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Lord Archer of Sandwell: I am grateful to my noble and learned friend. I think his attention was distracted. In order to prevent a misunderstanding, I have already said that I will not move this amendment.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I have got that point, thank you. Turning to Amendment No. 67, the noble Lords, Lord Glentoran and Lord Cope, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, want to remove Clause 16 (1)(e). I suspect they view this as a Trojan horse, given their later amendments. I can assure them that this is really a technical provision and a simple acknowledgment that legislation resulting from the criminal justice review could confer additional powers on the DPPs. The provision in paragraph (e) would mean that if this happened the Bill would not need to be specifically amended at that stage. Obviously nothing could change without a statutory provision which would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. I therefore ask noble Lords not to pursue their amendment.

Amendment No. 70, spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, is aimed at ensuring operational independence. It was something that Patten recognised. Patten specifically said at paragraph 6.21 of his report that it is the chief constable's right and duty to take operational decisions and nobody should direct him how to conduct an operation. He said that police officers must be free to exercise their responsibilities. This, again, is an issue which arose in another place, and I can assure noble Lords that our view there that operational independence should be preserved remains.

It is worth pointing out, too, that DPPs are consultative bodies. They can ask the police to account to the community for their actions. The police accept and would welcome the opportunity to do this for the benefit of policing. The code of practice to be issued by the board under Clause 19 will set out in detail what is expected of the police. But neither this provision nor the one in the code will affect the operational independence of officers.

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I believe that we are at one on that issue. With the assurance I have given, I ask the noble Lord not to move Amendment No. 70.

Amendment No. 71 would provide that DPPs should not have any power to raise money for the purpose of buying in any additional policing services within the district. There is no need for such an amendment. It is unnecessary. The Government, recognising the widespread concerns about the Patten recommendation on this, did not include it in the Bill, so they have no such power.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has already made clear that the DPPs would not have this fund-raising power. He has said that he would review it in the light of the criminal justice review conclusions and the operation of DPPs. The Bill does not give DPPs such a power and the provision saying that they should not have them is unnecessary. I therefore ask noble Lords not to press Amendment No. 71.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: Perhaps I should concede that the noble and learned Lord may be justified in complaining that he is being pulled in two different directions. However, he has indicated that that had the effect of achieving a balance. I hope that that balance will be sustained and maintained throughout the remaining clauses. On that basis, I generously withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 64 not moved.]

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [General functions of district policing partnerships]:

[Amendments Nos. 65 to 71 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Committee stage begin again not before 8.50 p.m. and inform the House that unfortunately, despite this delay, it appears unlikely that the commission can occur during the dinner break.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.53 to 8.50 p.m.]

Clause 17 [Annual report by district policing partnership to council]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 72:

    Page 9, line 9, at end insert--

("( ) When a district policing partnership submits its report under subsection (1), it shall at the same time send a copy of the report to the Board.").

The noble Baroness said: Under Clause 17, at the end of the financial year each district policing partnership is obliged to submit a general report to its district council. The Bill provides that a copy should be sent to the policing board by the council. The Police Authority for Northern Ireland expressed concern that a council might accidentally or otherwise delay

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sending a copy of the report. It argued that the DPP should send a copy to the policing board at the same time as it sends one to the council.

We have said throughout that we will consider constructive suggestions. We have accepted that suggestion and have tabled Amendments Nos. 72 and 74 accordingly. I am pleased to say that the Government have anticipated Amendment No. 73. I hope that it will not be pressed, given the changes that we are proposing.

Amendments Nos. 75, 76 and 77 to Clause 18, tabled by my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell, provide that the DPPs may report on any matter. As my right honourable friend the Minister of State said in response to similar amendments in another place, they are not necessary. The clause simply empowers the board to require reports. It does not prevent DPPs from reporting on their functions. Given that assurance, I hope that the amendments will not be pressed.

Amendment No. 78, in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Cooke, Lord Laird, Lord Molyneaux and Lord Rogan, would require the board to make an order if a DPP failed to produce a report when asked to do so by the board. The theme of the fear of non-compliance runs through several amendments. The Government do not think it right to bind a body comprising elected representatives and those appointed by the board in that way. The board could take other avenues. For example, if members of a DPP fail to fulfil their terms of appointment, they can be removed. The logic of the amendment would require similar provisions throughout the Bill, such as in Clause 68, which requires the board to appoint traffic wardens, or Clause 55(4) on the board reporting to the Secretary of State. I therefore hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

Amendment No. 79 would place a requirement on the board to issue a code of practice. The Government have made it clear that we have every expectation that the board will issue such a code. However, given the obvious strength of feeling on the point, the Government accept the amendment in principle. Once we have had a chance to check the wording with counsel, we shall introduce an amendment on Report. In the light of that assurance, I hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

I hope that it has been helpful to go through the other amendments. I beg to move.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: I congratulate the Government. I am in the enviable position of yet again welcoming a government amendment. I am glad that the Government have listened to the shrewd advice of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland. The Government have clearly thought through in a little more detail the relationship between the board and the district policing partnerships. Smooth and harmonious relationships will be essential to effective policing. Amendment No. 72 is sensible and I strongly support it.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: Saving time is commendable. My noble friend the Minister has

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answered my arguments before I have advanced them. Not for the first time, she has largely read my mind. I am not wholly surprised to be told that my amendments are unnecessary, but I should like to take a moment to explain why I tabled them.

We are told that the DPP may submit a report on a specific matter whenever so required by the board. The aim of the amendments was to make it clear that the DPP did not have to wait until it was required to do so before submitting a report.

I was not surprised that my noble friend said that the principle was not in dispute. We all know that those who are closest to the action are best placed to know when a report is needed. The purpose of such a report is often to alert those in the hierarchy who are further from the coal face. When I was privileged to chair the council on tribunals, we were required to submit an annual report to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, but sometimes we discovered a problem that required an alarm signal without waiting until it was time for the next report. Sometimes the most important advice is unsolicited, because its purpose is to alert those who had not grasped the situation. I am delighted that my noble friend and I agree about that.

I am not wholly sure that the amendments are superfluous. We are imposing the duty to submit a report when asked. It may be wise to make sure that the DPP may also submit a report when not asked, because there is a principle of construction that that which is not included is excluded. However, my noble friend has largely anticipated my points and I shall not take the matter further tonight.

Lord Glentoran: I thank the Government for accepting Amendment No. 79. That is welcome. I may be pedantic, but I have one comment to make. The purpose of our Amendment No. 73, which is almost identical to government Amendment No. 72, was to reinforce the point that DPPs are accountable to the police board. That is why we felt that they should submit the same report to the board. We wanted to make that point a little more strongly, but I accept that it is almost the same.

I heard what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, said, but I am delighted that he does not intend to press his amendments.

9 p.m.

Lord Laird: As the proposer of Amendments Nos. 78 and 79, perhaps I may say a few words. Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, I listened carefully to what was said, even before I put my case. I shall consider that and obviously shall be prepared not to push the amendment but to withdraw it. I simply want to savour the moment. If I understand the situation correctly, as I believe I do, the Government have accepted Amendment No. 79 in my name and those of three of my colleagues. I want to savour that moment because it is the first such moment that I have savoured here all evening. I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for accepting the

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amendment. I believe that it will go some way towards bringing back a little public confidence. I thank the Government.

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