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Lord Waddington: As we are in Committee, I confess that I was a Minister of State in the Home Office when the Public Order Act 1986 went through the House. I have a clear recollection of the discussions on what the outcome might be and how useful the legislation would be. I assure the noble Baroness that we never had stupid cases like these in my time in the Home Office, so something must have happened to change the general climate.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I do not know whether to rise; perhaps I should. I do not know
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whether the noble Lord is throwing down the gauntlet, because I think that some of us may be able to think of a few such cases.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to all noble Lords who took part in this short debate. It was intended to be a gentle, probing amendment to open the discussions. As ever, I can rely on my noble friend Lord Waddington to put us on the right track very early on.
I am grateful for the way in which the noble Baroness responded; she has given my noble friend Lord Waddington the opportunity to consider further and perhaps return to this at a future Committee sitting. I point out to my noble friend that he might wish at some stage to look at an amendment after Clause 20, Amendment No. 115. It is an admirable amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, to which I have added my name. It was proposed by the organisation for guide dogs and requires a new clause on the collection of data. It states:
"The Secretary of State shall collect and interpret data on reporting of offences which manifest prejudice based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or other group characteristic."
I also accept with alacrity the Minister's offer to provide us with the note setting out the relative activities and roles that are played by the organisations; that would be helpful. As the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, said earlier, colleagues in another place were promised a detailed regulatory impact assessment on this part of the Bill. I direct the Minister's attention to that, because we still have not had it. I hope that the Government might think further and provide that by the time we get to Report. We have only a very limited RIA at the moment.
I take on board what the noble Baroness said about there being two overall different approaches between the organisations. One, the agency, will be looking at improving standards, and the other will be looking more at monitoring. I agree with my noble friend, the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, that there is a recipe for confusion. None of us wants that, let alone the new agency. It is something that we will need to consider further as the agency picks up its new role and, we hope, operates successfully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 3 to 11. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and the noble Baroness,
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Lady Harris of Richmond, for their support for Amendments Nos. 2, 10 and 11. It is a fairly substantial group. I put the amendments together because they probe the accountability and governance of the new National Policing Improvement Agency.
Amendment No. 2 inserts a new subsection after Clause 1(2). As we have discussed, Clause 1 sets out provision for the creation of the new agency. My new subsection sets out that the police authorities should provide 15 per cent of its funding. Amendment No. 11 inserts the same principle into Schedule 1; it is merely consequential. Fifteen per cent is no magic figure to which I am necessarily wedded. It is simply put forward to ask the Government to justify the manner in which they have established the governance of their new agency. Throughout the progress of the Bill in the other place, the Government stated that:
My amendment would hope to cement that principle into the Bill. It was a recommendation made by the agency steering group and was particularly supported by the Association of Police Authorities. At Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringeyhe is no longer in his place; I am sure it is only momentarymade the criticism that:
"Ministers rejected the recommendation on the ground that although the Government will provide 100 per cent of the Agency's funding, we want the APA and ACPO to have full say, through their representation on the Board and more widely, in how the entire budget is spent to deliver the agency's priorities. A proportion of direct funding from the APA, or indeed other stakeholders, would only allow influence over an arbitrary portion of the budget and would detract from, rather than enhance, the police's collective 'ownership' and leadership of the agency".
Those comments miss the point. The aim of the suggestion in the amendment is not to imply ownership over a defined 15 per cent of the budget; it really means that the 15 per cent contribution would show a commensurate level of influence over the running of the whole agency. It would give an opportunity to show collective ownership. While that aspect of what the Government are doing easily feeds into a central theme of more government control, I hope that they will step back from that. It is important that local accountability is shown to have a real role by having local contribution to the budget.
The Association of Police Authorities also recommends that the agency and not the Home Secretary should appoint and determine the remuneration of the chief executive, subject of course to agreement afterwards by the Secretary of State. My Amendment No. 10 proposes such an arrangement. If the agency is to be truly owned by the police forces, which is what the Government say that they envisage,
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it would make good sense to allow the expression of that ownership by letting the board appoint the chief executive.
Amendment No. 9 would ensure that a majority of members of the agency were non-executive. That is perfectly sensible and in tune with the principles of corporate governance. The Government have said that they intend there always to be a majority of non-executive members, but that they do not want to put that into the Bill. If that is the intention, why not simply achieve it now?
Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 simply change the number of members to be appointed under paragraph 7(4) of Schedule 1 from a minimum of one to a minimum of two. Again, there is no virtue in the number; it is simply there to ask the Government to explain what size of board they anticipate should be appointed, and what they consider the optimum working size to be. The interests to be represented on the board as listed in the Bill are police authorities, chief officers of police and the Home Civil Service. My amendments increase the minimum for the first two categories but leave the Civil Service minimum at one. I do not intend to antagonise the Civil Service; this is just a device to stimulate discussion. One person who is broadly representative of the police authorities will, of course, sit on the board, but does that really amount to a proper role in the agency's governance?
The remaining four amendments in the group are intended to ask the Government to explain why they have selected certain groups as statutory consultees but not others. Thus, Amendment No. 6 raises a question about the procedure for appointing the chairman of the agency. Paragraph 7(2) of Part 2 of the schedule requires the Secretary of State to consult,
and of police authorities, before he appoints a chairman. Why is there no reference to consultation with those who represent the interests of ordinary police officers? Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5 examine the consultation process that surrounds the production of the agency's annual plan. Before finalising the plan, the agency is required to consult the Home Secretary, the police authority for the relevant area and those who represent the interests of the chief officers of police. Again, why leave out those who represent the interests of ordinary police officers?
Finally, Amendment No. 4 would require consultation of the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents' Association in that group. ACPO's briefing points out that the Bill does not recognise it, in particular, since it states that the Home Secretary, in determining the strategic priorities for the agency, will consult,
While I recognise that that has usually meant ACPO, I understand that the former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, agreed that the national role of ACPO was too important to allow that potential ambiguity to remain. ACPO understands that Mr Clarke was supportive of
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amending the Bill to recognise it by name as a statutory consultee. That is what my Amendment No. 6 does. ACPO believes that the rationale for that has, if anything, been strengthened by recent events and it asks that the verbal commitment given by Charles Clarke should be honoured by the current Home Secretary, Dr John Reid. I beg to move.
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