Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord McIntosh of Haringey had given notice of his intention to move, as an amendment to Amendment No. 33, Amendment No. 34:

Line 2, leave out ("chief officer") and insert ("Inspector of Constabulary").

The noble Lord said: The Minister will be aware that I tabled Amendment No. 34 before she tabled her Amendments Nos. 33 and 35 to 38. Therefore, whatever may be the defects of trying to extend the role of inspectorate of constabulary, I hope and believe that the purpose of my amendment is the same as government Amendment No. 37, which I take to be the really important amendment in this group. I am grateful to the Minister for the amendment and for the assurances that she has just repeated that the commission will have the power to disapprove the selection of another police force by the originating police force. To that extent the need for my amendment is less than it would otherwise have been.

However, the route seems an awfully long way round. The originating police force has a choice in the matter but if either the originating police force or the commission thinks it is appropriate to go elsewhere the originating police force must then make its choice and the commission may then refuse that choice and make another choice. The purpose of giving the role to the

12 Jun 1995 : Column 1607

inspectorate of constabulary was deliberate. In general, nobody outside the police service knows what is the availability of resources in different police forces. The Government are now proposing that the commission shall embark on a trial and error supposition. For example, the West Midlands force says that it wants the job to be done by West Yorkshire; the commission says that it does not want that to happen and that its choice is the Devon and Cornwall constabulary. The originating police force can then say that it does not want the job done by Devon and Cornwall but by another force. At some stage a decision must be made as to who is available and suitable to do the work. It seemed to us that it was not a very great extension of the inspectorate's role to make sure that the choice was made within the police service but not, as is agreed to be undesirable, by the originating police force.

However, those are relatively minor matters. In the circumstances, it is not appropriate for me to move Amendment No. 34 as an amendment to Amendment No. 33.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, takes that attitude because although I share most of his views on the Bill I should not have been happy about accepting his amendment. Inspectors of constabulary have entirely different responsibilities. In my view acceptance of the amendment would have created a high degree of confusion. The inspectorate is not staffed to carry out such responsibilities. It has area and subject responsibilities and it would feel a great deal of tension were the responsibility proposed in the amendment to be passed to it. I am sure that there would be very little enthusiasm within the inspectorate for carrying out those responsibilities.

The noble Lord has indicated that he does not wish to move his amendment and therefore I say no more about it save that it would be an error to have entrusted responsibilities of this sort in the way the noble Lord proposed.

[Amendment No. 34, as an amendment to Amendment No. 33, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 33 agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 35 to 38:

Page 14, line 44, leave out ("such police force, or in such") and insert ("a police force, or in a").
Page 14, line 46, leave out ("as the appropriate person thinks fit") and insert ("selected by the appropriate person").
Page 14, line 48, leave out from ("direct") to end of line 2 on page 15 and insert ("—
(a) that a person shall not be appointed, or
(b) that a police force or other public body shall not be selected,
under subsection (4) or (5) without the approval of the Commission.").
Page 15, line 11, leave out from ("appointed") to end of line 13 and insert ("without the approval of the Commission.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.

8 p.m.

Clause 19 [Inquiries by investigating officer]:

[Amendment No. 39 not moved.]

12 Jun 1995 : Column 1608

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 15, line 19, at end insert:
("(2A) The Commission may at any time, if they think there is good reason to do so, authorise an investigating officer directly appointed by the Commission, on producing (if so required) evidence of his authority, to require any person to produce to him forthwith any document in his custody or power which the investigating officer may reasonably require.
(2B) A justice of the peace may issue a warrant under this section if satisfied on information on oath given on behalf of the Commission, or by a person directly appointed by the Commission, to exercise powers under this under this Part, that there are reasonable grounds for believing that there are on the premises documents the production of which has been required, and which have not been produced in compliance with this requirement.
(2C) A warrant under this section shall authorise the investigating officer together with any other person named in it—
(a) to enter the premises specified in the information, using such force as is reasonably necessary for the purpose;
(b) to search the premises and take possession of any documents as appear to be the documents mentioned in subsection (2A) or (2B), as the case may be, or to take, in relation to any such documents, any other steps which may appear to be necessary for preserving them or preventing interference with them;
(c) to take copies of any such documents; and
(d) to require any person named in the warrant to state where they may be found.
(2D) Any documents of which possession is taken under this section may be retained for as long as is reasonably necessary.
(2E) If in the case of a warrant under subsection (2B) the justice of the peace is satisfied on information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that there are also on the premises other documents relevant to the investigation, the warrant shall also authorise the actions mentioned in subsection (2D) to be taken in relation to all such documents.
(2F) A warrant under this section shall continue in force until the end of the period of one month beginning with the day on which it is issued.
(2G) Any person who intentionally obstructs the exercise of any rights conferred by a warrant issued under this section or fails without reasonable excuse to comply with any requirement imposed in accordance with subsection (2C) (d) is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine.
(2H) In this section "document" includes information recorded in any form.").

The noble Lord said: I believe that I should move the above amendment because it was referred to at some length in the debate on Amendment No. 32. Its purpose is to show that it is perfectly possible to give an investigating officer directly appointed by the commission—and I still think that we may have to return to the matter at a later stage because, as the Minister rightly said, it is one of the most important issues in the Bill—the power which is necessary, and no more than that, to carry out investigations which would otherwise be carried out by the police or by other public bodies with investigative powers.

I move the amendment knowing that I shall withdraw it because of what the Minister said as regards Amendment No. 32. She said that she found the powers provided in Amendment No. 40 to be too coercive. I was puzzled by that; I did not feel that we had gone any further than the powers which are provided for many investigators who are not part of the police—for example, the DTI investigators or those from Customs and Excise. Indeed, there are many other examples of

12 Jun 1995 : Column 1609

comparable powers. It would be useful to have on the record the Minister's arguments so that we can combat them when we return to the issue of independent investigation at a later stage. I beg to move.

Lord Merlyn-Rees: Perhaps I may use the occasion to raise a matter which has been discussed tonight and which no doubt will be discussed again. I noticed that my noble friend used the word "coercive". I was very pleased both at the earlier stage of the Bill and tonight with the words that the Minister used as regards "direct" and "supervise"; indeed, they are very powerful words. But I do not really know what they mean. I do know that C3 did not direct or supervise.

Let us suppose that the West Yorkshire police are asked or appointed to carry out an inquiry, and someone in the commission is to supervise them as regards what they are doing. If the exercise is taking place in the Midlands, does it mean that someone from the commission moves to the area and asks "What have you done today? Have you looked into this?, followed by, "Because I have read the papers, I direct you to go and have a look at what is going on over there", and then supervises the proceedings? In other words, that person asks later, "What have you done? Have you carried out my instructions?"

I genuinely do not understand what the words "supervise" and "direct" mean in that respect. As I said, they are most powerful words. Perhaps we can use this occasion to clarify their meaning.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page