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Baroness Harris of Richmond: We support these amendments and I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 2, 10 and 11 in particular, to which we have added our names. I shall also say a few words about Amendments Nos. 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
On Amendments Nos. 2 and 11, it is absolutely right to put some of the responsibility for payment towards the new agency on to police authorities and forces. They, after all, will be the recipients of the agency's work. It is intended that the NPIA provides assistance and advice to forces in a variety of areas, but will primarily be focused on good practice and improvement. The Association of Police Authorities has always argued that the agency should be owned by the service and be radically different from the two agencies, Centrex and PITO, that will be abolished when the Bill comes into force. Allowing police authorities to part-fund the NPIA would demonstrate that they had some stake in and ownership of the agency. Their input would also act as a balance to central direction and control.
On Amendment No. 3, I am sure that we will have further considered debate about the Secretary of State's ability to make directionsin this case, to set the NPIA's priorities. Why shouldn't the agency be able to come up with its own priorities? What flexibility will it be given? As it is a new police agency, it is important not to be so prescriptive at the beginning of its life, otherwise it becomes a political tool of government. Does that not fly very much in the face of good governance, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has remarked? I would be interested to hear the Minister's views on that amendment in particular.
On Amendment No. 6, it is probably good practice to put on the face of the Bill those agencies involved in professional policing. The chief officers already have a locus and are recognised as such. Therefore, it would be a good idea to add the Police Superintendents' Association and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, suggested, the Police Federation of England and Wales. The federation has been consulted on all policing matters since 1919. It would be invidious not to put that consultation down formally, as the work of the NPIA will impact on the frontline troops more than on anyone else.
We support Amendments Nos. 7 and 8. When the national service authoritiesthe NCS and the NCISwere constructed, their membership from police authorities was much larger, and proper representation from people who have day-to-day knowledge of what is needed will be vital if the NPIA is to deliver to communities.
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Amendment No. 9 very much concerns a government matter. I hope that the Government will feel able to support itif not today then at a later stage of the Bill. Perhaps they will come forward with their own suitably worded amendment to recognise the issue. This matter is very important to us all.
We added our names to Amendment No. 10 because of the fundamental principle that it addresses. The safeguard for the Secretary of State, should it be needed, is set out in proposed subsection (2). It is a very important principle that a chief executive is not imposed on the agency. It would set the wrong tone of centralisation, with the possibility of the Secretary of State choosing someone who was not necessarily knowledgeable about the whole business of policing, if I may put it in that way. It is a matter of delivery or culture and issues of that kind. I hope that the Minister will consider carefully the message that the amendment is trying to deliver. We support the amendments.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Before I get into the body of the response to this very wide group of amendments, I should advise your Lordships about the regulatory impact assessment, particularly as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, raised the question in our previous discussion. I understand that it has been published and posted on the Home Office website.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I wonder whether that is the full, over-arching one. I was certainly aware that there was an RIAI obtained it from the Printed Paper Officebut I am not sure whether it was the one that was expected in another place. It may well be possible for the Government to produce it. The noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, is nodding, so, if that is the case, we will look at it and come back if we feel that we need to ask any other questions.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My understanding is that it is the full-blown works, but we had better check and be absolutely certain. If the noble Baroness and other participants in the debate want a paper copy, I am sure that we can undertake to provide one.
As I said, this is a very wide-ranging group of amendments and it is also a very well intentioned one. I entirely understand the spirit in which the amendments have been tabled and also the thinking behind them. I should say at the outset that I do not necessarily agree with the conclusions that the noble Baronesses have drawn, but we certainly understand the spirit behind the amendments.
We are determined that the National Policing Improvement Agency will be a police-owned and police-led body for the entire police service. As such, we do not believe that there is a need to segment funding and to have a separate revenue stream from police authorities. The Association of Police Authorities has been part of the steering group that has driven the development of the agency and it has also been part of the discussion and subsequent agreement around how the agency should be funded.
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Looking at Amendment No. 3, I find it hard to accept that the priorities determined annually by the NPIA should not be consistent with the Home Secretary's strategic priorities for the agency. It is an entirely proper function of the Home Secretary to set the strategic priorities for the police service as a whole and for national agencies, such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the NPIA. That, after all, is what governments are elected to do. Having set the strategic priorities for the NPIA after full consultation with ACPO, the APA and the agency itself, it would be absurd for the agency then to set its own priorities without reference to the Home Secretary's strategic priorities. It is critical that we approach the strategy for policing in a joined-up way, and that the Home Office, ACPO, the NPIA and the rest of the service are working for the same priorities. Importantly, having set the strategic priorities for the agency, it will of course then be for the NPIA board and chief executive to determine how to give effect to them.
Amendment No. 4 seeks to add the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents' Association as statutory consultees before the agency's annual plan is finalised. I am happy to place on record my expectationthe Government's expectationthat both organisations will be fully consulted as part of the development of the NPIA's annual plan. But I do not think that the amendment is appropriate. We are already committed in the legislation to consult ACPO and the APA as representative organisations of the other two tripartite partners. There is a precedent for limiting consultation in this way within the Police Act 1996.
I hope that the noble Baroness will take comfort from the fact that I know that the chief executive designate, chief constable Peter Neyroud, will be consulting all the staff associations and representative bodies, including the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, SPOSA, UNISON, the National Black Police Association and the British Association for Women in Policing. It is perfectly proper that he should. The purpose of the Bill, as drafted, will enable him to consult who the agency thinks fit, and I am satisfied that a flexible approach is the right way forward.
Crucially, the NPIA will also consult communities, which is a vital requirement if the agency is to be genuinely focused on customers and supporting the police service in providing the kind of policing for which we and communities strive together.
Amendment No. 5 is about the appointment of the NPIA chair. It would place a statutory duty on the Home Secretary to consult the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents' Association before making the appointment. I do not accept that that should happen. Under the legislation, the Home Secretary is already obliged to consult ACPO and the APA. That is right and proper, as it reflects the unique tripartite relationship that underpins policing in this
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country. However, to extend the duty to consult to police staff associations would be mistaken, as it is not a matter with which they should be directly engaged. The NPIA will be the engine that supports the tripartite relationship and drives policing improvement. As such, it should be for the tripartite partners to inform the decision-making that leads to the chair's appointment. It will then be for the Home Secretary finally to make the appointment because the Secretary of State will be ultimately accountable to Parliament for the effective leadership and operation of the agency.
I have some sympathy for the amendment of the noble Baroness. The president of ACPO, Ken Jones, has pressed the case for the association to be recognised as a statutory consultee, reflecting its position as a professional leader of the police service, and as one pillar of the tripartite framework. That point was also made in ACPO's briefing to Peers in advance of Second Reading.
We are ready to give this proposal further consideration, but a number of questions will need to be resolved before we come to a final view. If we refer by name to ACPO, the question would then be: why not also to the Association of Police Authorities? What should the legislation say when the issue in hand concerns the conditions of service of chief officers? ACPO is not a staff association. That role is taken by the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, which in some cases will be the appropriate consultee. More significantly, is it enough simply to provide for ACPO to be a statutory consultee? Is there a case for putting the association on a statutory footing? In asking these questions, I make it clear that the Government have no particular answer or conclusion in mind. We will need to discuss the issue with ACPO further before deciding on the best way forward. So, while this amendment is well intentioned, I suggest to the noble Baroness that it would be premature to push the point today. I therefore ask her to withdraw the amendment in the knowledge that we will at least continue to explore the options with the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 seek to ensure that ACPO and the APA will have a minimum of two representatives each on the NPIA's board. It is only right and proper that ACPO and the APA are guaranteed representation on the board. After all, the NPIA will, as I said at the outset, be a police-owned and led organisation, and ACPO and APA membership is integral to ensuring that. It is not, however, necessary to stipulate the minimum number of representatives each organisation should have, above one.
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In practice, we are trying to achieve a streamlined, dynamic and responsive board that will effectively steer the agency at a strategic level. In establishing the first appointed board, it is likely that there will be two members each from ACPO and the APA. But we do not want to be overly prescriptive about its final size and membership, both of which should be kept constantly under review, and should be flexible and responsive to change, if necessary, to ensure greater effectiveness.
On Amendment No. 9, consistent with the commitment the then Minister for policing gave in Committee in another place, it is our intention that there will be a non-executive majority on the board of the NPIA. This will bring a wider perspective and diverse input to the oversight and governance of the agency. The Bill provides that the chief executive should be a member of the board, consistent with guidance by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. At this stage, we do not intend that any other executives shall be members of the board. Other members will include the non-executive chair and members appointed by the Secretary of State, including the tripartite representatives. I would like to think that the noble Baroness will accept my assurance that non-executive members will be in the majority, as this will be the best way of holding senior staff to account and taking difficult decisions about organisational priorities.
On Amendment No. 10, the chief executive of the NPIA is a critical appointment for policing in this country. As such, it should fall to the Home Secretary ultimately to make that appointment. Moreover, ensuring a successful relationship with the right balance of skills and experiences between the chair of the NPIA board and the chief executive of the agency will be crucial to the NPIA's success. This adds further weight to the importance of the appointment and, in turn, the need for the Secretary of State ultimately to make it. That said, the Home Secretary will not make this appointment in isolation. He will, of course, fully consult the tripartite partners and the chair of the board in making the chief executive appointment. Additionally, the tripartite partners will be entirely consulted on the chair appointment.
The NPIA will be the authorities' and forces' agency. We will establish the NPIA board so that it is fully representative of the whole service. Flowing from this, we will seek collective service-wide "buy-in" to expenditure and commissioning arrangements for the entire NPIA budget through the agency's board and its appropriate committees, sub-committees and consultative groups. These decisions will need to factor in the strategic priorities that the agency is tasked with achieving. But, again, while these will ultimately be set by the Home Secretary, they will, of course, be decided upon in full partnership with our tripartite partners and the police service more widely. Rather than have one of those tripartite partners deciding on 15 per cent of the NPIA's funding, we want to give the APA and ACPO, through their representatives directly on the board, the power collectively to decide, after consultation with
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stakeholders and customers, how 100 per cent of the agency's budget is spent. We also want to achieve collective agreement to the NPIA's spending and, more widely, to the NPIA's overarching strategic direction and purpose.
I believe that I have addressed most of the issues raised by the amendments, but I am conscious that, I think, noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, asked about the size of the board. The figure is not fixed, but we intend to have a board of a size that we think would work well, probably of about 12 people. The board will be more streamlined than the larger boards that have overseen Centrex and PITO. We think that a membership of 12 is about right and will work best, but there may be some flexibility at the edges. I trust that noble Lords who have participated in the debate on this amendment will read into my encouraging comments our desire to ensure that consultation is continued on all those issues. I look forward to the responses of both Front Benches on these matters.
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