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The first is the ability of an authority to establish performance targets for its force. The second is the ability to include in the plan a statement setting out the resources available and the proposed allocation of those resources against policing priorities. I am sure the Minister will agree that these are important functions of police authorities, but will tell me that it is more satisfactory that they should be placed in secondary legislation, which he has already intimated, to keep things simple and to increase flexibility. I shall see whether I can convince him and the House that these two elements are important enough to be in primary legislation.
First, on setting targets, the government amendment acknowledges that it is the job of an authority to set objectives for policing its area. But how does an authority know whether those objectives are being met unless it sets targets to measure them? Police authorities have duties under primary legislation to report back to local people on how well their local police force is performing. How can a
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Secondly, including a statement of resources available and the way in which they will be allocated to priorities is key because it impacts on funding and that goes to the heart of accountability. Police authorities hold the budgets for police forces and receive funds from central government towards those budgets, but some elements of the budgets come from local taxation. It is the duty of police authorities to raise those funds through the police element of council tax. Police authorities are accountable to local communities for how that money is spent, so is it not right that they should be able to ensure that policing funds are allocated appropriately in line with priorities? After all, those priorities are set after consulting the public, who fund police forces, to find out what most concerns them. This is not a matter of constraining the operational independence of chief officers but of accounting to the public for money that is collected from them and demonstrating that their money is being spent on addressing issues that concern them. This is a significant and important responsibility that should be in primary legislation. It has been for many years, and I see no reason to change that.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I listened carefully to what the noble Baroness said on this matter, not for the first time, and I conclude that, while this is an interesting debate, it is a debate about means and the ends are shared. We all want to see standards raised and plans actively pursued and fulfilled. I do not think it is essential to have this provision in the Bill. In fact, by putting it there, we may be constraining ourselves and removing an important and necessary element of flexibility to reflect and change priorities over time. I heard what the noble Baroness said on this issue, but I am not persuaded and I have to insist on the Governments amendment.
(1B) The police authority responsible for maintaining a force that has more than one deputy chief officer shall, after consulting with the chief officer, designate the deputy chief officers in order of seniority for the purpose of subsection (1A)(B).
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I am simply seeking to reinstate the existing provisions of the Police Act 1996 after allowing for the possibility that there may be more than one deputy chief constable and, in particular, that the police authority appoints the deputy or deputies.
Earlier today, your Lordships listened to an impassioned argument from my noble friend Lady Scotland in which she said that if the Mayor of London appointed the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, just as the deputy chair or chairs of the police authority would act in the absence of the chair, it followed inexorably that the Mayor of London should appoint the deputy chairs. I think that there are differences in substance between the police authority in London and other police authorities under the Bill, but the substance of my noble friends argument seemed to be clearly that as the deputy acts in place of the chair, then the same person who appoints the chair should appoint the deputy chairs. Given the logic put forward by my noble friend just a few minutes ago, it follows that if the police authority appoints the chief officer and deputy chief officers and decides the order in which they deputise, then the police authority should determine which of the
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Currently the police authority and not the chief constable determines which senior officer should act in place of the chief constable during his or her absence. The Bill would change that arrangement to make it the responsibility of the chief officer. Frankly, I do not believe that a satisfactory case has been made for why that should be so. Indeed, your Lordships will recall that at an earlier stage of the Bill I argued that the police authority should explicitly be responsible for appointments right down to operational command unit level. That is still my view but, given the enormous progress that has been made on the Bill, I am not proposing to press that today. However, it seems to me that this very simple change in the provision of the deputy goes to the heart of the issue. If the police authority appoints the chief constable, then logically, as my noble friend has already conceded on related points, the authority should decide who acts in his or her place.
I make it clear to your Lordships that I do not believe that this is an operational decision. It is a matter of the strategic oversight of the capacity of a force. As such, it is a responsibility that falls to the authority. This is where my careful analogy with the Mayor appointing the deputy chairs of the police authority in London breaks down. The argument here does not apply so far as concerns the police authority in London because nowhere is the Mayor of London given a strategic oversight of the operations of the police authority, whereas under the Police Act the police authority is given that strategic oversight. Accordingly, while my noble friend's argument that those who appoint the chief officer or the chair should automatically appoint the deputies still applies, there is an additional argument in this case because of the authority's role in strategic oversight. This is about strategic oversight of a force, which is why the deputy should be appointed by the authority.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, my proposal would ensure that there was adequate resilience and flexibility in the arrangement at senior level where the absence of the chief constable was long-term or even permanent but such resilience would be owned and supported by the police authority. I beg to move.
Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, it should remain the responsibility of the police authority, otherwise the force, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, potentially lacks resilience, depth and flexibility. It is perfectly conceivable that both the chief and the deputy might for different reasons be absentretirement, illness, secondment elsewhere, and so on. It is much less likely that all 17 members of the police authority might be similarly indisposed.
The police authority appoints the chief officer, so it is right that they should also decide who acts up as chief officer. This is a decision about strategic capacity, not an operational decision. I wonder whether a couple of examples might be helpful. The first is from the West Midlands, which prompted a
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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 make arrangements for the designation of deputy chief constables and assistant chief constables to exercise the functions of chief constables in their absence. As we made clear when we considered similar amendments in Committee, we consider such arrangements to be a direction and control matter, and therefore, properly the primary responsibility of the chief constable. In providing for the chief constable to make such designations after consultation with the police authority, we are simply reverting to the position that existed under the Police and Magistrates Courts Act 1994.
Deputising for the chief constable is but one of the duties of a deputy chief constable or assistant chief constable. Given that the chief constable is responsible for allocating portfolios to his or her senior management team, it is logical that he or she should also determine which of his or her senior officers should deputise in their absence. That is how we see it. We see it as being part of the chief constable's general direction of the senior management team, and appropriately we feel that it is important to protect the constitutional position of chief officers in having operational direction and control of their force, including their senior management team. I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said. He did not see it as being part of an operational matter but we take a different view, and I invite the noble Lord to consider his view. We see it operating in that way.
The noble Baroness, Lady Harris, said that she thought that the Bills provisions changed the appointment arrangements for ACPO ranks. We do not see that in the same way. The police authority will continue to appoint the deputy chief constable and assistant chief constables, and the Bill does nothing to interfere with those arrangements. In any event, in the absence of mergers, it is very unlikely that any force will have more than one deputy, so it is unlikely to be an issue of concern in the future, although I take careful note of the noble Baronesss examples.
The Bill would enable the chief constable to identify which assistant chief constable would act in the absence of both the chief constable and the deputy chief constable. The problems that the noble Baroness has identified will not arise in effect and practice. It is a difference of view; we take one and the noble Lord and Baroness another. I therefore cannot agree with these amendments.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, are the Government therefore moving away from the position they held so forcefully only an hour or so agothat where somebody appoints the most senior person, they should also appoint the person who deputises for them? If so, that would be helpful for our earlier arguments. I hope the Minister is not trying to have it both ways. Clearly, if it applies to the police authority in London, the same argument must apply to the appointment of chief officers of police.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, a fundamental question is being raised. I understood that the Minister had given way on that amendment, agreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey. Now he seems to be professing something else. Where do we stand on this?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, was transferring his logic from one argument to the other. I was impressed by the adept transference of logic, but I am not drawn to support it. We therefore simply disagree on the operational importance and stature of the chief constable, and the fact that they are there to direct, manage and control the police servicein practice, in consultation with the police authority. I understand the nature of the noble Lords argument; I simply disagree with him.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I suppose I am deeply grateful to the Minister for highlighting this possible area of inconsistency in government thinking. I urge the Government to consider carefully the responses they have given me on both this amendment and one an hour or so ago. It seems to me that you cannot apply completely different logic to the two cases. If the Government are saying that the person appointing the chairman of a police authority must also appoint the deputies because they might act as chair in the chairs absence, the same logic must surely apply for the appointments of chief officers of police.
The Minister says, with a look of regret and sorrow, that he begs to differ on the fundamental point of principle that this is an operational matter, an issue of direction and control, rather than one of strategy. We surely recognise the central leadership role of chief officers of police. How they exercise it is very much about the strategic direction of the force. Parliament explicitly gave police authorities the right to appoint not only the chief officer of police but also the deputy chief officer of police in the 1996 Act because that strategic role is so fundamental.
I am not quite sure what attracts the Minister to the 1994 Act rather than the 1996 Act, let alone whether it is related to the sad disagreement on the point of principle he has referred to. However, I urge my noble friends to consider how they make coherent their logical arguments in the various answers I have received this afternoon and, while they do so, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
19C (1) A reference in subordinate legislation (within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978 (c. 30)) to the clerk to a police authority has effect as a reference to the chief executive of the authority.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think that we have a measure of agreement with this amendment in principle. Before I get stuck into the meat of the subject, I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, once again for tabling her amendment in Committee to change the title of the clerk to the authority to chief executive of the police authority. We made clear at the time that we supported the amendment but had some concerns about the proposed wording. I am therefore pleased that we can bring forward these amendments which implement the changes proposed by the Liberal Democrat Benches.
The proposed change in terminology derives from Review of the Selection and Appointment Process of Independent Members of Police Authorities conducted by Kenneth Hamer. The relevant recommendation was:
I recommend that the title Clerk to the Police Authority should be replaced with a more modern business title such as Chief Executive, or Executive Director, and that section 16 of the Police Act 1996 which requires police authorities to appoint a Clerk is a barrier to modernisation.
Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, clerks of police authorities up and down the land are cheering and celebrating the Governments acceptance of the amendment we tabled in Committee, albeit in their own inimitable legalese, and now they are all chief executives. I very much thank the Government for making them so, and warmly welcome the amendment.
(3A) The Secretary of State shall not lay a statutory instrument containing an order made under this section before Parliament unless it is accompanied by a cost-benefit analysis commissioned from an independent body, which shall include the financial cost and benefits of each proposed alteration proposed by the order laid.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 36 would ensure that the Secretary of State could not lay a statutory instrument containing an order regarding alteration or merging of police areas unless it was accompanied by a cost benefit analysis commissioned from an independent body, which included the financial cost and benefits of each and every suggested alteration.
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