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Lord Scarman: With much of what the Minister has said I am sure that all Members of the Committee will agree. She made a speech in which she included many of the Bill's virtues, and she has shown herself—I hope that it adequately represents the spirit of the department—anxious to conciliate and to meet our various points. Yet why does not she trust the commission with this reserve power? We are not shutting out the police from the investigation into miscarriages of justice; on the contrary, we are saying that almost every case will be examined by the police, some of them supervised and directed by the commission, some of them without that need.

No one here supporting the amendment, I venture to say, is suggesting that we come here because we do not trust the police. Of course we trust the police. They have done extremely well. One has only to think of some of the miscarriage of justice cases which have been revealed and dealt with. They were the consequence of admirable police inquiry. What we are saying is that we believe that the commission should have this reserve power. We are not suggesting that it should be used every day of the week or every day that there is a case referred to it which requires some investigation. What we are saying—one cannot possibly visualise what will happen until it happens—is that there may be cases which have a tremendously disturbing effect upon the public, in which suggestions are made that the police have been guilty of this, that or the other misconduct. The police of course strongly deny that.

Why cannot we trust the commission, which is supposed to be a strong and independent body, to say, "Well, this is the sort of case in which, to satisfy public opinion, we will depart from our normal practice and ourselves investigate"? Surely the commission has the judgment, strength and independence to conduct an investigation, to appoint its own investigating officer and, in such rare cases, to do so without the aid of the police. It is important not only that justice should be done but, in cases of alleged miscarriages of justice and so forth, that justice should be seen to be done to the satisfaction of the public. One does not want to go into the detail.

The noble Baroness, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and I have pointed out the many ways in which the Government have come forward with sensible suggestions and sensible amendments. Cannot they see that they are not introducing anything but what is exceptional? Surely the body, coming into existence as a result of a strong recommendation from the Runciman Commission, can be trusted to handle this reserve power so that in the unusual case, which I fear sooner or later will arise, the public can see that there has been an absolutely

12 Jun 1995 : Column 1604

independent inquiry—not because the police are dirty beggars but because the police are, so to speak, possibly an interested party.

I was delighted with much of the noble Baroness's speech. I liked its sentiments, its manner, its understanding and its approach. However, we have one point on which, flattered as I am by the approach of the noble Baroness, I regret to say I do not feel likely to give away.

Before I sit down I wish to associate myself with what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Runciman, about the Justice written observations on the amendment. I commend the whole of it to the attention of the Ministry. I am afraid that I now beg to move the amendment—

Baroness Blatch: I wonder whether before the noble and learned Lord sits down he will allow me to pose one question. In saying that we need a reserve power in the Bill, does he agree that Clause 20 contains a reserve power for the commission to make inquiries of its own without the need for this present amendment? Does he also agree that even where the police are carrying out inquiries it is possible to accompany them, to question independently and to carry out as much of the independent inquiry as is necessary to make sure that people are not left believing that the police are investigating themselves alone and unaided by the commission?

Lord Scarman: Yes, that power is given to the commission but why cannot the Minister take her courage in her hands, go the whole way and say that in the exceptional case which demands it the commission is empowered to go the whole way in the investigation of the matter? To give it this power, that power and the other power is marvellous but we are dealing with an exceptional situation. It is exceptional in the sense that we may have to wait a long time before it ever arises but I am afraid that it will arise one day. Although I am a very old man, I am quite certain of that. I beg to move.

7.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 32) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 68; Not-Contents, 76.

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Airedale, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Barnett, L.
Birk, B.
Blackstone, B.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Craigavon, V.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B. [Teller.]
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]
Greene of Harrow Weald, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Healey, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howell, L.
Hughes, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jeger, B.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Monkswell, L.
Monson, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Nicol, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Runciman of Doxford, V.
Russell, E.
Scarman, L.
Seear, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Shepherd, L.
Sherfield, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Templeman, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
White, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.


Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Annaly, L.
Astor, V.
Balfour, E.
Beloff, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Butterworth, L.
Carnock, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chesham, L.
Coleraine, L.
Colwyn, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Crathorne, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dilhorne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Dundonald, E.
Dunrossil, V.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Hacking, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Henley, L.
Hogg, B.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Inglewood, L. [Teller.]
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kenilworth, L.
Kingsland, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Marlesford, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Moyne, L.
Newall, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oxfuird, V.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renwick, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Torrington, V.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Westbury, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12 Jun 1995 : Column 1605

7.53 p.m.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 33:

Page 14, line 38, leave out ("such other police force as the chief officer thinks fit") and insert ("another police force selected by the chief officer").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 35 to 38 and I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will address his Amendment No. 34.

12 Jun 1995 : Column 1606

Some concerns were expressed during Report and Third Reading of the Bill in another place that the commission's powers under Clause 18 would be insufficient to enable it to prevent the situation from arising where two forces would be mutually investigating one another on behalf of the commission. It was suggested, for example, that the commission could decide to look into a particular West Midlands case and in issuing a requirement to the chief officer of that force to appoint an investigating officer require him to bring in someone from another force. The chief officer of the West Midlands force could then appoint an officer from the West Yorkshire constabulary. That might be undesirable if the West Midlands force was already investigating a West Yorkshire case for the commission. Although such a scenario seems a little improbable, not least because our current experience would suggest that an outside force is needed in relatively few cases, we nevertheless think it best to enable the commission to prevent it if it thinks fit. Amendments Nos. 33 and 35 to 38 therefore empower the commission to approve or disapprove the outside force—or, in the case of an offence investigated originally by another public body, the outside public body—to be brought in.

The amendment to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, would have the effect of giving the choice of outside force to be brought in to the inspectorate of constabulary. This would represent an entirely new role for such inspectors and one which would fall outside their existing remit. Inspectors of constabulary play no part in allocating people to operational duties. The Government believe that it would be wrong to add such a task to their responsibilities. I have to say to the Committee that we cannot therefore accept the noble Lord's amendment. I beg to move Amendment No. 33.

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