment.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): Will the Minister give way?

Nick Herbert: If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me—

Stephen Pound: It is a point of courtesy.

Nick Herbert: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Stephen Pound: I am grateful. The Minister is entirely right to congratulate Bernard Hogan-Howe, but I am sure that he will also want to offer a word of commiseration to the other candidates, excellent as they were in their way—particularly, if I may say so, Sir Hugh Orde.

Nick Herbert: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I would like to extend that note of commiseration to all three unsuccessful candidates, all of whom have given great service to policing in their current jobs. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me of that.

The hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), the shadow policing Minister, raised a couple of issues that I would like to address. The first related to the transition costs resulting from this reform, and if I heard him correctly, he suggested that they would amount to some £37 million. He is not nodding, so perhaps he cannot recall mentioning that figure. I would like to ask him where he got the figure from, because it is not one that the Government remotely recognise, and I challenged him on it at the time. If he reads the impact assessment that we published in conjunction with the Bill, he will see that we estimated the transition costs at just £5 million. It does not help the debate if inflated costs are put about. It has been bedevilled by exaggerated costs for the reform and the elections, and I have put on record the fact that I disagreed with some of the figures presented by the Association of Police Authorities. Indeed, I have remonstrated with the association about them. I do not know whether those are the figures that the hon. Gentleman is using, but they are not right.

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Vernon Coaker: I stand by the figure of £37 million, which, from memory, some external consultants came up with. Of course the Minister will disagree with many of the estimates that have been made of the costs, because they show that the reforms will cost quite a lot.

Nick Herbert: The hon. Gentleman really must do better than that; he has been a policing Minister, as I now am. As far as I am aware, those consultants were commissioned by the Association of Police Authorities. They made a number of assumptions, including about the additional use of Home Office official time, and those assumptions are wrong. The figures that I gave the hon. Gentleman are the official figures produced by the Government, and it is our formal view—I am basing this on the advice that I am given by officials—that the estimate of the transition costs made by the Association of Police Authorities is wrong; I want to say that again.

The hon. Gentleman raised the issue of November elections. I am advised that, in the dim and distant past, elections have been held in this country in November and, in the more recent though still fairly distant past, in October. It is of course the case that the presidential elections in the United States are routinely held in November. The next such elections will be held in November next year. Indeed, it was thought possible at one time that the former leader of the Labour party and former Prime Minister was going to call an election in 2007. Presumably, that would have been held in late October or early November, but the right hon. Gentleman chickened out, as we all remember. So November elections are not such an unusual proposition.

I would like to pick up on something that the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mark Tami) said when he challenged my use of the term “middle office”. He said that I had just invented it, but in so doing, he betrayed his lack of knowledge on these issues, and the fact that he has not read Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary’s report, in which the inspectorate helpfully offers a definition of the front line. Indeed, “middle office” is a standard term in policing; it is one that the inspectorate uses. It denotes functions that are not directly public facing but nevertheless involve fighting crime.

I want to return to an important point that I made during questions earlier. A very considerable amount of police resource, and a third of all human resources, are not on the front line. That is what the inspectorate’s report said, and it is clear that the hon. Gentleman has not read it; otherwise, he would not have been so astonished at the term “middle office”. Hon. Members should read that report. If they did so, they would see the inspectorate’s assessment of the number of officers in the back and middle office—the figure is well over 20,000—and of the way in which chief constables should consider whether those officers are in appropriate roles. As the Opposition are making a great deal of the fact that 16,000 police officers must be lost, it behoves them to look more carefully at where police officers are actually employed. There is no need for the front line to be damaged, provided that the right decisions are taken and that policing is made more efficient and transformed in the right way.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) paid tribute to the role of our police officers in dealing with the riots, and it was remiss of me not to

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have done so earlier, because that was the first opportunity that I have had to do so in the House. I certainly join him in paying tribute to everything that those officers did to protect the public and property, and to everything that they went through. I remind the House that a considerable number of officers were injured during that period. In my view, it is right that the justice system operated swiftly in order to deal with the perpetrators.

In the three minutes remaining to me, I should like to comment on the speech made by the right hon. Member for Torfaen (Paul Murphy) on the relationship between Cardiff and London and the significance of the reforms in Wales. I have been engaged in discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government, and specifically with Carl Thomas—

Mark Tami: Carl Sargeant.

Nick Herbert: I am sorry; I meant Carl Sargeant. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

In those discussions, I tried hard to reach an agreement with Carl Sargeant that would respect the devolution settlement in Wales. I recognise that he did not support the reform, but I pointed out that policing was a reserved matter. We wished to go ahead with it, but we also wished to ensure that the arrangements, particularly those relating to local government—a devolved matter, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out—reflected the wishes of the Welsh Assembly Government. We came up with the legislative consent motion.

I must put it on record, however, that, quite extraordinarily, Welsh Assembly Ministers then proceeded not to support their own motion, in spite of the fact that I had negotiated it with them in good faith. I said at the time that I thought that was a pity because, in doing so, they denied the special arrangements for Wales that this Government had tried hard to promote. It is important to understand that we tried very hard and will continue to try to respect the devolution settlement in Wales on this matter and, through constructive dialogue, to make the reform work in Wales.

Finally, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Mr Burley), who cited Sir Robert Peel, who said:

“The police are the public and the public are the police.”

The reforms are about devolving power, giving it to the people, protecting the operational independence of the police while ensuring that the public have a right and proper say in how policing is delivered in their communities.

Question put, That this House disagrees with Lords amendment 1.

The House divided:

Ayes 296, Noes 220.

Division No. 345]

[7.59 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, Glyn

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Patel, Priti

Penning, Mike

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Mr Richard

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Bill Wiggin and

Mr Philip Dunne

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Bell, Sir Stuart

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Clark, Katy

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Mr Wayne

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Tessa

Joyce, Eric

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lloyd, Tony

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacShane, rh Mr Denis

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miliband, rh David

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Ward, Mr David

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Noes:

Lyn Brown and

Mr David Anderson

Question accordingly agreed to.

12 Sep 2011 : Column 829

12 Sep 2011 : Column 830

12 Sep 2011 : Column 831

12 Sep 2011 : Column 832

Lords amendment 1 disagreed to.

8.16 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

T he Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83F).

Lords amendments 2 to 4 and 6 disagreed to.

Amendments (a) to (d) proposed in lieu of Lords amendments 1 to 4 and 6.—(Nick Herbert.)

Question put, That the amendments be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 291, Noes 224.

Division No. 346]

[8.17 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Chishti, Rehman

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, Glyn

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hopkins, Kris

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Huppert, Dr Julian

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Patel, Priti

Penning, Mike

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mark Hunter and

Mr Philip Dunne

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Bell, Sir Stuart

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Clark, Katy

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Mr Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Davies, Philip

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Tessa

Joyce, Eric

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lloyd, Tony

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacShane, rh Mr Denis

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miliband, rh David

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Ward, Mr David

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Noes:

Lyn Brown and

Mr David Anderson

Question accordingly agreed to.

12 Sep 2011 : Column 833

12 Sep 2011 : Column 834

12 Sep 2011 : Column 835

12 Sep 2011 : Column 836

Amendments (a) to (d) made in lieu of Lords amendments 1 to 4 and 6.

8.30 pm

Nick Herbert: I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 5.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Lords amendments 7 to 42.

Lords amendment 43, Government motion to disagree and Government amendments (a) and (b) in lieu.

Lords amendments 44 to 52, 54, 55, 58 and 60 to 79.

Lords amendment 80 and amendment (a).

Lords amendments 81 to 97.

Lords amendment 98, motion to disagree and amendments (a) to (c) in lieu.

Lords amendments 99 to 162.

Lords amendment 163 and Government amendment (a).

Lords amendments 164 to 168.

12 Sep 2011 : Column 837

Nick Herbert: There are many amendments to consider, and I shall be as brief as I responsibly can be in taking the House through them.

Since the Bill was first introduced, a number of points have been made against it, principally on the issues of operational independence and the alleged politicisation of the police, and on the police and crime panel’s relationship with the police and crime commissioner being unclear with the panel having insufficient checks and balances to be able to scrutinise the police and crime commissioner properly. I want to reassure the House that the Government have listened carefully to those concerns. We spent many months considering them, and I believe that we have responded to all the key issues. That is reflected in the amendments we made in the other place.

I will not say any more now about operational independence, as we fully discussed that in our previous debate. I also alluded to the checks and balances, saying that we had made changes to strengthen them, and I want briefly to set out what they are. We have increased the powers of police and crime panels by allowing a veto of either the police and crime commissioner’s proposed precept or proposed candidate for chief constable through a two-thirds, rather than a three-quarters, majority. That was pressed on us early on, and we agreed to it. The panel will also have the power to request the chief constable—or Metropolitan Police Commissioner in London—to attend before the panel to answer questions, alongside the police and crime commissioner; that was also urged upon us.

The changes will also give the police and crime panels more discretion to decide their own make-up, thereby allowing a more diverse mix and better geographical spread. I know how important that is to many hon. Members. The panel will now be able to co-opt additional members, and the provision restricting the number of co-opted members to two will be removed. Instead, provided it is with the agreement of the Secretary of State, panels will be able to co-opt further members, so long as the total membership of the panel does not exceed 20. A local authority will also now be obliged to nominate a locally elected mayor, should there be one. These changes further remove the provision preventing co-opted members from being local authority members; instead, there will merely be an insistence that at least two must be non-authority members. That change allows maximum possible discretion as to the panel’s membership and flexibility across larger force areas or areas where local government structures vary.

Similarly, we are freeing up arrangements in London, where the London assembly will be able to decide the composition of its panel and allow the panel to contain persons who are not members of the assembly. Our approach will further allow the panel to decide the composition of its sub-committees, and allow for them also to contain non-assembly members. We have further strengthened the powers of the panel in London to allow it to veto, by a two-thirds majority, a candidate for the position of deputy mayor for policing and crime, if that individual is not a member of the London assembly. I remember discussing these issues in Committee, so I hope that the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) will be pleased that we have moved towards some of the suggestions he was making then. The changes place a new duty on the police and crime panel to support, as well as challenge, the police and crime commissioner, helping to ensure that they work together

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in the public interest, rather than having an adversarial or political relationship. That concept of support and challenge is important, and I am pleased that it has been introduced by way of these amendments.

The changes ensure that the London assembly will have all the necessary powers to require reports of the Mayor and to decide the constitution of its police and crime panel. They will also allow the assembly to hold a binding confirmation hearing should the Mayor wish to appoint anyone other than an assembly member to the post of deputy mayor for policing and crime. Our amendments will ensure that regulations regarding the handling of allegations of misconduct can be made in relation not just to police and crime commissioners, but to deputy PCCs, the holder of the Mayor’s office for policing and crime and the deputy mayor for policing and crime.

On PCCs working with police, the criminal justice system and local government partners, the changes will help to ensure that PCCs work well with their local government partners by requiring PCCs to send copies of their police and crime plans to community safety partners and by placing a reciprocal duty on PCCs and community safety partners to have regard to each others’ objectives. The changes will also ensure that PCCs hold chief officers fully to account for the way in which they carry out their duties to co-operate in safeguarding and promoting child welfare under the Children Act 2004. Our amendments will ensure that PCCs have the right powers to hold chief officers to account; they ensure that PCCs can obtain the right information from forces and that the chief officer cannot borrow money or enter contracts, except of employment, without the police and crime commissioner’s consent.

We are also proposing changes in relation to deputy PCCs. These will ensure that should a PCC wish to appoint a deputy, they would have to do so through a specific process and could not appoint certain people, for example, another PCC. That will ensure greater transparency in senior appointments within the PCC’s office. I should emphasise that there will be no requirement to appoint a deputy PCC; our amendment will simply allow it to happen. That inserts further flexibility and localism into the Bill by allowing PCCs the freedom to manage their affairs as they see fit.

We have discussed the appointment and dismissal of chief officers and I raised it briefly in our debate on the previous group of amendments. I wish to reiterate that it is a key part of a PCC’s role and it is essential that it is properly undertaken. Chief constables should not be appointed or removed on a whim or for improper reasons. Police and crime commissioners must take these key decisions fairly and reasonably, and the arrangements must include appropriate safeguards. We have ensured that the chief constable will have the right to attend a hearing of the police and crime panel should they be facing dismissal, and to make representations at that hearing, rather than simply being able to answer questions.

We will also consult the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales on regulations for these arrangements. We have made amendments to allow a retired chief officer to be re-appointed as a chief officer, whereas previously the Bill would not have allowed that. The change will widen the pool of talent available to the service and allow PCCs to appoint the right people to the right jobs. I wish to repeat what I said about the first

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group of amendments, which is that it is important to get the checks and balances on appointment and dismissal right. I hope that what I have said this evening will reassure chief officers that the Government intend that proper arrangements should be in place to deal with those procedures.

On elections and eligibility, the changes would ensure that the elections for PCCs can be properly regulated by the Electoral Commission, especially in terms of campaign spend. A lively debate took place in the other place about the role of peers in the House of Lords should they wish to become PCCs. There was a strong feeling in the other place that peers should be allowed to stand for this position and, following that debate, we introduced changes that will allow them to do so. We will allow a candidate to serve as many terms as a PCC as the public wish them to serve, rather than be limited to two consecutive terms. That will allow the public truly to decide who they wish to serve as their PCC and heighten the pressure of democratic accountability over them. It seemed on reflection that the two-term limit, which was a constitutional innovation in this country, was not necessarily appropriate.

By introducing a two-stage process for the transfer of police authority staff, the changes will allow police and crime commissioners to be properly involved in the decision about how staff will be split between themselves and the chief officer, rather than the decision being made for them by police authorities before they come into office. That will be complemented by a power of the Secretary of State to direct a policing body to vary a transfer scheme, which is an oversight power to ensure transfers are handled effectively. I believe there is general support among police authorities and chief constables for such a two-stage process.

I ask the House to agree to all these amendments and to pause to note that they represent the fact that the Government have listened to the debates on a range of subjects in the Commons as well as in the other place and responded by tabling amendments. That is contrary to what the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) was saying. We have listened on some of these important issues and have shown ourselves to be willing to amend the Bill and to introduce the necessary checks and balances.

The Government tabled amendments in the other place to allow the police and crime commissioner to suspend or remove a deputy or assistant chief constable who is standing in for the chief constable. I ask the House to disagree with amendment 43, because the Government have tabled new amendments in lieu of it. They achieve the same effect as Lords amendment 43 in respect of deputy or assistant chief constables, but also give the Mayor’s office for policing and crime the same powers of suspension and dismissal in respect of an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police who is standing in for the commissioner. Meanwhile, we are amending Lords amendment 163, which gave the police and crime commissioner responsibility for complaints against a deputy or assistant chief constable who was standing in for the chief constable, again with the intention of applying it to London as well. I ask the House to agree to this Lords amendment, as amended.

Let me turn now to a couple of amendments tabled in this place. First, I want to discuss the amendment tabled by some of my hon. Friends on the Liberal

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Democrat Benches. I understand that the amendment is an attempt to deal with what I know is a considerable concern—the matter was raised at Home Office questions today—about the position of Cornwall. As it is a unitary authority, it would have had only one member of the police and crime panel under the Government’s previous proposals. As we debated the matter in Committee, there was general recognition that that would have to be dealt with. We listened carefully to the concerns and that is why the Government amended the Bill in the other place to allow panels to co-opt additional members up to a maximum of 20. In the case of Devon and Cornwall, that will allow an additional five councillors to be co-opted. If the councils agreed to that, once it had been submitted to the Home Secretary it could potentially bring Cornwall’s representation up to six members, which is proportionately higher than its current share of the police authority.

The amendment would mean that when exercising that power, Durham, Devon and Cornwall, and West Mercia police and crime panels would have to try to make representation on the panel as proportionate to the population as is reasonably practicable. Although I do not disagree with those principles, I believe we can trust elected local government representatives to make decisions in the best interests of the public. I do not think that councils would want to take advantage of a perceived benefit by denying other councils in their area sufficient representation. Government cannot prescribe in detail how those relationships can work, but it is important to note that the Secretary of State has the final say in approving the additional members of the police and crime panel who might be appointed. As I said in a letter to the leader of Cornwall council, which I copied to my hon. Friends who are Members of Parliament for Cornwall, the Home Secretary is fully aware of the situation and the potential imbalance in membership of the police and crime panel between Cornwall and Devon. We therefore expect that, in meeting the geographical balance criteria now in the Bill, as a consequence of the amendment that we tabled, police and crime panels with balanced county representation will be produced. That is now provided for in relation to the new members.

8.45 pm

I fully understand why my hon. Friends seek to promote the amendment and I fully understand that they do not wish the power of determination about who should be on the panels to be in the hands of another county, as they see it, but I hope they will be reassured by the important checks provided by the Home Secretary’s having to approve the amendments and by the geographical balance provision. I believe that we have acted in a way that will meet the concerns of people in Cornwall about being properly represented on the panels. On the basis of that reassurance and on the understanding that the Secretary of State will address these issues in the approval of schemes, I ask my hon. Friends to withdraw the amendments.

Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con): I very much appreciate my right hon. Friend’s reassurance and his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice) earlier. We like to have a lot of confidence that our colleagues in Devon will act in the honourable way that the Minister has described, but can we have an absolute assurance from him that if

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that were not the case, the Secretary of State would intervene to make sure that Cornwall had its fair representation on the panel?

Nick Herbert: I am happy to reassure my hon. Friend that were proposals brought forward that did not give that proper, balanced county representation on the panel, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would not be happy with those proposals. It is quite clear that Parliament’s intention in promoting these amendments is to ensure a proper geographical balance. The changes are being made precisely and explicitly because there are situations in unitary authorities where that would not be achieved. If there were any attempt to subvert that by nominating members in a way that did not reflect the proper geographical balance, my right hon. Friend would not feel able to approve such a scheme. I hope that my hon. Friend is reassured by those comments, but the Government stand ready to meet her and other Members of Parliament from Cornwall, and the leader of Cornwall council if that is appropriate and he wishes it, to reassure them. Had the Bill not been amended, I would have fully understood the depth of their concerns, but I believe that the amendments address them.

On the Opposition’s amendments about the appointment and dismissal of chief officers, I have explained the changes that we have made and proposed on this issue. Important safeguards are being put in place and will be put in place through regulations. The Opposition suggest that even though the panel will already be required to scrutinise the proposed dismissal of a chief constable and even though the police and crime commissioner will be required to consider the panel’s recommendation, the panel should also be able to block the dismissal. I understand that that would be the force of their amendments, but that would give the police and crime panel the power to act as judge and jury on the police and crime commissioner’s electoral mandate to set the direction of the force and to hold the chief constable to account. It would also circumvent the governance structure of the chief constable, who is accountable to the police and crime commissioner, not to the panel. In establishing police and crime commissioners, we are giving the public a strong and powerful elected representative to hold their chief constable to account. Ultimately they should be able to appoint and dismiss that chief constable, subject—in relation to dismissal—to the proper safeguards. That power is available to police authorities. It is fundamental to the reform.

I repeat that chief constables should not be appointed or removed on a whim or for improper reasons. Police and crime commissioners must take these decisions fairly and reasonably. The amendments are not the right way forward. It would create an impossible situation if, in effect, a police and crime panel were able to veto the dismissal of a chief constable who would otherwise be properly dismissed under the arrangements that we are putting in place, as well as under the existing arrangements. That would produce an impasse. No doubt the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) tabled some of the amendments in order to probe the safeguards. I fully respect that, but I hope that on reflection he will recognise that the amendment goes too far and the Government would have to resist it.

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The changes that we have made will all help to bring about the much-needed democratic accountability to the public, while ensuring that the strict checks and balances that we were committed to introducing are in place, and that concerns about operational independence have been fully addressed. I am grateful for the scrutiny of the Bill in another place, which enabled us to secure a number of important amendments. I commend to the House our amendments and the approach that I have set out.

Vernon Coaker: It is fair to say that a number of the amendments that the Government have accepted improve the Bill. The Minister was right to point out some of them. I was particularly pleased to see Lords amendments 5 and 7, which place a duty on the police and crime commissioner with respect to the well-being and the safeguarding of children, a topic that we raised in Committee. Those are important amendments with which we would all agree, and I am glad the Government have accepted them. Many of the other amendments have improved the Bill, given that following the Division earlier the Bill is going through with provisions in place for the appointment of police and crime commissioners.

As a result of the Lords amendments, there is now a requirement for elected mayors automatically to be members of the police and crime panel. I gently point out to the Minister that it will be interesting to see the clash of mandates that may occur when the mayor is elected on one crime mandate and the police and crime commissioner on another.

I shall not detain the House. As I said, I accept that many of the amendments mentioned by the Minister improve the Bill. I do not want to intrude on the private grief of Devon and Cornwall. I can only imagine the private meetings and surreptitious phone calls, amendments tabled and withdrawn, reassurances given about meetings, and so on.

Amendment 98 and the amendments in lieu that I tabled would give police and crime panels the power to veto the dismissal of a chief constable. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Minister does not want at least some sort of power to be made available to either the Home Secretary through HMIC, or the police and crime panels, whereby the dismissal of a chief constable can be vetoed.

To be fair to the Minister, the Government have rightly changed the majority required to veto an appointment from three quarters to two thirds, showing that they have listened in that respect, but why do they regard the dismissal of a chief constable to be different from the appointment? A police and crime panel can veto an appointment or a precept with a two-thirds majority. The Minister questions why we would want to fetter or in any way circumvent the power of a democratically elected individual when it comes to dismissal, yet they have done that with appointment and precept. The logic seems to be that if that is wrong for dismissal, we would not have it for appointment or precepts either. I say to the Minister that I honestly believe that this is a significant and serious flaw. Indeed, I think that it is a dangerous flaw.

The Government have included the protocol, which must be agreed by affirmative resolution of both Houses, in the Bill, but we can imagine a locally elected politician with sole responsibility for the police in their area

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believing that they should be able to do certain things or require the chief constable to do certain things. The chief constable could say, “No you can’t, because that breaks the protocol”. The Minister ought to tell us what would happen in those circumstances. Where there is such a conflict, what will happen if the chief constable says, “I’m not doing that because it’s contrary to the protocol”?

Even if there is a legal means by which the chief constable could try to resist such pressure, each and every hon. Member present can imagine the emotional pressure and the strain on normal human relationships that would result from knowing that, unless they conformed to what the police and crime commissioner was asking, they could be sacked. Who prevents the police and crime commissioner from doing that? The Minister says that it is okay because the Government have amended the Bill so that the chief constable can now go to the police and crime panel and make representations. What use is that?

The police and crime panel, having heard those representations and listened to the chief constable say, “I am being treated unfairly and required to do things that are inconsistent with my view of how I should conduct policing in this area,” may actually agree, but ultimately it can do nothing. The police and crime panel can say to the chief constable, “We absolutely agree with you. The police and crime commissioner is acting unreasonably and has it wrong.” What can it do? The answer is nothing. It can veto an appointment, as I have said, but it cannot veto a dismissal. What sort of framework is that for the Government to set up?

9 pm

Our amendment would not even require a simple majority, because it accepts the Government’s logic and view that there must be more than just a simple majority. So we accept two thirds, and a significant number of police and crime panel members would have to regard the dismissal as unfair in order to veto it, but there is no power in the Bill at all.

That goes back to what I keep saying to the Minister: if he wants to demonstrate that the police and crime panel is more than what I think it is, he has to give it some teeth. In this area, however, the Government have quite clearly failed. He said, “We don’t want to give the police and crime panel that power,” and, in the remarks that he just made to the House, “We don’t want the police and crime commissioner to have to go to the police and crime panel, where it could act as judge and jury.” Well, by that logic the panel will act as judge and jury on appointments and on precepts, but on the most fundamental question of all it will not be able to do so.

There are few hon. Members present, unfortunately, but I hope that others hear some of the debate, because I do not believe that most Members think it sensible to give that amount of power to a police and crime commissioner, however unlikely it is that such a situation may occur. One hon. Member said that it is extremely unlikely to occur, but unlikely does not mean impossible, and it is incumbent on the House to include in the Bill something that would give us the safeguard that is required.

Everybody I speak to is worried about the issue. Senior police officers are worried about it, and, although I know that the Minister does not give particular credence to these organisations, I must tell him that the Local

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Government Association, the Association of Police Authorities, Liberty and individual Members I speak to are worried about it, too. If he does not want to give the panel the power of veto, he might like to know that in another part of the amendment we say, “Okay, why not have a reserve power for HMIC to refer a dismissal to the Home Secretary for her or his consideration?” Looking at it, the Home Secretary would be able to say, “I believe that in this particular instance the PCC has got it wrong.” If the police and crime panel is not the right vehicle for undertaking such a measure, why not HMIC?

I hope that the Government are right and the situation will never occur—that a police and crime commissioner will never sack a chief constable for reasons that generally cannot be supported. But there is a danger, and a Government who were trying to secure the proper policing governance of this country would seek to ensure that that dangers could never arise. I am frankly astonished that the Government have not sought to include in the Bill at least some sort of safeguard to prevent the misuse of that power. It really is unbelievable. I cannot believe it, most people I speak to cannot believe it, and I do not believe that if most Members thought about it they would understand the logic of allowing appointments to be vetoed and precepts to be vetoed, but not dismissals. It goes right to the heart of the Bill, and, as I have said to the Minister before, it is dangerous.

Such is the importance of the matter, I must say that, from a procedural point of view, I should like amendment 98 and the associated amendments in lieu to be put to the vote at the appropriate time.

Mike Crockart: I want to speak in favour of a number of amendments. Before doing so, however, I make a plea from the heart as a new Member of the House. I am working with the Plain English Campaign to urge simplicity and transparency in product design and communications coming from the financial services industry. Having faced a minefield of amendments, amendments to amendments and disagreements with amendments over the past few days, I suggest that the Plain English Campaign could well assist this House with some of its processes.

Let me start with amendments 70 to 78 and 80 to 83, which deal with the composition of the police and crime panels. Originally the Bill allowed for a minimum of 10 members from local authorities, or one member from each authority for police areas with 11 or more authorities, and two non-political co-opted members in each instance. Our amendments in Committee sought to create additional capacity within the membership of the police and crime panels. The Lords amendment would mean that there was still a minimum of 10 political members and two non-political co-opted members but allow for a resolution by each panel to appoint any extra number of co-opted members provided that the total number does not exceed 20.

We spent a great deal of time on this subject in Committee and debated at least 40 probing amendments to the Government’s initial proposals. Then, as now, the key issue for the composition of the panel was how well it could manage to meet its balanced appointment objective as set out in schedule 6(30)(3), which bears quoting:

“The ‘balanced appointment objective’ referred to in this paragraph is the objective that the appointed members of a police and crime panel (when taken together)…represent all parts of the relevant police area”—

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it says “parts”, not “local authorities”, to seek to ensure geographical balance—and

“represent the political make-up of…the relevant local authority, or…the relevant local authorities (when taken together)”.

That is a very important sub-paragraph. Our amendments proposing to increase the size of the police and crime panels would have given the PCPs a small amount of wriggle room to meet those geographical and political balance objectives. That involved an extra two members specifically to address concerns about balance.

The Minister agreed to reflect on those amendments, and I am happy to see that what has come back here today is a significant improvement, not only on what was initially proposed but on what was included in my amendment. While my amendment would have given an additional two members to help with the balance, these new proposals give a potential eight extra members who could be co-opted on to a police and crime panel, all of whom would be subject to the balanced appointment objective. This is a significant change which gives the vast majority of PCPs the flexibility they will need to ensure that we achieve an effective body for reviewing and scrutinising the police and crime commissioner across all the constituent local authorities. Of the 41 police areas, 31 would have the potential to use the maximum eight additional co-optees and only five would have fewer than an additional four members.

The one question that remains, although the Minister has already dealt with it to a great extent, is what constitutes, or indeed necessitates, the agreement of the Secretary of State to allow for the further co-opted members to be appointed. It is clear that this power is necessary. It would be bitter-sweet to have identified the issue and proposed the amendment to deal with it only for the Secretary of State to fail to agree to the use of that power. I would like to hear more about what circumstances the Secretary of State would take into account before making that decision—as, I am sure, would those who tabled amendment 80. I do, however, thank the Minister for listening and welcome this improvement to the Bill.

Lords amendments 69 and 98 deal with the power of veto for police and crime panels over the setting of the precept and the proposed appointment of a chief constable. The issue that consumed more time in Committee than any other was that of the powers available to the PCP to discharge its duty to review and scrutinise the decisions and actions of the commissioner. We had a wide-ranging debate that examined many possible additional powers. We agreed that the sharpest teeth—or some might argue the only teeth—that the PCP will have is the power to veto the proposed precept and the proposed appointment of a chief constable.

I tabled amendments in Committee to achieve precisely what is now being proposed by the Government. In doing so, I challenged the Minister to reflect on whether any other veto power had such a high threshold of 75%. We argued, with the support of the Local Government Association, that the three-quarters majority required for the veto was too stringent and impractical to provide an effective block on the commissioner. No democratic system places executive power in the hands of an individual without providing suitable and strict checks and balances, and no strong democratic body requires a three-quarters

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majority to provide such a check on the executive. A veto by a two-thirds majority vote is given to the London Assembly and councils with directly elected mayors in budget matters. That would be strongly preferable and would give suitable strength to the authority of panels. It would align the commissioner model with a tried and tested framework for holding a democratic executive to account.

The move to a two-thirds majority will strengthen local democracy and accountability, and it will be a major step forward. When I made that point in Committee, the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) agreed with me, so much so that he was desperate for me to push the matter to a vote, despite the promise of the Minister to reflect on the points raised. However, I took the Minister at his word and I am happy to see these amendments today.

Vernon Coaker: You voted against them.

Mike Crockart: No, those are not the matters that the hon. Gentleman pushed to the vote.

In Committee, the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mark Tami) asked the Minister what percentage of amendments moved by Liberal Democrats were withdrawn rather than pressed to a Division. He was told to work it out for himself. I am happy to help him today. It was 100%. And yet, here we are with significant changes to the composition and powers of the police and crime panels. The Minister said in Committee:

“We are all adjusting to coalition politics, but it is interesting that Opposition Members are finding it harder than we are.”––[Official Report, Police Reform and Social Responsibility Public Bill Committee, 8 February 2011; c. 456.]

Seven months on, that does not seem to have changed.

Finally, I would like to consider a missed opportunity that the Government may live to regret, although I hope not. Government Lords amendments 33, 87 and 88 relate to clause 31, which covers the suspension of police and crime commissioners. We discussed this provision in Committee and identified a drafting error, which I am happy to see has been corrected. We also discussed whether the correct threshold had been set for suspension. At present, suspension is possible only when an individual is charged with an offence punishable by a

“term of imprisonment exceeding two years.”

That threshold rules out a number of potential charges which, were they hanging over him, would seem to make it incredible that a police and crime commissioner could continue to hold a chief constable to account. Those charges include assault with intent to resist arrest, racially or religiously aggravated assault, racially or religiously aggravated harassment and a number of others that were outlined in Committee. I am disappointed that the Minister, after reflecting, has not included this change in his amendments.

The Minister did propose that the power for a police and crime commissioner to stand down voluntarily would be introduced. He said that that would provide a better way to deal with such situations. Alas, unless I am looking in the wrong place, that is not in the Bill or in the amendments. That is a missed opportunity, because it leaves the potential for embarrassing situations to arise.

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9.15 pm

In conclusion, the proposals go a long way to strengthening the police and crime panels and, I believe, will deliver the strict checks and balances as laid down in the coalition agreement. The Bill will bring about public accountability of the policing function, bring it out of the shadows and subject it to the full scrutiny of every member of the electorate.

Vernon Coaker: I want to know exactly where the Liberal part of the Government stands on this. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether he supports my proposal that the police and crime panel should have the power to veto the dismissal of a chief constable?

Mike Crockart: I will make it very clear that I do not support the hon. Gentleman’s proposal, although there is an outstanding question and some further work is required. Employment law would look on the ability to dismiss someone without an appeal as being dubious at best, so there is possibly a legal aspect to look at. However, when we look at the powers in the Bill on the suspension and removal of chief constables, we see that the situation is not quite as simple as the hon. Gentleman makes out. It is not just a case of the police and crime commissioner wanting to get rid of the chief constable and his being gone the next day. A long, public process—six weeks—is kicked off, involving the panel, notifications and representations.

I do not believe for a second that any police and crime commissioner would set out on such an open and public process without a very strong case for the dismissal of a chief constable. To do so would lay the commissioner open to a very high level of public scrutiny. I cannot see a publicly elected official opening themselves up to that level of scrutiny without sufficient cause. The process that the Bill lays out will effectively stop that situation ever arising.

To conclude, the Bill brings public accountability of the policing function out from the shadows. Community safety, and the fight against crime and disorder, deserve nothing less.

Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall) (LD): It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh West (Mike Crockart), who has followed this Bill throughout its passage. He served on the Public Bill Committee, as did other right hon. and hon. Members who are in the Chamber, and he has clearly devoted a huge amount of thought over recent weeks and months to what aspects of the Bill need to be amended. Given that I am arriving at this late stage of the debate, I am grateful for the benefit of his thoughts, just as I am grateful to other hon. Members for their contributions.

My hon. Friend referred to his work with the Plain English Campaign on simplifying the language of financial products and so on. For new Members and perhaps those of us who are less familiar with speaking in debates on Lords amendments, he also pointed out how important it is to ensure that we get our terminology right. In that light, I am rising to speak to amendment (a) to Lords amendment 80, which is in my name and those of my hon. Friends. Other Cornwall Members who are in the Chamber are very sympathetic to the

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proposal, although their names are not appended to it, and we heard another hon. Member raise this issue at Question Time.

The hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), with whom I had the pleasure of spending some time to discuss the Academies Act 2010, said that he did not want to intrude on any private grief in Devon and Cornwall. I can assure him that it is not grief, and nor is it private—we are here discussing the matter in public. It will not come as a surprise to him or anyone else that concerns have been raised in Cornwall, which is represented by a unitary authority that brought together the functions of the previous six district councils and Cornwall county council to form one body. The concern is that, as of right, we would have only one representative on the police and crime panel or crime and police panel—whichever way round it goes.

Nick Herbert: Police and crime.

Dan Rogerson: I defer to the right hon. Gentleman, who has lived and breathed the panels for a long time.

As we have heard, in neighbouring Devon, where they still have district councils, every council will get representation on the panel, as I understand it, regardless of the huge disparities in population between some of the smaller district councils in Devon and the Cornish unitary authority and the unitary authorities in Torbay and Plymouth—the major city on our peninsula. The message coming strongly from members of the public and elected representatives—in the form of Cornwall councillors—is that they are deeply dissatisfied that this issue has not been resolved to the point where they feel that all areas are getting equal representation. I am sympathetic to that.

The Minister has set out, very helpfully, the possibility of using co-option. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh West (Mike Crockart) said, that has been pressed for a while, and I am delighted that the Government have responded by allowing this flexibility so that local circumstances can be accommodated. We are familiar with the police authority model—I accept that it is a different type of body—under which geographical areas are represented. We want to ensure a range of views on those bodies, and co-option has been used to ensure that people from different backgrounds, for example, are represented on those organisations. That is important. Before the census this year, people in Cornwall pressed for the opportunity to recognise their Cornish identity and for it to be enumerated in the census. I was delighted when a friend of mine sent me a picture of her son’s data-monitoring form in Hertfordshire, where they were able to circle “White, Cornish”.

I am departing from the point a little, but I am merely trying to make the point that those of us in Cornwall who are proud of our Cornish identity would not want to feel that we were being given less of an opportunity to put our point across than our neighbours in the most westerly English county, Devon. Amendment (a) would give a bit more of a steer on how the power of co-option could be used to ensure that such concerns are dealt with. I do not think that the amendment goes far enough to reassure everybody in Cornwall that there is equality of opportunity in seeking representation on the panel, but given where we are in the passage of the Bill, it is as far as we can go while still being in order, given what is in Lords amendment 80.

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I want to ask the Minister about the Secretary of State’s discretion to approve or not to approve the pattern of co-option that members of a panel put to her. Clearly she could decide to reject a series of proposed co-options on the basis that they did not reflect adequately the geographical make-up of that policing area. The Minister pointed that out, helpfully, although I hope that it would not be necessary. As the hon. Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton) said, we would hope that the members of the panel who were there as of right would seek automatically to use the power of co-option constructively to secure proper representation. Hypothetically, however, should they not do so but instead seek further to entrench the position of their communities with regard to the make-up of the panel, it would be reassuring to know that the Secretary of State could have regard to the need to secure equality and therefore reject the co-options.

However, it occurs to me that were such a panel happy not to alter the geographic balance, it might simply not put forward any co-options at all. That is the fear, although we are dealing with a hypothetical situation, and I imagine—indeed, I hope—that, as the hon. Lady said, those appointed under the Bill as it stands would not seek to do that, but would listen to our debate today and to the debate out there in the community, and would reassure people by using the power of co-option in the way that the Minister has suggested would be helpful. Therefore, my question for the Minister is: if those panels decided not to go down the co-option route, what message could be sent to say that the Secretary of State would be looking to them to act in that way? What discussions might the local authorities have among themselves prior to the constitution of the panel to address some of those concerns?

Sarah Newton: My hon. Friend is making a comprehensive and thorough argument for the depth of feeling of people in Cornwall. He is getting to the essence of the issue, which is that we would prefer to have our positions in Cornwall by right, along with our colleagues from Devon and the Isles of Scilly. Therefore, our great desire is to have it made crystal clear this evening—so far we have been unable to achieve this—that we will have our positions by right and that the Secretary of State will make every effort to ensure that we truly are represented fairly on that panel.

Dan Rogerson: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. She is absolutely right, and that is the reassurance that people in Cornwall are looking for. Our amendment (a) to Lords amendment 80 is an attempt again to put on record the strength of feeling and the concerns that exist.

There is a wider point, which is that occasionally there are anomalies in legislation—this has applied to Governments historically—which, by their nature, will not apply to the vast majority of cases and are therefore not felt to be at the heart of what that piece of legislation is trying to do. However, as we—I hope—move as a country down the route of localism, where different authorities perhaps decide to take on different responsibilities and powers, it is important that we should have different ways of working locally and that legislation be drafted to take account of that. Perhaps that could be done through secondary legislation, to

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address specific examples such as Cornwall. I appreciate that there is a concern about time—the Minister will want to move towards the elections for police commissioners, and therefore the appointment of panels—but where only one or two specific areas are affected, following them up through such legislation might be a better approach. It might be too late to do that in this legislation, given how it is drafted, but the message for the Government generally is that, as we have different systems in different parts of the country, we should take the opportunity to pick that up and deal with them separately without holding back the overall thrust of legislation as it applies to the country as a whole.

I am grateful to the Minister for responding to that concern—he has corresponded with people back in Cornwall about the issue. However, I seek a reassurance from him that should the panel not to seek to co-opt, there will be a direction from the Secretary of State or some discussion with the local authorities involved to ensure that the debates that have taken place outside and inside this House—those that we have had this evening, as well as over previous months, in other stages of the Bill’s progress—are taken into account, so that people are reassured and we can proceed to a panel in which people can have every confidence.

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friends the Members for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson) and for Edinburgh West (Mike Crockart). I wish to speak to Lords amendments 69 and 98. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh West is leaving the Chamber, but I would just like to tell him that I enjoyed his contributions in Committee, and that when I was on a Home Affairs Committee trip to Turkey, I spent several long bus journeys reading his voluminous contributions, including those on Lords amendment 68. He put the case for the panel being able to veto certain mechanisms with a two-thirds, rather than three-quarters, majority. I was persuaded by his arguments, and I welcome the fact that Ministers have now adopted those proposals.

9.30 pm

I oppose Lords amendment 98. I am also concerned that, despite the late stage of the proceedings, the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) does not appear to have grasped a key element of the Bill. He seemed to suggest that there was a distinction between the dismissal of a chief constable, when the panel would not have a veto, and the appointment of a chief constable, on which he was correct. The veto of an appointment would mean that the commissioner could not then appoint that individual. Presumably, if he then put forward another individual whom the panel did not like, it could veto that individual as well and, in theory, that could carry on ad infinitum, or until an agreement was reached. That would clearly be a veto.

However, the hon. Gentleman went on—incorrectly, I fear—to draw a parallel with the setting of the precept. He stated that a police and crime panel would be able to veto a police and crime commissioner’s precept. The Bill states that the panel may do that, but if the hon. Gentleman reads further in the Bill about the mechanisms that would apply, he will see that it is far from clear that there would be a veto. In the case of a so-called veto of the commissioner’s precept by a two-thirds majority of

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the panel, the commissioner would have to “have regard” to the veto, yet in the next step, he could set the precept anyway. I presume, given the extent that he has to have regard, that precept could not be exactly the same as the one he set before, but there is no mechanism to require him to do what the panel wants, or to allow the panel to come back. There might therefore have to be a slight change to what the commissioner wanted, but it is quite wrong—despite the language in the Bill—to suggest that the panel has a veto or that it can in any sense be judge and jury in this matter.

My concerns are accentuated by the proposed 15 November election date. In principle, I think that that is right, and it will fit in quite well with the budget cycle, at least as it is operated for police authorities. However, we shall then have the extraordinarily convoluted process in which the panel will consider the commissioner’s precept and could then, with a two-thirds majority, veto it. The commissioner would have to have regard to that decision, but he could then go ahead and set the precept. So that is an extraordinarily weak power for the police and crime panel.

On Report, the Minister told us that if there was a problem, a mechanism would exist whereby a referendum could be held and the local electorate could decide between the police and crime commissioner’s precept and the one proposed by the police and crime panel. That is not the case, however. The provisions for a referendum on the precept are entirely unrelated to the police and crime panel, and to whether or not it exercises a veto, and to the degree to which the commissioner has to have regard to that. The process of setting the police precept—a very small amount of the council tax—could therefore have four different actors: the commissioner, the panel, the Secretary of State and the local electorate.

There is, however, no mechanism to resolve any conflict between the panel and the commissioner. The commissioner will set the precept, and the panel could then say, “Hang on, you haven’t had regard to what we want.” The commissioner could say, “Yes, I have”. What happens then? There is no mechanism for settling such a dispute. We are told that there will be regulations, but they will have to respect the Bill, which states that the commissioner must “have regard” to the panel’s veto. What will those regulations do? They will not allow a ruling that is definitely in favour of either the panel or the commissioner. Perhaps we should split the difference, or toss a coin. I suspect that, in fact, the regulations will provide for the Secretary of State to determine the precept, which would be a complete reversal of the intention of the Bill, which is to devolve power. So we are going to set up an elected commissioner and a panel of elected councillors, acting as checks and balances on each other, but if they disagree over the key issue of the police precept, we shall have no answer to the question of what will happen next.

I fear that if the Secretary of State sets the precept, we infantilise these two new actors even before they are set up. How can they act as a check and balance against each other if they are looking over their shoulder to the Secretary of State? How can the police and crime commissioner develop a mature, responsible relationship with his chief constable if he cannot even get that chief constable money in return for the two of them agreeing a strategy to improve the local area? Do we still envisage the Secretary of State looking over 41 force areas and

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deciding what is an excessive precept? Will that be a single figure across the country, or will it respect the different needs and requirements of all the different areas, particularly after the spending reductions?

What on earth is the point of having an elected commissioner and a panel of elected councillors if the key decision about the precept is left with the Secretary of State—or, I fear, if these regulations do not do their job, and I cannot see how they will, letting it go straight to the courts? What does “have regard” mean? We need an answer to that question; we need some mechanism to settle it.

The mechanism I proposed—it was discussed on Report—has not yet been developed, I am afraid. My Liberal Democrat colleagues, the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) and the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) have given this proposition their support and a number of my hon. Friends have supported it, but in order to simplify the process so that we do not have these four different actors setting the precept, and also to provide some mechanism so that we know what will happen if there is a dispute between the panel and the commissioner, I have suggested that the power to hold a local referendum should not lie with the Secretary of State, looking over the shoulders of these 41 actors across the country, but that there should be a mechanism by which the panel can resolve a dispute with the commissioner. If that panel is made up of local councillors and if the councils in the local area had to pay for a referendum if such were called, we know that the panel would exercise that power responsibly. If it felt that the commissioner had not listened and had not had regard to what it had said, this mechanism would provide the ability to deal with the situation—without the courts intervening and without infantilising the two new actors on the policing landscape by giving the Secretary of State even more power than he or she now has over setting the police budget locally, which should be a matter for local democratic accountability.

No amendment has been tabled here to deal with that situation, although I believe that the amendment I proposed on Report would have done so. The mechanisms in the Localism Bill, however, would allow the referendum to be used, but only if that Bill were amended to state that, in the context of policing, the arrangements were entirely different because a special panel of councillors from every council in the area and two independents had been set up to scrutinise the commissioner, to look over the budget and ostensibly to veto it. With that veto, however, nothing much can be done: the commissioner has to have regard, and then we know not what.

I propose that we should frame an enabling power within the Localism Bill. It would not require Ministers to do anything, but it would leave all the options for regulation open to the Home Secretary, as previously discussed. If, between now and November next year, a mechanism for the budget that will work can be developed, and will not lead to litigation and if that mechanism will not leave the Minister to decide what is going to happen all the time, and if the referendum proposals for policing can be allowed for in the Localism Bill to enable the panel rather than the Secretary of State to decide, that could provide a mechanism for precept setting that works, that empowers local democracy and that will not have this House and this Government blamed for every local decision about the precept or

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police numbers. Instead, it would provide a chance for that panel, that commissioner and that chief constable to develop a mature, local and responsible relationship.

Nick Herbert: We have had a good debate and a rather more technical one on this group of amendments. The hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) began by setting out the reasons for his amendment that was intended to achieve a veto over the dismissal of chief constables on the part of the panel. I addressed the issue when I first spoke to this group, so I shall not detain the House by repeating all those arguments, except to say that I think there is a distinction between the area of the appointment of the chief constable and that of dismissal.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is process around dismissal, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh West (Mike Crockart) pointed out very well. We are introducing further safeguards in regulations, and we have given a stronger role to the inspectorate of constabulary. The exercise of the power of dismissal is not untrammelled: proper safeguards are in place. However, giving a panel of appointees the power of veto over a dismissal that would be merited under the existing arrangements and through proper process, and allowing them to insist that the chief constable remain in office when the police and crime commissioner legitimately wished that chief constable removed, would be a recipe for complete deadlock in local policing. That is one reason why it would be inappropriate to extend the veto in that regard. I fear that we will simply disagree on the matter, but I agree about the principle that there should be proper process around dismissal.

Vernon Coaker: Should the Government find out that there was a problem with the process in due course, would primary legislation be required to change it, or could it be changed through an order-making power or a process other than primary legislation?

Nick Herbert: We are putting in place regulations in relation to the procedures for when a police and crime commissioner wishes to dismiss a chief constable. We are discussing that with the Police Advisory Board. There is an order-making power.

Vernon Coaker: Is the Minister saying that, if the Government were to decide in due course that a veto power with respect to dismissal was appropriate, primary legislation would not be required to introduce it?

Nick Herbert: To clarify the matter for the hon. Gentleman, the procedures do not extend to the power of the panel. If we wanted to give the panel the power of a veto, that would have to be determined by primary legislation. The matter must, therefore, be settled now. I have set out the Government’s case fully, but it seems that he disagrees with us.

Mark Reckless: Will my right hon. Friend confirm that what he is saying would apply also to my point? Although the Localism Bill contains mechanisms for a referendum, were we to want to use that to settle a dispute between the panel and the commissioner, the

12 Sep 2011 : Column 854

provision would have to be on the face of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill or, perhaps better, the Localism Bill, for the panel rather than the Secretary of State to have that power. Without that, we are left solely with the “have regard” formulation.

Nick Herbert: I hope to be able to answer my hon. Friend’s question in a moment.

I had already sought to addressthe issue of the position of Cornwall as a unitary authority, which my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson) raised very well with his amendment. I hope that my earlier comments about the power under the Bill will help to answer his concern.

Having spotted that the amendment did not allow the Secretary of State to impose unilaterally members who had not been proposed by the police and crime panel, the hon. Gentleman raised the interesting question of what would happen if the panel did not propose any co-opted members. He was right to suggest that we would not have the power of direction, but discussions would of course take place, and I have already indicated that we would be unhappy if a proposal for additional members of the Devon and Cornwall police and crime panel did not reflect geographical balance. We would certainly seek meetings with the relevant local authorities to discuss the issue.

9.45 pm

I think it was right to give the power to local authorities, because that is the basis on which a panel is constituted to decide on increasing the number of co-opted members, rather than the decision being imposed centrally. However, we have the ability to approve membership, and I believe that our safeguards are sufficient to ensure that a sensible arrangement will be reached. We will certainly bring the full weight of Government to bear to ensure there is a proper balance between Cornwall and Devon.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless) raised the issue of the procedures relating to the veto that a police and crime panel may exercise on the setting of a precept, and the role of the Secretary of State in relation to an excessive precept. I should like to clarify a couple of the points that he raised, although I should be happy to discuss with him further an issue that he has raised with me separately, and about which he has written to me.

I can confirm that our proposed regulations will be able to specify how a disagreement will be dealt with, and to deal with what the phrase “have regard to” would mean in such circumstances. What we have been trying to avoid is a situation in which there is endless argument about the precept, and in which the system is effectively halted. We must establish a mechanism to resolve differences.

I believe that the regulations will deal with my hon. Friend's concern. I do not accept the claim that this is a weak power simply because the police and crime commissioner must only “have regard to” the veto. I believe that the police and crime panel has a de facto veto over a precept that it does not want, but procedures for resolution must be built in. I should be happy to discuss with my hon. Friend how the regulations would work, and indeed we should be grateful for the benefit of his experience as a member of the police authority.

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As for the powers of the Secretary of State, I should point out that he or she will not decide the precept, but will decide the threshold at which a referendum should be triggered. Such a referendum would put the decision in the hands of the people, so it cannot be characterised as a centralist power or a denial of localism. My hon. Friend is a passionate localist, and he knows that I am as well. I can tell him that I am satisfied that the final say would rest with the people, and, in that sense, would be far more legitimate than a power exercised at an earlier stage in the process by the police and crime panel.

Mark Reckless: There are two potential issues in the Secretary of State’s involvement. One of them is to do with setting an excessive precept level in respect of the Localism Bill, and the other arises when a panel vetoes and the commissioner “has regard to” that, and the panel and the commissioner have a dispute. My concern is that unless the commissioner or panel make a decision—although I cannot see how that can happen given the reference to “have regard”—these regulations will lead to an appeal to the Secretary of State, who will then in some respect have even greater central power than under the current system.

Nick Herbert: I appreciate my hon. Friend’s point to the extent that there are two checks in this process: the check that is provided by the police and crime panel, thereby giving a voice to local authorities in this matter, with every local authority in the policing area represented on the panel; and the check that is provided ultimately by the people, triggered by the Secretary of State suggesting that there may be an excessive precept and substituting, effectively, a democratic lock for an administrative lock. My hon. Friend is right that two procedures are riding side by side in this respect, and we have to work out how they fit together. We hope to achieve that through the regulations. We are, effectively, following the proposals on the democratic lock set out in the Localism Bill, but I repeat that I would be very happy to have a meeting with my hon. Friend to discuss how these regulations will be shaped and how we might establish procedures that are workable and that ensure policing does not grind to a halt if there is a dispute. I hope that what I have said reassures my hon. Friend in the interim, and I look forward to having those discussions with him.

I think I have now responded to all the issues raised in what has been a useful, if somewhat technical, debate.

Lords amendment 5 agreed to.

Lords amendments 7 to 42 agreed to.

Lords amendment 43 disagreed to.

Government amendments (a) and (b) made in lieu of Lords amendment 43.

Lords amendments 44 to 52, 54, 55, 58 and 60 to 97 agreed to.



Schedule 8

Appointment, Suspension and Removal of Senior Police Officers

Motion made, and Question put, That this House disagrees with Lords amendment 98.—(Mark Tami .)

12 Sep 2011 : Column 856


The House divided:

Ayes 202, Noes 300.

Division No. 347]

[9.53 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Bell, Sir Stuart

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Campbell, Mr Alan

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Clark, Katy

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Mr Wayne

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dugher, Michael

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Irranca-Davies, Huw

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Joyce, Eric

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacShane, rh Mr Denis

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miliband, rh David

Miller, Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Paisley, Ian

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reeves, Rachel

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watson, Mr Tom

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Jonathan Reynolds and

Angela Smith

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Huppert, Dr Julian

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Patel, Priti

Penning, Mike

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Sir Robert

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Bill Wiggin and

Mark Hunter

Question accordingly negatived.

12 Sep 2011 : Column 857

12 Sep 2011 : Column 858

12 Sep 2011 : Column 859

Lords Amendment 98 agreed to.

10.10 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83F).

Amendment (a) made to Lords amendment 163.

Lords amendment 163, as amended, agreed to.

Lords amendments 99 to 162, 164 to 168, 53, 56, 57, 59, 169 and 170 agreed to.