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Our amendment prevents a situation arising where the chief inspector might be required to act jointly with the Audit Commission, but could not do so because the Audit Commission had no power to inspect the matter in question. It also ensures that joint action is required only where the Audit Commission considers it necessary or desirable to act jointly in the interests of sharing expertise or avoiding duplication. We believe that our amendment will ensure that the joint working requirement functions as intended.

Amendment No. 94 seeks to provide for an element of peer review in the inspection of police authorities. I confess sometimes to being ambivalent about the case for peer review, but noble Lords have not been slow to express their concerns about the perceived lack of independence of the Inspectorate for Justice, Community Safety and Custody.

The amendment could be seen as compromising the very independence that noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches are elsewhere seeking to reinforce. If we take the amendment to its logical conclusion, the Association of Chief Police Officers should be able to peer review the inspection of the police service and the Prison Governors Association peer review the inspection of prisons.

It could be argued, as the noble Baroness has done, that police authorities are a different beast and therefore a special case. In the spirit of wanting to enhance the independence of the inspectorate, we should leave it to the judgment of the chief inspector to determine how inspections are carried out. It may be that the chief inspector concludes that there is scope for some form of peer review, but we should not mandate this and thereby tie the hands of the chief inspector.

Amendments Nos. 99 and 101 seek to remove the role of the Audit Commission in the inspection of police authorities and crime and disorder reduction partnerships. I know that this matter has exercised the noble Baroness, but I do not agree that the Audit Commission does not have a valuable role to play. We can—perhaps outside the debates around this inspectorate—all agree that the Audit Commission can be proud of its record in the inspection of the quality and cost-effectiveness of a whole range of local-authority-run services. It regularly works with other inspectorates; for example, it works with Ofsted to deliver comprehensive performance assessments and joint area reviews of children and young people’s services, and with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to deliver community safety inspections. Our contention is that, with the wealth of experience that the Audit Commission can bring, it makes sense for it to continue to have a role once the new inspectorate is established.

If I heard the noble Baroness correctly, I think that she was asserting that the Audit Commission should just look at matters relating to money. I have considerable experience of dealing with local and district auditors. To understand where the money is going, they have to understand the management processes and the way in which services are run. With

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that broader wealth of experience, those conducting audit inspections are very well suited to carrying out joint inspections and work in support of other types of inspectorate.

The joint action provisions in the Bill ensure that the inspected bodies are inspected in a joined-up fashion, where more than one body has a role to play in inspecting them. The area covered by the new inspectorate will necessarily overlap with the remit of the Audit Commission. Given the experience, role and duties of the commission, it is important that the two bodies work closely together to ensure that inspected bodies are not burdened with repeat inspections by one organisation and then another.

Finally, I should mention now, by way of advance notice, that we expect to bring forward at Third Reading a minor technical amendment to the provision for transfer of staff to the new chief inspector in Schedule 10, to ensure that it covers all the personnel of the existing inspectorates.

I cannot agree with the noble Baroness’s rather narrow view of the role of the Audit Commission and we cannot lend our support to her amendments. I urge her to think long and hard about what she is trying to do with the inspectorate and not to press the amendments this evening.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, once again I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord has said. We are as far apart now as we ever were on what I am trying to do. He says that the Audit Commission has to understand how authorities are run and he has explained that he has had a lot of experience of seeing how it has operated within councils. I have had 20 years of seeing how it has operated within various councils, so he is not the only one who knows about that. I am perfectly happy with what the Audit Commission does there. It spends a great deal of money—a huge amount of money—telling us how it is.

However, I want to know how it is going to tell police authorities how it is when it has no expertise in how those authorities are brought together, how they are run, or anything else. I feel that this is not a job for the Audit Commission. By all means, keep it doing the job that it is doing ensuring that police authorities are spending their money properly. I am perfectly happy with that, because it has done a good job in those areas. However, it has not examined the quality and cost-effectiveness or otherwise of police authorities up and down this country. That is a very specialist and unusual job and it is very different from dealing with local councils. The Audit Commission has a lot of expertise in those areas but not in relation to police authorities. I do not want to give it another role when it does not need it and it will be no good at it.

Once again, I shall be bringing this matter back at Third Reading. I am sorry that I have to do that because the Minister has clearly indicated that he has no intention of moving on it. I simply want the Audit Commission to be taken out of this issue. It does not know how to do the job, and we should let HMIC do it. I should be perfectly happy with that. We should

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leave the Audit Commission to look at the quality and effectiveness of police authorities. With those remarks and the promise that this matter will be brought back at Third Reading, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment at this stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 95:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 96:

The Chief Inspector shall send a copy of the inspection programme, once it is prepared, to each person consulted about it under this sub-paragraph.”

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, paragraph 9 of Schedule 9 to the Bill makes it a statutory obligation for the chief inspector to consult various specified bodies when preparing an inspection programme. That is intended to ensure the responsiveness of the inspection regime to those it serves.

In Committee, my noble friend Lady Henig asked that we specifically include among the bodies which must be consulted those that will be inspected as part of the proposed programme. At the time, I agreed to bring back an appropriate government amendment to place such a requirement on the chief inspector.

I should add that we are aware that many other kinds of bodies are now regularly consulted by the five inspectorates on their programmes—for example, the Association of Police Authorities in respect of police inspections. The amendment does not preclude the continuation by the new chief inspector of those consultations; it merely emphasises the need for consultation with those most directly impacted on by an inspection.

We do not think that it would be sensible to attempt to list all the other existing and potential consultees in legislation. In our view, the continuation of existing arrangements is something that can be left to the good sense of the chief inspector. We are very reluctant to leave out someone whom it might then be necessary to include. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords will be content with the amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, I have one concern. I wonder whether the wording covers the responsibilities of police authorities for oversight of force inspection programmes. It seems to limit consultation to those who are directly responsible for the functions, establishment and other matters which are dealt with by the inspectors. I know that the Home Office has said that it is basically up to the common sense of the chief inspector, but it would be helpful if we could be given a little more reassurance on this matter.

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I hope that I made it clear in my earlier remarks that at the moment the Association of Police Authorities is consulted. We expect that to continue to be the case. The amendment was intended to ensure that those who will be directly involved and inspected are consulted. My noble friend Lady Henig expressed concern about this. I think that it was a sensible matter to highlight and that it had an echo. I made a promise and it is my delight to be able to honour it by bringing this matter back. It should not impinge at all on the normal consultations that we expect to continue.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

9 pm

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Fookes): My Lords, we now come to Amendment No. 97.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the amendment becomes hors de combat because of the earlier Division.

[Amendment No. 97 not moved.]

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 98:

(a) has power to carry out the inspection, and (b) considers it necessary or desirable to act jointly with the Chief Inspector in the interests of sharing expertise or avoiding duplication.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 99 not moved.]

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 100:

(a) has power to carry out the inspection, and (b) considers it necessary or desirable to act jointly with the Chief Inspector in the interests of sharing expertise or avoiding duplication.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 101 not moved.]

Clause 35 [Abolition of existing inspectorates]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 102:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 10 [Transfer of staff and property etc to the Chief Inspector]:

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendments Nos. 103 to 106:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 11 [The Chief Inspector: consequential amendments]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendments Nos. 107 to 127:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 42 [Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in computer misuse offences]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 128:

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I move Amendment No. 128 on behalf of my noble friend

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Lord Northesk. He has asked that I convey his apologies to the House. He simply cannot be present today due to other serious commitments.

We covered most of the ground pertaining to the amendment in Committee and so I do not propose to dwell on too many of the underlying technicalities. I feel that I would not be able to and I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for providing me with a comprehensive speaking note. I also note that the Government have reformulated the paragraph in the shape of Amendment No. 129 in the name of the Minister. That ties the matter to Section 1 and Section 3 offences in the Computer Misuse Act beyond any doubt and to that extent it is welcome.

Nevertheless, in the opinion of my noble friend, the substantive flaw of the provision, the likelihood test, remains. As my noble friend explained earlier in our proceedings, this equates to proscribing the supply and distribution of crowbars on the basis that they are likely to be used in the commission of burglary offences. Indeed, it is possible to envisage circumstances where the provision could be deployed to proscribe the supply and distribution of web-browsing and e-mail programs if only because they are more likely than not to be used in the commission of hacking offences.

The problem here should not be underestimated. To state the obvious, as broadband and, thereby, always-on access to the internet becomes more pervasive, so there is an ever-increasing need for adequately secure and hack-free systems. In Committee the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, who is in his place, made the entirely appropriate point that that need is being serviced more and more regularly by remote access. In this context, as illustrated by my noble friend in Committee, there is a host of examples of software programs, often open source code, that can be used by systems administrators to test that the IT systems are secure, but that could also be used maliciously. They are, by definition, dual purpose tools. Frequently, those are downloaded as of need from trustworthy, that is to say quality assured, sites on the internet.

However, because of the absence of legal certainty and clarity about how the likelihood test would be applied by the courts, an effect of the provision, if enacted, will be that trustworthy distribution sites of such software in the UK will be closed down rather than face the risk of possible prosecution. Indeed, there is some anecdotal evidence that that is already happening. Bear in mind that there is simply no way of telling whether any given program will be used more extensively by the good guys or by the bad guys—something which can, in any event, vary considerably over time. In consequence, system administrators and the like will have to source their software tools from less trustworthy sites, thereby running the all-too-common risk that they could include some hidden and, more likely than not, malicious, functionalities.

In one rainy week on holiday in Italy, my husband and I played rather a lot of scrabble. If I had used that word, I think he might have challenged it, but I am sure my noble friend knows what it means.

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