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Lord Renton: My Lords, the Minister has obviously had second thoughts—as presumably has the Home Secretary—about Clause 5. Amendment No. 42 is obviously an attempt by the Government to mitigate the unpopularity, and indeed the rather resolute provisions, of Clause 5. However, I implore the Minister to bear in mind that Amendment No. 42 really does need to be mentioned in Clause 5. Clause 5 should at least include a phrase to the effect of, "Subject to the provisions of what will become Section 41B". Without such a cross-reference, there will appear to be a conflict in the Bill.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, far be it from me to talk about Bill drafting to the noble Lord, but I should make it clear that Clause 5 will become a new section in the Police Act 1996. The amendment will become Section 41A of the 1996 Act, and it has the heading,

"Powers to give directions to chief officers". The proposed new clause in Amendment No. 42 will follow that new section and is headed,
"41B Procedure for giving directions under sections 40 and 41A".

Therefore, there is a direct reference in Amendment No. 42 to Clause 5.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I understand that. I have understood it throughout. The point concerns the very drastic powers given to the Home Secretary in what is intended to become new Section 41A of the 1996 Act. As a matter of drafting, and in accordance with our usual practice, Clause 5 should at least contain the phrase, "Subject to the provision of Section 41B of the 1996 Act."

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Although I believe that the suggested minor change would help, I go further. Frankly—but without going into a mass of detail—the provisions of Amendment No. 42 are in conflict with the provisions of proposed new Section 41A as set out in Clause 5. I think it desirable for the two clauses to be redrafted not only so that they dovetail better, but to mitigate the very considerable powers expressed in Clause 5 which really do conflict with what the Minister has just proposed. I am trying to be helpful. It really would be better if we included in the legislation something along the lines of what I have just proposed.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I accept the noble Lord's comments. However, at the risk of repeating myself, when the two new clauses are read together, as they will be in the 1996 Act, it will be clear that one is 41A and the other is 41B. Not only will the title of the new Section 41B refer to new Section 41A, but the very first line of 41B effectively states that the Secretary of State cannot operate that new section unless he follows the procedure laid out in new Section 41B. There is a direct link between the two. In other words, Clause 5—which has been such a contentious issue in this House—cannot operate unless the procedures specified in the subsequent section are followed.

I am always happy to take advice, as is the parliamentary draftsman. In fact, I know that the draftsman is happy to take advice from the noble Lord, Lord Renton. I give my word that if the provisions require any tidying up in relation to drafting or other technical matters, that matter will certainly be looked at. However, I also make it clear that Clause 5—which itself is amended in my amendments in this group—cannot operate unless the procedures laid out in Amendment No. 42 are followed. That is clearly stated at the beginning of the amendment.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, I have listened with great interest to the Minister. I am sorry that he has difficulty with the suggestion that police authorities should be consulted. He spoke about going backwards and forwards and said that it would be too time consuming. If there were failings, police authorities would have had their doors battered down by their local communities. The Minister's remarks about going backwards and forwards would have made no difference. Police authorities would simply have dealt with matters at an earlier stage. I wish that the Minister would reassure his right honourable friend the Home Secretary about that. Where have failings occurred? Where does he think they might occur?

The provision is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I am deeply disappointed by the Minister's remarks that the Home Secretary can intervene and direct the local police authority under Clause 4. Our suggestion is a much better way of dealing with these matters. Under Clause 5 the Home Secretary will intervene directly, which is not the best way forward. I am disappointed. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment, but warn the Minister that we shall probably return to the matter at Third Reading.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 23:

    Page 3, line 42, after "such" insert "remedial"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to the amendments in this group which are in my name. Amendments Nos. 24, 25, 60, 61, 63 to 66 and 68 to 71 are intended to define better the sorts of measures that can be included in the direction to police authorities.

The key phrase, which goes to the heart of what we discussed in Committee, is that the measures must be remedial; they must be about putting right what the inspection report has identified as being wrong. The amendments also specify that the remedial measures must refer only to matters identified in the report as being related to the under-performance identified by the inspectorate, or to matters that the Secretary of State believes are relevant to the matters identified by the inspectorate.

I make it absolutely clear that it is our intention that directions will be used to correct under-performance and that this is not about the Home Secretary micro-managing individual police forces on a day-to-day basis. Such directions are intended to remedy a problem. That is the key point to make. In addition, because we are committed to the use of these powers being open and transparent, we propose that the Home Secretary should report his use of the direction-making powers to Parliament. I shall not repeat what I said on the previous group of amendments.

Your Lordships have tabled amendments to this provision and we are prepared to accept that reports on the use of powers should be laid as soon as practicable after the exercise of the power. However, the amendments, as worded, would not achieve what they are intended to achieve. They would not require the Home Secretary to lay reports before Parliament within six months. They require only that the reports are prepared within six months. The Bill would be meaningless were we to accept these amendments.

In that spirit, it is open to your Lordships to table amendments at a later stage. We are putting the emphasis on remedying a problem; they must be remedial measures. That shows that we are not attempting to manage the day-to-day operations of the police service.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, the Minister has raised the issue of the timing of those reports and has suggested that my amendment does not require the reports to be laid before Parliament within the time limit. I accept that technical criticism of the drafting. If the Minister can give an assurance that the reports will be laid before Parliament within six months, it would spare us all the necessity to table further amendments at Third Reading and might save us all a little time. Will the Minister consider that suggestion?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, this is my best effort. I am not saying that everything is perfect. We are prepared to accept that reports should be laid as soon as is practicable after the exercise of the powers. If your Lordships are not satisfied with that and we can find a form of words, I shall be happy to grovel to my right

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honourable friend and say that I weakened in a moment of ecstasy. It would be to everyone's satisfaction if we were to get the words right. I shall certainly consider the matter, but I make no promises for Third Reading.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Rooker moved Amendments Nos. 24 and 25:

    Page 3, line 43, at end insert—

"(2) Those remedial measures must not relate to any matter other than—
(a) a matter by reference to which the report contains a statement of opinion falling within subsection (1)(a) or (b); or
(b) a matter that the Secretary of State considers relevant to any matter falling within paragraph (a)."
Page 3, line 43, at end insert—

"(3) If the Secretary of State exercises his power to give a direction under this section in relation to a police force—
(a) he shall prepare a report on his exercise of that power in relation to that force; and
(b) he shall lay that report before Parliament.
(4) A report under subsection (3)—
(a) shall be prepared at such time as the Secretary of State considers appropriate; and
(b) may relate to more than one exercise of the power mentioned in that subsection."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 not moved.]

Clause 5 [Directions to chief officers]:

[Amendments Nos. 28 to 35 not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendments Nos. 36 and 37:

    Page 4, line 41, leave out from "making" to "of" in line 42.

    Page 4, line 43, after "plan" insert "to the Secretary of State and to the police authority maintaining the force in question;

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