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Amendment 15 withdrawn.

Amendments 16 and 17 not moved.

Schedule 2 : The framework document & annual report

Amendment 18

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

18: Schedule 2, page 40, line 33, leave out second “functions” and insert “his response to consultation or to his consent”

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, Amendment 18 brings us to the issue of the framework document in Schedule 2. I am afraid that I am still having difficulty in following paragraph 4 of that schedule. Paragraph 4(1) tells us that the Secretary of State must consult the director-general in preparing a framework document and obtain his consent before issuing it. Paragraph 4(2) then states that the director-general’s duty to have regard to the annual plan does not apply in relation to the two functions I have just spelled out. My amendment refers to the functions of responding to the consultation and giving consent, the ones in question, and I ask the Minister whether it spells out what is provided—I am sure that he will tell me that it is not necessary—or whether the paragraph means something else. Perhaps the Minister will say also whether the annual plan or the framework document takes precedence in this context. I beg to move.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 19 and 20. I did not wish to raise this issue again—I apologise to the Minister for doing so—but I had hoped that the Government would have come forward with something a little more substantial than they have done to date. I am slightly confused and disappointed that not all noble Lords had been able to get access to the outline framework document earlier in the debate. I know the Minister intended that they should have access and it was disappointing that the document was not available.

Schedule 2 to the Bill stresses the importance of the framework document and outlines what it does and how it does it. The framework document explains almost everything about the National Crime Agency. It is a far-reaching document, is hugely significant and includes provisions for NCA finance and governance. The goalposts have been moved on more than one occasion since we first discussed this issue. We understood originally that we would have the document by this stage, but then it became only the outline. We are now at Report and all we have is the outline, which is inadequate for scrutiny. The fact that we have so little information about it may have had an impact on the previous decision in this House not to include counterterrorism within the National Crime Agency.

I looked through the document to see how much of an outline it really is. I have already referred to the issues around the NCA management board. The outline framework document basically lists what provisions will be in the framework document, including: that the director-general will establish and chair a management board; a description of the board; the composition of

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the board; and that further committees may be established by the board which must include audit and risk and nominations and governance. As for working in partnership, the document contains only a bullet point about the NCA’s use of immigration or customs facilities. As for scrutiny, transparency and information, there are three bullet points: the first is on scrutiny; the second on the duty to publish information in accordance with publication arrangements, which will be set out in an annexe and which we also have not seen; and the third is on public information handling and complaints.

5.45 pm

What comes over from the outline framework document is that the Government are not really clear about what the framework document will contain. It is more than two years since the Government announced the intention to have a National Crime Agency but the details are patchy and there are more questions than answers. I have already pointed out how important we think the agency is and how much we want it to succeed. It is important for the confidence and credibility of the National Crime Agency that there is no question mark over what it does and how it does it by the time the Bill goes to the other place and through Parliament. In Committee, the Minister said:

“It will obviously be a very important document setting out how the NCA is to operate”.—[

Official Report

, 20/6/12; col. 1782.]

And yet we still have not got it. I find that disappointing.

Given that the framework document is not yet available there may be an opportunity for wider discussion and consultation at this stage. There are two important omissions from the legislation: the role of police and crime commissioners and the role of chief constables. That is why we have said in our amendments that all strategic partners should be included in the consultation. It is either an error or an omission that the Government have not included those.

It is an unsatisfactory position at the moment. It would be helpful to have parliamentary scrutiny of the framework document, given its importance. The Minister has said how important it is, as does the legislation, but we are clearly not going to get it during Report, which on this part of the Bill will finish today. I hope the Minister will tell his colleagues how disappointing this is and undertake to ensure that there is parliamentary scrutiny and proper consultation with all the strategic partners and not only those named in the Bill at present.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I shall come to the amendments proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, but will start with Amendment 18. When my noble friend Lady Hamwee debated the amendment in Committee with my noble friend Lord Henley she called it a googly and I shall have to make sure that my batting is in order to deal with it.

Paragraph 4 of Schedule 2, which my noble friend seeks to amend—although I sense a little probing in her amendment—sets out the Secretary of State’s duty to consult the director-general on the framework document and obtain his consent to that document before it is published. In drafting the paragraph it occurred to us that there was room for confusion. We

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have already established in Clause 4 that the director-general must have regard to the annual plan and the framework document. How, then, should he respond if a proposed revision to the framework document should be seen to be in direct conflict with the annual plan? I have the answer to that conundrum: the framework document deals with the ways in which the NCA is to operate—in other words, the how—and the annual plan deals with the what: the NCA’s planned activity for the coming the year. So in considering the framework document it is, admittedly, unlikely that the director-general should think to himself, “Dear me, that point about the NCA’s publication arrangements is not compatible with this year’s plan”. However, if he should happen to have such a thought, he should not let it influence him because it does not make sense to allow the annual plan that is issued for the current year to influence his judgment about whether the framework document arrangements are appropriate when they are meant to apply over the longer term. Hence we indicate in paragraph 4(2) that:

“The Director General’s duty to have regard to the annual plan in exercising functions does not apply in relation to”,

the function he is given in paragraph 1—namely the function of giving or withholding consent to the framework document. My noble friend’s amendment replaces the reference in paragraph 4(2) to the functions under sub-paragraph (1) with a more explicit reference to the director-general’s function of responding to the Home Secretary’s consultation and conferring, or otherwise, his consent. That is exactly the sense in which sub-paragraph (2) is intended to read, and since her amendment does not change the sense of the paragraph, I do not think that it is necessary to make it. However, I hope that I have been able to clarify the necessity of this provision.

Perhaps I may turn to Amendment 19 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith. It seeks to include the strategic partners among those who must be consulted on the framework document. I have to say to the noble Baroness that we remain unconvinced of the need to expand the list of statutory consultees. As has already been indicated by my noble friend Lord Henley, the framework document is a document that is drawn up by the Home Secretary and the director-general and they are the only two people who are required to have regard to it. Given that the intention is for the National Crime Agency to operate UK-wide, it is obviously right and proper that the devolved Administrations are consulted on the framework document because the NCA will be operating in their jurisdictions, but it appears to me to be wholly unnecessary to provide a statutory duty for the NCA to consult all in law enforcement about how it will arrange its own affairs. The last thing we want is a document that the Home Secretary and the director-general are required to have regard to but which is in effect an unworkable myriad of partners’ expectations laid at the agency’s door.

I turn finally to Amendment 20. This amendment returns to the question of whether the framework document should be subject to parliamentary approval. I apologise to noble Lords if they have not received the letter that my noble friend Lord McNally and I have written. A copy of the letter was sent to the noble Baroness and to the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, and

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I am sorry if they have not received it. I also sought to make arrangements for the document to be available in the Printed Paper Office today, but I have to say that when I went into the office shortly before I came to answer Questions here in the House, I noted that it was not there. I apologise to noble Lords for that because I take seriously my responsibility to try to inform them on these issues. However, I am pleased that we do at least have the outline framework document to inform our debate today.

This is going to be an important document that deals with the way in which the NCA is to operate. It is also clearly subsidiary to the actual provisions in the Bill. This is evidenced by the outline which I have sought to provide to noble Lords. On that subject, I note the disappointment of the noble Baroness in the document I have supplied, but I put it to noble Lords that it would be premature, at this stage in the legislative process, to produce a full draft of the document. The contents of the document should be informed by the parliamentary debates on the Bill as well as by the detailed work in progress to build the agency. But although it is only an outline of the final document, it does move us forward. It sets out clearly what the Government expect the framework document to cover and what it will not, a matter on which Peers were seeking clarity. It also answers a number of questions put by noble Lords, and in particular it gives an outline of the NCA’s management board arrangements, underlines the fact that the CEOP six principles will be upheld in the NCA, and clarifies that the director-general is expected to notify the Home Secretary and the relevant PCC of any use of directed tasking or directed assistance powers.

By sharing the outline I hope that I have given noble Lords some new information and I will be very interested to hear their comments, which will help to inform our ongoing work on the framework document. However, given that the outline clearly shows that the document will be subsidiary to the legislation and that it will be essentially an agreement between the Home Secretary and the director-general about how they will do their jobs in respect of the NCA, I do not think that it is either necessary or proportionate to require parliamentary approval. I am sure that had the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee taken a contrary view, it would have done so, but we can take it from the committee’s report on the Bill that it was evidently content for this document to be laid before Parliament and no more.

In summary, while the framework document will clearly be an important procedural document for the director-general and the NCA, it is wholly secondary to the legislation and directly impacts only on the NCA and the Home Secretary. I therefore do not consider it necessary to require parliamentary approval or to expand the statutory consultation required for the document. I trust also that my noble friend Lady Hamwee is now clear about the relationship between the annual plan and the framework document, and the director-general’s functions in that regard. On the basis of my reassurances on this matter, I hope that my noble friend will be able to withdraw her amendment.

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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I think the frustration over the outline framework document has arisen from the fact that, until discovering by accident only a matter of hours ago that the outline does exist, some of us had assumed that it did not. Not having had the letter, some noble Lords assumed that that was the case. However, these things can of course go wrong from time to time. One understands that. The other frustration is that the framework document, as the Minister has just confirmed, deals with ways in which the NCA is to operate. The outline is still more of a “what” than a “how”. It did make me think that it was worth your Lordships pursuing some of these points. The six principles of CEOP were spoken to with some passion by noble Lords at the previous stage, and they have made their way into this outline. I think the Minister can assume that some of us will be encouraged by that on other issues in the future.

As regards my own amendment, I am grateful for the explanation, which I did follow. It is a matter not only of my inability to bowl googlies—which I have never been able to do, and will never be able to do —but also of my lack of understanding beforehand. I thank my noble friend for the explanation and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 18 withdrawn.

Amendments 19 and 20 not moved.


6 pm

Clause 5 : Relationships between NCA and other agencies: tasking etc

Amendment 21

Moved by Lord Rosser

21: Clause 5, page 4, line 38, at end insert—

“(c) may be made only if the Director General has first notified the Police and Crime Commissioner responsible for the totality of policing in that area”

Lord Rosser: My Lords, the purpose of this group of amendments is to place a duty on the director-general of the National Crime Agency to notify police and crime commissioners before making a request to a chief constable to perform a task under Clause 5. Likewise, a similar duty is placed on a chief constable to notify the police and crime commissioner before making a request of the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task. The amendments also place a duty on the director-general to “make every reasonable effort” to notify the appropriate police and crime commissioner before issuing a direction to the chief constable for that police and crime commissioner’s area.

We had a debate on this issue in Committee when an amendment was moved referring to the director-general consulting the police and crime commissioner responsible for the policing of an area. The amendments today refer to notifying the police and crime commissioner. Without wanting to repeat everything that was said in Committee, one has to go over the argument again to some extent. A police and crime commissioner for a police area has a statutory duty to secure the maintenance

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of the police force for their area, to ensure that the police force is efficient and effective and to hold the chief constable to account for a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including the effectiveness and efficiency of the chief constable’s arrangements for co-operating with other persons in the exercise of the chief constable’s function. The police and crime commissioner will also be responsible for issuing a police and crime plan, which is required by law to set out a number of matters including the policing of the police area which the chief officer of police is to provide. However, it currently appears to be possible, under the terms of the Bill, for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to come to an agreement with the chief officer of a UK police force for that chief officer to perform a task of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance in relation to resources or impact, on behalf of the director-general or, alternatively, for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance on behalf of the chief officer of a UK police force without any apparent duty in either case even to tell the elected police and crime commissioner, despite the significant statutory responsibilities the police and crime commissioner has in relation to their police force.

If the director-general of the National Crime Agency was requesting the chief officer of a UK police force to carry out a task which could well have an impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the police force in question or on their ability to deliver or adhere to the police and crime plan, one would have thought that it was a matter on which the director-general of the National Crime Agency should be required at least to notify the police and crime commissioner. Likewise, if the chief officer of a UK police force found it necessary to request the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task on behalf of or in support of that police force, there should be a duty on the chief officer first to notify—that is what the amendment now calls for—the police and crime commissioner who, after all, might want to satisfy himself or herself that this was not a task that their own police force should be competent and capable of performing and that the request to the director-general was not, in reality, seeking to cover up a weakness in the performance of their police force.

When we debated this issue in Committee, the Government’s response was that we were putting forward amendments that would put at risk the operational independence of chief constables. We said at the time that that seemed a bit rich. Bearing in mind that our amendments state “has first notified”, it would be stretching it a bit if the Minister were to tell us again that we are putting at risk operational independence. Clearly, if directions are being issued to a chief constable by the director-general of the National Crime Agency they could well, under the terms of the Bill, be of a magnitude, size and scope that could call into question the ability of that chief constable to adhere to or deliver the plans and strategic objectives of the police and crime commissioner.

It was also said in Committee that if the director-general of the National Crime Agency had to consult the police and crime commissioner that would cause

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delay and it might be an emergency. We have sought to address that issue, unlikely though it would be to arise, by once again referring in the amendment to the director-general having to make “every reasonable effort” to notify the police and crime commissioner before issuing a direction to the chief constable for their particular area.

I hope that the Minister’s response will be more helpful than the one we received in Committee. In the wording of the Bill there are no parameters laid down which means that, on the key issue of the director-general of the NCA being able to come to either a voluntary arrangement with or, if he feels it necessary, give a direction to a chief constable, this could be of unlimited scope and have a very considerable impact on the ability of that chief constable to deliver the strategic objectives of the police and crime commissioner for the area. That there is no requirement at all for the director-general even first to notify the police and crime commissioner could, indeed, have an effect on the ability to deliver, for a period of time, effective policing in that area. That is the purpose of the amendments. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a more sympathetic response than the one we received in Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I have been trying to work out how this Bill was prepared and I can only assume that there was collective amnesia in the part of the Home Office that was preparing it about their other major piece of legislation, which created police and crime commissioners. The mentions of police and crime commissioners in this Bill are few and far between. Had it not been so vigorously resisted by the Minister in Committee, I would have assumed that it was a simple drafting error not to include that the police and crime commissioner should be informed or, better still, consulted—although today’s amendment possibly moves us away from that—about a possible direction or requirement for the use of resources in their area.

Has the Home Office really thought about the practical politics that will arise and the consequences that may flow from failing to put this very simple provision into the Bill? Put yourself into the position of someone who has been elected earlier this month to the position of police and crime commissioner. They sit there with all the majesty of their electoral mandate: many of them have had as much as 4% of the electorate in their areas voting for them, so they know that they have the people behind them. It is clear that they have a substantial, legislative obligation on behalf of the communities they represent, whether it is the 4% or all 100% of them, to hold the chief constable to account for the use of policing resources in that area. That is what the legislation that we spent so many happy hours debating a year or so back was all about. Yet here is a provision in the Bill which enables the director-general of the National Crime Agency to require the use, either by direction or agreement, of police forces in their area.

I can conceive of circumstances in which police and crime commissioners have been elected having said very clearly that their prime focus is going to be on

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local crime concerns in their particular patch and that they want “zero tolerance”—a number of them did in fact say in their manifestos and websites that they wanted zero tolerance of crime on the streets of their particular area. However, they are suddenly told—or they find out, perhaps because their chief constables tell them, they read it in the newspapers or hear some gossip—that a substantial proportion of the local resources that they thought were going to be devoted to keeping street crime and burglary down in the areas of their mandate is being diverted to some, no doubt very important, serious crime operation. You are likely to then get precisely the sort of row about operational policing that we have said we do not wish to see between police and crime commissioners and chief constables, because police and crime commissioners will suddenly discover that the resources that they thought were being devoted to dealing with crime in their patch are being diverted to another—no doubt very worthy and important—area.

The very simple, practical and political—with a small “p”—way of doing this is to have an obligation on the director-general to at least inform, if not consult, the police and crime commissioner. That might perhaps ensure that, because they hear it first from the National Crime Agency—the people who are making the request—they have an understanding of it. That is much more likely to be acceptable to a police and crime commissioner than their hearing about it from some other source. I wonder why the Home Office, having devoted so much energy, effort and even money into having police and crime commissioners elected, has then excluded them from this part of the Bill. Unless my noble friend’s amendment is passed, you are going to have a situation in which you almost encourage conflict and a reaction from police and crime commissioners saying, “I do not wish the see the resources of my police force area being diverted for those national or other purposes”. You will have created a conflict, because the police and crime commissioner does not have the right to be informed by the National Crime Agency of what is being done.

Maybe the Minister will tell us in a couple of minutes that his expectation is that the chief constable will explain it to the police and crime commissioner. It looks as though that may well be what is in the Minister’s brief. Of course there will be discussion and dialogue, but the common courtesy of the director-general of the National Crime Agency going to the police and crime commissioner to say, “I am about to make this request”, or, “I am asking your chief constable for this”, and, “These are the reasons”, will smooth the passage and make this work better. I cannot understand why, for the sake of a simple telephone call or e-mail, this has been omitted from the legislation. The reality is that it would not delay things, but would make them less liable to create conflict between the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable who has accepted the request from the National Crime Agency director-general, with the police and crime commissioner grandstanding about how he or she is fighting for the people of his or her area and about not having police services diverted to other functions because those services are there for the people of his or her community.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, that was an interesting contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, on this series of amendments. I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has drawn these amendments to the attention of the House again—they are in a somewhat changed form but really representing the same point as before—because it draws attention to the tasking responsibilities and the arrangements between the National Crime Agency and UK police forces. It is important to stress—and I think I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Harris, on this—that chief constables head up the operational arrangements for police forces and that the director-general deals with the operational arrangements within the NCA. I am afraid that I take the view that he thought I would take. I am sure that these are perfectly proper roles. We will come on perhaps to talk about how relationships between PCCs and chief constables might develop. They are not part of the Bill but they are associated with the issues that these amendments cover. I will say that these amendments do not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland, where they do not have PCCs.

6.15 pm

I am not convinced of the need to write requirements into the Bill. Tasking is an operational matter and the provisions for two-way tasking enable the NCA and its partners to draw on each other’s support for operational activities in the fight against serious and organised crime. These arrangements provide the opportunity for chief constables to draw on the NCA’s specialist services—for example, intelligence, overseas and cyber assets, and these sorts of things—and also enable the director-general of the NCA to draw on a partner’s assets.

I expect voluntary tasking between the NCA and partners will take place on a routine, day-by-day basis, based on shared priorities and mutual co-operation. I see no need for police and crime commissioners to be routinely notified, any more than they would necessarily be routinely notified when one police force provides mutual aid to another, which is a common enough occurrence, as the noble Lord will know. However, I accept that directed tasking, and indeed directed assistance, is of a different order. That is why we have included in the outline of the framework document a requirement on the director-general to notify the Home Secretary and the relevant PCC, as soon as feasible—which is rather similar to the wording in the amendment—if he issues a direction to the chief constable of a police force to perform a task or to provide assistance.

In short, I hope that we have paid attention to the points that have been made by the Opposition on this point and to the premise behind these amendments. However, the appropriate place to set out a requirement to notify PCCs of any direction to a police force is in the framework document. I believe that the relationships between PCCs and chief constables will be intimate and regular enough for these matters to be commonly discussed as a matter of information exchange between both parties on a day-to-day working basis. I hope, on that basis, that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Rosser: I thank the Minister for his response and also thank my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey for his most effective contribution to the short debate.

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In moving my amendment, I made the assertion that the kind of task that the director-general might be seeking a chief constable to perform on behalf of the director-general could be one of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance in relation to resources or impact. I note that, in the Minister’s response, he did not seek to give any assurance that these tasks would be minor or not have an impact on resources. I therefore assume that the point that I made, that these tasks could be of considerable magnitude and have a significant impact on resources, was a valid one. I am quite sure that if it was not, the Minister would have been very quick to tell me that I had got it wrong.

Bearing in mind his silence, or his lack of response to the claim that I made, if the kind of task that the director-general of the NCA might seek to get an agreement with a chief constable to perform could have a significant impact on resources and their use, it seems a bit of a mystery to say that there would be no requirement to even first notify the police and crime commissioner, when clearly that could have an impact on the objectives that that police and crime commissioner has set. The Minister has not explained in his response why that should not be the case, bearing in mind that he has not contested the point that these arrangements and agreements between the director-general and the chief constable could have an impact on resources and that they would not be merely covering minor issues. The Minister has sought to say that these agreements might be things that do not cover anything of great significance on a day-to-day basis, and to ask why there would therefore be a need to notify the police and crime commissioner. What he has not refuted, however, is that the agreements that the director-general of the NCA might seek to make with a chief constable could have a significant impact on resources. Yet, even so, the Minister resists the amendment, which is only to say that the police and crime commissioner should be first notified.

I appreciate what the Minister said about the framework document, but that does not cover all the issues raised in this amendment. It does not cover all the agreements that might be reached between the director-general and a chief constable: far from it. It does not cover them all and the Minister has not really given a proper explanation as to why that is the case. However, I have to make a decision on whether to pursue these amendments or otherwise. I am disappointed with the responses; I do not think that we have had a complete answer to the legitimate issues that my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey and I have raised, but there it is. We cannot force a Minister to respond to the arguments that are put forward. In view of that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 21 withdrawn.

Amendments 22 and 23 not moved.

Schedule 3 : Relationships between NCA and other agencies

Amendment 24

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

24: Schedule 3, page 43, line 6, leave out “any NCA function” and insert “—

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(a) the crime-reduction function,

(b) the criminal intelligence function, or

(c) functions conferred by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.”

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I am pleased to propose this short series of government amendments. Intelligence will sit at the heart of the National Crime Agency and will drive its crime-fighting activity across its operational commands. The NCA’s intelligence hub will be a vital component of the fight against serious and organised crime. It will gather intelligence to identify targets and threats and will enable the agency to direct operational activity against the most serious threats to the public.

The success of the NCA’s intelligence hub will be based on its ability to access and analyse information. Recent serious crimes have strongly highlighted the need for strengthened information-sharing agreements across government and the law enforcement community. Schedule 3 already contains a duty on UK police forces to keep the NCA informed of any information they hold which appears to be relevant to the exercise of NCA functions and to disclose this information on request.

However, we know that organised crime gangs come into contact with a number of different agencies. They are involved in corruption, using fraudulent passports and in some cases amassing property empires, as well as gun running and drug dealing. We believe that the public can be better protected from the damaging effects of serious and organised crime by improving the intelligence picture across a wide range of organisations. As a result, Amendment 25 will extend the existing duty on the police to the Serious Fraud Office, the UK Border Agency and the UK Border Force, to increase the information flows between the NCA and a wider range of government bodies.

Amendments 31 and 120 complement Amendment 25 by conferring a power to add to the list of bodies subject to the information-sharing duty by order. Any such order would be subject to the affirmative procedure. This is necessary for two reasons. First, it is a reality that the remit and structures of relevant agencies and bodies change over time; for example, in response to the changing nature of a threat. Secondly, if an organisation consistently refused reasonable and appropriate requests for information, to the detriment of collective law enforcement efforts to respond to serious criminal activity, it would be right and proper for the Government to have the means to consider, through secondary legislation, whether that body should be subject to the strengthened duty to share information.

Of course, information sharing needs to be balanced with safeguards to protect personal and other sensitive information. Schedule 7 to the Bill sets out a number of important restrictions which will apply to the onward disclosure of information by the NCA. Amendment 36 is a drafting amendment which makes it clear beyond doubt that those restrictions on onward disclosure apply to the duty to share as well as to the permissive gateway in Clause 7.

Finally, Amendment 24 brings the duty on UK police forces in Schedule 3 into line with the new duty on the Serious Fraud Office, the UK Border Agency

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and the UK Border Force. This means that the duty on UK police forces is also now restricted to the crime reduction, criminal intelligence and the Proceeds of Crime Act functions conferred on the NCA. I beg to move.

Amendment 24 agreed.

Amendments 25 and 26

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

25: Schedule 3, page 43, line 22, at end insert—

“Duty to keep NCA informed: government bodies

4A (1) Each specified body must keep the Director General informed of any information held by that body which—

(a) is held in connection with the exercise of a relevant function of that body, and

(b) appears to that body to be relevant to the exercise by the NCA of—

(i) the crime-reduction function,

(ii) the criminal intelligence function, or

(iii) functions conferred by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

(2) Where a specified body informs the Director General of such information, that body must disclose to the NCA any of that information which the Director General requests that body to disclose.

(3) This paragraph does not require a specified body to keep the Director General informed of information which appears to that body to be information obtained (whether directly or indirectly) from the NCA.

(4) This paragraph does not require the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to keep the Director General informed of, or to disclose to the NCA, any information obtained under section 2(2) or (3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (information which the Director of the SFO may require a person to produce etc).

Duty to keep government bodies informed

4B (1) The Director General must keep each specified body informed of any information obtained by the NCA in the exercise of any NCA function which appears to the Director General to be relevant to the exercise by that specified body of any relevant function for the purposes of carrying out activities to combat crime.

(2) This paragraph does not require the Director General to keep a specified body informed of information which appears to the Director General to be information obtained (whether directly or indirectly) from that body.

Meaning of “specified body” & “relevant function”

4C In paragraphs 4A and 4B—

(a) “specified body” means a body specified in the first column of this table;

(b) “relevant function”, in relation to such a body, means a function that falls within the functions specified in relation to that body in the second column of this table.

Specified bodiesRelevant functions

The Secretary of State.

Functions relating to immigration, nationality or customs.

The Director of Border Revenue.

All functions.

The Director of the Serious Fraud Office.

Investigatory functions (but not any prosecution functions).”

26: Schedule 3, page 45, line 8, leave out “a police force” and insert “an England and Wales police force or a direction to the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police”

Amendments 25 and 26 agreed.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 142

Amendment 27

Moved by Baroness Smith of Basildon

27: Schedule 3, page 45, line 30, at end insert—

“( ) Before giving such a direction, the Department of Justice must consult—

(a) the Northern Ireland Policing Board; and

(b) any other persons the Department considers it appropriate to consult.”

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, in Committee I raised concerns, with other noble Lords, about the application of this legislation to Northern Ireland, with specific reference to counterterrorism. Your Lordships have now voted to remove that particular clause to the Bill and so those issues around counterterrorism no longer arise. However, there are other issues and I discussed this matter with my honourable friend Vernon Coaker, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the other place. He was equally perplexed by this particular clause. It would be helpful if the Minister could offer some guidance.

In Schedule 3 to the Bill, paragraph 11 is about directed assistance by the National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland; paragraph 12 is about directed assistance to the NCA from Northern Ireland. I am unclear why the qualifications for direction differ between the two. If assistance is to be given to Northern Ireland, the direction can be given only if,

“it appears to the Department of Justice that it is appropriate for the Police Service to receive directed assistance from the Director General”,

And,

“if the Secretary of State consents”.

I assume that that is the Secretary of State from the Home Office agreeing to directed assistance going in. Perhaps the Minister can answer when he responds. However, for directed assistance to the National Crime Agency from Northern Ireland, there is a consultation process: it would consult the Department of Justice, which consults the Northern Ireland Policing Board and,

“any other persons the Department considers it appropriate to consult”.

However, if Northern Ireland is to receive such directed assistance, there is no consultation with the Policing Board or any other persons. It would be helpful to understand why the Minister thinks it is appropriate to have these different arrangements for each in place.

I beg to move.

6.30 pm

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I thank the noble Baroness for raising these issues. Of course, it is important that we consider the impact of this legislation on Northern Ireland, which the noble Baroness and I have discussed.

It is critical that the National Crime Agency has a UK-wide presence, reflecting the reach and threat of organised crime. In providing a UK-wide presence it is equally important that the arrangements for the National Crime Agency respect the devolution of policing and justice in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As the activities of the National Crime Agency touch on a mix of transferred, reserved and excepted matters in Northern

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Ireland, the provisions require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly, in so far as they cover transferred matters.

As the House is aware, securing legislative consent is a devolved process. The Home Office and the Northern Ireland Office are supporting the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland to take forward these discussions. I am pleased to say that David Ford and his department are engaged in constructive discussions with the parties in Northern Ireland with a view to securing a collective discussion in the Northern Ireland Executive Committee and thereafter in the Assembly.

I recognise that progress has not been as quick as we might have liked. I also know that the interests of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith—like those of the Government—are firmly focused on ensuring that the National Crime Agency will have a UK-wide presence but that the arrangements work for Northern Ireland. I share the House’s disappointment with the slow progress, but it is critically important that the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly are reassured that, through proper scrutiny, the proposals will work in Northern Ireland.

I also appreciate that the Bill is nearing the completion of its passage through the House and that there is some concern that the House is being asked to endorse the NCA provisions before the Northern Ireland Assembly has had an opportunity to debate the legislative consent Motion. However, we have until the last amending stage—Report—in the other place to secure legislative consent. Should amendments be made in the other place, this House will of course have an opportunity to consider them in the spring.

I know that the House might have liked more details of how the negotiations are going, but I hope that noble Lords will understand that we should give David Ford the necessary space to continue his discussions. I am sure that he will wish to take note of what the noble Baroness has said in this debate. I can undertake to update her on progress in due course, but for now I ask her to withdraw her amendment.

I will turn briefly to the amendment at hand, which concerns paragraph 11 of Schedule 3 and seeks to provide additional consultation requirements to the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland before directing the director-general of the National Crime Agency to provide assistance to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, subject to the consent of the Home Secretary. This is not unlike the additional consultation arrangements provided for under paragraph 12, whereby the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland must consult the Northern Ireland Policing Board and others before issuing a direction to the Police Service of Northern Ireland to assist the National Crime Agency. This is an important protection to the backstop arrangements for directed assistance from a devolved body—in this case, the Police Service of Northern Ireland—to the National Crime Agency.

Among its other responsibilities, the Northern Ireland Policing Board sets the Policing Plan for the Police Service of Northern Ireland and as such has an interest in how devolved policing resources are being deployed, particularly if diverting resources meant that the objectives of the Policing Plan would not be achieved. It is with a view to that relationship and the interests of the

27 Nov 2012 : Column 144

Policing Board that additional consultation has been provided where the direction impacts on the provision of assistance by a devolved body. However, this will not be the case when assistance is provided by the National Crime Agency to the benefit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

I am sure that this amendment is seeking to provide an additional safeguard to Northern Ireland, but these further consultation requirements will only add further bureaucracy and delay to the National Crime Agency providing assistance to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the unusual event that a direction is used. Furthermore, as I have indicated, discussions on the arrangements for the National Crime Agency are ongoing in Northern Ireland and it will be for the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to consider whether the arrangements are appropriate and what changes may be needed, if any. Only at that point will it be right for the Government to consider if changes are needed to the Bill—rather than for Westminster to decide what is in the best interests of Northern Ireland.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for talking about the wider context as well as the specific amendments. Although some of the contentious issues will have been removed with the deletion of Clause 2, he is quite right that some will remain and a legislative consent Motion will still be required.

I am grateful for the Minister’s offer to start to update me on the progress of negotiations. He will be aware that I have been asking for such information and my noble friend Lord Rosser tabled a parliamentary Question regarding the implications of this Bill for Northern Ireland. There has not been much information from the Government, which is frustrating because this matter has to be resolved.

I am not clear what the implications are for the Bill as a whole if a legislative consent Motion cannot be obtained. Perhaps the noble Lord could look into this and give us some advice on that. I am happy for him to write to me on that point. This underscores how important it is to reach this agreement with David Ford, the Minister of Justice, and with the Northern Ireland Executive as a whole.

I am grateful for the Minister’s explanation of why he is resisting my amendment—I am used to his explanations of why he is resisting my amendments. He will be pleased to hear that I do not intend to press this matter to a vote, but I would like to read his comments in Hansard and share them with my honourable friend Vernon Coaker in the other place. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 27 withdrawn.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): I have to inform the House that if Amendment 28 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment 29 by reason of pre-emption.

Amendment 28

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

28: Schedule 3, page 50, line 14, leave out from “agreement,” to end of line 15 and insert “by determination in accordance with arrangements provided by the framework document”

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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, when one hears the Lord Chairman remind the House of the point of pre-emption, one feels one should start the speech with, “I wish”.

This group of amendments deals with payments between the NCA and police forces in the event of tasking, and Amendment 28 is about how the payment is determined. Paragraph 29(1) provides that if the parties cannot agree on the amount to be paid then it is a matter for the Secretary of State to determine. I had a similar amendment at the last stage, and the noble Earl, responding for the Government, explained that determination was not on a case-by-case basis but referred to overall principle. I still have some difficulty in reading the paragraph that way, because it refers to the “amount”. If it referred to the absence of agreement as to the formula or the calculation, I would understand it.

The outline of the framework document deals with the question of tasking. The basis for the determination should be in the framework document. That is what my amendment would provide. Fees and charges are mentioned, but those seem to be a different issue. At the moment, and of course continuing, we will have a position where there is mutual aid between police forces. As I understand it, payment for mutual aid is a matter that is in the public domain—I believe that ACPO deals with it. There should be a similar approach, and the schedule should not allow for case-by-case determination, even if that is not what is envisaged, because as it is drafted it would be allowed for. I beg to move.

Lord Rosser: My Lords, we have two amendments in this group, and I suspect that the purpose of our amendments is not dissimilar to the intention behind the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

The Bill appears to provide for the Secretary of State to act as final arbiter over disputes arising between, for example, the National Crime Agency and police forces over compensation for resources provided under voluntary or directed assistance. It is not appropriate for the Secretary of State to have such a role, because it could introduce a potential conflict of interest. The Secretary of State is responsible for the National Crime Agency budget, but police force budgets will be under the control of the police and crime commissioner, so one could argue that the Secretary of State has an interest in the outcome of a decision over who should be paying what in any compensation that is required.

Our amendments provide for an independent advisory panel, rather than the Secretary of State, to arbitrate payments, which is not going down quite the same road as the amendment that has been moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. Certainly, the objective behind our amendment—perhaps the Minister will have an alternative solution—is to say that the Secretary of State, having responsibility for the National Crime Agency budget, could be deemed to be an interested party. Therefore, the Secretary of State should not act as final arbiter over disputes, but some other means should be used to make that decision. Some other body, organisation, procedure or process should be used to resolve disputes that arise, rather than it being in the hands of the Secretary of State, for the reasons that I have mentioned.

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Earl Attlee: My Lords, I hope I can persuade my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that these amendments are unnecessary. First, I will emphasise that the National Crime Agency will build on the policy of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which is not to charge law enforcement partners for tasks, assistance and facilities unless agreed with partners beforehand; for example, in exceptional circumstances.

This means that law enforcement partners will have the opportunity to draw on the National Crime Agency’s specialist services, including investigative, overseas, cyber, forensic and civil recovery assets, free of charge. The National Crime Agency will make intelligence available to partners on a routine basis, which will result in more effective deployment of partner resources. For example, the National Crime Agency’s intelligence functions will ensure that multiple partners do not investigate the same criminals or gangs without being aware of each other’s activities.

6.45 pm

Where, exceptionally, there is cross-charging between the NCA and other law enforcement agencies, we fully expect that agreement will be reached between the parties as to the level of any charges. However, the provision for the Secretary of State to determine the appropriate amount payable for tasks, assistance or facilities between the director-general of the NCA and partners, is a necessary backstop power in the event that agreement cannot be reached. In this respect, the Bill broadly replicates current arrangements for payments for assistance and facilities that are set out in Part 1 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. It is important to note that agreement has always been reached between the Serious Organised Crime Agency and partners with regard to charging, and so these backstop provisions have never been used. But it is important to have them none the less, because without them, problems are more—not less—likely to arise. It is also a good reason why we do not need to establish an advisory panel, which I will come to in a moment.

I am not persuaded that my noble friend’s amendment takes us much further forward. Her amendment does not specify what alternative arrangements would be provided for in the framework document. We are still left with the conundrum as to what is the most sensible and efficient way to break any deadlock. It is also important to bear in mind that other law enforcement agencies are not a party to the framework document—that is, between my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and the director-general of the NCA. Therefore, they are not required to have regard to the arrangements in the framework document in the same way as the director-general is.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, would establish an advisory panel on payments to take the place of the Secretary of State in settling any disputes around payments. I put it to him that such an advisory panel would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the cross-charging arrangements. The Home Secretary is ultimately responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in England and Wales, and in these circumstances I see no reason, as with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, why she should not assume

27 Nov 2012 : Column 147

responsibility for settling any disputes in this area. These arrangements may well concentrate the parties’ minds.

In short, this provision in paragraph 29 of Schedule 3 offers the most appropriate and streamlined mechanism for settling any disputes in respect of cross-charging. It has not given rise to any difficulties in relation to SOCA, and accordingly I ask my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, to withdraw their amendments.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, perhaps I can use this moment to ask if—possibly not immediately, but shortly—the Whips could clarify how far we will go on this evening. I was told that we would finish after disposing of Amendment 78, but the Annunciator is talking about Amendment 107A, which may cause some of us a little panic.

Earl Attlee: It would cause me a heart attack. Let us wait for some clarity to arrive.

Baroness Hamwee: I thank the Minister. Perhaps we should calm down, or even, “Calm down, dear”.

I do not suggest, with my amendment, that there should not be a backstop if the parties cannot reach agreement, but it is better to have a formula. My amendment does not specify the detail of the arrangement because I was doing the Government the courtesy of allowing them to put that into the framework document when they come up with it. I have heard what the noble Earl has said and beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 28 withdrawn.

Amendments 29 to 30 not moved.

Amendment 31

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

31: Schedule 3, page 51, line 20, at end insert—

“Duty to provide information etc: power to amend specified bodies etc

30A (1) The Secretary of State may, by order, amend paragraph 4C of this Schedule by making any of the following kinds of provision—

(a) provision adding a person to the specified bodies in the relevant table;

(b) provision specifying in the relevant table one or more relevant functions in relation to—

(i) the Secretary of State, or

(ii) a person added to the specified bodies by virtue of sub-paragraph (a);

(c) provision removing from the relevant table provision made by virtue of sub-paragraph (a) or (b).

(2) But the Secretary of State may not add any of the following to the specified bodies—

(a) a person operating only in Scotland;

(b) a person operating only in Northern Ireland.

(3) Before making provision under this paragraph which adds a person to the specified bodies, the Secretary of State must consult that person.

(4) In this paragraph “relevant table” means the table in paragraph 4C.”

Amendment 31 agreed.

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Clause 9 : Director General: customs powers of Commissioners & operational powers

Amendment 31A

Moved by Baroness Smith of Basildon

31A: Clause 9, page 8, line 6, leave out paragraph (b)

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I raised this issue in Committee with the then Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Henley. The debate got into a pickle and he was not able to answer all my questions. He kindly wrote to me, which was helpful up to a point but did not allay my concerns over this particular clause. My Amendment 31B seeks to delete paragraph 5 of Schedule 5, which is about the advisory panel. I admit that even after the debate in Committee and the letter from the noble Lord, Lord Henley, I remain really puzzled by the purpose of both that paragraph and the clause.

The Bill before us allows for an advisory committee to be set up to advise the Secretary of State once the director-general has been appointed as to the operational responsibilities that the director-general should have. I fully understand that not all candidates and not necessarily every director-general who will be appointed for however long it is will have all the skills and expertise in the wide-ranging areas of responsibility that the National Crime Agency will have. But the advisory panel, if it is the panel of experts that I am told it will be, is not to be set up prior to interview and so will not be able to ascertain with the Secretary of State what additional support a potential director-general would need. Instead, the Secretary of State can appoint an advisory committee after somebody has been appointed—although she or he does not have to set up such a panel—to give advice on the operational responsibilities.

When the then Minister responded previously, he said that the Secretary of State for the Home Office,

“will make an assessment of the director-general’s suitability and capability to exercise the operational powers in any given case. It might be that the advisory panel, through its chair, could then assess whether the director-general was adequately trained to exercise those operational powers”.—[

Official Report

, 20/6/12; col. 1824.]

So the Secretary of State, presumably prior to appointment, decides that the director-general is capable and suitable to have these operational powers. Then, having made a decision, she—one day we might have a he again—may ask an advisory panel to advise on what training is required. That is where this starts to break down. If this role is so important as to give the Secretary of State that advice, why is it an ad hoc body?

The reason given in the letter to me from the noble Lord, Lord Henley, was basically, as I have pointed out, about what a wide-ranging group of responsibilities there are and that it would be unusual and unlikely to find somebody who had the capacity and ability in all the areas they would need to have. But before the agency is set up, the Secretary of State has appointed a director: Keith Bristow. Clearly she is entirely confident that he has all these capabilities—although we are not clear what some of those capabilities could be because we have not yet seen a framework document—because she has not set up an advisory panel.

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I can understand why it would be helpful prior to interview for the Home Secretary to have a committee of experts which would decide the operational powers required. I would have thought that those should be given in the job description for a director-general. The committee would say, “This particular candidate does not have this or that, but there is training”, and then look at what support was required so that the candidate chosen would have all of it. That is not what is here today.

I then find it strange that the Secretary of State can do away with the committee anyway and not have it there. If it is needed, it should be there permanently; if it is not needed, it should not be there at all. This is confusing and has not really been very well thought out. As I said, the previous response from the Minister did not give me the answer I sought. I am not likely to press this to a Division but I need to understand why the Government think this is an appropriate way forward; what skills they would expect the panel to have; and why, if it is so important that the Secretary of State has that advice, she can choose, basically on a whim, not to have it.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I shared with the noble Baroness an initial uncertainty over what this is about but it is to ensure that an appointee to the post of director-general has the proper skill base to exercise the operational functions that go with that job. We have an exceptional appointment in Keith Bristow because he has exercised the office of chief constable. There is no anxiety in that respect. Of course, any future appointment—we hope these will not be made that frequently—will need to have a process to make sure that we get the right person and then to ensure that there is a methodology in terms of operational authority, skills and competence.

I am very happy to make a second attempt at writing to the noble Baroness on this because I understand the complication and the somewhat complicated process of an ad hoc advisory committee to deal with these matters within the regulation. I am assured that it is the most effective way to ensure that no shortcuts are taken in this process and that we end up with a director-general of the NCA who has these powers. Having given an ad lib answer, I will, if noble Lords will allow me, go through what I have written here, too, because it is useful to reiterate the background.

First, the Bill is explicit on the powers that can be designated, those being police, customs and immigration powers. Secondly, the director-general will be subject to the same tests of suitability, capability and training as other NCA officers. That is an important part of consistency and a critical point of assurance given the range of powers we are talking about. There is a broad range of powers. Thirdly, through the advisory panel the Bill provides independent assurance on the training to the Home Secretary before a designation can be made. Fourthly, any setting aside of the part played by an advisory committee is subject to regulations that have to be made under an affirmative procedure. This regulation-making power does not undermine the arrangements for the advisory panel; rather, the two provisions will work together.

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Police, customs and immigration powers provide an extensive suite of operational powers. It is right that the DG, as an NCA officer, has to go through the same checks of adequate training as other NCA officers—as well as suitability and capability on appointment—to be designated with those operational powers. That is what the advisory panel is for: to provide an independent check on the adequacy of the training so that the Home Secretary can designate the director-general with operational powers. The regulation-making power is necessary for circumstances where a prospective director-general has already undertaken the training necessary to enable him or her to exercise particular operational powers. In those circumstances it is sensible that the advisory panel is not required to consider whether the prospective appointee has the necessary training. Keith Bristow is a case in point. As a police officer he has been extensively trained in police powers throughout his career and is a highly experienced investigator. There can be little question that he has the necessary training to exercise the powers of a constable.

7 pm

The regulations could therefore provide that, as long as a person has received police powers training, or equivalent training in the exercise of immigration or customs powers, that person can, without the need to convene an advisory panel, be designated with the relevant operational powers. As I have indicated, any such regulations would be subject to the affirmative procedure and would have to be debated and approved by both Houses. This is not about circumventing the important safeguards that we have put in place but ensuring that the process for designating the director-general with operational powers is not unnecessarily bureaucratic and is fit for purpose. With the assurance that I will write again to the noble Baroness, I hope that she will be able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord and also very grateful that he has offered to write to me again. On some parts he has satisfied me. He said that part of the role of an ad hoc advisory panel would be to be an independent check on the adequacy of training if a new director-general had been deemed—presumably by the Secretary of State—to need training in areas where they did not already have operational capabilities. However, he then said—I will read Hansard to check what it says—that this can be designated without reference to the advisory panel. If the advisory panel is supposed to be a check on the adequacy of training, I am not sure how the operational powers could be designated without reference to it. I will look at what he says and perhaps he could include that in this letter to me.

My point of concern regarded protection for the Secretary of State and a potential director-general. The Secretary of State appoints a director-general without reference to a board. If there is a board advising on operational capabilities and any training needs, it would be helpful to a Secretary of State to have that information prior to appointment. The last thing anybody wants to see is a director-general whose capabilities are questioned by the wider police family or by those working in the criminal justice system. If

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an advisory panel could assess the director-general’s operational capability and any training needs it would provide protection for both the Secretary of State and the director-general. It would be helpful if, perhaps in the letter, he could explain why it is after appointment by an individual Secretary of State, not before, that such advice and information was given. The Minister has been very helpful on this point and I am happy to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 31A withdrawn.

Schedule 5 : Police, customs and immigration powers

Amendment 31B not moved.

Amendments 32 to 34

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

32: Schedule 5, page 59, line 4, at end insert “and”

33: Schedule 5, page 63, leave out line 43

34: Schedule 5, page 64, line 27, at end insert—

“(3) In this paragraph “enactment” includes a description of enactments.”

Amendments 32 to 34 agreed.

Clause 11 : Inspections and complaints

Amendment 35

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

35: Clause 11, page 10, line 30, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—

“(d) omit subsection (7).”

Amendment 35 agreed.

Clause 12 : Information: restrictions on disclosure etc

Amendment 36

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

36: Clause 12, page 10, line 38, after “officer” insert “(including the duty of the Director General under paragraph 4 or 4B of Schedule 3 to disclose information by keeping other persons informed of information obtained by the NCA)”

Amendment 36 agreed.

Schedule 7 : Information: restrictions on disclosure

Amendment 37

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

37: Schedule 7, page 70, line 28, leave out “This Part of”

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I will speak also to Amendment 38. In Committee I sought to understand the relationship between Schedules 6 and 7. Paragraph 1 of Schedule 7 provides that,

“This Part of this Act”—

I will come back to those words in a moment—

27 Nov 2012 : Column 152

“does not authorise or require”,

disclosures which would be prohibited by the Data Protection Act or Part I of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which are importance provisions. Among other things, I did not then, and still do not quite, understand whether the regulations that may be made under paragraph 5 of Schedule 6 could override primary legislation. These amendments are in response to the noble Earl’s assurances that neither of these Acts is affected. However, we still have a provision in paragraph 5(5) of Schedule 6 that the Secretary of State can make regulations regarding the disclosure of information which, under paragraph 5(6), may,

“modify any provision of Schedule 7 in its application to such a disclosure, or … disapply any such provision from such a disclosure”.

I would be grateful if, in the light of the permissive arrangement under Schedule 6, the Minister could confirm that it does not mean what it seems to when we get to paragraph 1 of Schedule 7.

My second question concerns,

“This Part of this Act”.

Can the Minister confirm that that means Part 1 of the Bill rather than Part 1 of this schedule? I think it is that way round. Given that “This Part” could refer to part of the schedule or the main part of the Bill, it would be helpful to have it confirmed. I would also like to give my thanks to those who have corrected the annunciator. My blood pressure and that of the noble Earl have come down considerably over the past five minutes as a result. We will see how many noble Lords get caught out by how swiftly we are going to move from Amendment 38 to Amendment 78.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Hamwee for explaining her amendments. I am sure that she would be pleased to know that we both want the same thing, namely that nothing in Part 1 of the Bill enables the National Crime Agency or others to override or modify the application of the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 in relation to the disclosure of information.

The aim of the restrictions on disclosure set out in Schedule 7 is to ensure that any onward disclosures by NCA officers will, among other things, be subject to the existing safeguards in data protection legislation. The current wording does not provide any powers to amend existing primary legislation and therefore inserting “modify” is unnecessary. Without the provision in paragraph 1 of Schedule 7, the information gateways provided for in Clause 7 could be read as being capable of overriding the provisions of the Data Protection Act and RIPA.

There is no need to extend these statutory restrictions to cover the whole Bill as we are dealing here only with the information gateways available to the National Crime Agency and its law enforcement partners, as provided for in Part 1 of the Bill. My noble friend is correct that we are referring to Part 1 of the Bill. I hope my noble friend is reassured that paragraph 1 of Schedule 7 is necessary to prevent any overriding of the important safeguards in data protection legislation and, on that basis, would agree to withdraw her amendments.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 153

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that. I still have a feeling that one should issue Hansard as an annexe to the Act when it is published to explain that, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 37 withdrawn.

Amendment 38 not moved.

Schedule 8 : Abolition of SOCA and NPIA

Amendments 39 to 55

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

39: Schedule 8, page 76, line 19, leave out sub-paragraph (ii)

40: Schedule 8, page 76, line 25, leave out “(a “designated transferee”)”

41: Schedule 8, page 76, line 26, at end insert—

“(aa) for a designated member of the staff of the NPIA to become employed in the civil service of the state—

(i) as an NCA officer, or

(ii) in the Home Office;”

42: Schedule 8, page 76, line 30, at end insert “or in the Home Office”

43: Schedule 8, page 76, line 31, after “NCA” insert “or the Secretary of State”

44: Schedule 8, page 76, line 37, after “NCA” insert “or the Secretary of State”

45: Schedule 8, page 76, line 38, leave out “an NCA officer” and insert “employed in the civil service of the state under a staff transfer scheme”

46: Schedule 8, page 76, line 43, leave out “an NCA officer” and insert “employed in the civil service of the state”

47: Schedule 8, page 76, line 43, leave out “such a member of staff” and insert “so employed”

48: Schedule 8, page 77, line 6, leave out “an NCA officer” and insert “employed in the civil service of the state”

49: Schedule 8, page 77, line 12, leave out “as an NCA officer” and insert “in the civil service of the state”

50: Schedule 8, page 77, line 22, leave out paragraph (b)

51: Schedule 8, page 77, line 25, at end insert—

“or for the transfer to the NCA or the Secretary of State of designated property, rights or liabilities from the NPIA.”

52: Schedule 8, page 77, line 32, after “NCA” insert “or the Secretary of State;

(ba) provide for anything done by a transferor which gives rise to criminal liability to be treated as done by the NCA or the Secretary of State and, in such a case, provide that Crown immunity does not affect the criminal liability of the NCA or Secretary of State;”

53: Schedule 8, page 77, line 41, after “document” insert “or other instrument, contract or legal proceedings”

54: Schedule 8, page 77, line 42, after “NCA” insert “or the Secretary of State”

55: Schedule 8, page 78, line 6, at end insert—

““designated transferee” means a person in respect of whom a staff transfer scheme makes provision of the kind referred to in paragraph 2(1)(a) or (aa);

“Home Office” means the department of the Secretary of State having responsibility for policing;

“instrument” includes a designation, authorisation, warrant, or order of any court;”

Amendments 39 to 55 agreed.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 154

Amendment 56

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

56: Schedule 8, page 78, line 15, at end insert—

“Continuity in relation to functions

5A (1) The abolition of SOCA or the NPIA does not affect the validity of anything done before the abolition.

(2) The transfer of a function does not affect the validity of anything done before the transfer.

(3) Sub-paragraphs (4) to (6) apply in relation to the transfer of a function.

(4) Where anything—

(a) relates to the transferred function, and

(b) is in the process of being made or done by or in relation to the transferor immediately before the transfer takes effect,

it may be continued afterwards by or in relation to the transferee.

(5) Where anything—

(a) relates to the transferred function,

(b) has been made or done by or in relation to the transferor, and

(c) is in effect immediately before the transfer takes effect,

it has effect afterwards as if made or done by or in relation to the transferee.

(6) The transferee is to be substituted for the transferor in any documents and other instruments, contracts or legal proceedings which—

(a) relate to the transferred function, and

(b) are made or commenced before the transfer takes effect.

(7) The Secretary of State may, by direction, determine any question under this paragraph as to—

(a) whether there has been a transfer of a particular function, or

(b) the person to whom there has been a transfer of a particular function.

(8) The preceding provisions of this paragraph are without prejudice to the powers under section 32 (transitional, transitory or saving provision).

(9) The following provisions of this paragraph apply for the purposes of this paragraph.

(10) A reference to—

(a) the abolition of SOCA includes a reference to the ending of a person’s membership of SOCA or membership of the staff of SOCA;

(b) the abolition of the NPIA includes a reference to the ending of a person’s membership of the NPIA or membership of the staff of the NPIA.

(11) A reference to the transfer of a function is a reference to—

(a) the transfer of a SOCA function by or under this Act,

(b) the transfer of an NPIA function by or under this Act, and

(c) the assumption of a third party function by the NCA.

(12) For that purpose—

(a) the reference to the transfer of a SOCA function or NPIA function by or under this Act includes a reference to a case where—

(i) a SOCA function or NPIA function is abolished, and

(ii) a corresponding function is conferred on another person,

by or under this Act;

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(b) the reference to the assumption of a third party function by the NCA is a reference to the case where—

(i) a function (other than a SOCA function or an NPIA function) is exercisable before the changeover by a person (the “third party”),

(ii) a corresponding function is included in the NCA functions, and

(iii) a person employed by, or otherwise serving, the third party wholly or partly for the purpose of the exercise of the function becomes an NCA officer under a staff transfer scheme;

and references to the transferred function, the transferor and the transferee are to be read accordingly.

(13) A reference to a thing being, or having been, made or done includes—

(a) a reference to—

(i) a document or other instrument being, or having been, made or otherwise produced,

(ii) a contract being, or having been, agreed, and

(iii) legal proceedings being, or having been, brought; and

(b) a reference to a thing being, or having been, made or done under—

(i) a document or other instrument,

(ii) a contract, or

(iii) legal proceedings.

(14) A reference to a thing which relates to a transferred function includes a reference to a thing made or done for the purposes of, or otherwise in connection with, a transferred function.

(15) These expressions have the meanings given—

“instrument” includes a designation, authorisation, warrant, or order of any court;

“NPIA functions” means functions of—

(a) the NPIA,

(b) a member of the NPIA, or

(c) a member of the staff of the NPIA;

“SOCA functions” means functions of—

(a) SOCA,

(b) a member of SOCA, or

(c) a member of the staff of SOCA.

Continuity in relation to subordinate legislation

5B (1) After the changeover, the subordinate legislation specified in an entry in the first column of the following table—

(a) continues to have effect (subject to any subsequent amendment or revocation) as if made under the powers conferred by the provision of this Act specified in the corresponding entry in the second column; and

(b) may be amended or revoked by (in particular) the exercise of the powers conferred by that provision.

Subordinate legislationProvision of this Act

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Application and Modification of Certain Enactments to Designated Staff of SOCA) Order 2006 (S.I. 2006/987)

Paragraphs 27 to 29 of Schedule 5

The International Joint Investigation Teams (International Agreement) Order 2009 (S.I. 2009/3269), insofar as it is made under powers conferred by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

Paragraph 5(1)(c) of Schedule 4

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Disclosure of Information by SOCA) Order 2010 (S.I. 2010/1955)

Paragraph (p) of the definition of “permitted purpose” in section 16(1)

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(2) Insofar as subordinate legislation continues to have effect by virtue of sub-paragraph (1), it does so subject to the following modifications.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Application and Modification of Certain Enactments to Designated Staff of SOCA) Order 2006 (S.I. 2006/987)

Articles 2 and 4(4) and paragraph 21 of Schedule 1

The reference to section 43(1)(a) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act has effect as a reference to section 9 or 10 of this Act

Articles 3(b) and 4(1)(b)

The reference to Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has effect as a reference to Part 1 of this Act

Article 4(3)

The reference to section 46 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has effect as a reference to Part 4 of Schedule 5 to this Act

Article 5 and Paragraph 6 of Schedule 2

The reference to section 43(1)(c) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has effect as a reference to section 9 or 10 of this Act

Articles 6(b) and 7(1)(b)

The reference to Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has effect as a reference to Part 1 of this Act

Schedule 1

Each reference to a SOCA office has effect as a reference to a place for the time being occupied by the National Crime Agency

The International Joint Investigation Teams (International Agreement) Order 2009 (S.I. 2009/3269

Article 2(d)

The reference to sections 30(5)(c) and 57(6)(c) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has effect as a reference to paragraph 5(1)(c) of Schedule 4 to this Act

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Disclosure of Information by SOCA) Order 2010 (S.I. 2010/1955)

Article 2

The reference to section 33 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has effect as a reference to the definition of “permitted purpose” in section 16(1) of this Act

(3) The modifications applicable to any subordinate legislation by virtue to sub-paragraph (2) are in addition to any other modifications applicable to that subordinate legislation (whether by virtue of Part 4 of Schedule 8 or otherwise).

(4) The preceding provisions of this paragraph are without prejudice to sections 31 (consequential amendments) and 32 (transitional, transitory or saving provision).”

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I beg to move.

Amendments 57 and 58 (to Amendment 56) not moved.

Amendment 56 agreed.

Amendments 59 to 70

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

59: Schedule 8, page 82, line 2, leave out paragraph 17

60: Schedule 8, page 84, line 2, leave out “this Schedule” insert “Schedule 8 to the Crime and Courts Act 2013”

61: Schedule 8, page 84, line 10, leave out “this Schedule” insert “Schedule 8 to the Crime and Courts Act 2013”

62: Schedule 8, page 84, line 14, after “25(2)(k)” insert “or 26(2)(g)”

63: Schedule 8, page 84, line 25, at end insert—

“(2) In section 27B of that Act (actions for recovery of property for purposes of an external order), in subsection (8), for paragraph (a) substitute—

“(a) the National Crime Agency,”.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 157

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27)

27A (1) Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (exemptions from speed limits) is amended in accordance with this paragraph.

(2) In that section (before its amendment by the Road Safety Act 2006), in subsection (2)(a) and (b), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.

(3) In that section (after its amendment by the Road Safety Act 2006), in subsection (1)(a), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.”

64: Schedule 8, page 84, line 44, at end insert—

“Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987 (c. 4)

28A (1) Section 2C of the Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987 (constables serving with SOCA) is amended in accordance with this paragraph.

(2) In the title, for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.

(3) In subsection (1)—

(a) for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” (in the first place) substitute “National Crime Agency”;

(b) in paragraph (b), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”.

(4) In subsection (2)(a), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”.

Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52)

28B (1) In section 124 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, subsection (1A) is amended in accordance with this paragraph.

(2) In the first sentence—

(a) for “SOCA instructor” substitute “NCA instructor”;

(b) for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.

(3) In the second sentence—

(a) for “SOCA” substitute “NCA”;

(b) for “a member of staff of the Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “an NCA officer”;

(c) for “members of the Agency’s staff” substitute “NCA officers”.”

65: Schedule 8, page 85, line 12, leave out from “(1)(e),” to end of line 13 and insert “for “of the Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “an NCA special (within the meaning of Part 1 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013)”.”

66: Schedule 8, page 86, line 2, leave out from beginning to second “in” and insert—

“(1) Section 97 (police officers engaged on service outside their force) is amended in accordance with this paragraph.

(2) ”

67: Schedule 8, page 86, line 10, at end insert—

“(3) In subsection (6)(a)—

(a) omit “(cf), (cg)”;

(b) after “(ci)” insert “, (cj)”.

(4) In subsection (8), omit “(cf), (cg)”.

(5) After subsection (8) insert—

“(8A) A person who is member of a police force engaged on relevant service within paragraph (cj) of subsection (1) shall be treated for the purposes of sections 59, 60 or 64 as if the person were a member of that police force.”.

Employment Rights Act 1996 (c. 18)

44A The Employment Rights Act 1996 is amended as follows.

44B In section 43KA (application of this Part and related provisions to police), in subsection (2)(b), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency to serve as a member of its staff” substitute “National Crime Agency to serve as a National Crime Agency officer”.

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44C In section 134A (application to police), in subsection (3), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.”

68: Schedule 8, page 87, line 4, at end insert—

“Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

53A The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is amended as follows.

53B In section 20 (supply of information to Secretary of State), in subsection (1)(b), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.

53C (1) Section 21 (supply of information by Secretary of State) is amended in accordance with this paragraph.

(2) In subsection (2), for paragraph (b) substitute—

“(b) the National Crime Agency, for use in connection with the discharge of any function of that Agency;”.

(3) Omit subsection (4).”

69: Schedule 8, page 88, line 3, leave out from “(2),” to end of line 5 and insert “omit paragraph (c).”

70: Schedule 8, page 90, line 9, leave out from “(7),” to end of line 11 and insert “omit paragraph (b).”

Amendments 59 to 70 agreed.

Amendment 71

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

71: Schedule 8, page 90, line 39, after “Agency” insert “but only to the extent of information relating directly to the crime-reduction function or to the criminal intelligence function as defined in section 1”

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 72. These amendments take us back to freedom of information. At the previous stage, I sought to include the National Crime Agency in the freedom of information regime, fully acknowledging that the exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 would quite often have to be called into play. At that time, the Minister acknowledged that exemptions would apply, but reminded me—or reminded the House, as I was aware of it—that SOCA and CEOP are not within the FOI arrangements. The NCA is about more than the constituent bodies. It is more than the sum of its parts, one might say. Police forces are within the freedom of information scheme, and it seems to me that the NCA will need to consider many of the issues considered by police forces, such as recruitment policies and budgets. Those issues can very often be dealt with in public and be subject to freedom of information requests, with answers being given without jeopardising national security.

The Minister was concerned that the operational effectiveness of the NCA would be endangered and said that the confidence of the NCA’s partners would be threatened if the NCA were subject to freedom of information. I thought that that latter argument was weak. The NCA’s partners should be confident that the NCA will use the exemptions available to it. Freedom of information arrangements are important. I am well aware that in practice it is not always comfortable when one is on the receiving end of freedom of information requests. That does not mean that the regime should be chipped away at by organisations not being subject to it. The Minister also said that organised criminals are very sophisticated. Is it a counsel of despair to think that they are more sophisticated than

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the NCA and our law enforcement agencies? That amounts to a failure to acknowledge the proper balance in an advanced and open democracy.

My amendments take a slightly different approach to dealing with the exemption by describing it as,

“only to the extent of information relating directly to the crime-reduction function or to the criminal intelligence function”.

Both those terms are defined earlier in the Bill. This is a matter of some principle, and I look forward to the Minister’s defence of the Bill’s position. I beg to move.

7.15 pm

Lord Rosser: My Lords, I will be brief since we do not have an amendment down on this subject, albeit that we had one down in Committee when we sought to qualify the National Crime Agency exemption to cover only those functions subject to exemption prior to 1 April 2012. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has gone through some of the responses that we had from the government Dispatch Box during that debate, in which she also moved an amendment.

Looking at Hansard, I see that for my troubles in moving the amendment, the response from the government Dispatch Box was that what I was suggesting was “illogical or worse”. I am not quite sure what worse was meant to cover, but it sounds fairly serious. There appears to have been some support for my proposing something that was illogical or worse from the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It has done a report in which it stated:

“We are not convinced by the Government’s justification for reducing the coverage of freedom of information legislation by including within the NCA exemption functions which were previously covered by that legislation”,

which was the point that my amendment sought to address. It went on to state:

“We are concerned that reducing the coverage of this legislation in this way could create a dangerous precedent. It is not uncommon for this legislation to apply to certain of an organisation’s functions but not others, and we need a good deal more evidence from the Government to persuade us why the NCA should be any different”.

That last point is particularly interesting since I intervened in the then Minister’s response to my amendment to ask,

“is it the Government’s case that all other agencies or bodies are either completely covered by or completely exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and that one does not find in any other organisation or agency that some of the activities are covered by the Act and some are exempt?”.

The response I got from the then Minister was:

“Without notice, I do not think that I can answer that question, but I will certainly look at it”.—[Official Report, 18/6/12; col. 1642.]

It subsequently appears that it is something that the Joint Committee on Human Rights has looked into. It made it clear that it is not uncommon for this legislation to apply to certain of an organisation’s functions, but not others. I await with interest what the Minister is going to say in response to the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, but I hope that one argument he will not use is that somehow it is illogical or inconsistent to have part of an organisation’s functions exempt from the Act and part covered, since that one seems to have been knocked on the head by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, the Government take their own view on issues, although we, of course, respect the Joint Committee and all its works. I am very grateful to my noble friend for raising this issue. She cares greatly about the responsibility of government to provide transparency and the Freedom of Information Act is just one thing that can be used to provide transparency.

As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, my noble friend Lord Henley dealt with this at the Committee stage. We are committed to ensuring that the National Crime Agency will be open and transparent to the public which it has been created to protect. That commitment is clearly set out in Clause 6. The intention is that this organisation will be fundamentally more public-facing than its predecessor organisations and open in its relationships with the public, partners, the media and, of course, Parliament. Indeed, in the framework document, under the second bullet point in item 10, noble Lords will note a duty to publish information in accordance with publication arrangements that will be set out in a future annexe. It is really designed to indicate in the framework document itself the importance that the Government attach to this. We want the public to be able to access as wide a range of information about the NCA as possible provided it does not compromise in any way the NCA’s effectiveness in fighting crime. We expect that this will include information on what the NCA is doing to tackle serious and organised crime, what it is spending and how well it is doing—so performance indicators as well.

I want to reassure noble Lords that the decision to exempt the NCA from the FOI Act was not taken lightly. We considered this carefully, having particular regard to the fact that some of the precursor functions transferring from the NCA have been undertaken by bodies that are currently subject to the FOI Act. That has been pointed out by both noble Lords. The agency’s largest precursor, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, including CEOP, has not been subject to the FOI Act since its inception. However, we have analysed the FOI requests made to other precursor bodies, such as the NPIA, and we are confident that the agency can balance being FOI-exempt with proactive publication to ensure that there is no loss of public transparency as a result of the approach being taken in the Bill.

I recognise the efforts made in this amendment to apply a partial application of the FOI Act. However, we remain of the view that a blanket exemption is the most appropriate arrangement, not for administrative convenience but to ensure full effectiveness and as a critical operational safeguard. We are talking about a fully integrated, crime-fighting, operational agency that will be charged with spearheading the fight against some of the most dangerous and pernicious criminals and crime groups that impact our communities. Some information about the discharge of those functions will be fit for release into the public domain; some will not. The distinction does not come from an arbitrary line drawn in legislation that seeks to differentiate some of the NCA’s functions from others; it comes from a deep understanding of the types of information that no one would want to fall into the wrong hands. I firmly believe that the National Crime Agency will be able to make this distinction.

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I recognise the argument that the scope of the exemptions provided for in the FOI Act could potentially apply to much of the material that the National Crime Agency is seeking to protect. However, as my noble friend Lord Henley said, this is not the only consideration. First, the National Crime Agency will depend on the absolute confidence of its partners to provide the backbone of the agency’s superior national intelligence picture. If those partners believe that sensitive information held by the agency could be subject to public release, they are likely to be more inhibited about sharing that information with the NCA in the first place. Chief among these concerned partners are those in the private sector and overseas—partners who are perhaps not as familiar with FOI as we are.

Secondly, intelligence shows that organised criminals are increasingly sophisticated in their methods and seek to exploit any avenues possible to further their criminal activities. The FOI Act offers them an opportunity to acquire information about the NCA’s operational tactics, to disrupt its operations and to evade detection. While the exemptions might apply to some of this information, the risk is that it might not always be the case.

In short, we remain resolute in our decision to maintain the NCA’s exemption from the FOI Act. To do otherwise would jeopardise the NCA’s operational effectiveness and ultimately result in lower levels of protection for the public. While partial application of the FOI Act might, at face value, look attractive, it is simply not a viable option for an integrated crime-fighting agency. In the mean time, the whole purpose of the duty to publish will be to provide the public with as much information about the organisation’s activities as possible. For these reasons, I urge my noble friend to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I opened the debate on these amendments by saying that some of our colleagues might be surprised by how quickly the next amendments are dealt with. I could, of course, deal with that, giving them warning by dividing the House, but that may not be possible and I think I see signs that the Whips have the matter in hand. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that what is worse than being illogical—to my mind and, I suspect, to his as well—is to betray one’s values.

I anticipated most of the Minister’s arguments, not surprisingly because they largely repeated, and were consistent with, what we were told at the previous stage. Noble Lords have been directed to the duties under Clause 6, but the problem with reports such as this that are in the hands of the organisation which is the subject of one’s concern, is that that organisation itself determines the content and the depth of information and the level of detail. The use of freedom of information requests puts the impetus in the hands of the person making the request. There is quite a different balance in this. The provisions in the Bill are to be subject to whatever is in the framework document and what the annexe to the framework document has to say will be extremely important. I look forward to seeing what that may be.

I remain disappointed, but the Minister probably anticipated that. He will not be surprised by my last

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remark, which is that the freedom of information regime should not be optional. Having made that point, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 71 withdrawn.

Amendment 72 not moved.

Amendments 73 to 77

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

73: Schedule 8, page 93, line 37, at end insert—

“117A In section 333A (tipping off: regulated sector), in subsection (2)(d), for “member of staff of the Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency officer”.”

74: Schedule 8, page 96, line 6, leave out “omit paragraph (b).” and insert “for paragraphs (b) and (c) substitute—

“(b) the Director General of the National Crime Agency.”

Energy Act 2004 (c. 20)

138A (1) Section 59A of the Energy Act 2004 (constables serving with SOCA) is amended in accordance with this paragraph.

(2) In the title, for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”.

(3) In subsection (1)—

(a) for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” (in the first place) substitute “National Crime Agency”;

(b) in paragraph (a), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”.

(4) In subsection (2), for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”.”

75: Schedule 8, page 97, line 21, leave out paragraphs 155 and 156

76: Schedule 8, page 99, line 10, at end insert—

“Equality Act 2010 (c. 15)

167A The Equality Act 2010 is amended as follows.

167B In section 42 (identity of employer), in subsections (4) and (5), for “SOCA” substitute “NCA”.

167C In section 43 (interpretation), for subsection (5) substitute—

“(5) “NCA” means the National Crime Agency; and a reference to a constable at NCA is a reference to a constable seconded to it to serve as an NCA officer.”.

167D In Schedule 19 (public authorities), in Part 1 (general), omit “The Serious Organised Crime Agency.””

77: Schedule 8, page 99, line 14, at end insert—

“Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

169 In section 95 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (effect on police and other records of disregard of conviction or caution), in subsection (5), in the definition of the names database, for “National Policing Improvement Agency” substitute “Secretary of State”.

Part 3Further consequential amendments and repealsReferences to SOCA

170 In the following enactments, for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency” (and, where that expression appears in more than one place in such an enactment, that substitution is made in each such place)—

Aviation Security Act 1982

Section 24AE(4)(f) (aerodrome security plans)

Section 24AG(2)(e) (security executive groups)

Section 24AI(2)(c) (objections to proposals by security executive groups)

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

Section 63A(1A)(b) (fingerprints and samples: supplementary provision)

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Dartford-Thurrock Crossing Act 1988

Section 19(a)(ia) (exemption from tolls)

Criminal Appeal Act 1995

Section 22(4)(aa) (meaning of public body etc)

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

In Schedule 9 (authorities within Commissioner’s remit), paragraph 13

Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005

Section 40(2)(ca)(ii) (confidentiality)

Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006

Section 39(2)(b) (disclosure to law enforcement agencies)

Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

In section 18E, paragraph (b) of the definition of “law enforcement authority” (sections 18 to 18E: supplementary provisions)

Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 75(2)(c) (qualifying criminal investigations)

Section 161(2)(a)(i) (applications for exploitation proceeds order)

Section 166(9A) (exploitation proceeds orders) effect of conviction being quashed etc

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011

In section 10 (criminal investigations into terrorism-related activity), paragraph (d) of the definition of “police force”

References to the Director General of SOCA

171 In the following enactments, for “Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”—

Data Protection Act 1998

Section 56 (prohibition of requirement as to production of certain records), entry 1(d) in the table

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Section 29(5)(cb) (new method of instituting proceedings)

Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005

Section 41(2)(e) (disclosure of information to Director of Revenue confidentiality)

Legal Services Act 2007

Section 169(5)(d) (disclosure of information to the Legal Services Board)

Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 81(3) (delegation of functions)

References to SOCA and its Director General

172 In the following enactments—

(a) for “Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “National Crime Agency”; and

(b) for “Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency” or “Director General of that Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”—

Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

Section 18(3G)(f) (material not subject to existing statutory restrictions)

Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 77(1)(c) (applications for investigation anonymity orders)

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011

In section 10 (criminal investigations into terrorism-related activity), paragraph (d) of the definition of “chief officer”

Repeals

173 The following enactments are repealed to the extent specified—

Courts Act 2003

Section 41(6)(c) (disqualification of lay justices who are members of SOCA etc)

Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 170 (amendments of Part 1 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005)

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Part 4Subordinate legislationReferences to SOCA etc

174 (1) In any relevant subordinate legislation—

(a) a reference (however expressed) of a kind specified in an entry in the first column of the following table is to be read as being, or including, a reference of the kind specified in the corresponding entry in the second column of the table; and

(b) related expressions are to be read accordingly.

A reference to......is or includes a reference to...

the Serious Organised Crime Agency

the National Crime Agency

the Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency

the Director General of the National Crime Agency

the staff of the Serious Organised Crime Agency

National Crime Agency officers

a member of staff of the Serious Organised Crime Agency

a National Crime Agency officer

(2) The preceding provision of this paragraph is without prejudice to section 31 (consequential amendments).

(3) In this paragraph “relevant subordinate legislation” means Orders in Council, orders, rules, regulations, schemes, warrants, byelaws and other instruments made before the end of the Session of Parliament in which this Act is passed under—

(a) an Act of Parliament,

(b) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

(c) an Act of the Northern Ireland Assembly, or

(d) a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales.”

Amendments 73 to 77 agreed.

Clause 16 : Interpretation of Part 1

Amendment 78

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

78: Clause 16, page 12, line 13, leave out “Authority”

Amendment 78 agreed.

Consideration on Report adjourned.

Small Charitable Donations Bill

First Reading

7.28 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, endorsed as a money Bill, and read a first time.

Arrangement of Business

Announcement

7.29 pm

Baroness Northover: My Lords, as the Question for Short Debate proposed by the noble Baroness will now be taken as last business, the time limit for the debate becomes 90 minutes rather than 60 minutes. Speeches should therefore be limited to nine minutes, except for the speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, and the Minister, which remain limited to 10 and 12 minutes respectively.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 165


Small Pension Funds

Question for Short Debate

7.29 pm

Asked by Baroness Greengross

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure access to good advice for people with small pension funds, and to maximise such people’s retirement income.

Baroness Greengross: My Lords, I start by declaring an interest. I head up the ILC-UK and the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance, which look at the impact of demographic change on all our services as we plan the future. I am really pleased that we have an opportunity to discuss what I want to look at—people with small pension pots—and the impact of the Financial Services Authority’s retail distribution review, which will be implemented on 1 January 2013. I support the principles underpinning the RDR; they are excellent. But there is at least one unintended consequence that might well follow, which really results from the fact that advisers will no longer be paid by commission but will charge a fee for the work that they do. I and others think that people on modest incomes will either be priced out of or excluded from the advice market. I have a deep concern that lots of people will not get the advice that they need. There will be an advice gap, with a detrimental effect on their incomes that will continue throughout their retirement, which as we know is likely to last much longer than they think it will last. These tend to be the people who have the least knowledge about what is going to happen to them regarding their pension when they retire.

The DWP estimates that by 2050 there will be 4.7 million pension pots of £2,000 or less, with many more than today expected to reach retirement with these small pots. The National Association of Pension Funds has said that there are currently 1.1 million retained DC pension funds with less than £5,000 in them; collectively these hold £2.3 billion of pension assets. A recent survey by KPMG of more than 3,000 customers found that only 31% would be prepared to pay for financial advice; 54% would pay no more than £50 for an hour’s advice; and only 1% would pay more than £200. There is a big risk here. These are exactly the sort of people who will receive no advice at all. Deloitte has recently found that more than 5 million clients may be left without advice as a result of RDR, as costs are made transparent and independent financial advisers focus, inevitably, on higher-net-worth customers.

Partnership Assurance has given us figures that tell us that 78% of annuities sold in the UK in 2011 were for fund sizes of under £40,000. For people with impaired health or lifestyle conditions, the difference between the best and worst rates can be up to 40%. At the same time, very few people exercise or even understand the benefits of exercising the open market option. Figures from the Association of British Insurers report that while joint annuities accounted for 42% in 2011, up from 29% in 2008, only 46% of annuities were bought via the open market option in 2011, up from 35% in 2008. But more people with larger pension funds choose this route than those with smaller pots—the people that I am really concerned about.

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Ways of improving the situation might be to narrow the advice gap so that those with very small incomes have access to advice and do not miss the retirement income that they could have, and avoiding an information overload for people who just do not understand what all this is about anyway. Much more needs to be done to ensure that customer information is developed—and it must be from a consumer, rather than compliance, perspective, because people are just not interested, do not understand and then suffer later on. Urgent steps need to be taken to halt the continued erosion of the culture of saving that we used to have in this country. Inevitably, at the moment, we have lost a huge amount of trust in the industry, which is very sad and adds to this inevitable problem. The Government could also perhaps provide a much clearer distinction between the provision of information and the giving of advice, making it much clearer to what extent providers are able to guide customers without it being deemed advice, and joining up the public policy agenda on financial advice, which would enable saving.

In terms of the industry, I very much welcome the ABI’s recent consultation to increase transparency in the annuity market by publishing annuity rates, as part of its code of conduct on retirement choices. I also welcome the fact that PICA, the Pensions Income Choice Association, is working with other industry participants to build a directory of advisers and shopping around brokers who can help investors, particularly people with small pots, to shop around when they retire. This will help customers to understand the decisions they need to make, the products that are available, and how they can shop around. We know that there are several annuity “interface portals” for people who have sufficient IT skills, but our real worry are those who are excluded from all this, because they just do not have the knowledge that is necessary.

The mechanics of the pensions industry have made it very difficult for retirees to get good annuity rates, as we know. Annuity advisers and providers should explore greater uses for technology in delivering advised and non-advised services to help people understand their options at retirement and help them to make the right decisions.

I will end by sharing a real concern I have that lack of cohesion and policy fragmentation created by silos between the Financial Services Authority, leading on RDR, HM Treasury, with the policy lead on financial advice, and the DWP, leading on retirement outcomes for pensioners, will result in the poorest and least well-off people receiving sub-optimal retirement outcomes. Perhaps something can be done to raise awareness of the challenges and responsibilities that individuals have, particularly those over 50, who need to focus on a multitude of retirement decisions and have far fewer pensions and savings assets at their disposal than they actually need. Nobody really believes that they are going to live for as long as they will, and nobody really calculates what they are going to need over all these years, with the need for care, and so on. Explicit government support and signposting would help to ensure that these people—the small pension pot holders—have as easy a time as possible in getting help with their shopping around. Will the Minister consider creating some kind of forum so that the industry, the

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regulator, the DWP and HM Treasury can get together to meet and discuss how better to work together to improve customer outcomes?

7.38 pm

Lord Patten: My Lords, the noble Baroness said that there are 1.1 million people with a pension fund of £5,000 or less. That is 1.1 million very admirable people. I greatly admire those who from small incomes, little bequests and savings over the years have decided to save for a pension. That is an admirable and a good thing. Compare and contrast them with others who may have exactly the same, albeit small, resources from income, bequests and savings, who choose to spend it and rely entirely on the state. The 1.1 million people to whom the noble Baroness referred are the deserving savers, which is why I share her hope that the Government may find ways in which to help deserving savers to get a better deal from those who give advice and those who invest.

It must be very lonely for someone who is of pensionable age, has that small sum of money and does not know which way to turn. However, if there were ways of grossing together all those people, imagine the purchasing power and the purchasing strength that 1.1 million people with £5,000 or less in their pensions would have in negotiating good advice or, indeed, negotiating a better deal when they invest.

The noble Baroness suggested that there should be a round table to deal with this as one way of looking at helping these people. Despite the rather austere framework that we are in at the moment, there may be market-driven opportunities here because I understand that those 1.1 million people have more than £2 billion to invest between them. It may be possible for those in the market to think of setting up a vehicle which would help, by pooling resources, to get a better deal for pensioners, strictly regulated though it should be. Therefore, I would like to put before your Lordships and, indeed, before my noble friend the Minister, an idea which I hope the Government will not stand in the way of: someone trying to set up such a body whereby the purchasing power of small pension holders could be pooled and used to their advantage. I have no interest to declare in this matter, by the way.

Let us look at each of the two areas referred to in the noble Baroness’s excellent Motion: “access to good advice” and maximising people’s retirement incomes. Access to good advice is critical. In the past, the world of the independent financial adviser and others has been a very peculiar one, suggesting to people, who often had small sums of money, that they should invest in this or that because there was a trail commission going back to someone. Under those circumstances it is natural, I guess, that people very often have said, “Go to this fund. Go to that fund—this bond fund, that equity fund”, because a commission is involved. That has all been stopped, which is a thoroughly good thing because I think that it was as close to being corrupt as you could get. But at the same time the unintended consequence is that people are now being told they will have to pay for the advice that they thought they were getting for free but was actually coming from commissions trailing back to suppliers.

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It should be possible to think of ways in which individuals with small pensions, banded and grossed up together, could have much more purchasing power, first, to get better advice but, secondly, to get better investment returns. Let us take not £5,000 a year but £10,000 a year—forgive me, I can do that arithmetic. At present rates of about 3.5% returns, you get £350 a year to add on, which is a lot of money to people on small incomes. The trouble is that you go to a fund which promises 3.5% and very often that fund—say one called East European Opportunities Fund, to make up a name—then itself invests in other funds investing in funds of funds, and each of those has their layer of charges. Before you know where you are, a combination of slowly growing inflation and a multiplicity of charges has abolished any possibility of real growth in that pensioner’s income. People often talk about the magic of compound interest but the tyranny of high hidden charges directly on pension funds is very destructive of wealth.

Who does someone living alone turn to? They cannot afford advice so they look at what a Sunday newspaper says—“Invest here, invest there”—and what happens after that is very often a diminution of those people’s wealth, not an addition to it, which they have notably saved for, which I think is to the common good, rather than their just relying on the state. Therefore, I urge the Government to keep an open mind on new market entrants who would be strictly regulated by the great panoply of regulators that we have at the moment that regulate absolutely everything in the City after the events of 2000 and 2008. If private sector people are willing to invest on behalf of such pensioners, and they can see that they can make a reasonable amount from doing so, I urge the Government to make it possible for them to do that.

I do not think that the state should provide funds to do this. My noble friend will be relieved to hear that I make no request for extra government money, as I think that would be wrong. The new normal, we are told, is bumping along the bottom until 2017-18. Everyone is suddenly austerity-aware, and people who used to think that there were free lunches and free dinners now know that we live in a pretty austere world. I do not expect my noble friend to reply to the suggestions that I am about to make but I ask her to undertake in her wind-up that she will pass them on to the Treasury and to the right honourable gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose policies I greatly admire. A time of maximum austerity is the time to get rid of a lot of perks for well-off pensioners which they do not deserve and do not need. The better sort of better-off pensioner makes a point of not claiming them. All those TV licences, all the cheap travel, all those winter fuel arrangements—

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Higher rate tax relief?

Lord Patten: I am making my speech. The noble Baroness barracks splendidly but I am picking on the three things which go to pensioners from government expenditure. I do think that now is the time for my right honourable friend to get rid of these things. There will be no political backlash at all. People think that it is bonkers and barmy to provide these benefits.

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I certainly do. I think that it is wrong and we should not be in that position. The Chancellor, half way through the Parliament, way ahead of a general election, with the full and stalwart support of my noble friends the Liberal Democrats in every Division on every single occasion in your Lordships’ House, should seize this opportunity and all will be well.

7.46 pm

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, who are we on these Benches to contest such a magnificent final flourish? I wish only that we could have persuaded the noble Lord to extend his shopping list of things to be remedied from higher rate tax relief to some of the other perks that presently go to incentivise the rich to save, as opposed to those who most need help—that is, those who are worse off.

I come back to the topic of the Motion of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. A key aspect of small pension funds is stranded pots. It is that which I want to talk a little about tonight. A Norwich hairdresser coming up to retirement has £20,000 in one pension pot and two other pots, one eight years old and one perhaps 12 years old, with £2,000 in each—total savings of £24,000. That hairdresser can annuitise her £20,000. She cannot access her two pots of £2,000. She cannot commute them into cash because she is over the trivial commutation limit and she is too late for the 2009 changes on triviality. She cannot annuitise those two small pots because they are too small. At the moment she cannot transfer them into her main pot because the companies do not want her business. They are orphan assets. So this woman, with her £24,000 of pension savings, cannot touch, and has actually lost, £4,000 of her £24,000 savings. It is a scandal, and with the help of the Pensions Advisory Service, TPAS, of which I declare I am a board member, we have been tabling amendments on this subject for the past five years wherever possible, which is why we are especially grateful that tonight the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, has introduced her Motion.

As I am sure colleagues know, TPAS provides free independent information and guidance from technical specialists and a national network of 400 voluntary pension professional members to those who, for the most part, cannot afford or cannot access private information and guidance in their own right. Our website receives about 2.5 million hits every year, some 12,000 written inquiries a year and some 40,000 helpline inquiries a year for individual guidance.

A high proportion of that is fielded by volunteers. We have satisfaction ratings in the upper 90th percentile. TPAS is therefore especially aware of what pension issues are coming up in the lift as it offers information guidance day in, day out, hour in, hour out. About a third of our inquiries are about state pension and pension credit issues and the interlocking of benefits with small occupational pensions, which we hope very much will be addressed by a forthcoming Bill on the new state pension. Another third are on occupational pensions, including a growing number of inquiries on auto-enrolment—inquiries which I am sure will expand as the small and medium-sized enterprises coming later into the system are embraced. Thirteen per cent

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of our inquiries are on personal pensions, including SIPPs. Relevant to this debate, about 10% of our queries and problems are associated with small pots—how to trace them, how to access them and how to commute them.

Steve Webb, an admirable Pensions Minister, has told us that without action there will be 60 million small pots floating around by 2050—small pots orphaned out there, and for many people inaccessible. Why has this become a growing scandal? Pensions do not work for the main holders of those small pots, who are women. Pensions conventionally assumed a man in a 40-year job with a 40-hour working week, backed by a DB scheme and a dependent wife. If he held on to his job and she held on to him, his and her pensions were secure in retirement.

Now men have nine job changes and women have something like 11 job changes in their working life. If they have a pension—two-thirds of those in the private sector now do not—it will be DC. These DC pots have lower contributions from employers, who promptly halve their contributions when they go from a DB to a DC scheme with lower costs, passing both high charges and high risk on to those least able to cope—the employees. Those pots also receive lower contributions from the lower-paid and increasingly female part-time workers, as they continue to care for children and elderly parents alike.

This problem of small pots is compounded by what is happening in the pension industry overall, by what is happening to the labour market and by the problems that women have in caring not just for children but increasingly for older relatives and members of their family. The problem of small pots will be greatly magnified by auto-enrolment.

As my noble friend will know, I tried hard when NEST was introduced to allow small pots to be transferred into it. This was batted away because of the self-interested howls from the industry, which feared it would lose money under management, in much the same way as it has batted away early access to a slice of pension savings, which would also help transform the savings culture for women, and poorer women in particular. The industry was wrong—disastrously wrong in my view—on both counts, as it is now perhaps slowly beginning to realise, but much damage has already been done.

Pensions reflect the labour market. They were constructed decades ago by pale males with dependent wives for other pale males with dependent wives. They have never worked for women. Now, with people living longer and needing to save harder, with flexible labour markets, with auto-enrolment into low-contribution DC schemes, with half of all older women aged between 45 and 64 by 2020 to 2030 being unmarried and therefore needing a pension of their own, those low-paid part-time women especially, as they are in and out of the labour market, will collect a portfolio of small pots—hard-earned savings—some of which will be inaccessible to them at retirement as the situation now stands. Those pots will go AWOL and be inaccessible—frankly stolen from them by the structure of the pensions industry that we, all together, have constructed and inherited.

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It is a problem that is simple to rectify. We expect two pensions Bills next year—one for public sector pensions and one, I hope very much, for the single state pension that Steve Webb has done so much to promote. Allowing employees to transfer small pots—otherwise potential orphan assets—into their larger pot would be an easy way to remedy this, provided we have the political will to overcome the short-sightedness and self-interest of some of those practising in the industry.

Without such speedy action, auto-enrolment could become a mis-selling scandal of orphan pots that will destroy any residual trust—and there is not much of that around—in the pensions industry. For all our sakes, including the Government, but above all on behalf of the poorest paid, poorer women, in some cases the self-employed, perhaps black and ethnic minority women, and men who find themselves churning between employment, unemployment and self-employment—for all those we have to rectify the problem of small, stranded pots which they will otherwise lose, to the distress of themselves and to the shame of us all.

7.55 pm

Lord Stoneham of Droxford: My Lords, I am very glad to follow the very informed contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, whose remarks I completely agreed with, and the cross-party consensus of my noble friend Lord Patten, with whom I also thoroughly agreed. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, on the timing of this debate—coming the week after the Government published their consultation document Reinvigorating Workplace Pensions. It is refreshing to have in government a Minister—my colleague Steve Webb—so committed to pension reform and with the confidence to pull the right levers in government.

One important lever has been to build on the cross-party strategy of the Turner commission, which has helped this Government to add to the Labour Government’s initiatives and to bring in the start of auto-enrolment, the restoration of the earnings link for state pensions, the abolition of the default retirement age and, of course, the commitment to the single state pension. As we start auto-enrolment, however, we have a huge problem of raising understanding and commitment to increased pension provision.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, is right to raise the need for good advice for people with small pension funds. I agree entirely with what she so wisely said. However, I would like to widen the concern to three themes. Those themes are the need for much greater simplicity; the need for more education, ongoing communication and advice; and, most important of all, the need for trust.

Simplicity is essential to improve the understanding of pensions. The single state pension will do away with the confusion of pension credits, and restores incentives to save. The important power of inertia is being exploited through auto-enrolment and it will help to raise saving but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, was saying, the automatic rollover of small pots is essential to individuals needing to keep track of their savings to ensure that they do not lose out from duplicated high charges.

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We have to recognise that the move to more defined contribution pensions increases uncertainty and the chance of misunderstanding on the eventual pension income that individuals will receive. They put additional burdens of decision-making on individuals who will not have the guidance of trustees. Somehow we have to demonstrate the underprovision for pensions when the actual pension outcome is so uncertain, compared with defined benefit schemes. The efforts of the Pension Minister to promote the concept of defined ambition pensions to provide more certainty and to encourage more risk-sharing is an important initiative. We also have to recognise the ongoing reliance of housing investment and ISAs on individual provision for pensions. It is wise for individuals to make provision through a number of means and we should encourage whatever individuals understand best and whatever they feel comfortable with.

Education was my second theme. A prime task is to get people to make greater provision for their pensions. There are three steps in the need for greater education. We have somehow to get people to recognise the need for pension provision early in their working careers. We have to improve understanding on how individuals can increase their pension income as retirement approaches, and appreciate particularly what fees and charges they are susceptible to. We also have to improve people’s understanding of turning pension pots into retirement income, which is critical.

Communication and advice are key elements in improving understanding. I congratulate the Minister, Steve Webb, on his big drive to make language in the pensions sector more understandable. The department’s own guide to language for auto-enrolment is very helpful. It is not fashionable to say it these days but we need more of the language of the Sun and the Mirror, rather than that of the Telegraph and the Guardian, to improve understanding among those who need the most advice.

Web communications and e-mails from the department, NEST and other pension providers should be targeted at the key stages of the life cycle which are so critical to pension provision—at the early stages of working life and the mid-career key stages, and at those preparing for retirement 10 and five years out, while there is still time to make adjustments. Government must have a big interest in encouraging greater provision because, if it is successful, it will ease the burden of old age on the state.