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Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, I again thank the Minister for her helpful explanation. This is a very significant order as it sets in train the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is of the most vital importance that this body is seen to be the monitor of police behaviour in exercising the very considerable powers they now possess particularly under the Police Act 1997 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. It is so important in maintaining the public's confidence in the integrity and good behaviour of the police.

The order includes some very satisfactory requirements for authorisation by senior officers and officials of the commission. We very much welcome the express provision in the order relating to the requirement of the IPCC to assist the tribunal with documentation and information, thus providing a further monitoring body for the proper exercise of police powers.

In these days of the ever-present threat of terrorism in the United Kingdom it is important that the ever-delicate balance between respect for the rights of the individual and the security of the realm is correctly struck. I would very much welcome the Minister's assurance that the Government are satisfied that the order meets that criterion. I welcome the order.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, that it is essential to maintain public confidence in the police and that this order goes to the heart of that matter in giving the IPCC identical powers to conduct investigations into complaints of criminal conduct by police officers as there would be if that conduct were committed by a member of the public.

I should like to add only one comment to those of the noble Viscount. Although the noble Baroness has given us the assurance that these powers will be used extremely sparingly—I certainly hope that that will be the case—I should like to know what kind of parliamentary oversight there will be of the use made of the powers. Will a report be made by the Independent Police Complaints Commission on the particular exercise of these powers; or, when the powers are exercised, will it be part of a general report—such as an annual report—that they make?

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I should like to be assured that this extensive power will be monitored properly and that the way in which it is used is known to the public, so that the assurance sought and obtained by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, in respect of the order is extended to the actual exercise of the power; and it is not simply a theoretical notion that those powers might be used in extreme cases.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, again I thank both noble Lords for their helpful remarks in support of the order.

In answer to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, I am happy to say that we are so satisfied. The IPCC will prepare annual reports which will include the occasions that the powers are used. I hope that that satisfies the concern expressed, quite properly, by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I commend the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.33 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.2 to 8.33 p.m.]

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Gould of Potternewton): My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 33, I must inform your Lordships that if it is carried, I cannot call Amendment No. 34 for reasons of pre-emption.

Clause 7 [RSS: Secretary of State's functions]:

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 33:


    Page 4, line 9, leave out subsections (3) and (4) and insert—


"(3) Before publishing the revision of the RSS, the Secretary of State shall cause an examination in public to be held of such matters affecting the consideration of the proposals as he considers ought to be examined, unless the draft revision is minor and inconsequential."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to speak only to Amendment No. 33 and not to Amendments Nos. 35, 36 and 37 which will not be moved tonight.

As I have just said, in this grouping I wish to speak only to Amendment No. 33. The Bill gives the Secretary of State discretion whether to hold an examination in public into revisions of an RSS. The discretion is put in fairly general terms. He could decline to hold an examination in public in a wide variety of circumstances.

The examination is a very important part of the process. It enables local authorities and interest groups to argue the merits of a draft RSS before an independent person and to seek recommendations that changes be made. It should only be in respect of minor uncontentious changes—effectively tidying up—that an examination will be unnecessary. This seems in

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practice to be the Secretary of State's view. The consultation draft Planning Policy Statement 11 states that in paragraph 230:


    "There is a strong presumption that an examination in public will be held and it is only in the exceptional circumstances of a minor revision and subject to the criteria set out in [old] Clause 6(4) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill that the Secretary of State may decide that an examination is unnecessary".

Our amendment better reflects the Secretary of State's intention than subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 7 as drafted. The Bill could be used to deny examinations in public on significant and contentious issues. Our amendment would safeguard the safeguard, as it were. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I shall speak only to Amendment No. 33. As the noble Lord said, Amendment No. 33 would amend Clause 7 to require an examination in public to be held unless the draft revision is minor and inconsequential and would delete subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 7. The amendment seeks to achieve almost precisely the same thing as the two subsections that it would delete—that an examination in public will be held except where the changes proposed to the regional spatial strategy are so minor and routine that the effort and expense involved would not be justified.

We believe though that the current wording of the Bill is better than that proposed in the amendment. The extent of previous consultation and the level of interest shown in a draft, though we would expect those to be in line with the importance of the revision, could be important factors in their own right. A revision might be minor but still contentious. In those circumstances there should be an examination in public.

The Bill as drafted would allow for that, so one has to be careful. I do not believe that there is anything between us on the principle of this issue, but we want to allow for circumstances such as when a revision might be minor, but could still be contentious for certain sections or groups. Therefore, one would justifiably hold an examination in public. On that basis, unless the noble Lord has any further point, I hope he will not pursue the amendment.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I agree with the Minister that there is not really any difference between us. We just want to make certain that where there could be a minor but contentious issue, there should be an examination in public. I am pleased to note his comments, which will appear in Hansard. It is important that it is on the record, because there needs to be the right examination in public in the right circumstances at the right time. Clarity is important. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 34 not moved.]

Clause 8 [RSS: examination in public]:

[Amendments Nos. 35 to 37 not moved.]

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Clause 9 [RSS: future procedure]:

[Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 not moved.]

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 40:


    Page 5, line 11, leave out subsection (7).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment would remove the power of the Secretary of State to withdraw a draft revision of the RSS on the basis that it is not his document to withdraw.

I was minded not to return to this issue because the Minister gave us a helpful response in Committee. However, on reflection, three important questions remain, which I ask the Minister to clarify. The first goes right to the heart of the Bill. Who owns the regional spatial strategy? Clause 1 makes it clear that the policy is the strategy of the Secretary of State. The provision implies that the document itself belongs to the Secretary of State. That cannot be the case. Regional spatial strategies are developed and prepared by regional planning bodies. The strategy must be owned by the RPB, not the Secretary of State.

The second question is whether, if subsection (7) is to be used to stop the RSS revision process grinding on when a change has occurred that was so fundamental—such as a radical new economic or waste strategy—it would be better and more pragmatic to go back to one or two stages. That is the hypothetical situation that the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, used by way of illustration. If that happened, would it not be better and less prescriptive for the regional planning body to step in and withdraw the draft revision of the RSS so that it could incorporate the new developments? I believe that, in some ways, this is an extension of my first question. Perhaps the Minister will be able to clarify those points in a moment.

My third question is: will the Secretary of State be able to exercise his powers under subsection (7) only after the draft revision of the regional spatial strategy has been presented to him or will he be able to intervene at an earlier stage when it is still the case that the RPB could withdraw the draft revision under Clause 6(7)?

If the latter interpretation prevails, I wish to reiterate our serious reservations about the centralising tendency—the overwhelming top-down approach—of the whole RSS revision process. The planning system should work from the bottom up. It is that quality that has made it so successful in the past.

If there is nothing to stop the Secretary of State withdrawing the draft revision of the RSS when that would properly be the decision of the RPB, I believe that we may need to consider this issue again before the Bill completes its passage. However, I would like to have the Minister's answers to these questions now. I beg to move.


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