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Lord Tope: I am grateful to the Minister for that undertaking. I hope that, on reflection, he will consider that there is a difference between having two representatives on the board and properly consulting the police authorities and ACPO. In the light of the Minister's comments, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 67:

    Page 6, line 30, at end insert—

"( ) A statutory instrument containing the first regulations to be made under this section shall not be made unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House."

The noble Lord said: I can probably be pretty brief in moving this amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Rooker. Basically, it gives effect to one of the recommendations—

Lord Rooker: The one.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: That is right, the one recommendation made in the report of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform. It recommended that in view of the potential width of the power delegated to the Secretary of State, on first application of the power the regulation should be subject to the affirmative procedure. We are more than happy to go along with that, which is why we have tabled the amendment. I know that the Chamber is keen on our compliance with the recommendations of that Select Committee and on this occasion we are more than happy to do so. Amendment No. 68 gives full effect to the committee's recommendation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 68:

    Page 6, line 31, after "any" insert "other"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 7, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Dixon-Smith: Clause 7 deals with the regulation of operational procedures and practices. As with Clause 5, we think that it goes too far.

We accept that the Government wish to drive for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the police service. However, the clause goes too far because it may stultify and freeze off development. It says:

    "The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision requiring all police forces in England and Wales—

    (a) to adopt particular operational procedures or practices; or

    (b) to adopt operational procedures or practices of a particular description".

Although it is a sine qua non of good policing that operational practices and procedures should be compatible between forces, the idea that there should be one centrally directed way of doing things does not appeal to me. It appeals even less when one considers that there might be a change of Secretary of State and we would have somebody who would like things done differently.

On this side of the House we are in danger of becoming boring on the subject, but the development of operational practice will happen out in the field. It will be evolved in the light of hard experience gained by policemen dealing with criminals and community

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problems. It is unbelievable that a Secretary of State could regulate that process. I have no difficulty with the idea that the inspectorate, the CPTDA, the Audit Commission and all the other bodies should work with the Government to see that details of best practice are distributed around those who are not doing so well and that people should be guided in the best way of doing things. Nobody has any problem with that, but we do not require a power of regulation for procedures and practices in order to achieve it.

For a long time this afternoon we have been debating a question of management style. The management style that is coming from the Government is that Whitehall knows best. In my experience, by the time that Whitehall has found out, the best has probably moved on; somewhere in the country, somebody will be doing something better that we have not yet heard about. That is why we are concerned about the clause.

The clause says that,

    "The Secretary of State shall not make any regulations under subsection (1) unless he considers—

(a) that it is desirable in the national interest"— well, as they say, he would say that, wouldn't he?—

    "and that the making of regulations is necessary".

He is obliged to seek advice from the CPTDA and so on, but then we get into all the possibilities for consultation, as the CPTDA,

    "shall consult such persons as it thinks fit".

It is a bit harsh to judge it like this, but the CPTDA is a new organisation. In fact, it is a creation of the Home Office. The CPTDA has yet to become a proven body.

We oppose the clause simply because we regard the centralising powers encapsulated in it, as in earlier clauses, as singularly inappropriate.

Lord Tope: I know that the Minister is keen to make progress. He gave me a commitment that he would think about the amendment that I moved earlier and come back to it, so I will not now speak at the length that I was going to speak on the Motion.

I should make it clear that, even if the previous amendments that I moved—or at least the spirit of them—are accepted, those of us on these Benches would still find the clause unacceptable. It represents an unnecessary and unwarranted interference by the Home Office in local policing. Operational policing—policy and practice—is properly a matter for police authorities. The clause distorts the tripartite relationship and undermines our system of policing by consent, so we oppose it. I am sure that we will return to it on Report.

Lord Fowler: I support what my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith said. My concerns are his concerns.

We are talking about operational procedures and practices. One of the great advantages of our policing system, with the many different forces, is that one force might pioneer a new way of doing something. It is a real strength of a local police service that it can do that. I am concerned that, if the spirit of the clause were to be put into effect, we would be transferring such

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decisions to the Home Office and setting things down in a uniform way for the whole country. It is anything but clear that that would be to the advantage of the police or the public. The process would become centrally driven—Home Office-driven.

As my noble friend said, it is one thing to have the inspectorate checking whether particular systems are being used well and efficiently and effectively; it is quite another to have the kind of uniformity that lies behind the clause. Like both noble Lords who have spoken, I have the strongest reservations about the clause.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I also support my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith. I do so by analogy, and perhaps extravagant example.

When I lived in the United States in the 1950s, I had a friend who was a retired officer of the Indian Army. He showed me a manual that instructed officers of the Indian Army in getting camels across rivers. I acknowledge immediately that there are probably practical problems in getting camels across rivers; I acknowledge that there may be health and safety considerations and that there may be animal welfare issues. However, the clear objective is to get the camels across the river, and the camels would not be much use to the Indian Army if they did not survive the experience.

By analogy with the French Government, who always know exactly what any French child is being taught at any particular time of the day, it may have given satisfaction to the commander-in-chief or the viceroy—who may be the same—to know that all camels were being taken across rivers in the Indian subcontinent in the same manner at any hour of the day. However, it was quite clear to my retired friend from the Indian Army that the manual was unnecessarily constricting and that officers who could not get camels across rivers were unworthy of service in the Indian Army.

6 p.m.

Lord Rooker: I shall not even try to follow that. The noble Lord has cited a good example; it give us a picture in our minds.

I thought that the earlier brief debates on this clause were quite positive but, to be frank, I do not accept the arguments put forward in seeking to remove the clause from the Bill; far from it. There seem to be some fundamental misunderstandings.

I have forgotten which noble Lord said it, but a point was made that the Home Office would be in charge of the Central Police Training and Development Authority. Let us look at what happens today, in March 2002. National police training is currently a part of the Home Office. From 1st April 2002 it will become the Central Police Training and Development Authority, a non-departmental public body established through the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. In some ways police training is now being put at arm's length from the Home Office, with an independent chair for the authority, along with six

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independent members from the private sector, whose names I did not mention last week and I do not intend to do so now. There will be two members of ACPO, one of whom is a chief constable and two members of the Association of Police Authorities. Do not tell me that the authority is to be run by the Home Office.

Through previous legislation, the Home Office is now setting up a separate, non-departmental body to carry out an important function that it is not necessary to carry out 100 per cent, as is the case now, by officials in Queen Anne's Gate. The notion, "Oh, this is the Home Office", when in April we shall set up a new organisation bringing in fresh thinking, outside interests and frontline police expertise is the exact opposite of what most noble Lords have just said. Although we may fundamentally disagree about the way we are going, we ought to look at the road signs. The road sign on this issue is not over-centralisation and it is certainly not micro-management.

The clause forms an important part of the machinery. Noble Lords were brief in their remarks, so I too shall be brief. The president of ACPO, Sir David Phillips, in giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee in another place on 7th February, stated that:

    "We have argued for a long time that we do not have a sufficient mechanism within ACPO not only to develop and propound good policy but to make sure, as far as we can, that it reaches all corners. The need for there to be a better mechanism to spread good practice I think is identifiable".

That is not someone saying that they do not want to see a mechanism used to spread good policy and that the mechanisms are already sufficient and in place. They are not.

It is no secret that in the White Paper we set out our approach for raising professional standards. I have said that the bottom tier will be purely advisory guidance to be issued on a non-statutory basis. We have already debated the middle tier covering codes of practice. This clause covers binding regulations. I know that it can be interesting to quote selectively, but not one Member of the Committee mentioned subsection (6) of this clause. Any regulation made under this provision will need to be approved by this House, but no one mentioned that point. I ask noble Lords to look at the legislation. This is not the Home Office seeking to drive through regulations at the whim of the Home Secretary. Parliament will approve regulations as set out on the face of the Bill, but no one mentioned it. If an outsider was listening to the speeches of noble Lords, frankly they would think that another Bill was being debated.

The Home Secretary will be extremely positive about the contributions made by noble Lords in relation to this Bill because I have said to him that that is a good idea, bearing in mind the situation that we face. But he will not be positive if I go back and say, "Well, David, they want to chuck this clause out. Too much Home Office interference". He will say, "Didn't you tell them that Parliament has got to approve the regulations?". "No, I forgot about that"—and heads

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off. I have to say to noble Lords that this is serious legislation. Parliament—this House—will have to approve the regulations.

I shall cite just one example of where they might be used so that Members of the Committee can see the scope of the ideas here. At the moment, all forces in England and Wales have different approaches to the gathering and handling of criminal intelligence. That comes as a surprise to me, but it is the reality of the matter. As a result, there is no mechanism for effectively sharing intelligence across force boundaries. The power in Clause 7 could be used to require all forces to adopt at least the minimum requirements of the National Criminal Intelligence Service's National Intelligence Model; in other words, there is a body that has already thought about this matter. The effectiveness of policing is clearly enhanced where one force can make efficient use of intelligence gathered in another force.

We do not want a national police force and we are not going to have a national police force, but criminals do not respect police force area boundaries. Thus there are some areas in which it is necessary for police forces to be able to work, co-operate and at least share information. We have also talked about equipment. I say simply that that is but one example.

It is clearly stated on the face of the Bill that, before making any regulations, the Home Secretary would consult the tripartite partners and others in the context of the national policing plan to see whether any particular areas of procedure need to be mandated in this way. After those discussions, if it is concluded that it would be in the national interest to regulate, then it will be for the Home Secretary to seek the advice of the Central Police Training and Development Authority and, in most cases, the National Centre for Policing Excellence, which will be a part of the Central Police Training and Development Authority—I wish there was a shorter way of saying all that, but there is not. The centre would be expected to handle the detailed work, which would be subject to oversight by the CPTDA board, on which I repeat both ACPO and the APA are represented.

In offering its advice, the new authority will draw on professional policing experience and inevitably there will be very close consultation with the relevant ACPO policy committee. It is axiomatic that that would follow. Furthermore, the authority will of course consult other bodies and persons before it concludes its deliberations.

By their nature, the regulations will be concerned with the generality of cases—for example, how to collect and record criminal intelligence or how to investigate homicides or other serious crimes. Regulations cannot relate to particular cases, so again—as elsewhere in the provisions—there is no threat to the operational independence of the chief officer.

I have said that we would be willing to look at all the points raised by noble Lords, but I hope that the main concerns have been covered by the clause as drafted in

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the Bill. We shall look at those that are not, along with the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and come back on Report.

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